Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lesotho Hospital - Public Money, Private Profits

This presentation looks at Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure through the lens of inequality, as wealth becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and as the gap between rich and poor widens globally, regionally and within countries.
PPPs are now used in more than 134 developing countries, are on the rise in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, and have moved from physical infrastructure into the provision of “social infrastructure,” such as schools, hospitals and health services. Much of the PPP growth has been in middle-income countries in Latin America, and the Caribbean, East Asia and Pacific region.

The example of a new public hospital in Lesotho illustrates that the public sector tends to carry all the financial risks of a project, providing cash subsidies or guarantees of payment or revenue – 99% of the money paid to build the new hospital was “public” money – while the financial profits extracted invariably go to the private sector and out of the country.

Raising the finance for infrastructure now involves multiple new institutional actors from private equity and venture capital funds to hedge funds, private banks and pension funds, each taking fees and profits along the way.
Indeed, for the private sector, “infrastructure” is not so much about bricks and mortar as stable, long-term, contracted cash flow.  A PPP project provides this: a stable, guaranteed income stream. Projects are devised to create multiple avenues for a flow of money that is transformed into private profit through loans, derivatives, shares, securitised income streams, and contract sales that anyone can buy and sell. A PPP project enables millions of dollars worth of ancillary trading, mainly for the purpose of hedging risks.

The choice of what infrastructure to build is thus heavily influenced by what serves the long-term profit-making interests of the private sector – and the state or public sector becomes more and more aligned with the interests of infrastructure investors and private companies.
PPPs are not about building and providing public services: they are about constructing the subsidies, fiscal incentives, capital markets, regulatory regimes and other support systems necessary to transform “infrastructure” into an asset class that yields above average returns of 13-25%.
In sum, PPPs are less about financing development (which is at best a sideshow) than about developing finance.

from here


Saturday, October 18, 2014

South African Land Question

According to Oxfam's land policy adviser, Robin Palmer, "Land is often all that people have as a bottom line for livelihood security."

"Land is a major resource in women's livelihood strategies. However, in general women are discriminated against in terms of the robustness of their rights in land, and this can create severe hardships for them and for those who depend on them. Generally their rights in land are secondary rights, derived through their membership in households and secured primarily through marriage," analyst Cherryl Walker said in a study on women's access to land.

Countries that were "settled" under colonialism - Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe - share a similar profile of racially skewed land distribution, dual tenure systems based on received law and customary law, and a dispossessed black rural population confined to degraded and overcrowded communal lands. Land is a highly charged issue. South African land expert Scott Drimie explained that, for Southern Africa, reform must be seen in the context of restitution. "The primary reason is about history. There are vast inequalities that have to be addressed for historical and economic reasons."

The reality has been that governments have failed to allocate the financial and human resources needed to address the land issue, said a think-tank of land experts who met earlier this year in South Africa. A common view is that governments in the region have been complicit in the preservation of land alienated by a powerful elite. Even liberation movements, once in power, are often accused of dropping their radicalism, preferring to join the privileged. Political commitment to land redistribution has been followed by a switch of emphasis to so-called economic goals, rather than the eradication of landlessness and/or poverty.

"Indeed, debates about land reform everywhere have seen a confrontation between those who believe that land reform must be centred on the redistribution of ownership (or land rights over) productive agricultural land in favour of the rural poor, and those opposed to extensive redistribution, who wish the reform to focus on measures to raise agricultural productivity and/or create a new class of (black) African commercial farmers," the think-tank noted. The received wisdom is that small is beautiful and small-scale farmers are invariably more productive than large estates. However, new comparative studies are beginning to suggest that in Southern Africa this might not always hold true, and small family farms may not be able to compete so well in increasingly liberalised and competitive markets. "Where rains are both unpredictable and unreliable, which is over much of the region, the mechanised farmer can readily take advantage of favourable soil moisture conditions... This flexibility is not available to small-scale farmers dependent on borrowed oxen or draught animals weakened by fodder shortages during the long dry season," the think-tank said. But Drimie believes the small-scale versus large-scale debate "may in many ways be a false dichotomy in terms of policy choices". Rather than a blanket model, a more nuanced blend based on location (climate, land suitability) and resources within a context of rural development would better achieve poverty alleviation.

From here



Friday, October 17, 2014

Africa needs socialism, not capitalism

Is capitalism really going to be the answer?

Sub-saharan Africa has one of the highest number of hungry people and has a growing youth population in need of jobs.

“Africa is not poor financially but it needs to get its house in order,” Stephen Karingi, director of regional integration, infrastructure and trade at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told IPS during the commission’s Ninth African Development Forum, “For too long we have allowed the narrative of Africa to be one about raw materials and natural resources coming out of Africa, yet Africa can take advantage of its own comparative advantages, including these natural resources, and become the leader in the value chains that require these raw materials.”

The continent must embark on reforms to capture currently unexplored or poorly-managed resources,”Carlos Lopes, ECA executive secretary, said.

We need to get our policies right and allow for the kind of investments that people [can make] in Switzerland,” macroeconomic policy division head at ECA, Adama Elhiraika, told IPS.

“Given the size of Africa, there is need to promote free movement of capital, which is as important as the free movement of goods and services in boosting trade and investment.”

Research by the ECA shows that the total illicit financial outflows in Africa over the last 10 years, about 50 billion dollars a year, is equivalent to nearly all the official development assistance received by the continent.

This blog has often exposed the exploitation and poverty of workers in South Africa, the most developed country on the continent. Is that really the template other African workers wish to follow and not to be more ambitious and aspire towards a genuine social society?

The possibilities exist for the transformation of Africa. Northern Ethiopia suffered significant soil erosion and degradation — with farmers driven to cultivate the steepest slopes, suspending themselves by ropes — before attempts were made to counter ecological destruction. Since then approximately 250,000 hectares of degraded land in Ethiopia’s highland areas of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray — in which over 50 percent of Ethiopia’s 94 million people live — has been restored to productivity. This has been achieved through promoting sustainable land management practices such as the use of terracing, crop rotation systems, and improvement of pastureland and permanent green cover, benefiting more than 100,000 households.  Its holistic approach increases water availability for agriculture and agricultural productivity. The introduction of improved cooking stoves combined with newly established wood lots at farmers’ homesteads reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on natural forests. Ethiopia’s abundance of waterways offer huge hydro-electric generation potential. By focusing on cities, land use and renewable and low-carbon energy sources, while increasing resource efficiency, infrastructure and stimulating innovation, it is claimed a wider economy and better environment are achievable for countries at all levels of development.

Getahun Moges, director general of the Ethiopian Energy Authority, tells IPS. “I believe every country has potential to build a green economy, the issue is whether there’s enough political appetite for this against short-term interests.”

Socialist Banner would describe this official as being overly optimistic. It is not merely short-term political governance that holds back Africa but the longer-term and deeper-rooted nefarious effects of world capitalism and global corporations.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fifty Years On The Colonised Kenyans' Struggles Continue


The 1200 acres of Twiga Farm lie in the heart of Kenya in Kiambu County, northeast of Nairobi. The area, with its green hills and fertile fields, first attracted land grabbers in the form of white settlers during the colonial regime. The Kikuyu, who had lived and cultivated these lands for centuries were forcibly reduced to being workers on the white farms. The British established a property registration system that individualized and commercialized land - contradictory to the Kikuyu tradition of sharing and valuing land. Most Africans had no access to or representation in this system, and so no means to protect their land. The legacy of this system is still being felt in many of the disputes over land seen since independence. 

In 1963, the year of independence, the Kenyan government took a loan from the British government to buy back their land from the colonialist. By then Kenya was well set on its capitalist path and the largest chunks of land went to the new Kenyan political elite, who had the resources and power to buy it. It is no coincidence that the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the first president Jomo Kenyatta - himself a Kikuyu - is believed to own the largest parcels Kenya's privately held land today. Other Kikuyu, who were the largest group that were dispossessed, were relocated to other areas of the country. This seemed to work until 1992, when the end of the Cold War prompted the spread of neo-liberal democracy through an influx of conditional aid money combined with national demand for democracy.

In the first multiparty election since 1964, the political elite fomented issues over land to rally support along ethnic lines. The results were instances of Post- Election Violence since 1992 with the worst happening in 2007/2008. The clashes, however, produced Internally Displaced People, who fled their lands and the mismanagement in resettling them or rather in addressing the malfunction and injustice of the land tenure system caused further tension. Lastly, the era of investment has fully set root in Kenya, causing legal and illegal evictions, as land becomes lucrative to national and international elites to extract resources and other investment projects. Yet, citizens have been convinced to believe that land issues are a matter of scarcity and rivalries between communities, rather than as a result of land grab by national and foreign elites, companies or as part of skewed 'development schemes'.

The case of Twiga Farm can be understood against this background. After Kenya got its independence, the British settler who 'owned' the land in the colonial system, gave it back to the people who had worked for him instead of paying out their retirement funds. The people of Twiga divided the land among them, built a school and a dispensary, and made a little town. The farm was even allocated a voting station since 1964- a sign that it was recognized as a legitimate community. However, Twiga Farm residents were never issued with modern title deeds. This was not unusual at the time and indeed is the case for many communities, especially those whose land was not seized under colonialism as it was a long way from the capital city, or not particularly fertile. 

It is especially these communities that are in danger of land grabs today, as new technology (e.g. in oil exploration) has made their lands lucrative for investment. The thousands of acres fertile land on Twiga Farm worth billions of Kenyan Shillings (millions of dollars) were bound to attract the interest of other forces. 

In 2004, the company Mboi Kamiti claimed ownership over the land. The police threatened residents with eviction, but they responded by taking the case to court and the chief magistrate ruled in their favour declaring the residents as legal owners by right of adverse occupation. The company, however, did not give up. They went back to court in 2012, ready to dispute the original ruling, but their connections in political ranks seemed to have spared them the bothersome process. On December 20 2012 residents of Kiambu were surprised by bullets flying over their heads and bulldozers demolishing their houses. Eyewitnesses report planes flying over the maize fields, spraying bullets. Four people were shot that day and close to 4000 families displaced. The Provincial Commissioner, the local mayor and police officials at scene accused the residents of having illegally built on the land to justify the evictions. Within 6 hours of the eviction, the police themselves built a police station out of trailers and iron tents on the property. Many of the displaced people were elderly; people who have been born on the land and cultivated it their whole lives. In the course of a single day, they and their families were ejected, and robbed of shelter and livelihood. Some were forced to set up camps by the roadside, and are still there today. 

In a global neo-liberal framework that demands pro-corporation, pro-profit development lead by investments, they are only one example of the massive land grabs and evictions taking place in Kenya and in Africa. The collusion of local, national and international money and power is more and more legalizing the disowning of people of their lands in the name of economic growth, development or investment. 



In a global neo-liberal framework that demands pro- corporation, pro- profit development lead by investments, they are only one example of the massive land grabs and evictions taking place in Kenya and in Africa. The collusion of local, national and international money and power is more and more legalizing the disowning of people of their lands in the name of economic growth, development or investment. It is a powerful partnership to stand up against. - See more at: http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24039#sthash.ofj3wdGA.dpuf

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

South Africans Going Hungry

 One in four people in South Africa do not have enough to eat, and half the population is at risk of hunger, despite the country producing more than enough food. Despite the nations’ farms producing enough calories to feed every one of its 54-million citizens, half of South Africans either face hunger or are at risk of hunger.  To cope, people skip meals, eat smaller portions or make do with cheap, poor-quality food.

According to Oxfam, low incomes, rising costs, a lack of access to productive resources and climate change are amongst the reasons causing 13 million people to go to bed hungry. One family of four was found to live on just R6 (USD$0.54) a day.

 “The children wake up hungry in the middle of the night. At times we feel it would be better if someone adopted them to give them a chance in life,” says Elzetta Vooges, 23, from the Eastern Cape. Elzetta describes feeling she is “rated the cheapest of the cheapest”.

Women and girls face hunger more often than men. They earn less than men for the same work, cannot work as many hours and find it harder to get jobs.  Despite this, they are often responsible for providing food for the family.

In the nine municipalities the price of staple foods, like maize have increased. Electricity prices have escalated by over 200% cumulatively since 2010, forcing people to choose between food and fuel.  The inequality of access to food across South African households is stark - the poorest spend 50% of their incomes on food whilst the richest 10% of the population spend only 10% on food, meaning any increases in prices hits the poorest pockets the hardest.

Access to food is also limited by food retailers’ control over pricing and availability. Five retailers control 60% of the formal retail market, leaving small and informal traders finding it hard to compete.  The food industry has been plagued by collusion and price fixing scandals. Prices are inflated whilst farmworkers often struggle to survive in meager wages, or face losing their jobs completely. Without access to land, water and  tools many poor communities don’t even have the ability to produce their own food.

 Changes in the climate are now taking its toll and that means some cannot grow or store food as they once used to.  “We used to eat fresh food from our gardens, but now it’s impossible because of the high temperatures that make it impossible for us to work in our gardens” explained Community member from Eastern Cape.

Oxfam’s Rashmi Mistry said: “The right to sufficient food is enshrined in the constitution but government policies have failed for one in four South Africans.  October has been adopted by the government as food security month but just increasing production and creating one giant food mountain will not help the poorest and does not go far enough to address the root causes of hunger.  We need better implemented policies that are developed with those most affected by hunger and backed by legislation that holds everyone to account for people having enough to eat.”

From here

Corrupt ZANU-PF Linked Public Officials Behind Illegal Structures

Thousands of residents in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and surrounding areas are facing eviction from their homes as local authorities embark on an operation to demolish all illegal structures. At the end of last month, city authorities turned 70 residential and business buildings into rubble overnight in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, 25km north of Harare, and served 324 settlers in the high-density suburb of Glen Norah with 48-hour eviction notices. 
However, the demolitions in Glen Norah did not proceed, as residents armed with axes, knobkerries and other objects faced off with police who eventually retreated.  Last week, hundreds of houses in Epworth, a high-density settlement southeast of Harare, were also demolished before a high court ruling on 10 October granted residents a temporary reprieve.

A government audit of illegal structures made public in December 2013 found that more than 14,000 residential stands in and around Chitungwiza had been illegally sold by housing cooperatives, councillors and village heads, all of them with ties to Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU-PF. Much of the land where stands were illegally created for the building of homes and businesses, had been earmarked for other purposes such as for clinics, schools, cemeteries, roads and wetlands.
Following the release of the report, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Biggie Matiza was quoted in the state-owned daily, The Herald, as committing to a “well organized, humane” process in demolishing the illegal structures that would ensure all affected families were offered alternative land.


However, residents like Eleanor Magaya, whose house in Chitungwiza faces demolition, have not been offered alternative land. “I will not leave my home,” she told IRIN. “I am living in fear that the demolishers can come and I can’t even sleep. They have served us with a seven-day ultimatum to vacate the area as it is reserved for recreational purposes and built on wetlands.”Magaya showed receipts of payment she made for the stand to former ZANU-PF Chitungwiza Councillor Frederick Mabamba, who was behind one of the housing cooperatives identified in the government audit as illegally selling stands in the area. “We were even given the go-ahead to start building and occupy the land before the general elections [in July] last year,” she said.
 
 
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Africa: We Don’t Want Aid. Please Keep It For Your Local Poor!

5-Stars-Colonization 

 

Africa: We don’t Want Aid. Thanks.
Europe: No, No you don’t understand you need Aid.

The most fierce defendants of Aid to Africa are now mostly non-africans, while most africans are asking to stop it.
Take the example of one small east african nation Eritrea. They declared self-reliance and shut all NGOs and relief organization offices.
They refused to accept aid. Since then they’ve started building their country and have good results.

Keeping with its self-reliance policy, the government of Eritrea stopped requesting any financial assistance from the United States since 2005, and fully cut-off all third party NGOs that were financially sponsored by the United States after 2006. The Eritrean government believes that foreign assistance breeds a culture of dependency that shackles African countries into a cycle of poverty”.
One Eritrean official declared “Aid only postpones the basic solutions to crucial development problems by tentatively ameliorating their manifestations without tackling their root causes. The structural, political, economic, etc. damage that it inflicts upon recipient countries is also enormous.”  

But it doesn’t came without cost. The nation paid a big cost. The western countries started bulling and demonizing the government.
According to wikileaks, once in 2008, Hilary Clinton was found to say, “Eritrea is bad example of good governance”.
The BBC vested journalist Ed Harris warned “Self-reliance could cost Eritrea dear“.
The Economist ridiculed the country  “A myth of self-reliance: Eritrea’s people pay the price for their government’s pride“
What a bad example Eritrea is showing!
What if more African countries would follow their example!
Self-reliance ideology is a threat to the well proven exploitation scheme in place around the continent.

The country ended up in economic sanctions under the pretext that the country is helping alshebab in Somalia. But the truth is pretty clear Eritrea stands against all forms of neocolonialism, political, economical, etc.
In a previous post I’ve called on Africans to Kill The NGOs, Chase The Charlatan Experts, Be Wary Of IMF & World Bank, because the hard truth about aid is this:
The mission of the fisherman is not to feed the fish. If the Fish doesn’t Understand that, It’s the Fish problem. If it’s Free, you are the Product!
And, as Thomas Sankara put it “He who feeds you, controls you…”

Obviously, if foreign aid would develop any place, Africa will be the most developed continent in the world.
International AID is currently doing more harm to Africa than good. It became the main tool used by foreign governments and organizations to corrupt the African elite, and get them to behave so irrationally toward their own populations and the basic interest of their countries.
Aside corruption and the criminality, International Aid is the root of the 5 Stars colonization disease that cripple the African elite which dislikes the responsibility and the self sacrifice that comes with being in control of a nation destiny. As far as they enjoyed the status offered by their positions, they never liked the responsibilities demanded by the jobs, therefore they use international aid programs as substitute to their responsibilities.

If Africa needs any aid, the most urgent one is to get rid of the 40 billions corruption industry (called International Aid) that shackles its youth and elite, cultivates and maintains the beggar mentality.

Africans don’t want aid. Please keep it for your local poor! Help your neighbors in the West!

taken from here

 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Eritrea's Mining Industry

The small east African country of Eritrea has started a mining industry and is doing it right. To start with Eritrea is receiving 40% of the profits generated by its first gold/copper mine.
Compare this to Tanzania where Anglo-American mining company operates one of the worlds largest gold mines and pays a whopping 4% royalty to the government.
Thanks to Wikileaks we know that the USA forced sanctions against Eritrea through the UN Security Council in 2009, not to punish Eritrea for allegedly supporting “terrorism” (i.e. Al Shabab in Somalia) but in an attempt to sabotage the start of Eritrea’s mining industry.
40% vs. 4%? Small wonder that Eritrea’s deal threatens western interests for if the rest of Africa takes note and begins to follow suit in the deals cut allowing exploitation of the continents resources Pax Americana and its vassals are facing a serious problem.

From Thomas C. Mountain who has been living and writing from Eritrea since 2006.



Mozambique's Peasant Union Vs The Great African Landgrab

Maputo -- With a shimmering coastline stretching for more than 1,500 miles along the Indian Ocean, heartland game parks rivaling the Serengeti and a cornucopia of natural resources -- located mostly in land used by humble farming communities -- Mozambique is getting quite a lot of attention these days as one of Africa's most upcoming investment hubs and in vogue destinations. Investors have not wasted any time in carving out their stake in the country two decades into the relative stability following a 16-year civil war on the heels of independence.

The cash-strapped Mozambican state technically owns all of the land within its borders, offering leases that are renewable up to 99 years to foreign governments and corporations for agribusiness or extractive industrial megaprojects. One such example is ProSavana, a Japanese and Brazilian-led development project with the blessing of the Mozambican government. ProSavana has earmarked land in the Nacala Corridor spanning three provinces and affecting 19 districts for monocrops such as soy for export.

ProSavana, not unlike related land deals for coal and gas extraction, comes with hefty promises of economic growth marked by mass job creation and export potential. But under the surface, investments all too often uproot lives and livelihoods for those who depend on small-scale farming, fishing and pastoralism -- more than 70 percent of the population in the case of Mozambique. Many point to these projects as undisputed resource grabs woven into the fabric of a greater neocolonial project in Mozambique and throughout Africa.

"The idea of mass job creation is a myth," said Vicente Adriano, staff researcher for the Mozambican Peasant's Union (UNAC), "The bottom line is that these projects create dependency within the class that has been historically, and continues to be, neglected by government policies and development plans." As a social movement, UNAC members pride themselves on being a revolutionary bunch. "Mobilization through resistance creates alternative forms of political sovereignty," Adriano offered.

It was in that spirit that UNAC brought both its lead organizers and vulnerable farmers from each of Mozambique's ten provinces together in Maputo on October 1st and 2nd for its third annual peasant-led international conference on land. The conference came as the culmination of a series of regional Mozambican gatherings, where delegates shared concerns and discussed crosscutting strategies as means of opposition to land and resource grabs.

"Our land is being occupied without our consultation," shared Helena Terra, a peasant from the central region, an area marked by small-scale vegetable and grain production that is now threatened by massive foreign-owned eucalyptus crops and coal exploration in residential areas. Terra explained that the once potable water in her village was now polluted by industrial activity, and unsafe for consumption. Water is not her only concern. In 2015, new coal projects seek to displace at least a hundred families -- but with the help of fellow UNAC organizers, Terra is undertaking legal measures to attempt to recover the land.

"United as farmers, we have to solve these problems ourselves, and not wait for outsiders," said Augusto Mafigo, UNAC's president. The agricultural group's tactics -- from agroecology for food sovereignty to agrarian reform -- are grounded in political education and horizontal learning exchanges among its members, as well as with other African and international movements. Last week's conference featured a presentation from the Venezuelan ambassador, representing a country that has been working to radically reorient its food system to serve its poor majority. Another example was an intervention on seed saving and agrarian transformation from neighboring Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Forum (ZIMSOFF), which UNAC works closely with through their joint participation in Via Campesina.

Now the largest transnational agrarian movement in the world, Via Campesina has member organizations in 73 countries -- representing over 250 million peasants -- that fight for access to and control over land and its resources. "Via Campesina is a connection to what people want, as opposed to the very different reality of what is happening on the ground," said Renaldo Chingore, a leader in both UNAC and Via Campesina at the Africa regional level. Ten years ago, UNAC became Via Campesina's first African member. Today it plays a headlining role in supporting its regional and global growth, at a time when Africa is a priority for outreach and expansion -- due in large part to land and resource grabs such as those in Mozambique redefining the norm.

Against such policies and sizeable odds, peasants throughout Africa are determined to hold onto -- quite literally -- the roots of their ancestors. UNAC's experience in the Mozambican field may just provide a game plan for doing so.

from here