Sunday, June 29, 2008

African youth don't matter to Tobacco barons i

A British tobacco giant is breaking its own marketing code covering the sale of cigarettes to young people in Africa.
An investigation for the BBC has found evidence in Nigeria, Malawi and Mauritius of rules being broken.
The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that the number of smoking-related deaths in Africa is 100,000 a year, but that that figure is set to double in the next 20 years.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Profits before democracy

London-based mining giant Anglo American has defended plans to develop a platinum mine in Zimbabwe. The project in the central district of Unki would be worth about $400m (£200m) and would be Zimbabwe's largest foreign investment

Analysts said that Anglo American's move was driven by a desire to boost profits, as demand for commodities grew and rivals stepped up competition for resources in Africa - including firms from China. The increased demand for platinum, used in the electronics industry and in catalytic converters for cars, has caused world prices for the metal to soar.

We have reported previously on Anglo-Americans greed and are not surprised they ignore political advice
"Where businesses are helping the Zimbabwean regime, they should reconsider their position now," Prime Minister Gordon Brown told MPs on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Whale of a Lie

Socialist Banner has previously reported on hw fishing crisis around the African coast and another story has come to our attention .A coalition of conservation groups and a leading fisheries scientist have accused Japan of damaging the fisheries interests of poorer countries.
They say Japan promotes the argument that whales are responsible for declining fish stocks in order to boost support for whale hunting.

Daniel Pauly, director of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, said there was abundant evidence that whales are not behind the decline in fish stocks.
"Blaming whales is an issue that is not only false - whales are no more responsible than the Martians - but which prevents the very small resources of West African countries from being devoted to understanding the real reasons why their fisheries are declining," he said.

Some developing countries, notably along the west coast of Africa, have seen stocks fall abruptly as fleets from Europe and East Asia have moved either legally or illegally into grounds that had previously been the preserve of small scale local fishermen. But some of these countries evidently believe the fish are disappearing largely because whales are eating them , diverting from the real cause of he depleion of fish stocks .

The Pew Environment Group said Japan has been raising the issue "to scare and recruit countries into supporting its move to end the whaling moratorium."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marketing Poverty

From the fraternal blog Reasons to be Impossible

So according to the FAO:
Per capita food production has declined in Africa for the past 30 years and farm productivity in Africa is just one-quarter the global average. Today, more than 200 million people are chronically hungry in the region, and 33 million children under age five are malnourished.and we hear from the BBC, Kofi Annan:
Attending the Rome conference in his new role as the chair of Agra, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, he said the African farmer was the only farmer in the world that still took all the risks, often operating without financial support, expertise or safety nets. AGRA makes an interesting point:
Markets can play an important role in improving the incomes of poor farmers. However, markets in Africa are generally poorly organised and volatile, and often inaccessible to small-scale farmers. Also lacking is the market information that farmers need to negotiate good prices for their produce. Even such basic information as current wholesale and retail prices is rarely available. Therefore, building efficient and well-integrated input markets (through which farmers can buy supplies), and output markets (enabling farmers to sell their harvest) is key to encouraging farmers’ adoption of sustainable agricultural technologies.

All of which is to highlight two things - firstly, that most of the world does not play by market rules when it comes to food - food security is national security, and security of food prices stabilises labour markets (food soars, we strike).

Secondly, the state of Africa's markets shows that people left to themselves do not just create functional markets.

Now, I seem to recall reading one African post-liberation leader, discussing how traditional African nmarkets were inherently socialist (I can't remember who) - but the fact of the matter is that the sharing of information is a necessary prelude to socialism - if, as I heard on the radio last night, after a bit of investment Malawi has trebled its food output, there is reason to hope that this programme will work, and the horror of starvation may be obliterated. but, mark you, it isn't sponanteous markets that will be doing the work, but conscious investment, and co-operation. The capital markets have failed in Africa.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

From a Zambian comrade

Two contributions from comrade Kephas Mulenga in Zambia:


Becoming a member of the WSM entails the acceptance of the class struggle—political
consciousness envisages working class political solidarity. But must a member of the
WSM participate in trade unions?

It is empirically justified that a working class person must join a trade union in
order to improve his working conditions.

The moral principle of trade unionism is labour arbitration and not class antagonism
as such. Trade unionism intensifies economic and labour reforms and this restrains
working class political solidarity. It is the case that a member of the WSM needs
not to participate in a trade union or labour movement…because trade unions restrain
working class political solidarity. Because the working class has not yet achieved
its emancipation from the limiting conditions of wage employment, we must expect
that a member of the WSM may find it socially unjustified not to participate in a
trade union in the sense that the moral principle of trade unionism is labour
arbitration and not political revolution as such.

We are of the opinion that trade unions are not vehicles of working class political
solidarity otherwise than as movements of labour arbitration.

In Africa trade unions have become a vital source of class pressure. It is a fact
that trade unions in Africa are controlled by political charlatans—they tend to be
more politically vocal. It is my contention that a member of the WSM in Africa must
not underestimate the significance of racial and cultural prejudices (nationalism)
that remain to transcend all political and class barriers.


The political subject of scientific socialism is conceived as an intellectual and
theoretical detachment. Thus the definition of class struggle and revolution remains
so much exaggerated in situations where the political subject of scientific
socialism remains so far removed from the entrenched political and academic
conventions. It may come to pass that working class political consciousness is not
so much politicised in Africa today. What I am trying to emphasise is the fact that
working class self-consciousness has not yet attained its political and social
emancipation from the limiting cultural and tribal prejudices (nationalism).

Nationalism is a cultural and political limitation in as much as African economic
underdevelopment comes to presuppose racial and cultural antagonism between Africa
and Europe. Thus the dilemma of African economic underdevelopment comes to be
conceived through racial prejudice—black consciousness is the language of African
nationalism. The extent to which the working class in Africa can achieve its social
and political emancipation may come to depend upon the existing historical
conditions. Socialism can only be realised in conditions where the working class has
achieved its emancipation from the limiting political and cultural limitations.
Though we may take it for granted African economic underdevelopment is a direct
product of European neo-colonialism, yet we are ready to point out that nepotism,
tribalism and corruption are also contributing to African economic underdevelopment.
Political independence in African was a hybrid of bourgeois black nationalism and
not of peasant revolution as such.

The fact is that Africa will never attain its economic development from within the
existing mode of capitalistic economic and production relations based upon the
exploitation of man by man.