Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Legalities in Kenya

The Berlin Conference of 1885 imposed formality on Europe's Scramble for Africa, designating the 250,000 sq miles chunk from the Indian Ocean to beyond Lake Victoria as British East Africa. Today, it forms Kenya and Uganda. The Scottish ship-owner William Mackinnon set up the Imperial British East Africa Company and established trading activities. High taxes, low wages and hardship after the First World War politicised a generation of would-be Kenyans. By the Second World War, Kenya was of strategic importance for campaigns against Italian forces. Nearly 100,000 black soldiers, askaris, fought for Britain in the King's African Rifles. At the end of the war they wanted to keep their improved status, and became a vanguard for African nationalism. Jomo Kenyatta demanded a political voice for Africans. He would go to prison for leading the Mau Mau uprising which began in 1952 and in 1963 Kenyatta's Kenyan African National Union formed the first government.

Trade between the Kenya and the UK grew to £1bn last year and the UK is the largest single foreign investor with projects totalling £2bn and around 70 companies involved. Britain's strategic alliance with Kenya extends not only to trade but also to ever-closer military and security links. Kenya is the centre for security operations by the UK against the Islamist al-Shabaab group in neighbouring Somalia. The British military teams sent to train Somali forces (as part of the strategy to build up security in countries facing insurgencies) will have their logistical support base in the country. One of the British Army's main exercise areas overseas used by 10000 personnel a year is also in Kenya and is used by brigades in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

The coming elections in Kenya are causing major consternation in London. Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo, is running neck and neck with Raila Odinga, his main opponent, in the polls. Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity being accused of orchestrating the violence which left 1,300 people dead during the last elections in 2007. The UK's position is that it will have nothing but the most "essential" contact with someone in that position. The British Government, itself, is embroiled in a legal case for gross violations of Kenyan human rights before Kenyan independence in 1963 which it does not reject but a case they tried to evade on legal technicalities.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wasteful capitalism

Food grown by Kenyan farmers is rejected by UK supermarkets due to cosmetic imperfections. Some of this unwanted produce is sold on the local market or donated, but the quantities are so large that local markets cannot handle the volume and so much of it is either left to rot or fed to livestock - prompting resentment amongst Kenyan farmers who must bear the costs themselves.

 "It's a scandal that so much food is wasted in a country with millions of hungry people; we found one grower supplying a UK supermarket who is forced to waste up to 40 tonnes of vegetables every week, which is 40 per cent of what he grows," protested Tristram Stuart, food waste author.

In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption. This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.

A maize small-holder farmer in Southeast Asia may lose up to 30 percent of his crop each year to mold, rodents, and insects due to a lack of dry storage equipment. A vegetable farmer in India may lose the same percentage of her crop due to deficiencies in cold storage infrastructure, such as facilities to sort out the food and store it and keep it fresh. A rice farmer in Vietnam may lose grain at multiple steps between harvest and market. That person may lose a bit at harvest, a bit more at storage, and even more during transportation. Each of these steps may lead to only a small percentage in grain loss. But those losses add up. The rice farmer may be looking at anywhere between 10 and 37 percent in losses by the time the grain reaches the marketplace.

You have farmers in developing countries that often do not have a fast and dependable way to get food to the consumer. You have inefficient transportation due to lack of roads or poor quality transport vehicles that pose numerous challenges for moving fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food from farm to market. In most of the world, in fact, refrigerated vehicles are not available or practical. You have produce moved in open, un-refrigerated trucks, leading to food loss, infestation, and contamination well before it reaches its destination.

Access to processing and storage equipment is also lacking. Unless equipment is manufactured locally, farmers can have a hard time finding what they need in the domestic market. Processing equipment that can dry high protein beans and legumes or turn soy beans into soy milk greatly transforms and extends the life of a product, as well as to increase its value, but is not always available or even affordable to smallholder farmers. In many developing countries, even if equipment is available, without accessible maintenance services and spare parts, this equipment may not be useful long-term.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

South Africa's Capitalism

An excellent analysis of South Africa and the ANC from the anarchist organisation Zabalaza
The African National Congress represents primarily the interests of both the emergent black capitalists and of the (largely black) state managerial elite. Despite the myth of common black interests, the black elite is anti-working class. The ANC is undeniably full of factions but these conflicts have nothing to do with real political divisions or principles; they arise from vicious elite competition for access to the wealth and power provided by high state office itself, like access to tenders. Given the powerful hold of (largely white-run) conglomerates in the private sector, naturally the emergent black elite must rely primarily on state office for enrichment and accumulation. But the state has only so much space – thus the viciousness of the conflicts, paralleling the viciousness of corporate clashes. The ANC is key to getting office, so this translates into a struggle within the ANC. The system generates the ANC factions, and the factions are no threat to the system: these are tertiary contradictions, equivalent to boardroom fights in private companies.

At the heart of the new South Africa is a balance between two ruling class sectors based on mutual dependence: the (largely black) state elite and the (largely white) private corporate elite, allied against the (largely black) working class (as well the Coloured, Indian and white working class). The state elite needs capital accumulation to fund and arm itself; the private elite needs the state’s power to maintain capital accumulation. The ruling class has two wings: private capitalists centred on means of production in corporations, and state managers, centred on means of administration and coercion in the state. The two are bound by common interests, but neither the mere tool of the other.  The mutual interests of the two ruling class sectors are profound. They are concretely expressed in a shared programme of South African expansionism, working class containment and neo- liberalism, exemplifying the primary contradictions between the ruling class and the working class.

Each wields highly centralised resources, via the state bureaucracy, including state companies on the one hand and large private conglomerates on the other. In South Africa, by 1981, the state and eight private companies held 70% of the total assets of the top 138 companies; today, 10 companies control 50% of Johannesburg Securities Exchange capitalisation, matching state monopolies in electricity, rail and so on. There is also a powerful, wealthy black elite centred on the state, wielding an Africanised army and police; and the state bureaucracy, perhaps 30% of the economy through the state, which owns banks, Eskom, harbours, rail, transport, mass media, the weapons industry and South African Airways, plus 25% of all land (including 55% in the provinces of Gauteng and the Western Cape).So “inseparable” are they that the corporate elite uses its private wealth to access state power, and the state elite uses its state power to access private wealth. Both ruling class wings share lives of privilege and power: for example, the top 15 earners in South African state companies got R103 million annually (2010), in a country where 50% of the people get 8% of national income. The ANC government is allied to big business, and the state elite does not represent “the people”, but its own class interests.

Despite (white) corporate hesitancy on BEE, around a quarter of JSE-listed company directorships are held by people of colour, with the proportion of senior managers in the private sector at 32.5% (2008). The top 20 richest in South Africa (using disclosed share data) include old white money, like the Oppenheimers, and new black money, like billionaires Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe and Lazarus Zim. Combined with the 25%+ of the economy under state control, it is clear the black elite is far from economically powerless, and it is a myth that the “means of production” are all in white hands, or that the ruling class is mainly white. The ruling class is more than just the capitalists, and not all capitalists are white. However, as the JSE figures show, the private sector remains dominated by white capitalists, just like the state sector remains dominated by black state managers. This is the basic division in the ruling class, generating secondary contradictions.

Not every black is poor; not every white rich. Class is the fundamental mediator. Obviously all whites – including the white working class – benefited from apartheid, and this has had long-term effects. But white South Africa was (and is) deeply divided by class, often violently: consider the strikes of 1913, 1922, 1942, 1979. Meanwhile, under apartheid there was a powerful, if subordinate, black elite with state power, notably through the homelands: consider Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana and Bantu Holomisa of Transkei. Today, hundreds of thousands of poor whites live in squatter and trailer camps, while state-led BEE means that a small black elite trades on its race “as a means of justifying entitlement”. No country, not even South Africa, has ever featured universal white privilege and universal black oppression.

The ANC state, despite its talk of national liberation, is an obstacle to the full emancipation of the working class because, first, the state/corporate elite can only exist through the domination/exploitation of the working class in general, through perpetuating poverty, subordination and authoritarianism. And secondly, the conditions of the black, Coloured and Indian working class are deeply marked by an apartheid/colonial legacy in education, housing, health, transport and land that cannot be removed within capitalism or the state system, but only through a society of self-managed, participatory, planned production and distribution for needs, not profit and power, and the abolition of social and economic inequality.

The black elite have achieved their national liberation with the capture of state power; it is now an obstacle to the complete national liberation of the black, Coloured and Indian working class – and of the full freedom of the white working class too. Black nationalism, the official ANC ideology, speaks of a single black interest; it covers the reactionary black elite in the flags of suffering and of struggle. It is mistaken to keep reverting to the easy (but always flawed) black nationalist politics of the 1980s to try and understand the 2000s. Black (like white) nationalism was always flawed, was always an obstacle to completing the national liberation struggle of the black, Coloured and Indian working class. To continue to use nationalist politics is disempowering, confusing and positively harmful. It ignores class, creates illusions in the ANC and disguises the true nature of the black elite. And most dangerously, it easily translates itself into direct racism against the minorities – Coloureds, Indians, whites and immigrant blacks – who make up at least 25% of the population. Cosatu suggests that the ANC is the party with a “working class bias” and the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) a party of “big capital”, but the ANC openly backs “big capital” and its leaders include billionaires like Ramaphosa and Sexwale, and multi-millionaires like Malema and Jacob Zuma. Moreover, “big capital” contributes heavily to the ANC coffers because, as Zuma admits, “investing in the ANC … is good value for your money”. The DA is really a coalition of minority voters, small business and white conservatives, with no serious buy-in by “big capital” outside the Western Cape. The ANC has no “working class bias”, as Cosatu insists but is a party of the ruling class and its “class bias” is against the working class.

Some Trotskyists claim  the ANC government is the tool of big business, either by being bribed (the “sold out its principles” theory), or by having no choice (the “victim” theory). The “sold out” theory’s flaw is that the ANC has never been anti-capitalist, nor for radical change; it has betrayed nothing. Its aim was only the end of apartheid, not socialism. The victim theory’s flaw is that the ANC state wields enormous power through its control of the armed forces and state bureaucracy. It is precisely because of its autonomous power base that it enacts measures (violation punishable by law) like affirmative action/tendering and other BEE measures, and defies private corporate opinion on a host of issues such as foreign policy. The ANC often blames “globalisation” for unpopular choices when speaking to the unions, but let us not conflate useful alibis with the facts.

The ANC is a top-down party, run by small cabals of the rich and powerful with enormous state and corporate resources, the prospect of Cosatu calling them to account is less than zero. Rather the ANC uses Cosatu (and the SACP) to extend the power of a hostile state against the working class itself. Measures to undermine the working class include the direct co-optation of leaders into top ANC government positions, institutions that systematically bureaucratise the unions like the corporatist National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and political manipulation through a pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric that presents the ANC as a movement of the black poor. Two examples suffice: former Cosatu general secretary Sam Shilowa rocketed through the ANC to become a wine-collecting multi-millionaire [33]; SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande was rewarded for his Zuma support with a ministerial job, immediately buying a R1.2 million German luxury car.

The ANC retains a mass working class base; let us have no illusions, nor engage in the fantasy that widespread township protests over the last 10 years are a “general urban uprising” against the government. True ANC membership is only 700 000, compared to five million in unions, and true, only 25% of the eligible voting age population votes ANC. However, the ANC faces no serious political rivals. Low votes are mainly due to people not voting in ANC township strongholds, not widespread political opposition. Where left-wing movements run candidates, like Operation Khanyisa Movement (OKM), these are regularly defeated. So long as the political subordination of the working class to the ANC, and therefore to the ruling class, continues, the working class is trapped. It is necessary to reject the notion that spontaneous and militant actions are inherently radical, or that a revolution can happen spontaneously. This is not true. Unless the masses have a revolutionary vision, they will simply repeat the errors of the past years, the error of putting our fate into the hands of new masters. That is precisely why Malema could use the poor’s frustration to promote an elite agenda, precisely why Zuma could ride Cosatu frustration to the presidency. No revolutionary ideas, no revolution.

The legacy of apartheid cannot be eradicated under capitalism and the state in present conditions but as part of the project of constructing a self-managed planned economy, a universal and international federation of humanity. 

Full article here

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Africa - Bread-basket - not Basket-case

Africa’s classic depiction in the mainstream media is a giant basketcase full of endless war, famine and helpless children creates an illusion of a continent utterly dependent on Western handouts. In fact, the precise opposite is true – it is the West that is reliant on African handouts.

The role for which Africa has been ascribed by the masters of the Western capitalist economy is as a supplier of cheap resources and cheap labour. And keeping this labour, and these resources, cheap depends primarily on one thing: ensuring that Africa remains underdeveloped and impoverished. If it were to become more prosperous, wages would rise; if it were to become more technologically developed, it would be able to add value to its raw materials through the manufacturing process before exporting them, forcing up the prices paid. Meanwhile, extracting stolen oil and minerals depends on keeping African states weak and divided. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example – whose mines produce tens of billions of mineral resources each year – were only, in one recent financial year, able to collect a paltry $32million in tax revenues from mining due to the proxy war waged against that country by Western-backed militias.

Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo are ravaged by armed militias who steal the country’s resources and sell them at sub-market prices to Western companies, with most of these militias run by neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi who are in turn sponsored by the West, as regularly highlighted in UN reports. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the pitifully low prices paid both for African raw materials and for the labour that mines, grows or picks them, which effectively amount to an African subsidy for Western living standards and corporate profits.

Developing Algeria as a major natural gas exporter is an economic and strategic imperative for EU countries as North Sea production of the commodity enters terminal decline in the next decade. Algeria is already an important energy supplier to the Continent, but Europe will need expanded access to natural gas to offset the decline of its indigenous reserves. British and Dutch North Sea gas reserves are estimated to run out by the end of the decade, and Norway’s to go into sharp decline from 2015 onwards. With Europe fearful of overdependence on gas from Russia and Asia, Algeria – with reserves of natural gas estimated at 4.5 trillion cubic metres, alongside shale gas reserves of 17 trillion cubic meters – will become essential

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Paying Royalties

A government official confirmed South Africa’s 10 kings are each getting a salary of R1m a year as well as many other benefits and subsidie.

 10 kings, 829 senior traditional leaders and 5 311 chiefs had been paid over R650m over the past year. Each province determined what benefits and other subsidies were paid in addition to that.

 KZN last year paid R59m for Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini and his royal household, which included 27 children. Zwelethini also asked for an additional R18m to build a palace for the youngest of his six wives. He and his entourage spend more than R800 000 a month on travelling, for the hire of private jets and helicopters when the king was criss-crossing the province to perform his duties.

The Eastern Cape’s four kings each got a brand new Mercedes-Benz ML 320CDI of about R703 000 in the past year.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sweet Profits

Associated British Foods, one of Britain's biggest multinationals, whose brands include Silver Spoon sugar, Twinings Tea and Kingsmill bread, Primark clothes and Ryvita, is avoiding paying millions of pounds of tax in an African state blighted by malnutrition. It contributed little corporation tax to the state's exchequer between 2007 and 2012, and none at all for two of those years (between 2008 and 2010).  Zambia Sugar,  recently posted record pre-tax profits and its huge plantation is increasing its capacity to produce more sugar for markets in Europe and Africa. Yet it paid less than 0.5% of its $123m pre-tax profits in corporation tax between 2007 and 2012.

The company benefits from generous capital allowance and tax-relief schemes in Zambia including one obtained by taking the Zambian government to court, but the investigation also found that it funnels around a third of its pre-tax profits to sister companies in tax havens, including Ireland, Mauritius and the Netherlands. Tax treaties between Zambia and some of those countries mean the state's revenue authorities are unable to charge their normal tax on money leaving their shores. The tax haven transactions of this one British headquartered multinational deprived Zambia of a sum 14 times larger than the UK aid provided to the country to combat hunger and food insecurity. There is an annual $2.6m payments to an Irish sister company whose accounts have stated that it has no employees. The firm also pays $3m a year to a sister company in Mauritius for access to "trade contacts with customers in the European sugar market, transportation of sugar to Europe, foreign currency management and the availability of cost effective credit terms". Yet when an ActionAid investigator, called the director of the Mauritius holding company and asked how many employees they had, he was told: "One … it's me." ABF says that the fees to Mauritius and Ireland are rolled up into their tax liability in South Africa, where they are taxed at 28%. Yet accounts show that in 2011/12 the entire tax liability in South Africa was $308,000 – the equivalent of just 4% of the $7m fees paid by Zambia Sugar to Ireland and Mauritius.

Its Nakambala Sugar plantation in the Mazabuka district are vital to local livelihoods. The plantation and factory made record profits in 2012 and is expected to exceed 400,000 tonnes of sugar production this year for its Europe and Africa markets. To fund its expansion last year, Zambia Sugar borrowed $70m from two commercial banks. The loan is in the Zambian currency kwacha and secured on Zambia Sugar's estate and assets in Mazabuka, and it is repaid via a Lusaka branch of Citibank Zambia. Yet, on paper, the loan is actually to the Irish subsidiary. Why? ABF told ActionAid: "Interest on loans to Zambia Sugar from such banks would have been subject to [Zambian] withholding tax. The banks would therefore have increased their interest charge to compensate for this."

Zambia Sugar's immediate owner is a Dutch co-operative. The owners of Dutch "cooperatiefs", in this case companies in Mauritius and Jersey, are classed as members rather than shareholders so the income they receive is not classified as taxable dividends. And under this structure Zambia can only apply a 5% tax on the cash leaving its shores, a smaller rate than normal because of a tax treaty between the Netherlands and Zambia.

 Mazabuka's Nakambala Urban health centre say two malnourished children die every month with it. At the school, 1,200 children fit into 12 classrooms in shifts taught by 20 teachers. In Zambia 45% of children are malnourished and two-thirds of the population live on less than $2 a day.

The total loss to tax avoidance by multinationals in the developing world is estimated to be around £70bn a year, enough to save the lives of 85,000 children under the age of five in the world's poorest countries every 12 months, campaigners say.


Saturday, February 02, 2013

Mali: the background

What is now Mali has a long history. The Malinke empire ruled the area from the 12th century to the 15th century. Then, the powerful Songhai empire ruled over the Timbuktu-Gao region. In 1591 Morocco conquered Timbuktu and ruled the city for two centuries. In the 19th century the land became a colony in 1904 (named French Sudan in 1920). In 1946, the land became part of French Union.

Mali, situated in West Africa, lies in the Sahara region. It has a land area of 1,240,000 sq km, which is four-fifths the size of Alaska in the USA. Mali is land-locked and shares a border with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast,  Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. The north has a porous soil and dry weather, while the only fertile soil is in the south where river Niger and Senegal provide water for irrigation. Its natural resources are: cotton, maize, millet, and groundnuts. these crops are mainly produced from the south because of irrigation system around them.

It is estimated that Mali as of 2012 is 15,000,000 people. (growth rate is 2.6 percent) (birth rate is 4.6 percent). Infant mortality rate is 11.36 percent. Life expectancy is 52.1. Density per sq km 10. Mali has about 51 tribes such as Madinka, Bambara, Kunta, Soninke, Arabe, Pere, Sarahule, Bobo, Bozo, Kado, Sawraye Tamachec, Kroloboro, Tuareg, Arabs, etc. As to religion, 90 percent are Muslims, 7 percent Christians and 3 percent animists.
The capital is Bamako with 1,325,300 metropolitan area and the currency is the CFA franc that is used among francophone countries in West Africa.

Mali became independent on 20 June 1960 under the name of Sudanese Republic. This Republic was joined by Senegal in the Mali Federation. However after two months Senegal seceded. As a result the Sudanese Republic changed its name to the current Republic of Mali.

The first President of Mali, Modibo Keita was born to a Madinka Moslem family in Bamako. He took over power as an elected President on independence in 1960.  Keita  introduced a single party state and Pan-Africanism, like other presidents that promoted Pan-Africanism in their various countries:  Azikiwe in Nigeria, Nkrumah in Ghana, Sekou Touré in Guinea-Conakry, Nyerere in Tanzania, and Kenyatta in Kenya.

On 19 November 1968 General Moussa Traroré removed President Keita in a bloodless coup d'état.  He spent some weeks in detention in Kidal in the northern of Mali and died in May 1977. Keita’s death attracted demonstrations that were violent. These were organised by his party and the Madinka ethnic group that felt humiliated and maltreated by General Traroré and his cohorts.

Mali has been on a barrel of gun powder for years since independence. The northern part of the country which is comprised of cities like Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao, Sevare, Tesalit, Djabali, Konne, Mopti, etc, has been protesting to Bamako government about the lack of development in their region. They feel marginalised by the government. Each time they rise up against the government, they are decimated.

In the 1980s the Tuareg rebels were the only force confronting the Bamako government, demanding their independence in the north. But, because the rebels lacked sophisticated weapons to go into full offensive against the Mali regime, the Mali government did not bother to counter them. Northern Mali has been the zone of terrorists for years. There was no border control in the north. Ansar-Dine was formed by a Tuareg rebel called Iyad Ag Ghaly in July last year in order to bring in more jihadist fighters into their region for support to invade northern Mali.

In 2006 the Tuareg rebels looted weapons from the army depot in the town of Kidal for their struggle, but that did not send a signal to Bamako that trouble was on the way. The regime in Bamako has been on soft pedal with the Tuareg because of a lack of weapons to confront them. And the rebels, noticing that the regime was handicapped and incapacitated to confront them, started seeking support from other jihadists from other countries like Boko Haram of Nigeria, Al-shaabab of Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. These terrorists have the common goal to achieve Sharia law in Islamic religion. They are better organised than the government because of their belief in sharia.

In January 2010  an offensive was started by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). The movement assumed momentum after the fall of Gaddafi in Libya in 2011. These terrorists stole many sophisticated weapons from the Gaddafi regime and crossed the desert to start a rebellion in the northern Mali. So these weapons, sold to Libya government by the French government, ended up into the hands of bandits and terrorists.

And to worsen the situation, on 22 March 2012, a group of angry army officers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo did a coup d'état and appeared on television to announce that they had seized control of the country. They said their reason for taking over the country was because, President Dioncounda Traoré was not handling the conflict in the north very well. The coup d'état did not succeed as the military only controls the south of Mali, leaving the north known as Republic of Azawad to MNLA, Ansar-Dine and Al Qaeda terrorists to control. Dioncounda Traoré, who had been forced by the junta to go into hiding, was re-instated. The Tuareg rebels that used to be in control of the north were chased out by MNLA, Ansar-Dine and Al Qaeda Maghreb as they had no weapons to hold on the region.
French and African military intervention

In January the Islamist fighters decided to take more cities from the south in order to build a well-balanced Azawad republic. They captured the central town of Konna and planned to push further south to Bamako. The government of Bamako had no other choice than to ask France for help and Paris responded as a colonial father by sending 550 troops and tanks, at the same time carrying out air strikes on rebel positions in the north.

A rebellion that could have been crushed within one week of its existence stayed ten good months before French intervention and other allied forces such as Nigeria with 1200 soldiers. Other African states such as Benin republic, Niger, Togo, Chad,  and Burkina-Faso also sent troops. Other western countries like USA, Britain, Germany and Belgium are supplying the logistics.

In April 2012, when the jihadists took the north of Mali, they committed human right abuses by amputations, flogging, stoning to death those who oppose their interpretation of Islam. All these severe pains inflicted on innocent people could have been avoided if UN have done their work well. But it is a waste of time for any nation in crisis calling the UN for intervention.

Malians are nice and hardworking people with beautiful music and culture. They welcome and respect people. Malians have nothing, but the little they have are shared among people that is around them, even to a piece of bread. It is callous and total negligence by the entire world that resulted in Malians facing the brutality of the Islamic jihadists.  I am convinced that if Mali had an oil in their soil, a lot of capitalist powers could have gone to Mali a long time ago without waiting for UN security council approval.

On 25 January France promised to give $452 million to the Mali government. How is this money going to help an ordinary citizen of Mali from south to north? A lot of millions have been donated to African leaders by the West. And this money ended up in pockets of individual leaders while the masses are left to rot. If the money given to Mali government passed through the village Alkalis, or village heads, of every community this would help ordinary Malians and mean that they would reject every offer coming from jihadists, be it food or cash.

The jihadists donated some food items to some people in order to win support and it worked for them. They used that trick and won the hearts of some parents who voluntarily gave their children to jihadists as child soldiers. But those that refused to give their children, their children too were forced to join the rebels.

Whatever the French government’s motives for intervening, there can be no doubt that most Malians welcomed it. The spokesperson for Malians living in Orleans, France, Habib Doucouré,  said that were happy with French and African military intervention as it saved Mali from Al Qaeda destruction.

Cebiloan HYACINT, 

We can feed ourselves

 Henri Josserand, a consultant for Food Across Borders, declared the West African sub-region was food self-sufficient despite critical deficit in some regions. He said the sub-region had been able to feed itself over the last 50 years, with no serious increase in the volume of food imported. “Although the population in the region has increased tremendously over the last half-century, so has food production also increased to commensurate the increasing population,” he observed. Josserand is an expert with over 30 years of work in economic development, agricultural and food policy, food security, vulnerability analysis, and early warning systems.

 Food Across Borders is an initiative driven by sub-regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

 40 percent of Nigerians do not have sufficient food on daily basis asserts Professor Babatope  Alabadan of the Federal University of Technology, Minna. The professor of agricultural engineering blamed the food shortages in the country on huge food losses due to inadequate storage facilities. Despite the favourable natural condition for food production in the country, food is still being imported into the country to meet up demand because of huge food losses.