Monday, October 31, 2016

Digest October 2016

Africa's Socialist Banner Digest October 2016

Never-ending conflict

Renewed fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR) has forced more than 20,000 people to flee to a UN base to seek safety and shelter. In northern CAR humanitarian workers have suspended relief efforts in the area, leaving thousands vulnerable. The withdrawal of the World Food Programme because of security concerns will impact about 120,000 people dependent on food supplies, and 35,000 others living precariously in surrounding camps for internally displaced people.

Houses have been razed and three sites for IDPs have been attacked, forcing civilians to seek help at the UN stabilisation mission base (MINUSCA) in the area.

At least 65 people have been killed over the past four weeks in violence across the western, eastern and central parts of the country. Last week, 25 people were killed in two days of violence in and around the town of Bambari. Earlier in the month, 40 people - including three school teachers - were killed when Kaga Bandero town was attacked, allegedly by ex-Seleka rebels. The UN repelled the attack, killing 12 fighters.

ladimir Monteiro, MINUSCA's spokesperson in Bangui, told Al Jazeera the violence over the past month and a half has been perpetuated by "…armed groups who have been manipulated. Some of the actions are being fuelled by politicians who are against the government. Eleven out of the 13 armed groups are in talks with government, but there are others who are looking to create instability in the country," Monteiro said. MINUSCA has been in the spotlight for the past 18 months after scores of allegations of child rape and other sexual abuse by its peacekeepers. French troops have also been accused of committing sexual abuse against civilians, including minors.

Not all the violence was political, with some likely stemming from conflict over cattle.

CAR has struggled with political insecurity ever since the Seleka rebels, a Muslim-led armed group, overthrew the government in a 2003 coup, leading to a series of atrocities and then reprisal attacks by a viglante group called the anti-Balaka, made up of Christian and animist fighters. Both anti-Balaka and Seleka groups have been accused of widespread human rights abuse against civilians, including murder, sexual violence, and mass displacement.  More than 400,000 people have been displaced internally and almost half a million others have fled to neighbouring countries. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to formally end French military intervention, known as Operation Sangaris, that began in December 2013. There are currently 350 French troops in the country. Currently 12,000 peacekeepers operate in CAR.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The famine which isn't a famine

 The ongoing war with Boko Haram that stretches across Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has displaced 2.6 million people, both within national borders and across them. It has also left 6.3 million without enough food. The lack of food is the cumulative impact of three years of lost farming seasons, or of crops and livestock left behind, or looted. It is a consequence of towns and villages cut off by fighting, preventing people from leaving or food from coming in.

For the UN to declare a famine, 20 percent of families in a state or province face extreme food shortages, over 30 percent of the population, must be acutely malnourished and hunger causes two out of every 10,000 people to die every day. For those in north-eastern Nigeria not quite meeting the formal definition of famine, it is nothing short of a disaster.

Médecins Sans Frontières alerted the international community of a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency” in June, they were encountering rates of malnutrition and mortality rates in young children that were consistent with famine conditions in newly accessible towns. About 2.1 million people in Nigeria remain completely cut off from any external assistance because of the conflict. We don’t know what their conditions are like, but the conditions in these newly accessible towns raise grave concerns. People still in inaccessible areas are hardly going to cultivate their way out of hunger: even if people could plant crops, the next harvest is more than 12 months away. So aid supplies and the populations we suspect are in the greatest need remain cut off from one another.

We don’t currently have a defined famine in the Nigerian north east, but it’s hardly the point. We have 65,000 people already experiencing famine conditions, people cut off by violence and more than a million people with severe hunger, and we’re only meeting a fraction of the need.

There’s power in the union

Copper mining remains the dominant economic activity in Zambia, a situation that has not changed since 1928 when large-scale mining was introduced in the country. According to a World Bank report released in June 2015, the sector today accounts for more than sixty-five percent of Zambia’s export earnings and eleven percent of its gross domestic product. The mining sector has also seen the largest number of industrial accidents and fatalities in post-colonial Zambia.

The widespread privatisation of the Zambian copper mining sector in the 1990s led to the (re)emergence of foreign mining companies in the country, including several state-owned companies from China. China’s increasing presence in Zambia has also given rise to a number of concerns. Some Chinese mining companies have been accused of maintaining lax safety standards, paying low wages to local employees—especially if compared to other foreign mining companies—and of physically abusing their workers. For these reasons, critics have accused the Zambian government of weakening its safety standards to attract foreign investors, of failing to monitor compliance with safety and labour laws, and of underfunding local regulators.

These critics allege that this has triggered a ‘race to the bottom’ in labour standards. By ‘race to the bottom’, they refer to a tendency where the government reduces the monitoring and enforcement capacity of public regulatory institutions, or enacts lax safety laws, in order to attract foreign investors. They not only argue that the Zambian government weakens safety standards through funding cuts, but they also claim that current regulatory standards are obsolete and that the government intervenes in the decision-making process of regulators to protect Chinese companies from paying penalties when they fail to comply with local regulations.

In April 2005, fifty-two Zambians were killed in an accident in an explosives factory jointly owned by the Beijing General Institute for Research and Metallurgy (BGRIMM) and the Non-Ferrous China-Africa (NFCA) Mining Company—both state-owned companies—in Chambishi in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province. One year after the accident at the BGRIMM plant, five Zambians were shot and injured by gunshots fired by their Chinese manager while they were protesting against low wages and lax safety standards at the NFCA Chambishi mine. In August 2008, more than five hundred Zambian workers attacked a newly built Chinese-owned Chambishi Copper Smelter and burnt down the kitchen of a Chinese-resident. One Chinese and three Zambians working in the kitchen were seriously injured. The protesters claimed that they had been told that the management was going on vacation and abandoning collective negotiations in which workers had demanded changes in safety standards and a reduction in work hours. In another accident that attracted a lot of media attention in 2010, a Chinese supervisor at the Collum Coal mine in Southern Province shot thirteen Zambians. The workers at the mine were complaining against the state of safety standards in the mines and their low wages. These accidents and protests have raised serious debate about labour and safety standards in Chinese mines in Zambia.

The formulation of safety and labour regulations in Zambia is based on a state/business-centred approach that ignores the role of non-state actors, such as trade unions, mine workers, local NGOs, and international organisations.

A 2011 study by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has highlighted, Chinese mining companies in Zambia still have further reforms to make in order to strengthen their efforts to mitigate accidents. These include improving the safety conditions of workers hired by subcontractors, reducing the number of casual employees, and cutting the number of working hours.

Trade unions have organised protests, and pushed the issue into the public agenda. In response to these protests, some Chinese mining companies have altered their safety policies and normalised their relations with unions. Furthermore, under mounting public pressure, the Zambian government has introduced labour laws and established structures to strengthen its safety regulatory standards in the last decade.

The Billionairess

Isabel dos Santos is the oldest daughter of the Angolan president and is worth some $3.2 billion dollars. She is Africa’s richest woman and has built up a diverse empire, much of it in the capital Luanda. Her businesses range from telecommunications to banks to satellite TV to sports. In all, she owns a large chunk of Luanda's major businesses.

Dos Santos controls Unitel, Angola's largest cell phone company, with 81 stores in the capital alone and over 10 million clients in the country. She owns Candando, the country's first supermarket and has stakes in BIC and BFA banks and in the cement company Nova Cimangola. She heads Angola's state-owned oil giant Sonangol as well as the company-sponsored football club, Petro de Luanda. The list goes on and on.

Dying for a pee

Endlovisi, a vast sprawl of more than 6,600 corrugated iron shacks perched precariously over the sand dunes on the southeastern edge of Cape Town. One of the world's five biggest slumS, the townships of Khayelitsha stretch for miles, a sea of ramshackle wood and iron shacks. The townships are home to nearly 400,000 residents, 99 percent of them black. Part of Khayelitsha, Endlovisi is home to an estimated 20,000 people who share just 380 or so communal toilets.

"Using a toilet in informal settlements is one of the most dangerous activities for residents and women and the children have the biggest problems," said Axolile Notywala, of the Social Justice Coalition (SJO), a campaign group fighting for better sanitation in Cape Town's informal settlements. In 2012 a local man was convicted of multiple counts of child rape and one count of murder between April 2010 and September 2011. The court heard he had lured his victims to the bushes around the settlement before attacking them. The same court will begin a pre-trial hearing of the case against two cousins accused of the murder of Sinoxolo Mafevuka, a Khayelitsha teenager who was found strangled in a communal toilet near her home.

Meaning 'new home', Khayelitsha was established in the mid-1980s during the apartheid era as a vast dormitory for the thousands of workers who moved to Cape Town in search of jobs. When restrictions on the movement of blacks were lifted with the end of apartheid in 1994, hundreds of thousands more Xhosa people from the Eastern Cape poured into the city. Endlovini was born a few years later, in 1997, taking over a swathe of unoccupied hillside land that had been both a nature reserve and public landfill. The community's refusal to be evicted gave the place its name: in the Xhosa language it means both elephant and fierce strength and is officially known as Monwabisi Park.

Khayelitsha's residents' push for better sanitation and security, led by the SJC, has been built on tiny steps - from numbering existing toilets to identify them to the creation of services to clean and maintain them. Padlocks were issued to encourage a sense of ownership of existing toilets but new facilities are desperately needed.

"The city's budget for water and sanitation has decreased again this year...21 per cent of Cape Town's households are informal but they only get one percent of the city's total capital allocation for water and sanitation," the SJO's Notywala said. "The city still relies on offering undignified, inferior, temporary toilets meant for emergencies as long term solutions."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The rich continent

Africa is full of promise and untapped riches - from oil and minerals and land to vast amounts of people capital - yet, it has struggled since colonial times to truly realise its potential.Africa is home to more than 40 different nations, and around 2,000 languages. It is rich in oil and natural resources and it has approximately 30 percent of the earth's remaining mineral resources. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits; the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore; and resources such as coltan, gold, and copper, among many others, are abundant on the continent. It is the world's fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Tragedy of Refugees the past seven years, the militant group Boko Haram has set about destroying communities, schools and health facilities in northeast Nigeria and has used sexual violence and the kidnapping of women and girls to terrorize the population. At least 20,000 people have been killed, and an estimated 2.5 million people have been displaced.

Amid the carnage, communities have been unable to tend to their land and multiple harvests have failed. Hunger has taken over. Children and adults have wasted to death. The United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF warned that 75,000 children could die this year without a major aid effort in northeast Nigeria. Aid has been slow to reach people in the region. Some Nigerians fear corrupt local officials are diverting resources from people in need. The international aid system was slow to recognize the scale of the crisis and has not yet cranked into full gear. Ongoing fighting has complicated the effort – the U.N. estimates that 2 million people remain inaccessible to aid agencies.

In Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, families continue to pour out of their destroyed homes and villages, seeking sanctuary, food and medical care. Maiduguri’s population has almost doubled in size to more than 2 million people in recent years. There are 11 official and unofficial camps for people who have been displaced across Maiduguri.  Even after they escaped fighting for the relative safety of the camps, the threat of violence and sexual assault continues to cast a long shadow over women’s lives. Most of the displacement camps are surrounded by the Nigerian military. Men carrying weapons are visible inside the camps, likely members of a civilian militia that is armed by authorities. People displaced from areas taken by Boko Haram have been met with suspicion in Maiduguri. Local authorities have openly fanned fears that the displaced population may have radicalized Boko Haram sympathizers in their midst. The militant group’s repeated use of women and girls as suicide bombers has roused the fears of the local population. Local officials describe women freed from Boko Haram control as a security risk, some claiming that is impossible to ensure that the camps for the displaced have not been “infiltrated” by “the wives of Boko Haram.” When people in Borno refer to “wives,” it is a euphemism for rape and sexual slavery. While it is possible that some women have voluntarily joined or married fighters, most survivors describe forced marriage and horrific sexual violence, including rapes by multiple men.

“Unspeakable things start happening to girls from the age of 12,” Amina, a 15-year-old girl from Bama who recently gave birth to her first child, said in a maternity clinic on the outskirts of Maiduguri. Women who became pregnant while in Boko Haram captivity have been particularly shunned by local communities.

Aisha, a mother of five, described fleeing her home in Mafa when Boko Haram militants attacked two years ago.
 “They came like wildfire to burn and loot our homes – they showed us no mercy, no mercy at all,” she says. “I picked up my children and ran and have been running since then.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Congo Slavery

In a study of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by Kevin Bales, a professor of Contemporary Slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the UK, writes, arguing that in the wake of armed conflict,“Slavery never happens in isolation. A perfect storm of lawlessness, slavery, and environmental destruction can occur—driving the vulnerable into slave-based work that feeds into global supply chains and the things we buy and use in our daily lives."

Bales explains:
In the past twenty years, this perfect storm has hit the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A war that erupted in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide spread across the region, bringing collapse to the Congo’s ruling dictatorship, invasion by surrounding nations, and a sharp rise in slavery and sexual violence. The armed groups that grabbed parts of the eastern provinces were not there for political or religious reasons, but to steal and sell valuable minerals and other natural resources. Lacking mining technology, but heavily armed, these criminal groups enslaved thousands of local people.

These slaves were forced to cut protected virgin forests, level mountains, spoil streams and rivers with great open-strip mines, and massacre rare and endangered species like gorillas. The minerals these slaves dug, processed and then carried on their backs to smuggle them out of the country flowed into our lives. For these slave-based, environmentally-destructive minerals are essential to making cell phones, computers, and the thousands of other electronic devices that surround us every day.

Closing down slave-based logging, brick-making, mining, or charcoal production will not hurt our lifestyles or the global economy," he concludes. "What it will do is get people out of slavery and slow global warming and climate change—a classic win-win situation."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Changing the land...not changing lands

 nabadiyocaano - ‘peace and milk’
col iyoabaar - ‘conflict and drought’
Somali proverbs

The world’s drought-prone and water scarce regions are often the main sources of refugees. With as many as 170 countries affected by drought or desertification, up to 135 million people are at risk of distressed migration as a result of land degradation in the next 30 years, says the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Droughts are natural phenomena, they are not fated to lead to forced migration and conflict. But neither desertification nor drought on its own causes conflict or forced migration. Severe droughts occur in countries like Australia and the United States, but government intervention has made these experiences bearable. For poor countries where safety nets do not exist.

In Mali, for example, unpredictable and decreasing rainfall seasons have led to a decline in harvests. More and more herders and farmers’ are moving into cities searching for employment. In Bamako, Mali’s capital, population in just over 20 years has grown from 600,000 to roughly   2 million with living conditions becoming more precarious and insecure. As Lagos fills up with those fleeing desertification in rural northern Nigeria, its population now 10 million. Disillusioned, unemployed youth are easy prey for smugglers, organised drug and crime cartels, even for Boko Haram.

Pastoralists face similar challenges when they are compelled to move beyond their accepted boundaries in search of water and pasture and risk clashing with other populations unwilling to share resources. Clashes between pastoralists and farmer are a serious challenge for governments in Somalia, Chad and Niger.

The Great Green Wall of the Sahara  seeks to restore degraded lands and create green jobs in the land-based sectors. The Great Man-Made River project was also a promising initiative. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The robber barons

According to World Bank estimates from household surveys, the share of people in Africa living on less than $1.90 a day fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012.
However, there were many more poor people in Africa in 2012 than in 1990 (more than 330m, up from about 280m), as a result of rapid population growth.

Africa will not meet the Millennium Development Goal target of halving poverty by 2015 and projections are that the world’s poor will be increasingly concentrated in Africa. Of the 10 most unequal countries in the world today, seven are in Africa.

Despite the increase in school enrollment, more than two out of five adults are still unable to read or write, and the quality of education is very low. About three-quarters of sixth graders in Malawi and Zambia cannot read for meaning, providing just one example of the school quality challenge.
But almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out of the over 668 universities in Africa yearly end up unemployed.

Africa is not poor. Africa is a rich continent. She is the world's most resource-rich continent with 50 percent of gold, 55 percent of diamonds, 96 percent of oil, 40 percent of hydroelectric power potential and millions of hectares of arable lands. Africa is not only rich in natural resources but also in human capacity, which are its true riches in this twenty-first century. Across the length and breadth of the continent are vast potentials and budding talents of young people which when effectively harnesses and developed, would give impetus to Africa's social, economic and political efforts. The youth of Africa forms the generation of hope for Africa's development.

Africa is a rich continent led by greedy and covetous leaders. They grab all that there is but are not satisfied; they come to power broke but by the time they leave office they have amassed immeasurable wealth for themselves. Billions of dollars of public funds continue to be stashed away by some African leaders while schoolchildren have neither books nor desks nor teachers. Our people live in poverty, our hospitals are very poorly equipped and staffed, our teeming youths have no jobs and our roads are crumbling. Our greedy leaders have no care for the common people. They misuse funds, hide more in Swiss and other banks leaving the masses to suffer in absolute poverty. It is only greed that will make African politicians divert public funds meant for development into their personal bank accounts to build mansions and buy luxury cars.

X-cluded from X-Rays

The World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the planet does not have access to basic radiology services: simple x-rays, which can show a cracked bone or lung infection, and ultrasounds, which use sound waves to picture a growing fetus, track blood flow, or guide a biopsy.

 In a country of 43 million, Kenya only has 200 radiologists; Massachusetts General, in Boston, has 126. 

Liberia currently has two radiologists.

There are more radiologists working in the four teaching hospitals on Longwood Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts, than there are in all of West Africa.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stop the Rape

The United Nations is calling for the end of "widespread impunity" for sex attackers in Liberia where up to three quarters of all women and girls have been raped. Investigators said the high rates of sexual assault in Liberia were part of the legacy of the West African nation’s two civil wars, which ran from 1989 to 2003. Between 61 per cent and 77 per cent of all woman and girls in the country were raped during the conflict, according to previous research by the World Health Organisation.

A new report found that children under the age of five were among those sexually attacked last year in Liberia, where the vast majority of documented rape victims are minors. Of rapes documented by the UN in Liberia in 2015, almost 80 per cent of victims were under the age of 18, including at least five girls under the age of five. Despite more than 800 reported rapes, only 34 convictions were made for the crime in 2015, with officials warning that the assaults are vastly underreported due to widespread stigma and discrimination against victims. A report by the UN Mission in Liberia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said rape has become the second-most reported serious crime in the country.

Victims face challenges at every step of the process if they attempt to hold their assailants criminally accountable. Families are frequently put under pressure to settle cases out of court, while most perpetrators are men known to victims as either community members or relatives, meaning women fear reporting rape over the fear of reprisals or social “shame”.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The need for union unity

Namibia has more than 40 registered unions and three union federations - the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) and the recently formed Namibian National Labour Organization (Nanlo).

Of these three, only one - the NUNW has bargaining powers - while the other two can only endorse whatever would have been agreed on, although this does not happen quite often.

Nantu is affiliated to NUNW but there is another - the Teachers Union of Namibia - that is affiliated to Tucna. The two do not sit together to plan on how best they can represent teachers. Likewise, public servants are represented by Namibia Public Workers’ Union that is affiliated to NUNW and the Public Service Union of Namibia that is under Tucna.

The division in the labor movement is largely political. The NUNW is linked the ruling party Swapo. It was formed in 1970 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania during the liberation war. NUNW is affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Union (WTFU). Some of its affiliates are the Namibian Food and Allied Workers union (Nafawu), the Namibian Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natawu), the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), and the Mineworkers Union of Namibian (MUN).

Tucna was formed as a merger between two major legislative organizations namely the Namibia Federation of Trade Unions (NAFTU) and Namibia People’s Social Movement (NPSM) in May 2002. Tucna is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Nanlo was formed about two years ago by the former NUNW general secretary Evilastus Kaaronda. Just like the other two, Nanlo also has affiliates have members drawn from the same constituencies.

Already these powerful affiliates, despite representing same constituencies and harboring same demands, do not agree on many occasions. The division became clear Tuesday after the Namibia Public Workers’ Union leaders accepted the government’s 5 percent salary increase, which the teachers’ union that is demanding an 8 percent salary increase has refused to accept. Although teachers have their own union, they are considered as civil servants together with other government workers represented by the public workers’ union.

Practically, it means that the two unions have to agree on their demands since they both belong to the National Union of Namibian Workers. This is not happening since the public workers’ union leadership accepted the offer, with their general secretary Peter Nevonga saying that they understand the country’s economic situation.

Nevonga met President Hage Geingob Tuesday in Windhoek where he told the head of state that their members have accepted the 5 percent offer. The teachers’ union leaders also met Geingob Tuesday in a closed door meeting that lasted more than two hours but came out with no agreement.

Labor experts Herbert Jauch said the dividing line between the NUNW and Tucna is the question of political affiliation that causes the two federations to operate as rivals and competitors to each other with little prospects of co-operation around common workers’ interests. Workers, Jauch also said, need to assess if the old divisions between unions are still relevant today or if there are possibilities for co-operation, while the labour movement needs to ask itself how it can reach those tens of thousands of vulnerable workers who are still not unionized.
“Failure to address these key challenges might see trade unions losing their relevance as a uniting force to spearhead workers’ interests in Namibia,” Jauch concluded.


Japan in Africa

Japan is seeking to expand its military base in Djibouti, east Africa, in response to Chinese influence in the region.

Speaking to Reuters, government sources have confirmed that they are asking permission from the local authorities to expand the territory of a base used by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF).

In addition to the land Japan has borrowed, it is considering leasing the neighboring land to its east,” an official told Reuters. “Japan is now in negotiations with Djibouti government.”

The 30-acre facility, located next to the US Camp Lemonnier base, is the SDF’s first outside of Japan and was established in 2011 to help monitor piracy in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia. Manned by a force of 180 troops, the base has also played host to a number of exercises, including joint drills with the Americans. The expansion of the base will be justified by the need to have takeoff and landing sites for aircraft in order to evacuate Japanese citizens in case of a regional emergency.

Sources also told Reuters the proposed expansion is driven by a need to counter the growing influence of China, which has been investing heavily in Africa. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion to help fund infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture and development on the continent. In turn, Japan has pledged $30 billion for similar projects in August.

“China is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence in Djibouti, and it is necessary for Japan gain more influence,” another Japanese official told to Reuters. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Class War - Fees Must End

Protests have raged on South African campuses in recent weeks as students demand free university tuition for all in a nation still riven by inequality and racial divisions. Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, the head of the South African Council of Churches, says that the students’ grievances started well before they were born, even before he was born -- when the racist apartheid regime drew a hard line between black and white, rich and poor. Apartheid may have formally ended, but the fees make attending university impossible for many black youth.
"The aftermath of apartheid has not been sufficiently dealt with. You are allowed to go around, but economic marginalization hasn’t changed much and opportunity certainly isn’t equal," student council representative Thalo Mokoena explained. "It’s no way as bad as it was, but there are parallels with back then." 

The protests are showing no sign of stopping after they first emerged late last year. In recent weeks, protests have swept across most of South Africa’s 26 universities, with clashes between students and police at some campuses. Some universities have been forced to suspend classes, citing security concerns.

The latest round of protests was spurred by September’s announcement that universities could raise fees by as much as 8 percent. The government has been obliged to pledge to cover that increase for lower-income students, which is about 75 percent of the student population. The government says it does not have enough money to provide free higher education.

The issue is not exclusive to South Africa. Many students who graduate around the world end up doing so with huge amounts of debt. The protests are also a proxy against wider inequality that still persists in the country. The universities have become a class battle-field

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Critique of De Leon's First Stage Socialism and Labour Time Voucher

     Karx Marx had not intended for publication. As a result this text remains fragmentary and inconsistent. What Marx was dealing with in the Gotha Programme was communist society not as it has developed on its own foundations but, on the contrary, just as it was emerging from capitalist society.

 The Critique of the Gotha Programme remained an unfinished sketch which

          Karl Marx's discussion of the future socialist society remained fragmentary and experimental. He never attempted to offer a blueprint for a future socialist society. He remained convinced that the success of Socialism depended in the last analysis on the historical circumstances that by nature vary from one country to another. Karl Marx was at most times uncertain concerning the course which Socialism was to pass through. However, he remained convinced that the workers had no ideals to realise apart from setting free the elements of the new society with which the old collapsing bourgeois society is pregnant.

          Trotskyism, Anarchism and Bolshevism are heavy-handed definitions with 19th century traditions. They remain what they are: violent versions of socialism and everyone using them stands to be ridiculed. The International Union of Socialists, the Industrial Workers of the World and the Independent Socialist Party are all leftist petty-bourgeois anarchical movements embroiled in the post-WWI socialist movements. They follow the traditions of Leninism and vanguard political socialism interested by usurping political power from the state through Trade Union labour militancy.

          Thus De Leon's interest in Market Socialism under labour-time vouchers. After the workers have usurped political power from the state, the bourgeois class would automatically abolish itself and become a part of the classless socialist society; the bourgeoisie cannot be conceived to remain as a distinct sect within socialist society.

          To believe in first stage Socialism is to discredit the vision of Socialism as a universal realisation of a classless, moneyless and stateless society. Socialism can only be propagated through a socialist party organically composed of working class members. Socialism must not be spear-headed by a vanguard of think-tank intellectuals. After Socialism has been universally realised the need for a specialised leadership would abolish itself-the Socialist parfies would be disbanded. The eradication of capitalism would denote the end of the market system and commodity exchange.

          The whole edifice of De Leon's infatuation with Socialism hinges upon belief in first-stage Socialism under a market system in which the allocation of individual needs would be evaluated upon an exchange mechanism. Labour time vouchers do not differ from money; they are all units of labour exchange. The critics of Karl Marx fail to appreciate the differences between the two stages of Socialism and thus confuse the first stage of Socialism with the second stage. They fail to appreciate the fact that during the first stage the production relations still remain dependent upon the exchange values between different individuals unpacified from the class divisions inherent under the division of labour.

          It is only during the second phase of Socialism that the market system finally abolishes itself, when human labour is freed from money and taxes and that we can inscribe on the banners of working class the slogan: To each according to his needs, and from each according to his capabilities. Needs and talents are freed from money and price restrictions and become mere activities taking place in a classless and non-market society. Needs are not reckoned under demand prices in a scarcity society, but as an individual claim. Thus Socialism will achieve a universal high standard of living and would solve the riddle of poverty.

          Trade unions are representatives of working class organised industrial militancy against private capital. They fight for wage increments, not for the eradication of private capital. Trade unions cannot be turned into jumping boards to Socialism unless when these unions are under the influence of socialist agitators. Yet trade unions even under the influence of socialist agitators remain what they are: labour arbitration movements.

          Trade unions cannot exist under socialist society because there won't be a distinct class to defend.

          Trade unions are a phenomenon of antagonistic class interests and work to organise working class industrial resistance against private capitalism. Thus a vote for a trade union is a vote for a wage increment while a vote for a socialist party is a vote for unrestrained consumption.

          Under capitalism marriage, love and happiness become inhibited by income conventions. Free socialisation becomes restricted. Class barriers check and put limits upon labour mobility. The working class sanctify themselves under the protection of trade unions, the first expression of working class organised resistance against private capital.

          Thus trade union movements and labour associations cannot by themselves succeed in usurping political power from the state.

K. Mulenga, 

Uganda's ecological problem

Poverty and hunger will continue in Uganda unless the current rate of natural resources depletion is tamed. Agriculture is under attack from long dry spells, high temperatures and soil infertility, which experts attribute to deforestation and wetland degradation, among others.

Ms Almaz Gebru, the UN coordinator who also doubles as the United Nations Development Programme Uganda Country Director, said weather patterns are changing for the worse and there is no way millions of Ugandans trapped in poverty and hunger will be alleviated if natural resources continue to be depleted.

"Poverty and hunger will persist when we do not use our natural resources, including forests, in a sustainable manner," Ms Gebru said in a speech 

64 per cent of Ugandans derive their incomes and food from agriculture.

Is it Voluntary?

In November 2013, following a terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, the Foreign Ministries of Somalia and Kenya along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) agreed to facilitate the repatriation of all Somalia nationals living in Dadaab, citing Kenya’s concerns over national security. Following the Garissa University attack in April 2015, in which al-Shabaab killed 148 students, the government’s resolve to take action hardened. Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto announced that all remaining refugees in Dadaab would have to be repatriated by that September. Although this deadline came and went, and the Kenyan government has since admitted it will be too difficult to evacuate the camps by November 2016 as later promised, the spectre of Dadaab’s closure still hangs over the remaining 260,00-odd Somali refugees living in its five camps. The voluntary repatriation process is expected to end in 2018. Those who won’t go back, UNHCR has said, will be resettled in a third country, while non-Somali refugees will be rehoused at the Kakuma refugee camp in the north of the country. In addition, there are an estimated 40,000 Kenyan citizens of Somali origin thought to be living in Dadaab (primarily because they receive free food rations, according to a report by the Danish Refugee Council).

The country’s Interior Ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka explains, “Kenya’s refugee policy is to provide temporary stay for refugees and to let them go back home.”

In practical terms, this means that most refugees are only permitted to live in camps, unless they are seeking hospital treatment or pursuing further education. At present, it is almost impossible for a refugee to secure the legal right to work in Kenya.

“The Kenyan authorities are not giving Somali refugees a real choice between staying and leaving, and the UN refugee agency isn’t giving people accurate information about security conditions in Somalia,” said Human Rights Watch (HRW) refugee rights director Bill Frelick in a press statement. “There is no way these returns can be considered voluntary,” which goes against international law.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The essence of socialism

Socialism will solve the antagonism between civil society and the state. The political state as defender of sectional interests of the ruling class will disappear. The essence of socialism is to eradicate the existing production relations which are based on commodity exchange, the use of money, and trade. The hoax of a market mechanism will be abolished once and for good. Dialectical Marxism And Scientific Socialism aims at creating a stateless and equal society through self-realisation by the workers and toilers to free themselves from the yoke of capital.

The teachings of dialectical Marxism do not envisage that violent military insurrections are the first stage in the creation of Socialism. Socialism will not start from above. Neither can it be imposed but will be the outcome of the existing antagonisms within capitalist society.

Inflation, unemployment and labour unrest are social vices predominant in every capitalist nation. Under capitalism the inherent antagonisms between capital and labour is truly exemplified in the perpetual existence of crises. Exploitation depicts a state of complete alienation: the negation of the workers from the fruits of their labour. Under capitalism the social institutions of producing and distributing goods are wholly owned by the wealthy capitalist class.

Under socialism these social institutions are vested in the whole population and are utilised for the purpose of meeting the needs of every individual member of society. The socialist premises of Karl Marx's dialectical materialism can only be realised when political and economic relations existing under capitalism have been abolished by the communal ownership of economic institutions.

After the working class have taken over the management and ownership of every form of economic and entrepreneur activity from the capitalist and ruling class and have dispensed with ownership and dissolved the bureaucratic methods of civil society, the vacuum of economies of scalewhich had been preserved under scarcity conditions by the capitalist producers will be instantaneously filled. There will occur a general improvement in people's living standards under socialism because goods will no longer be restricted by prices but shall be produced for targeted consumers relative to the demand or needs.

The establishment of a "communist" state in Russia by the Bolsheviks supposedly on the principles of Marxist dialectics brought Marxism into disrepute. Leninism posed a great threat to Marxism during the epoch of imperialism especially among those philosophical circles in which dialectical materialism was held in esteem.

The social and economic conditions under which the Russian revolution took place were not conducive to the realisation of a socialist revolution. That is to say that the historical conditions for socialism were non-existent in Russia at the time. The "dictatorship of the proletariat" as was then conceived by Lenin and the Bolsheviks was a far cry from what was propounded by Marx. Whereas to Karl Manes own interpretation the "dictatorship of the proletariat" entailed universal working class activity, to Lenin and the Bolsheviks it meant a totalitarian regime under a dictator. Lenin emphasised it very strongly that a state run on military precision was what Russia needed most.

We Socialists have long been advocating that what was established in Russia by Lenin was not socialism. We have postulated our assumptions on the fact that historical conditions which give rise to socialism did not obtain in Russia at the time. Russia was not ripe for socialism,


Trade Fraud Costs Africa Billions

Trade mis-invoicing is the intentional misstating of the value, quantity, or composition of goods on customs declaration forms and invoices, usually for tax evasion or money-laundering purposes. Further, misinvoiced trade is a significant source of illicit capital flight.

Mis-invoiced trade in five African countries cost their governments billions of dollars in tax revenue and facilitated at least 60.8 billion dollars in illicit financial flows from 2002 to 2011, says a new report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a research advocacy organisation here.

Using data on bilateral trade flows from 2002-2011 from the U.N.’s Commodity Trade database, the study calculated that the potential average annual tax loss from trade misinvoicing amounted over the same decade to roughly 12.7 percent of Uganda’s total government revenue, followed by Ghana (11 percent), Mozambique (10.4 percent), Kenya (8.3 percent), and Tanzania (7.4 percent), according to the 52-page report, “Hiding in Plain Sight,” sponsored by the Danish foreign ministry, and represents the first comprehensive study on the magnitude of the loss of tax revenue for these countries.

“Fraudulent trade transactions rob the people of these countries of funds that could otherwise have been used for investments in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and other much-needed public services,” said Mogens Jensen, Denmark’s minister for Trade and Development Cooperation.

Tanzania tops the list, with the greatest annual average gross illicit flows of 1.87 billion dollars. Kenya is second with 1.51 billion in average gross flows. They are followed by Ghana (1.44 billion); Uganda (884 million), and Mozambique (585 million). These losses create “one of the most damaging conditions undermining economic growth and development, governance, and human rights in Africa and around the world,” according to the report which, noted that mis-invoicing thrives in a global shadow system that features financial secrecy and tax havens for the rich.

Over the decade, gross illicit outflows in Kenya were twice what the country received in official development assistance (ODA); in Ghana these flows roughly equaled its ODA, followed by Tanzania (77.6 percent), Uganda (58.9 percent), and Mozambique (32.6 percent). The numbers are huge, but experts caution that these might be too modest and an under-estimate.
“The estimates provided by our methodology are likely to be extremely conservative as they do not include trade misinvoicing in services or intangibles, same-invoice trade misinvoicing, hawala transactions, and dealings conducted in bulk cash,” GFI President Raymond Baker noted.

Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda have all experienced significant economic growth in recent years. But the wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a very few and has not trickled down to the average citizen and the very poor, who often lack basic services. The African Progress Panel, a think tank chaired by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan estimated that illegal fishing and logging – most of which benefits foreign interests – cost sub-Saharan Africa an average of over 20 billion dollars each year.

“There is a misconception that misinvoicing trade results in a better company performance in terms of revenue. It in fact hurts the company,” Brian LeBlanc, who co-authored the report, told IPS, and “the extra profits from over- or under-invoicing imports and exports end up being transferred to off-shore accounts of the company owners and are not distributed to the employees.”

Protect Refugees

Kenya said in May it sought to shut down the Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee site, which hosts more than 300,000 Somalis, by the year’s end. Kenya has also insisted that the evacuation of Dadaab is being conducted in accordance with international law.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Monday that a “voluntary” process that sees Somali refugees at a huge camp inside Kenya returned to their country is no more voluntary.
“The voluntary returns process does not meet international standards,” the NRC said. The agency said that aside from being forced to return to Somali, the refugees also face insecurity back home, where violence and inadequacy of basic services are rampant.

Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the NRC, has countered by saying, “The pressure to push more than 280,000 registered refugees from Dadaab camp has led to chaotic and disorganized returns. From what we have seen on the ground, it is no longer voluntary, dignified nor safe,” referring to the repatriation process.

“The number of vulnerable Somalis planned for return far outstrips the resources available to support them in Somalia,” Neil Turner, the NRC’s Kenya country director, explained.

Human Rights Watch also slammed Kenya’s repatriation program, saying it did not meet international standards for voluntary return.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The oil curse of Chad

Chad's high court has ordered an oil consortium headed by America’s ExxonMobil to pay $74 billion in fines for alleged unpaid taxes, Bloomberg reports. The court has also demanded the oil giant pay $819 million in overdue royalties. Exxon Mobil has been pumping oil in the African country since 2003, operating a pipeline that delivers Chadian oil to Cameroon for further export.

The record figure is almost five times the country’s GDP of about $13 billion.

Experts say Chad is unlikely to see much of the money.

“Nobody is going to cooperate outside of Chad in enforcing this judgment; this leaves Exxon exposed to possibly losing everything it has inside Chad but that’s such an extraordinary number, I can’t imagine the assets they have there are worth that much,” said Jeffery Atik, who teaches international law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

The commons of Ethiopia

An interesting and thought provoking article on the Countercurrent website by Zelealem Tefera Ashenafi, country representative of the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Ethiopia, describes one of the oldest, most effective conservation management systems in sub-Saharan Africa, the Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area, an 11,100-hectare region that is home to a rich endowment of grasslands, plants and rare animals such as the Ethiopian wolf, gelada and Abyssinian hare. The history of the indigenous land tenure system known as Atsme Irist reveals a great deal about how people in Menz have been able to regularly use, but also preserve, valuable grazing lands and ecosystem services for more than 400 years.

The varied structures of indigenous land tenure systems in Ethiopia evolved through a complex set of processes, but one of the most notable examples is Atsme Irist. In the Ethiopian district of Menz, which includes the Guassa area, the Atsme Irist system for centuries gave the Menz people a right to claim a share of land held in common.

Quote of the Day (conservation)

“The African Wildlife Foundation…believe that Africa must not become one big game park and that to ensure the future of Africa’s wild places, conservation planning must be managed in a way that benefits Africans themselves…
...With political will, planning and foresight, it should be possible for Africa to have livable modern cities, well-planned infrastructure, productive farmlands, industrial parks for manufacturing and jobs, while retaining the Serengeti, the Okavango delta, the Kalahari desert, the Congo basin forest and other very large natural systems with their resident wildlife.” - Patrick Bergin, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

South Africans fight for better working conditions

Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets on Friday in support of Cosatu’s mass action campaign for decent work and improved public transport. The one-day strike, in support of International Decent Work Day, saw marches across the country. All of Cosatu’s affiliates came out in support of the protest, including the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union, which said reports indicated that most of its members supported the strike. In the Free State’s Phuthaditjhaba area, 93% of clothing workers at 21 factories stayed away from work. While Phuthaditjhaba is an important part of South Africa’s clothing manufacturing sector, almost all clothing workers are paid sub-minimum wages and work under deplorable conditions. The area is known for exploitation and sweatshops. In Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, more than 2 000 clothing workers joined the strike

“Most of these workers toil in appalling sweatshop conditions, earning bitterly low wages. On International Decent Work Day today, they raise their voices strongly against poverty wages being paid by employers in Newcastle,” SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union said.

Tswatle Morena teaches at a public school in Tembisa‚ Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg. According to information obtained from a salary rating website‚ a newly qualified educator and those with less than five years’ experience earn R115,276 a year in SA‚ while those with five-to-nine-years experience earn between R124,038 and R146,087 a year. Teachers with more than 10 years’ experience earn R146,088 or more a year.
“Teachers own nothing. We are owned by the banks. The car I drive is not mine. The house I stay in is not mine. I wear debts. Everything is debts‚ that is the reason I am saying we don’t belong to ourselves‚ but to business‚" he said.

Thulani Mokoena is a young worker at one of the retailers in Eastgate Shopping Centre‚ east of Johannesburg.
“I get paid R2,400 a month for all the hard work I put in. I start my day at 9am and knock off at 7pm. All these hours it is hard work. gbWe know the company is making money but they are not paying us. What we get is not even peanuts. I would call it half of a peanut‚" he said.

A nurse working at one of the Durban’s biggest public hospitals, Abigail Mthethwa’s, job starts at the labour ward operating theatre at 6.45am and she works until 4pm or 6pm. She sometimes works a nightshift and most of the days she works longer than her scheduled shift.
"We work under difficult conditions. There are so many people that we have to help on just one shift. There are more patients than the number of medical staff available [can handle] on a day. We end up not having a lunch break‚" said Mthethwa. “Sometimes I continue working feeling that I am doing this because my job is important and it involves people’s lives. If you go an extra mile‚ nobody feels for you and there is no compensation of any kind. When you work beyond your shift‚ the bosses tell you there is no overtime. There is no money. You just have to take that."

Thursday, October 06, 2016


On 11 July, around 80 to 100 rebel soldiers attacked a compound in Juba where they gang-raped at least five international aid workers, physically or sexually assaulted at least a dozen others. They also executed a South Sudanese journalist –apparently because of his Nuer ethnicity.

The UN mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) gave orders for peacekeepers to intervene but none “ever tried to leave their bases”, the report said, with the Chinese and Ethiopian battalions refusing to go.

The failings in July were nothing new. In an incident in February, at  the northern town of Malakal, peacekeepers from Ethiopia, India and Rwanda stood by as government soldiers attacked and killed at least 30 civilians. The UN admitted to peacekeeper “inaction, abandonment of post and refusal to engage”, but failed to hold any commanders or troops to account.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Disciple of Evil (2)

Rows of sick people queue up one afternoon in downtown Lagos. There are people with crutches, mothers with crying babies, a couple of wheelchair-bound people and several with bad coughs. This is not a hospital; it’s a sports center. And they are not waiting to see a doctor; they are here to see a preacher.

 T.B. Joshua is one of Nigeria’s most controversial clergymen. Besides claiming to have a direct line to God, this 52-year-old has been performing so-called “healing miracles” for 20 years. He has his own TV shows, two million Facebook fans, sold-out events and branded merchandise. The latest estimates put his wealth at about $150 million. His church has branches all over the world, from the U.K. to Australia. He often goes on what he calls “Miracle Crusades” to other nations.

“He exploits the naïveté or desperation of his followers with no accountability,” says Pradip Thomas, a scholar at the University of Queensland and co-editor of the book Global and Local Televangelism. A dozen people died last year when one of his event venues collapsed. Joshua has not been held legally accountable for the incident…but surely it was another message from God to him?

Joshua is certainly not the only millionaire priest in Nigeria.

The first Pentecostal missions arrived in Nigeria in 1910. By 1970, there were an estimated 300,000 converts, and by the turn of the century, 30 to 40 million, according to Ruth Marshall, professor at the University of Toronto’s Departments for the Study of Religion and Political Science and author of Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria. According to the World Christian Database, some 12 percent of Africans are Pentecostals.

Disciple of Evil (1)

Deya is a 63-year-old, Bentley-driving preacher. The self-styled “Archbishop”, who claims to perform healing miracles at his services across the UK, has raised millions in donations and tax breaks since his charity opened in 1997. The charitable status of his church has already been investigated twice, and he has been fighting extradition to Kenya for years. Allegations against Deya initially surfaced in the Kenyan media in 2004 and he has been wanted by Kenyan authorities since his arrest in the UK in 2006 to face allegations of child-trafficking. Police in Kenya allege that Deya’s “miracle babies” are part of an international baby-snatching ring, connected to disappearances from hospitals in Nairobi.

Kenyan police allege that several children were sold to Deya by women living in slums in Nairobi. According to Radik Malinskow, who works for child-trafficking charity HAART in Kenya, poverty has a large part to play.
“Some of those woman have several children to feed and often they find it difficult to accommodate a new child,” he told IRIN. “The poverty in the slums is very high. Women find it very difficult to cope with the lack of economical resources and some of them have to survive on one or two dollars a day.”

Gilbert Deya Ministries describes itself as a Christian charity that aims to spread the word of God. Its website, which presents Deya as a visionary ordained by God, refutes the “negative publicity” surrounding Deya’s “miracles” stating: “the truth remains he has never been found guilty by the court of law in the UK”. In his 2003 book “Curses of Sexual Sins”, Deya declares AIDS a curse, calls homosexuality an “abomination”, suggests infertility may be caused by “generation curses”, and tells the reader he can help them with “miracle babies”. Despite the controversy surrounding the child-trafficking allegations and Deya’s possible extradition, his ministries have raised more than £10 million ($12.98 million) in the UK over the past decade, some of it public money from British charity Gift Aid tax breaks.

Gilbert Deya Ministries, which is based in London, has a number of churches across the UK, as well as a branch in Belgium. Publications by Deya and his church say there are also branches in India, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Deya has published books, maintains an extensive social media presence, and at one point ran a TV channel carried by Sky. Billboards for his tour in August this year in Manchester, UK, promised “unusual miracles”.

In 2014, Deya’s ministries had an annual income of more than £864,000 (some $1.4 million at the time). About 90 percent of this came from donations. An analysis of the ministries’ accounts on the Charity Commission website reveals “a cocktail of bad accounting”, according to Joe Saxton from nfpSynergy, a consultancy firm for charities. Typically, 70 percent of a charity’s spending is on “charitable activities”, and about one or two percent on governance costs. But, according to Gilbert Deya Ministry’s own accounts, it spent nothing on “charitable activities”, and its governance costs for 2014 were around 30 percent of its income. “An awful lot of questions have come out of the accounts,” said Saxton. “There are strange patterns of expenditure like writing off bad debts, and things that I can’t think of a logical explanation for.”

The Charity Commission’s website reveal that Gilbert Deya Ministries was late filing its accounts two years in a row. For 2012, the charity provided the regulator with its accounts 453 days late. The previous year, the accounts were 152 days late. Alongside this, the “charitable activities” expenditure, compared to its governance and legal costs, has dropped significantly. Its most recent accounts, in 2014, declare that it spent £0 on “charitable activities” in that year. In August, the Charity Commission announced the latest investigation into Deya’s operations, referring to issues related to “safeguarding” – a term used in connection with protection of children – whilst also raising concerns over the charity “selling olive oil to which it attributed healing qualities”. It also said the trustees “have failed to report serious incidents to the commission and to provide adequate responses to the questions raised”. Deya remains one of six trustees of the charity in the UK. Whilst the controversy surrounding Gilbert Deya Ministries persists, the charity continues to grow. Official land documents obtained by IRIN reveal that the charity made more than £3.8 million ($4.95 million) from the recent sale of its property in Peckham, London. It has since moved its headquarters to a Greater London suburb, Sutton. Posts on the Gilbert Deya Ministries Facebook page claim that the charity also purchased 3.54 hectares of land in Sutton, on which Deya says he aims to build a hotel and a petrol station.

Deya’s wife has been in and out of court and prison in Kenya on child-trafficking charges. Mary Deya was initially arrested in 2005. In 2007, she was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing a child and one year for obtaining a false birth certificate. She was convicted in a second case in 2011. In 2014, Kenya’s high court upheld her conviction, and, finally, in 2015, Mary Deya dropped a further appeal and continued to serve her time.

Attempts to extradite Deya to Kenya to face child-trafficking charges appear to have stalled. The Kenyan authorities requested his extradition in 2007. Deya appealed, stating that the extradition would breach his human rights and suggesting that his connection to Raila Odinga, the previous prime minister of Kenya, meant he could face torture back in his native country. Although he lost the appeal, the Home Office has never followed through with the extradition. In 2014, Kenyan media reported that one sticking point was that the UK had requested that Deya be held in one of two higher-standard prison facilities. the UK Home Office told Deya’s local MP that it was “considering further representations from Mr. Deya” claiming that his extradition would breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

MP David Lammy, told IRIN.
“Clearly there needs to be a review of how this despicable child trafficker and fraudster has been able to run rings around judicial and regulatory systems for so many years,” he said. “We should never forget that Gilbert Deya’s victims are innocent children who will have to live with his actions for the rest of their lives.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

More on the oil curse

African oil exporting countries, including Angola, Nigeria and Sudan, have squandered a decade’s worth of economic opportunity by failing to diversify or reinvest windfall profits into sustainable growth, according to research by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Africa’s 14 oil exporters have gone backwards in diversification.

Of a possible score of 100, oil exporters manage just 2.9 for economic diversification, showing how little progress they have made in weaning their fortunes off oil.

“They are really ill prepared and they haven’t made use of these high revenues,” said Sif Heide-Ottosen, an analyst at the foundation.

The research lends weight to those who talk about Africa’s “resource curse”, in which countries most endowed with natural wealth are more prone to corruption and mismanagement.

Dimeji Bankole, a former speaker of the house in Nigeria, said: “We are on a type of drugs in Nigeria called oil.”

More on Land-grab

Multinational companies are leasing enormous swaths of land across Africa. Critics have long said such leases amount to a “global land grab,” in which foreign companies and countries profit while local citizens are displaced and lose their way of life. The Economist, however, suggests the real culprits of any African “land grab” are more affluent citizens from large cities who invest in the countryside. Increased demand for food will exacerbate this problem in the coming years.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, foreign companies have already leased about 3 percent of land in Africa, about the same size as the U.S. states of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma combined. Most of these leases run for a period of anywhere from 33 to 99 years, and the contracts generally lack any clear rules or limits on local water consumption.

According to the Brookings Institution, approximately 60 percent of the world’s arable land is in sub-Saharan Africa. The continent has become the last frontier for many of the world’s largest companies as they seek new markets for their products – and a base from which to source coveted raw materials such as timber and commodity crops like grains and palm oil. Add the interest in the region by countries such as China and the Gulf states in the Middle East, and Africa risks becoming a focal point of human rights violations as local communities discover they have less access to water — or are even frozen out of lands on which they lived for generations.

Several foreign-owned flower farms were recently attacked in Ethiopia over allegations of human rights violations. And a recent investigation by the United Kingdom daily newspaper Independent suggests the demand for farmed fish is taking food out of the mouths of West Africans in order to produce animal feed for overseas companies.