Friday, February 24, 2012

Gay solidarity

Bans against homosexuality in Uganda, and in many other countries of Africa, go back as far as the British colonial government, which was guided heavily on social issues by Christian missionaries. A few African countries, such as South Africa, have stripped away colonial-era prohibitions against homosexuality, but other countries, such as Uganda, are working in the opposite direction, adding heavier penalties to the laws that currently exist.

The current antihomosexuality bill under consideration would impose the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” committed by “serial offenders.” The bill made its first appearance in 2009, but was withdrawn last year after significant pressure from donor nations such as the United States, Britain and Sweden. President Obama called the bill “odious.”

The Ugandan Minister of Ethics Simon Lokodo has accompanied police to shut down a workshop in Entebbe for gay rights activists and to arrest its organizer. He told participants to leave or he would order the police to use force. "I have closed this conference because it's illegal,” Mr. Lokodo was quoted as saying by the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper. “We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home."

Public assembly of gay people is not a crime under Ugandan law, although homosexuality itself is. Amnesty International condemned the raid of the gay-rights workshop and called on the Ugandan government to “end its outrageous harassment of people involved in lawful activities. This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general in a statement. “The government of Uganda must protect all people against threats, violence, and harassment irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

an injury to one, is an injury to all

Many apologists for Mugabe's dictatorship in Zimbabwe describe it as a "socialist" regime and while Socialist Banner have our reservations about the claims of the International "Socialist" Organisation being socialist, too, we feel the issue of democratic free expression is important enough to post extracts from their appeal for solidarity against their harassment.

"Six Zimbabwe socialists, including myself, remain charged with “inciting public violence”, following the dismissal by the magistrate of our application for a discharge in Harare last week. We were arrested on February 19 2011, while meeting to watch video footage of democracy protests in Egypt and Tunisia. Forty-five comrades were originally charged with treason for attending the International Socialist Organisation film screening, and one, David Mpatsi, died following a rapid deterioration in his health while he was imprisoned and denied medical treatment. Although the treason charges were eventually dropped, inciting public violence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Our lawyer had applied for the discharge at the close of the state’s case, on the basis that it had failed to produce sufficient evidence to require us putting our defence. But the magistrate ruled, without giving any explanation, that the state had established a prima facie case, so the trial is set to continue on February 27. Hopefully we will finish giving our evidence on March 2, but we are now aware of the state’s deliberately frustrating delaying tactics.

It is clear that the state aims to continue with its harassment of any opposition voice despite what transpired during the trial with its ‘star witness’. He called himself Jonathan Shoko and said he was a police officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Unit, but was exposed to be from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (secret police) and his real name was Rodwell Chitiyo. He took an oath under a false name.

The main purpose of this witness, who had attended the ISO meeting, was to incriminate innocent people. But his evidence, upon which the state is relying, lacked any credibility. He not only lied about his identity, but also about what happened, and it is interesting to note that even the state-sponsored Herald newspaper pointed to the loopholes. The same magistrate could be seen laughing during the time ‘Shoko’ was giving his hilarious, made-up and rehearsed evidence. Any magistrate in an open and democratic society would surely have dismissed the case immediately. When he was handing down the ruling, he avoided looking at us - an indication that it had been decided by someone other than himself.

The trial is just one example of the harassment of any opposition. On February 14 the police violently broke up the march on parliament organised by the radical Women of Zimbabwe Arise, and a week earlier dozens of armed riot police prevented an academic lecture on ‘The global financial crisis and implication for the third world: the case for Zimbabwe’ from taking place. It was to be addressed by professor Patrick Bond from South Africa at a city hotel, but the police turned away anybody they thought might be participants.

All this sends a strong message of intimidation by Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, as we move towards the proposed constitutional referendum and, possibly, elections this year. The intimidation is meant to silence any opposing voice, as the Zimbabwean political crisis nears its climax.

We were saddened by the court ruling not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all Zimbabweans who are willing to fight against the system. Though we had hoped to celebrate the first anniversary of our arrest as free people on February 19, we remain optimistic that we will come through - especially with the support that we continue to receive from our families, friends, comrades in Zimbabwe and throughout the world.

We are stepping up our campaign to put the government under pressure to drop the charges against us and we appeal to comrades outside the country to help us in doing this. The ruling showed that the state thinks it can do anything and, if pressure is not put on them, we will find ourselves sent back to Chikurubi prison."

Tafadzwa Choto

It won't wash

It will take two centuries for sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, according to NGO WaterAid.

“Diarrhoea, 90 percent of which is attributable to inadequate sanitation and dirty water, is the single biggest killer of children in Africa, and yet sanitation targets are off-track,” Tom Slaymaker, one of the report’s authors.

Every day, 2,000 children die from diarrhoea in sub-Saharan Africa. Four out of 10 people do not have access to safe water, while seven out of 10 do not have appropriate sanitation facilities.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are being sidelined as governments concentrate on health and education. It is not a sexy topic - politicians much prefer to say they're opening a hospital or school, rather than building some toilets.

In Ethiopia, 193,000 deaths per year are WASH-related, and 71.4 million people have no access to sanitation facilities. Similar figures apply to Mali, Niger, Benin, Ghana and Congo, where 194,000 deaths a year are WASH-related and 49.5 million people have no access to sanitation facilities.

According to WaterAid, the Côte d'Ivoire administration targeted 0.06 percent of its GDP to water and sanitation, Ghana spent 0.29 percent, Liberia 0.28 percent, Madagascar 0.28 percent, Nigeria 0.18 percent, Uganda 0.41 percent and Zambia 0.56 percent. African governments need to commit at least 3.5 percent of GDP to sanitation and water to get back on track,

Over one billion people will miss the global MDG sanitation target if things continue unchanged In Asia, India will not reach its MDG on sanitation before 2047, while Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal will not achieve the target before 2028.

Liberia's land-grab

Hundreds of villagers and town residents of Liberia’s Grand Cape Mount Country have attracted nationwide attention in their bid to recover what they say is land seized from them and turned over to a Malaysian agro-industrial concern.

Malaysian company Sime Darby Plantations was granted a permit on 21 April 2010 to cultivate 10,000 hectares of palm oil in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties. Now, the company has applied for an additional 15,000 hectares for palm oil cultivation in Garwular and Gola Konneh districts, in the Grand Cape Mount County, and another 20,000 hectares in Gbarpolu County.

“This is unbearable,” Mary Freeman Sinje Town said. Our government must care for us and don’t allow these people to kill us silently. What have we done to go through all of these sufferings? This land belongs to us. We were born here and we give birth to our children here too. This is the only place we know.”

too little, too late

Of 22.9 million HIV positive people in sub-Saharan Africa, 5.6 million are South African, according to a recent UNAIDS report. But only 1.6 million HIV positive people in South Africa are on antiretrovirals (ARVs), the report said. This amounted to only 37 percent of those who should be on treatment, said Catherine Sozi, coordinator of UNAIDS in South Africa. "We need to put another 1.6 million onto treatment by 2015,"she said.

Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda have more than 80 percent of their eligible HIV-positive populations on ARVs. In Ethiopia, Kenya, Swaziland and Zambia between 60 percent and 79 percent are on ARVs, according to the report.

The Swiss company Lonza is to manufacture anti-retroviral drugs in South Africa in joint venture with the South African government, named Ketlaphela ["I will live or survive" in Sesotho], will establish the first plant to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for anti-retroviral medicines in South Africa.

It may mean cheaper HIV drugs but i does not mean FREE anti-retrovirals. Commerce still takes priority in capitalism

same old story - yet another famine

No sooner had the U.N. announced Somalia's famine was over and another hunger crisis looms.

Last year, around 13 million people in the Horn of Africa needed food aid. Now aid agencies warn failed harvests in the Sahel mean 12 million more people require assistance.

The Sahel, the band of desert and scrub that runs south of the Sahara, stretches, west to east, from Senegal to Mauritania, Mali Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Mauritania, a country that is three times the size of Arizona but has the smallest volume of potable water of any nation in the world, is one of the worst affected. A third of its population is already at risk of hunger.

The primary cause is a drought last year described as the worst for decades by the U.N. As a result, food prices have doubled or tripled, while the price of livestock — often the main store of wealth in the Sahel — plunged as pastures turned to desert and the animals began dying of thirst. Nor are such instances of failed rains isolated. A 2011 study by the Center for Forestry at the University of California, Berkeley, found rainfall in the Sahel has almost halved since 1954. In a region already poor and sparsely governed, the drought has intensified competition for food and water, and violent unrest — like recent intertribal battles over cattle in South Sudan — is rising. Northern Mali is currently the scene of a Tuareg rebellion, as is northern Nigeria, where an Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, is waging a campaign of bombings and assassinations against the state.

In a grain storage near Gaet Teidouma, stock manager Jeddou Ould Abdallahi looks helplessly at the few remaining sacks of cereal stacked against the whitewashed walls. There is no way they will feed hundreds of people in surrounding villages until the next harvest in September. "We are on the brink of a famine," he says.

"Within months, people will begin to starve unless we act," warns the European Union's humanitarian-aid commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva.

Johannes Schoors, country director of aid organization CARE in Niger, laments: "Certain donors still want to see dying children before they make available funds. We need to tackle the underlying causes of food insecurity; otherwise, we will face a crisis every year. But who can afford to finance that?"

Scoors is correct. Capitalism cares only for those with economic importance. Only socialism cater for peoples needs

Droughts don't inevitably mean famine. While they may set the conditions for starvation, only human beings ensure it. The world has more than enough food to feed itself.,8599,2106546,00.html?xid=newsletter-europe-weekly

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Senegal'S Class Struggle

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has served Western interests dutifully.

The changes Wade has made to the constitution, enabling his personalisation of the state, were ushered in alongside a number of other changes that served to further open the country to foreign investment.

Wade's primary skill seems to have been signing cheques to foreign companies. By far the most significant achievement for Wade has been opening up mineral exploitation in the country's Toumbacounda region, facilitated by a $527m project to build the largest port in West Africa. The port is being built in a public-private initiative with DP World - an affiliate of the Dubai World Group, a company that also took on an $800m deal to build and run a special economic zone. The port facilitates the extraction of gold by a Canadian and Saudi company, Oromin Venture Group, and two other Canadian companies; Sabodala Mining and Lamgold Group. They are joined by Jersey-based Randgold, and the multi-national Arcelor Mittal. Numerous other valuable metals are found in the area, such as copper, chromium, lithium and uranium. The quantities seem to be less significant than the rare properties they offer for blending in new metal composites. These minerals will make their way to port via massive road rehabilitation and construction projects, which have been doled out to companies such as Swiss-based SGS Industrial, and China's Henan Industrial Cooperation Group and APIX, the government investment agency. Many Senegalese find it painfully insulting that, after 50 years of independence, they still cannot even build their own roads.

Senegal has also been involved in the protracted process of privatising its water services, with an early electricity privatisation that initially involved Hydro-Quebec and later Vivendi, among others. Vivendi is the company so loathed in South Africa for its pre-paid meter system. These privatisation processes lead to rising household bills for working people whose wages have been stagnant.

Wade formed in ideological association with former South African president Thabo Mbeki's campaignaimed for Africa to undergo a renaissance that would include increasing social cohesion, democracy, economic growth and the establishment of Africa as a significant player in world affairs. The most obvious example of this has been the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a vehicle to expand the reach of neoliberal free-market economic policy throughout the continent. In short, NEPAD further opened the continent to foreign investment - enshrining property rights, treating foreign firms on par with indigenous firms, cutting taxes, enabling the expropriation of profits, creating tax-free zones, and limiting the rights of workers.

According to Senegal Interior Minister Maitre Ousmane Ngom in 2009: "On the one hand, these reforms aim at improving the business environment, and on the other hand modernising the legal framework and the geological infrastructures to attract and develop foreign direct investments." Not surprisingly, international business interests have offered significant praise for Wade’s government over the years. Ousmane boasted that the World Bank's latest "Doing Business" report ranked Senegal as the top reforming country in Africa, and the fifth in the world.

The latest World Bank data shows the current account balance of Senegal at a deficit of $1.029bn. The country exports $3.236bn (2009) and imports $5.919bn. (This inclues foreign aid and remittances.) The exports are of course much larger in actual volume, leading to more shipments leaving the country, but those exports are primary commodities. The value of goods coming in is therefore much greater and is usually manufactured, such as mobile phones, clothing and electronics - the fate of neocolonialism.

Although the global scramble for Senegalese wealth is helping to enrich foreign business and a small local functionary class, the rest of the economy has been suffering. Unemployment rates at around 48 per cent mean Senegalese workers they do so in a highly degrading degrading fashion vy with one another for jobs and wages whose purchasing power constantly diminishes. Many feel a deep sense of despair and humiliation on a daily basis. Senegal has seen a growing division of society between those who can afford pay-per-use services, and those who cannot. Toll roads and new first-class trains sweep the wealthy out to the suburbs, while the rest make their way home in apartheid-style hardship. Agriculture still provides the main source of economic activity for 77 per cent of the labour force, but it remains highly dependent on increasingly unreliable weather patterns. Local peanut production - the most significant agricultural export - has declined, in part due to the privatisation of Sonacos, the state marketing and processing company, but also as a result of changes in climate and soil health. The fishing industry faces declining stocks as foreign trawlers poach along the West African coast with impunity.

Senegalese people need to stop looking for heroic leaders. Y’en a Marre ["Had enough"] members are starting to express some dissatisfaction with the culture of the M23 opposition movement, which is dominated by figureheads, whose politics closely resemble those of President Wade and people who simply want to occupy his throne. M23 prove themselves to be and self-interested, rather than political principled. Y’en a Marre members reveal a greater interest in popular education and grassroots action. They draw inspiration from a long history of non-violent anti-colonial resistance.

Demonstrations have managed to gain significant support outside the capital, Dakar, and taken place in smaller towns throughout the country. There have been a number of labour disputes. For example, most recently, taxi and transport workers managed to stop service for a three-day period with a near-100 per cent participation rate as they protested both the rise in fuel prices and police harassment and bribery. Before that, the union at the national broadcasting corporation participated in a protest and brief labour disruption over claims that the company was being used for Wade's propaganda purposes rather than upholding standards of journalism. For the past three months, there has been a nationally coordinated strike of college and university professors who face ever-growing class sizes but cannot afford basic housing. At the same time, the opposition is nevertheless rather disconnected from the everyday struggles of working people. The demonstrations reveal no practical links with the unions leading these struggles.

Adapted from here

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Congo ignored

Over the years, Congo has faced numerous problems such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on for over a decade and left over 5.4 million people dead.

Congo is rich in diamonds, oil and minerals including tin, tantalum, tungsten which are widely used by the UK firms for producing mobile phones and laptops. The brutal way through which these materials are exploited, such as mass rape and the massacre of children, has led them to be dubbed as "blood minerals."

A British writer, Judith Ammanthishas, condemned the UK government for having turned a blind eye to the severe crisis taking place in the central African nation, because “The crisis in Congo is of no interest to UK government and media, and surprisingly they are happy with the violence occurring in the country. It’s quite scandalous that UK government has not addressed the Congo crises, but it is very transparent why this is happening, because it is of no interest to them whether people die or don’t die, they only consider UK’s financial interests in the region”

President Joseph Kabila has been strongly supported by the western governments, as his People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy was responsible for militarizing the mining industry, and continued to sell off the Congolese owned mining assets to western firms, specially to UK-based mining company, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, that has profited greatly from the situation in Congo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Niger's Hunger

A national survey of vulnerable households shows that 5.4 million people face food insecurity across Niger. Women have been left in charge of many of the households in the village of Zamkoye-Koïra, in western Niger, as food shortages have driven male family members to leave in search of work elsewhere.

"The men have gone to look for a way to feed the women and children left behind in the village, because there was no harvest at all this year," 40-year-old Bibata Mounkaïla told IPS. "We've eaten only once a day for several months," the mother of eight said, in the midst of making a simple porridge out of sorghum that will have to satisfy her family for the whole day. "The situation also means that our children are no longer going to school - the nearest one is in a neighbouring village, three kilometres from here."

Poor rains resulted in a deficit of more than half a million tonnes of grain and a shortfall of fodder for livestock of more than 10 million tonnes. The vulnerability survey, carried out in December 2011, found that more than a third of the population of 15.7 million are in a position of food insecurity - 1.5 million will face severe food shortages.

According to Eric-Alain Ategbo, the chief nutrition expert for the United Nations Children's Fund office in Niamey, the Nigerien capital. some 330,000 children are facing severe malnutrition presently, and nearly 700,000 more face moderate hunger. "We have seen 20,000 cases of malnourishment across the country, with 5,000 new cases recorded each week (in medical centres)."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the new face of money

“They never freed us. They only took the chain from around our neck and put it on our ankles.” - Anti-apartheid activist

It is not altogether fair to say that Mandela “sold out.” There is simply no escape from the “web” spun by global capital. Indeed, at the national level there is no escape. Capital is global. That is its trump card against any attempt to defy its dictates that is confined within national boundaries. The resistance to capital must also be organised on a global scale if it is to have any chance of success.

South Africa is to issue a complete set of banknotes bearing the image of its first black president, Nelson Mandela. It may seem churlish to begrudge Mandela his current little luxuries or his present adulation after 27 years in prison. But what are his benefactors’ motives?

In South Africa, a number of people with black skins appear to have done very well out of the change-over from white domination apartheid, and become a new elite in control of the toilers.

Nigerian poverty grows

Poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day, despite economic growth.

The National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in "absolute poverty" - this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer yet Nigerians were getting poorer. Despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. Nigerians themselves understand they are consider themselves are getting poorer. In 2010, 93.9% of respondents felt themselves to be poor compared to 75.5% six years earlier.

The NBS said that relative poverty was most apparent in the north of the country, with Sokoto state's poverty rate the highest at 86.4%. In the north-west and north-east of the country poverty rates were recorded at 77.7% and 76.3% respectively, compared to the south-west at 59.1%.

BBC's Richard Hamilton says it is perhaps no surprise that extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, continue to have an appeal in northern parts of the country, where poverty and underdevelopment are at their most severe.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Capitalism comes to Ghana

We read that the Ghanaian government will step up efforts and reforms aim to make the country the best foreign investment destination in Africa, Mr Ishmael Yamsom, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council has said. In a keynote address at the opening session of the Euromoney conference on investment opportunities in Ghana on Tuesday, Mr Yamson said government was working to deal with the infrastructural deficit so as to woo more investors.

Socialist Banner is minded of this 1960 Socialist Standard letter on Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah.

Dear Comrades,

...The boat shrugged lazily out of Marseilles harbour into the Mediterranean towards West Africa. For every one African on the boat there were two nuns all crossing themselves at the same time. My berth companion was a young French missionary (sent out to soften up the natives) who was later to read me pieces from the Old Testament and tell me that because I was an African my soul needed saving.

My seat at the dining table was next to an American woman tourist of 65 years, dressed and behaving like a girl of sixteen. Facing her sat a coloured Ghanaian woman married to a wealthy Swiss business man. She told us that because everyone in Switzerland were "equal," she had left her child there to be educated in one of the "best" schools. It was much nicer to have it grow up with ex-Kings and retired millionaires rather than just Africans.

A young Ghanaian girl journalist sat on my left who had been imprisoned with her "idol," Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, when capitalism was being run by the Labour Party. It was, however, interesting to see that she was beginning to understand that Africans were just as capable to administer capitalism as the white man. The poisonous black capitalist boiling pot of intrigue had disappointed one more. Yet she still insisted that the white Africans were interlopers and should be removed, which seemed like race prejudice in reverse.

The journalist had invited me to stay with her friend on reaching Takoradi. The next morning the boat arrived at Takoradi harbour. The police stood around looking like mixtures of male nurses and museum attendants.

After a confiscated passport and the refusal to accept the invitation of accommodation, together with a fantastic questioning. I was quickly deported to Nigeria, which was my destination. This ended my brief visit to the "model democracy."

Speaking on "democracy" in Ghana, Mr. Gaitskell, that great "socialist," said:
"It is not possible for us in Britain to determine how you will develop your democracy. It is your affair, but I think in every new country emerging into nationhood certain principles must be observed. They are national unity, a high degree of personal leadership, and thirdly, and the most important, the preservation of individual liberty at all costs."

How easy these words slip off the tongue of a leader committed to try and reform capitalism. The detentions, deportations and imprisonments by Mr. Nkrumah's government are politely called developing "democracy," supported by the Communists and the shifty Liberal, not to mention the Conservatives, who might have made the same speech themselves. One wonders just how much "individual liberty" the British worker enjoys under his "democracy." What a garnish to hide the stench of British capitalism!

But there is still hope whilst Pacifist Fenner Brockway looks to God and black nationalism to "liberate" the African workers:
"God speed to the new leaders of Africa in the vast arena of constructive tasks which spreads before them! "

Yes, constructive tasks of maintaining the capitalist system in Africa.

Fraternally yours,

Friday, February 03, 2012

African, why do you believe this hogwash?

Although whoever wrote the Bible wrote it all by rote, they did not write it right. At best it is a history of the Jews, their neighbours and their beliefs, tragically misunderstood, misinterpreted by psychologically defeated, timid, brainwashed and gullible Africans.

The story of Eden, Adam and ensuing events depicts an area and a primitive tribe, like all primitive (ancient) peoples, and primitive geography, who were not aware of the existence of other people and remote regions, and in other cases completely detached from them. Note that the Bible map is confined to the far north Africa (Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya), Middle East and a few neighbouring areas. That is why (I stand to be corrected) I have yet to come in the Bible across the fate of London, Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, Maputo, Harare, Gaborone, Cape Town, unlike the fate of Jerusalem.

“Swords beaten into ploughshares”, “spears into pruning hooks”, “nation shall not lift up sword against nation”, “nor shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:3-4). “Prince of Peace”, “Endless peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Add the childish fibs in Isaiah 11:1-9 and 15: “Truly O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more” (Isaiah 30:19). I can quote more and more, but the point is, were these dreamers aware of the existence of my cave-dwelling ancestors in Matopos, Makonde caves (Sindia), Wedza, Nyanga, Mhondoro etc? We all have some overlapping primitive beliefs in the supernatural, but while the world and human existence dates back millions of years, the Eden and Adam-based human genealogy is never true of all humans. Add that Adam lived 930 years, calculate his descendents’ lives to Noah’s descendents to the birth of death of Jesus Christ to now. It is hardly 6,000 years. It is thus clear that the Bible(ists) base their story on primitive, arrogant bigots, dreamers who followed their hallucinations, propagated by dogmatic and undemocratic elders and leaders.

It is ridiculous that one can claim to be religious and democratic at the same time, because once you are religious you are dogmatic. Note that all families, tribes, nations and races started off primitive, some progressed fast, others slowly. Sadly Aborigines and Africans lag furthest behind. Remember that the head of the family was, initially, the head of all affairs, would dictate, impose and mould his family/clan the way he wanted. Hence the dominance of the male in beliefs and even in the deity. Hence might is right. Hence fear of the ‘almighty’ prevents questioning the fairness in depriving the honest Esau and blessing the liar and cheating Jacob (Genesis 27:24-36). Amusing; the same divine power metes instant justice to Ananias and Sapphira when they cheat (Acts 5:3-11).

Then we are supposed to believe that the same criminal/liar Jacob indeed wrestled with God at Peniel, named Israel (Genesis, 46:22-31), was promised to be a great nation in Egypt (Genesis 46:2-3). And could/would a god of all nations encourage killing, looting, theft, barbarism, the hogwash and diatribes in Deuteronomy 7:1-6; Jeremiah 51:21-23, Exodus 3:21-22? I can quote more chapters on the bible hogwash on encouraging cruelty, the reality is that religion was (in all tribes) created by the dogmatic head relying on his dreams, hallucinations, propaganda and heritage.

Cannot some media be found to enlighten religionists? Kindly bear with my brainwashed, gullible and timid African brethren. The worst defeat inflicted on Africans by aliens, imperialists was/is the psychological one. To make it worse the imperialists first make a fool out of the best (the leader). Hence you find in Africa a leader is a member (or boss) of the Church of England, Holland, USA, Rome etc.

Sadly, religion in Africa is mistaken for morals and yet it is the epitome of arrogance and selfishness, e.g. read the silly talk “…Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” No, “…Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:21-22). Then read “…I have not come to bring peace but a sword…” (Matthew 10:34-39). Yet, elsewhere he is said to be Prince of Peace and selfless. Anyway, well for his generation and tribe. To admire such in this era and area calls for the suspension of logic. Why would anyone now and 10,000 km away despise my relatives, friends: emulate/adore an arrogant, primitive egoist who died more than 2,000 years ago. He talked of false prophets; he was one of them. The so-called second coming is based on false primitive dreams and hallucinations. The prophecies are mere prognostications based on previous events. All regions and nations/tribes have natural disasters, plagues and most have wars. Plagues were not in Egypt alone. Famine? Did not many Jews migrate to Egypt when there was a famine in Israel? Well, unlike ‘waffling’ prophets (generalising/prognosticating on previous events) scientists can accurately forecast some natural events to the exact minute and place. I recall, e.g. in June 2001 and on 9 December 2002 (here in Zim a total eclipse of the sun at the exact place and time). Nothing mystical as per religionists.

Since the events leading to the condemnation of Galileo by Christians the majority of westerners have come to realise that all phenomena considered mysterious and transcendental, are mathematically, scientifically proved (or disproved) and predictable.

Perhaps the Western imperialists’ desired effect has been achieved: with the barrage not only over charged cannons (described by my later father as ‘nganoon’) but the threat of the ‘everlasting bonfire’, blacks have been made very imaginative. Thus to the majority African the second coming is real, hell is real, despite endless strife in Jerusalem, my ill-learned black apostles sing daily that they will soon join mighty Jesus in Jerusalem (I am ill-equipped, I would send you tons of discs of ‘circus’ being prayers and spiritual healing sessions). Defeated psychologically, to the African everything western, from children’s toys through childish silly tales of talking snakes, the calf sharing the same plate with the rugged Russian bear to the neutron bomb, is superb and real. It is pathetic that my African bastardisation was caused by the traders anyway. But the large-scale bastardisation was not with the extremely clannish selective Jews. It was with other liberal races and not in those early, primitive biblical days.

By the way, what then happened to the very communicative “God of Israel”, always forewarning on events to come? It is strange that after “sacrificing his only son” to end sin and strife, there is worse sin and strife; Jerusalem is not a quiet habitation (Isaiah 9). (Gaborone is but never known by the Lord.) Is he the same kind Lord now sitting quietly in eternal peace in Jerusalem (on Mount Zion) now without forewarning, dispensing storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides, causing great suffering/deaths, which he could prevent (if he wanted as suggested by religion), just to prove his might. As much as he sacrificed his only son to save the world which was never saved and to make Israel the greatest nation, which was almost wiped out by Hitler instead. So much for propagating and adhering to primitive, arrogant/bigotry/dogma based on archaic dreamers submissive to illusions and hallucinations.

Brethren, and some religious zealots elsewhere, do not realise that the unending strife in the Middle East (current changes of leaders aside) now spreading to north Africa, is sustained by adherence to such primitive bigotry, dogma and propagating the mythical tribal superiority, ignoring the reality that man has always been the most selfish of all animals. And even among humans themselves, there have always been those who want to dominate others. Brothers and sisters, all religion is rubbish. A prayer is a wish! Surely we cannot live without wishes. However fervent our wishes/prayers, they can never erect an imaginary thing into something tangible. Heaven and Hell never exist.

My timid, gullible, submissive fellow Africans, how kind to you Africans (and how cruel are they to themselves) the British that they have set you to fight for the ideal and eternal (actually imaginary) kingdom of mighty Jesus while they are actually acquiring real space and opportunities for themselves and their offspring? They (British) have so far acquired America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and are currently in Afghanistan for the same purpose. And they are positively convinced that Jesus is coming to nullify all earthly wealth and kingdom yesterday?!

The socio-political systems adopted by all so-called independent African leaders are based on former colonial masters, having been won back soon after hoisting ‘own flag’ and for decades the masses will celebrate the flapping piece of cloth, realising too late that they have entrenched the same old oppressive robbery, only the complexion or individuals have changed. In our case (Zimbabwe) Messrs Morgan and Robert are just different sides of the same (worthless) banknote. Leaders are converted to imperialists’ ideals via flattery, baubles, i.e. awards such as Nobel Peace to a leader whose soldiers are at war elsewhere, doctorates and lavish birthday parties and golden statues while masses starve (literally) to death.

Harmony lies in facing reality. Yes, all our ancestry is primitive. Indeed it is the desire for eternal life (I wish there was) which keeps the otherwise clear landscape of logic clouded with imaginary devils and fatuous gods (I wish there were an infallible, divine, almighty, unerring supernatural being with voluntary decisions and not the creations of primitive human imaginations and hallucinations). Harmony lies in all of us treating and accepting each other as equals, realising that religion is a primitive creation. The maker of the environment (for the moment I assume the agnostic stance) designed it in such a way that we would all be dependent on it and be part of it, fairly, i.e. if you live in Egdon Heath where oranges happen to grow as wild fruit, I must pay you for bringing me some to Harare. But, if I come to Egdon Heath and collect some, you never deserve a penny since you never planted nor watered the orange trees. Thus as per nature, no one even king, queen, people, prime minister, president, mayor etc deserves a penny for any piece of land where they never put anything.

The maker of the environment never commercialised it. Humans did. And the maker never created popes, priests, prime ministers, kings, queens (leaders). Among humans the articulate/cunning manipulated others. Well, initially, it was with good intentions (perhaps), to cause order in the sharing/allocation of what each area of the environment has. Alas! Tell me a single leader who is not abusing power, although in my region the abuse and selfishness is much much worse. At the current level of information we should discard the primitive philosophy, forget the past and work as one civilised humanity.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

time to change the system

For the third time in seven years, the Sahel region of west Africa is facing a toxic combination of drought, poor harvests and soaring food prices. In Niger, 6m people are now significantly at risk, together with 2.9m in Mali and 700,000 in Mauritania.

Drought and famine are not extreme events. They are not anomalies. They are merely the sharp end of a global food system that is built on inequality, imbalances and – ultimately – fragility.

An immediate response is needed in order to avert a devastating food and nutrition crisis. In responding, however, we must also redefine the vocabulary of food crisis. It is our global food system that is in crisis. Last year's famine in the Horn of Africa, and the current woes in the Sahel, are the surface cracks of a broken system. These regional outbreaks of hunger are not, as such, extreme events.

The problem is not just about governance shortcomings in Africa, and it is not just about the modalities of delivering food aid. It is also a problem of principle. For decades, we have taken the wrong approach to feeding the world. In many poor countries, investment in agriculture has focused on a limited range of export crops. Too little has been done to support smallholders, who produce food for their local communities. Yet, by supporting these poor farmers, we could enable them to move out of poverty, and enable local food production to meet local needs.

Diverse farming systems, agroforestry and reservoirs to capture rainfall are sorely needed in drought-prone areas such as the Sahel. This requires a real commitment to local food systems, and an acknowledgement that trade and aid cannot provide all the answers, especially when international grain prices are so high.

We must plan adequately for the food crises that emerge within our broken food system, and we must finally acknowledge how broken it is. Only when we are honest about hunger will the world's most vulnerable populations receive the short-term aid and long-term support that they need.

So wrote Olivier De Schutter

But is his solution going to be socialism, the abolition of the market and its drive for profit? Socialist Banner sadly does not think so. No more eternal tinkering with the system . It is time to tackle the root cause of poverty and hunger which is the capitalism.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ethiopia's Land-Grab - the consequences

Ethiopia is forcing tens of thousands of people off their land so it can lease it to foreign investors, leaving former landowners destitute and in some cases starving, Human Rights Watch has said.

The country has already leased three million hectares – an area just smaller than Belgium – to foreign farm businesses, and the US rights group said Addis Ababa had plans to lease another 2.1 million hectares.

Human Rights Watch said 1.5 million Ethiopians would eventually be forced from their land and highlighted what it said was the latest case of forced relocation in its report, Ethiopia: Forced Relocations Bring Hunger, Hardship. "The Ethiopian government under its 'villagisation' programme is forcibly relocating approximately 70,000 indigenous people from the western Gambella region to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare and educational facilities," it said. "The first round of forced relocations occurred at the worst possible time of year – the beginning of the harvest. Government failure to provide food assistance for relocated people has caused endemic hunger and cases of starvation."