Thursday, August 16, 2018

Polygamy and Poverty

Having multiple wives is common in about a quarter of the world's nations, predominantly conservative male-dominated communities in Africa and Muslim-majority countries where it is part of traditional or religious customs. But men have taken multiple wives for centuries, citing the need to have a large family to help with farm labour and to ensure offspring if children die or one wife is infertile. A larger family was also traditionally seen as a source of pride, wealth and high social status and protective for women in cultures where they cannot own resources like land. The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women says polygamy should be discouraged and outlawed because such marriages are unequal and have negative emotional and financial impacts on women and children.
Despite growing modernity and awareness of women's rights, polygamy remains legal in most African nations and is prevalent across society, from farmers to senior politicians, such as former South African President Jacob Zuma who has had six wives. But for polygamy to work, wives must buy into the practice and the husband should have enough income to look after all of them and their children. Yet this is not always the case.
But campaigners say most polygamous marriages in Kenya, and other African nations, are fuelling poverty - with husbands neglecting one family over another - leaving thousands of women and children impoverished and easy prey for exploitation.
Almost 1.5 million Kenyans - or 10 percent of the married population - are in a polygamous marriage. In Kenya, a wife's consent is not legally required for husbands to marry again, and men are often unable to adequately provide for them. Almost 43 percent of households where the man is in a polygamous union are poor compared to 27 percent of those in monogamous unions. Poverty reaches 46 percent in households where the woman is married to a polygamous man who does not live with her, it says.
But women's rights groups say this a gross underestimate as most of these marriages are customary and not registered. Worse still, many women are unaware they are even sharing a husband as he may keep them in separate homes without informing them.
"Polygamy is the biggest contributor to poverty as most men who get into it cannot afford it - and it is the women and children who suffer most," said Teresa Omondi-Adeitan, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya. "Sometimes they are evicted after the new wife arrives and tensions arise. In other cases, the man has to divide his little resources further between all the families, and there is less money, less food and less everything for everyone."
With most Kenyan women already poorer than men, single mothers often struggle to provide food, schooling, health care and security for their children, say campaigners. As a result, their children are more susceptible to diseases, from malaria to malnutrition, less likely to complete school or find work, and at higher risk of early marriage, sexual exploitation or forced labour.
"There are a lot of factors which contribute to child vulnerability - but from our experience it is clear that poverty is one of the biggest," said Angela Nyamu, country director for child rights charity Terres Des Hommes. "Anecdotal evidence suggests the structure of the family does play a role. Children who are in single-parent households are more vulnerable and it can push them into many forms of exploitation."
From Kenya's slums to its tourist beaches, thousands of children are having "survival sex" for as little as a bag of sugar, a piece of fish or even just a ride home. In many cases there is a link to polygamy.
"My father took another wife and my mother, me and my sisters had to leave," said 19-year-old Monasha who began sex work in the beach resort of Diani when she was 15. "I had to quit school and help at home. I started doing this as there was nothing else for me to do to get some money," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
While campaigners say women and children in polygamous unions need better protection if the relationship falls apart, most are against outlawing a culturally-entrenched practice. They called for the government to enforce a law to register customary polygamous marriages, so that women would have official evidence of the marriage - making it easier for them to claim child maintenance or the husband's assets or property.
"Criminalisation isn't always the answer," said Judy Gitau, a women rights lawyer from the charity Equality Now. "If the law is implemented and women are given their entitlements, things will slowly change and greater social awareness will eventually see polygamy dying out."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why Xenophobia in South Africa




There is no evidence to support the belief that South Africa’s migrant community is a major cause of crime or unemployment in the country. Indeed, as former president Zuma has acknowledged,
"[many in the migrant community] contribute to the economy of the country positively."
Anti-xenophobia activists need to encourage ordinary people to think like this. Only when South Africans are able to understand the root causes of anti-immigrant violence can the problem be overcome.
A new study by the Human Sciences Research Council canvased the views of ordinary South Africans on what lies behind anti-immigrant sentiments, including violence. Knowing how the public views this important question is vital to understanding which mechanisms would be most acceptable to prevent xenophobic violence.
Overall, 71% of the respondents said that the threat posed by immigrants from outside South Africa was the main reason for the violence. A third of people in the survey attributed violence against immigrants to the fact that foreigners would take jobs away from South Africans and that they were involved in unfair business practices attributed. About a third (30%) of the general public said that the violence was caused by foreigners stealing jobs from hardworking South Africans. 
Almost a third (30%) said that communities were responding to the criminal activities of the migrants. Many people attributed the violence to foreigners’ involvement in drug trafficking.
 The study found that few identified individual prejudice or misinformation about international migrants as primary reasons for the violence.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Niger's Friends in High Places

“They don’t help us. I’ve always been poor, and I’m still poor,” said Sedefiou Abdou, who had never heard of America until the base came to his neighbourhood. References to Obama, Trump and Coca Cola drew a blank. 

800 US defence personnel in Niger are not alone. They are one of four western armies that have installed themselves in the vast desert landscape, variously flying armed drones, hunting militants, building vast bases, controlling migration and collecting intelligence from the region.  France has 500 soldiers on its base in Niamey, and more on its bases in Madama and Aguelal. Germany has 50 soldiers in Niamey to support the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, and is expanding accommodation to cater for more on the airbase it shares with France. Canadian soldiers come and go. Italy has an advance team of 40 soldiers in the country, preparing for the arrival of up to 430 more troops who will “train, advise and assist” local forces to fight illicit trafficking, mostly of migrants. There are three giant white hangars of Airbase 201, the new US base near the centuries-old city of Agadez, which is costing $100m (£78m) to build.

“I don’t like the term ‘foreign forces’ – they’re friendly forces, who will leave as soon as we want them to,” said Mahamadou Issoufou,  the Nigerien president said,  “They’re here at our request, and once the need for them disappears, they’ll leave.” 


Niger is one of the most militarised countries in Africa. The government spends 21% of its small budget on defence, which means there is much less to spend on things like health and education. Hence the need for higher taxes, which the government says do not affect the poor but which have nevertheless sparked fierce opposition.

Sweet Deals

A disaster: that's what Samuel Nyandemo, senior lecturer on economics at Nairobi University, calls the refusal by lawmakers to investigate finance minister Henry Rotich and East African community minister Adan Mohamed, previously minister for trade, for their roles in the importation of contaminated sugar from Brazil last year. "Members of Parliament are supposed to be truth seekers. But they have resorted to rent-seeking," Nyandemo told DW, pointing out that there is ample proof that lawmakers took bribes from the industry to ditch the investigation. "A good number of those members of parliament that didn't want to take bribes have come out openly and they say they saw bribes being received," he said.
To solve an alleged shortage, finance minister Rotich last year gave the sugar barons the authorization to import any amount deemed necessary, leading to an oversupply of 450,000 tons. This had a direct negative impact on sugarcane farmers and the local sugar industry. It also cost the state millions in tax revenues. Moreover, minister Mohamed is accused of failing to supervise the quality of the imported commodity, which turned out to be tainted and a health hazard for consumers. 
According to economist Nyandemo, Kenya itself had no real need for imported sugar. Claims of a shortage were attempts by sugar traders to manipulate prices. "In any case, Kenya is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa)," meaning that any imported sugar should have come from another member state," like Sudan, "which is known to produce sugar at a lesser cost than any other country in the region," he said.
Nyandemo has no doubts that the sugar in question was smuggled to other countries. 

Kenya's "sugargate" has spilled over into neighboring countries. Last week, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President John Magufuli of Tanzania met to solve a dispute over Ugandan sugar exported to Tanzania. They took care to point out that the fault lay with Kenya. Allegedly, the sugar sold by Uganda originated from Kenya and was then repackaged to be sent on to Tanzania. There are fears that it could be the same Brazilian product considered unfit for consumption. Tanzania is also trying to protect its own industry and feels that imports from abroad are unfair competition.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Apartheid: Divide and Rule (1982)

From the May 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

   Apartheid is essentially a pre-capitalist form of oppression; it is an attempt to impose the colour patterns of a frontier community onto a modern industrial economy. It will never work properly because what the government is trying to separate, the economy keeps bringing together. (Socialist Viewpoint, SPNZ, Sept-Oct. 1981.)
A traditional feature of apartheid has been a legally sanctioned colour bar broadly restricting skilled work to whites. The underlying racial prejudice upon which this was erected can be traced back to the days of slavery, when manual labour was held in contempt by Europeans. The prohibition of slavery in 1834 was a significant factor behind the Great Trek, a mass migration of disgruntled Boers beyond the reach of British jurisdiction. According to Freda Troup:
  The assumption that non-whites were the labouring class had spread across the land with the trekkers. Only in the Cape where Malay Slaves had from early days formed an important section of the artisan community had the colour line between skilled and unskilled worker largely been smudged and ignored. [1]
White penetration of the interior dispossessed many of the original occupants of what had been their tribal land, forcing them into various forms of servitude on white farms. The disruption of the tribal subsistence economy through the influence of tax and trade was intensified by the discovery of gold and diamonds in the second half of the nineteenth century. Vast numbers of Africans were sucked into the burgeoning towns to form a pool of unskilled labour while immigrant uitlanders, mainly from Europe, comprised the bulked of skilled labour in the mines. This pattern of employment reflected the prevailing differences between distinctive cultures—one, technologically primitive and agrarian; the other, advanced and urban-based. In time, however, it became fixed by custom and reinforced in legislation.

In the first decades of this century, another stream of rural peasants poured into the towns: the landless Afrikaner. The devastation of the Boer War, periodic depressions and the shortage of land aggravated by the old Roman Dutch law of inheritance which subdivided farms into units too small to be economic, all contributed to the dispossession of thousands of Afrikaners of their traditional means of livelihood.

Lacking the skills of an urban proletariat and resentful of the wage-depressing influence of competition from low paid blacks, this substratum of “poor whites”, numbering 160,000 by 1923 (10 per cent of the white population), became a thorny political issue. In 1910 the two ex-Boer republics and the Cape and Natal provinces became one state under a single parliament, with the franchise largely (later completely) in the hands of the whites—a prerogative they readily exercised to entrench their privileged position. One of the first pieces of legislation introduced by the new union parliament was the 1911 Mines and Works Act which enforced a colour bar on the mines. The ideology of the Afrikaner farmer was thus transplanted into industry, as indeed were many small farmers themselves:
   A new social and economic frontier had taken the place of the old frontier of land and settlement. Where once the natives were excluded from good land and ample water, now they were kept from skilled labour and high wages. [2]
The mining companies did not in general welcome this intrusion of a backward ideology into the market place. But in their efforts to overcome the restrictions of the colour bar they met with the well organised resistance of the white trade union movement and a South African Labour Party which bitterly opposed the replacement of white by cheaper black labour.

In 1922 this issue came to a head when, following a big fall in the price of gold, employers were compelled to contravene the colour bar and employ blacks in semi-skilled work to cut costs. The strike that followed escalated into open revolt. Trade unionists, communists and nationalist Afrikaners combined under the odd-sounding banner “Workers of the world fight and unite for a white South Africa”. The “Rand Revolution”, as this was called, was mercilessly crushed with the loss of 230 lives. The miners were forced to accept a pay cut and the companies were left free to increase the proportion of cheap black labour, though technical advances enabled many of the jobs open to blacks to be fragmented and reclassified as unskilled work.

Two years later, the unpopular Smuts government which had sided with the employers against the white miners was defeated by a Labour-Nationalist coalition led by Hertsog. In a sense, what the pact symbolised was an alliance between the white farmers and the white working class:
   Cresswell (leader of the Labour Party) devoted his whole political life to ousting the blacks from the mines. Hertsog’s party on the other hand wanted cheap and servile Africans on the farms. The exclusion of Africans dovetailed with the farmers' insatiable demand for labour. This compatibility formed the economic basis of the partnership between white landowners and the labour aristocracy. [3] 
The Pact government represented a watershed in South African history in that employers no longer offered serious resistance to the tightening stranglehold of racism on the economy but concentrated instead on making the best possible use of the system to which they had resigned themselves. Job reservation was vigorously reinforced on the mines in 1926, extended into the emerging manufacturing sector and subsequently set concrete hard over the course of several decades. To counter the possibility of unemployed white workers finding common cause with blacks, a “civilised labour” policy was pursued which gave preferential treatment to, and dramatically increased the proportion of, whites in state run services such as the railways. From 1924 onwards, in contrast to the preceding quarter century of almost continuous industrial turmoil, there were virtually no serious disputes in the mines.

In return for their compliance with these policies the government, which relied heavily on the mines for its revenue (vast sums of which went to subsidise white agriculture), assisted the mining companies in their efforts to hold down black wages and obtain labourers. Indeed an adequate supply of skilled labour which had been a vital requirement of the mining industry became even more so under the Pact government. The colour bar tended to perpetuate the labour intensive nature of gold mining and hence the need for plentiful labour; the sheer scale of mining meant that working techniques and the balance between labour and capital intensity were fixed at the beginning of a mine’s life and could not be significantly altered thereafter. But holding down black wages to such low levels threatened the supply of unskilled labour which was attracted by higher wages and better conditions in manufacturing. However, the mining companies could not raise wages without jeopardising the life of marginal mines (which comprised half the industry) and hence the employment of many white miners. Thus influx control was tightened, indirectly compelling blacks to seek work on the mines or white farms. This still did not ensure an adequate supply of labour for the mines, which operated below capacity in the period 1924-30. Consequently, the mines with government backing recruited extensively from abroad so that by 1973 79 per cent of black miners were foreign contract workers. (Political developments since then in countries such as Mozambique have, however, disrupted this source of labour causing black wages to rise.)

By the 1960s a paradoxical development in the South African economy had become glaringly apparent: an acute and growing shortage of skilled labour alongside high black unemployment (even amongst the more educated blacks). An important factor behind this was the shift away from labour intensive farming and mining industries—the traditional pillars of the apartheid economy—towards the more capital intensive manufacturing industry. This, in turn, placed a growing strain on the colour bar. In 1945 the market value of mining companies was R972m while that of non-mining companies was R754m. By 1965 the positions had been reversed, with the former rising to R3664m and the latter R5399m. Ironically, the government played a vital part in this trend by encouraging the growth of a local manufacturing industry during the war by means of protectionist measures and by setting up various state corporations such as ISCOR (iron and steel) VECOR (heavy engineering goods) and SASOL (oil gas and chemicals from coal). Indeed the development of the mining industry itself was a powerful stimulus for manufacturing.

Growing concern over the economic bottleneck which the shortage of skilled labour had created has led the government’s own Manpower Commission to state recently that “South Africa will not be able to realise its full developmental potential if it persists in attempting to secure its high-level manpower requirements mainly from the white population group”. [4] Political reform had become economically imperative.

The government’s response at first was one of greater, if cautious, flexibility: 
   Inevitably non-whites unofficially—job reservation and colour bar regardless—infiltrated traditional white spheres of employment: coloured postmen, Indian railwaymen, African drivers on non-white buses, non-white clerks and typists. Especially were non-whites more and more to be found doing skilled and semi-skilled industrial work, generally at wages well below the white minimum. “There is no doubt”, commented the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce, “that employers in general are keen to develop the skills of Bantu workers”. [1] 
By 1965 the Deputy Minster of Labour reported that 39 per cent of the economically active Africans were operatives or semi-skilled workers.

Yet still the shortage of skilled labour persisted. Accordingly, the government itself has moved from passively condoning breaches of the colour bar to actively lifting restrictions on the employment of black labour. The Muldergate Scandal of 1977 brought to power a new prime minister, and marked a shift in the balance of power from the verkrampte (conservative) to the verligte (liberal) wing of the ruling National Party and prepared the ground for further liberalisation. By late 1980 Fanie Botha, Minister of Labour, proposed new legislation allowing more skilled job training to be opened to blacks. But despite the evidence of job reservation rapidly crumbling round the edges, there remain big obstacles in the path of this trend that arc essentially a heritage of history.

The first of these is the remarkable resilience of the traditional hostility of whites towards black encroachment of what are regarded as white spheres of employment:
    although the statutory colour bar has been formally scrapped, nine out of ten times it is imposed by closed shop and apprenticeship agreements with white unions and these are still in force. The white unions have been staunch defenders of apartheid, using their muscle to preserve white supremacy and to block the advancement of Africans. [5] 
Nowhere can this be seen more vividly than in the mining industry, described by Freda Troup as the “inner sanctuary of the colour bar”. Recently the Mineworkers Union threatened industrial action if the government permitted blasting certificates to be issued to blacks. This, together with the threat of more whites defecting to the ultra-right-wing Herstigte Nationale Party, which made spectacular progress in the 1981 elections, has forced the government to act more cautiously.

Another obstacle to the disintegration of the colour bar is black education. The Bantu Education Act of 1953 which brought all Bantu education under the control of central government, was defended by Verwoerd on the grounds that the mission schools through which many blacks received their education were unsympathetic to the government’s policies and that:
    By blindly producing pupils trained on a European model the vain hope was created among natives that they could occupy posts within the European community. This is what is meant by the creation of unhealthy ‘white collar ideals’ and the causation of frustration among the so called Educated Natives . . . There is no place for the Bantu in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour. [1] 
This discriminatory view of black education was reflected in the allocation of funds. In 1969-70 Bantu education received a mere R39m—a tenth of that spent on far fewer white pupils. Illiteracy is still high and the poor quality of education received by blacks in overcrowded schools lacking in facilities leaves many ill-equipped for work. According to a recent estimate, well over 100,000 jobs are unfilled because the necessary trained workers are not available.

In 1979 and 1980 spending on black education and training rose by 30 and 50 per cent respectively. Such large increases were made possible by the rocketing price of gold, which in the period 1970-80 meant a huge inflow of R3.9 billion into the government coffers. Although the price of gold has since slumped, the ending of South Africa’s apparent seclusion from the world recession has not been seen as an entirely unwelcome development:
   Nationalist politicians are looking to a recession to ease the skilled labour shortage, to reduce the differential of black wages (with the politically sensitive erosion of white differentials) and to stem the flow of urbanisation. [4]
Finally, what will be the consequences of a crumbling colour bar? One area where it is having an effect is black trade unionism, which has become a force to be reckoned with since its resurgence in the 1973 Durban strikes. Increasingly, a high proportion of strikes are being won, partly due to more effective organisation but also because of the penetration of black workers into semi-skilled and skilled work:
  In companies whose black workers are more skilled, unions are often in a stronger position. Companies like Ford in Port Elizabeth and Volkswagen in Uitenhague found during strikes that the option of mass dismissal and quick replacement was not open to them because skilled workers are in such short supply and that “we would eventually have had to hire our own people back”, as one company spokesman said. [6]
More fundamentally, the demise of the colour bar will serve to clarify the class structure in South Africa and to undermine the racial bigotry that traditionally divides its workers. Then shall they begin truly to make history and not be imprisoned by it.

REFERENCES:
[1] South Africa: An Historical Introduction. F. Troup.
[2] A History of South Africa. De Kiewiet.
[3] Class and Colour in South Africa 1850-1950. H.J. & R.F.. Simons.
[4] The Economist. 19 September 1981.
[5] City Limits. 12-18 March.
[6] New Statesman, 15 January 1982.

Robin Cox

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Capitalism in the Tropics (1926) - Review

Pamphlet Review from the July 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Labour Research Department (162, Buckingham Palace Road, S.W.1.) has recently published a sixty-four page pamphlet entitled, “British Imperialism in East Africa,” price 1s. Much of the information contained therein has appeared from time to time in these columns, the principal exception being a variety of statistics concerning capital investments, etc.

The pamphlet deals, necessarily briefly, with the expropriation of the native tribes of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, and Nyassaland; and their progressive conversion into wage-slaves, producing foodstuffs and raw materials for the European markets such as coffee, sisal, cotton, maize, hides, soda, etc. The authors also show how the developments in these countries open up markets for the products of European industry, particularly of the “heavy” variety.

The countries mentioned comprise (with Northern Rhodesia) an area of over a million square miles, the total population being roughly only twelve millions, over 99 per cent. of whom are natives. They have come under Imperial control in a somewhat similar manner to that by which India became “the brightest jewel in the British Crown.” Invaded in the first place by mercantile companies who maintained their own armed forces, they soon presented problems with which these companies were incompetent to deal. Africa produced in miniature the same revolts of the populace and mutinies among the native soldiery which led, in India, to the replacing of “John Company" by Victoria, Regina et Imperator. In other words, the forces of the State were sent to the rescue of private enterprise.

In the case of Africa, “philanthropy" and missionary effort formed a very convenient cloak for the hungry figure of capital seeking its constant quarry, profit. It had been, to some slight extent, forestalled by the Arab colonies which had existed for centuries on the East Coast, in perpetual conflict with the Portuguese adventurers. The Arab power was founded upon chattel-slavery, and its periodical incursions among the natives of the interior had for their prime object the recruiting of the slave-markets. To supplant the Arabs and establish the European method of exploitation, it was necessary to stamp out the slave trade.

The hypocrisy of the capitalist found full vent. Gunboats and railways drove the dhows and caravans of the votaries of Allah from the field of commerce, and the blessings of Jehovah were invoked upon the process. The conflict of material interests was disguised by the contest between Jesus and Mahomet.

The up-to-date resources of capitalism rapidly transformed the scene. The various isolated tribes of natives (some living by hunting on the plains and in the forests, some by pasturing cattle, and others by rude tillage) were roughly disillusioned as to the intentions of their “deliverers." The Arabs chastised them with whips, but the Europeans introduced economic scorpions in the shape of reserves, to which the natives were confined, coupled with taxation upon the hut or the head.

In order to find the money with which to pay the taxes, the natives slowly but surely find their way from the reserves to the plantations and townships, as these arise, there to labour for the profit of the invaders. The sudden raids of the chattel-hunters gave way to the permanent exploitation of the whole population. The fruits of this new dominion find expression in overcrowding, under-feeding and the consequent spread of epidemic diseases previously unknown in the country, with additional disadvantages in the shape of an occasional war. Of the 150,000 unarmed porters raised in Kenya during the campaign to acquire the neighbouring German Territory, over 40,000 were killed or died of disease (page 33). Habits of life which are relatively harmless under native conditions, naturally become the vehicle of pestilence under the conditions of city life, or those obtaining in the now overcrowded reserves.

Other interesting facts dealt with in the pamphlet are the methods by which the capitalist administrative powers corrupt the institutions of the natives. The chiefs become transformed from guardians of their people into the agents of the oppressors. The compulsory labour ordinances, which are found necessary as a supplement to taxation, are enforced by their aid. The result is the development of native organisations in opposition to the whole machinery of government, which the missionaries strive to bring into constitutional channels. Early in 1922, the arrest of the Secretary of one of these native bodies led to a mass protest in Nairobi, and the slaughter of about thirty natives by the police as a reply. (This occurrence was dealt with in more detail in these columns in the issue of July, 1922). In one detail, the pamphlet under review is, here, inaccurate. No attempt was made by the crowd to rush the “prison” where Thuku was detained. The approach of a detachment of troops created a stampede, during which the armed police in the lines lost their heads and fired without orders!

What relationship does this enslavement bear to that of the workers in Europe? Here the pamphlet is confusing. Apparently the authors consider that the workers pay the taxes by which interest on development loans is guaranteed. It should be obvious however that if the taxes were not raised for that purpose the workers would gain nothing. The “saving'' would simply benefit some other section of their exploiters.

The authors are on firmer ground when they contend that capitalist development abroad is based upon the extended exploitation of the workers at home. The profits on the commodities of all sorts poured into the tropics by European labour go to the employing-class. The workers have thus no interest in extending markets; but that is not all. Sooner or later the point must be reached at which this development will react upon home conditions. The creation of new proletariat in the tropics intensifies the competition between the workers of the world. It renders their standard of life still less secure, and adds to the ranks of the unemployed. Such are the fruits of imperialism for the wage-slaves. Thus they must eventually unite upon the basis of their common interest, emancipation, irrespective of race or colour !
Eric Boden

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The election farce

The election farce

As we stand in Zimbabwe, the farce called election is a circus to make the majority endorse the military junta as a democratically elected government. The “international community” is fully aware that a military coup took place and that the current regime is illegal, and that Mnangagwa is as much a bigot (if not worse) as Mugabe anyway. But, tragically, the powerful elite of the international community is not worried about the violations of human rights by Zim bigots. They want trading partners endorsed by the (manipulated) Zim electorate.

In reality, Manangagwa has been Mugabe’s king-maker since 1978. He owes the majority of Zim an apology (for the socio-economic mess we are in.) Of course, he like Mugabe came in 1980. Smith’s cardinal sin was refusing to cede power to him; to Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s cardinal sine was refusing to cede power to him. Who can be fooled by Mnangagwa? He has been a member (since 1978) of the ZANU (PF) politiburo. He has been in cabinet since 18th April 1980! He was the chief architect of ZANU (PF)’s refusal to hand over power to the overwhelming winner in the 2008 election, the MDC (Mugabe confessed that even at gunpoint when he was forced to sign in November 2017.)

In reality, the greatest schemer and the greatest flatterer of Mugabe were the very ED (Mnangagwa )! To a larger extent RD (Mugabe) was well informed about the ED conspiracy, but (his worse blunder) was to let his nagging wife loose:- she was thinking and planning aloud! To be loved to madness, such was her great desire (she and hubby paid dearly for it.) Articulate made a pre-emptive move. The only difference (major) between ED and RG is that one is lighter and the other is darker in complexion. They are both arrogant, extremely selfish and very insensitive to the agony of the people of Zimbabwe. We suffer too much, but both RG and ED invest heavily in murder technology/technicians (the military). Zimbabwe is under no threat from anyone. If ED was slightly better than RG the first thing he would have done was (on day one of his 100 days) would have been to renounce the military academy on 2nd St. Ext./Mazoe Road and proclaim it ‘No.1 Civilian University’ in Zim. He confiscated/collected $U.S. billions from fellow looters since the November 2017 coup. But instead of doing some good he is just putting up billboards, etc campaigning. I, like many, live under threat of eviction from my residence, whose purchase price I paid for in 1996 (in full) and starvation. Yet, I, like many, am not pleading for government handouts, but for the benefit of what I worked for, and saved up to 2008 (for my old age), but was frozen by the bank with central government blessing.

Now, please, show me an ED who has the people (apart from his own relatives) at heart. Well, in Britain you may enjoy the theatrical Julius Caesar, Macbeth, King Lear etc., in Zimbabwe we experience/suffer the live ones in different names. The Duncans and the Pompeys have been disposed; we are the Marulus and Flavius asking the crowd and the cobbler who confesses: “…indeed sir, we rejoice ED’s triumph…”, and we ask “wherefore rejoice, are we not in the same mess which ED and RG dumped us? Is not ED in the same mood of “to be thus is nothing but to be safely thus?” Of course, witch hunting and purging will occupy his entire life.


GODWIN HATITYE,
 Harare, Zimbabwe

Playing with Apartheid (1982)

From the June 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard


The present use of sport for political ends was foreshadowed before World War II by the attitudes of the dictators Hitler and Mussolini, who encouraged and financed the endeavours of native footballers and athletes. The disappointment shown by Hitler and other leading Nazis at the win of the negro Jesse Owens over their own German favourite at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, is still well remembered. Most governments nowadays assist the efforts of “their” athletes of international class. They value success at this level because it engenders patriotic feeling and distracts the working class from problems at home. By publicising the country it helps exporters to gain ground on competitors. So sport today often spills over from its allotted place on the back pages of newspapers into front page headlines.

Although coming into a somewhat different category, in one way or another the apartheid policy operated by the South African government is often involved in such instances. Scarcely a week passes without news of some projected sporting conflict being jeopardised by the “South African Connection”. The latest major incident burst on a sick and weary world last February in an announcement from South Africa that a team of “rebel” English cricketers had arrived to start a tour sponsored by South African Breweries. Many South African cricketers, boycotted internationally for years, welcomed this chance to test their skills against top class opposition.

There have of course been many examples of discrimination in sport not involving apartheid. In many cases—polo, racquets and equestrian events—the high cost of competing eliminates the average worker before the event begins. In this country, cricket was for a long time bedevilled by the distinction between amateurs and professionals. Among other things, the latter—working men playing for a living—had to stay at inferior hotels to their amateur teammates who, in the main, had enough unearned income not to need payment. In some cases however, including that of W. G. Grace, amateurs were secretly paid to ensure that they did not have to openly turn professional. Although officially abolished 20 years ago, vestiges of this traditional separation linger on today. Similar distinctions arose in the United States where, until 1947, the major league baseball teams consisted of white players only. There were separate leagues for negro players. Now many of the major league teams have more black than white players on their staff. In none of these cases was there any legal backing for discrimination, whereas in South Africa apartheid operates within a legal framework, as a result of legislation passed by successive National Party governments since 1948.

The aims of the apartheid policies pursued by the South African government since 1948 are analysed in depth in our pamphlet The Problem of Racism, published in 1966. This government has represented the interests of the Afrikaner farming section of the ruling class, and the policy has been an attempt to preserve the values and attitudes of the old agricultural order and hold back the development of industrial capitalism. The latter is largely controlled by the English speaking capitalists, who would much prefer a free market in labour to the present restrictive situation. Until a few years ago the Afrikaners had a big advantage because of their unity, while the opposition became fragmented. However the increasing Afrikaner involvement in industry and the development of modern capitalist farming have led to dissensions within the National Party, as a section want some relaxation of apartheid rigidity, and others see this as “the beginning of the end”. In the case of its policy on sport, pressure from outside has combined with a shift in Afrikaner attitudes to produce some quite significant changes.

When the National Party government took power in 1948 they applied a rigid apartheid policy in sport as in all other walks of life: sportsfields, seating and clubs were segregated. World reaction took some time to gather pace, but eventually, boycotts of South African players started to mushroom. Eventually, an attempt was made to apply the policy to visiting teams also, and the situation reached a critical point when it was announced that a New Zealand rugby team, including Maoris, would not be allowed in. On 4 September 1965 the then Prime Minister, Verwoerd, addressing a meeting at Loskop Dam, spelled it out thus:
Our standpoint is that just as we subject ourselves to another country’s customs and traditions without flinching, without any criticism, and cheerfully, so do we expect when another sends representatives to us they will behave in the same way, namely not involving themselves in our affairs, and that they will adapt themselves to our customs.
(Quoted in The Broederband, Ivor Wilkins and Hans Strydom, Paddington Press 1979)
This statement was like fuel on the fire but, for a time, the government stood firm. To them, the policy seemed quite fair and they may well have expected it to be accepted. When it became obvious that it was seen very differently abroad, the next Prime Minister, Vorster, changed the policy and allowed the Maoris to tour. However, he told Parliament a few weeks later: “Inside South Africa there will not be mixed sporting events, irrespective of the proficiency of the participants. On this there can be no compromise, negotiations or abandonment of principle” (Ibid).

Wilkins and Strydom also relate how the Prime Minister had to ride a tremendous backlash from hard line Afrikaners. These reactionaries did not consider sporting prestige important enough to justify any weakening in apartheid and were perfectly prepared to accept complete isolation if that was the only alternative. It was very probable that Vorster decided in 1968 to “sacrifice” cricket as a sop to these critics. Although both games have their origin in Britain, in South Africa rugby is primarily an Afrikaner game while cricket is mainly played by the English speaking population. This was the year of the “D’Oliveira crisis”. Basil D’Oliveira, a Cape Coloured and as such ineligible for selection by South Africa, had qualified for England and been chosen to tour. “To a cheering (Orange) Free State National Congress, Mr. Vorster announced that D’Oliveira’s selection was political and unacceptable” (Ibid).

Except for a visit the following season by an Australian team (which incidentally lost every Test Match by enormous margins). South Africa has played no cricket at international level since then. The position with rugby was only slightly different. The 1970 New Zealand tour was a great success, the Maori players being among the most popular. In 1974 a British Lions team arrived and shocked the Springboks by winning three of the four international matches and drawing the other. It was now obvious that South Africa faced an indefinite period of total sporting ostracism and a decline in standards through lack of the necessary level of competition.

The Afrikaner government was in a terrible dilemma. Wilkins and Strydom report that a 1974 survey of opinion within the Broederband, and exclusive Afrikaner body, showed 97 per cent in favour of national sporting policies for every “nation” to be affiliated with world bodies (a policy rejected by these bodies because the “nations” were not considered to be independent); 92 per cent were opposed to mixed teams being fielded in sports other than athletics; whereas 93 per cent accepted the inclusion of non-whites for the Olympic Games, but as an interim measure only. Yet despite this, writing only four years later, Wilkins and Strydom could predict that “in about two years all races will play together on club, provincial and national level, will sit together on stands, will use all the club facilities such as bars and toilets, and that no more applications for permits will be needed”.

Certainly, significant changes have been made. The pressure from abroad, combined with internal pressure from inside and outside Afrikanerdom, has overcome a white backlash which, observing events elsewhere on the continent, was and still is terrified of the consequences of “giving in to the blacks”. A British Lions rugby team visited South Africa in 1980 and played against non-whites in some matches. A South African touring party, containing some coloured players, visited New Zealand in 1981. Despite these isolated events however the sports boycott of South Africa is still virtually complete.

Internationally the capitalist class has reacted in fairly predictable fashion to the anti-capitalist policies pursued by the National Party governments. While perfectly prepared to trade with and invest in South Africa, openly or secretly as circumstances dictate, they have nevertheless made it clear that they expect conformity to normal capitalist practice; for example an open labour market, without the reservation of certain classes of jobs for whites. The expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth in I960 was a result of this stand.

However, whereas countries like Great Britain—where capitalists are mostly white—would be satisfied with a South African capitalism dominated by a white ruling class, this does not appear to be the case generally. Countries like India and the emergent ‘Third World” nations, where the capitalists are mostly non-white and perhaps under pressure from extremists in their own ranks, want rather more. South Africa has now become an anomaly in another sense: it is the only part of the continent still under white rule. It could well be that India, for instance, feels that better trading terms could be obtained from a non-white ruling class (a class of wealthy Indians has long been in existence) rather than from white capitalists still harbouring old prejudices from the apartheid era.

This difference is reflected in the field of sport. Sporting bodies in states such as Britain and New Zealand, expressing satisfaction with efforts in South Africa to provide multi-racial sport, show some willingness to resume relations. The position of New Zealand is particularly delicate. The large farming element there may to some extent sympathise with Afrikaner attitudes, and their main sport is also rugby football. South Africa and New Zealand have traditionally had the best teams, so New Zealand players and turnstiles have keenly felt the loss of fixtures with the Springboks.

Walter Hadlee, past New Zealand cricket captain and test selector, gives expression to his frustration in an article in the 1982 Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack entitled "The Escalating Effect of Politics in Cricket”. He criticises the Gleneagles Agreement drawn up by Commonwealth governments in June 1977 to effect a common policy on sporting links with South Africa, aptly noting: “Different interpretations have given rise to endless controversy, much of it still continuing . . . Governments and anti-apartheid groups never seem to clarify their demands by setting out the precise requirements to be met either by the South African government or the sporting bodies concerned”. Hadlee interprets Gleneagles as meaning that when apartheid is no longer practised in any particular sport, normal relations can be resumed. From this viewpoint, he comments on South African cricket that “they attained this in 1977”. Similar impatience was displayed in an editorial in the April 1982 issue of The Cricketer International". “India, Pakistan and Guyana, for instance, exercise some repression on ethnic or religious grounds. Moreover, cricketers from these countries have cheerfully played with and against South Africans in England. Where should principles stop being applied?”

In non-white dominated countries a different view is taken. Here the Gleneagles agreement is interpreted as demanding an end to apartheid—not just on the sports field. They question whether the multiracial South African teams now being fielded are in fact selected on merit. Here there is a practical problem. Because of years of discrimination, only a few non-whites have achieved the necessary standards. What may be a genuine selection on ability can appear to an outside observer as an attempt to appease critics by fiddling one or two non-white “passengers”.

In this case, the counter discrimination does not stop at a refusal to play against South African representatives. Teams and individuals who have previously played in, or against, South Africa is also boycotted. The England cricket tour of India last winter was jeopardised because Geoffrey Boycott and some other members of the party had played and coached in the Republic (coaching mainly non-whites, incidentally). On that occasion a declaration by Boycott of his personal opposition to apartheid was accepted by the Indian government. However, when Boycott and other current England players travelled with the rebel band earlier this year, the only way in which India and Pakistan would agree to go ahead with their projected tours of England this summer demanded that these individuals be prevented from taking the field against them.

To prevent a crippling loss of much-needed gate receipts, the Test and County Cricket Board had no alternative but to impose a ban lasting for three years on the selection for England of these rebel players. More extreme action has been taken in the West Indies. The Guyana government cancelled a Test Match because the England team included Robin Jackman, a player with a South African wife, who had played in South Africa. The West Indies Cricket Board cancelled a projected cricket tour by a New Zealand team because of the 1981 tour of New Zealand by the South African rugby team. In neither case, it appears, were the opinions on apartheid of the individuals objected to considered to be of any importance.

Criticism is often directed at individuals for allegedly introducing politics into spheres of activity which, it is said, should be outside the political arena. Sport is often considered to be such a sphere, but the criticism is manifestly absurd. Because the class division of present-day society is to some extent reflected in all aspects of life, informed comment on any of these activities, particularly by those who seek to abolish this class division, must of necessity be political in content. We have seen, how pressure applied in the field of sport, but with the broader aim of modifying the wider South African society, does appear to be meeting with some success. It does increasingly look as if this story of sport and apartheid will not end until South Africa has a non-white capitalist government. The present white ruling class can scarcely be expected to acquiesce in this, as it will inevitably mean the reduction of many of them to the status of wage workers. The present unstable condition of many black African states increases still further the paranoia of the rich South African whites. Yet even the establishment of a black capitalism in the Republic will not prevent sundry prejudices from bedevilling sport, as in all aspects of life.

E. C. Edge

Making people homeless in Kenya

The homes of about 30,000 people have been demolished in a Kenyan slum to make way for a new $20m (£15m) dual carriage way in the capital Nairobi. The residents, living in part of the city's largest slum, Kibera, were given just two weeks notice to leave.
 Amnesty International has condemned the evictions. Amnesty International has described the evictions as tragic and illegal, saying the sight of young children carrying away their families' belongings was heart-breaking. Executive director for Kenya Irũngũ Houghton added the demolitions "betray" a deal made to agree a resettlement plan before evicting the residents.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44931808

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Africa Sinking

In the early 2000s, wily state and corporate PR agents masquerading as journalists began talking about an “Africa Rising”. Whereas the continent had been seen in the modern era as hopeless, corrupt and politically dependent hell-holes that had failed the independence experiment, the new narrative told of double-digit growth, rising incomes, a middle class and even solid, stable democratic values. The ruse didn’t last long. “Africa Rising” exposed itself for the farce that it was. 

It became clear that economic growth – where ever it may have been booming – was not solving the conundrum of income inequality. As economies in Europe slowed around 2008-2009, investors were playing up the “Africa Rising” card: they talked of expanding mobile phone networks, building shopping malls, and technological innovation in Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana as IT hubs were sold as the continent’s short-cut to development. Then the global economy shrunk again in 2015. South Africa and Nigeria – the continent’s biggest economies contracted, too. But the myth of “Africa Rising”, didn’t die completely. Now, analysts spoke of “Africa Rising in certain countries”, like Ethiopia and Rwanda.

A report, published by the US-based Brookings Institute, and based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock, shows that some 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 (R14) per day). This is an acute, dangerous level of poverty, in which families are on the verge of starving, or living in destitution. Africans account for around two-thirds of the total number. If current trends persist, Africans will account for nine-tenths by 2030. 14 out of the 18 countries where extreme poverty was increasing were in Africa itself.

Nigeria is said to have the highest number of people – about 87 million people – living in extreme poverty while the Democratic Republic of Congo has 60 million people. But also on this list are Ethiopia and Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. These are large, important economies on the continent, and this did not happen overnight. Six Nigerians fall into extreme poverty each minute. Likewise, for all the talk of Ethiopia’s economic boom over the past decade, 23.9 million people still live in extreme poverty.

Africa is not a country, and the insistence on treating it as such is not merely an irritant; the one-size fits all plans by global institutions continue to fail. When investments have come in, they have almost always benefited the political and ­social elite. When loans have come in from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it has come with woeful conditions: privatisation, reducing government spending, and deregulating the market. The high levels of inequality meant that those excluded fall even further down the chain. The population is growing, and bigger incomes aren’t able to pull larger families out of poverty as a result. Lastly, the amount of money being stolen out of the continent is still astronomical. A 2010 study by the Global Financial Integrity group showed that $854 billion was illicitly transferred out of the continent between 1972-2010. Out of that, $89.5bn came from Nigeria. It is the illicit transfer of money that is among the biggest culprits for poverty on the continent. Neither can we ignore the many nefarious trade deals that keep many on the continent at bay. Consider the recent decision by Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to ban second-hand clothing to their countries, so that the country can develop its own clothing industry. The US promptly suspended the duty-free status of Rwanda’s textile products as punishment.