Pambazuka News 838: Reflections on Kenya

Following the bungled presidential election, Kenya is heading to a repeat poll on 17 October. Regardless of the outcome, the election will not resolve the country's deep neo-colonial contradictions. Progressive forces must consider building a socialist Revolution to bring about democratic control of the means of production and a fair system of the distribution of the fruits of labour for the benefit of all.

The Gnassingbe family, backed by France, has ruled Togo for 50 years. Popular protests organized by opposition leaders in recent weeks have threatened the regime and forced the cancellation of a summit sponsored by Israel. The apartheid rulers in Tel Aviv are keen to consolidate their power in Africa to cut off any support from the continent for liberation of the Palestinian people.

The South African anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the violence against her country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Tagged under: 838, Desmond Tutu, Human Security

Leading figures from the Nigerian and global academia, media, civil society, law and multi-national organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America have today called on Nigeria to withdraw the NGO Regulatory Commission Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly (federal parliament). Here is their full statement:

Tagged under: 838, Governance, Various

The Kenyan presidential election that was overturned by the Supreme Court has raised serious questions about the agendas of foreign election observers. Many of the observers were quick to give the poll a clean bill of health – even urging opposition leader Raila Odinga to concede. Now they are facing credibility crisis. The European Union’s Marietje Schaake has been trying to save face.

Tagged under: 838, Governance, Sarah Elderkin

Kenya’s presidential election was massively rigged in favour of the incumbent. The evidence presented during the successful petition at the Supreme Court showed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was entirely infiltrated and its systems commandeered by regime elements to procure a fraudulent win for Uhuru Kenyatta.

Tagged under: 838, David Ndii, Governance

Today the US threatens North Korea with a first strike. North Korea has every right to say we will, "Nuke you too!" in self-defense. Apparently this is the foreign policy of every permanent member of the UN Security Council. They are all nuclear powers that have not disarmed. And the U.S. recently walked out of UN talks on the matter. They have also proposed to update and renovate their arsenal.

Kenya’s historic Supreme Court decision nullifying a presidential election, the first in Africa, is a slap in the face of the priestly international observers who for so long remained the self-appointed custodians of democracy in Africa without whose verdict and blessings Africa couldn’t conduct a genuine election.

Fresh from “winning” 99% of the vote in August, Rwanda’s ruler Paul Kagame has turned his wrath on the opposition. Several people have been arrested in recent days. Anne Garrison spoke to Joseph Bukeye, an officer of jailed politician Victoire Ingabire's FDU-Inkingi party in Brussels, Belgium.

Tagged under: 838, Ann Garrison, Governance

Rwanda is often highlighted globally for its large numbers of women in elective politics. But those are women who only sing Paul Kagame’s praises. Dianne Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire are different. They have exposed the inhuman, fearful and anti-African character of Kagame and his regime. These fearless freedom fighters challenge Rwandans and Africans to resist despots and their foreign backers.

China is totally committed to environmental protection through its policy of ecological civilization. But how come Chinese authorities seem not to care about their own citizens involved in illegal artisanal mining that is causing environmental devastation in Ghana?

With respect to Cuba, the American conception of “nothing” is not understood in conventional economic terms, but through a liberal rendition of freedom. With this version of freedom comes a set of values that if not perpetuated, suggest an un-freedom worse than access to a livable life. In this country, we value freedom to fail and struggle more than the right to a standard in our quality of life.

The historic ruling raises a number of fundamental questions on the capacity of electoral management bodies in Africa to conduct free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful elections; the deployment of new technology in the electoral process; functions of poll observers, and the role of the judiciary in the continents’s democratic consolidation.

The incumbent in an election has many opportunities to use state resources unlike the opposition. That is why the Constitution and election laws insist on creating a level playing field. But some of the campaign activities of Uhuru Kenyatta have beached the law. A president re-elected on the basis of the special position, immunities, impunities and privileges cannot really command the respect of all citizens and others.

Recent spending patterns in Egypt pose a dilemma. While experiencing the worst economic crisis in decades, which involves a dwindling of resources, a sharp currency devaluation and an acute shortage of foreign exchange, levels of military spending in Egypt have dramatically increased. How can the two trends be reconciled? Why would a cash-strapped government spend massively on guns when its population of 90 million needs more bread and jobs and services?

Pambazuka News 837: America's wars and the quest for peace

Liberia goes to elections on 10 October. Women comprise a mere 16 per cent of all the candidates cleared for this year’s poll. The over-glorification of Sirleaf as a feminist icon is troubling since her 12-year presidency has actually served the interests of a small, elite group of women and men in politics and thus upheld long-standing patriarchal norms in Liberia.

China has literally invaded Africa with its investors, traders, lenders, builders, developers, laborers and who knows what else. The fancy phrase for that is win-win cooperation. The “cooperation” has opened up Africa as a source of raw materials for China and a dumping ground for cheap Chinese manufactured goods. It is Chinese neocolonialism.

On 1 September 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya delivered a historic ruling: it nullified the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta as president citing irregularities in the 8 August poll. The ruling has important lessons for election management in Africa and the world.

The current debate about “restructuring” Nigeria so as to meet the needs of the people is unenlightening. There is no clarity among the proponents about what restructuring means, to begin with. More importantly, pursuing national solutions based on ethnicity – when ethnic identity is a mere social construct – is backward. What Nigeria needs is democracy.

River Nile is steeped in Egyptian mythology. But the waters of the Nile are a crucial resource for several other countries. Conflicts over the world's longest river, even in recent times, have almost led to war. This should not be the case. The Nile waters must be managed as a source of cooperation and sustainable development for all the countries involved.

It seems likely that Diane Rwigara who dared to challenge Paul Kagame in the August poll will be tried in a kangaroo court on trumped up charges and sent to prison, like Victoire Ingabire. If so, and if she appeals to the Supreme Court, she will lose, as Ingabire did. Some things in Rwanda are as predictable as presidential elections.

The United States, like every nation, has a dual mandate: to build, enlarge and sustain its wealth in the material as well as in the spiritual domains. America is the richest nation in the world. Yet the decison to close doors to 800,000 young people is one that shows a spiritual deficit that needs to be filled with compassion and enlightened self-interest.

A familiar ‘colonial’ scheme is being rolled out: the unrestricted flow of cheap natural resources from the Global South to the rich North, maintaining a profoundly unjust international division of labour. While fortress Europe builds walls and fences to prevent human beings from reaching its shores for sanctuary, it accepts no barriers to resource grabs.

The expanding wars in Afghanistan, conflict with North Korea, the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), U.S. intervention in Venezuela, proposals to increase the military budget by $75 billion, and the war on African/Black people are all interrelated expressions of the systemic violence that the US state is waging and prepared to wage to salvage its rapidly declining power.

Tagged under: 837, Ajamu Baraka, Human Security

According to frequent Western media reports, Venezuela is in turmoil as President Nicolas Maduro faces growing opposition to his failing regime. In reality, though, life goes on fine for most Venezuelans. Despite some difficulties, the people are determined to protect the Bolivarian Revolution. The present crisis is largely a creation of the US and its allies working with the opposition.

Twenty Democrats and five Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Mass Atrocities Prevention Act. Much of this Orwellian movement is coordinated within the elite, richly resourced, corporate funded, ideological bastions of the Democratic Party.

Tagged under: 837, Ann Garrison, Human Security

I was able to read six human “books” in one night! The titles taught me more in a couple of hours than I could ever learn in a year! Here’s my ‘reading list’: Witchcraft and Paranormal; Arab, Muslim Woman; Jewish and Latino; Obsessive Complusive; Double Rejection; and Rejected by my Family.

Tagged under: 837, Education, Tom Olang’

Pambazuka News 836: Confronting imperialist capture

The Igbo now dictate the terms of their freedom from Nigeria. They have acquired this pivotal status, in the past 24 months, it should be stressed, without firing a shot – either in defence or offence. They insist on a referendum to democratically secure the next crucial phase of the process.

Tete Province is very rich in coal. An estimated 23 billion tons of mostly untapped coal lies beneath Tete. It is expected to become the region’s energy powerhouse built on coal and hydroelectricity. However, local farmer communities have been on the losing side of the coal boom so far, especially since large scale resettlements forced them out.

What I find ironical is that you should visit the University of Cape Town as a reform evangelist when the spirit of the #RhodesMustFall which you are celebrating has been quietly and steadily stirring in Makerere Institute of Social Research since last year (and even long before that), largely due to your capricious  and dishonest leadership.

Tagged under: 836, Education, James Ocita

From commemorating Rwanda’s dubious Liberation Day to applauding Paul Kagame’s questionable landslide election victory, Canada’s High Commissioner in Kigali has provided various forms of ideological support to Africa’s most ruthless dictator. That should embarrass everyone who wants Canada to be a force for good in the world.

At least 500 people died and more than 800 were reported missing in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown on August 13-14, when heavy rains swept away everything in their path. Kenyan Poet Shailja Patel reflects on the tragedy.

Tagged under: 836, Human Security, Shailja Patel

Containers have become a well-integrated and indispensable part of our global capitalist trade system. What we don’t always fully realize, however, is what implications this containerization has for the daily lives of residents living in neighbourhoods nearby ports.

Attempts to foster a Black capitalist class in South Africa in co-operation with white capital have failed spectacularly. The price that white capital extracted for their co-operation was a neoliberal state that trapped the Black working class and poor in unemployment, inequality, poverty and gender based violence inherited from Apartheid and made worse.

Since independence 53 years ago, Kenya has had four presidents – three of them from one ethnic community. Control of state power has ensured that the Kikuyu and related groups have benefited from national wealth far more than other communities. Recently, economist Dr. David Ndii sensationally called on those communities that feel excluded to secede.

Nation building is a serious business that requires clarity of vision and self-sacrifice, preparing the grounds for succeeding generations to prosper. It is not the prestige and grandeur of office that facilitates development and progress but the due attendance to the responsibilities of office.

Over two years into the International Decade for People of African Descent, very little has been done to achieve the objectives of the UN General Assembly declaration. It is not enough to make such a declaration. Serious efforts must be made to implement it for the benefit of Black people.

How does a man whose close and immediate family are designated by neo-Nazis as filth and the dregs of humanity then fail to condemn, without equivocation or excuses, such racism? Trump is either ignorant of history, or is so enarmoured by the idea of White supremacy, that he fails to comprehend that the ideas enacted under Hitler being regurgitated in the US in 2017 by persons who see him as President and being equivalently praiseworthy as Hitler is an affront and not a compliment.

Kenya’s elections are always full of drama. And the recent one on 8 August was no exception. What looks like a simple process of voters casting their ballot, and these counted to determine the winner, turns out to be a complex matter of raising more questions than answers.

Even if embattled President Zuma were to leave (and replaced by, say, Cyril Ramaphosa), the country is nowhere near getting out of its political crisis.  Why not? It is because the problem lies, essentially, in the captured polity of the South African state and economy.  This has deep historical and systemic roots.

The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit in Xiamen from September 3-5 is already inscribed with high tension thanks to Sino-Indian border conflicts. But regardless of a welcome new peace deal, centrifugal forces within the fast-whirling world economy threaten to divide the BRICS. South Africa, which plays host to the BRICS in 2018, is already a victim of these trends – even as President Jacob Zuma continues to use the bloc as a primary crutch in his so-called “anti-imperialist” (talk-left walk-right) political survival kit.

Tagged under: 836, Global South, Patrick Bond

Pambazuka News 835: Struggle, suffer, sacrifice for justice

The debate about Africa’s middle class has largely ignored earlier analyses on African elites.

If the US wants to create jobs and promote consumption of America-made products by Americans as Trump claimed during his electoral campaign, it will be hard for him to achieve such goals. The US economy is strongly tied to other economies around the world. With Trump’s rhetoric about protectionism and nationalism in an increasingly globalised world, it would be interesting to see how the US charts alone its trade and economic future.

The book ploughs through the complex issues relating judicial struggles over sexual and gender-based discrimination, social justice and poverty and the adjudication of presidential elections in East Africa.

Celebrating 90 years for Mama Sobukwe is a major feat. It is a sterling life which is exemplary for all, young and old, men and women, that one can serve, suffer and sacrifice for freedom. Her circumstances do not differ much from those of Afrikan women in the rural areas and at the bottom of the pyramid in the social structure.

Americans must acknowledge the scourge of open and concealed racism whose ugly face appears in the form of Charlottesville, hundreds of thousands of black people and other minorities languishing in incarceration, police brutality, discrimination against minorities, as well as diseases rampant in impoverished communities at the bottom of America’s social, economic and political pyramid.

Over the last 38 years, particularly since the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos has ruled Angola through securitisation of the society, repressing all dissent and restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly. Will space for civil participation open up after one of Africa’s longest serving rulers leaves power following elections this week?

Kenyan political elites are using the mechanism of the election to cloak their authoritarianism in democratic credibility and shield themselves from international suspicion. The vote, so essential to popular participation and self-government, has become a critical component for a new electoral authoritarianism.

To replace pedagogies of the oppressed with education for the practice of freedom and to implement education for self-reliance, we must alter radically the political organization of the modern state of capitalist modernity.
 That is Mwalimu Nyerere's legacy in education, which remains relevant today.

It has always been a source of pride that one of the principal factors underlying Somaliland’s success in achieving reconciliation, peace and the establishment of an indigenous democracy was the integrity, basic honesty and national commitment of its leaders. But during the last seven years, this record of largely clean and open governance has surrendered to a culture of greed, nepotism and rampant corruption.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country this week after spending more than three months in the United Kingdom being treated for an undisclosed illness. His short, pre-recorded speech upon arrival did little to address the many concerns of the Nigerian people at this time - at least according to this author.

From a humble centre for American Studies, the Salzburg Global Seminar now runs several academies and programmes focusing on imagination, sustainability and justice, among other topical issues of global concern. It also produces several publications on various themes and has several institutional and individual donors and partners across the globe.

Taking advantage of media interest in protests over monuments to historical figures with racist views, activists in Halifax are pushing to remove commemorations of two individuals who helped conquer Africa. And there’s no lack of other such memorials to target across the Great White North.

Following the 8 August 2017 elections whose results are disputed, the Government of Kenya embarked on a crackdown on selected non-governmental organizations. There have also been reports of killings and sexual harassment by police and suspected state-sponsored gangs especially in urban slums assumed to be support bases of the opposition NASA coalition.

Pambazuka News 834: Sham elections, deadly choices

Kenya’s election this year amounts to nothing less than a coup by the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta. Every effort was made to infiltrate and control the electoral body. The heavy security preparations and the deluge of peace messages suggest that the outcome was already predetermined and the people’s resistance anticipated.

 “August 2 is the anniversary of the beginning of the Second Congo War, so we commemorate it to remind Congolese communities at home and abroad that since that date, millions of Congolese have been killed, raped, kidnapped, and enslaved for our natural resources. We need to remember them and work to bring an end to the killing."

Indicative was the debate preceding the vote: not a single speaker spoke in defense of President Zuma, who after all is also the party leader. The opposition was eager to explain that the motion was not about removing the ANC from government, but Zuma from presidency. In contrast, those taking the floor for the ANC, appealed to members to protect the government from regime change and not abandon the party loyalty.

Rwanda’s sole hero Paul Kagame “won” the 4 August election by 99%. Emboldened by his Western benefactors and cheerleaders, Kagame rules with reckless intransigence and impunity. He has conveniently forgotten that the civil wars of 1959 and 1990s were about the exclusion of whole ethnic groups from state power. The dream of freedom and peace remains distant for Rwandans.

What is now being praised as a “peaceful” election was in fact the connivance of racist global capital against the Kenyan people. The so-called victory of Uhuru Kenyatta is a victory of private business. Kenyans should expect the collapse of public institutions in the next few years and increased militarization to keep the people in perpetual fear.

Tanzania’s famous founding president Julius Nyerere was a teacher. But despite the government’s commitment to education in its development agenda, many young people shun the teaching profession. Salaries are low, classes big and teaching has little prestige among the professions.

Tagged under: 834, Education, Mary A. Mosha

Bankie was a Pan-Africanist in his own class. He would not want Pan-Africanists to fall into sentimentalism about his passing on to the Ancestral world. Rather he would want us to dedicate our work to the liberation of the African people, particularly working towards black people’s knowledge of self.

A confidential audit report from Norwegian government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer Vinmonopolet has uncovered harassment, unionization prohibitions and salaries below the minimum wage at several of its wine producers in South Africa.

Like many young people across Africa, Ugandan youth face the challenge of acquiring appropriate skills and deploying them in achieving their dreams. An essay competition at Kampala International University gave students the opportunity to reflect on this issue and to explore solutions to youth unemployment.

The urgent need for South Africa’s rehabilitation may only begin with a united voice of the people that speaks and acts on behalf of all who live in the country and gives the highest priority to the elimination of a political regime that has gone rogue. As former minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan, said, “We did during apartheid, we can do it again”.

Global resource extraction interests in collaboration with corrupt local elites are providing incentives for a genocide against Indigenous people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a virtual media blackout allows this travesty to continue unchecked.

As he launched the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Johannesburg on Thursday, nearly 18 months behind schedule, South African President Jacob Zuma must have had mixed feelings. Strife-riven Brazil, Russia, India and China are more risky allies than Zuma reckoned when in 2010 he accepted Beijing’s invitation to join the club.

Tagged under: 834, Emerging Powers, Patrick Bond

When Helena Terra heard that ProSavana, a giant agribusiness project proposed for northern Mozambique would be presented for “judgment” at the Permanent People´s Tribunal in South Africa, she was convinced that their struggle against the project was gaining momentum.

Pambazuka News 833: Kenya, Rwanda elections: Hopes and fears

Given Kenya’s generally violent politics, next week’s election has raised considerable anxiety inside the country and throughout East Africa. A lot depends on whether the electoral body will deliver a free, fair and credible poll. Or Kenyans will be well advised to store up some Ugali – the national staple food – in case the post-election period stretches out before things are finally settled.

Kenya’s ethnic diversity is both a blessing and a curse. Whereas the diversity is a great heritage to celebrate, ethnicity has been used to create division for political ends. The country goes into elections on 8 August sharply divided along ethnic lines. Kenyan voters will do well in this election to elect leaders who are dedicated to serving the whole country, not sections of it.

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame will stage sham elections this week to keep himself in power for another term. He has already arranged to stay in office until 2034, if he chooses. Those who challenge the vote count often wind up dead, or in prison, like Victoire Ingabire – which is fine with Washington, Kagame’s major backer.

The Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold’s African subsidiary, Acacia Mining, is embroiled in a major political conflict in Tanzania. With growing evidence of its failure to pay royalties and tax, Acacia has been condemned by President Magufuli, had its exports restricted and slapped with a massive tax bill. Barrick enjoys considerable government backing.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania aka the Bulldozer has embarked on a campaign to end the abusive exploitation of the country’s natural resources by greedy multinational extractivists. Caught in Magufuli’s cross hairs is the Canadian mining group Barrick Gold whose record globally is a litany of human, economic and environmental abuses.

Nigeria’s historic problem of failed nation-building cannot be cured by merely amending the flawed constitution handed down by the military in 1999. The exercise is futile. What the country needs is a national Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution restructuring Nigeria, which then should be put to a referendum.

President Donald J. Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord offending the Europeans, particularly Germany, and isolating his country from the rest of the world.  Moreover his views on climate change disregard the facts this article will elaborate.

Schulenburg has provided a blueprint that is both original and far more attractive and coherent than any of the recommendations of the many reviews of peacekeeping authorised by the UN Secretariat for the past 15 to 20 years.

Pages