Sunday, August 31, 2014

Black, White - What Does It Matter?


Beloved white brother:
When I was born, I was black.
When I grew up, I was black.
When I am in the sun, I am black.
When I fall ill, I am black.
When I die, I will be black.

And meanwhile you:
When you were born, you were pink.
When you grew up, you were white.
When you're in the sun, you turn red.
When you feel cold, you turn blue.
When you feel fear, you turn green.
When you fall ill, you turn yellow.
When you die, you will be grey.
So, which of us is the coloured man?

Leopold Senghor, poet of Senegal

What is socialism?
No nations,
No borders,
No races,
No colours.

One world of diversity where each respects the other. A world of common inheritance where everything belongs to everyone, and to no one.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Severe Risk Of Acute Food Insecurity In East And Central Africa

Some 20 million people are facing acute food insecurity in eastern and central Africa, with most of them being at “crisis” and “emergency” levels, according to aid agencies. This figure compares unfavorably with 15.8 million people in July 2013.
The affected countries include Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

“The overall nutrition situation in the region has deteriorated precipitously and, according to survey results, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels are higher than 20 percent, exceeding the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent, especially in parts of South Sudan, CAR, Somalia and northern Kenya,” said the East and Central Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), a multi-stakeholder regional forum chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FSNWG warned that the situation could deteriorate further in the absence of quick action.
“FSNWG strongly believes that in the absence of an increased and immediate multi-sectoral response, the food and nutrition status of affected populations is likely to deteriorate further.”
It added that “the countries of major concern with regard to food and nutrition insecurity are the conflict-affected South Sudan, CAR, DRC and Somalia.”
These four countries, all grappling with conflict, account for over 10 million people facing food insecurity.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Categorization (IPC) scale, at least 20 percent of people must have significant food shortages and there must be above normal acute levels of malnutrition for a situation to be declared an “acute crisis”. For “emergency” levels, there must be high levels of acute malnutrition and at least 20 percent of people must have extreme food shortages.

For more detail regarding each of the affected countries read on here

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Pay Back The Money President Zuma!'

 South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) reacted angrily to the conduct of legislators of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) conduct in Parliament.
The EFF members disrupted proceedings while President Jacob Zuma was answering questions and refused to leave the National Assembly after ordered to do so by Speaker Baleka Mbethe on Thursday.

“This is an act of rebels masked as parliamentarians who are committed to hijack our democracy, parliament and legislatures.
"EFF is not in parliament to resolve or to engage robustly to solve any problem, but there to cause destruction and anarchy. They use and hijack parliament and legislatures as laboratory's for political adventurism, we call on parliament to wake up to this reality and defend its integrity,” Zizi Kodwa, ANC spokesperson, stated.
He said millions of South Africans who voted for political parties to represent them in parliament, have their hopes and aspirations in parliament and MPs.
"Parliament therefore, must not allow itself to descend to a kindergarten and betray the hopes of our people. The violent nature of EFF engagement provokes emotions and this may lead to political intolerance which its consequences are dire for our democracy," Kodwa said.

However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) national party spokesman, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said the actions by EFF in parliament on Thursday were justifiable.
"President Jacob Zuma did not respond to the public protector's report and directive that public money was spent in his private home security upgrade and to that extent he must pay back.
"President Zuma was asked by the EFF leader, Julius Malema in parliament as to when is he paying back the money as per the Public Protector's directive, but Zuma did not respond and chose to stick to the nonsense that the minister of the police must determine who is going to pay," Ndlozi said.

Ndlozi accused Zuma of "insulting" the intelligence of parliament" and that of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela by saying the police minister must indicate who should pay the money.
"The EFF cannot join the toothless tactics of parliamentary procedure when the very foundation of the rule of law is undermined by the executive," Ndlozi said.
Julius Malema, a former ANC Youth League President, leads the EFF, which was formed last year.
They have an uncharacteristic dress code in Parliament - red overalls or aprons and matching berets.

by Mthulisi Sibanda from here

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The System That benefits A Few

“NO to ProSavana Campaign”: 
Mozambicans seek regional solidarity (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) 

UNAC, the Mozambique Union of Farmers, a member of La Via Campesina regionalises its “NO To ProSavana” campaign. The ProSavana, a mega agri-business project, is located in Mozambique and involves Brazil and Japan. The project, if developed, aims to turn 14.5 million hectares of agricultural land in the Nacala Corridor in Northern Mozambique, currently being used by small-scale farmers, into industrial monoculture agriculture driven by corporations for export production. UNAC participated in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

 It saw the regional gathering as an opportunity to promote and expand its campaign, and to seek and build support from other regional movements against the Prosavana project. UNAC, during the agricultural and land policies plenary, shared experiences on the project and how some of its farmer members have been affected. Many participants during the plenary discussions pointed out that the land-grabbing is a phenomenon affecting all Southern Africa. They went further to say that the struggle against ProSavana ‘is not only a national campaign, it is a regional one. We need support from Southern African and other international movements’.

Such sentiments resonated with those of Agostinho Bento, UNAC advocacy officer who called for solidarity in campaigning against the program, which could affect the farmers’ livelihood. Agostinho Bento argued that despite denial by the Mozambican government, ProSavana ‘is not about development, it will destroy the local system of food productions and small-scale farmers’ livelihood. We don’t want a development that benefits a few, but rather an inclusive process’.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Obama's African Cant

 Obama said : "We don't look to Africa simply for its natural resources. We recognise Africa for its greatest resource which is its people and its talents and its potential".

Many Africans know that this was empty rhetoric. Obama's claim that the U.S. looks beyond oil and mineral resources should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

The US are genuinely frightened of the rate at which China is making concrete investment and control over Africa's crude oil and mineral resources. By 2009, China was already Africa's main trading partner, surpassing USA. In 2012, China's trade volume with Africa hit US$ 198.5 billion mark while the U.S. was at only US$99.8 billion. That is twice as much trading already and yet China's trade with Africa is only 5% of its total globe trade. It is estimated that more than 80% of China's US$98.3 billion of import from Africa in 2011 were in minerals, raw resources, and crude oil.

USA has been meddling in Africa for centuries. Why then is Obama misinforming the world about U.S. interests and presence in Africa as if U.S. is a new entrant in exploiting the continent?  The current predicament of Africa and its lagged economic progress is mainly attributable to these centuries of exploitative bullying from the U.S., UK, France and most of their colonial apparatuses that continue to meddle in Africa's internal affairs.  Africa would not have been as poor and deficient in all internal aspects to compete favourably in the international markets.

The U.S. has footprints in each and every country in Africa, stable or unstable. They are there primarily and precisely for economic benefit, not to develop human resources or African infrastructure.

Obama offers of $33 billion in new trade partnerships are to ensure that U.S. goods and services gain access to African markets. One only needs to read John Perkins' 2004 book: "Confession of an economic hit man" Perkins is unequivocal in his narration of how the US has always used underhand methods such as assassinations, cultivating civil unrest leading to regime change, paying bribe to influential leaders and where possible, supplying arms and protection of crooked leaders to manipulate co-operations of all kinds from any country in the world. Perkins provides numerous examples around the world where the US is still involved or where it left tragic footprints in pursuit of its interests.

According to Jeffrey Sach's 2005 "End of Poverty: economic possibilities for our times" The true story of African billion dollars losses", to unpack the worthlessness of this Obama US-Africa trade package. the true value of American foreign aid that reached the person in Africa in 2002 was only 6 cents after all deductions. Both Perkins and Sachs show that most of the money that the U.S. offers to Africa, either as aid for cooperation or grants go directly to U.S. agencies, paying off "expatriates", deduction for debts owed and financing infrastructure that serves American interests in those countries.

 Health Poverty Action's 2014 report, "Honest Account?" shows that for every US$ 30 billion in foreign aid that Africa receives annually, it losses US$192 billion. The money is lost through loan and debt repaying of US$46.5 billion. Other losses include US$35.3 Billion in tax evasion and other illicit financial flows facilitated through tax havens; US$17 billion in illegal logging; US$3 billion in remittances; US$46.3 billion repatriation of profits made by multinational companies; US$1.3 billion in illegal fishing and Africa incurs a loss of US$36.6 billion as a result of climate change and US$6 billion as a result of brain drain.

From here

Friday, August 15, 2014

US Foreign Policy In Africa

The US-Africa Leaders Summit currently taking place in Washington points to Africa’s growing strategic importance to US interests. The theme of the Summit is “Investing in the Next Generation” and aims to advance the US’s focus on trade and investment in Africa. Historically, the US has always adopted a militarised foreign policy towards Africa. When the Bush administration launched the Defense Unified Combatant Command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2007, that move was consistent with the US history in Africa.

It was a move that was contested by the Pan-African Parliament. In 2007, the members of the Parliament voted in favour of a motion “not to accede to the request of the Government of the United States of America to host AFRICOM anywhere on the African Continent.” The Parliament highlighted the “far reaching negative implications that this Africa Command will have on the political stability of Africa.”

In response, the US and the AFRICOM staff rolled out a public relations campaign to make the idea of AFRICOM palatable to African leaders. Senior US government officials visited several African countries to explain the project. In September 2007, the US Department of Defense hosted over 35 African governments in Virginia “to further explain its plans for the command and to solicit input from attendees,” according to Lauren Ploch, a researcher with the US Congressional Research Services.

In my view the US-Africa Leaders Summit, which the Obama administration dubs the largest event any US president has held with African heads of state, is a public relations exercise in pomp, ceremony and ritual meant to disguise the militarised foreign policy represented by AFRICOM. It has been shown that ever since the 1998 bombing of US embassies in East Africa, which was followed by the US retaliatory strike against Sudan, the US has regarded Africa as the next front in the war on terrorism. According to Ploch, US Department of Defense officials claim that “Africa has been, is now and will be into the foreseeable future ripe for terrorists and acts of terrorism.”

As far as the US is concerned, civil wars in Africa have created “ungoverned spaces” and “failed states” which terrorists groups may use to operate from. Half century a ago, the US was concerned about “dangerous, pro-Communist” African radicals who were supposedly going to turn to the Soviet Union for political support and military assistance. In 1960, when 16 European colonies in Africa became independent, the US Secretary of State, Christian Herter, told the US National Security Council that Africa had become “a battleground of the first order”, according to Piero Gleijeses, a professor of US foreign policy. Gleijeses shows how the ideological struggle for global dominance during the Cold War expanded to include proxy wars in Africa.

For instance, recently declassified US documents show that from 1960 the US launched a covert operation in the Congo lasting almost seven years, which was initially aimed at eliminating Patrice Lumumba. It was that covert operation that gave political birth to the colonial creature Joseph Mobutu more commonly known as Mobutu Sese Seko. The ripple effects of that covert operation have been devastating for the Congo and the Great Lakes.

The US rationalised its covert operations in African countries such as the Congo, Angola and Mozambique as a legitimate fight against communists. In the words of Henry Kissinger, “I don’t see how we can be faulted on what we are doing. We are not overthrowing any government; we are not subverting anyone. We are helping moderates combat Communist domination.”

That was in the 20th century. The point I am making however is that in this century the US is back in Africa to carry out its Global War on Terror. The US-Africa Leaders Summit signals a slight variation of political tactics on the part of the US. However, the mess in the Horn of Country shows that the US has not totally abandoned its Cold War tactics. US air strikes in Somalia in 2007 and America’s support for the Ethiopian invasion of that country partly led to the creation of al-Shabaab, a fundamentalist religious group which has wreaked havoc in neighbouring countries like Uganda and Kenya.

Naturally, al-Shabaab has become a major security concern in the region. The US has funnelled counter-terrorism funds into East Africa and underwritten a stronger Kenyan military, according to Foreign Affairs Journal. The Journal further points out that “the rise of Islamism in the Horn of Africa put Kenya on the frontlines in the global fight against terrorism.”

The US-Africa Leaders Summit is part and parcel of US counter-terrorism efforts in Africa. The business theme which dominates the Summit is partly meant to counter the Chinese economic presence on the continent. The Chinese presence unsettles the balance of economic power between the US and African countries. Hence, the goal behind the Summit is to counter the Chinese business influence, while simultaneously, cultivating “moderate, pro-Western leaders” who will adopt “a generally pro-Western posture” in their dealings with US administrations. 

by Mandisi Majavu  from here

Thursday, August 14, 2014

War on Aids v War

 The 2001 Abuja Declaration, whose signatories committed to allocating at least 15 percent of gross domestic product to health, has “barely become a reality”, Vuyiseka Dubula, general-secretary of the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign. Between 2000-2005, she added, “almost 400,000 people died from AIDS in South Africa; during that same period we spent so much money on arms we don’t need, and one wonders whether that was a responsible use of public resources.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, seven out of 10 HIV positive persons in the world live – 24.7 million in 2013. The region suffered up to 1.3 million AIDS-related deaths in the same year, according to the United Nations. New funding for AIDS in low- and middle-incoming countries fell three percent from 2012 to 8.1 billion dollars in 2013. Five of the 14 major donor governments – the U.S., Canada, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands – decreased AIDS spending last year. Africa will need to do more with less to manage AIDS, concludes a 2013 UNAIDS report. In Kenya, a funding shortfall is expected soon, since the World Bank’s 115 million-dollar ‘Total War on HIV/AIDS’ project expired last month. Five out of 10 pregnant Kenyan women living with HIV do not get ARVs to protect their babies.

Yet, while governments claim to be too cash-strapped to fight the AIDS war, funding for wars seems much more forthcoming. Meanwhile, the Kenya’s defence budget is expected to grow from 4.3 billion dollars in 2012-2014 to 5.5 billion dollars by 2018, as the country stocks up on helicopters, drones and border surveillance equipment, according to the news portal DefenceWeb.

Daniel Kertesz, the World Health Organization representative in Mozambique, told IPS the country’s six-year health program has a 200 million dollar finance gap per year. Mozambique being very poor, it is difficult to see how the country – with 1.6 million infected people, the world’s eighth burden – will meet its domestic commitments. “Today, Mozambique spends between 30 and 35 dollars per person per year on health. WHO recommends a minimum of 55-60 per person per year,” Kertesz said.

 The Mozambique government announced it had fixed eight military fighter jets, which it had discarded 15 years ago, in Romania, and is receiving three Embraer Tucano military aircraft from Brazil for free, with the understanding that purchase of three  fighter jets will follow. According to a 2014 report by the Economic Intelligence Unit, Mozambique’s spending on state security is expected to rise sharply, partly owing to the acquisition, by the ministry of defence, of 24 fishing trawlers and six patrol and interceptor ships at the cost of 300 million dollars – equal to half the 2014 national health budget of 635.8 million dollars. The same week the refurbished fighter jets landed at Maputo airport, the press reported that the main hospital in Mozambique’s north-western and coal-rich Tete province went for five days without water. Indeed, the country’s public health system is in such dire straits that the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) meets 90 percent of the health ministry’s annual AIDS budget.
The state budget for social programmes is not increasing at the same level as military, defence and security spending,” Jorge Matine, a researcher at Mozambique’s Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), told IPS. “We have been pushing for accountability around the acquisition of commercial and military ships for millions of dollars,” he said.  Back in 2001, Mozambique’s health budget represented 14 percent of the total state budget. It declined to a low of seven percent in 2011 and clawed to eight percent since. If defence spending remained as it was in 2011, the country would save 70 million dollars, which could buy 1,400 ambulances (11 per district, when many districts have only one or two) or import 21 percent more medicines.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), military spending in Africa reached an estimated 44.4 billion dollars in 2013, an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year. In Angola and Algeria, high oil revenues fuel the buying spree. The South Africa-based Ceasefire Campaign reported recently that arms deals with private companies are also on the rise in Africa, with governments expected to sign deals with global defence companies totalling roughly 20 billion dollars over the next decade.

“Financing mirrors the priorities of the government,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs and former minister of health, told IPS.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

'Casualisation Of Labour' = Exploitation - Zimbabwe

Ethel Maziriri, 27, holds an Honours Degree in Social Work from the University of Zimbabwe, but instead of working in her chosen profession, she works as a cashier in one of the country's leading clothing retail company. And it's not by choice.
Casual workers in Zimbabwe usually work for long hours without safety clothing. Labour unions say that many employees are hiring people as casual staff to avoid providing benefits.
Maziriri, who graduated in 2010, has been employed as a casual worker at the store for the past 12 months.

In a country that is reeling from a liquidity crisis and a crumbling economy, company closures and downsizing have forced many into unemployment here.
She earns 80 dollars each fortnight, for working 10-hour days. But the working conditions are less than ideal.
Maziriri told IPS that most of the workers at the company are causal workers, employed on temporary contracts for six weeks at a time. She says that as contract workers they have to be very cautious to avoid their contracts being terminated prematurely without any wages or benefits.

But she's more concerned about earning money rather than the unfair working conditions here.
"I do not think it is necessary for a contract worker to join a labour union and I do not have any money for subscriptions to pay the union. I treasure my job and if am dismissed I will just go home and wait until I get another one," she said.

But the Federation of Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe (FFWUZ), a union which represents more than 50,000 members in the food processing industry, says the "casualisation of labour" is leading to a new form of exploitation here.
"A new form of labour exploitation has erupted as employers prefer to hire short-term contract workers to escape from the costs incurred by permanent workers," Gift Maoneka, FFWUZ paralegal officer, told IPS.
He said that since January, more than six companies have retrenched and that most industries were retrenching at least 450 workers a week.
"Most of the companies are abusing the retrenchment board in doing away with permanent workers and the law does not provide an appeal against retrenchment," Maoneka said.

FFWUZ says that Zimbabwe's crumbling economy and lack of investment has forced companies to downsize and retrench workers. Many are doing away with formal employment, according to FFWUZ, and are instead offering contracts to workers as a way of avoiding providing benefits such as medical aid, funeral policies and pensions.
"Casual workers endure years of work with no terminal benefits, pensions, medical aid for them and their families," Maoneka said.
Maoneka pointed out that while employees were "putting workers on short contracts," the jobs were in fact "permanent of nature."

The latest annual Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Programme points out that across the world formal employment lacks social, legal or regulatory protection.
According to the report, nearly half the world's workers are in vulnerable employment, trapped in insecure jobs usually outside the jurisdiction of labour legislation and social protection.
According to FFWUZ, many casual workers here are afraid to join labour unions for fear of being victimised and hence continue to have their rights infringed, through lack of knowledge and representation.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his budget statement in December, 2013 said that government was reviewing the labour law to make the hiring of employees easier.
"The minister responsible for labour should seriously consider amendments to the Labour Act that relates work to productivity. It is also necessary that we introduce in our labour laws flexibility in the hiring of workers, as well as alignment of wage adjustments to labour productivity," Chinamasa said during the 2013 to 2014 budget announcement.  

The current Labour Relations Act makes dismissals and retrenchments a slow process as employees have to go through a number of hearings. The hearings start at company level and a dissatisfied party can appeal to labour courts.  
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions maintains that workers in Zimbabwe have no rights when faced with retrenchment, and this creates a situation where they can be manipulated by their employers.

Meanwhile, FFWUZ points out that the few people employed by foreign Chinese employers are also being subjected to unlawful working conditions, but lack the knowledge on how to deal with the matter of exploitation and unfair dismissal.
"Foreigners take advantage of the language barrier when we engage them on discussing labour laws and unfair dismissal of their employees. Non-provision of protective clothing, total disregard of labour laws are some of the matters that affect most employees," Maoneka said.

For Gareth Makaripe, who is casually employed at a Chinese-owned bakery in Msasa industrial area in Harare, the conditions of services are dehumanising.
"These people are slave masters and they use fear to intimidate workers."

from here

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Somaliland, Puntland, Al Shabab, Sovereignty - and OIL

The proposed deployment of armed contingents to protect oil installations in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland risks further destabilizing a region rife with disputes over sovereignty, boundaries and oil concessions.
Security is deemed necessary for seismic exploration in areas of Somaliland thought to contain significant quantities of oil, some of which are also claimed by neighbouring Puntland, an autonomous region which, unlike Somaliland, still regards itself a part of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Who exactly would control and manage such armed contingents and what their precise mandate would be, have yet to be determined. Since Somaliland’s independence is unrecognized internationally, the territory remains subject to a UN arms embargo, which means it would need to obtain permission from a sanctions committee before importing military equipment or conducting military training.

Somaliland offered to create an Oil Protection Unit (OPU) in October 2013 after security complaints from oil firms currently conducting seismic explorations.
In September, 2013 Anglo-Turkish oil firm Genel Energy suspended its exploratory activities in Somaliland “in the face of a deteriorating security situation”.
Somaliland’s energy minister, Abdi Hussein Dualeh, said it was now important to “create the right climate that makes them [operators such as Genel] feel safer to resume operations.”

An OPU blueprint, drawn up by UK security consultancy Assaye Risk, calls for 420 initial recruits, and a full strength force of 580, which will be organized into six mobile units managed by an interior ministry committee which would liaise with risk management firms that are hired by the oil companies. Genel Energy paid for the blueprint.
The blueprint estimates that the cost of the OPU would be around US$20-25 million per year, a cost likely to be covered by the oil firms, who would provide a monthly salary to staff.

Somaliland already spends 54 percent of its $212 million annual budget on security, and would most probably be unable to absorb further costs. Because it is not recognized by international governments, it is often hard for the self-declared state to attract significant international aid and other forms of funding.
So far, in addition to Genel Energy, explorers operating, or hoping to operate, in Somaliland include the United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm RAK Gas, Norwegian/UAE company DNO and Yemeni explorer Ansan Wikfs.
Although OPU currently exists only on paper, has no staff and no headquarters, nor clear promises of funding to allow it to be set up, the government hopes to have it up and running by the end of the year.

What are the risks? Mainly, of increasing instability. The OPU’s area of operations would include locations, notably Sool and Sanaag, covered by oil concessions issued by Puntland, which lays claim to parts of the region.
Recent months have seen authorities in Puntland and from the Somali government in Mogadishu increase their political and financial support for leaders in Sool who reject Somaliland’s authority and want to set up a state within Somalia called Khatumo. Mogadishu has contested Hargeisa’s right to issue oil licences.

In April, and again in June, Somaliland forces briefly took control of Taleh, the main town in Khatumo, as leaders there were preparing to hold a conference on the state’s future.
According to a 12 May UN report, “tension between Puntland and ‘Somaliland’ increased over the contested Sool and Sanaag regions. The visit by the President of ‘Somaliland’ Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, to the coastal town of Laasqoray in the disputed Sanaag region on 16 March triggered a military build-up from both sides. Accusations made by senior Puntland officials that ‘Somaliland’ was supporting Al Shabab further strained relations.”

While the OPU’s envisaged role is only to protect oil installations - notably from the Islamist Al Shabab insurgency - inserting armed men into such a volatile environment is cause for concern.
“When three sides have different interpretations of what belongs to whom on the ground, Somaliland’s deployment of an OPU will be a red rag to a bull, sending a signal that it is shutting out competitors, which could give rise to an explosive situation,” said one close observer of these developments who preferred anonymity.
Energy minister Dualeh played down the idea that elements of the local population posed a significant threat to oil firms.
"They're not really worried about the people in Sanaag; they're worried about some Shabab people coming from the south," he said.

Critics argue that the unit is being set up behind closed doors, subverting parliamentary approval.
The government denies that OPU would operate beyond official oversight. It says that because it will comprise existing police and military units, it is not a new force, and therefore does not require parliamentary approval.
Officials also stress it would not be controlled by oil firms. “It will be under the command and control of the Somaliland... police structure, so it basically has nothing to do with the oil company telling them to do this and do that," Dualeh told IRIN.
But Ibrahim Jama, a member of parliament and chair of the parliamentary internal affairs and security committee, said he has seen charts outlining the proposed OPU chain of command. They indicated the unit would report to a yet-to-be-created interior ministry committee, instead of the chief of police.
This, he believed, meant that OPU could be potentially exposed to political or corporate influence - creating the possibility it could be used against oil sector opponents.
"I realize such a unit needs to have a law that permits them to operate, to regulate them. In the absence of a law to regulate their activity it will be a paramilitary force," Jama told IRIN. He said there is a clause in the constitution stipulating that any new security services outside the police, military or custodial pillars must be approved by parliament.

whole article here

Friday, August 08, 2014

Africa for sale

Ethiopia was a country defined by its famines, particularly between 1983-1985 when in excess of half a million people starved to death as a consequence of drought, crop failure and a brutal civil war.  In recent years, Ethiopia has been experiencing stellar economic growth. The headline statistics are certainly remarkable: the country is creating millionaires faster than any other in Africa; output from farming, Ethiopia’s dominant industry, has tripled in a decade; the capital Addis Ababa is experiencing a massive construction boom; and the last six years have seen the nation’s GDP grow by a staggering 108 percent.

Around 90 percent of the population of 87 million still suffers from numerous deprivations, ranging from insufficient access to education to inadequate health care; average incomes are still well below $1500 a year; and more than 30 million people still face chronic food shortages.

 There are a number of positive and genuine reasons for the growth spurt - business and legislative reforms, more professional governance, the achievements of a thriving service sector - many critics say that the growth seen in agriculture, which accounts for almost half of Ethiopia’s economic activity and a great deal of its recent success, is actually being driven by an out of control ‘land grab', as  multinational companies and private speculators vie to lease millions of acres of the country’s most fertile territory from the government at bargain basement prices.

According to a host of NGO’s and policy advocates, including Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute, the true consequences of the land grabs are almost all negative. They say that in order to make such huge areas available for foreign investors to grow foodstuffs and bio-fuels for export - and in direct contravention of Ethiopia’s obligations under international law - the authorities are displacing hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples, abusing their human rights, destroying their traditions, trashing the environment, and making them more dependent on food aid  than ever before.

"The benefits for the local populations are very little," said renowned Ethiopian sociologist Dessalegn Rahmato. "They’ve taken away their land. They’ve taken away their natural resource, because these investors are clearing the land, destroying the forest, cutting down the trees. The government claims that one of the aims of this investment was to enable local areas to benefit by investing in infrastructure, social services … but these benefits are not included in the contract. It's only left up to the magnanimity of the investor." Investors, he continued, are simply not interested in anything other than serving their own needs: "They can grow any crop they want, when they want it, they can sell in any market they want, whether it’s a global market or a local market. In fact most of them are not interested in the local markets.” He cited as an example a massive Saudi-owned plantation in the fertile Gambella region of south west Ethiopia, a prime target area for investors: "They have 10,000 hectares and they are producing rice. This rice is going to be exported to the Middle East, to Saudi Arabia and other places. The local people in that area don’t eat rice."

But the most controversial element of the government’s programme is known as 'villagisation' - the displacement of people from land they have occupied for generations and their subsequent resettlement in artificial communities. In Gambella, where two ethnic groups, the Anuaks and the Nuers, predominate, it has meant tens of thousands of people have been forced to abandon a traditional way of life.

 Moot, an Anuak farmer who now lives in a government village far from his home, explains "When investors showed up, we were told to pack up our things and to go to the village. If we had decided not to go, they would have destroyed our crops, our houses and our belongings. We couldn't even claim compensation because the government decided that those lands belonged to the investors. We were scared … if you get upset and say that someone stole your land, you are put in prison. If you complain about being arrested, they will kill you. It's not our land anymore; we have been deprived of our rights."

The Ethiopian government shows no sign of scaling the programme back. According to the Oakland Institute, since 2008, an area the size of France has already been handed over to foreign corporations. Over the next few years an area twice that size is thought to be earmarked for leasing to investors.

 From Al Jazeera

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ethiopian Farmer Takes UK To Court

The UK's Department for International Development (DfID) is to face a full judicial review over its alleged funding of rights abuses in Ethiopia.
 On Monday, a high court judge ruled that "Mr O", an Ethiopian farmer who claims that British aid helped fund a brutal forced resettlement programme in his home country, has an arguable case against the UK government. His lawyers argue there is evidence that British aid contributions to Ethiopia's promotion of basic services (PBS) programme has helped support its controversial villagisation programme, which aims to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new "model" villages across the country.

 Since it was launched in 2010,the resettlement programme has been dogged by allegations of forced evictions, rapes, beatings and disappearances. Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of British aid and the UK is a major donor to its PBS programme, which is intended to improve access to education, healthcare and other services for poor and nomadic people. However, human rights campaigners say British money is also being used to pay the salaries and administrative costs of the officials running the relocation scheme. 

Mr O, who is represented in his action against the UK government by the London-based firm Leigh Day, claims he was violently evicted from his farm in the Gambella region in 2011. He says he was beaten and that he witnessed rapes and assaults as government soldiers cleared people off their land. He has told his lawyers that he was forced to resettle in a new village where he and others were given no access to farmland, food or water and where they could not make enough money to feed their families. He has since moved to Kenya.

 After assessing his case, Mr Justice Warby gave permission for Mr O's lawyers to argue at a full judicial review that the UK government violated its human rights policies by failing to have systems in place to properly investigate and respond to reports of human rights violations linked to the villagisation programme. He added that under current legislation the UK government had a legal obligation to respect and uphold human rights, and that Mr O's case deserved a full hearing.

from here

Land Grabs And Flawed Assumptions

Can land grabs by foreign investors in developing countries feed the hungry? So says the press release for a recent, and unfortunate, economic study. It comes just as civil society and government delegates gather in Rome this week to negotiate guidelines for “responsible agricultural investment” (RAI), and as President Obama welcomes African leaders to Washington for a summit on economic development in the region.
At stake in both capitals is whether the recent surge in large-scale acquisition of land in Africa and other developing regions needs to be better regulated to ensure that agricultural investment contributes to food security rather than eroding it by displacing small-scale farmers.

The recent study paper will not advance those discussions. It is the kind of study that gives economists a bad name. Economists like the one in the oft-told joke who, shipwrecked on a deserted island, offers his expertise to his stranded shipmates: “Assume we have a boat.”
In this case, these seemingly well-intentioned Italian economists came up with the dramatic but useless estimate that global land grabs could feed 190-550 million people in developing countries. The heroic assumptions they needed to get there should have stranded them on a deserted island, because they make no sense in the real world.

• Assume land grabs produce staple food. (Mostly, they don’t.)
• Assume such assumed food is consumed domestically. (Overwhelmingly it’s exported.)
• Assume the calories they might produce go to hungry people. (They don’t, they go to people who can afford them.)
• Assume calories are all that’s needed to nourish someone. (They aren’t.)
• Assume productivity-enhancing investments on such land would be made for an assumed market of hungry consumers. (They wouldn’t, the hungry are no real market at all because they have no effective buying power.)
• Assume the grabbed land didn’t displace anyone from producing food. (According to the same data relied on by these economists, most projects have displaced farmers.)

Perhaps the most absurd assumption, though, is that the governance mechanisms exist, at the national, international, or corporate levels, to manage the surge of investment we’ve seen since the food price spikes of 2007-8. Trust me, they don’t, which is why the UN’s Committee on World Food Security is meeting in Rome this week to negotiate the RAI guidelines.
Those negotiations have proven contentious, with developing countries and civil society groups demanding that land rights be included in the guidelines. Some rich country governments, such as that of the United States, resist such measures saying they interfere with the development of markets, which they see as the ultimate solution to … well … everything.

In Tanzania, those land markets are going fast and furious, fueled by government programs to make large tracts of land available to foreign investors. Many have gone for biofuel crops like sugar and jatropha, the oilseed tree that has proven to be a spectacular failure all over Africa. The governance failures include not just the taking of 20,000-acre tracts of good land, based on false promises to local villagers, but then the failure to return the land to those villagers when the project collapses.
In Kisarawe, Tanzania, that land instead was simply subleased by the bankrupt Sun Biofuels to Mtanga Farms, a Tanzanian company that has disavowed any responsibility to fulfill the promises made by Sun Biofuels when it secured the land in the first place.

Interpreting the data from that flawed land grab study a little differently, the researchers show, in effect, that in Tanzania 3.1 million people additional people could be fed by just giving the land to small-scale farmers. Or, more realistically, one could increase by 25% the caloric intake of 12.4 million people who don’t get enough to eat now. Invest in the land and, according to these researchers, one could do the same for 20.4 million people.
That would go a long way toward wiping out rural poverty in Tanzania. It doesn’t look anything like a “land grab.”

from here

China v USA

The United States is not the first country to host more than fifty heads of African countries at one time. China welcomed African leaders to Beijing in 2000 for the inaugural Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and has since held five additional FOCAC summits.

China’s trade with Africa rose to $200 billion in 2013 – largely Beijing’s imports of natural resources and exports of electronics and textiles – more than double U.S.-Africa trade levels.

Obama has already announced $14 billion in commitments by U.S. companies for investments in Africa’s construction, manufacturing, energy, finance, and technology sectors that pales in comparison to Beijing’s  $75 billion in aid projects from 2000 to 2011. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from Beijing have also increased six-fold since 2005, to $2.5 billion in 2012. Development assistance in the form of interest-free loans, grants, and concessional loans totals $14.41 billion between 2010 and 2012 alone.

U.S. direct investment in Africa essentially flat-lined between 2010 and 2012, according to the Brookings Institution. Over the same period, China (with investment up 68 per cent) and the European Union (up 8 per cent) poured money into a region they see as rich with natural resources and economic potential. U.S. corporate profits in Africa fell in 2013 for a second straight year. Chinese companies seem to be everywhere in Africa. The off-shore oil company CNOOC has invested $2 billion in a Ugandan oil field. Chinese operate supermarkets and mines. A Chinese construction company is building Uganda's first expressway with a loan from Chinese bank.

Of course Socialist Banner cannot overlook that Obama pledged $550 million to support its proxy armies in Africa. The United States announced  plans to spend $110 million a year over the next three to five years to help African nations develop 'peacekeeping' forces. The United States would partner with Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda to develop rapid response forces. It also plans to spend an initial $65 million to bolster security institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia. Another program, the Security Governance Initiative, would aim to strengthen border security.

The United States has claimed it has trained more than a quarter-million African troops and police.  "We'll have increased training, particularly to train the trainer and to train specialized enabler units," an official said.

From here

Fact of the Day

 Less than half of sub-Saharan Africans (48%) express confidence in their judicial systems.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

SHELL: Business As Usual In Ogoniland

If there is one country where Shell’s broken promises ring hollower than anywhere else it is in Nigeria.
For decades, the company’s operations in the country have been mired by pollution and community protests which in turn have been met with endless cycles of violence against protestors.
The communities in the Niger Delta have been protesting for decades against this chronic pollution and grinding poverty. But year after year, promises from Shell of a better future for the local communities have been found to be as broken as brittle bones.

And the community in Nigeria where the wounds impacted by Shell probably go deepest is the Ogoni, once led by the charismatic Ken Saro-Wiwa, before he was brutally murdered by the military junta in the mid-nineties. Shell has always denied complicity in his death, despite evidence to the contrary.
Ogoniland is where Shell has operated at the centre of this vortex of pollution and violence and where you would have thought the oil company would be most willing to try and make amends. A place where it would try to heal the deep and bitter wounds.
But you would be wrong.

For seasoned Shell-watchers, it is of no surprise that three years after the publication of a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on oil pollution in Ogoniland, which urged Shell to clean up the area, the company has spectacularly failed to do so.
In fact its operations have been deemed “shameful” by a group of influential NGO’s such as Amnesty International, Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Europe, Human Rights and Development and Platform.
In a new report they argue that Shell and the Nigerian Government have failed to implement the recommendations in the UNEP report, which would “put an end to the abuse of the communities rights to food, water and a life free of pollution.”

Of the twenty seven recommendations in the report, none had been fully implemented by this month.
“The people of Ogoniland continue to suffer the effects of fifty years of an oil industry which has polluted their land, air and water,” the report argues. Shell for its part, “continues to use deeply flawed clean-up practices,” which were declared ineffective by UNEP.
A crucial recommendation by UNEP to set up a $1 billion fund to clean up contaminated land in the region has not been implemented. The report, entitled, ‘No progress’, also highlights Shell’s manipulation of information to avoid accountability for old and leaking pipes – pipes so old the company will not disclose their age or condition.

Godwin Ojo of Friends of the Earth Nigeria argues that “Three years on and the government and Shell have done little more than set up processes that look like action but are just fig leaves for business as usual. The lack of meaningful action in the face of incontrovertible scientific evidence is outrageous.
Ojo accused the Nigerian government and Shell of continuing to get away with environmental and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta.
Paul de Clerk of Friends of the Earth Europe adds that: “Three years after finding out that their operations have exposed almost every man, woman and child in Ogoniland – and almost certainly tens of thousands of people in others parts of the Niger Delta – to lifelong pollution, Shell is still more concerned with protecting itself.

He called on the Governments of Nigeria and the home countries of Shell, Netherlands and the UK, which have so far exerted no pressure on Shell, to make sure that the oil company starts a comprehensive clean up and pays due compensation for the pollution in the area.
But Shell’s shameful response continues. The company is trying to spin its web of greenwash and denial, arguing it “has made progress in addressing all the recommendations directed to it.”
After fifty years, it has failed to learn a simple lesson: that actions speak louder than empty words.

from here

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Adding kids to the investment portfolio

Almost half all child deaths in Africa are caused by inadequate food and it is the underlying cause of many diseases, yet approaches to tackling health and child nutrition are disjointed and uncoordinated, limiting their impact, according to World Bank and United Nations reports.

 An extra $10.3 billion in new public resources would be required to scale up food programs in the 36 countries that have the highest levels of malnutrition and that account for 90 percent of children whose growth is stunted by inadequate nutrition, according to a World Bank report.

However, it is the lost of potential dollars and cents that worry the international class. Poorly-fed children rob Africa of up to 16 percent of its potential growth, making investment in programs to end malnutrition as critical to the continent's future as building bridges and roads.

"Every child stunted is GDP growth that is left on the table," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. The costs of adequately feeding children would be easily offset by raising GDP levels in Sub-Saharan Africa by at least two to 3 percentage points, experts said. The dividends for African economies range from 2 percent to 16 percent of GDP, based on UN and World Bank data.

Abdoulaye Diop, Mali's foreign minister, called it a worthwhile investment.

Nigeria's Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said "We invest so much in infrastructure, in bridges and in roads. But most important is grey matter. We really need to invest in that."

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Capitalism Spawns Poverty: Poverty Kills

A nationwide outbreak of diarrhoea attributed to rotavirus has claimed the lives of nearly 40 young children in Swaziland during the past month and highlighted the need for better sanitation and clean water in schools and homes.
“The link between poor water quality and child mortality is not a theoretical matter. We can see in the admissions rooms of hospitals how widespread the problem is,” said Thab’sile Ndlovu, a government social welfare officer in the commercial capital, Manzini.

At a press conference attended by most of the Cabinet on 30 July, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini said 3,042 cases had been recorded in the four regions of the country.
“Most of these were successfully dealt with at outpatient stage; at least 511 children were admitted as inpatients. The majority of the latter were successfully treated and discharged. Sadly, 36 of those children died while undergoing treatment,” said the premier.
  He also announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) had sent a team to provide the government with technical assistance on controlling the outbreak.

The Health Ministry has been broadcasting hourly bulletins on the country’s state-owned radio stations, the primary source of news for 90 percent of Swazis. Information includes tips on proper hygiene. Government officials have blamed poor hygiene for the spread of the rotavirus which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea in young children.
“We urge the public to practise thorough hand-washing using soap and safe running water after using the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing and consuming food. We encourage the public to observe good sanitation practices, as well as drinking water that is known to be safe, or water that is boiled before use,” said the premier.

Nearly a third of Swaziland’s population lack access to safe drinking water. The majority of rural households rely on communal water taps or draw water from local rivers and wells.
Projects to bring clean water to more rural residents are ongoing in all four of the country’s provinces. Swaziland is also developing a modern sanitation system, but sewer lines connect only to residences, schools, churches and businesses that have accounts with the Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC), which adds a 50 percent surcharge on water consumption to pay for connections. Most rural Swazis are not connected, and depend on pit latrines or the bush to relieve themselves.
Each year children in Swaziland die of severe diarrhoea resulting from rotavirus. The reasons behind this year’s outbreak are still unclear, but Andrew Mkhonta, a medical consultant doing research for a social welfare NGO, suggested that Swaziland’s worsening poverty levels could be a factor.

“The economy is getting worse, and less money means lower standards of living,” he told IRIN. “The population of informal settlements is growing around the towns and there is no sanitation there at all. We spoke with some of the patients’ families and many are from these settlements or have children in poor schools where there is no running water or toilets.”
Schools in Swaziland are financed primarily by school fees with the government’s education budget going mainly towards teachers’ salaries. As a result, many schools cannot afford to install plumbing and drill wells.

A doctor quoted anonymously in the Swazi Observer newspaper accused the Ministry of Health of blaming parents’ for poor hygiene in an attempt to shift attention away from its failure to launch a rotavirus vaccination programme. WHO has recommended that rotavirus vaccine be included in all national immunization programmes and 21 African countries have done so according to the Rotavirus Organization of Technical Allies (ROTA) Council
“There is just no reason or justification why so many children were left to die… The vaccine is widely available, but Swaziland chose not to vaccinate the children. We need mass immunization of children against the virus,” the doctor said.  
According to the Health Ministry, a rotavirus immunization campaign was scheduled for July 2015.
“In response to the unforeseen outbreak, government will now accelerate the introduction of the vaccine,” said Prime Minister Dlamini.

from here

The Ghana Land-Grab Giveaway

Ghana offers land to Punjabi farmers. A delegation from Ghana led by deputy minister for energy and petroleum Benjamin Dagadu offered to settle farmers and to allocate fertile agriculture land on long lease to Punjabi farmers in Ghana.

It is not as if Ghana lacks farmers. Ghana abounds in hardworking and forward-looking farmers who have all these years shouldered the responsibility of producing cash crops for export earnings to boost the national coffers and food crops to feed Ghanaians. They have done all in their power to remain productive despite harsh conditions caused by total neglect by the government, which has forced them to rely on the hoe-and-cutlass method instead of mechanized farming or the slash-and-burn method that promotes shifting cultivation and deforestation. Environmental degradation results, even as food crop production suffers and the government itself encourages the importation of food items such as rice, yam, plantains, fish and many others (including chicken “spare parts”).

Questions also abounds. Where is the land that the government has earmarked for release to farmers from Punjab? Ghana has clear laws on land ownership and a land tenure system that the government’s intended move won’t fit into. Which traditional area in Ghana is the government eyeing for this deal? We know that there are state lands; but is that what the government can do with those lands to create the impression that it is collaborating with farmers from outside to sustain the agricultural sector? How will any agreement on the land-grant (lease) be initiated and concluded to ensure that the beneficiaries are indeed being legally integrated into the Ghanaian system as tenant farmers or owners of land in Ghana? What exactly will be the framework for any transaction of this sort to ensure that the laws of Ghana are not fouled by the government itself, let alone the Punjabi farmers? What will the Punjabi farmers be producing in Ghana that the local Ghanaian farmers cannot? Is it rice, millet, sorghum, soya beans, maize, or what? Cotton? Alfalfa? Aloe vera? What at all is it that the Punjabi farmers can do that our Ghanaian farmers cannot? And is it bringing in these Punjabi farmers that will motivate our local farmers to enter into competitive farming? Who bears the cost of bringing in and equipping these Punjabi farmers?

The problem in Ghana is not about over-abundance of farmland but not knowing how to help farmers use the fertile lands for increased food production.

From here

Ebola - The Blame is Capitalism

The outbreak of one of the most lethal strain in the family of Ebola viruses has been blamed for the deaths of 729 people and has left over 1,300 people with confirmed or suspected infections.

Dr. Margaret Chan, the W.H.O. director general said, “If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.” Dr. Chan said that the virus seemed to be spreading in ways never seen before. “It is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel.” In its early stages Ebola’s symptoms are very similar to influenza and hard to detect. Fortunately, the disease differs from the flu in that it cannot be transmitted through the air, but instead requires some exposure to bodily fluids.

Professor John Ashton, the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, Britain's leading public health doctor, wrote  “ We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research on treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don't justify the investment. This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of a moral and social framework." Professor Ashto said "The real spotlight needs to be on the poverty and environmental squalor in which epidemics thrive and the failure of political leadership and public health systems to respond effectively. The international community has to be shamed into real commitment... if the root causes of diseases like Ebola are to be addressed."

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Fact of the Day

The gross domestic product for all of Kenya is smaller than the size of the economy in Madison, the state capital of Wisconsin.

While the amount of electricity used on game night at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium is equal to that consumed country-wide in Liberia.

What won't be talked about

Many countries the United States allies in Africa are corrupt, repressive tyrants.  By lavishing billions of dollars in military and development aid on African states while failing to promote justice, democracy and the rule of law, American policies have fostered a culture of abuse. Washington hosts the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week when nearly 50 African heads of state and government will gather.

 Justice and the rule of law aren’t on the agenda. Instead, the meeting will focus largely on the economic potential that Africa offers America. Sen. Christopher A. Coons , who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs, noted that the United States still has strong ties based on years of development assistance. “I think history will show Africa is the continent of the greatest opportunity this century,” Coons said. “We have a moment that is passing us by, and we should build on these relationships.” The event is, in fact, a sprawling networking affair that will bring together foreign dignitaries, American and African CEOs, policymakers and activists for several days of business deals and panel discussions, as well as private dinners and at least one dance party. There are close to 100 side events, on top of a three-day formal conference that includes one day solely devoted to business issues. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who will lead the business segment along with former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg , is slated to announce new deals between the United States and Africa totaling $1 billion. Rep. Gregory Meeks, who is co-chairing a reception in the Capitol on Monday night, said his goal is “to have some real deals that are cut” before the guests polish off their appetizers and drinks at his event. Business leaders are intensely focused on the summit. The chief executives of Coca-Cola, General Electric and other major firms will be in town, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hosting 11 heads of state in seven separate events.

The American-supported United Nations Mission in South Sudan launched a nation-building program, with about $1 billion in annual financing.  Just weeks after South Sudan’s independence, ethnic conflicts over cattle and grazing land broke out in Jonglei State. When massacres ensued, allegedly abetted by government security forces, the United Nations Mission failed to publicize government abuses or demand a response from President Salva Kiir. The United Nations was also largely silent when Mr. Kiir dismissed his cabinet and vice president in July 2013. When members of the South Sudanese armed forces began massacring Nuer soldiers and civilians in Juba last December, it’s little wonder that civil war followed.

In Africa’s richest country, Nigeria, corruption and mismanagement have left many people reliant upon $600 million in annual American aid. For years, Boko Haram has been committing atrocities across the country, including the April abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. Initially, however, the group was just one of many calling for Islamic law to cleanse Nigeria of corruption. Then, in 2009, its founder and leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was arrested and executed after clashes with the police. Hundreds of others were subsequently arrested and killed by government security forces on suspicion of links to the group. This only intensified support for Boko Haram, even as it grew increasingly violent. If American and other Western leaders had urged Nigeria to respect the rule of law when it first engaged with Boko Haram, the sect might have eschewed such savagery.

 Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his henchmen have conned the West out of billions of foreign aid dollars, using these funds to rig elections, torture critics and perhaps worse. The Ugandan Army needlessly prolonged the war against rebel leader Joseph Kony, commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, while looting its own bloated defense budget. Uganda supported some of the rebels responsible for mass murder and rape in Democratic Republic of Congo; the Ugandan Army also stole up to $10 billion worth of timber, minerals and elephant tusks from that country, according to the International Court of Justice. The Ugandan Army’s backing of President Kiir in the South Sudanese civil war has almost certainly prolonged that conflict. Ugandans serving in the American-supported African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia even reportedly sold guns to the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab. Museveni has so prodigiously looted American aid, mainly earmarked for public health, that rates of malaria are now significantly higher than they were in the 1990s. Women at Mulago Hospital, Uganda’s largest, are more likely to die in childbirth today than they were during Idi Amin’s presidency in the 1970s. Some critics of Museveni’s government languish in jails where, their lawyers say, they are tortured or killed. The Obama administration is ignoring graver abuses stemming from Mr. Museveni’s long assault on the rule of law.

 Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya are also imperiled by a culture of impunity.

From here