Thursday, April 24, 2014

Expensive Angola

Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer, Angola’s capital Luanda already ranks as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, with the presence of thousands of foreign workers, many involved in the oil industry, helping to drive up prices.

In Luanda’s Jumbo supermarket, a half-litre tub of imported vanilla ice-cream used to cost $25 (£15), testament to the Angolan capital’s rank as one of the world’s most expensive cities.
With new import tariffs imposed last month, that price has jumped to $31, enough to make even wealthy locals and expatriates pause and putting the treat even further beyond the reach of millions of poor Angolans struggling to feed their families. Angola imports three quarters of the goods it consumes.  The south-west African nation’s agriculture and industry are relatively undeveloped. They make up 17 percent of gross domestic product, compared with oil’s 41 percent.

“The tariff increases will create inflation, at least in the short term, and affect consumption, especially for those with low incomes,” says Salim Valimamade, an economist at Luanda’s Catholic University. Shopkeepers say the import tariff hikes have forced them to hike prices by up to 20 percent.

Dos Santos, one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders, has been accused by critics of widening a dangerous gap between the rich and the poor that risks causing social unrest.  Santos estimated last year that 36 percent of Angola’s 18 million people live in poverty, but dismissed the risk of income inequalities causing social upheaval, saying most people supported the government’s policies.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had a different view, urging Mr Dos Santos to reduce the inequality gap and warning about the high cost of living.

The average national salary in 2010, the latest year for which official data is available, was around $260 per month. In the finance sector the average was 10 times higher and in the oil business over 20 times higher, or around $5,400.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gay in Africa

Homosexual acts are illegal in 78 countries. Of these, 21 are small island nations, 20 are in the Islamic world, and 33 are in sub-Saharan Africa. In all three categories, almost all anti-gay laws are a vestige of European colonialism, and date back approximately 150 years.  In several countries, the prohibition against “sodomy” is still known as Section 377, the old British code provision. Ironically, anti-gay leaders—politicians, clergy, journalists—in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone have all, within the last month, called gay rights, and homosexuality itself, a “Western” innovation that must be resisted in order to preserve “traditional African values”. It is ironic that cultures with rich traditions of sexual diversity now asserting that sexual diversity is Western, and that Western anti-gay bias is a traditional cultural value.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Koroma, said that “we have to take into consideration our culture, tradition, religious beliefs and all that…  I think the country should be led by what it believes is right for the country and not what is necessarily right for the international community because of the variations in our traditions.’’

In fact, pre-colonial African traditions varied widely. Over 20 cultural varieties of indigenous African same-sex intimacy have been recorded by anthropologists. There are Bushmen paintings of men having sex with one another. There are countless examples of cross-dressing and cross-gender behavior. There are instances of female warriors marrying other female warriors, such as in the kingdom of Dahomey, in present-day Benin—unsurprisingly, the Europeans called them ‘Amazons.’  There are even cases of male homosexuality being seen as possessing magical properties, such as the transmission of wealth from one person to another. And, like the hijras of India, there are examples in several ethnic groups of men who took on women’s roles and dress to have sex with men. These people were not “gay” or “homosexual.” Those are Western terms, laden with connotations of culture and medicalization. They had names of their own: Chibadi (Southern Africa), Mukodo Dako (Uganda), and many others.

Pre-colonial Africa was not some queer paradise. Many of the gender-variant male types were stigmatized; being regarded as women was hardly an elevation in social status. And some forms of African sexual diversity, such as pederasty, are hardly models for contemporary morality but the notion that homosexuality is un-African is not historically grounded.

“African” ideas about homosexuality are often those spread by American Evangelicals, out to colonize Africa spiritually rather than politically.  Lou Engle, Scott Lively, Human Life International—these are not household names in the United States, and that’s precisely the point. Like has-been basketball players dunking baskets in Europe, the leftovers of the American Evangelical scene have found new life in Africa. These Westerners bring money and influence, and are gladly met by opportunistic African leaders. Each group is using the other: Evangelicals shift policy and are able to raise money back home, and their African collaborators can posture against Western imperialism and get rich.

At the same time, the notion of gay rights as Western is also reinforced by Western gay rights activists.  By scolding countries like Uganda and Nigeria for getting gay rights wrong (even as the United States itself has only “gotten it right” for the last few years) American liberals reinforce the notion that LGBT equality is Western, and, even worse, remind many in Africa of the patriarchal colonialist attitude that we Westerners are advanced, and you Africans are backward. Each time Americans and Europeans threaten to cut off aid to an African country because of its anti-gay laws, another African leader can “stand up to the West” and look powerful for resisting the pressure. The notion that developing world countries should leapfrog 40 years of social history, and the corresponding one that Western sanctions should whip them if they don’t, only feeds the flames of anti-Western sentiment and bolsters the political position of anti-Western posturing.

Meanwhile, LGBT people on the ground become victims of the backlash.

Full article here 

Capitalism V Nature

Weak Laws and Capitalist Economy Deplete Kenya’s Natural Wealth

Kevin Kinusu, the climate and energy advocacy officer at Hivos, the Dutch organisation for development, tells IPS that the weak laws have proved ineffective in the face of the country’s capitalist economy.

“Market forces have overlooked the importance of sustainable management of natural resources. Due to the current craze to develop real estate, wetlands in areas in Nairobi County, parts of Kiambu County and indeed in many other parts of the country have been converted into settlements.” He says the real value of such protected areas has been ignored and “the market forces and extreme hunger for a cash economy has been given dominance at the expense of our environmental and natural resource health.”

While the 2010 constitution demands that communities be at the heart of natural resource management, many are still left out of the country’s multi-billion dollar mining industry.

“The production-sharing contracts signed between the government and oil companies are often in favour of the companies since they are signed under the archaic Petroleum Act of 1986,” Samuel Kimeu, executive director of Transparency International Kenya, tells IPS. “Unclear means of awarding mining licences have been used to fleece the public, compromising the terms of the licence against the public interest, thus swindling the public of possible revenue,” he says.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Economic Freedom Fighters

Two EFF actions this week caught attention. Julius Malema, the party's commander in chief, condemned COSATU's continued support of the ANC and announced that the party will form its own trade union to organise workers.[1] And in Cape Town the EFF organised an anti-eviction march to the provincial legislature.[2]

In both these cases the party draws attention to real problems facing the working class, to real instances of the capitalist and state elite's attacks on the poor. At the same time the EFF tries to assert its own leadership and control over the struggles meant to resist these attacks.
Over the last twenty years, the so-called service delivery struggles in the townships and informal settlements were taken up by local resident associations who for many years provided the only source of opposition to neo-liberalism that was prepared to break out of the framework that the state set up to manage protests.[3] In face of COSATU's defence of the ANC and its commitment to the anti-worker labour relations dispensation, struggles in the workplace were taken up by strike committees, local forums and smaller independent unions. [4] These new community and workplace based associations in many cases showed a tendency to practice local autonomy, direct actions and direct democracy.[5] They therefore created opportunities for working class people to fight for control over decision making and oppose the authority of the capitalist state and class. This is why the state responded to it with violence that seems out of proportion to the organisational strength and political orientation (which was often not self-consciously revolutionary) of these groups.[6]

The approach of the EFF is not to support and strengthen the independence and autonomy of these working class formations. It wants to replace them or subordinate them to itself. The EFF has a highly authoritarian internal structure and culture based on military ranks.[7] If they succeed in imposing themselves on the independent workplace and community based groups that have grown out of the struggles of the last few years the working class would lose the limited self-organisation it has won in bloody struggles against the neo-liberal capitalism of the ANC.

[2] 'EFF is not a political party. EFF is a revolutionary movement that believes in people's power not parliamentary power. we shall not wait for laws to defend and advance the interests of the people. last night kwaLanga in Cape Town EFF faced up to the combined evil power of the anc/da and banks and successfully defend the right to housing. the banks mobilized the state just like in marikana and tried to evict and elderly family. EFF said NEVER! the evil forces had to retreat! its so sweet to see how they complaining. EFF stands with the People against Banks! asijiki!' - Facebook post by Andile Mngxitama 14 April 2014.
[3] See for example 'Social movements, COSATU and the "new UDF"' by Oupa Lehulere August 2005.
[4] Documented for example in the booklet 'New forms of organisation' published by the International Labour Research and Information Group in 2009.
[6] The main example of this ongoing violent repression is the Marikana massacre.
[7] See for example the comments of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on democracy in the EFF.

From here


The spreading tentacles of AFRICOM

10 exercises, 55 operations, 481 security cooperation activities. Last year, according AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez, the U.S. military carried out a total of 546 “activities” on the continent — a catch-all term for everything the military does in Africa.  In other words, it averages about one and a half missions a day.  This represents a 217% increase in operations, programs, and exercises since the command was established in 2008.

AFRICOM releases information about only a fraction of its activities.  It offers no breakdown on the nature of its operations.  And it allows only a handful of cherry-picked reporters the chance to observe a few select missions.  The command refuses even to offer a count of the countries in which it is “active,” preferring to keep most information about what it’s doing — and when and where — secret.

U.S. troops carry out a wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields of proxy wars, and evacuation operations in destabilized countries.  Above all, however, the U.S. military conducts training missions, mentors allies, and funds, equips, and advises its local surrogates.

Saharan Express is a typical exercise that biennially pairs U.S. forces with members of the navies and coast guards of around a dozen mostly African countries. Operations include Juniper Micron and Echo Casemate, missions focused on aiding French and African interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic.  Other “security cooperation” activities include the State Partnership Program, which teams African military forces with U.S. National Guard units and the State Department-funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program through which U.S. military mentors and advisors provide equipment and instruction to African units.

Many military-to-military activities and advisory missions are carried out by soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as part of a “regionally aligned forces” effort that farms out specially trained U.S. troops to geographic combatant commands, like AFRICOM.  Other training engagements are carried out by units from across the service branches, including Africa Partnership Station 13 whose U.S. naval personnel and Marines teach skills such as patrolling procedures and hand-to-hand combat techniques.  Meanwhile, members of the Air Force recently provided assistance to Nigerian troops in areas ranging from logistics to airlift support to public affairs.  Last year, according to a December 2013 document, these efforts involved everything from teaching Kenyan troops how to use Raven surveillance drones and helping Algerian forces field new mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPS, to training Chadian and Guinean infantrymen and aiding France’s ongoing interventions in West and Central Africa.

 A website for Yemen’s Houthi community says the US army is planning to set up a naval base in a strategic area in the country’s southern Lahij Province. According to the recent report by Ansar Allah website, the naval base, which is to be established in Khor al-Umaira in southern Yemen near strategic Bab-el Mandeb, will include a floating dock, a training center and shooting ranges.
US army corps of engineers have said the construction of the naval base can be completed in some 730 days and will cost the government around USD five million.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hey Presto!

Statistics are the magic, and the manna, of the economist. They are less reliable than weather forecasts; the meteorologist has a better chance of forecasting rainfall than an economist of forecasting economic growth.Things get even more testy over the issue of Gross Domestic Product, that great calculator of a nation’s economic output. The proof, in this case, lies outside the pudding, rather than in it. Things get even more testy over the issue of Gross Domestic Product, that great calculator of a nation’s economic output. The proof, in this case, lies outside the pudding, rather than in it....

...A suitable illustration of this statistical gazing comes in the form of assessing Nigerian economic performance. For one, the recent rebasing of its performance seemed to take other countries in the region by surprise. Nigeria is now Africa’s largest economy. This hardly seemed to make sense, given that South Africa, with a GDP of $354 billion in 2013, was streets ahead. Nigeria’s statistician-general would have none of that. Figures showed a jump from 4.2 trillion naira to 80.2 trillian naira, the equivalent of $509 billion. Astonishingly, the economy had grown by 90 per cent, effortlessly surpassing their rivals....

...The problem, as ever, is that GDP is one of the greatest tricks in the economist’s manual. In itself, it says nothing. Roy H. Webb of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond offers a definition: “the market value of current, final, domestic production during a specific interval of time.” Already we have our first problem – value includes prices for goods and services actually paid in market transactions. Defense costs may not be available because market prices are not available. What is left out can prove as vital as what is included.

States, on paper, can appear rich yet still have a good portion of its citizens living on less than a dollar a day. The GDP measurement had its origins in concepts of sound and sober management – monitoring the economy the way a doctor monitor’s a patient’s health. That management, as with other systems of accounting, went awry. It has been said that John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was a true catalyst, given its emphasis on matters of national investment and product. The retiring Bureau of Economic Analysis chief Steven Landefeld has issued an appropriate warning: figures like GDP “are eminently useful in macroeconomic analysis if they are not regarded as a precision instrument.” The line between precision and lethality is a fine one...

... economic improvement should never be a race. It should be a matter of genuine growth and poverty alleviation. Economic growth serves as both warning and promise. As well as it might suggest that some things are going well, it gives little indication about distribution. GDP remains a trick.

Full article by Binoy Kampmark on the Dissident Voice website 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Reclaiming the unions

 The South African general election will take place on May 7. In 2009 the ANC won 65.9% support - just short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution. The 76% turnout was seemingly relatively high, but not so good when you consider that around seven million adults (23% of those entitled to vote) did not register in the first place.

A campaign calling for no vote to the ANC, which was launched last week by over 100 former ANC stalwarts, of varying prominence. Amongst them is Ronnie Kasrils, for 20 years a member of both the ANC national executive and the South African Communist Party (SACP) central committee,  who was minister for the intelligence services for four years until 2008  and has now jumped ship, much to the chagrin of the SACP.

The campaign is entitled ‘Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote no!’ - the first two words being translated as ‘We are fed up! Wake up!’ As for ‘Vote no!’, that has been interpreted as a call to abstain, to spoil your vote, or to vote for anyone but the ANC. This movement is typical of the widespread, but largely passive, disillusionment with the ruling party. Disgruntled residents in a small South African town booed President Jacob Zuma. Rally-goers reacted angrily at Zuma,  left early and pelted stones at cars. In March, the crowd booed him again at a friendly soccer match between South Africa and Brazil in Johannesburg. 

 It is absurd to claim that the current period of neoliberal privatisation and capitalist stabilisation represents a “national democratic revolution” that is the “most direct route to socialism” in South Africa as the SACP desperately argues.  “The ANC has had 20 years to prove itself,” says Kasrils, but has failed to do so. He makes the obvious equation of Marikana, where 34 miners were shot dead by police in August 2012, and Sharpeville, when 69 peaceful protestors were mowed down by the apartheid police in 1960.

the SACP ‘communist’-led National Union of Mineworkers defends its members who are scabbing against strikers led by the breakaway Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in the platinum belt: “we urge the law enforcement agencies to crack down on the sponsors and the perpetrators of butchery”: ie, strikers, who have attacked NUM scabs.

 National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), and its general secretary, Irvin Jim, voted unanimously to break from the ANC and not to support it in the general election, making it clear that  the ANC is an agent of the bourgeoisie and that the SACP has betrayed the working class. Although their own politics remain those of left reformists such as former Brasilian president Lula.

While, of course, it would be highly desirable for trade unions to be “socialist”, first and foremost,  we need a united union movement that includes all workers, irrespective of their political affiliation.

Adapted from a Weekly Worker article

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Activists Banned From Student Union Elections- Nigeria

Recently, the Obafemi Awolowo University management, through the Division of Students Affairs, sent a blacklist to the electoral commission and expressly ordered that those whose names are on the list must not be allowed to vote, be voted for, or act as agents in the forthcoming union elections. Five students are affected by this vicious list, and the only offence they have committed is their participation in the genuine struggles of students for unbanning of their union. For OAU administration, dissenting opinions over unlawful proscription is not allowed, and hence criminal. For us in the DSM, this blacklist is only a witch-hunt aimed at preventing student activists from holding union offices. It is also a calculated scheme to weaken the OAU students’ union and establish it under the direct manipulation of the university administration. We condemn this undemocratic, unlawful and vicious interference of OAU management in the internal affairs of a students’ union. We call for the conduct of elections in line with the provisions of the union constitution and decisions of the congress of students.

First, that OAU administration is establishing this disenfranchisement through a kangaroo indictment is unintellectual. In the opinion of the administration, indictment is not to make a formal accusation against someone, but to presume that the alleged is guilty before the charges are substantiated. This is the height of intellectual contradiction in an institution of learning, where regards for democratic laws and dissenting views should have been entrenched. However, we in the DSM are not surprised that the OAU management is wielding another instrument of jackboot absolutism to prevent questions and checks on its oppressive activities.

This was the same management that constructed a N500 million swimming pool when the university water supply system remains unclean and diseased, amid wide condemnation. Prevention of student activists, who have boldly condemned such impropriety of spending and policies, from holding union offices is meant to further sustain arbitrary and corrupt policies of the university administration. This will also ensure that the union itself is tied to the apron string of the university management, while the right to protest obnoxious policies of the university administration will be criminalized.

For us in the DSM, a union that cannot advance the interests of its members is irresponsible. And this is the reason why the affairs of such a union should be determined by members of the union, and not forced down its throat by a self-serving university authority. The OAU students’ union has a constitution which has articulated procedures for election, and a legislative organ which is the congress. Hence the right of members to vote or to be voted for is a subject for determination by the students, and not the university administration. If Nigerians do not condemn and resist this arbitrary imposition, then the OAU management – and other university managements – will see student unionism as a system of secondary school prefecture. This fact is observable in the current National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), whose leaders have turned into cronies and sycophants of corrupt politicians. While Ife student unionism still jealously guides the philosophy of students as an instrument against oppression and anti-people policies, the current effort of the university administration threatens the further existence of this tradition.

The DSM calls on peace-loving Nigerians, alumni of OAU and ex-students’ leaders to call the OAU administration to order and stop its excessive interference in the forthcoming students’ union elections. Witch-hunting students for taking dissenting opinion over an unlawful proscription of the union is inimical to intellectual growth and damaging to the future of Nigeria.

Adabale Olamide
General Secretary

From here with links

We Have The Vote But No One To Vote For - South Africa Elections

Elections should be a season of hope. Steve Biko declared that our fight was for an open society, a society where the colour of a person's skin will not be a point of reference or departure; a society in which each person has one vote.

We have the vote but the political parties do not represent the aspirations of the people. Millions of black people remain poor and oppressed. When we organise outside of the ANC we are violently repressed.

This election is not the season of hope. It is the season of deception, slander, gutter politics and lies. There are campaigns to encourage our people, and in particular young people to vote. We are being told every day that voting is the way to express our hopes and to build a better society. Politicians are leaving the comfort of their fortresses and frequenting our townships. They all say that they are disgusted that we are still living below the poverty line in squalid conditions, with no water and electricity. They all say that voting is the way to restore the dignity of our people.

Those who claim to be so disgusted with how the people are living include the same ones that have been stealing from the people. There is the Nkandla Chief who has made his own family rich while the rest of us remain poor. There is also Malema who dismantled a house of R4m to build a mansion of R16m.

Another feature of our politics is that it has become about messiahs. John Block tells us that walking with Zuma is like walking next to God. According to Andile Mngxitama Julius Malema has become Maolema. Helen Zille has been given the name Nobantu (people's person).

In the black consciousness movement we read a lot. Some of us started as teenagers. At a young age we read Frantz Fanon's warning about leaders that send the oppressed to their caves and tell them to leave politics to the professionals or the messiahs. We understood clearly that a radical politics is a democratic politics and that a democratic politics is a politics in which the oppressed control their own organisations and participate in all decision making.

The media also reduce us to spectators of politics rather than participants in politics. We are reduced to those who must clap hands and cheer for our 'leaders'. At times the noise is so high that you hardly hear your leader.

We are in the struggle to kill the idea that one kind of person is superior to another kind of person. We want to abolish racism. But we also want to abolish the idea that politics is about choosing between Zuma, Zille and Malema.

The formation of the Black Consciousness Movement in this country was a realisation by black people that we could no longer stand and be spectators of the game we are supposed to be playing. This election season continues to demonstrate the relevance of Biko's teachings. We are expected to cheer the politicians as they play the game. We are expected to cheer the BEE millionaires as they play the game. If we want to play the game ourselves we end up like Andries Tatane, the Marikana martyrs or Nkululeko Gwala and Nqobile Nzuza.

Today our generation has to encourage people not to accept the hardships that they are facing. We have to find a way, even in the environments we are forced to live in, to have hope for ourselves and our country and to organise to confront oppression. That is what black consciousness is all about. It is not about supporting one corrupt messiah against another corrupt one. It is about taking a side with the people.

After the murders of Tatane, the Marikana miners, Gwala and Nzuza it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Nkandla it is immoral to vote for Zuma. After Blikkiesdorp and Hangberg it is immoral to vote for Zille. After Malema forced his way into the leadership of the ANC Youth League and he and his friends plundered the organisation, as well as Limpopo government and the National Youth Development Agency it is immoral to vote for him too. Zuma must go on trial for Marikana and Nkandla. Zille must go on trial for Hangberg. Malema must go on trial for his plunder and unpaid taxes.

But corruption and repression are not our only problems. There is no doubt that the ANC is rotten but it is a grave mistake to divorce corruption from the rotten form of crony capitalism that we have in South Africa. Both the ANC and the DA are proponents of the kind of capitalism that always makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. They are both proponents of the Youth Wage Subsidy which is a false solution to unemployment. We need a subsidy for the people, not for capital.

The EFF say that they will nationalise the mines and run them for the people. But no one in their right mind can trust Malema to run the mines for the people.

We have to ask ourselves why it is that we now have the vote but there is no one to vote for. Maybe the reason is that the political parties are all funded by elites and so they all work for elites. We need to change the system in which the parties are funded. All parties should receive the same funding from the state and there should be no secret and private funding.

Elections should be an opportunity for the people to choose their representatives from amongst themselves. What we have today is a system whereby we can only choose which group of rich people, working for the big capitalists, we want to rule us.

From here

Monday, April 14, 2014

Accumulation By Dispossession - BRICS and AFRICA

The centuries-old looting of Africa, followed by the conference in Berlin that from 1885 began the ‘Scramble for Africa’, is being repeated now in a predatory attack by BRICS countries on the continent’s resources. Large corporations from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are not committed to development for ordinary people – whether in the homeland or the victim countries. As BRICS penetrate further into Africa, the winners consist of multinational and parastatal corporations, including some based in the industrialised countries – e.g. the Walmart retail empire – which purchase semi-processed inputs or finished goods from BRICS, along with local elites who lubricate the looting through corruption, cost overruns, and access to our cheapest electricity supplies.

Many African countries, if not all, are located at the extreme end of what Immanuel Wallerstein thirty years ago termed the core-periphery relationship, a position which impoverishes them to the advantage of rich and industrialised countries in the core. BRICS countries represent sub-imperialists trying to improve their relative location in the world system, perhaps moving toward imperialist power and thereafter even to imperialist superpower status, as the USSR once enjoyed. These countries have different levels of economic development and political influence, vested interests in the African continent and the DRC in particular, and geopolitical positions in world politics.

But they all share four characteristics. First, BRICS countries present important opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) which, drawn towards mega developments like the Congo River Inga Hydropower Project or towards minerals and petroleum extraction, impoverish the same people that they should empower. Impoverishment occurs through dispossession of natural resources with little or no compensation, unequal shares of the costs and benefits of mega development projects, repayments of debts incurred to build these projects, and structural exclusion from accessing the outcomes of these initiatives.

Second, BRICS countries share the same modus operandi at their different stages of imperialism, either as countries which have been active in Africa for a very long time (Russia and China); newly arrived (India); or playing their traditional sub-imperialist countries (Brazil and South Africa). The pattern is similar: accumulation by dispossession is taking place through abuse of local politics, national elites, warlords, and war economies, as in the eastern side of the DRC, where between BRICS and the West as consumers of the resulting mineral outflows, six million or more deaths have been the result.

Third, BRICS countries share the same interests in natural resources including but not limited to mining, gas, oil and mega-dam projects for water and for electricity to meet their increasing demands for cheap and abundant electricity. They are also actively involved in the search for new markets, and hence they promote construction of roads, railways, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. But this infrastructure is often indistinguishable from colonial-era projects, meant to more quickly extract primary products for the world market.

Fourth, BRICS countries have poor records of environmental regulation. There is virtually no commitment to mitigate climate change and invest in truly renewable energy, to take environmental impact assessments seriously, and to consult with and compensate adversely affected communities.

There is desperation in the air as a result of the following: three BRICS countries having crashed in 2013 (South Africa, Brazil and India) to join the ‘fragile five’ (Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey); Russia crashing in March 2014 thanks to the implications of its Ukranian political and Crimean land grab, following China’s surprising trade deficit in February 2014 as many of its major industrial companies lowered their production. The prices of important commodities such as copper and iron are falling, as a result. The BRICS appear to need new market niches for trade, along with cheap energy through oil, coal and hydroelectricity, which can assist in lower-cost extraction and transportation. But each BRICS country is different.

For details of each BRICS' countries dealings in Africa GO HERE

Uganda and Israeli Racism

 A century ago, Theodor Herzl - the father of modern political Zionism - proposed Uganda as a temporary refuge for persecuted Jews. Uganda is now on the receiving end of other persecuted peoples, this time African refugees who have sought asylum in Israel only to be imprisoned in detention facilities and then returned to the Africa.

 The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in a February 2014 article titled "Israel secretly flying asylum seekers to Uganda", harsh conditions in the detention centres plus nominal financial compensation have facilitated the deportation of many migrants under the guise of "voluntary departure". Uganda's denial of the existence of any deportation agreement with Israel renders accountability for human life even less of an option

The Israeli director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants on this non-solution to refugee plight: "It is known that Uganda deports asylum seekers to their countries of origin." The organisation also said that " 'voluntary departure' is the result of heavy and illegal psychological pressure on detained, isolated and desperate asylum seekers, which more than once has included threats and lies....the position of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees is that people cannot be considered to be acting of their own free will if the choice they have is between detention and being sent back to their country".

One  reason for the disingenuous rendering of a "voluntary" exodus of refugees is, of course, to prevent an already precarious demographic balance in Israel from tipping in favour of non-Jewish non-whites. There has been political incitement to anti-African violence and the forcible injection of Ethiopian women with contraceptives.  The Israeli regime insists on referring to African asylum seekers as "infiltrators", which connotes criminality and facilitates the illusion of a steady stream of enemies that must be combated. Between November 2012 and May 2013 the Jewish state had approved only one asylum application from a population of approximately 60,000 non-Jewish African asylum seekers in Israel. The applicant happened to be an albino.

"When Israel rounds up and deports African refugees, it makes a mockery of the millions of Jews who died during World War II because no one would grant them shelter,"  Israeli-Canadian journalist David Sheen noted.

Apparently so indistinguishable from one another in their blackness that they can be repatriated to any old place in Africa.

 What does Uganda stand to gain from participating in outsourced inhumanity? A 2013 Vice magazine report details the perks of the arrangement: Weapons discounts and military training for African countries willing to take on Israel's dirty work.  Uganda's interest in Israeli weapons is perhaps less than surprising given the behaviour of its own army and security forces, often characterised by torture and other human rights violations. In 2003, Haaretz ran a story on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's visit to Israel for the purpose of "arms shopping", an excursion that was said to have been "arranged by an arms merchant, Amos Golan of the Silver Shadow company, who represents IAI [Israel Aircraft Industries] and other Israeli defence industries in Uganda".

 A Vice magazine article notes that, as of September of last year, approximately 40,000 of the African "infiltrators" were from Eritrea, "a country with one of the worst human rights records on Earth". The author goes on to comment, with well-directed sarcasm, that "these people aren't coming to Israel because they fancy upping their matzah intake or living on Palestinian land illegally; they're genuinely trying to escape persecution and find a way to survive".

From Al Jazeera