Pambazuka News 858: Struggles of the exploited and oppressed

This contribution draws on time spent interviewing, walking with villagers and witnessing the eroding base of women’s security and empowerment in rural and informal sectors in some African countries, a trend that has heightened in the last decade. The countries in question share some common features: a colonial legacy of peoples displaced from their ancestral lands; vast and valuable natural resources; high illiteracy rates among rural populations; patchy rural infrastructure; the vestiges of weakened traditional accountability systems; and investment policies that significantly favour the industrial commodity chain [*] over peasant-based food sovereignty.

In just over a year, Nigerians will exercise their vote to determine their leader. China’s erstwhile leader Mao Tse-Tung once said, “To occupy a high office, one must first be master of the low office.” However, the path to the top job in Nigeria has been predominantly through violence. Historically, service and meritocracy were alien to assuming the office of the Nigerian presidency. But, the youth of Nigeria now clamour for change. It is pertinent to study the path to the United States presidency as a model, and view the son of Africa, who changed the path to the most powerful office in the world. We can learn a thing or two from President Barack Obama.

African heads of state and government have recently signed what is now the world’s largest free trade area known as African Continental Free Trade Area. While the excitement is still in the air, it is important to reflect on what this landmark step means concretely, and also suggest some areas that need special attention.  

Winnie Mandela is the incarnation of black spirit and pride. She was the incarnation of the struggle of oppressed black South African under the apartheid regime. She is truly an inspiration to the younger generation. 

The author, recalling his life experience as a young activist of the Left, calls on the Nigeria political Left to unite and prepare for the 2019 presidential in Nigeria.

The United States African Command’s effort to deepen its penetration of the continent faces resistance; with the recent opposition coming from Ghana’s opposition parties. 

Dear readers, 

Pambazuka News will be on Easter break during the week of 26 March 2018. The next publication will be on 5 April 2018. Thank you very much for your continued support.

The Editor.

CONTENTS: 1. Features  2. Announcements


Features


 

Stench of state failure in Zambia’s cholera outbreak

Aisha Bahadur

Despite more than a decade of externally funded water and sanitation infrastructure projects in Lusaka, the city’s slums are the epicentre of the most recent cholera outbreak that still lingers six months after the first case was reported. The government’s heavy handed response to this outbreak has added insult to injury for poor communities living in, what is referred to in politically correct parlance as, peri-urban areas. It is the poor that suffer the indignity of sanitation and water inadequacies, a result of more than two decades of failed policy intervention. 
 

 

Mozambique forced to restructure after debt default

Abayomi Azikiwe

Economic growth proves unsustainable for the Southern African state of Mozambique in present world situation due to financial implications that have been going on for some time now. 

 

Zimbabwe open for business, code for international finance capitalism

Netfa Freeman

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has used all types of media including The New York Times to paint a rosy picture of the current situation in Zimbabwe in order to attract foreign investment. Has really anything changed since Mnangagwa took over four months ago? 

 

Another reason why imperialism wanted Libya overthrown

Abayomi Azikiwe

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained for questioning over Gaddafi loan, reminding us of another reason imperialism wanted the Libyan leader assassinated. 

 

“I may not get there with you”

Julius A. Amin

Remembering MLK on this 50th anniversary of his assassination
Martin Luther King Jr. had many enemies during his time, but he never stopped having a positive spirit. As we remember the 50th anniversary of his assassination, we also remember one of his appeals of “doing something good for others”. 

 

Tanzania in The Economist’s view – a deliberate misrepresentation

This is a response to The Economist’s piece “Tanzania’s rogue president: Democracy under assault” published in the Africa section on 15 March 2018. Upon reading this piece, two questions come to mind: Why this? And why now? The Economist has covered Tanzania’s new presidency three times (May 2016, October 2017 and March 2018). All three pieces revolved around the increasing political repression and human rights violations under the new presidency. 

 

Lucrative politics, poverty and democracy in Nigeria

Wole Olubanji

The political establishment appears to be working against the interests and aspirations of the majority of Nigerian people. Especially since the previous economic recession started, almost every policy of government has had the counter-effect of aggravating the burden of the people – from the deregulation of the naira, to paying a ransom for the release of the young ladies kidnapped by Boko Haram. 
 

Free at last? How I met a White Yoruba man from Puerto Rico that was not Bruno Mars

Olurotimi Osha

Historical migration patterns, and the transatlantic slave trade engendered significant cultural and even linguistic osmosis, as various ethnic groups mixed together. Although we find that with the effluxion of time, new identities take more shape, it is difficult to make an argument for discreteness in ethnic or cultural identity. Thus, race it appears is a social construct.

 

MDC Alliance, “Zimbabwe’s future government”

Japhet M. Zwana

The confidence exuding from Zimbabweans that, this time things will be different, is evident in the opposition leadership and its rank. 

 

To end gender-based violence we must listen to girls

Faiza Jama Mohamed

As I reflect back on my 35 years of activism fighting injustices against women and girls, my feelings are conflicted. On the one hand, I have a sense of fulfilment arising from all I have contributed and the gains won along the way. But on the other, I know gender equality is still a dream, not a reality, and all I have done is just a drop in the ocean.

 


   Announcement


Over the last five years, Fahamu has been implementing Participatory Budgeting in four counties in Kenya namely Kajiado, Kwale, Kisumu, and Makueni (and in Embu to some extent). Citizens within the four counties have been able to engage with their county governments in setting their development priorities, monitoring implementation of the development agenda and put to task government officials where they have failed in implementing the citizens’ development agenda. More specifically, this project has enabled citizens to access information on budgets and expenditure of resources that are utilised in their counties. Fahamu through the Global Giving initiative is seeking to scale up this project. We need your support.
 

Pambazuka Android App is now on Google Play Store

As a way to reach more people and to make your experience with Pambazuka News better, we have developed an android app as another tool to create a better reading experience with mobile devices. The app will have periodic updates to cater for changing readers' requirements and experiences.to cater for changing readers' requirements and experiences.
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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy detained for questioning over Gaddafi loan, reminding us of another reason imperialism wanted the Libyan leader assassinated. 

This is a response to The Economist’s piece “Tanzania’s rogue president: Democracy under assault” published in the Africa section on 15 March 2018. Upon reading this piece, two questions come to mind: Why this? And why now? The Economist has covered Tanzania’s new presidency three times (May 2016, October 2017 and March 2018). All three pieces revolved around the increasing political repression and human rights violations under the new presidency. 

Economic growth proves unsustainable for the Southern African state of Mozambique in present world situation due to financial implications that have been going on for some time now. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has used all types of media including The New York Times to paint a rosy picture of the current situation in Zimbabwe in order to attract foreign investment. Has really anything changed since Mnangagwa took over four months ago? 

Despite more than a decade of externally funded water and sanitation infrastructure projects in Lusaka, the city’s slums are the epicentre of the most recent cholera outbreak that still lingers six months after the first case was reported. The government’s heavy handed response to this outbreak has added insult to injury for poor communities living in, what is referred to in politically correct parlance as, peri-urban areas. It is the poor that suffer the indignity of sanitation and water inadequacies, a result of more than two decades of failed policy intervention. 

As I reflect back on my 35 years of activism fighting injustices against women and girls, my feelings are conflicted. On the one hand, I have a sense of fulfilment arising from all I have contributed and the gains won along the way. But on the other, I know gender equality is still a dream, not a reality, and all I have done is just a drop in the ocean.

The confidence exuding from Zimbabweans that, this time things will be different, is evident in the opposition leadership and its rank. 

The political establishment appears to be working against the interests and aspirations of the majority of Nigerian people. Especially since the previous economic recession started, almost every policy of government has had the counter-effect of aggravating the burden of the people – from the deregulation of the naira, to paying a ransom for the release of the young ladies kidnapped by Boko Haram. 

Martin Luther King Jr. had many enemies during his time, but he never stopped having a positive spirit. As we remember the 50th anniversary of his assassination, we also remember one of his appeals of “doing something good for others”. 

Historical migration patterns, and the transatlantic slave trade engendered significant cultural and even linguistic osmosis, as various ethnic groups mixed together. Although we find that with the effluxion of time, new identities take more shape, it is difficult to make an argument for discreteness in ethnic or cultural identity. Thus, race it appears is a social construct.

Pambazuka News 856: Saving Lake Chad and the ambiguous handshake 

Africans should be interested in General Reynaldo Bignone who died on Wednesday, 7 March 2018, at a military hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. But, why should Africa be interested in knowing him?

 This article is an edited transcription of an address that Abayomi Azikiwe delivered at the Annual Detroit African American History Month Forum held on 24 February 2018. The gathering was chaired by Kelley Carmichael of Workers World Party Detroit branch.

Seventeen years after it was established, and eight years after opening its Secretariat in Arusha, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) is growing again! We are happy to announce the establishment of six (6) new staff positions within our Secretariat in Arusha, mostly at senior officer level. This will dramatically scale up the ability of the organization to serve its institutional and individual members and its broader stakeholders, and to continue to be a major development actor on the African continent and with its diaspora. 

Tagged under: 856, Jobs, PALU

While Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa is trying to convince the world that he is making progress since replacing his mentor, former President Robert Mugabe, a number of Zimbabweans in the diaspora do not agree with his assessment of the current situation in the country. 

According to a former employee, Swedish liquor retailer Systembolaget says it will consider terminating its contract with South African wine producer Leeuwenkuil unless standards at its vineyards are improved.

The handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga on Friday 9 March 2018 shocked and surprised their respective supporters. What has left many dumbfounded is the fact that the other major key political players of both Jubilee and National Super Alliance were not privy to this meeting of the two hitherto political nemeses. Is it the beginning of a true national reconciliation process? 

One of the propositions of Leftists’ theory of history is that human beings are the makers of their own history. A corollary to this – that human beings do not make this history simply as they wish, but that they make it with materials and circumstances fashioned and transmitted by and from the past – is as important as the main thesis.

While hip-hop is now mainstream with a commercial global appeal, its history instantiates the classic elements of the dialectics of cultural and musical artistry. And many of its principal actors, who were once villains decades ago, are still on the stage, and now handsomely paid.

Sanctions added by the Trump and Trudeau administrations to Obama era sanctions against Venezuela impose new burdens on ordinary Venezuelans who are just trying to live their lives. Unilateral sanctions are illegal under international law. Over 150 prominent US and Canadian individuals and organisations have signed the letter below which is being delivered to US Senators and Congress Members as well as Canadian Parliamentarians.

The international conference on saving the Lake Chad was held in Abuja, Nigeria on 25-28 February 2018. The theme of the meeting was “Saving the Lake Chad to revitalise the Basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.” With over 1600 participants and presenters attending, this meeting grappled with the issues of how to go about saving Lake Chad. It was concluded that the Transaqua project, which would take water from the right tributary of inter-lacustrine region, and the River Congo, conveying the 2,000km water channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option to save the Lake. 

The announcement of a date for general elections in a country roiled in political conflict and ruled by an unpopular leader should be regarded as a positive move. But not so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Pambazuka News 855: Women’s Day, land reforms and forgotten heroes 

Although the Nigerian military repeatedly overthrew civilian governments to combat corruption, its reign of terror was wasteful and institutionalised corruption in Nigeria left the country more divided than ever. To build a world-class military that Nigerians deserve, President Buhari, a former military officer, must first purge the military of corruption.

The South African parliament has voted for a motion to amend the constitution that will allow the government to expropriate private land without compensation. However, a true resolution of the land question must be in accordance with the needs of those who work and live off the land. This means the destruction of all existing tribal and feudal relations in the rural areas and the nationalisation of the land.

In this interview, Her Excellency Hanna Simon, Ambassador of the Republic of Eritrea to France talks to Pambazuka News correspondent, Sarraounia Mangou Tete, in Paris on wide-ranging issues, key among which include the sanctions imposed on this young horn of Africa nation by Western imperialist powers.

The controversial announcement by the African National Congress that land will be expropriated without compensation has raised contentions on land reform in South Africa. Land is symbolic of the discontent at post-apartheid transformation but it is real agrarian reform to improve income and livelihoods that is desperately needed for the black majority that are living below the poverty line. 

This article describes and comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2018 “State of Nation Speech”. 

Post-1994 South Africa has a theatrical crisis of selective amnesia and partisan remembering of history. History telling, whether at school, university, in the media or public celebrations and commemorative events, is biased towards a singular political trajectory and one particular school of thought that is portrayed as the sole agents of the socio-economic and political transformations that have apparently occurred in the past 24 years. 

This brief commentary seeks to explain why President Museveni will never carry out the necessary electoral reforms. To do so would amount to Museveni committing political suicide for he will lose all subsequent elections. As a strong believer in the zero-sum game theory, Museveni, as an experienced and seasoned manipulator, kleptocrat and dictator cannot permit electoral reforms that will limit his current advantages in successfully rigging presidential and parliamentary elections. Fundamentally, Museveni is in power not because of the electoral process. It is because of his military victory and control over the National Resistance Army (NRA), his personal army.

Since 2016, news about African traders leaving China has spread. According to analysts, the world commodity price drop rather than China’s economic restructuring is a contributing factor in making African traders leave China. 


Power is sweet, even unavoidable, at times. Call him president, commander-in-chief, head of the security council, party chief, and chairman of everything from innocuous intra-governmental agencies to multi-lateral conglomerates baptised into China’s mainstream socialistic agenda; Xi Jinping may be brewing a cocktail too detrimental to the future of democracy in Africa.

It is fitting that Africa converse with Africans at home and abroad, as opposed to continually beseeching Caucasians in the language of acquiescence to the destructive power of the paradigm; the language of compromise and culpability in the paradigm’s corruption; the language of ignorance of our wealth, our power, and our collective heritages; the language of defeat. Why should Africa present an image of itself as a place yearning to take an inferior place among inferior Caucasian nations, when Africa is the source of the very concept of civilization?

Tagged under: 855, Maggie Brito, Pan-Africanism

As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day, Faiza Jama Mohamed, who has immensely contributed to the struggles for African women’s rights for many decades. 

The article critiques Black Panther movie’s narrative as dictating the terms of black people’s responses to systematic violence. It does this by critically examining the imagery and story around ancestral connections. I argue that the movie is used to craft a modern colonial imagination of Africa’s future. I delve into the symbolisms in this movie and analyse them in light of the arguments made.

On this year's International Women's Day, Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director of FEMNET, calls on us to continue fighting for women's rights and to do so with the clarity and tenacity that will finally end all forms of discrimination against women and girls and sustainably instigate gender equality across all spheres.

Pambazuka News 854: Africans in the diaspora and Africa’s quest for democratisation  

Blacks have a moment to celebrate their achievements around the globe and to leverage the moment, to confront intolerance in all its ramifications, to make black dignity a permanent reality. We should be outraged by intolerance and racism towards children and should remember that in our struggle to achieve equality, we have allies among non-Blacks, too.

This article is transcription from a lecture, which Abayomi Azikiwe delivered at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, Michigan on Sunday 18 February 2018. Abayomi Azikiwe presented the message for the day on the history and contemporary significance of mass incarceration and the enslavement and continued national oppression of the African American people.

Edwin Madunagu argues that Nigeria needs a people's manifesto that would borrow from the political left's thinking and be a representative of the people's really demands.  

Write for us! We want YOU to write for Democracy in Africa This platform exists to share news and analysis about all aspects of African politics and nothing gives us more pleasure than publishing a new author. We are particularly keen to receive pieces based on fieldwork, recent events and from people living in Africa. And every quarter we award a prize of US$100 to the best piece published in the previous period! 

After the recent fiercely contested presidential election in Liberia, world attention has now turned to neighbouring Sierra Leone, which has its own crucial vote on 7 March 2018. Both countries share so much in common, not just political histories, but devastations of symbiotic civil wars. Can the “Lion Mountain” ever roar again after the withdrawal of United Nations troops in 2014?

Democratic transitions going on in Africa are slow and timid. However, there is reason to believe that something substantive is happening. 

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.” Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause. [1]

This is an autobiographical account of Louise Owusu-Kwarteng’s parents’ migrational and settlement experiences in the United Kingdom, with reference to Buchi Emecheta’s novel Second Class Citizens.

African leaders who fought for independence soon departed from their initial objectives before African people could see the benefits of independence. Even though leaders who came after independence were also far from what African people needed, there is hope that current changes in southern Africa can inspire the entire continent. 

Africa has become a dumping ground for used clothes from the West where it often costs more to dispose of clothing than to export it. This has had a negative impact on local economies and the dignity of Africans. Domestic capital in the industry and the domestic consumer market has been decimated in many African countries.

Africa’s richest regions is said to host some of the most undemocratic governments in the continent where presidential palaces seem to have become private properties over which blood must be spilt if some strangers show signs of trespassing the perimeters. Is there any hope for this situation to change?

Samuel Abonyo's poem narrates disappointments from supporters of President Donald Trump who trusted and hoped that he would bring changes to their lives.  

Denmark is fighting for a place on the United Nations Human Rights Council while supporting an European Union fisheries agreement with Morocco that includes Western Sahara, in violation of international law and the ruling of the European Union Court of Justice. 

Pambazuka News 853: Ramaphosa, Tsvangirai, and struggles of working people 

Hollywood expects everyone to cheer whenever African characters are starred as superheroes even if the roles assigned to them include the mass murder of fellow Africans while subtly promoting the interests of colonisers. 

For Nigeria's All Progressives Congress party to survive after Mohammadu Buhari's presidency, they might as well consider presenting an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023 elections. 

Cyril Ramaphosa’s soft-coup firing of Jacob Zuma from the South African presidency on 14 February 2018, after nearly nine years in power and a bitter struggle to avoid resignation, has contradictory local and geopolitical implications. Amidst general applause at seeing Zuma’s rear end in the society, immediately concerns arise about the new president’s neo-liberal, pro-corporate tendencies, and indeed his legacy of financial corruption and class war against workers given the lack of closure on the 2012 Marikana Massacre.

Yash Tandon argues that the late Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, would be remembered as an enigmatic and emblematic figure for his relentless opposition to the ruling party power elite despite his tribulations. 

In this interesting radio interview, Sharmini Peries of The Real News Network discusses with renowned pan-Africanist, Professor Horace Campbell on the recent changes in South Africa that saw Cyril Ramaphosa, a former working class militant turned corporate magnate become fifth president of that country. 

The Oromo people have not been able to dominate the politics of Ethiopia, as the Amhara and Tigrinya people have dominated the empire's  governance. Nonetheless, the Oromo's ancestral principle of democracy--a transitional principle of eight years as a generational unit--has influenced many countries and could one time influence Ethiopia's politics.  

Assassinations and assaults that are being unleashed against the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common, the political party formed by the former FARC leaders and activists are a hindrance to renewed initiatives for a peaceful and decent Colombia. 

The best way to remember the late President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, is to keep his legacy of fighting the rule of law and democratic governance in Zimbabwe. The MDC leadership needs to unite to keep that legacy alive. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address of 16 February 2018 seemed crafted to appeal to the electorate that has been alienated by the Zuma presidency marred by scandals. But, can Ramaphosa honour his promises?  

Important developments that took place in 1968 with the working class protesting against their deplorable working conditions are still relevant to what is happening five decades later in 2018. 

Big Business thought the Zuma factor was just what they needed and the Rand-Dollar traded in the 8.50 – 6.70 band. Then in January 2016, they decided Zuma was bad for business, warning shots were fired, the Rand fell almost to 17. Now Ramaphosa is what Big Business wants!

There is need for Russian and African business partners to know more about each other’s capacities and needs so that the significant potential of economic cooperation between these two parties can be utilised. 

Pambazuka News 852: Confronting global white supremacy

The new head of state of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, assumed power amid relief and jubilation. However, he needs to tackle serious challenges including serving the interest of ordinary people and fighting against corruption if he wants that jubilation to go on. 

Imperialism is less concerned with human rights and democratic elections in Africa. What really matters is the maintenance of a system that serves their interests no matter how it assumes or maintains power. The same goes for Zimbabwe; what they are interests in is not the new president, but what the West hopes he would do to safeguard their interests. 

A plan to fund, to the tune of over US $14.5 billion, the project of water transfer from the Congo River to Lake Chad as a way of saving the lake and the livelihoods of millions of people living around the lake could have been another reason that the former Libyan leader Gaddafi was assassinated.  

African progressive organisations and movements stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela to oppose any imperialist interventions that only seek to install a puppet government to serve the interests of imperialist powers. 

Imitators and the supposed dissenters in the global South are a part and parcel of the Western bourgeoisie and their agenda; and it is the reason why the global South never has a voice of our own that is at once eclectic to confront imperialism. 

Black people need to write their own stories; to keep some aspects of our lives forever secret and unwritten is not helpful at all.  There is also need to fund projects that document these stories, as we cannot forever react to the deliberate distortions of our being by the global white supremacist establishment.

Oppressed and humiliated people responding to racism cannot be illegitimate. It is racism that is illegitimate. It is the oppressed who feel the weight of violence on their shoulders and it is them who must decide their own best possible method to escape their dehumanisation. 

White capital has no problem with corruption; the problem they had with Jacob Zuma is that they were being side-lined in the corrupt deals of the state under his watch, with far more going to the Gupta family and a new Black elites. Turning on the Zuma faction and backing Ramaphosa is unlikely to end corruption in South Africa. 

Most of Africa’s past, even present, leaders have been complicit in the misrepresentation of Africa, as they have often been instruments of neo-colonialism. African leaders, with any sign of bravery are often summarily sabotaged, if not executed—invariably with the aid of fellow Black Africans. Africa needs who have Africans' interests at heart. 

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