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    Features

    US, NATO and the destruction of Libya: The Western front of a widening war

    Horace G. Campbell

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/92811


    cc GPM
    NATO claimed that its intervention in Libya was a historic success. But three years later, Libya is in complete chaos. Some 1700 militias have a combined total of 250,000 men under arms. Another external intervention seems necessary to stabilize the country. But the US and NATO must never be involved
    INTRODUCTION

    Most western embassies evacuated their personnel from Tripoli over the past few weeks as the fighting between rival armed militias creates a nightmare of violence, insecurity and death for millions of Libyans. The United States used its military presence in the Mediterranean to escort its embassy personnel and Marine guards to travel by road over the last weekend to Tunisia. The evacuation of western diplomats leaving the millions of Libyans to an uncertain fate has brought to the fore the Libyan dimensions of a wider theater of warfare from Tripoli through Benghazi to Cairo, Alexandria and Gaza and from Aleppo in Syria to Mosul in Iraq. The former allies of NATO such as Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are now connected to differing factions of the Libyan civil war. In Libya, the war and bloodletting between the US supported General Khalifah Hifter (sometimes spelt Haftar) and the militias supported by Qatar is one indication of former allies falling out. Citizens of the West have little understanding of the depth of the sufferings unleashed on the peoples of North Africa, Palestine, Syria and Iraq since the United States and NATO launched wars against the peoples of this region. The battles in Libya are merging with the criminal war against the people of Palestine, especially the peoples of Gaza.

    It was three years ago when NATO declared the end of the NATO mission, loudly announcing that the NATO mission to Libya had been ‘one of the most successful in NATO history.’ Despite this declaration of success there were clear signs of the remnants of the NATO suborned militias fighting for control of Libya. Today, that fighting has engulfed all of Libyan society to the point that the militias that had been deployed by NATO are now out of control while the funders of the militias are caught in the wider disputations over the future of Africa, Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula. Calls for the United Nations and for the African Union to militarily intervene in Libya must now be accompanied by the call for ensuring that none of the current members of the UN Security Council who were participants in the NATO intervention can be part of any UN force to demilitarize Libya to disarm the out of control militias.

    THE CURRENT CIVIL WAR IN LIBYA

    News of the current civil war in Libya remains confusing because the western news agencies have a vested interest in keeping the issues unclear so as to keep Libya destabilized and destroyed. Since the NATO destruction of Libya in 2011 there have been over 50,000 Libyans who have lost their lives. This is in a society where the United Nations had gone in with a mandate of Responsibility to Protect. Instead of protecting Libyan civilians, the NATO forces killed tens of thousands, built up militias and then left the country under differing factions who have unleashed a reign of terror in the society. Despite the best efforts of the United States’ State Department and NATO to present a so called ‘transition’ process with the procedural democratic rituals such as elections, the role of the militias has been the dominant feature of the warfare and destruction. When prominent Libyan human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis was slain in Benghazi last month, both Samantha Powers (US Permanent Representative to the United Nations) and Hilary Clinton (former Secretary of State) issued statements denouncing her murder but these two architects of the destruction of Libya remain indicted in the court of public opinion for their roles in creating the present conflagration. What has been kept from the citizens of the USA is the role of financial enterprises such as Goldman Sachs, Tradition Financial Services of Switzerland, French bank Société Générale SA, hedge-fund firm Och-Ziff Capital Management Group and private-equity firm Blackstone Group in their dealings with the Libyan Investment Authority. The more informed will have to read the financial press to follow the many lawsuits that are ongoing in the scrutiny in wide-ranging U.S. and British corruption probes that are examining the lengths to which some Western financial firms went to gain a piece of Libya's oil wealth.

    A close scrutiny of the current probe of Goldman Sachs dealings with the Libyan Investment Authority by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of American anti-corruption laws will help shed light on the powerful forces in the United States that pushed the war against the peoples of Libya in 2011. Because of the propaganda war about fighting terrorism in Africa, western citizens cannot easily understand how the government of the United States supported the Jihadists in Benghazi. Thus far, the US Congress has muddled the information about the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the most extreme militia groups because representatives such as Congressman Darrel Issa from California have been deliberately creating confusion to disguise the complicity of the US military and intelligence forces in their dealings with the most extreme militias.

    From time to time the US public is diverted from the civil war by the USA seemingly mounting operations to seize ‘terrorists’ such as Ahmed Abu Khattala (in 2014) for the killings of US officials in Benghazi) or the capture of Abu Anas al-Libi in 2013. However, the twists and turns of the web of western intelligence and military operations in North Africa have come into full integration with the wider war against the peoples of Palestine and North Africa. General Hifter now represents the public face of the US supported forces in the western edge of the present wars in North Africa.

    THE UNITED STATES AND GENERAL HIFTER

    When NATO intervened in Libya, the North Atlantic militarists were experimenting with a new kind of warfare because the citizens of the West had been opposed to the intervention based on the mobilizations and demonstrations of the peace and social justice movements. In order to make the NATO intervention acceptable to US citizens, the Obama administration claimed that there would be no deployment of massive troops, even though early in the campaign the US Africa Command was taking credit for the NATO Operation. This kind of warfare went to great lengths to avoid the deployment of ground troops from the USA or the other NATO invaders; instead there was reliance on incessant bombing from the air, the deployment of armed militias, the mobilization of third party countries (in this case Qatar), the mobilization of Special Forces and the use of the western media for disinformation, propaganda and psychological warfare. When NATO declared its mission a success it was part of an internal debate within the corridors of the militarists because as we learnt from the book, ‘Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War,’ by former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, there were deep divisions over the prosecution of this NATO bombardment and destruction of Libya. With his own eyes on history, Robert Gates said that he was about to resign over this NATO intervention and war in Libya.

    Now that the world is witnessing the full blowback of this war against Libya with the death of John Christopher Stevens (former US ambassador) in Benghazi and the present evacuation of the US mission from Tripoli, it is instructive to grasp the role of some of the US supported forces such as General Khalifah Hifter. (See Russ Baker (April 22, 2011). "Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?" ) Hifter, now 71, had been in the Libyan military from the time of the military coup in 1969, but after 1987 he defected from the Gadaffi government. When the West had imposed sanctions on Libya, Hifter was associated with opposition National Salvation Front of Libya (NSFL). In 1988 he relocated to the United States and lived well in that notorious suburb of Washington, DC, - Langley, Virginia. When the NATO bombings started in March 2011, Hifter returned to Libya and joined in with the numerous factions.

    It is most important here to state for readers that the CIA recruited elements in Libya who had been earlier designated as terrorists. In the many books about Libya under Gaddafi the names of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Abdelhakim Belhadj featured prominently. Eastern Libya was a base for subversion and the laziness of the Congressional representatives of the USA prevents the full exposure of how the US Africa Command and the CIA recruited Jihadists such as Abdelhakim Belhadj. It is this alliance with Jihadists that General Hifter returned to in 2011 but in his search for dominance in the anti-Gaddafi forces, there was another general who was seeking to place his stamp on the rebellion. General Abdul Fattah Younis had been a senior military officer under Gaddafi who had reached the position of Minister of Interior. He resigned from the Gaddafi government in February 2011 to join the ‘rebellion. ‘

    The abduction and assassination of General Younis in July 2011 removed the only other senior military person who could compete for the position as a military strongman in the post-Gaddafi era. After the assassination and humiliation of Gaddafi in October 2011, Hifter became leader of one of the 1700 militias with over 250,000 persons under arms. Abdelhakim Belhadj became the most powerful person in Tripoli after the NATO ‘victory’ when he installed himself as the head of the Tripoli Military Council. When the United States undertook its transition program for Libya, Belhadj dropped his military title and contested elections as a civilian leader. Hifter could not openly challenge the LIFG forces in Tripoli so he worked to build relations with the Zintan militias working hard to emerge as the new military strongman of Libya.

    Since 2014 Hifter has been involved in a number of high profile military actions (first a declared military takeover in a failed coup attempt of February 2014 and later in May in a prolonged war to defeat the Misrata forces and those supported by Qatar). From the western platforms and those who have interviewed Hifter, this general claims the allegiance of over 70,000 troops along with the Zintan militia forces.

    On Friday, February 14, Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter announced a coup in Libya. ‘The national command of the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map’ (to rescue the country), Hifter declared through a video post. Even the New York Times ridiculed this coup attempt with the story by David Kirkpatrick who reported on the coup from Cairo. In his report, ‘In Libya, a Coup. Or Perhaps Not,’ Kirkpatrick drew attention to the colorful career of Hifter without explaining to his audience the close relationships between Hifter and the US web of military and intelligence operatives in North Africa. In May 2014, Hifter reappeared in the international headlines with his bravado report that he was fighting to root out terrorists from Benghazi.

    There are numerous militias in Benghazi but the two well-known ones were the February 17 Martyrs Brigade and the Ansar al-Sharia militias. While the forces that came to be called Ansar al-Sharia had been mobilized by the NATO planners to join the war to remove Gadaffi, by September 2012 these varying militia forces had disagreed among themselves and this particular militia was blamed for the attack on the CIA facility in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 when four US operatives were engulfed in the intra militia warfare.

    One indication of the levels of external support for Hifter came from the fact that his military wing that is called the National Army was able to use aerial bombardment against his opponents. Hifter launched Operation Libyan Dignity on May 16, saying his mission was to dissolve the General National Congress, which he labelled Islamist, and to destroy ‘terrorists.’ In order to ingratiate himself with western propaganda forces, Hifter labelled his opponents in Benghazi as terrorists and claimed that these ‘terrorists ‘had been allowed to establish bases in Libya. This was clear double talk because it was the Central Intelligence Agency under General Petraeus as we learnt from the biography by Paula Broadwell who had been recruiting Islamists from Eastern Libya to fight in Syria.

    The other evidence of collaboration between Hifter and western intelligence forces came when in the midst of the fighting between Hifter and his opponents in Benghazi, the US Special Operations forces carried out their mission to ’capture’ Ahmed Abu Khattala. This US operation exposed the close cooperation between Hifter and the USA. When Libyan citizens complained about the military campaign of Hifter, the US ambassador to Libya refused to ‘condemn’ the killings of innocent citizens in Benghazi by Hifter and his ‘National Army’. Hifter’s avowed aim to dissolve the General National Congress exposed deeper disagreements between the United States and Qatar over the future of Libya and the politics of North Africa.

    Although Hifter was fighting with his ‘National Army,’ the divisions between the varying militias led to big battles between Hifter and other militia forces. Media reports claim that Hifter is supported by external forces in the USA, Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. It is significant that in this line up of support there was no mention of Turkey and Qatar. One of the strongest militia forces in Libya from the time of the NATO intervention had been the Misrata fighters. As we documented in our book, ‘Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya’, it was from Misrata where the forces of Qatar had been landed in order to carry out the takeover of Tripoli in July/August 2011. We know from media reports from Al Jazeera that there are forces sympathetic to the MIsrata militias in Qatar. In the Al Jazeera typology of the varying militias in Libya we are told that the ‘235 militia brigades are collectively the most powerful single force in Libya, fighting through a six-month siege during the uprising. They are equipped with heavy weapons, tanks and truck-launched rockets and have the power to be a decisive force in any struggle between Haftar and Islamist forces.’ One can distinguish between this report and those of other western forces such as the BBC or Voice of America on the nature of the Libyan militias.

    When certain western media outlets were hailing General Hifter as a savior and comparing him to General Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi of Egypt, this was part of the propaganda war to sell Hifter to the citizens of Benghazi who had stood up to the bombardment by his forces. The Misrata factions were the military wing of that section of the political forces that dominated the General National Congress. Hifter was in a struggle to consolidate the varying militia forces under his leadership and there were many glowing reports of how Hifter was the savior of Libya. However, from Qatar one writer, Ibrahim Sharqieh, noted in an article in the New York Times that the world should ‘Beware Libya’s ‘Fair Dictator’. Ibrahim Sharquieh stated that ‘Over the past two years many of them have profited from - and developed an interest in maintaining - the chaos that engulfs the country. Warlords, Islamist groups and other committed revolutionaries who truly fought against the Qaddafi government will not surrender to General Hifter's movement - and that poses a grave threat to Libya's prospects for stability.’ Washington's tolerance of General Hifter's movement has made things much worse. Deborah Jones, the United States ambassador to Libya, was quoted as saying, ‘I am not going to come out and condemn blanketly what he did' because, she added, General Hifter's forces were going after groups on Washington's terrorist list.

    This article brought out the clear divisions between Doha and Washington which was a reflection of deeper divisions in North Africa and Palestine. In the war against the peoples of Syria, the Qatar regime had been very active along with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in providing finance and weaponry to the zealots who have now proclaimed themselves ‘The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ or (ISIL or ISIS) . However, relations between Qatar and Washington frayed over the path of the political process in Egypt. The military forces who had killed and incarcerated hundreds of thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are not supported by the current leadership in Qatar. Qatar and Saudi Arabia broke ranks over the military takeover by General Sisi and the counter revolutionary forces of the Egyptian military.

    In this new disagreement between the political leadership of Qatar and the generals in Cairo, the news outlets and NGOs supported by Qatar have been harassed. Qatari Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt were harassed and arrested. In June 2014, two Al Jazeera English journalists were sentenced to seven years in jail and one to 10 years. These journalists were sentenced by an Egyptian court on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news.

    EXPANSION OF THE WAR AND BATTLE FOR THE AIRPORT IN TRIPOLI

    Of the 1700 militias in Libya the dominant forces are represented by the militias from Zintan (The Al-Zintan Revolutionaries' Military Council was formed in 2011), bringing together 23 militias from Zintan and the Nafusa Mountains in western Libya, the militias from Misrata and the militias from Benghazi. In the case of the capital Tripoli, the competing militias controlled differing neighborhoods with the militias from Zintan and the militias from Misrata, two of the dominant forces, claiming legitimacy. As there was no central command over the use of force, from time to time different factions of the military vied for military supremacy. In the case of the expanding wars in the East, the Misrata forces have intensified their battles to gain the upper hand in Tripoli. For the past few weeks this battle for supremacy has taken the form of a deadly battle where hundreds have been killed and aircraft worth more than US$1.5billion destroyed. Since the NATO declaration of success in 2011, the Tripoli airport area has been under the control of former fighters from the western town of Zintan. Rival Islamist-leaning militias from Misrata along with their allies fought with the Zintanis in recent days, but failed to dislodge them.

    Recently, the Zintan militia group which has controlled the airport since the end of the revolution, claimed victory over the Misrata-led Operation Dawn force that tried to dislodge them from the airport. Future information will bring out whether this battle is an extension of the battles between the USA and Qatar since the forces seeking to dislodge the Zintan forces from the airport are the Misrata militias. For the past three years under the so called transition plans by the USA Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) there were efforts to pay off hundreds of thousands of youths in the militias hoping to silence some of the guns. The US legation and the other western Embassies have been caught in this new round of intense fighting, hence the evacuation by road to Tunisia. Thousands of residents of Tripoli are fleeing the capital while third country nationals are being evacuated. None of the armed groups are listening to the calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire.

    The destruction of aircraft in the fighting, which began on 13 July, has cost an estimated US$1.5 billion. The battles around the airport are by no means tame battles of armed men with side weapons. The Misrata forces after failing to dislodge the Zintan forces have been taking over residential areas adjacent to the airport, using tanks to pound the Zintanis, who in turn respond with shells and anti-aircraft fire. Hifter’s calculation that his forces and allies would ‘mop’ up the other militias has now backfired as the Libyan theater of war merges with the wider battles that are raging in Palestine and in Syria and Iraq. With the criminal assault on the peoples of Gaza the sympathies have now increased for those in Libya allied to the faction of the Palestinian movement resisting the Israeli occupation and bombardment. At the same time the massive demonstrations by the Palestinian peoples in the West Bank and the sterling resistance of the Palestinians in Gaza have deep consequences for the political leadership in Egypt. It is very clear that the present political leadership of Egypt is an ally of the conservatives ruling Israel who have inflicted collective punishment on the people of Gaza. Even the New York Times boasted of this alliance between the counterrevolutionaries in Egypt and the neo-conservative militarists in Israel on July 30, the Times noted,

    ‘After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated ceasefire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.’

    What the strategic planners in Washington and Tel a Viv forget is that the 80 million citizens of Egypt are also aware of this alliance between Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. When NATO intervened in Libya in 2011, one of the unspoken goals was to develop a rear base for western interventionist forces in case the Egyptian revolution was radicalized to the point where the popular forces started to dismantle the institutions of oppression and exploitation. Benghazi was crucial for the forward planning of the West, hence the intense battles for Benghazi since 2011 and the efforts to manipulate the youths by the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, in the midst of the war in Gaza and Syria there is increased attention on the role of Egypt as an ally of Israel in keeping the people of Gaza under lockdown by keeping the Rafa crossing closed. Since the intensified wars against the citizens of Gaza there have been new attacks on the Egyptian border posts in the West. In July, there was a bold attack on the western border post of Egypt where 22 troops including three officers were killed.

    UNITED NATIONS AND INTERVENTION AGAIN?

    The killing of Libyans who were supposed to be protected has led to calls from within Africa and the nonaligned world for a thorough investigation of the NATO intervention in Libya. Since that call the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been a silent bystander as hundreds of Libyans are killed and displaced. Now these UN personnel have joined with the other western powers that are being evacuated from Tripoli.

    The killing of human rights workers and the killing of activist women of Libya such as former member of the Libyan General National Congress, Fariha Barkawi, and Salwa Bugaighis have brought out statements from western elements that have been destabilizing Libya. Muhammad Abdul Aziz the Libyan Foreign Minister has asked the UN Security Council to send military advisers to bolster state forces guarding ports, airports and other strategic locations. These calls are a manifestation of the complete breakdown of control over violence in Libya. The African Union and the nonaligned bloc within the United Nations will have to make a firmer stand on western militarism in North Africa and Palestine. The peace movements in the West also have a major responsibility to oppose NATO, oppose the deployment of western forces and expand the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in clear solidarity with the peoples of Palestine.

    This month as the world remembers how slowly humanity slipped into the massive bloodletting of World War 1 in 1914, it is worth reminding citizens of the West how the working peoples were manipulated to support the Generals and the Bankers. The peace and social justice movement must popularize the cases against Goldman Sachs, the Blackstone Group, the French bank Société Générale SA, and Tradition Financial Services of Switzerland. Progressive forces ought to follow closely the present case in the London High Court against Goldman Sachs and work to ensure that as a result of the dark markets that the Intercontinental Exchange are involved with, that the corporate elements will face the same demise as their academic spokespersons who had operated through the Monitor Group of Cambridge Massachusetts. \

    The peace and social justice forces must intensify their organization at this point so that there can be clarity on the role of General Hifter and the Central intelligence Agency in Libya. Progressive forces cannot accept the packaging of lies and disinformation that sold the war against the people of Libya as part of Responsibility to Protect. Today, the western media is attempting to package the bloody assault on the peoples of Palestine as a defensive war by the hawks in Israel. There is need for broad solidarity by peace and social justice forces internationally so that the current wars end and the west end their support for corrupt bankers and militarists.
    * Horace G. Campbell is a Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    Russia’s investment in Africa: New challenges and prospects

    Kester Kenn Klomegah

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/92812


    cc Wiki
    Russia’s presence in Africa remains marginal, largely due to historical reasons. But this could soon change. Several delegations from African states have visited Moscow in recent months and the Russian government appears determined to strengthen ties with Africa

    By ‘resetting’ some strategies, Russia and Africa have entered a new phase of growth in their economic diplomacy mainly due to rising interaction by high ranking government officials from some African countries with their Russian colleagues during the first half of 2014. Undoubtedly, Russia's intensified move to invite delegations has often been interpreted among academics and policy experts as a result of escalating competition and increasing economic influence by many foreign players in Africa.

    Professor Georgy Toloraya, Chair of the Regional Projects Department, Russkiy Mir Foundation, and Executive Director, BRICS National Research Committee in Russia, explained that ‘in the wake of increasing conflict with the West and European Union, Russia has to turn its attention (especially in economy) elsewhere and Africa is the obvious choice. The time has come to make meaningful efforts to implement agreements on bilateral basis. Furthermore, Russia is a part of the BRICS efforts in Africa, which might be one of the areas of investment activities by the newly created New Development Bank of BRICS.’

    As media reports have indicated, Russia will assume the BRICS presidency and prepare the 7th Summit in 2015, President Vladimir Putin may attempt to use the group to strengthen its policy in Africa. Observers also noted Russia considers the grouping an absolute foreign policy priority. Brazil, India and China are very visible on the continent, but can they also have a meaningful unified BRICS foreign policy in Africa? Foreign players have their individual interests and varying investment.

    Some experts acknowledge that it is never too late for Russia to enter the business game but what it requires here is to move beyond old stereotypes, prioritize corporate projects and have a new policy strategy for the continent - a market of some 350 million middle-class Africans. Of course, Russia has to risk by investing and recognize the importance of cooperation on key potential investment issues and to work closely with African leaders on the challenges and opportunities on the continent, Andy Kwawukume, an independent policy expert told me from London, noting that Russians were trying to re-stage a come-back over the past few years, which was a commendable step forward.

    Kwawukume, a Norwagian trained graduate, pointed out that ‘there is enough room and gaps in Africa for Russians to fill too, in a meaningful way, which can benefit all parties involved. The poor and low level of infrastructural development in Africa constitutes a huge business for Russian construction companies to step in. Energy is another sector Russians can help in developing. Over the past few years summits have become increasingly common and interactive dialogue is also very helpful that Russian officials should consider using its Russian trained African graduates as bridges to stimulate business cooperation. Really, what Russia needs is a multilayered agenda for Africa.’

    But, John Mashaka, a Tanzanian financial analyst at Wells Fargo Capital Markets in the U.S., argues that Russia is going to remain relevant in Africa if its leaders can design a policy or mechanism that will enable its people and corporations to secure credits – loans - with favourable terms including payment. It must counter China’s increasing economic influence with much better packages such as concessional and low-interest loans. There are chances to turn the business tide and if Russians can come with a different mix of economic incentives, without doubt, they will be taking off from the track where the former USSR left after the collapse of the Soviet era.

    DECLARATION ON STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

    During the first half of 2014, African delegations at various levels visited Moscow from Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, State of Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out that the purpose of the visits was ‘to develop a trustworthy political dialogue and strengthen mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in accordance with the declaration on strategic partnership and to forge cooperation in mutually beneficial economic spheres,’ – an official phrase that has run throughout (nearly all) his speeches, summarizing the results of the negotiations with African officials and posted to the ministry’s website.

    Lavrov further stressed the situation in different African regions, including to the north of the Sahara, in the region of the Horn of Africa, including the situation in Somalia, in the Republics of Sudan and South Sudan, the Central African Republic, in the Great Lakes Region, which is the key focus of attention in the foreign policy. ‘We would like to contribute to the normalization of all multifaceted ties, as well as the settlement of other problem issues in the African continent,’ said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    In May, while addressing African diplomatic representatives, Lavrov said: ‘We will continue to assist states of the continent in other areas both bilaterally and within multilateral formats. As it is known, Russia has written off over US$20 billion debt of African states. We are undertaking steps to further ease the debt burden of Africans, including through conclusion of agreements based on the scheme debt in exchange for development.’

    In an article headlined: ‘Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa: Time-proven Relations’ published in the magazine Russian View in May, Sergey Lavrov gave additional information on gains made in policy implementation in Africa. It says that the economic forum ‘Urals–Africa’ held in Yekaterinburg in July 2013 and attended by delegations from about 40 African States confirmed broad opportunities for enhancing cooperation with Africa.

    ‘Our country takes significant practical steps to assist sustainable development of African states. Russia provides African countries with extensive preferences in trade and contributes to alleviating their debt burden – the total amount of debt relief exceeds US$20 billion. Debt-for-development agreements for a total amount of US$552 million were concluded with certain States,’ Lavrov wrote in the article.

    He added that ‘the training of highly qualified specialists for various sectors of the economy, as well as healthcare, is another aspect of our efforts. Currently, more than 6,500 Africans study in Russian higher educational institutions and nearly half of them at the expense of federal budget funds. More than 960 Russian government grants are provided annually to countries of the region. Russia takes an active part in establishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and has joined the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.’

    Obviously, Russia continues providing the necessary politico-diplomatic follow-up for the African activities of leading Russian companies such as Alrosa, Gazprom, Lukoil, Rusal, Renova, Gammakhim, Technopromexport and VEB and VTB banks, which are engaged in large-scale investment projects on the continent. Positive dynamics are evident in the development of Russian-African cooperation in the minerals and raw materials, infrastructure, energy and many other spheres.

    As an illustration, Russia has shown interest in strengthening close ties with Libya in trade and energy and expanding military and technical cooperation. ‘We are closely examining developing relations with Libya. We support the efforts taken by the Libyan authorities to stabilize the situation in the country and ensure national reconciliation,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated this fact in June during a diplomatic accreditation ceremony for 14 foreign ambassadors to Russia broadcast on Rossiya-24.

    CRITICISMS AND ADVICE

    Some experts have offered both criticism and expert advice, often comparing Russia's economic investment and influence to other foreign players. As Dane Erickson, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado and formerly a visiting scholar at the Africa Studies Center at Beijing University, argues in his recent article published in July: the reality is that China is among many international players that have increased their attention to Africa in recent years.

    Largely due to Africa's growing reputation as a region for commerce, over the past few years China, India, Japan, and the European Union all have hosted regional meetings similar to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Africa's fractional share in global foreign direct investment (FDI) is on the rise, and trade between Africa and a multitude of nations is also increasing rapidly.

    China’s trade has increased rapidly. For example, China is the most conspicuous among these actors. China's first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) occurred in 2000 and larger conferences have taken place every three years since. And while China's official FDI is only 25 percent of that of countries like the U.S. and France, its trade dwarfs the figures of other nations. Up from just $10 billion in 2000, Chinese-African trade came to nearly $200 billion in 2012, double that of the United States, the continent's second largest trading partner.

    ‘The most conspicuous aspect of Russia's involvement in Africa is its absence,’ says John Endres, Chief Executive Officer of Good Governance Africa from South Africa, adding comparatively that ‘whereas the Soviet Union was quite extensively engaged in Africa in the form of proxy wars, as a promoter of communist ideology and as a supporter in the anti-colonial struggles, Russia has almost entirely abandoned the field to others during the past two decades.’

    But maybe, Endres argues further, this is not entirely surprising, considering that Russia is itself a resource-rich country - in contrast to China, for example, it does not need to go searching abroad for most of its necessities. And Africa is still very small as a factor market and as a demand market, so Russia can afford to ignore it. Nor does Russia have an ideology that it would want to peddle around the world.

    OUTCOMES REMAIN INVISIBLE

    Professor Gerrit Olivier at the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, and former South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation, wrote that when President Dmitry Medvedev visited Africa in 2009 (Egypt, Angola and Namibia), mainly to boost business, South Africa was left out rather conspicuously.

    ‘What seems to irk the Russians, in particular, is that very few initiatives go beyond the symbolism, pomp and circumstance of high level opening moves. It is also still not clear how South Africa sees Russia's willingness (and intention) to step up its role in Africa, especially with China becoming more visible and assertive on the continent,’ Professor Olivier added.

    As an important role player, it would seem to be in South Africa's interest to promote and cultivate a new Russian presence in Africa, something very different from the Cold War role of the Soviet Union, but a role that could promote development and stability in Africa by introducing more healthy competition, partnership, and greater responsibility among the major powers active on the continent.

    Important though is the fact that the Soviet Union never tried to colonize Africa. Soviet influence in Africa disappeared almost like a mirage with the collapse of the Soviet system in 1991. And today Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. While, given its global status, it ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, America and China are, it is all but absent, playing a negligible role, according to the views of the retired diplomat.

    ‘Russia, of course, is not satisfied with this state of affairs. At present 'paper diplomacy' dominates its approach: a plethora of agreements are being entered into with South Africa and various other states in Africa, official visits from Moscow proliferate apace, but the outcomes remain hardly discernible. Be that as it may, the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results,’ Professor Olivier wrote from Pretoria in South Africa.

    According to a recent research survey conducted between January and June 2014 by Buziness Africa, both Russian and African policy experts suggested that the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) Russia has signed with African countries and together with various economic agreements reached by the joint business councils over the past few years provide solid framework for raising vigorously its economic influence as well as strengthening bilateral relations to an appreciable levels between Russia and Africa.

    *Kester Kenn Klomegah is a keen foreign policy observer and an independent researcher on Russia and Africa. In 2004 and 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for series of analytical articles highlighting Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    African non-state ethnic networks: Social capital or social liability?

    Patience Kabamba

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/92813


    cc Pz
    Examples of non-state structures and social networks that carry out political and economic tasks in DRC and Nigeria, in the absence of an effective state, suggest a more diverse and inclusive concept of shared power in African societies that goes beyond the simplistic Western conceptions of a rational state with the monopoly of power

    In the midst of an abundant anti-ethnic bias in much of the critical literature in African studies, there may be a renewed necessity to theorize the salience and continuing production of “ethnic” difference in a manner that could problematize and challenge the notion that ethnicity was merely a devious and divisive invention of colonialism, pure and simple, and must be overcome. The current study is questionning non-state formations based on ethnic networks in Africa to see if and how these networks mobilize social capital or social liability for economic and political development within the different contexts of their respective “weak” states. This study revives in a distinctly new way an older tradition in anthropology to use the study of “stateless societies” to pose critical questions about the constitution of modern society and the institutions on which political economy presumably rests.



    cc Pz


    In political science theory, the state is a basic and largely unquestioned category. Other categories such as authority, rights, and sovereignty retain a certain amount of fluidity and are deemed worthy topics of discussion and debate, but the state, as a category, is simply assumed. Max Weber defined the state as a “ruling organization [which] will be called ‘political’ insofar as its existence and order is continuously safeguarded within a given territorial area by the threat and application of physical force on the part of the administrative staff” (1978:54). Weber defines a state as a rationalized administrative form of political organization and identifies legibility as the process par excellence for its creation and retention. Compounded by capitalism and globalization, this Eurocentric conception of statehood has become a fixed and rigid fact and the gauge by which all other “normative” states are judged.

    In the dominate political science literature, state “collapse” refers to the crumbling of institutions while state failure is defined as the non-performance of key state functions (Zartman 1995). State collapse occurs when the structure, authority, law, and political order of a state has disintegrated while state failure begs the question of what the core functions of the state actually are, from concern about basic security to respect for the rights of its citizens. In the advanced capitalist world, what some call the first world, where globalization is about the deepening of commodity relations, the privatization of public services, and the search for cheaper and more productive labor, (Moore 2001, Harvey 2000) African states are often interpreted not only in terms of their failure to adhere to a Weberian model of the rational-legal state, but also in terms of their limited capitalist possibilities; their inability to insert themselves in the world market with regard to resource extraction, social control, and policy implementation. However, this “failure” of the state does not necessitate anarchy because “there can be a governance without government" (Rosenau and Czempiel 1992, Rodhes 1996, Vlassenroot and Raeymaekers 2008). The former can be provided by non-state social networks that involve loyalties beyond national ones. Many African states are experiencing just this kind of political and economic organization through a deepening of social relations.

    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: THE NANDE

    Due to ongoing war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen the demise of conventional state control and the growth of privatized exercises of power at the local level. From a humanitarian point of view, the Congolese conflict has caused levels of suffering unparalleled in any recent war. As of 2006, out of a population of 58 million Congolese, as many as 4 million had died, 7 million suffered from malnutrition, 3 million were HIV positive, at least 40,000 had been victims of sexual violence, 2.4 million were internally displaced, 880,000 had become refugees, and 3 million children were orphans (Coleman S., 2005). In 1998 the country’s territory was controlled by three main Congolese rebel groups, a dozen Congolese militias, rebel groups from Uganda, Burundi and Sudan, the Interhamwe—the Rwandan militia responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda— and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Few traditional functions of the state are in evidence within the country and extensive zones are still controlled by internal and external rebel groups; however, political order and economic development—even development involving transnational trade—have arisen in the DRC.

    In the absence of an effective national government and in the presence of many competitors for power, the Nande, an ethnic group in and around Butembu, a city of 600,000 in the northeastern province of North Kivu, have prospered for more than three decades, managing to build and protect self-sustaining transnational economic enterprises. In the 1950s and 1960s, they produced and traded beans, carrots, and other vegetables. Today, the city is essentially a warehouse for merchandise. The Nande import containers of goods ranging from textiles, motorbikes, and automobiles to spare engines, medicine and other merchandise from East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and China export agricultural products ranging from coffee, potatoes and beans to papaya, latex and other vegetables as well as minerals such as gold, coltan, wolfram and cassiterites. The elite of Butembo, the most successful import-export traders, are millionaires in US Dollar amounts and have gradually captured the social and economic surplus within the Nande society. There is a critical mass of what economists might call “middle-class” Nande who also benefit from this thriving economy.

    In addition to a booming import-export trade, the Nande have significantly contributed to the infrastructure of Butembo, taking over multiple functions previously assigned to the state. Each Nande trader is responsible for 50 kilometers of road. A tollgate is generally organized and the money collected is used to repair and mend the roads. When part of a road is not mended, a sort of internal control and accountability is used; traders will not hesitate to question the colleague in charge of that section. As a result, the Nande region is one of the only places in the country, apart from Katanga— a central site of mineral exploitation and extraction—that has good road networks. Butembo also sports a new airport, a hydroelectric dam and an impressive, three-story mayoral office. The Nande distribute food, clothes and medicine to refugees and contribute significant sums to the construction and maintenance of the local universities. The local federation of traders even has a court that is often used in lieu of the state court for litigations concerning succession and land ownership.

    The Nande have constructed, in effect, a shadow state, the question is how. How in the absence of state sovereignty and in the presence of numerous armed contenders for power, have traders managed to build and protect self-sustaining, prosperous, transnational economic enterprises in eastern Congo?

    A combination of factors stemming from pre-colonial trade practices and the colonial impact on these practices influenced the creation and retention of Nande networks, the first being Butembo’s central role in the pre- colonial salt trade in DRC. The village called Lusambo, which is now part of Butembo, was a stopover for caravans coming from Katwe on expeditions for salt (Kambalume 1972). From the salt trade, Nande people learned the benefits and dangers of long-distance commercial activities including confrontation with dangerous animals and the creation of friendships through salt distribution. Colonialism then brought Christianity, and with it, the Protestant work ethic. Even today Nande traders attribute their success partly to the lessons learned in the Protestant mission. Kamungele, one of the most prominent traders in Butembo today, summarized the legacy of the Katwa missionary: “first, a dedication to hard, honest work (e.g., working hard even when the boss was absent); second, a demand not to waste earnings on alcohol and prostitutes; and finally, the importance of learning to delay gratification” (from the authors interview with traders). Catholic missionaries also affected trade practices and left lasting institutions in their wake. The Catholic University of Butembo with its three schools of Law, Civil Engineering and Medicine has continued to function since its establishment ten years ago by the Roman Catholic bishop of Butembo, Monsignor Kataliko, as has the Hospital Matanda.

    Seen economically, militia forces near the region make up part of the Nande network in that they play a junior partner role in Nande trade. The Nande pay, feed and house militias that protect their products and operations. As long as the traders don't insert themselves too forcefully into the militias' spheres of brutal extraction in the peripheries of the Nande centre and as long as the militias steer clear of that centre and do not disrupt the Nande capitalists' sphere of control and stability, then a sort of understanding and equilibrium is met based on the Nande’s social and economic power and the militia's various reigns of terror, creating a multiplicity of semi-overlapping and intersecting spaces.

    These factors do not stand alone in their impact on trade practices, but intertwine in complex and sometimes conflicting ways. For example, the bishop of Butembo holds a well-respected position among militiamen. In turn, many militiamen are former altar boys and choir members. There also seems to be a very clear social and political hegemony of the Nande "bourgeoisie," legitimated through the Church officialdom and premised by formations of violence that supply a certain sense social order.

    The Nande example is just one of many non-state networks operating as a source of cohesion and organization in lieu of formal, Western defined governing in Africa. This social structure is mirrored in Nigeria where three major ethnic groups are known for their commercial vitality: the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa traders. In the city of Nnewi in southeastern Nigeria, the Igbo have factories manufacturing spare car parts. (Brautigan 1997) In Lagos, Igbo own factories, which assemble and repair computers. (Oyelaran Oyeyinka-2007) These networks prove that there is always some degree of political and economic organization in apparently anarchic situations.

    BEYOND ‘GOOD’ AND ‘BAD’ NETWORKS

    This is not to say that social networks, like those of the Nande, Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa have entirely positive effects. Social relations resist binary labels of “good” and “bad.” As evidence of this, Nande traders have also been the financiers of the wars around them. Though smuggling gold became a means of raising preliminary capital for more legitimate businesses that same gold is often used to fuel and sustain the war in the eastern DRC through money, material, and weapon exchange. Consequently, the negative effects do not negate the positive impact of Nande trade; rather, it shows that social relations, whether within the formal, Western frame of statehood, or within the sphere of non-state networks, carries an inherent complexity.

    When looking at the relationship dynamics of Nande traders, two spaces emerge, that of dependence and engagement. Traders try to balance dependence—local space used to produce and invest which involves intra-ethnic relations that are often very competitive—with engagement—transnational space where transactions are made using inter-ethnic relations. The Nande, as an example, have participated in transnational trade through the construction of an intricate matrix of social relations by developing “quasi-kin” relationships with their Arab counterparts in Dubai and with Chinese merchants in Hong Kong and mainland China. These non-state networks serve as sources of non-state order.

    Those who view non-state networks as social capital tend to analyze the emergence of social networks in African states as endogenous non-state solutions to the problems of state “failure.” Through the construction of social relations based on trust, solidarity and local institutions of credibility, (Hansan & Vaa 2004, Lourenco-Lindell 2002; MacGaffey ) these social networks have managed to replace the state, and the laws have changed to challenge the incapacity of the state and its corruption (MacGaffey 1991).

    Those who deem non-state social networks as social liability tend to view them through a logic of poverty, predation, and provincialism. As Bayart asserts: “Pioneers of modern Africa, fraudsters, diamond diggers, the currency exchangers and immigrants, all find ways to escape from the law, boundaries and official exchanges...It is through these social practices of fraud, illegal immigration, drug trade that Africa is inserted in the international system.” (Bayart 2000:260)

    Students of political science and political anthropology see in non-State social networks a danger to the formation of a Weberian state (Bayart 2000, Collier 2007, Duffield 2001, Keen 2008, Reno 2000, Roitman 2004) and view even economic progress as blocks to the real development of the country.

    Both perspectives, non-state social networks as social capital or social liability, feed into essentialist ideologies. Rather than look at each individual non-state network, they clump and label as a whole, but every network has its own complexity, fluidity and diversities. The effort should be to understand the history and emergence of each non-state network in an attempt to re-conceptualize informality. Meagher (2010) and Hart (2006) have a more productive way of understanding informality beyond a sterile dualism: “the issue is not one of regulation per se but of the form of regulation based on personal relation such as those of kinship, friendship or co-ethnicity” (Meagher 2010: 16). These non-state networks focus on the organizational role of social ties that shape economic behavior outside the state through embedded relations of solidarity and trust.

    Contrary to the viewpoint that only warlords can emerge in the event of a state collapse, the Nande example represents a complex re-definition of the relations between a state and its citizenry in which the state has had to reorient where it asserts its limited power, but is, nonetheless, still present. The Nande anthropological site is one where law, economy, politics and other state practices are guided by additional forms of regulations and loyalties. The Nande region is one of the many places where the state is continually both experienced and undone through the illegibility of its own practices. Though an example of a group that has emerged partly because of state absence, the Nande are better understood as intricately intertwined with the state.

    The notion that African states have failed or collapsed is a way in which the colonially imposed Weberian model of statehood is solidified. Institutional breakdown and society collapse are conflated. Zartman (1995) draws an equation between the collapse of the state and the collapse of society and asserts that in a “weak” society, there exists a general inability to refill the institutional gaps left by withering government structures, in effect, compounding government and governance; however, as we have seen, a lack of government does not necessitate a lack of governance.

    AFRICAN NEW DIRECTION IN DEVELOPING ITS “POTENTIA”

    The idea of state failure is, in itself, misleading. It gives the false impression that if a state is now falling apart, it may be assumed that it was once well-integrated, fully functional, stable, and efficacious, but statehood is a relative concept. There is no general formula for the success of state projects; they always have to respond to local historical specificities (i.e. the conditions and relations of struggle). It is important to remember that African states were colonially imposed and institutionalized. The DRC state, for example, remains profoundly contingent; it was born in a colonial carve-up, and threatened from independence by secessionist movements at the provincial level (Jackson 2004). Viewed through this lens, the breakup or “failure” of African states can be interpreted as a push from the populous to abolish colonially imposed ghost structures from within.

    This is an Africa that is slowly divesting itself of neo-colonial links. The Nande, and other social networks, appear to determine the direction in which Africa is moving. The horrors of war in the eastern Congo may block what we considered development, but it might also be aiding the process of relinquishing colonial, post-colonial, and neo-colonial ties. Rather than assuming it is necessary to “fix” what is considered “broken,” this study advocates recognizing both the utility and the successes of new social formations—ones that result in alternative ways of governing.

    The belief that power usually flows top-down from a state monopoly is increasingly questioned in an era of networks fuelled by interactive decision-making processes that include non-state actors, like the Nande. Power theoretically understood as potentia – the elementary power through which human beings deploy their productive capacities and creative possibilities—precedes power that is often expressed as an obsession with rational-order, potestas. The concept of power inherent in the Weberian notion of the state is one defined as potestas—the unchallenged authority of a despotic ruler, whereas power as potentia, as Foucault writes “is something that is acquired, seized or shared, something that one holds on to or allows to slip away;.[ . . .] Relations of power [. . .] have a directly productive role, wherever they come into play. Power comes from below.” (Foucault, 1996[1980]: 94) This sort of power, potentia, is ontologically prior to and ultimately autonomous from the reified power of the sovereign state that captures it. Granting precedence to potentia over potestas challenges the conceptual centrality of the state because it suggests that sovereignty is a fundamental and inalienable attribute in every human being, and as such, is never a monopoly of the state.

    CONCLUSION

    This study departs from the ubiquitously expanded and reified notion of the state as a greater or lesser monopoly of “legitimate” coercive power exercised spatially over a limited territory. Instead it asserts that the state is fundamentally a form of social relation codified at a certain point in history. It, therefore, begs for a reconceptualization of the state and its power. Dissolving the state as a category and understanding it not as an entity in and of itself, but as a form of social relations, recognizes the utility and success of new social formations. (Holloway, 1994)

    Unlike in the rationalized world of Weberian abstractions, the DRC state, though inscrutable, incoherent, unpredictable, and unreliable, is not “failed.” At the heart of the current picture of the DRC stands a flawed understanding of the state itself, its functions, its power, and its performance. As the Nande case shows, the DRC state is failed only for those who require no further ethnographic analysis beyond a topical and Eurocentric view of state power. It is imperative that the state as a fixed category be dissolved in order for the study of new social formations and non-state networks to occur. Considering how people negotiate the boundaries between state and non-state power in contemporary DRC can be used to pose large, critical questions about the institutions upon which modern societies rest.


    REFERENCES

    Bayart J.F. (1989) L’Etat en Afrique: La Politique du Ventre, Paris: Fayard
    Brautigan 1997
    Coleman S. (2005), “Congo’s Conflict: Heart of Darkness,” in Beliefnet, June 2
    Collier P. 2007
    Duffield, M. (2001), Global Governance and New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security, London: Zed
    Foucault M. 1996 [1980], Power/Knowledge, New York: Pather Books
    Hansan & Vaa 2004
    Hart K 2006
    Harvey D. (2000) Spaces of Hope, University of California Press
    Holloway J. (1994), “Global Capital and National State”, in Capital and Class 52
    Jackson S. (2002), “Making a killing. Criminality and Coping in the Kivu War Economy” in Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 29 (93/94), pp. 517-536
    Kambalume 1972
    Keen, David, (1998), The Economic Functions of Violence in Civil Wars, Adelphi Paper 320, and Oxford University Press
    Lourenco-Lindell 2002
    MacGaffey J., Vwakyanakazi et al. (1991) The real economy of Zaire. The contribution of smuggling and other unofficial activities to national wealth, London: University of Pennsylvania Press
    Meagher K. (2010), Identity Economics: Social Network and the Informal Economy in Nigeria, Oxford: James Currey
    Moore D. (2001) “Neoliberal globalization and the triple crisis of ‘modernization’ in Africa: Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa, in Third World Quarterly Vol. 22 (6), pp.909-929
    Oyelaran Oyeyinka-2007
    Reno W. (2003), “Political networks in a failing state. The roots and future of violent conflict in Sierra Leone” in IPG, No. 2, pp. 44-66
    Rodhes 1996
    Roitman, J. (2005) Fiscal disobedience. An anthropology of economic regulation in Central Africa, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press
    Rosenau and Czempiel 1992
    Vlassenroot and Raeymaekers 2008
    Weber M. 1968 [1980] Economy and Society, Ed. Guenter Roth and Class Wittich, New York: Bedminster Press
    Zartman, W.I. (1995) Collapsed States. The disintegration and restoration of authority, Boulder: Lynne Rienner


    *Patience Kabamba is a Congolese lecturer and author of ‘Business of civil War: New Form of Life from the Debris of the Congolese State’, He was a UNDP consultant in Kinshasa on issues of proliferation of small arms and light weapons and worked as a counselor of prisoners and single mothers in Cameroon, DRC, Chad, Burkina Faso, and France.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
    * BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
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    2014-08-07

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/announce/92747

    The African Grantmakers Network (AGN) invites you to the Third Biennial Assembly to be held in Accra, Ghana on 17th - 19th November 2014 and hosted by the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF). It will bring together leaders in philanthropy to discuss actions that will contribute to and sustain the growth of African economies through philanthropy development.

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    Comment & analysis

    'Failed states' and 'ungoverned spaces': The thinking behind US foreign policy in Africa

    Mandisi Majavu

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92810


    cc SABC
    The US-Africa leaders summit is a public relations exercise in pomp, ceremony and ritual meant to disguise the militarised foreign policy represented by AFRICOM. It is also aimed at countering the Chinese presence on the African continent

    The US-Africa Leaders Summit currently taking place in Washington points to Africa’s growing strategic importance to US interests. The theme of the Summit is “Investing in the Next Generation” and aims to advance the US’s focus on trade and investment in Africa. Historically, the US has always adopted a militarised foreign policy towards Africa. When the Bush administration launched the Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2007, that move was consistent with the US history in Africa.

    It was a move that was contested by the Pan-African Parliament. In 2007, the members of the Parliament voted in favour of a motion “not to accede to the request of the Government of the United States of America to host AFRICOM anywhere on the African Continent.” The Parliament highlighted the “far reaching negative implications that this Africa Command will have on the political stability of Africa.”

    In response, the US and the AFRICOM staff rolled out a public relations campaign to make the idea of AFRICOM palatable to African leaders. Senior US government officials visited several African countries to explain the project. In September 2007, the US Department of Defense hosted over 35 African governments in Virginia “to further explain its plans for the command and to solicit input from attendees,” according to Lauren Ploch, a researcher with the US Congressional Research Services.

    In my view the US-Africa Leaders Summit, which the Obama administration dubs the largest event any US president has held with African heads of state, is a public relations exercise in pomp, ceremony and ritual meant to disguise the militarised foreign policy represented by AFRICOM. It has been shown that ever since the 1998 bombing of US embassies in East Africa, which was followed by the US retaliatory strike against Sudan, the US has regarded Africa as the next front in the war on terrorism. According to Ploch, US Department of Defense officials claim that “Africa has been, is now and will be into the foreseeable future ripe for terrorists and acts of terrorism.”

    As far as the US is concerned, civil wars in Africa have created “ungoverned spaces” and “failed states” which terrorists groups may use to operate from. Half a century ago, the US was concerned about “dangerous, pro-Communist” African radicals who were supposedly going to turn to the Soviet Union for political support and military assistance. In 1960, when 16 European colonies in Africa became independent, the US Secretary of State, Christian Herter, told the US National Security Council that Africa had become “a battleground of the first order”, according to Piero Gleijeses, a professor of US foreign policy. Gleijeses shows how the ideological struggle for global dominance during the Cold War expanded to include proxy wars in Africa.

    For instance, recently declassified US documents show that from 1960 the US launched a covert operation in the Congo lasting almost seven years, which was initially aimed at eliminating Patrice Lumumba. It was that covert operation that gave political birth to the colonial creature Joseph Mobutu more commonly known as Mobutu Sese Seko. The ripple effects of that covert operation have been devastating for the Congo and the Great Lakes.

    The US rationalised its covert operations in African countries such as the Congo, Angola and Mozambique as a legitimate fight against communists. In the words of Henry Kissinger, “I don’t see how we can be faulted on what we are doing. We are not overthrowing any government; we are not subverting anyone. We are helping moderates combat Communist domination.”

    That was in the 20th century. The point I am making however is that in this century the US is back in Africa to carry out its Global War on Terror. The US-Africa Leaders Summit signals a slight variation of political tactics on the part of the US. However, the mess in the Horn of Country shows that the US has not totally abandoned its Cold War tactics. US air strikes in Somalia in 2007 and America’s support for the Ethiopian invasion of that country partly led to the creation of al-Shabaab, a fundamentalist religious group which has wreaked havoc in neighbouring countries like Uganda and Kenya.

    Naturally, al-Shabaab has become a major security concern in the region. The US has funnelled counter-terrorism funds into East Africa and underwritten a stronger Kenyan military, according to Foreign Affairs Journal. The Journal further points out that “the rise of Islamism in the Horn of Africa put Kenya on the frontlines in the global fight against terrorism.”

    The US-Africa Leaders Summit is part and parcel of US counter-terrorism efforts in Africa. The business theme which dominates the Summit is partly meant to counter the Chinese economic presence on the continent. The Chinese presence unsettles the balance of economic power between the US and African countries. Hence, the goal behind the Summit is to counter the Chinese business influence, while simultaneously, cultivating “moderate, pro-Western leaders” who will adopt “a generally pro-Western posture” in their dealings with US administrations.

    * Mandisi Majavu is the Book Reviews Editor of Interface: A Journal For and About Social Movements. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    Source: http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/2095

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    US-Africa Leaders’ Summit – a legacy, business as usual and rhetoric

    Eyob Balcha Gebremariam

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92814


    cc VOA
    The US-Africa summit will serve the interests of many but ultimately not the African people. The themes of the summit are centred around investment and business which is nothing more than the continued exploitation of Africa for external beneficiaries

    Lots of questions came to my mind. What’s the importance of the “The US-Africa Summit”? From whose perspective shall we measure its relevance? From the US leaders’ perspective (especially President Obama)? From African leaders’ perspective? From US citizens’ perspective? Or, from African citizens’ perspective?

    From my point of view, it is an emblematical event for the legacy of President Obama. Probably he is using this initiative as one of the lasting image of his tenure. As a political leader, it is normal and well accepted to make an effort to leave behind a signature that will make the leader memorable after his leadership.

    AFRICAN LEADERS ARE EXPERIENCED HUSTLERS

    From the African leaders’ perspective, I really don’t think that they have a lot to do in the summit than to be “esteemed guests of honour” and keeping on the business as usual. The blurred and unclearly defined issues such as sustainable development, democracy, accountability, peace and security, good governance, climate change, trade, investment and partnership will remain to decorate the newly discovered “Africa is rising” rhetoric. They are well experienced in doing this in various African Union Summits and also in Istanbul, Delhi, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo and Brussels. Now, it’s time to do it across the Atlantic in Washington D.C. The trend suggests that there might be a similar big event which may gather the 50 plus African leaders in Rio, sometime soon. So, I honestly do not expect anything more than a ceremonial performance.

    However, I remain baffled with the mentality of African leaders. It is a bit unsettling to see how they flock to the capitals of other countries in such great number whereas most of them remain reluctant to attend African Union Summits. It is unfair to expect some level of respect for the continental institution by others if it is not given the minimum level of honour by its own members. I will certainly count the number of African leaders coming to the next AU Summit in January 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I wonder when is the time for the African Union to be the representative of African states and citizens. After more than a decade long effort of laying the foundation to establish a strong and united continental institution by the same leaders, it is disappointing to see that they themselves do not give the credit for the AU in every context.

    I do not think I am in the right position to comment on the relevance of the Summit from the US Citizens’ perspective. So let me not get carried away by my very critical view about the most unrepresentative politics of the country which considers itself as the ‘beacon of democracy’.

    THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF AFRICA’S YOUTH

    My primary focus is to look at the relevance of the Summit from the eyes of the African citizens’, particularly the African youth citizens. Recent studies by the World Bank and Mo Ibrahim Foundation provide remarkable statistical information about the current status of African youth which can inform possible policy frameworks in every aspects of society. It is argued that between the years 2015-2035, there will be more than half a million 15 years old Africans, as each year passes by. With this trend, in less than three generations 41 percent of the world’s young population will be an African and the continent will have a larger labour force than China in two decades time.

    Interpreting this factual information into the present daily lives of African youth can be a challenging endeavour mainly because it is easy to make crude generalizations. This is true particularly in a context where the mainstream academic, political and policy perspectives are dominated by a view that puts the youth in the uncertain future and the yet to be achieved status of becoming. Alcinda Honwana’s term of Waithood is worth mentioning here. Youth in general and African youth in particular are struggling to make their presence felt and to determine both the course and destination of their lives’ journeys because of the waithood status society puts them. Their marginal position shifts to the center only during violent political struggles as foot-soldiers of civil wars or election related violence. Often times they are presented as “tomorrow’s leader and as people not matured enough to make decisions by themselves” mainly by their political leaders and also as “a huge human resource” that can quench the profit seeking mentality of foreign investors from every corner of the world.

    The Young Africans Leadership Initiative (YALI) was launched by the Obama administration to include the issues of youth within the US-Africa Summit context. Reportedly, YALI brought nearly 500 African youth leaders from Africa to participate in skills development trainings on various socio-economic and political endeavours. It is a remarkable initiative and a good opportunity for many African young people. However, there is still a bigger context that needs deeper reflection and analysis. I would like to paint this bigger context in line with the three themes of the Leaders Sessions.

    SESSION I: “INVESTING IN AFRICA’S FUTURE”

    This is a rephrasing of the “Africa Rising” rhetoric which is a very narrow presentation of the African context dominated by the profit seeking business relation. Historically speaking, there has been an “investment” into “Africa’s future” probably for the last 500 plus years. Of course the nature of the investment has been changing according to the time to ensure its political correctness as deemed necessary. The inhuman slave traders invested in Africa to lay the foundations of the present unequal global political economy relation, the settler colonizers also invested in Africa to establish a system that serve their economic and political dominance. For the last few decades, the investment has been done within the pretext of development (trade, FDI, SAPs, ODA, good governance and democracy …etc.) The common thread that runs through all these engagements and “investments” is the presentation of Africa as a fertile ground just waiting to be ploughed, or a ripe fruit ready to be picked.

    These historical relations which contributed to the structural global inequality that puts Africa at the center will never be raised and discussed. If we are really concerned about “Africa’s future”, let’s talk how we can stop American based companies that are plundering the resources from Africa, let’s deal with the contribution of American business and political leaders role in the 50 billion dollar that Africa is losing every year through illicit financial flows. The recent study by Oxfam argued that the world’s 85 richest people have a wealth that equals the total wealth of three and half billion people of the world. If the genuine concern is “Africa’s future”, let’s find out how many of these are exploiting the natural resources of Africa, benefiting from the failed political process of countries like DRC, cuddling with greedy, opportunist politicians and warlords to make their fortune and deal with them in the name of justice & equality.

    SESSION II: “PEACE AND REGIONAL STABILITY”

    Peace and regional stability cannot be achieved separately unless it is approached within a broader political and developmental framework that tackles the root causes, symptoms and consequences of violence and conflict. There is a great lesson from the “Cold War” period which in fact was not really cold in the African context, rather hot and bloody - that the American foreign policy does not consider the will of African citizens when it establishes military cooperation with African governments. The case of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak and the multi-billion dollar military assistance is a good example. Tying the agenda of peace with a narrowly defined agenda of militarization (through the AFRICOM base in Djibouti), and disregarding the politics at each and every level of decision making, resource allocation and power structure is a very short sighted approach.

    SESSION III: “GOVERNING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION”

    This theme is a bit confusing. It gives me two different meanings, albeit not necessarily contradictory. It seems that the objective of the theme is within the context of the dominant definition of sustainable development where the needs of the next generation is given due consideration while pursuing present developmental objectives. On the other hand, it seems that the focus of the agenda is mainly on the today’s young generation with the intention of making the process of governance conducive to their interests and expectations. In line with the second scenario which takes the next generation as equivalent to the young generation, I have the following comments.

    Within the present African context, statistics shows that the median age of African leaders is three times higher than the median age of African population. This is a simple example of showing the power imbalance in Africa, particularly generation wise. We have regimes that are more than quarter a century old that favour kleptocracy, clientelist socio-political relations and systems that deny the civil, political and social rights of today’s young generation. The number of young people that are fleeing their countries escaping political intimidation, structural and physical violence, the number of young people that are denied of the basic human rights of freedom of speech, thought and expression is staggering. While the young Africa generation are negotiating and pushing for a political space to influence the political processes to meet their interests, the theme of the agenda remained caged into the mentality of doing things on behalf of them. The theme “Governing for the next generation” shows the patronizing mentality of the current leaders and decision makers who consider themselves more knowledgeable and capable of addressing the challenges of today’s young generations than the youth themselves.

    In conclusion, I think the US-Africa Summit is more rewarding and successful from the legacy point of view for President Obama’s administration. Since African leaders are very good at failing to address the pressing issues of African citizens both at their own meetings and conferences organized by others, this summit will remain a business as usual for them. It still signifies the fact that they still prefer to dance to the tunes of others and go as 50 delegates plus the African Union Chairperson, than to show their determination to present a united Africa, at least as a gesture. Theme wise, I certainly believe that the core factors that contribute to Africa’s socio-economic and political problems will be sacrificed for the sake of the profit-seeking mentality that present Africa as nothing but a buffet full of food. In this process, the interests, capacities and expectations of African youth that constitute a significant majority and yet marginalized will remain loosely incorporated mainly to ensure both political correctness and strategic acceptance.

    *Eyob Balcha Gebremariam blogs at www.eyobafrikawi.blogspot.com

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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    US-Africa Leaders Summit: New rules of engagement?

    Edwin Rwigi

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92817

    It is quite evident that the much-hyped summit was not about how the US can help Africa, but rather how the US can reconstruct its relations with Africa for its own interests, especially in the light of the growing presence of the BRICS

    President Obama’s US-Africa Leaders Summit came hot on the heels of the BRICS 6th Summit in Fortaleza Brazil where the new BRICS bank – New Development Bank – was formed, which is seen as a contemporary, if not a rival to the Bretton Woods institutions, that is IMF and the World Bank.

    In the later bit of July we have seen the BRICS states commit to mobilizing a resource reserve of $50 billion as a start-up capital, which will be increased over time to $100 billion. The NDB is keen to be a lender for infrastructural projects in the developing and emerging worlds.

    South African president, Jacob Zuma, while at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, was cited as saying that the NDB would assist any nation in need. He went on to say that the IMF and World Bank have no success story to speak of in the African continent and as such the New Development Bank would pursue a different policy approach that will seek to promote the well being of the States it partners with. (IOL , 2014)

    HOW DID THE BRICS BANK COME TO BE?

    The United States’ hand and agenda in the IMF and World Bank – the two institutions have been viewed as biased against the interests of the developing world especially with policies like the structural adjustment programme in Africa – have always been apparent in post-second world war global economy (Fiancial Times, 2012). This lends an interesting back story to the current geo-political arena, with China in the red corner and the West, synonymous to the US, in the blue corner; Africa is the title belt that is seemingly growing a mind of its own with every day.

    Back in 2012 the BRICS had made a push for reform in the Bretton Woods institutions and was keen to change the weighted voting quota system, in which the preferences of the Western voters carries more weight than the preferences of the non-western voters; the BRICS were looking to safeguard the interests of developing countries and the emerging economies. (The Wall Street Journal, 2012) This move for reform was thwarted by the US Senate and so began the initial conceptions of the BRICS bank. Sub-imperial or not, on thing is for sure, the emergence of the BRICS is causing shifts in the attitude the West has historically held when engaging with Africa.

    A RISING AFRICA AND AN INTERESTED WORLD

    The ‘Africa rising’ narrative is steadily picking steam with every new statistic. In the last decade sub-Saharan Africa has experienced an annual economic growth rate close to 6 per cent – a performance it could easily sustain in the next decade. Such robust economic prospects are proving to be quite the incentives for others to cozy up to Africa for their own economic interests. (Wiseman, 2014)

    Africa’s potential has not gone unnoticed by China and, again, Africa has increasingly viewed China as a more appealing trading and development partner – amiable, non-interfering and cost effective – vis a vis the US. China’s trading volumes with Africa have overtaken those of the US (and the EU). In fact, China’s trading volumes have surpassed those of the United States for much of the world. (Business Insider, 2012)

    US trade and investment volumes seem to have stalled between 2010 and 2012 whilst Chinese and EU investment went up by 68 per cent and 8 per cent respectively over the same period. (Firsing, 2014; Wiseman, 2014) Africa is important to both China and the US not just for its wealth of natural resources, but also for its 1 billion strong population with an expanding income and purchasing power.

    The US has sought to secure its stake in Africa by initiating Africa-focused programmes in the recent past like the Power and Trade Africa and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and now the US-Africa Leaders Summit. (Firsing, 2014)

    WHAT DOES AFRICA STAND TO GAIN FROM THE SUMMIT?

    The US-Africa Leaders Summit clearly makes a statement about Africa’s global positioning; Africa is definitely not in a catch-22 situation where it has to choose one ‘good’ trading partner at the expense of the other. Africa indeed has the opportunity to vigorously negotiate for its own best interests and to reassert itself as a firm collective whose development agenda is not subject to external voices.

    It is quite evident that the Leaders Summit was not about how the US can help Africa, but rather how the US can reconstruct its relations with Africa for its own economic and perhaps geo-political interests. Global trade and investment with Africa has never been motivated by a sense of charity or altruism; it certainly is not the case too with the $37 billion and other piecemeal tokens the US wants to put into Africa through private investments. (Oluka, 2014)

    The truest gain that Africa has made, or could leverage from the Summit, is one of a global bargaining power – economically and geopolitically. This is not a freely given gain to the continent, but rather, it is an opportunity. This is an opportune time in history that the governments of Africa need to seize wisely.
    Africa is crawling out from the backwaters of global insignificance and our leaders need to play their cards right, casting away the subservient image the continent has worn since the advent of globalization.

    NUANCES WORTH MENTIONING

    Of course, there are legitimate nuances to make about this US-Africa Leaders Summit; for instance, the summit was observed to be nothing more than an elaborate and grandiose PR show. The sole purpose of the summit according to the State Department was to reaffirm the US friendship and partnership with Africa. (Pace, 2014) Second, the summit structure perpetuates the ludicrous assumption that the needs and interests of the represented African states are homogenous, which clearly is not the case. It was made clear that Obama was not going to have private audience with any of the African heads of state – other than the 90 seconds photo-op quickies – not even the two largest economies in the continent were give exceptions, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and South Africa’s Zuma were denied that sort of arrangement.

    When China and Japan hosted their versions of African Leaders Summit, their presidents personally interacted with each and every African leaders in attendance. But then again, diplomatic etiquette is a matter of splitting hairs in the greater narrative of a self-asserting and self-determining Africa.

    There is also Obama’s quest for legacy by making historical precedence in US-Africa relations. And how does he do it? By summoning African head of states by the dozen into his courts for a dress-up party, cocktails, caviar, 4-course dinners and some Lionel Richie, reminiscing over the good old days before China the ‘home-wrecker’ and the emerging economies came to mess things up.

    REFERENCES

    1. Business Insider. (2012, December 02). In 5 Years China Has Overtaken The US As A Global Trader Read more: http://tinyurl.com/mcof89g (B. Insider, Producer, & AP) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from Business Insider: http://tinyurl.com/oxplaus
    2. Fiancial Times. (2012, April 02). Fiancial Times. (F. Times, Producer, & Fianancial Times) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from ft.com: http://tinyurl.com/oatsmfa
    3. Firsing, S. (2014, July 30). US-Africa Leaders Summit: Changes now and to come. (SAIIA, Producer, & SAIIA) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from South African Institute of International Affairs: http://tinyurl.com/nrjd5ns
    4. IOL . (2014, August 05). Business Report. (IOL, Producer, & IOL) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from IOL.co.za: http://tinyurl.com/q9xoyjr
    5. Oluka, B. H. (2014, August 08). Why Obama rolled carpet for Africa’s good, bad and ugly . (T. Observer, Producer, & The Observer) Retrieved August 08, 2014, from The Observer: http://tinyurl.com/opbx464
    6. Pace, J. (2014, August 05). Yahoo: Obama: US companies to invest $14B in Africa. (Y. News, Producer, & Yahoo) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from Yahoo.com: http://tinyurl.com/l3mehq3
    7. The Wall Street Journal. (2012, March 29). Wall Street Journa Business. (T. W. Journal, Producer, & The Wall Street Jouranl) Retrieved August 05, 2014, from wsj.com: http://tinyurl.com/nz6g7co
    8. WISEMAN, P. (2014, August 06). Out of Africa: US companies have fallen behind China, Europe as region's economy expands. (G. Reporter, Producer, & Greenfield Reporter) Retrieved August 07, 2014, from Greenfield Reporter: http://tinyurl.com/o629xmb

    * Edwin Rwigi is Programme Associate, Tuliwaza, Fahamu Networks for Social Justice, Nairobi, Kenya.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

    * 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.


    DRC: The centre of the sun’s radiance for the whole of Africa

    Antoine Roger Lokongo

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92825

    After decades of violent conflict, dictatorship, a weak state and massive foreign interference, one could give up on DR Congo. But the country is on course to restoration. It will indeed become the centre of the sun’s radiance for Africa

    As I started writing this piece on the sacred day of 30 June 2014, the 54th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s independence, Patrice Lumunba’s Independence Day speech constantly filled my mind, especially when he said: ‘We are going to make of Congo the center of the sun’s radiance for the whole of Africa’.

    There is no doubt that Congo has the vocation of exporting development and peace (Congolese troops now deployed in Central African Republic are doing a great job that is appreciated by the whole international community) to the rest of the continent, given its strategic position in the heart of the African continent, given its abundant natural and mineral resources, including vast arable land (the mechanization of agriculture can therefore make of the Congo the breadbasket of the whole continent), a huge hydropower potential which can light the whole continent and an abundant cultural wealth that Congo’s 250 ethnic groups represents and which is still unexplored.

    Unfortunately, dark thick clouds have always covered what should have long ago been the center of the sun’s radiance for all of Africa,including,as Peter Englebert (2003) writes, foreign invasions, the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational and informal networks, and the multiplicity of domestic rebellions linked to foreign interests. These external factors have very much contributed to a profound colonization of the minds, the corruption mentalities of a big section of the Congolese people, as well as Congo’s state weakness, especially the greed of Congolese political elites who embezzle Congo’s money and put it in Western banks (Mobutu being a typical example) and when they die, nobody can trace the money. Once more the West is made richer!

    First of all, there is no doubt that Congo experienced the worst and most brutal colonial history. With Lumumba’s assassination immediately after independence, Congo’s young democracy was also decapitated by the same western powers which preach democracy, good governance and Christianity to Africa. However, we know very well that corruption is in the blood of Western powers! According former South African President Thabo Mbeki (2014), $ 50 billion disappear from Africa to the West every year! According to research, mineral resources worth $6 million are smuggled out of Congo every day as reported by AFP and relayed by Mail and Guardian (2013). Corruption is the most efficacious tool they use to control the minds of Africans in order to subsequently control the wealth of Africa. As Jomo Kenyatta famously said, ‘When the white men came they asked us to kneel down, close our eyes and join them in prayers. When it was all over and we opened our eyes we had their Bible and they had our land.’

    We now have new proof that the Belgian state prepared a special secret budget of what is today the equivalent to 7 million Euros (which was not a paltry sum at the time), part of secret funds which escaped the scrutiny of parliament for bribing (buy consciences) and win the favor of ‘Congolese leaders of the time’ (Tshisekedi, Mobutu, Kasavubu, Tshombe, Kalondji and others) to liquidate Lumumba – a revelation made by Colette Braeckman, expert in Great Lakes Region Affairs and journalist at the Belgian daily, Le Soir. Please watch the video [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr8_-oJ0mLUhere[/url], especially in the 49th minute.

    Considered by the United States as a guarantor of stability, Mobutu was kept in power for 32 years, ‘served’ nine US presidents (from Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton), becoming not only a linchpin of the United States of America’s interests in the region but also a prestige and ‘success story’ as far as the U.S. Africa policy during the Cold War was concerned (keeping the Soviet Union at bay in the region, especially in neigbouring Angola).

    In Zaire,the United States, France and Belgium practiced a kind of ‘remote colonialism’, that is to say, installed and armed a loyal military regime that met all their strategic resource needs and kept the country firmly under their radar as ‘a buffer against communism’. This was done in exchange for ongoing unconditional support, ‘no regime change’ as long as the security of the mineral supplies was not perturbed, a regime that ‘fits in with the U.S. France and Belgium’s agenda’.

    The Mobutuist regime during the Cold War turned out to be ‘atypique’ (abnormal) in every way. It became corrupt, kleptocratic, megalomaniac and autocratic as it took advantage of an interplay of external and internal dynamics: In this situation, external support is taken for granted, at times manipulated (Mobutu’s mind worked like this: keep me in power or there will be chaos. I am a predictable anti-communist,); in fact Mobutu took external support as a license to carry out internal abuses against an already impoverished population (no accountability). The result was disastrous. The United States, France and Belgium’s Congo policies therefore shaped the Congolese domestic political landscape (not the other way round).

    With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, the Cold War came to a dramatic end. The United States, the only superpower left, could directly ‘do business with’ countries that supported the Soviet Union without fear of competition or the expansion of the communist threat. In a way, the end of the Cold War provided the United States with an opportunity to ensure the continuity and stabilization of its oil and mining operations in those territories rich in oil, gas, natural and mineral resources, including in former pro-soviet countries.

    What happened in Central Africa was that Mobutu’s ‘anti-communist’ services in the region were no longer needed by America, but most importantly, as part of re-ordering the post-Cold War world and consolidating their own interests, the new tenants in the White House (the Clinton Administration) wanted to change the local players on the ground in Africa. The Pax Americana of the Cold War was replaced by cooperation with a new generation of military rulers, as Helmut Strizek (2004) puts it. They wanted to have their own new friends and the United States to amass a new cobalt stockpile out of Zaire. To get rid of Mobutu, the United States exerted both internal and external pressures on Mobutu until his regime collapsed like a house of cards in 1997.

    Externally, the United States, France and Belgium (known as ‘Zaire’s Troika’) summoned Mobutu to undertake democratic reform. The IMF and the World Bank required transparency and fiscal probity until they completely cut off relations with Zaire in 1993. The World Bank’s assessment was that Mr. Mobutu spent about 67 percent of the received loans on the presidency and about 33 percent on the rest of the country, as Edward Marek (1997) put it. International human rights organizations also called upon Mobutu to put an end to human rights violations and not to hinder the democratic transition process. All the mechanisms were put into action to make Mobutu understand that his time was up. Travelling to South Africa to greet Nelson Mandela, U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, accompanied by his ‘Mister Africa’, Herman Cohen, made a stop-over in Kinshasa in March 1990. He told Mobutu that a new era was about to begin in U.S.A. – Africa relations. In future, there was to be no place for Mobutu and other cronies, as Helmutz Strizek wrote.

    Internally, Western powers supported the new ‘forces for change’ in the country, including local opposition parties. Finally, the United States and North American multinational companies opted for supporting former Marxist guerilla fighter Laurent Désiré Kabila and his Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo”, (AFDL). Kabila took control of Kinshasa in May 1997 after a swift war which lasted only seven months (1996-1997), forcing Mobutu into exile in Morocco where he died four months later on 7 September 1997.

    Then a new proxy resource war broke out in 1998 when U.S.-backed regimes of Rwanda and Uganda and some Congolese rebels they created declared war on Congo and sought to replace Kabila because he refused to be subservient to Western interests and was leaning toward China (‘Look East Policy’). What has been labeled as ‘Africa’s First World War’ (10 countries were involved) cost the lives of 8 million Congolese, rape was used as a weapon of war and Congo’s natural and mineral resources were systematically looted.

    Ironically, Uganda’s Major-General Kahinda Otafire who led the Uganda invasion and the looting of Congo (please click here) is now Chairman of the ‘Pan African Movement’ and is busy preparing the 8th Pan African Congress which will take place in Accra, Ghana, in November 2014. Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba must be turning in their graves (although Lumumba never had one!) Since when did Otafire become a pan-Africanist?

    In fact, the African Union never suspended Rwanda and Uganda until they withdrew their forces from Congo. We Africans still remain dictated over by foreign powers! That is our tragedy!

    As President Joseph Kabila put it in his Independence Day speech, ‘in the last twenty years, the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the scene of aggressions, wars, armed movements and rebellions’.

    However, no matter how dark and thick clouds may be, they can never overcome or cover the sun’s radiance forever. The sun’s radiance will always prevail over the dark clouds. The night may be long but a new day will always end up breaking (African proverb).

    As Pierre Englebert observes, Congo should have collapsed some time ago under all these multiple assaults. Yet, Congo has gone on defying such expectations and has continued to display a stunning propensity for resilience.

    For us the Congolese people, Congo is not up for sale and there is no compromise when it comes to preserving our sovereignty and the territorial integrity of our country. The Congolese people will spare no sacrifice to preserve them. ‘Never betray Congo’ is our motto. Our African ancestors have designed Congo to be the center of the sun’s radiance for the whole of Africa. Anybody who goes against that, whether they are foreigners or Africans, will just have to drink water using a fork, which is quite an impossible task to accomplish and will remain thirsty.

    Whether anybody likes it or not, Africa’s rise will stem from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And Lumumba’s Congo is ready to bear such a responsibility. As president Laurent Kabila once said , ‘More than [50 years] of African independence have offered to the world a sad spectacle of a continent looted and humiliated with the complicity of its own sons and daughters’. He expressed the wish ‘to see Africa entering the 21st century totally independent of foreign interference’ and declared that ‘the battle for Congo’s independence and sovereignty was fought in the interest of Africa as a whole’. For Laurent Kabila, ‘Congo has the vocation of exporting peace, development and security to the rest of Africa because a weak Congo means a vulnerable Africa from its centre, an Africa without a heart.’

    The Algerian scholar Franz Fanon once wrote that ‘Africa is like a revolver and the trigger is the Congo’. Congo can trigger disaster or it can trigger prosperity for the entire continent, depending on the intention of the person who is pulling the trigger. The United States must realize that if the DRC becomes a breeding ground for all sorts of terrorists from neighbouring countries in the east, this can also threaten America’s long-term interests. Just last week, the Congolese army arrested two Rwandans commandos who infiltrated Congo to make trouble and say that Hutu militia are responsible for it. That is what they confessed. Rwanda does not need to fabricate more pretexts. Tutsi and Hutu have to sit together, dialogue and share power. That is what America which backs Rwanda is urging the Iraqi government to do: to share power with the former Saddamists! Nelson Mandela shared power with those who jailed him for 27 years. We all know the savagery and the brutality of the apartheid system. Britain and America must cease to be the guarantors of Rwanda’s and Uganda’s impunity for the genocide and crimes against humanity they have committed in Congo. They must not get away with it.

    In any case, the Congolese people are taking their destiny into their own hands. In his Independence Day speech this year, President Joseph Kabila announced that ‘the Congolese Armed Forces and Security Forces have now flexed their muscles and their striking force has increased tremendously, so much so that, we have put an end to twenty years of aggressions, wars, armed movements and rebellions [the resounding defeat of Rwandan and Ugandan-backed M23 speaks for itself]. Indeed, since the end of 2013, rebellions and wars in many parts of the country have been put down; terrorist movements operating in the Far North Kivu have been eradicated. Most armed groups joined the ultimatum to lay down their weapons. Thus nearly 4,500 arms have been laid down. The process is also underway with the FDLR, roughly 200 members of whom have already surrendered. I solemnly announce to the Congolese Nation that our armed forces have absolute control over the entire national territory.’

    However, President Kabila added that ‘no matter what legitimate satisfaction these feats of arms provide, the Congolese people must remain vigilant because the enemy is watching us and has not given up.’

    As Congolese government spokesperson Lambert Mende explained, Rwanda no longer has any pretexts to invade Congo and loot minerals, not even about the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The FDLR are asking for reintegration and a political space in their country, Rwanda. It is up to Rwanda to seriously take into consideration and respond to issues of substance raised by its Hutu nationals. Of course, it is also the duty of Rwanda to try, as it has always done so far, those responsible for alleged crimes related to the 1994 genocide. There is no justification for Rwandan leaders to multiply quibbles in order to keep away from home their own countrymen.

    How long are the Congolese people going to pay the price for the past inter-ethnic killings in Rwanda and for which they are not responsible? In recent clashes between the Congolese army and the FDLR, the Congolese army lost 60 of its men after inflicting a loss of 1,029 lives in the camp of FDLR. It is therefore wrong for Rwanda to accuse Congo of complicity with a few hundred residues of FDLR, especially when we know that the harm caused to Congo is more important than the injury caused to Rwanda. However, after Congo repatriated 11,000 FDLR, some of them were found on the side of the M23 and recaptured by the Congolese army during the fighting against M23.

    The Congolese government envisages two options for the FDLR: either they return to Rwanda their country of origin or go to a third host country. Both contingencies are inexorably based on an absolute prerequisite, that they leave the Congolese territory. The largest number of FDLR, aged between 18 and 25 years, is requesting repatriation to Rwanda. Only a few elderly ones, perhaps fearing the vengeance of their government, are seeking a transfer to other countries.

    The Congolese government is satisfied that the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) recently endorsed the voluntary disarmament of the FDLR within six months. Rwanda also approved the draft.

    Importantly, the facilitation that the Congolese government will provide to that voluntary disarmament of the FDLR will be without prejudice to the cooperation of our country with international judicial institutions such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha to which Congo has repeatedly delivered Rwandan genocide suspects found on its territory, as well as to the ICC at The Hague. Congo therefore certainly has no lessons to receive from anyone regarding the fight against cross-border crime in the Great Lakes region.

    The Congolese government has never renounced the military option against the FDLR. That option remains on the table in case the FDLR do not materialize their voluntary disarmament within a reasonable time. The Congolese government went as far as repatriating to their country those Rwandans, mostly aged 18 to 25 years, accused by the Rwandan government of harbouring a ‘genocide ideology’, despite the fact that, they have obviously nothing to do with the perpetration of the genocide in 1994, which occurred when they were less than five years old, or were not even born yet at that time! Who can really accuse Congo of not cooperating? Congo has some difficulties in understanding the motivations of those in our neighboring country, Rwanda, who get upset at the prospect of repatriation of 1200-1500 FDLR still living in Kivu, while in recent years, Rwanda has received more than 11,000 former FDLR returnees without any problem.

    For the time being, we can objectively say that peace is restored and we want peace with all our neighbours so that we can regionally develop together (however, Congo Brazzaville recently expelled more 1,500 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo ‘under conditions that outrage human conscience’ as President Joseph Kabila put it. But we are just of the same blood!). The country is reunified and major infrastructures have been rehabilitated during and after the war. War prevented all resources being channeled to development projects.

    In the economic sector, ‘an economy with a triple-digit inflation and continuous depreciation of the national currency, are nothing more than old memories,’ as President Joseph Kabila put it in his independence commemoration speech.

    As far as infrastructures building is concerned, at least 6,000 km of roads have already been rehabilitated throughout the Congolese territory (Kisangani-Beni-Nyanya; Lubumbashi-Kasumbalesa; Boma-Moanda Kinshasa-Kikwit), more than 12,000 km of trunk roads are being rehabilitated while new key bridges such as Mpozo and Loange have been built.

    A new Investment Code, a new Mining Code, a new Forest Code, a Framework Law of Telecommunications and Post Act have been promulgated and a Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications has been established.

    Commercial courts have been created for investors to feel secure, a commission and a national strategy against corruption and fraud has been established, (in fact, President Kabila has just sacked Congo's state owned mining company, Gecamines' CEO Ahmed Kalej Nkand for embezzlement as part of the fight against corruption.) A Steering Committee for the Reform of Public Enterprises called COPIREP as well as a National Agency For Investment Promotion, called ANAPI, have been established.

    In the education sector, a construction plan of 1,000 schools has already started to be implemented, with 130 schools already built and 230 on the point of being completed.

    In the health sector, 135 health centers have been newly equipped and there is a plan to build, rehabilitate and equip about 5,400 health facilities across the entire country. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, this program will involve 1,000 centers and 200 hundred hospitals across the country. The distribution of this program across the country will be equitable: 20 hospitals per province and about 100 health centers per province. The entire program will cost about 80 billion Congolese francs (about $80 million) funded by the government itself from its own purse.

    A new public transport company called Transco has been created with 750 new buses to date on the road, the construction of social housing in Kinshasa-Bandalungwa as well as a new program for the creation of agro-industrial parks have been launched, according to Le Potentiel, an opposition newspaper. In fact, on 15 July 2014, President Joseph Kabila officially launched the Bukanga Lonzo agro-industrial park, 200 km from Kinshasa, in addition to the Kibomango agro-industrial park in the suburb of Kinshasa. The aim is to boost the Congolese agricultural productive capacity (without sacrificing the environment due to agricultural pesticides (causes various diseases), pollution of rivers, the impoverishment of the land by various fertilizers, GMO food…) and to make Congo food-sufficient. The Bukanga Lonzo agro-industrial park is a joint-venture with Sopagri, a South African consortium, which is responsible for management, providing services and facilities for the 80,000 ha site. However, it is this writer’s view that white farmers kicked out Southern Africa should NOT be allowed to settle down in Congo, otherwise, in the long term, the same causes will produce the same effects. Showing to the world what black man can do when he works in freedom in his own land - as Patrice Lumumba put it - Zimbabwe recently recorded 85 percent increase in cereal output‏ (please click here: http://en.starafrica.com/news/zimbabwe-records-85-percent-increase-in-cereal-output.html)

    To end the uncertainty on the political front, as President Kabila put it in his speech on the occasion of this 54th anniversary of Congo's independence, Congo organized and held elections successively in 2006 and 2011, thus consolidating its young democracy and national cohesion. In fact, the National Independent Commission is already at work to organize local elections and finally presidential election in 2016 in a peaceful climate.

    Of course, all the above mentioned projects are not enough for a continent country that Congo is, but the beginning is re-assuring. National reconstruction through major projects, improvement of the social conditions of the masses, the reform of public administration (the new National School of Administration has just been inaugurated), the recovery of the judiciary as well as putting public finances in order (the government has already spearheaded the de-dollarization of the Congolese economy, all the official transactions now have to be processed in local currency, the Congolese franc and not the dollar)…these are some of the challenges ahead as enumerated by President Joseph Kabila in his speech. In addition, almost all the mining assets in Congo and half of Congo’s arable land are still in the hands of or under the control of multinationals.

    For the time being, every Congolese must work hard to achieve the Congolese dream which is to make of Congo an emerging country as soon as possible, to make of Congo ‘the China of Africa’. This will benefit not only Congo but the whole of Africa. In fact, the Congolese Senate has just approved a deal the Congolese government signed with South Africa, that is, to built INGA III, the biggest hydropower project in the world comparable only with the Three Gorges Dam in China.
    Africa needs a stable Democratic Republic of Congo where peace and development for the whole continent will spring from. That is Patrice Lumumba’s vision: to make of the Democratic Republic of Congo the center of the sun’s radiance for the whole of Africa.

    REFERENCES

    “Africa loses $50bn yearly to money laundering, says Mbeki,” The News, May 7 2014, http://thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2014/05/07/africa-loses-50bn-yearly-money-laundering-says-mbeki/, consulted on 30 June 2014.

    AFP, “Mugabe foresees new tasks for Africa's spies,” Mail and Guardian, May 7, 2013, http://mg.co.za/article/2013-05-07-mugabe-news-tasks-for-africas-spies, consulted on 30 June 2014.

    Edward Marek, “DR Congo News Brief/Report from Marek Enterprise,” Reliefweb, 23 Jun 1997,http://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/dr-congo-news-brief-23-jun-1997, consulted on November 19, 2013.

    Franz Fanon, Towards the African Revolution, New York: Grove Press, 1967; Reprint: New York: Grove Press, 1994, p.419.

    Helmutz Strizek, “Central Africa - 15 years after the Cold War: The International involvement,” Internationales Afrikaforum, Vol.40, No.3, September 2004, pp.273-288.

    Pierre Englebert, “Why Congo Persists: Sovereignty, Globalization and the Violent Reproduction of a Weak State,” Paper written for the Queen Elizabeth House Carnegie Project on “Global Cultural and Economic Dimensions of Self-Determination in Developing Countries.”, Queen Elisabeth House Working Paper Series No.95, Oxford, 2003.

    * Antoine Roger Lokongo is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a journalist and PhD candidate at the Centre for African Studies, School of International Relations, Peking University, Beijing, China.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    The power of organisation

    How does the Congolese diaspora come together to create change?

    Samya Lugoma

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92826

    It is particularly in its failure to organize that the Congolese diaspora has been unable to bring sustainable support and change to the situation in their country. What needs to be done in order to organize effectively and bring to reality the change we want to see in Congo?

    TRANSFORMING MOBILIZATION INTO ORGANIZATION

    I recently watched the great revolutionary leader Kwame Ture also known as Stokely Carmichael speak on the art of organizing in his speech titled, ‘Converting the Unconscious to Conscious: Mobilization and Organization’. He mentioned something that strongly resonated with me in terms of the methods the Congolese diaspora has been using to initiate mobilization in the last couple years. ‘We must make clear distinctions between mobilizers and organizers. We must transform mobilization into organization. If we’re not careful we allow mobilization to become events’.

    This is what the Congolese movement has become. We haven't been able to make a distinction between mobilizing, which is the unconscious mass reacting instinctively to an issue, and organizing, which is responding to an issue based on reason and a planned trajectory with practical solutions. In 2011, many of us participated in protests and rose up as a result of being fed up with the status quo and the government in place. What happens is that our protests and our platforms become mere gatherings where we show our discontent. It is righteous and can have an impact but it is not a sustainable one, because it is unplanned, it doesn't have a clear motive and it simply becomes a waste of energy and which leaves us defeated. In our plight it is essential to be able to transform the energy that brings us together for our country and canalize it into a clear-cut plan of action which can only be achieved through conscious organization.

    The real questions we must be asking ourselves in order for us to put ourselves in a positive perspective and to calculate the feasibility of efficient organization of our Congolese communities globally are the following: How do we transform an unconscious mass into a conscious one? What needs to be done in terms of creating a lasting movement, one that won't fizzle out?

    CONSCIOUS ORGANIZATION

    Many of us believe that we are conscious, but the reality is that we are merely aware and simply being aware of our situation as Congolese is not enough; it is a waste of time. Being aware is what many of us in the diaspora were back in 2011, when we stormed the streets to protest against the injustice and the lack of fair elections back home. Many Congolese although far from the situation do realize that the status quo needs to change: Actually I dare say all Congolese know that things need to change, even the one who's benefiting from the oppressive system is aware that the country is in a bad shape. As we can see, it is not because we know that there are an estimated six million people who have perished in this conflict in the last decade, or that majority of Congolese do not benefit from the resources of their country, that will change the situation. Actually what has resulted from our awareness has mostly been reactionary mobilization that tends to fizzle out, resulting in many people being fed up and frustrated with a movement that doesn't seem to be bringing any substantial result.

    Indeed, the Congolese diaspora is in majority an unconscious mass lacking direction, that is left reacting instinctively when they have had enough with an issue. No to say that the protests that happened in November 2011 weren't righteous or positive, in fact in many host countries these protests put the Congolese struggle on the map. Whether in Europe, Canada or United States the Congolese diaspora did succeed in catching the attention of the public, where it also birthed new spaces for Congolese to come together and share their projects and ideas. However, as quickly as that momentum rose up, it quickly vanished, because we spent a lot of energy protesting without a clear direction of the future of our collective struggle in terms of implementing real social and political change in Congo.

    Now we are facing the next elections in 2016 without a clear plan of who we want in power. We wanted President Joseph Kabila out of that position and now that he’s about to end his term, what are the steps we have taken to replace him? Therefore we should ask ourselves: What is lacking in order to make this awareness conscious? The difference between being aware and conscious is the actions that come after realizing that there's an issue. Being conscious is not merely realizing there's a problem; it is also taking appropriate actions in order to come up with a concrete solution.

    I believe the first step required in the search and accomplishment of conscious social change demands:

    1. SELF-AWARENESS: Realizing our weaknesses and what needs to be fixed within our respective communities, in order to move forward in unity as a conscious mass. Many Congolese communities are struggling to manage associations and community centres that focus on their well-being in their host countries. The same issues that we are facing in our respective community organisations are the ones we are repeating in our quest for a better Congo, such as the inability to respect our own rules such as the constitutions we agreed on, lack of accountability and transparency.

    2. EDUCATION: We have the privilege of constant access to resources that people on the ground do not have. We must consume the information at hand in order to be the bridge of information between us and our counterparts who are struggling to be heard. We must use our knowledge to create a new narrative and agency for Congolese people. Our lack of knowledge on the situation of our country doesn't come from our not having access to resources; in fact we have enormous access, from history books to reports written by the UN and many different organizations. We have enough intellectual resources to position ourselves as conscious citizens by depicting who are our enemies in this conflict, who are the mining companies, the multinationals, the governments and the individuals that are perpetuating this war. The issue lies in the lack of practical links between the conscious and the unconscious mass. It is the responsibility of the intellectuals in our communities to transform this information into information that is easily comprehensible to the unconscious mass.

    3. WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE: Being part of the diaspora gives us privileges such as security and removes the fear of being reprimanded or silenced; for many of us it is an opportunity to act and take on that responsibility. If we want change we cannot afford to be lethargic or discouraged by the struggle. It is not enough for us to announce our dissatisfaction or frustration on social media and not act on it. We have to be more active and willing to make this change. It is the only way we can remove this feeling of hopelessness. We also have to understand that by deciding not to act and prepare accordingly, we are actually enabling the system that is destroying our country.

    ORGANIZING POLITICALLY

    Like stated earlier on, one of the privileges of being in the diaspora is being removed from the conflict or the socio-economic challenges that most Congolese face on the ground. As a member of the diaspora, we have to understand that we do have political and economic spaces which give us the opportunity to have direct or indirect influence on our host as means of support to the civil society and social movements on the ground. It is imperative for Congolese in the diaspora to organize in a way that we can create important pressure groups within our respective communities because today we are unfortunately unable to articulate and come to a consensus in terms of what needs to be said to the different governments that benefit not only from our taxes but also from the on-going chaos in Congo.

    This is a significant issue especially in countries such as Canada, where 75 percent of mining companies are registered at the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is not the number of Congolese that are lacking in Canada. For example in Montreal alone, we make up to 58 percent of the immigration population according to Immigration Quebec. It is only a matter of bringing forth substantial organizational techniques that will help mobilize Congolese to raise awareness on the situation in their country. Other than raising awareness of the public, political organization does give the power to Congolese in the diaspora to become pressure groups in order to affect policy changes concerning Congo. If we take the example of the United States that already has a law in place concerning Congo and it is only a matter of garnering enough support to put pressure on the government to actually enforce the law, PL-109 - 456. Through political organization and advocacy we directly become the voice of the voiceless to the international community. We are able to become a force and not let people forget about the millions of Congolese that suffer in order for the rest of the world to benefit from our natural resources.

    FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION

    We need to realise that change will not occur without having substantial means. Whatever we are planning and want to achieve whether it is in Congo or abroad will call for our communities to create a sense of economic responsibility through financial support. We need to organize economically in order to sustain our struggle and support the work of the people on the ground. It is perhaps one of the most important roles of the Congolese diaspora. In 2011 the African Bank of Development reported that Congolese migrants had sent a total of $9 billion to their countries with money transfer systems such as Western Union. That is not including any other means of sending money back home such as giving it to family and friends who are going on vacation etc. Now, think about it: What if that money was canalized in order to support and organize the Congolese civil society working towards lasting social change? How many technology centres would we have been able to build in order to give internet access to many Congolese, in a country where only 1.3 percent of the population have internet connection at home? How many children would we be able to send to school? We wouldn't have to worry about finding enough money in order to help Congolese who are being kicked out and mistreated by the Congo-Brazzaville government. Many grassroots organizations in the North and South Kivu wouldn't have to rely on foreign aid in order to keep doing the amazing work that they're doing for their communities affected by the conflict.

    Being able to sustain ourselves financially is not only empowering but it also gives us complete control over our struggle and the work that we are trying to accomplish. It is important for us to organize in order to create a mass movement, which in return has favourable financial outcome. As a grassroots movement allows for many people to work on different tasks supporting the movement, allowing for the funds that would traditionally be allocated to paying workers in a non-profit organisation to be directly used to support the work that is being done on the ground.

    * Samya Lugoma is an undergrad student in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Montreal and a youth coordinator with Friends of the Congo.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

    * BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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    Rape of bodies, rape of resources, rape of a nation

    Namakula Evelyn Mayanja

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92824

    The situation in DRC illustrates the deficiency of global ethics, selfishness and the longstanding failure to value the lives of the African people. Tackling the DRC’s impasse requires a comprehensive approach and involvement of national, regional, continental and international communities

    Rape of bodies, rape of resources, rape of a nation

    INTRODUCTION

    One of the biggest challenges facing Africa and the international community is bringing sustainable peace to DRC, thus addressing the genocide that has occurred for decades. The DRC has been plunged into phases of wars, deadly conflicts and violence since the horrors of King Leopold’s personal rule (1885-1908), followed by Belgian colonialism (1908-1960). In addition, the first and only democratically elected Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba was assassinated in1961.The situation was exacerbated by Mubutu Seseku’s 32-year dictatorial rule (1965-1997), invasions from Rwanda and Uganda since 1996 to the present and intermittent attacks from varied rebel groups. Throughout these 129 years, Congo and her institutions have been destroyed; more than 6 million people have been killed, hundreds of thousands displaced internally or having to assume global refugee status.

    Thousands of women and girls have been raped, and even men and boys have not been spared. Physical rape is coupled with mental or psychological rape that leaves an indelible scar affecting the Congolese society for generations. Many children who would be in schools are exploited as they are recruited as child soldiers, forced to kill, work in the mines and be addicted to drugs. Their destroyed childhood innocence and dignity are beyond recovery. The youth are disenfranchised with unemployment and poverty, making them susceptible to joining rebel groups.

    A point not well understood is that the DRC conflict does not concern Congo or Africa alone. It is a global issue. The natural resources causing bloodshed and death benefit Western industries’ need for rubber, copper, cobalt, tin, tantalum, gold, diamond, zinc, timber, iron and uranium for automobile, airspace, technology, electronic, military, furniture, and jewelry. The DRC is embroiled in a geo-political and economic strategic battle in the search for scarce resources that are abundant in Congo. It is the paradox of the resource curse. It is hardly remembered that sustainable extraction of the minerals would benefit global interests longer and the rain forests in the DRC are vital to curbing climate change. The Congolese people are endowed in many ways, with potential to contribute to global progress. The situation in DRC illustrates the deficiency of global ethics, selfishness and the longstanding failure to value the lives of the African people. If 6 million people died in Europe or America, would the international community remain silent? During the Jewish holocaust, 1939-45, 6 million people were massacred and the whole world knows about it. Why the silence about Congo?

    The impasse in the DRC is an epitome of African leaders’ greed, selfishness, ineffective leadership and governance. How could the Africa Union (former Organization of African Unity) allow the situation prevailing in Congo to go on for decades? The DRC is a mirror to many African nations ravaged by war, conflicts, selfishness and greed of the elite leaders who fail to plan for the development of our nations and continent at large and instead exploit both human and social capital for personal interests. Leaders go so far as corrupting and embezzling foreign aid. When will the DRC and Africa in general stop relying on the life blood of foreign aid when our resources benefit other continents and human capital? Developing economies and great powers exploit Africa’s human and natural resources relentlessly. Where do natural resources fail to benefit populations as it is in Africa?

    While other regions achieve effective associations such as the European Union and foster genuine unity and development, Africa’s continental and regional unions remain nominal and ineffective. While Africa laments the impasse of colonialism, we are missing our best last chance. The situation is rapidly deteriorating, rendering economic progress, peace and political stability impossible. If the current trend in the DRC and the entire continent are not reversed soon, there will be no natural resources nor a clean environment left for our posterity. Our future will be doomed to war and conflict. If Africa was united, the DRC has the potential to function as a power engine for the whole continent. Once President Obama said that for Africa to achieve its promise, solving DRC’s problems is vital. Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, argued there cannot be an African Renaissance without a new Congo. Congo is vital to Africa’s present and future progress.

    Tackling the DRC’s impasse requires a comprehensive approach and involvement of national, regional, continental and international actors, coupled with continued research to inform policies and praxis. Equally, varied strategies designed from local cultures, African philosophy and interdisciplinary academic views are vital.

    This article poses two arguments. First, unless the DRC (and Africa at large) strengthen effective leadership and governance, peace and development remain impossible. Sustainable peace will not ensue from the barrel of the gun, but from a leadership that diligently practices smart power in enacting national and international policies, rebuilding public institutions, governance and human security.

    The second argument is inextricably linked to the first. Lasting solutions to DRC problems rely upon the Congolese people who should be empowered and their rights to self determination respected to make decisions for their country. Lasting peace cannot be detached from peoples’ core values and aspirations. Thus, the restoration of the principles of African philosophy, particularly respect for life of the living, the unborn, living dead, ancestors and nature and Ubuntu philosophy that values and respects the humanness of others remain a vital strategy. Neo-liberal peace approaches, devoid of African values, are likely to lead to intermittent signing of peace agreements only to be followed by wars.

    The article has six parts. It started with the introduction, followed by a chain of rape traced through the lens of Congo’ history and its critical analysis; proposals on strengthening leadership, a recourse to Ubuntu philosophy and a conclusion.

    A CHAIN OF RAPE THROUGH THE LENS OF CONGO’S HISTORY

    The DRC is an epitome of national, human and resource rape. Civil wars, secessions, insurrections, rebellions, mutinies, deadly violence, invasions, revolts, plunder, and ethnic polarization are ongoing. Wars, economic devastation of natural resources, massacres, sexual violence, corruption and political instability have gone through a succession of phases, understood only by looking into the past. Congo’s problems commenced in1871 when the British explorer Sir Henry Stanley travelled to the Congo River and discovered Congo’s riches. King Leopold II of Belgium established the Association International Africaine, disguised as a humanitarian association to aid Congo’s colonization. He employed Stanley to return to Congo and acquire as much land as he could. Wittingly, Stanley bribed local chiefs with gifts and flattery to sign treaties in exchange for their land. Did the chiefs understand the meaning and implications of the treaties?

    Owning Congo as a personal property and practicing personal rule, Leopold started harvesting Congo’s rubber, highly demanded for Western booming bicycle and car tire industries in the 1890s. Resource exploitation went hand in hand with human enslavement. Villages were stormed and torched, women taken as hostages, raped and starved to death along with their children, until men produced the required quantities of rubber. Labourers worked under inhumane conditions. They were flogged, hands and limbs amputated as a punishment. Between 1880 and 1920, 10 million Congolese lost their lives, leaving just half of the original population.[1] When Leopord’s atrocities were exposed, he lost financial support. In 1908, he sold the ‘Congo Free State’ to Belgium which became the colonial power. Plunder, exploitation and abuse of human rights continued until 1960 when Congo became ‘independent’.

    Patrick Lumumba became the first democratically elected Congolese head of government in 1960. Lumumba demanded not only political liberation but also economic independence from the oppressive imperialists and asserted that Congo should be a sovereign state, cooperating with Belgium and other Western nations as equal partners. His nationalistic stand and demand for social justice infuriated Western powers including the United Nations and USA. In 1961, Lumumba was assassinated by his opponents who are believed to have been supported by Belgium and the USA.

    In a coup d’etat with support of USA, Mobutu seized power in 1965. He allowed international exploitation of the natural resources and amassed wealth for himself which he kept in Swiss banks. Was that money ever returned to Congo after Mobutu’s death? To foster national unity, Mobutu started the ‘authenticity’ program to promote traditional culture and values as a measure to suppress Western cultural influence. He changed the country’s name to Zaire, and all Congolese were obliged to use African names only. In the middle of 1971, authenticity became ‘Mobutuism’, a personality cult that legitimized his absolutism. To bolster his personal rule, he destroyed all institutions, suppressed political parties, placed members of his ethnic group into leadership positions, thus antagonizing inter-ethnic relations and interests of the indigenous elite from other ethnic groups and political parties.

    However, Mobutu maintained strong international relations and received economic and military support from powerful nations including USA despite well documented records of human rights violation, corruption and political repression. He was a strong Western ally to curb communism in Africa. In 1973, Mobutu started the ‘Zairianization’ process of businesses owned by foreigners and assumed absolute control of the mineral resources with the establishment of the ‘Societe Zairoise pour la Commercialisation des Minerais’ which was entrusted with marketing all mineral resources. Zairianization destroyed the economy, leading the government to persistent borrowing and reliance on foreign aid.

    In 1994, an influx of Hutu Rwandan refugees, that included former Rwandan soldiers and the Interahamwe entered Congo, escaping the Tutsi led government –Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) under Kagame. In 1995 Mobutu’s parliament passed a resolution that stripped Rwandan speaking ethnic groups of Congolese citizenship. In 1996, the Banyamulenge and the Banyarwanda were ordered to leave Congo in accordance with the parliamentary resolution passed in 1995. They refused to leave and instead sought for help from Rwanda. The Rwandan government intervened and embarked on destroying Hutu refugee camps and killing thousands, mostly children, women, the sick and elderly. This genocide went unrecognized globally.

    The chaotic political situation led to the formation of the Alliance des Forces Democratiques de la Liberation, that comprised of Banyamulenge combatants and other ethnic groups, under the leadership of Laurent Kabila. With military support from Rwanda and Uganda, Kabila started a rebellion in the mineral rich region of Eastern Congo. Kinsasha was captured and on May 1997, Kabila was sworn in as the president.

    In July 1998, Kabila fell out with Rwanda and Uganda as he ordered foreign troops to leave Congo. Rwanda accused Kabila of being corrupt, authoritarian and becoming genocidal, while Uganda charged him with incompetence, failing to provide security along her border and prevent genocide against the Rwandan refugees in DRC. Kabila sought support from other African nations such as Angola, Namibia, Chad, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, leading to ‘Africa’s first world war’ with horrendous violence and brutality. In January 2001, Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph Kabila assumed and maintains Congo’s leadership. Kabila Jr. became the president of a nation that was poor, embroiled in political chaos and occupied by rebel groups on one hand and foreign troops on the other. Kabila was elected as the president in 2006 and again in 2011 under ambiguous processes. Although the DRC Constitution Article 70 states that presidential mandate is renewable only once and article 220 states categorically that there should be no renewal of presidential mandate, it is not clear whether or not Kabila will seek for the third term in 2016. In May 2014 when the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Congo, he called on Kabila to respect the constitution and not to run for a third term. Kerry also pledged $30 million to support free, transparent and credible elections.

    In 2002 with the intervention of the United Nations, Rwandan and Ugandan troops were ordered to leave Congo. Evidence from the United Nations proves that the presidents of Rwanda and Uganda continue to support various rebel groups in view of exploiting the natural resources. Whose interests do these two leaders serve? Why don’t the African Union and United Nations impose sanctions on them for their violation of human rights, transgression of DRC`s sovereignty and plundering its resources?.


    Additionally, private Congolese entrepreneurs facilitate military activities for commercial reasons, while expatriate entrepreneurs work opportunistically to broker import and export deals and carry out illicit mineral trade with warlords. The report of the United Nations Panel of Experts lists individuals, multinational corporations, foreign banks, companies and firms from twenty-six nations in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America who are involved in the exploitation of Congo`s resources. This entire analysis is a foot print to Congo`s political and economic struggle

    A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF HISTORY

    The major characteristics of Congo`s history are: dictatorship and personal rule with no leadership models, international interference and support of dictators as long as they satisfy Western (and Chinese) interests. Why does the West support dictators at civilian expense? While African leaders are known for their ‘bigmanity’, dictatorship, personal rule and violation of human rights, the trend started with Western intervention in Africa exemplified by Leopold and the colonizers. Congo`s institutions and leadership were weak from the beginning and dictatorial rule was just a nail in the coffin.

    The economic development of Congo is hampered by personal rule, corruption, plunder and total incapacity of the Congolese people. All leaders- foreigners and Congolese alike, pursue personal, rather than national interests. Do they qualify to be leaders, presidents or plunderers?

    Massacres and rape have been used for more than a century. How can the international community fail to intervene and involve all powers to save life in DRC? Does it mean that the blood of some races is superior? Congo has been referred to as the worst place to be a woman and world`s rape capital. The literature on rape refers to it as ‘a weapon of war’. I consider rape as a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to the DRC. The ramifications of rape last for generations like the nuclear residues of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The suffering of women and girls in DRC is unimaginable. The physical and psychological suffering and wounds caused by rape robs a woman of her dignity and pride. The media, national and international non-government organizations provide rape statistics. Behind these numbers is human life, a human person whose dignity is trivialized. If we could all imagine that those raped are our mothers, sisters or daughters, could the international community allow such violence to prevail? Besides being impregnated, tortured and having their internal organs destroyed, many women and girls are infected with HIV/AIDS. Living with HIV/AIDS, nursing HIV positive children and raising so many orphans is a tragedy for the Congolese society.

    STRENGTHENING LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE

    Strengthening effective leadership and governance is a vital intervention in Congo`s impasse. DRC needs leaders who value and foster the well being of their people above their own personal interests. Leadership and governance are key to sustainable use of the natural resources, and the implementation of policies that bind international markets and ensure that revenues foster citizens’ wellbeing and security. The DRC (and Africa at large) needs to learn from other nations how to utilize, diligently and cautiously their resources and revenues. Providing good education and good jobs for the young is an effective buffer against recruitment into rebel groups. Having an uneducated population and so many unemployed youth is a shame and a ticking time bomb. In contrast, developed nations educate their people, empower them with expertise to think, invent and produce goods that are marketable. In this way they use Africa’s resources to make products that Africans import at exorbitant prices.

    Strengthened governance will ensure strong institutions to curb illicit extraction of the resources and corruption of revenues. During the first visit of president Obama to Africa, he said that Africa needs strong institutions and not strong men/women. The judiciary as an institution will ensure justice and there will be no need of trying offenders by the International Criminal Court. In any case Justice needs to be given according to the terms of the survivors/victims and not the terms of the giver who have not experienced the atrocities on DRC.

    Effective leaders will empower women to have a greater role in politics and economics. Cultural paradigms that keep women backward and deny their rights are engraved in deep insecurity. It is unacceptable and illogical to disempower women who would provide more than half of the work force.

    RECOURSE TO UBUNTU PHILOSOPHY

    Ubuntu philosophy is the African sense of community and respect for humanness summed up in: “I am because we are, and because we are therefore I am.” The same philosophy was echoed by Martin Luther King Jr. in his struggle for a humane world: ‘an injustice any where is an injustice everywhere and should not leave any one indifferent.’ It is unfortunate that the richness of Africa’s traditional culture remains oral, besides being eroded by colonialism, considered satanic by foreign religions and facing extinction with globalization. A return to African values, ethics and the essence of being human enables us to rediscover the following: killing people is an evil; rape is inhumane; kidnapping children and youth to use them as child soldiers is immoral; corruption should never be tolerated; stealing the resources that would benefit the marginalized is an injustice; abusing the rights of people because they are black, African or of a different ethnic group is xenophobic.

    CONCLUSION

    The presentations in this paper advocate for strengthening state leadership and governance along with African values particularly Ubuntu. Congo has experienced rape and exploitation for decades. One of the major causes of the incessant wars in the DRC is the exploitation of the natural resources, without benefiting the inhabitants. Strong institutions are needed to ensure that natural resource revenues are invested into other industries, developing human capital and social economic projects to offer employment and better living conditions to the population. Women empowerment is fundamental to Congo’s revival to turn the victims of unimaginable suffering into contributors to peace and progress. Interventions for sustainable peace rooted in strengthened leadership, governance and life giving African values, would enable Congo to progress, serving as a power engine for the entire African continent and the world. This is the last best chance not only for the DRC but the entire Great Lakes Region and continent. If we do not seize the opportunity of ending wars and rebuilding Congo, it is most likely that more disastrous consequences will ensue. Congolese must be empowered to decide for their future and to assert for their rights.
    END NOTES

    [1] For details on Lepord’s exploitation of the Congo, see, Hochschild, A. (1999). King Leopold's ghost : a story of greed, terror, and heroism in Colonial Africa (1st Mariner Books ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 161, 233

    * Namakula Evelyn Mayanja is a PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Canada.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

    * BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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    Israel’s murderous onslaught on Gaza and the struggle for genuine liberation

    Kola Ibrahim

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92821

    The conflict between Israel and Palestine, currently devastating Gaza, will continue without drastic changes. Workers and youths in the two nations and across the Middle East must unite against the system and build revolutionary democratic governments that serve the people

    The war machine of Israel is drawing fresh blood from Gaza. While a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has been agreed to as at the time of writing this essay, estimating the cost is itself a horrific venture. Close to 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, 80 percent of whom are civilians – with well over 300 children – have been killed by Israeli bombs and artilleries. Since the latest onslaught began on 8 July 2014, close to 1,500 buildings, including residential and administrative buildings, schools and hospitals, have been turned into rubble or partially destroyed. Close to 10,000 people have been wounded. The only electricity generating plant which, prior to this latest onslaught only guaranteed few hours of power supply, was destroyed by Israel’s bombs. With the new development, Gaza will be thrown into the dark ages of civilization, perhaps for a year. Also, about 70 Israeli lives including those of three civilians and at least 65 soldiers have been taken by Hamas. Clearly, the monstrous god of Israel is indeed bloodthirsty.

    The world’s conscience is outraged, and justifiably so. Mass protests have erupted in several corners of the world. From Europe to the Americas, the Middle East, and of course Israel and Palestine, mass protests are ridiculing the arrogance of Netanyahu-led Israeli regime. The blanket cover of the imperialist states of the US and Europe can no longer protect its rotten skin. While the Netanyahu regime can still bank on home support –premised on raw nationalism – the reality of the war being unable to give any solutions or protect Israeli citizens or destroy Palestinian resistance will cause a serious schism within Israeli society in the coming period. This, coupled with the crisis that the neoliberal economy will face in the coming period, may lead to a serious social crisis, during and after the current murderous onslaught on Gaza.

    JUSTIFYING CARNAGE

    No reasonable human being, who is not blindfolded by raw religious, racial and nationalist bigotry, will accept the ridiculous justification for the mass murder being carried out by the Israeli apartheid state. Moreover, the fact that Israel has maintained an occupying status in the Gaza Strip since 1967 is a greater cause of anger for many people. Should we mention the arrogance and total disregard for international rules that established occupation in the first instance?

    The Israeli government and its propaganda machine, desperate to justify its murderous campaign, have come up with very bizarre excuses for the onslaught on Gaza. These excuses have been echoed by most western capitalist media – and unfortunately by those in the third world –while global capitalist governments in America and Europe are using the same excuses to continue their reactionary support for Israel. The first premise of this excuse is that this is a war, and that Israel has the right to defend itself against rockets from Hamas. In the first instance, this is not a war; it is a one-sided onslaught against a people considered inferior by Israel. Indeed, Gaza, and in fact, the whole of Palestine, has been subjected to economic, social and political onslaught prior to this time. Referring to the killing of almost 2,000 people, 80 percent of whom are civilians, by one of the most armed states in the world as a defence is worse than being hypocritical.

    Assuming, without conceding that this is even a war, the fact that Israel, as one of the world’s most armed states, has the military precision to target Hamas military facility, but instead chose to engage in the collective punishment of the people of Gaza, ostensibly for having the ‘misfortune’ of being ruled by Hamas, is worse than being inhuman. Moreover, most of the rockets fired by Hamas hardly reach Israel, with most of them being captured in the air by Israel anti-rocket facilities. Of course, firing rockets inside Israel as a way of fighting the Israeli apartheid state is counterproductive; the reality is that this is only a smokescreen allowing the Israeli war machine to reduce Gaza to ruins. Is bombing the United Nations’ buildings, where thousands of children and women took shelter, part of defending Israel? Is the deliberate and ‘joyful’ shooting and bombing of Palestinian children and women an act of self-defence?

    The excuse that Israel is defending itself is standing reality on its head. The arrest of hundreds of Palestinians, military invasion into Gaza, killing of scores of Gaza citizens and further siege by Israel all occurred under the guise of avenging the kidnap of three Israeli citizens, which was a major cause of the latest Israeli onslaught. Despite not being able to trace the kidnappings to Hamas, Israel went ahead to launch terror on Palestinians in Gaza. This, coupled with existing tightening of the noose on Gaza, led to the defensive firing of rockets by Hamas. Interestingly, when a Palestinian was horribly mobbed and killed by some Israelis, the Israeli government could only reluctantly launch an investigation and make some arrests, ostensibly after global outcry.

    2005-2014: LEGACY OF REPRESSION

    Since 2005, when Israel claimed to have relinquished control over Gaza to Palestine, Palestinians living there have been subjected to repression and subjugation. They have not been allowed to live freely. The airspace, coastal areas and borders have been taken over by Israel, which many times uses this control as a tool of punishment and provocation. In reality, Gaza’s people are living as Israeli prisoners. This is more so that Gaza is a strip of land with unprecedentedly high population density – 4,270 persons per square kilometre, with over 80 percent living in poverty and unemployment as high as 50 percent. The other part of Palestinian lands like the West Bank also face similar situations, only unlike Gaza, these areas are larger. The 8,000 Jews withdrawn by Israel from Gaza under Ariel Sharon in 2005 were replaced with 12,000 Israelis occupying the West Bank.

    The 2006 western-backed and Israel-supported elections in Palestine that saw a massive electoral victory for Hamas were a turning point for Israel and western governments’ policies towards Palestine. Israel and western governments had expected the Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah government to be strengthened by the elections, which would have provided an opportunity to continue the repressive policies towards Palestinians, ostensibly under the veil of diplomacy and peace talks.

    On the contrary, Palestinians, tired of the pusillanimity of the Abbas-led Fatah government, which only provided Israel with strength to continue the siege and repression of Palestine, voted for Hamas, which was seen as less corrupt and braver than Fatah government. Incidentally, the very reason the Palestinians used to reject Fatah was the same reason Israel and western governments wanted the Fatah government to continue. Therefore, before you could spell ‘election’, Israel and the US rejected the elections and opposed any government formed by or with Hamas. This clearly shows the bankruptcy of western democratic credential. The same western governments and Israel that rejected the election results accepted the right of Hamas to contest, hoping to use the credibility that Hamas’ participation would confer on the electoral process to strengthen the Abbas-led Fatah government. But when the ‘democracy’ did not go the way it was planned by Israel and the US, it became another term: a vote for terrorism.

    In order to counter this ‘vote for terrorism’, Israel and western governments came up with a ‘better’ terrorism: state terrorism. Money meant for the Palestinian government was withheld, thus denying workers access to salaries, while the siege was upped. Repression became the order of the day. Many Hamas politicians including members of parliament were arrested by Israel and jailed. The central aim of this is to discredit Hamas as the cause of the economic and political terrorism on Palestine, thus trying to instigate uprising against Hamas. Of course, the Abbas-led Fatah, itself jolted by the result of the election, and wanting any means to continue to hold on to power, played out the imperialist agenda of divide-and-rule by organizing a coup against the Hamas government, ousting it from the West Bank. The result was that Hamas moved to Gaza to form a government. Since then, Israel has specially isolated Gaza for special ‘state terrorist treatment’. As said earlier, borders, serving as the only window for bringing in needed materials for survival, were indiscriminately closed at the insistence of Israel and Egypt. The coastal areas were sealed off, except when Israel was appeased by international community. Constant mass arrests and killings became the order of the day. The economy of Gaza was destroyed such that Palestinians have to rely on the benevolence of Israel and international support for basic survival. Interestingly, the same Israel that had in the 1980s backed Hamas in order to weaken Yasser Arafat-led Fatah now wants Hamas’ obliteration.

    Nothing exemplifies the maniacal character of Israel’s murderous campaign better than the fact that every time Israel provokes Hamas into firing rockets, unprecedented force is used against Gaza, which definitely makes the humanitarian situation worse at every instance. This, rather than stop the cycle of horror, has only sustained it. Between 2008 and now, Israel’s war machine has bombed Gaza to ruin three times, with close to 3,500 lives lost, mostly civilians, and close to 20,000 people wounded, aside from thousands of buildings and billions of dollars’ worth of properties destroyed. Infrastructures including water supply and electricity have been battered, while social services like schools and hospitals have been rendered useless. Yet, the carnage has not stopped. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), on the basis of these horrible situations, Gaza may be unliveable in the next ten years, as the population density will far outweigh available resources, facilities and infrastructures. Worse still, the people are not allowed access to outside world, as Egypt’s dictatorship has made the Rafah crossing a tool of its allegiance to global imperialism. Yet, Israel and its western backers are not moved. Ostensibly, Israel is waiting for Gaza to become fallow, as a means to take over the land. This of course will be accomplished through the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza from famine, disease, hunger and miseries.

    HAMAS’ REACTIONARY IDEOLOGY

    Worth stating also is the fact that Hamas’ reactionary ideology of not recognizing Israel and its political Islamism are disservices to the cause of Palestinian liberation. It is absolutely wrong for Hamas or any Palestinian organization to think that Palestinian liberation can be achieved by obliterating Israel. Firstly, on the basis of existence of several generations of Israelis, coupled with Israel's economic power, it will be reactionary and backward to think that Israel can be obliterated, without Palestine itself not being swept off, economically and socially. Secondly, the idea that Israel should cease to exist can only isolate Palestinians not only in Israel but globally. How will Palestinians expect Israelis to support organizations that believe that Palestine can only exist with the end of Israel? What will happen to the millions of Jews who have found homes in Israel? Meanwhile, without local opposition and mass movements of Israelis (both Jews and non-Jews), coupled with mass movements in the Arab world and global support, the Israeli war machine cannot be stopped in its murderous path.

    Also, the idea of political Islam, which is intolerant to other people, their beliefs and their cultures, and which suppresses the rights of citizens in the name of enforcing religious doctrines and laws, can only isolate Hamas and serve as a cog in the cause of Palestinian liberation. In a period of relative peace, Hamas will be one of the most reactionary organizations, advocating and enforcing medieval and undemocratic religious laws that infringe on the basic rights of the people. Moreover, Hamas has no viable economic programmes to improve the lives of Palestinians, even if there is no siege. It, along with other reactionary religious fundamentalist groups like Islamic Jihad, will only replace Israeli state terror with localized economic and political subjugation, perhaps on a lower scale.

    FATAH AND CORRUPT ARAB SHEIKS

    On the other hand, Fatah’s kowtowing to the Arab ruling classes will not guarantee any way out for the Palestinians. Indeed, Arab rulers are themselves tools in the hands of global imperialism for the sustenance of capitalist relations. Arab rulers are corrupt and bankrupt; they rely on patronage from and sustenance of the geo-political status quo, in order to guarantee their obscene lifestyles. They are armed and propped up by western capitalism. They have vast business interests in the US and Europe. Therefore, they cannot allow the current apple cart to be upset. More than this, victory for the Palestinian struggle can excite a sense of victory in the whole Arab region, which can unseat many of these corrupt Arab rulers. The mass revolts between 2010 and 2012 across the Middle East and North Africa, show that the Arab sheiks are sitting on simmering mass discontent, which they only try to manipulate through religious façades, bribery and repression (backed by western imperialist governments). Therefore, it is a futile venture for Palestinians to believe that Fatah’s so-called ‘peaceful’ and diplomatic approach that seeks to gain support of Arab rulers can provide a way out of the current Israeli repression and occupation.

    It is not surprising that the horrible ceasefire agreement drafted by Egypt was accepted by many Arab governments including Saudi Arabia. This agreement met all the conditions of Israel including the right to destroy tunnels and continued occupation of Gaza, while rejecting the basic demands of Hamas for opening of borders, end to the siege, payment of withheld funds and access to the coastline. While they faintly grumble about Israeli state terror, they are quick to condemn Hamas at the slightest opportunity for not accepting the horrible truce conditions. Left to the Arab regimes, the slightest instance of radicalism, either from Hamas or Hezbollah – neither of which actually represent the long term interests of the Palestinian and Arab people – is a major headache to the corrupt Arab sheiks. Gone and never to return is the minimal Arab nationalism that saw Arab leaders identifying with some elements of Arab radicalism against imperialism. Today, they are fully integrated into the global capitalist order, and hardly act independently of global imperialist arrangements. The mass revolts and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa that almost toppled the rotten ruling arrangement in the Arab world has taught the Arab tiny gods the hard lesson: never allow any veneer of mass radicalization.

    ISRAELI CAPITALIST WAR PROPAGANDA AGAINST ISRAELIS

    While the Israeli war machine is barraging Palestinians with bombs and artillery fire, the Israeli masses are being subjected to the most horrible of racist and raw but reactionary nationalist propaganda. The fake belief being sold to the Israeli people that they will be secure if Hamas is destroyed or if enough carnage is inflicted on Palestinians as a means to end their agitation for liberation, is only a tool in the hands of the Israeli capitalist state and its international backers for the sustenance of capitalist rule. No set of people can be subdued by force of arms permanently. On the contrary, the continuous pounding of Gaza with bombs can only ensure new generations of radicalized youths, not only within Palestine but also globally. The Israeli capitalist state is not interested in any genuine peace for Israeli citizens, much less Palestinians; otherwise the siege would not have existed at all.

    For the Israeli capitalist state, the continuous crisis with Palestine is a viable tool for securing Israeli consensus to rule in the name of capital. By rallying the Israeli masses behind itself in the name of security, the capitalist ruling class secures the mandate to not only pound Gaza to ruins or oppress Palestinians, but to also engage in exploitation of the working and poor people of Israel. It is no accident that Israel itself was engulfed by an unprecedented mass movement in 2012 against shortages in social services and high cost of goods. Interestingly, the Israeli capitalist state, while hiding under security to destroy Gaza, has been privatizing the Israeli economic mainstay. The siege on Gaza is also meant to ensure that Gaza and other Palestinian territories remain markets for Israeli capitalists.

    Moreover, occupation of Palestinian lands and other resources is aimed at furthering the profits of the capitalist class. For instance, it is the big real estate and construction companies that benefit from expansion of settlements into Palestinian lands, while the siege on Palestinians ensures that Israel continues to control their trade and economy, obviously in the interests of the capitalist class. Furthermore, it is the big defence companies and weapon manufacturers both within and outside Israel that benefit from the continuous killing of Palestinians. Moreover, the so-called war on terror only ensures that Israel’s ruling class maintains a semi-police state, which will mean attack on the democratic rights of Israelis. The Israeli apartheid state has nothing to offer the working and poor people of Israel on the basis of the current status quo.

    UNITED REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLES

    Only the united struggles of Palestinians and Israelis against Israel’s capitalist ruling class can guarantee long term peace, liberation and development. This will mean just struggles of Palestinians in Gaza and other Palestinian territories against repression, mass murder and siege, with a solidarity movement from the Israeli masses. This is the central way of defeating the murderous war machine of the Israeli state. This should be linked with the struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist ruling classes in Palestine and Israel. The Arab masses will also have to overthrow their corrupt capitalist ruling classes that are tied to the apron strings of imperialism. In replacement, we need the formation of working people’s governments in Palestine, Israel and the Arab world, premised on a democratic socialist arrangement, where the economies will be put under democratic public control and management. With this, the societies will be run in the interests of the working and poor people. This will mean ending wars and strife, and engendering solidarity among working people in Palestine, Israel and the Arab world. It will mean a socialist Palestine side by side with a socialist Israel, as part of a Confederation of Socialist States of Palestine, Israel and the Arab world.

    The need for the building of mass organizations of the working people including trade unions, youth movements, etc. in Palestine, Israel and the Arab world become more expedient now than ever before. These organizations will build mass struggles for economic and social demands, which will be linked up with the struggle against war, mass murder and carnage. A non-sectarian struggle of working people and youth in Palestine, Israel and the Arab world, will serve as a beacon to the working people and youths around the world, and will undermine the parochial, racial pseudo-nationalist and religious divisions being promoted by various ruling classes in Israel and the Arab world. Moreover, working people and the youth need their own political parties that will champion their interests on the political plane. It is only these kinds of political parties, built on non-sectarian programmes and demands for social, political and economic liberation of the Palestinians, Israelis and Arabs, that can undermine the political hegemony being enjoyed by all the sectarian and capitalist political parties in the region.

    TREACHERY OF THE IMPERIALIST WEST

    The current onslaught on Gaza has further exposed the bankruptcy of the major imperialist countries in US, Europe and elsewhere. While the US government was reluctant to stop the Israeli war machine against Gaza or condemn the horror created by the Israeli war machine, it found it very expedient to sell ammunition worth over $600 million to Israel, just a few days after Israel’s bombs killed scores of children and women in a UN building. In fact, the US has extended billions of dollars in military aid to Israel in the past decade. The US and European ruling governments accept and echo the bankrupt excuses for the carnage in Gaza. Placing Israel’s occupation and mass murder alongside defensive resistance of Palestinians has become a common refrain in the western political establishment and media. The US and Europe’s response to the downing of the Malaysian airplane in Ukraine and its position on the carnage in Gaza have shown the deep hypocrisy of the western imperialist governments. This is not unexpected as the Israeli state is a central satellite state of imperialism in the Middle East.

    The position of the western governments has shown how they promote terrorism, both by state and sectarian organizations. The support the US and other western governments are giving to Israel’s state terrorism can only radicalize other sectarian and Islamist terror groups across the world, filling their ranks – in the absence of a working class revolutionary alternative – with young minds disgusted with western hypocrisy. Already, the US and European governments’ support and arming of Islamist forces in Syria to fight the rotten al-Assad regime, aside from leading to death of close to 200,000 Syrians (mostly civilians), has strengthened the Islamist forces assembled under Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, or the Islamic State). This, coupled with the legacy of the US war in Iraq and western governments’ support of the corruptly bankrupt Nouri al-Maliki regime, has further disintegrated Iraq, leading to humanitarian crises, deaths and miseries.

    FOR GLOBAL STRUGGLES AGAINST IMPERIALIST CAPITALISM

    It will be delusionary for the working masses to believe that western imperialism can act in the interests of the working and oppressed people of the world. They can only leave a trail of blood in the quest to sustain the strategic and economic hegemony of global capitalism that ensures that just 25 billionaires own about a trillion dollars in value while more than half of the world’s 7 billion people live in want.

    This is why the working and oppressed people of the western world, and especially of the third world countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, must stop being cajoled by the bankrupt propaganda of the western media and their governments. The crazy racist ideologies and theories, being propounded through religious and pseudo-intellectual platforms to justify Israeli state terror can only serve the interests of global capitalist forces against the working people. It is not accidental that most political leaders across the world, especially in the third world, have maintained a criminal silence over the carnage in Israel. This is because they are puppets of global imperialist forces, and their parochial survival is dependent on this system. It is the central task of the working people, youth and the poor across the world to throw overboard the current global capitalist hegemony which is the cause of wars, strife and genocide ravaging the world. This requires rejection of petty and ridiculous justification for mass murder as are being carried out by the Israeli state against Gaza.

    More than ever before, the carnage being inflicted on Gaza by the Israeli murderous war machine has further underscored the need for the working people and youth in each country to build a mass revolutionary movement to end the rule of capital and reorganize society in the interests of the majority working and oppressed people. Rearming mass organizations like workers’ movements, youth movements and socialist organizations with vital revolutionary, anti-capitalist programmes has become more important now than ever. This should begin with mass condemnation of the Israeli mass murder in Gaza and demand an end to occupation and repression in Palestine. Of course, sooner than later the latest Israeli onslaught will end; however, without building an international solidarity movement for peace and against the Israeli war, and a linked up mass movement in Palestine and Israel, the carnage will continue to be a vicious cycle.


    * Kola Ibrahim is an activist and writer and a member of Socialist Party of Nigeria

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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    Israel is 'innocent'

    Abdoulie Sey

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92822

    Where is the much-touted Responsibility to Protect with regard to Palestinians? Israel murders people in Gaza with impunity. The world has failed these defenceless and colonised people. It is a big shame

    Common sense tells us that there are only two ways of committing a crime. That is, by doing the wrong thing - commission or by not doing the right thing – omission. The current war between Israel and Hamas started on 8 July when Israel launched air strikes against Gaza supposedly to destroy Hamas’ rocket capability against Israel. More than three weeks on, the rockets have not stopped falling on Israeli soil despite one of the heaviest and deadliest bombardments of defenseless civilians by one of the world’s most heavily armed and arrogant countries. The scale of the carnage and disaster climaxed by the avoidable and unnecessary loss of civilian lives caused by Israel’s actions in Gaza are hard to imagine.

    Who is to blame? The whole world or most of it says Israel is to blame. I would say Israel is so guilty of gross violations of human rights and a lack of respect for humanity that it is now ‘innocent.’ It is the world to blame for doing nothing to stop this graphic show of disproportionate and irrational force and brutality by Israel. The world is guilty by omission. We have done nothing and are doing nothing practical and palpable to stop Israel. Israel is not too strong or too powerful, it is the world that is too weak. What is happening now in Gaza is one of the biggest ironies in history. The state of Israel was created in 1948 ‘to protect Jews’ so that they will never ever again experience the horrors of the Holocaust in World War 2 and the Pogroms of the early 20th Century. Jews as a people have suffered from all forms of maltreatment and abuse throughout their long history. They have experienced first-class suffering from slavery to exile, at various times in their history. Jews and Africans are probably the most or some of the most persecuted races on earth. Thus, logically we will expect that such people would never dare put other people under similar conditions. However, the Israeli paradox is flabbergasting. They have reduced the people of Palestine and those in Gaza in particular to less than humans. The Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza has turned the inhabitants into hostages, prisoners and concentration camp inmates. Is it not ironical that after being liberated from Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps, Jews will in effect go on to establish the largest concentration camp in the world in Gaza, housing 1.8 million people? It seems they and the world has learnt nothing from history.

    I am blaming Israel for the ongoing carnage in Gaza not because Hamas is innocent but because as a sovereign state which claims to be the only full democracy in the Middle East, Israel should behave better and respect the rules of war. Hamas as a non-state belligerent cannot be excused for firing rockets and killing Israeli civilians but it cannot be held liable as a state. Israel should know that as long as Palestinians remain as fragmented stateless people, Israel will never be secure. Let them lift the blockade and give Palestinians their land and statehood. The Palestinians have for long maintained the position that Israel can either have peace or Arab land but it cannot have both.

    Israel has killed civilians by both mistake and intent. Just a few days ago, it shelled a UN run school in Gaza killing and wounding many innocent civilians who were hiding at the school. This came despite the UN warning the Israeli army not less than 17 times according to Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson that civilians were sheltering in the school. UN human rights Chief Navi Pillay said, ‘It is a deliberate defiance of international law.’ The EU has called Israeli attacks on crowded markets and schools as ‘unacceptable’. Other UN officials have called it a shameful act. As I write this article (Sat 02 August), 1650 Palestinian civilians have been killed and 8900 wounded, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Israel says its operation is meant to stop rocket attacks on its civilians and now by their own actions they have killed such a huge number of civilians on the other side. Where is the logic of reason? With due respect to the killed or wounded Israeli civilians, I believe the number killed on the Palestinian side is just too many. We should remember, the innocent Palestinians and Israelis killed are human beings first before anything else.

    A technologically advance military power like Israel, obviously has other means to counter Hamas’ crude rockets. Their Iron Dome air defense system can ‘protect’ them. They did not need to fall into Hamas’ trap by taking the war to civilians. Indeed, the best protection for Israel and Palestine is investment in peace. Both sides are busy investing in war without any tangible investments in peace. The resources and time that Israel invests in maintaining the Gaza blockade and the Iron Dome air defense system not to mention its other military and intelligence commitments plus what Hamas is investing in tunnels and rockets is more than enough to build peace in Palestine. But both sides have unfortunately decided to put themselves first and their people last.

    Now what can the world do to stop the current bloodshed in Gaza? As I said earlier, the world is guilty of a serious omission of duty by letting Israel and Hamas go free without answering to the war crimes they are committing in full view of the world. In fact, the arrogance of the Israeli government and its blunt defiance to the UN should not pass unpunished. The Israeli government has made it clear to the whole world that they do not care about world opinion and international law. Forgetting that they are where they are today because the world cared for them so much, that it gave them a state of their own, when they had none. Israel holds the record for ignoring United Nations Security Council resolutions, according to a study by San Francisco University political science professor Steven Zunes. His study found out that since 1968, Israel has violated 32 resolutions. No other country has done so. As of 2013, Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council since its creation in 2006—the Council had resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel than on the rest of the world. Can Israel still claim to be innocent? I do not think so.

    It is disheartening to hear that despite allthis, the US, the champion democrat is said to have given Israel the green light to use its ammunitions depot in the country to restock its military and kill more innocent civilians in Palestine. While America is busy blaming Russia for the trouble in Ukraine, when we all know that the US is as guilty as Russia is, they are remarkably silent on any punitive measures against Israel. If Russia could be sanctioned for defending its geopolitical strategic interests in Ukraine, what should happen to Israel for killing more than 1600 civilians in Gaza? Hamas is designated a terrorist group, by the US and her EU allies because of its use of violence against Israel, but Israel is designated a democracy for using the same violence against Hamas and Palestine. Put Hamas’ entire rocket attacks on Israel together and you will realize that the number of Israeli civilians killed is nowhere near what Israel has killed in the past three weeks. Who is the terrorist?

    In 2011 when Gaddafi said he was going to bomb Benghazi, Nato quickly intervened in the name of protecting civilians. The same Nato is busy doing nothing to protect civilians in Palestine. Indeed Nato’s chief patron, the US has reaffirmed more than once its support for what it calls Israel’s right to self-defense. I wonder whether they also support Palestinians’ rights to life and dignity.

    Israel should be suspended from the UN and sanctioned. All countries should stop trading with Israel until it restores back Palestinians’ dignity by lifting the siege on Gaza and washing its hands of Palestinian affairs. Israel should be effectively isolated by the world. If the world continues to fail in its responsibility to punish Israel for its flagrant violations of international rules of combat and commission of war crimes, the guilty verdict will be passed from Israel to the world. I have already done that. It is a shame that a country that was nurtured and nursed by the international community is allowed to grow too big to listen to anyone. The Arab – Israeli wars of 1948, 67 and 73 had spilt more than enough blood on both sides. Enough is enough. The world must rectify the original sin it committed, when it created Israel in 1948 without putting in the necessary political infrastructure for Palestine. Almost 70 years now, Palestine is still a territory not a state. What kind of international politics is this?

    I am fully aware that the conflict in Gaza, and the Arab-Israeli conflict in general are complex and difficult to judge, but I am equally aware that the killing of civilians including children and babies as young as five days, as well as the violation of UN resolutions is criminal. Israel can argue that civilians die in all conflicts. The difference here is that, Israel insists that it will carry on, never mind what the world says or how many innocent people die. The arrogance is the guilt. The other argument is that, this war is not a war between equals. It is a David and Goliath contest. Whilst the Israelis are armed to the teeth, Hamas has no army and no weapons comparable to what Israel has. So, it is not even a war, in its true sense. It is a one sided obliteration in favour of Israel. Just look at the casualty figures. As of Saturday 02 August, 1650 Palestinians and 63 Israelis killed. The state of Israel is now Goliath and the Palestinians are David. What a reversal of history on Israel’s side. The prophets of Israel must be turning in their graves. As we know, the David and Goliath story ended in defeat of powerful Goliath. Israeli be warned.

    Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ The world must act now. Where is the International Criminal Court? It is busy indicting leaders from poor and weak African states, whilst the world’s big war criminals are allowed to bath in human blood in broad daylight.

    As the conflict in Palestine rages on, let us not lose sight of other devastating conflicts around the world. The senseless civil wars in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Iraq, the under reported dirty war in DR Congo, the sectarian ethno-politico-religious bloody feud in the Central African Republic, the genocide in Darfur as well as Boko Haram’s misrepresentation of Islam in Nigeria should seriously concern the world. In West Africa, all thoughts and efforts should be on how to curb the deadly Ebola virus moving through the region with lethal speed.

    * Abdoulie Sey is Senior Editor, Gambia Radio and Television Service

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News


    Time for the CBC and our black political class denounce apartheid and ethnocracy in Israel-Palestine

    Bruce A. Dickson

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92818

    The contradiction between the supposed origin of our black political class out of the struggle against Jim Crow and its collaboration with Israeli apartheid can't be resolved. We can only save the good name of our own people by calling out the black US collaborators with apartheid, holding them up to derision and ridicule, by sustaining a storm of disapproval and opprobrium until they and the ethnocratic regime in Israel are no more.

    Two weeks ago, Black Agenda Report asked why black America's enlightened and powerful political class of preachers, politicians, media figures, celebrities and business leaders were conspicuously silent while US F-16 fighters, drones and artillery bombarded defenseless Palestinians penned up in Gaza, an open air prison with six times the population density of Manhattan. Last week, Black Agenda Report pointed out that even as Israeli ground troops invaded Gaza and the death toll climbed toward a thousand civilians, disproportionately children, the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously endorsed the ongoing massacres in the name of Israel supposedly “defending itself.”

    We explored the three reasons for their silent, and in come cases their very loud complicity in the crimes of apartheid Israel;

    The black political class, from the CBC, the NAACP, NAN, the Urban League and even NNPA, the organized voice of black owned newspapers, nowadays consistently represents the interests of their funders over their supposed constituents. A fair number of those funders are zionists and pro-zionists.

    The black political class has always been slavishly subservient to the Democratic party. They place its interests so far above their own that when the CBC members refused to demand or take part in hearings around the Katrina disaster almost a decade ago, even after it was clear that authorities intended to force the exile of more than one hundred thousand African Americans from the New Orleans area. Now that a black Democrat sits in the White House, cowardly CBC members would rather chew off their own feet than contradict him. After all, if a black president can be denounced by other black politicians, how safe are their own careers?

    Israel is an open ethnocracy, in which full membership in society is only granted to Jews. It's the 21st century's premiere apartheid state, surrounded by walls and barbed wire, crisscrossed with Jewish-only roads between settlements overlooked by military outposts, on land that was the villages, farms, graveyards and orchards of Palestinians only 60 years ago, sometimes only a year or two ago. Israeli politicians make open appeals to anti-Arab and anti-black racism, and talk about removing Arabs is ordinary stuff. For idle amusement, Israeli youth forms mobs to terrorize Palestinian villages, or assault Arabs and Africans on the street, and Israeli grandmothers gather on the hillsides overlooking Gaza to cheer as white phosphorus rains down on Palestinian children. The massacres in Gaza are only an intensification of Israel's daily violence of occupation, settlement and ethnic cleansing.

    For the black political class, the first two are reasons not to criticize the state of Israel, or the president.

    The third is an insoluble contradiction between reality and the myth of their own origin as having emerged from the just struggle of the Freedom Movement against racism and Jim Crow in the US. It's a contradiction they wish fervently to ignore, one they wish someone else would solve, or that would just go away before too many people notice. But it's already too late for that.

    There's a dead dog in the room. No matter how intently the CBC, the black political class, and even the black church, whose uncritical embrace of corporate funded black political leaders make it as guilty as every other part of that class – the longer and harder they hypocritically pretend to ignore the stink of ethnocracy and apartheid the more it clings to them.

    The only force that can free our black political class from its embrace of racist apartheid and genocidal occupation in Israel is us --- all of us down here on the ground. Our leaders, from the Al Sharptons, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the big black pastors, to the Urban League and NAACP, all of whom claim they once opposed apartheid in South Africa but are its willing collaborators with it in Israel, must be called out and forced to publicly choose which side they're on.

    It's past time for equivocation, it's past time for politeness. They can join the global movement to boycott, to sanction and to divest from the apartheid settler state of Israel. They can become allies of millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians and others working for a single, secular government of all the people of Israel-Palestine, or they can remain on the wrong side of morality and history. They can be remembered and reviled with their allies, the racists, the colonialists, the warmongers and imperialists.

    This is no time for a lofty declaration of principles [13], of which there are several going around. A declaration of principles calls nobody out, and is directed at nobody in particular, as if the discourtesy of calling some culprit or collaborator's name outweighs the deaths of innocent children in Gaza. It's no time for causes.com [14] or change.org [15] petition, another Facebook page or Twitter hashtag. All these tropes of social media activism are dead ends for the well-intentioned provided by corporate social media to make us feel as if we're doing something, but all of them impede rather than help any actual organizing.

    Not of these corporate social media platforms, not Facebook, not Twitter, not change.org nor causes.com [16] provide organizers with the email contact info of the people who sign the petitions, who “like” the Facebook page, who retweet and use the hashtag of the day. All of them keep the signer, retweeter, liker emails for their own lists, not yours. Each and every one sells analyses of the patterns of people you influence and are influenced by to the highest bidder. What bamboozled kind of “organizer” uses tools that prevent her from recontacting the people she has supposedly “organized”?

    We at Black Agenda Report bill ourselves as the black left's journal of political thought and action. So here's some action. We're launching a petition demanding that the Congressional Black Caucus denounce the Israeli occupation, the racist ethnocracy that Israel has made itself into, and the apartheid policies of the Israeli government. We'd like to see ten thousand signers, and those signers WILL be recontacted by us and our allies directly. The petition will be live and online at 8AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning.

    * Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

    * BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

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    Fear not, ebola won't wipe us out

    Misanthropes are using the disease to spread unfounded fears

    Alex Dean

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92819

    There is ridiculously high fear-mongering about Ebola. Although this is a serious epidemic, the impression must not be created that humanity is at the brink of extinction. We will overcome Ebola

    Whenever a disease breaks out, we are bombarded with doomsday predictions. Coverage of ebola has conformed to this pattern. Major newspapers have bombarded us with page after page of pharmaceutical puffery; some journalists speak as though we are headed for an apocalypse. Commentary has been speculative, pessimistic and quick to apportion blame. The Guardian’s West Africa correspondent says that ‘new hotspots have flared up, fuelled by cross-border trade’, while US Republican politician Phil Gingrey has been making unsubstantiated rants about ‘illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases’. The head of the World Health Organisation stoked panic with his statement that the virus ‘is moving faster than efforts to control it’.

    We must compare this reportage, all these ‘the end is nigh’ performances, with the reality. A quick look at hard science shows there is a dramatic mismatch and that commentators have wildly exaggerated the threat ebola poses. We are not headed for extinction. John Oxford, a virologist at the University of London, has explained that the hysteria surrounding ebola is disproportionate to the threat. He points out that ebola ‘doesn’t spread very easily’, and that the virus’s reproductive number - how many people are infected by each carrier - is very low. Where measles has a reproductive number of 12, ebola’s number is 1.

    Moreover, virologists have been quick to point out that ebola is very easily destroyed, for a virus. A quick wash of the hands and it’s gone. Ebola can devastate families and communities, yes, but when you consider that it has a low death toll compared with other viruses in Africa, we must conclude that reports have been hyperbolic and scaremongering.

    Yet this disproportionate panic over ebola was to be expected. We saw similar responses when swine flu broke out and the UK’s chief medical officer predicted 65,000 deaths and the media swallowed it up, and again when the House of Lords told us that 65,000 Britons would die from bird flu. Perhaps political and medical bodies have a duty to err on the side of caution – to over-prepare and over-predict – but the media and some of the public also gobbled up these doomsday predictions with relish. What’s the explanation for this? Why do some observers seem to be ravenously awaiting the next big pandemic? Why do we want these viruses to be worse than they are?

    I think some people long for doomsday predictions because they want their anti-progress attitudes to be validated. Ours is an era in which we are told to fear other people for their unpredictability and to see our fellow humans as a threat. Relationships are sometimes described as ‘toxic’ - such is our misanthropy that we now even describe our ultimate forms of intimacy in the language of disease. Today’s anti-human scaremongers are desperate for their attitudes to be affirmed, and so they exaggerate viruses which are spread through human contact and movement. People convince themselves that ebola is the result of immigration and human contact and modern forms of travel because then their regressive attitudes feel truer, more real. They don’t see the hectic globalised world as exciting; they see it as unnerving and are thrilled when a virus gives them reason to complain about it.

    These ridiculous attitudes have found no real affirmation, though. Humankind will deal with ebola, and a disease spread through contact should never serve as a reason to despise that contact: intimacy makes life worth living and immigration and trade are the seeds of social and economic progress. We must not allow the fearmongers to undermine our rational convictions. Pay no attention to the miserablists. Fear not, humankind – we are doing okay.

    * Alex Dean is an intern at spiked, where this article was previously published.

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    Kenya a land of forceful evictions without dignity

    Julius Okoth

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/92823

    Forceful evictions are rampant in Kenya. The government has never addressed the question of landlessness. Nor has anyone been held accountable in cases where fake titles are issued by government officials

    Forceful evictions are still common in Kenya. This is a process where ordinary Kenyans are forcefully removed and ejected from a certain defined land or settlement area that they inhabit, are identified with and they have a sense of belonging and where their primary livelihood and benefits are derived from. They are strongly denied access to that settlement and land based resources or profit that may be derived from there.

    Majority of the victims of forced evictions in Kenya are squatters and poor people who settle on land that legally belongs to another person or institution without the owner’s consent. Affected also are low income people living in informal settlements in sub-standard housing without formal or official tenure rights. The settlements are not in compliance with the relevant physical or land use planning requirements, more especially in urban areas like Nairobi. Forceful evictions have also been carried out in areas gazetted as forest land and other government lands as dwellers of the land are said to have encroached on government land. The sanctity of their title is revoked and labeled as pieces of paper.

    These forceful evictions have been done contrary to Article 40(4) of the Kenyan constitution which provides for compensation to be paid to occupants in good faith of land acquired, even to those who may not hold title to the land. Kenya lacks appropriate legal guidelines on evictions and displacement of people from informal settlements and even formal ones, particularly in instances where peasants and low income earners have to be displaced from public or private land.

    Forceful evictions in Kenya have always been carried out under two notorious powers of the government, ‘eminent domain’ or compulsory acquisition and the ‘police power’ or development control. Eminent domain or compulsory acquisition is the power of the Kenyan state to acquire any title or other interests in land for a public service subject to prompt payment of compensation. The police power is another power of the Kenyan state deploys to regulate property in land and is derived from the state’s responsibility to ensure that the use of land is not injurious to the public interest. Police power seeks to limit the use of the land in order to protect public welfare from any danger that might arise from its misuse.

    These two state powers have raised fundamental constitutional issues among social justice activists. The powers have not been always exercised effectively or accountably. The famous Ndung’u Report on illegal land acquisition defines the doctrine of public interest as revolving around matters touching upon public safety, security, health, defense, morality, town and country planning, infrastructure and general development imperatives. The two powers have been abused or not adhered to. Their processes have never been efficient, transparent and accountable, which is further exacerbated by rampant corruption in the land administration systems at the ministry of lands, housing and urban development, county governments, provincial administration and private developers. These two state powers have extensively been used to settle political scores, to punish opponents, to reward kinsmen and friends or just to grab with impunity, all at the expense of the poor.

    Forceful evictions have always been executed using unreasonable and inhumane court orders, demolition of houses under the watch of state administration, burning of houses, burning of food crops in the farms and use of hired armed gangs to evict people living in identified land or settlement. At times these forceful evictions are carried out in the middle of the night, and during the rainy seasons.

    For instance in 2010, the government forcefully evicted communities that had settled in the Mau Forest, and in 2011 hundreds of Syokimau residents in Nairobi had their homes demolished after they were said to have encroached on government land. Another eviction was that at Embobut Forest in Elgeiyo Marakwet County where settlers’ houses were torched down and crops in the fields burnt in an exercise carried out by Provincial Administration and Forestry Department. Notorious forceful evictions quite often happen in informal settlements of Nairobi, where burning down of shanties is normally carried out by private developers and with the help of Provincial Administration, undermining further the right to housing.

    The consequences of these forceful evictions for years have rendered the poor and low income people homeless. They have lost property and their children forced out of school. They have been exposed to lack of food and ill health as a result of bad weather and increase of internally displaced persons.

    We, Kenyans, should know our rights. We should not allow duty bearers to forcefully evict us from what we know is morally our land and homes unless a human rights approach and applicable rules and procedures are followed. It is our right, no matter who owns the house or the land where we live.

    Before any evictions squatters and those living in informal settlement are entitled to a full written notice on eviction that will take place, to be involved in a genuine process of consultation before eviction takes place. They have the power to challenge the eviction, demand for the compensation before eviction, demand for alternative for those who cannot provide for themselves and ask for time to collect their possessions and building materials before eviction takes place.

    The right to housing does not mean that it is the obligation of the Kenya’s ministry of land, housing and urban development to built houses and dish out land for the entire Kenyan population; rather the right to housing obliges the ministry to take all measures necessary to prevent homelessness, prohibit forceful evictions, eliminate discrimination in access to housing, address the rights of the marginalized and other vulnerable groups, ensure security of tenure for all and ensure every individual enjoys reasonable housing and above all the ministry should put in place legislation, policy and other measures including the setting of standards on how eviction should be carried out safely.

    Eviction should also be carried out in the presence of morally upright state officials without unnecessary or unreasonable force to implement eviction processes.

    * Julius Okoth is a social justice activist in Kenya with Bunge La Mwananchi Movement

    * THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

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    Advocacy & campaigns

    African Poetry Book Fund announces African Poetry Library Initiative

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/92816

    All five libraries have been established through partnerships with writing organizations, arts organizations, existing libraries, and influential individuals in the arts from each of the five launch countries, and all have received start-up donations of books collected and sent to them by the Fund

    The African Poetry Book Fund and Nebraska’s premiere literary journal, Prairie Schooner, in conjunction with individuals and organizations in the Gambia, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, are launching five poetry reading libraries throughout the African continent scheduled to open this September. Each library will house contemporary poetry books and journals available to poets and lovers of poetry in these five countries and beyond.

    A continuation of the APBF’s mission to spread the poetic arts, the African Poetry Library Initiative began as the brainchild of APBF Series Editor and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner Kwame Dawes. “Too many poets working in Africa today have limited access to contemporary poetry,” said Dawes, “partly because of poor distribution by international publishers within Africa and partly because of the cost of books. We felt it would be a great idea to establish small poetry libraries in as many places as possible.”

    All five libraries have been established through partnerships with writing organizations, arts organizations, existing libraries, and influential individuals in the arts from each of the five launch countries, and all have received start-up donations of books collected and sent to them by the APBF.

    In Uganda, poet and arts organizer Beverley Nambozo was influential in making the necessary contacts. Poets T.J. Dema in Botswana, Kadija George in the Gambia, and Michael Onsando and Clifton Gachagua in Kenya were key partners in accomplishing setup work. The partnership in Ghana involved the participation of the Ghana Library Association, Dr. Helen Yitah at the University of Ghana, and the Ghana Association of Writers. The innovative arts and publishing organization Kwani Trust was further instrumental in establishing the library in Kenya.

    Each library contains room for over 1,500 titles, offers resources for those interested in publishing their poems, and will serve as a hub for poets to meet and collaborate while remaining open to all.

    “During my trips to Africa last year, the enthusiasm for this project was tremendous,” said Dawes. “We’ve boxed and mailed almost five hundred books to each of these countries in this first mailing, and will continue to do so each year beyond this.”

    Some of the initial mailing—just over four hundred books and journals to each site— consists of poetry collections donated by select literary journals from across the country. In addition to books from the Prairie Schooner office, the APBF has received donations from Poets House, University of Nebraska Press, Poetry Foundation, Poet Lore, The Iowa Review, Four Way Books, Wesleyan University Press, Truman University Press, BOA Editions, Peepal Tree Press, Copper Canyon Press, and Gulf Coast. The initiative’s focus has been on new authors and contemporary collections from around the world, and APBF further plans to reach out to publishers and literary journals in the UK, Canada, and Africa.

    The project, a collaboration with the University of Nebraska Libraries, was aided greatly by the leadership of library consultants, along with Assistant Professor Lorna Dawes and Associate Professor Charlene Maxey-Harris, chair of Research and Instructional Services.

    While the APBF provides book donations, promotion, and other support, each library is expected to partner with other worldwide organizations as it works toward achieving self-sufficiency. Though the five launch libraries are all located in English-speaking regions, the APBF hopes to expand into other languages after the project’s first three years.

    “These libraries have been made possible by the resourcefulness, professionalism, and energy of some key people in these countries,” said Dawes. “This is why I have full confidence in the project’s long-term success.”

    The African Poetry Book Fund, based at Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, seminars, and collaborations with publishers and other entities that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa. More information about the African Poetry Library initiative can be found at the APBF Poetry Library website, http://africanpoetrybf.unl.edu/?page_id=1607


    African solidarity with Palestine

    African scholars and scholars of Africa

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/92829

    The petition urges urges all African scholars and scholars of Africa to sign against Israel's murderous onslaught in Gaza. The ongoing Israeli massacres in Gaza have been ghastly reminders of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

    Sign the Petition

    We, the undersigned African scholars and scholars of Africa, hold that silence about the latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip—the third and most devastating in six years—constitutes complicity. Member states of NATO which mounted an air war on Libya ostensibly to protect civilians in Benghazi have been by and large quiet about the fate of civilians in Gaza. World governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars have a moral responsibility to do so.

    Neither the violation of international law nor the destruction of Palestinian life in Gaza, however, began or will end with the current war[1]. The suffering of Palestinians is not limited to Gaza: the occupation and dispossession in East Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev), and the West Bank; the construction of walls and fences around the Palestinian population, the curtailment of Palestinian freedom of movement and education, and the house demolitions, all have long histories that will have to be addressed.

    As employees in institutes of higher learning we have a particular interest in and responsibility to respond to the obstacles to the right to higher education that the Israeli state has created for Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In the past two months alone, Israeli forces have raided Al Quds University in Jerusalem, the Arab American University in Jenin, and Birzeit University near Ramallah.[2] In the current attacks, Israeli aerial bombardment has destroyed the Islamic University of Gaza. More generally, the Israeli state discriminates against Palestinian students in Israeli universities;[3]and it isolates Palestinian academia by, among other tactics, preventing foreign academics from visiting Palestinian institutions in Gaza and the West Bank.[4] We are also alarmed by the long history of confiscations of Palestinian archives and the destruction of libraries and research centers.[5]

    The ongoing Israeli massacres in Gaza have been ghastly reminders of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Ilan University, Haifa University, Technion, and Ben Gurion University have publicly declared their unconditional support for the Israeli military.[6]More generally, there are intimate connections between Israeli academic institutions and the military, security, and political establishments in Israel.[7] To take but one example: Tel Aviv University is directly implicated, through its Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in developing the Dahiya Doctrine,[8]adopted by the Israeli military in its assaults on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza today. The Dahiya Doctrine advocates the extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure and “intense suffering” among the civilian population as an “effective” means to subdue any resistance.[9]

    We applaud the few dozen Israeli academics who have protested against their government, and the several dozen who signed a petition calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.[10]Alarmingly, they have faced disciplinary measures from their own universities.[11]We stand by these academics and support them.

    We feel compelled to join the growing number of academics in Israel and around the world who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This call responds to Palestinian civil society organizations’ long-standing appeal for the comprehensive implementation of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, and is supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE).

    Following in the footsteps of the growing number of US academic associations that have endorsed boycott resolutions,[12]we call on our colleagues to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and we pledge not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. We call for doing so until such time as these institutions end their complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law, and respect the full rights of Palestinians by calling on Israel to:

    1.End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;

    2.Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and

    Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

    This is an adaptation of a letter calling on scholars and librarians within Middle East studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

    For more information, please contact:



    Palestine Solidarity

    Dakar, Senegal

    Phone: +221338259822/23

    Email: [email protected]

    Here is the link to the petition:

    Should have any difficulty signing in online, please send an email to: [email protected]



    NOTES

    [1] Associated Press, "Israel used calorie-count to limit Gaza food during blockade, critics claim," The Guardian, 17 October 2012, http://tinyurl.com/ksx5yz2

    [2] See incident report on Academic Freedom Monitor of Scholars at Risk Network, http://tinyurl.com/k5jw33o

    [3] The Arab Cultural Association, Annual Summary Report 2011-12, November 2012, http://tinyurl.com/lcr4hz7

    [4] Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Academia Undermined: Israeli Restrictions on Foreign National Academics in Palestinian Higher Education Institutions, May 2013, http://tinyurl.com/pnoctts

    [5] Gish Amit, "Salvage or plunder? Israel's 'collection' of private Palestinian libraries in West Jerusalem," Journal of Palestine Studies 40 (July 2011): 6-23.

    [6] http://www.shalomlife.com/business/24941/how-tel-aviv-university-supports-the-idf Also, see the following: for Haifa University, https://www.facebook.com/HaifaUniversity/posts/10152140137120044; for Technion,
    http://tinyurl.com/qj3ax2e
    12014/?type=1&theater; for Bar Ilan, http://tinyurl.com/no3zw24

    [7] Gil Eyal, “Military Establishment and Middle East Studies,” in The disenchantment of the Orient: Expertise in Arab Affairs and the Israeli State (Stanford University Press, 2008), 185-236. See also: Keller, Uri Yacobi. “The Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories.” Alternative Information Center (http://tinyurl.com/ob6njrs).

    [8] See The Goldstone Report, 24, and http://tinyurl.com/pqlzy2d
    .
    [9] http://tinyurl.com/pos2qdk

    [10] http://tinyurl.com/psxdr76

    [11] http://tinyurl.com/onr5h64

    [12] These associations are: the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA), African Literature Association (ALA), Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), Association for Humanist Sociology (AHS), Association of Asian American Studies (AAAS), and American Studies Association (ASA).


    Marikana widows to deliver 3000 signatures to e.tv and SABC

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/advocacy/92820

    Campaigners want an award-winning film about the Marikana massacre of 2012 shown on TV so that South Africans can know the truth about the brutal killing of the miners by police in 2012

    After a painful week at the Farlam commision, Marikana widows will travel to SABC’s offices in Auckland Park (2:30pm) eTV’s offices in Hyde Park (4pm). There they will hand over at least 3000 names who have joined the campaign to demand the stories of their husbands are told by screening Marikana Massacre documentary Miners Shot Down.

    Rehad Desai’s award winning documentary has been called the film every South African still has to see [1]. While the film has been screened on DSTV and Al-Jazeera, Marikana Massacre widow Manthabang Ntsenyeho feels this excludes the majority of South Africans from learning the truth about Marikana. Ntsenyeho wants every South African to know what happened to her husband Andries Ntsenyeho on the 16th August 2012

    "I think it is important that the story of the Massacre be shown on TV so that everyone can know what happened at Marikana. Our husbands died unexpectedly. They never got sick, they were killed. They were the providers in our homes because as wives, we were unemployed. Now our kids are left without fathers. I want the movie to be shown on TV because most people have access to TV and we all watch SABC and e-TV” - Ntsenyeho

    The campaign to pressure eTV and SABC is being driven by social justice organisation amandla.mobi who run mobile campaigns in multiple languages. The 3000 who have added their names have done so by dialing *120*4729#, through Mxit, as well as online. With the campaign mobilising thousands public pressure and media attention has forced the hand of SABC who on monday finally responded after 5 months of silence after being asked to screen Miners Shot Down. SABC stated they may find a slot to screen the film in 2015. e.tv’s response is that they have already shown content relating to the Marikana Massacre. Koketso Moeti, a campaigner at amandla.mobi says “these excuses and stall tactics aren't good enough, our free to air channel and broadcaster have a responsibility to us as TV license holders and citizens to tell the stories of South Africa’s first ‘post-Apartheid’ massacre, a tragedy that claimed the lives of 34 people in a single day, with 10 others killed in the days before. amandla.mobi has got behind Ntsenyeho and other Marikana widows and family members of those killed in the Marikana Massacre, because it’s critical we remember all those who lost their lives, and pay tribute to them by hearing their stories told”.

    Thousands of South Africans have shown their support for the campaign by adding their voice online http://www.amandla.mobi/etv_sabc_screenminersshotdown and by dialing *120*4729# from any cell phone. With under 3 days left before the petition is handed over to both television channels, amandla.mobi is urging members of the public public to support the campaign to hole eTV and SABC to account.

    ____________________________________________________

    Notes to Editors:

    [1] Additional reading: Daily Maverick, ‘Miners Shot Down’: Still the film every South African should see

    [2] Mobi campaign launched to pressure SABC, e.tv to screen Marikana film

    [3] Marikana widows call for showing of Miners Shot Down

    Quotes from people supporting the campaign include:


    1. “South Africans should be given an opportunity to reflect truly on the Marikana……..its a symbol of the struggle for social justice,freedom, dignity and fair labour practice continues in post apartheid South Africa” Vakai Matutu


    2. “I wanna see what really happened,hiding it under wraps won’t change anything.Show me show the public what exactly happened on 16 August 2012 in Marikana” Simbongile Mpayipheli


    3. “Every South African must see this. It is like the TRC of Marikana. When I was watching I kept thinking that THIS COUNTRY MUST be told the truth. Those men, those men” Lerato Thibile


    4. “An essential film that should be mandatory for everyone who lives in South Africa and cares” Tracey Saunders




    Books & arts

    Representation of Africa in film: ‘White Shadow’

    Amira Ali

    2014-08-13

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/92815

    This film by an Israeli director about albino killings in Tanzania is replete with Western stereotypes about the African savage, without any historical or political context

    Stories work with people, for people, and always stories work on people, affecting what people are able to see as real, as possible, and as worth doing or best avoided – Arthur Frank

    The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, a well-attended event, presented three films on Africa. All of them deal with sociopolitical and traditional enormities of the particular country featured.

    A group of us, more inclined to the albino story, attended the screening of White Shadow, a film by Berlin-based Israeli director, Noaz Deshe, his debut, inspired by the ostracizing and albino killings prized by superstition in rural Tanzania. The director was in Dar es Salaam on a film teaching assignment when he learned about Albino Witchcraft Murders, a Storyville documentary aired on BBC. The feature on ‘deep-rooted superstition, that leads to the belief that procuring the arm, legs, fingers, skin or hair of an albino person and brewing it into a potion will make them rich,’ instantly appealed to the director which led to the production of a documentary-like film with a fictional feature improvisation. It prompted the galvanization of a group of people who assisted in the production and a quick research conducted in Berlin, with an urgency that resulted in an instant screenplay co-written with James Masson.

    ‘White Shadow’ is a story about Alias, the main protagonist an adolescent albino boy acted movingly and remarkably by an amateur, Hamisi Bazili. Alias, after witnessing the murder of his albino father by a group of men, is sent off by his mother from his rural home to find refuge in the city with her brother, Kosmos. Under his uncle’s care, a truck driver struggling to make ends meet, Alias quickly adapts to life in the city. Upon arrival, thrown into a culture of selling products on the big city streets, he discovers ways of earning a living in the urban milieu. In the city, wrestling with identity, hardships of city life and a need for childhood comfort, Alias often leaves the city to find ease with his albino community. Eventually he realizes that the same rules of survival apply wherever he may be.

    A fiction film with a personal and impressionistic view of albinos in Tanzania, the story is premised around what the creator has gathered to be his objective verity. Dancing between fiction and non-fiction, the film is entrenched with graphic scenes of blood and gore, presenting the African men as godless beasts; men in the lowest position humanity. Wrenched out by an aching and broken world, the scenes makes one shift uncomfortably as one shields their eyes from men mercilessly hacking a man’s body with a machete. It is a storyline that depicts forlorn humanity in rural Tanzania and extends the construct to implicate the city and a whole culture, bringing to the foray all the complexities with little nuances that give way to its understanding.

    Most are scenes entrenched with adventure through a sinful city accompanied with images of a young generation inheriting the troubles and burdens of old tradition. Witchcraft and sorcery in the rural areas are put up against church priests: much like when colonialism presented local beliefs as evil and uncouth, and as religion emergent from the west is said to save Africa from its sinful indigenous ways. Alongside is an episode of men and women in the city quarreling over the dead, whose family is obviously split between two religions clashing on whether to have a Muslim or Christian burial. Thrown into the disarrayed event is the hiring of a traditional mourner straight off the street, to ensure a noisy and passionate farewell. It is a city projected to be at odds with itself, broken by perplexity, economics, sex and violence. And rural Tanzania is framed as divided and shadowy while sorcery and the occult maintain a strong foothold. Underneath all the implications, while all scenarios lead to economics and systemic injustice – including the witchdoctors, middlemen and the clients who pay for albino body parts – the story irresponsibly and insensitively places emphasis upon cultural and traditional aspects, with little to no historical and political context.

    FICTION AND RESPONSIBILITY

    It is said that the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. That fiction and non-fiction are only different techniques of storytelling. Further, I believe, fiction has the same social responsibility, duty of integrity and sensitivity that is expected from non-fiction. In narrating a whole culture as disoriented and iniquitous, the enormity of the albino condition and witchcraft killings feels minimized in ‘White Shadow’ by a shortfall of a feel for the place – lived cultural experience – and the comprehension of the historical and political consequence of a culture.

    Subsequent to the viewing, during a Q&A, the director made it clear that he was more concerned about the artistic formation, emphasizing on creating strong lead characters. When asked how he felt about portraying such an account with no historical or political context, and what that may do to the foreign audience’s psyche, who already may have a poor image of Africa, he made it clear again that he was more concerned with portraying strong lead characters.

    If it is indeed merely a feature film, purely for entertainment purposes, even then it falls short of the moral standard as it goes back and forth between reality and heavily de-saturated themes –flirting between fiction and non-fiction. In constructing and narrating such human tragedy, I believe a teller should be held answerable for the story they tell and responsible for the character(s) they create as they insensitively put them up against each other’s culture while representing a whole culture as brutal and immoral. Characteristic of most African films and stories told by the west, and as rightly voiced by Biyi Bandele, ‘Even the most liberal filmmakers can’t resist. They’ve got a God-complex.’ This time though, the hero is not a western man or woman but a fictionalized character emerging from a western idea. An idea that stresses on division while putting an African in opposition to a fellow African, inimical to our interests; an idea that makes us feel very merciless and leaves us in a quandary. An idea, yet again, that places African indigenous belief systems as barbaric and immoral while belief systems emergent from the west are depicted as exemplar of civilization and ideal piety, in a world of persistent savagery.

    By no means am I attempting to avoid or turn a blind eye to the harrowing account and killings of the African albinos. That is not the point of this piece. But rather, I wonder whom this film is written for? Who it aspires to serve? How it aims to shift or bring an end to the atrocity? Who has the right to challenge and narrate particularities of a culture? How does the unverified and under-researched narrative change the world for better? A world that ought to educate and facilitate knowledge to the young and coming generation, I can’t help but wonder how our children will make sense of such a film and make the appropriate correlation between those things that have been used to define our existence and the actual. In the end, White Shadow, in attempting to speak of an enormity is regrettably stymied by its western representation and gaze. Leaving brutal images implanted in the psyche and too many questions left unanswered. A world, yet again, left to grapple with compositions fixated on dark and savage images out of Africa, with no historical context to critically examine the circumstance further. An audience left shocked and hopelessly unsure with what to do next.

    See video.




    Jobs

    Country Campaigner – Great Lakes

    Salary $48,254 Location: Nairobi, Kenya Type: Permanent

    Amnesty International

    2014-07-23

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/92579


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s (AI) International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why we have opened an East Africa Regional Office in Kenya. And why we need your campaigning expertise with us on the ground.
    ABOUT THE ROLE

    Our Great Lakes Campaigner will tackle issues like protection of civilians in armed conflict, criminal justice reform, and freedom of expression and association in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As a Campaigner, you can expect to have a direct impact on these key areas, as well as on our overarching regional campaigning and research strategies. Focusing mainly on the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, you’ll develop effective, strategic campaigning plans and work with both AI colleagues and external partners to deliver them. You’ll also create clear and compelling campaigning materials for a range of audiences, writing reports and public statements, making videos and web features, and raising awareness and mobilizing our members to effect human rights change. And you’ll constantly look for ways to improve your work too, researching effective campaigning methods, monitoring impact and staying up to date with the latest human rights developments.

    ABOUT YOU

    A practised campaigner, you’ll know how to create successful campaign strategies and build awareness through powerful actions and recognized techniques. You’ll also understand the importance of flexibility and be ready to adapt and evolve your plans. We’ll expect you to understand human rights and the political landscape within the Great Lakes Region of Africa, both in general terms and specifically, with knowledge of Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, as well as key thematic areas. You’ll be able to translate that knowledge into campaign materials and creative initiatives that inspire activism online and off, and have the fluency to express complex ideas in English and French. You’ll have a network of civil society and government contacts and the clout to represent AI to audiences ranging from civil society groups and governments to our global membership. Beyond that, you’ll be a real team player relishing close collaboration with our researchers, colleagues and partners.

    ABOUT US

    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    For more information and to apply, please visit https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/736/description/

    Closing Date: 24 August 2014


    Refugee Officer

    Nairobi, Kenya Permanent Salary: $48,254

    A I

    Amnesty International

    2014-07-18

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/92510


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. Our East African regional office will work to ensure respect for human rights, and for equal and just societies throughout a vast and diverse geographical area. You’ll contribute to this by supporting our work on refugee rights.

    ABOUT THE ROLE

    Based in Nairobi, you’ll work with the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes teams to ensure that their information on refugees is accurate and their interventions timely. That means maintaining a broad overview of relevant political and human rights developments in the region and would drive forced migration; systematically collating and analysing information on refugees; liaising with relevant national and local contacts and monitoring media updates and internet searches to keep team members and other regional hubs up to date on refugee trends. You’ll take charge of the regional offices' work with refugees in Kenya and other relevant countries – everything from monitoring the situation of refugees in Kenya and other relevant countries; carrying out case work and making referrals as needed; participating in field research missions and developing campaigns and other interventions to improve the situation for refugees.


    ABOUT YOU

    Thanks to similar experience working with refugees, you’ll have no problem systematically documenting and analysing the situation as pertains to refugees; prioritising and coordinating multiple cases and issues. A clear, articulate communicator, you’ll have a high standard of English and French, Arabic or Somali. And as you’d expect, you’ll need excellent research, writing, administrative, and organisational skills as well as plenty of initiative and a proactive approach to problem solving. You’ll show agility and resilience when dealing with change, crucially backed up by your sound knowledge of the East African region. Add to this the political awareness to make sound judgments, and you could soon prove yourself indispensable to the committee members.
    About us
    Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people standing up for human rights. Our network extends to more than two million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries around the world. Each one of us is outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world – and together we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity.

    Closing Date: 24 August 2014

    For more information and to apply, please visit: https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/679/description


    Regional Researcher – Great Lakes

    Salary: $68,699 Location: Nairobi, Kenya Type: Permanent

    A I

    Amnesty International

    2014-07-23

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/92580


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. In order to be effective, Amnesty International’s International Secretariat needs to change how we work. That’s why we have opened an East Africa Regional Office in Kenya. And why we need your field research expertise with us on the ground.

    ABOUT THE ROLE

    As a research-based campaigning organization, investigating and documenting human rights issues is fundamental to our advocacy and lobbying work. Our Great Lakes Researcher will take the lead in initiating human rights research and action from the East Africa regional office by providing regional and thematic expertise, excellent research skills and sound political judgement. A campaign oriented approach to your work is essential. You will be required to conduct and co-ordinate research activities, monitor, investigate and analyse political, legal and social developments and human rights conditions, give authoritative advice on these areas and prepare human rights action materials.
    ABOUT YOU
    With experience of working on human rights issues, you must have first-hand in-depth knowledge and experience of Rwanda and Burundi and an understanding and awareness of the cultures of the Great Lakes Region. You'll have a background in activism, academia, law or journalism with the ability to identify and thoroughly investigate those issues and ensure our voice has authority. With your extensive experience of working from the region you will have a strong network and rich experience of undertaking this kind of sensitive work in the field. A natural collaborator, you will need proven research and influential communication skills, impartial political judgement, coupled with strong strategic thought. Fluency in English and French is essential, including excellent writing skills.

    ABOUT US

    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    For more information and to apply, please visit
    https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/809/description/

    Closing Date: 27 August 2014


    Research, Campaigns and Communication Assistant

    Salary: $37,131 per annum Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

    2014-07-23

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/92582


    cc A I
    The mobile revolution. Geopolitical power shifts. A radically altered global economy. The world is changing, and so is the way that people fight for their rights. Our Southern African regional office will work to ensure equality, democracy and fair and just societies throughout a vast and diverse geographical area. You’ll provide the support they need to succeed.

    ABOUT THE ROLE

    Based in Johannesburg, you’ll support the Southern Africa team as they develop and roll out research, campaigning, communication and growth strategies. That means maintaining a broad overview of relevant political and human rights developments; liaising with national and local contacts and monitoring media updates and internet searches to keep team members and other regional offices up to date. You’ll also take charge of the admin – everything from planning field research missions and making travel arrangements, to scheduling meetings and drafting and producing vital documents. Producing regular reports on the budget for the department, you’ll closely monitor expenses throughout the financial year. And coordinating the work of the team in response to crisis, you’ll be central to their ongoing success.

    ABOUT YOU

    Thanks to similar experience in a high pressure environment, you’ll have no problem prioritising and coordinating multiple projects with minimal supervision. A clear, articulate communicator, you’ll have a high standard of English and be able to work in Portuguese. And as you’d expect, you’ll need excellent administrative, secretarial and IT skills as well as plenty of initiative and a proactive approach to problem solving. More than that, you’ll show agility and resilience when dealing with change, backed up by regional knowledge of the Southern Africa region. Add the financial awareness to produce accurate budget reports, and you could soon prove yourself indispensable to our regional office team.

    About us
    Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people standing up for human rights. Our network extends to more than two million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries around the world. Each one of us is outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world – and together we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. Southern Africa is an important priority for Amnesty International and its human rights work, therefore you will be joining an exciting team of highly driven human rights advocates and professionals dedicated to deepening the culture of human rights.

    Closing Date: 17th August 2014

    Apply here: https://careers.amnesty.org/vacancy/617/description/


    Researcher - Nigeria

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/92831


    cc A I
    Amnesty International (AI) is establishing an office in Nigeria. We are seeking a proven expert on Nigeria, to lead on the development and implementation of overarching research and campaigning strategies that deliver lasting impact on national human rights priorities.

    Researcher - Nigeria
    £43,812 per annum
    London, UK


    ABOUT THE ROLE

    As a research-based campaigning organization, investigating and documenting human rights issues is fundamental to our advocacy and lobbying work. Our West Africa team requires a researcher to take the lead in initiating human rights research and action by providing regional and thematic expertise, excellent research skills and sound political judgement. A campaign oriented approach to your work is essential. You will be required to conduct and co-ordinate research activities, monitor, investigate and analyse political, legal and social developments and human rights conditions, give authoritative advice on these areas and prepare human rights action materials.

    ABOUT YOU

    With experience of working on human rights issues, you must have first-hand in-depth knowledge and experience of Nigeria and an understanding and awareness of the cultures of West Africa. You'll have a background in activism, academia, law or journalism with the ability to identify and thoroughly investigate those issues and ensure our voice has authority. You will need proven research and communication skills, impartial political judgement, coupled with strong strategic thought. Fluency in English is essential, including excellent writing skills.

    ABOUT US

    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. Already our network of almost three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    CLOSING DATE: 14th September 2014

    TO APPLY: please visit here.




    Jobs

    Campaigner - Nigeria

    2014-08-14

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs2/92830


    cc A I
    Amnesty International (AI) is establishing an office in Nigeria. We are seeking a proven expert on Nigeria, to lead on the development and implementation of campaigning strategies, and to manage and coordinate action on human rights concerns that ensures a lasting impact.

    Campaigner - Nigeria
    £36,240 per annum
    London, UK

    ABOUT THE ROLE

    In this key role, you’ll be responsible for designing and coordinating our campaigns on Nigeria, working with researchers, legal specialists and capacity builders to build an integrated strategy for change. You’ll also provide advocacy support to Amnesty colleagues and activist partners across the region and globally. You’ll certainly make a valuable contribution to effective management of our campaigning work, but we’ll also expect you to be self-sufficient; carrying out day-to-day admin, finance and impact reporting.

    ABOUT YOU

    Proven campaigning skills, impartial political judgement, excellent communication skills, coupled with strong strategic thought and an open and result oriented approach to your work are essential. So is specialist knowledge of Nigeria. Expertise in one or several human rights issue relevant to West Africa region would be an asset. You must have first-hand experience of Nigeria and awareness and understanding of its cultures. Fluency in English is essential.

    ABOUT US

    Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

    CLOSING DATE: 14th September 2014

    TO APPLY: please visit here.





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