Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Rwandan police kill 11

Rwandan police killed 11 people as they were breaking up a crowd demonstrating against a cut in food rations, the United Nations refugee agency has said. The World Food Program cut food rations by 25 percent in January.

The clash followed days of sit-in protests against the reduction in food aid at Kiziba refugee camp. Underfunding forced the World Food Program to cut food rations by 10 percent in November, and by an additional 25 percent in January.
"This tragedy should have been avoided and the disproportionate use of force against refugees is not acceptable," said UNHCR external relations officer Daniela Ionita.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Water War?

It is often said the world's next world war will be fought over water and there are few places as tense as the River Nile. A new dam on the Nile could trigger a war over water unless Ethiopia can agree a deal with Egypt and Sudan. Egypt and Ethiopia have a big disagreement, Sudan is in the middle, and a big geopolitical shift is being played out along the world's longest river.  Egypt is worried, as the UN predicts the country will start suffering water shortages by 2025. Any threat to Egypt's water is considered a threat to its sovereignty.

 Ethiopia seeks to transform itself into a middle-income country, and so it needs electricity. Africa's largest hydroelectric power station and one of the world's largest dams will do that, but with 85% of the river emerging from the Ethiopian highlands, Egypt is concerned its rival has the capability to control the flow of the river. 

Sudan certainly welcomes it. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is just a few kilometres from the border and the pylons are already in place, waiting for the power generation to begin and for cheap, renewable power to fizz through the cables. At the moment the difference between high water and low water level in Sudan is 8m, and that makes its vast irrigation projects harder to manage. With the dam in place, the difference will be 2m and the flow of the river will come year-round.

"For Sudan it's wonderful," says Osama Daoud Abdellatif, the owner of the Dal Group which runs farms and irrigation projects. "It's the best thing that's happened for a long time and I think the combination of energy and regular water levels is a great blessing."

"It's very much a game changer, a new order is beginning in the whole region now," believes Rawia Tawfik, an Egyptian academic working in Germany. "Ethiopia for the first time is combining both the physical power of being an upstream country that can in one way or another control the River Nile's flow, and the economic power of being able to construct a dam depending on its own domestic resources."

Egypt's minister of water resources and irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aty, is extremely angry. Hydroelectric power stations do not consume water, but the speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam will affect the flow downstream.  It will take time to fill up a reservoir which is going to be bigger than Greater London and will flood the Nile for 250km (155 miles) upstream.

"We are responsible for a nation of about 100 million", he says. "If the water that's coming to Egypt reduced by 2% we would lose about 200,000 acres of land. One acre at least makes one family survive. A family in Egypt is average family size about five persons. So this means about one million will be jobless. It is an international security issue."

The dam is impressive. After five years it is two-thirds finished - and it already crosses the river. There is nothing Egypt can do about it, except take military action which would be extreme. That is why diplomacy and collaboration are the only means of resolving this issue when issues like nationalism and the relative strength and importance of countries is concerned.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Illicit Financial Flow

The report “Illicit Financial Flows, the economy of illicit trade in West Africa,” published by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), on 20 February, stated that Africa loses an average of $50 billion every year from Illicit financial flows.

That is more than the total  sum of development aid the continent receives.

These illicit flows have been increasing since the start of the century, when they stood at less than $20 billion a year.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to appear at the bottom of Transparency International’s annual index.  African nations averaged a score of 32 on the 100-point scale. Somalia scored just nine.

Transparency International’s regional adviser for Southern Africa, Kate Muwoki, described the year in corruption on the continent.
“To put it simply, most African governments are failing to address corruption in the region, although we do have leaders that have invested in systemic responses to build strong institutions and create behavior change,” she told VOA from Berlin, where the organization is based. “... So, in terms of some of these rays of hope, at the top of the table we have Botswana, Seychelles, Cabo Verde, Rwanda and Namibia, who all score, currently, over 50 … And then, in terms of the very bottom of the table, there hasn’t been much change. We still have the likes of South Sudan, Somalia, right at the bottom, and significant declines from countries like Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.”
No fewer than four heads of state accused of major financial crimes resigned in the past year: Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and, most recently, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma. A high-level corruption scandal also tainted the administration of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned earlier this month amid mounting anti-government protests.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


The European refugee crisis has deluded many voters into believing that most refugees are coming to rich countries. They are not — 84 percent are in low- or middle-income nations. Tanzania is one such country; it hosts over 350,000 refugees mostly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has had a long-standing commitment to offering sanctuary to persecuted people, despite being among the poorest 30 countries in the world.

 Tanzania was offered $100 million in order to support greater opportunities for refugees, split between a loan and a grant. The idea that a country like Tanzania should have to borrow, even at preferential rates, to host refugees on behalf of the international community was roundly derided by Magufuli when he addressed foreign ambassadors in Dar es Salaam on Feb. 9. The government has been clear that it supports refugees but rejected the plan on principle because it wants rich countries to pay Tanzania rather than forcing it to borrow. Debt forgiveness would be a better way to support host states.


Top 10 rich families in Kenya

 Moi Family 

Daniel Torotich Arap Moi is among the four presidents to lead in Kenya. Moi together with his family is one of the wealthiest families in Kenya. Moreover one of the wealthiest man in Africa as his family controls vast resources of the country from real estates, production, to the farming sector. Undoubted sources demonstrate that the Moi's family through his youngsters Philip and Gideon Moi oversee and administer various ventures outside the country. All in all, the Moi's family's assets can be surveyed to be more than $ 3 billion. He can without a doubt be the wealthiest man in Kenya 2018, and if he continues so, he could be closing the gap with the wealthiest men in Africa. 

Manu Chandaria and family 

Any fortunate individual who dwells in Kenya or considers essential news in Kenya would know Manu Chandaria as one of the big names to grace the nation if not continent. Mr. Chandaria is a veteran in the business industry which controls different local and overall world merged organizations. Mr.Chandaria influenced his father to build up his business (Comcraft). An aluminum cookware firm that is notable in Kenya and its boundaries. Mr. Chandaria is similarly in connection with other entrepreneurial undertakings.He is one of the wealthiest men in Kenya with an aggregate net worth of $2.5 billion from his organizations.To this, the Chandaria's are sharply drawn in with liberal activities of offering back to the general public. He is the most affluent individual in Kenya who isn't into dynamic political issues as his wealth comes only from his many jobs. 

 Biwott and family 

Nicholas Biwott is an outstanding man notably since he enjoys using his nickname ' total man". Well, what we can state is that the name has earned him a spot at the rundown of the wealthiest men in Kenya. Biwott is an exceptionally talented businessman in Kenya who has sufficiently aggregated power and built up fast-growing business entities. Biwott takes care of the major sectors of the nation's economy. A number of the segments incorporate; tourism, real estate, mining, airport and furthermore ventures in the importation of fuel which he later pitches to local retailers. Biwott possesses the above businesses as well as stretching out to the outside world, owning Australia largest ranch and the biggest Israel hotel. With an expected net-worth of $1.1 billion, we can apparently concur he should be on this list. 

Bhimji Depar Shah and family 

Bhimji Depar Shah, one of the founders and the Chairman of BIDCO Group of Companies, is one of the known entrepreneurs in Kenya. Bidco is a family owned entity that involves two brothers, and their father with its ties to at-least 14 nations across Africa. With his high commitment to BIDCO Company, Mr. Shah gets a reasonable opening among the wealthiest people in Kenya with their family assets totaling to about $700 million. 

Kenyatta's family 

The family is not only known to have been the family to the founder and president of Kenya. But, are also known to venture into large business all over the country and beyond.Thanks to their father Mzee Jommo Kenyatta who did not hesitate to take land from the British during the transition period. This factor made the family own large pieces of land to date that have been utilized in sizeable agricultural farming of coffee and sisal to mention just a few. Kenyatta's family has businesses from real estates, agribusiness, energy, banking, schools to media transmission businesses. A portion of the organizations related to the Kenyatta's family incorporates Brookside. The Kenyatta's family is among the rich families in Kenya with their total assets presently remaining at Kenya $ 500 million. This figure puts them at a definite top position of the wealthiest families.

 Naushad Merali family

Naushad is a well-known financial investor who does not limit his investment boundaries. He connects to the like of Warren Buffet of the USA. Mr. Merali is to a great extent perceived for being magnificent with regards to money related ventures. He invests everywhere as he doesn't limit himself to a specific sector yet, spreads his venture to different growing industries in the market. Which include the East Africa Batteries, Sasini Tea and Coffee, and Yana Tires. Mr. Naushad has been competent to set up a scooping fortune of $ 431.7million from all his investments. 

Odinga family 

Raila Odinga's total assets are approximately at $ 400 million which puts him exactly where he ought to be in this tilt. Raila Odinga's name is found in this list as he has bunches of businesses under his name. Being the son of Kenya's first Vice-president, he has additionally partaken in shaping this developing Kenyan economy. Mr. Odinga has been recognized to be a noteworthy part in leading the opposition political arena of the nation through years. 

Chris Kirubi family 

Chris Kirubi is the proprietor of one of the biggest media houses in the country, making him a business-oriented individual and entrepreneur. He is moreover one of the three primary investors in Kenya power, the nation's leading source of energy distributors. Chris Kirubi is additionally one of the financial specialists in Centum group, and through that, he is believed to have gotten up to $ 300 million. 

Dr. James Mwangi family

Dr. James Mwangi is among the fast-rising business financial specialists in Kenya, with a share level of 3.45% in one of the leading private banks in Kenya (Equity Bank). With the exemption of banking, Dr. James is likewise an investor in the hospitality industry. Reliable sources claim that he owns one of the big hotels in the country. Mr. Mwangi is additionally an investor in one of the major insurance agencies in Kenya (Britam organization) where he has managed to develop his wealth with $ 187.5 million, making his family one of the rich families in Kenya. 

S.K. Macharia and family 

S.K. Macharia as is widely recognized as the short named man. Despite his name being short he stands tall in the business industry and media owning the most significant radio network in Kenya. With a radio listenership evaluated at 70% of all Kenyans.He possesses various stations in both English, Swahili, and Vernacular that incorporate Citizen TV, Kiss, Radio Jambo, Ramogi, Muuga, Chamgei, Iinooro, Bahari, and Wimwaro. His total assets are assessed to estimate about $150 million. He is in actuality said to be an all-rounder. His interests of investing in Agriculture, Real Estate, Transport, Banking, and Telecommunication are found in every major organization in Kenya.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Brain power diaspora

In October 2016, a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that “migrants [from sub-Saharan Africa] in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries could increase from about 7 million in 2013 to about 34 million by 2050,” adding that “the migration of young and educated workers takes a large toll on a region whose human capital is already scarce.” This decades-long haemorrhaging of the continent cannot suddenly be stopped. African universities have to include time spent studying abroad as an integral part of their courses, while encouraging short-term migration that allows these well-educated citizens to return to their home countries.

“Brain drain is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa,” says the World Economic Outlook (October 2016), a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The migration of young and educated workers takes a large toll on a region whose human capital is already scarce. The concentration of migrants among those who are educated is higher than in other developing economies.
The migration of highly-skilled workers entails a high social cost, as is evidenced by the departure of doctors and nurses from Malawi and Zimbabwe, which may mean welfare losses beyond those that are purely economic.” This situation is not new. The African brain drain had already started in the 1980s.
n the 1960s, the higher education policies of newly independent African states reflected a need for them to train their own elites. For some, students would be trained abroad. They received state scholarships and were expected to return home to contribute to their country’s development. In the 1980s, this post-independence euphoria gave way to disenchantment in most African countries. Promises of an escape from poverty were not kept. In a series of successive self-imposed “slimming diets”, the state apparatus drastically cut back on public-sector recruitment. The ideal of a project for the common good began to fade, and a feeling of futility set in. “Employability” became the watchword for educational policy, in Africa and elsewhere. Students increasingly turned towards courses that enabled them to acquire skills that were “saleable” in the world job market. Countries in the North competed for new talent while facing problems in renewing their own workforces. Forecasts of an ageing population and certain policies limiting the number of student places, like the numerus clausus for medical students in France, forced these countries to increasingly turn to foreign labour. They adopted selective immigration policies in an effort to match the skill sets of migrants to the needs of their economies. Faced with a dearth of doctors, France welcomed those from abroad, while Germany attracted foreigners with the skills their industries needed. The internal policies of African countries are among the factors that – alongside the demographic trends of countries of the North, and globalization – transformed African migration from being temporary to being permanent. This was migration with no real prospect or intention of returning, and which was not due, as we have just seen, to economic factors alone (jobs, salaries, working conditions) or policies (persecution, insecurity). It was migration as a prospect for life.
African countries seem to find it impossible to stop the brain drain. Repatriation strategies at any price are proving to be ineffective, so long as governments do not attack the root causes of emigration. And that priority is not given to retaining brains that are fleeing.
There is an alternative, to use the brain power in the diaspora to teach courses in African universities. Such a circulation of skills would open new prospects for African countries at a time of inescapable globalization. university and scientific networks have been set up between home countries and countries with an African diaspora. There is, for example, the University of the Mountains in Cameroon, which has formed an alliance with the Dijon University Hospital and the Paris 13 University in France – and with the University of Udine and the Centro Cardiologico Monzino in Milan, both in Italy.
Morocco is involving its diaspora through national programmes such as the International Forum of Moroccan Competencies Abroad, which supports national research and technology initiatives. In 2009, the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST) in Rabat signed memoranda of understanding with a number of bodies abroad, notably the Association of Moroccan Computer Scientists in France (AIMAF) and the Moroccan-German Skills Network (DMK) in Germany.
Health is an area that would benefit from this kind of cooperation. Cameroonian pharmacists who have settled in Belgium have joined forces with the University of Douala to offer introductory courses in pharmacy. Since 2010, the Association of Cameroonian Physicians in Belgium (MedCamBell) has been organizing professional conferences and public information, prevention and awareness-raising campaigns for Cameroonians.
In parallel, certain countries in the North are encouraging “circular mobility”, or short-term migration, which enables foreigners to work and to specialize in their vocations for a few years, before returning to their country of origin. This circular migration is supported by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), under its Triple Win programme, and Germany’s Federal Employment Agency.
Circular migration benefits both the country of origin as well as the host country, through the transfer of skills and knowledge. And we shouldn’t forget the subjects of all of these initiatives – who are learning by working, who form professional links that might prove useful, and who can earn a better living during their stay abroad, which they can then invest in the economy of their countries of origin someday.
Similar mutually beneficial practices between host country and country of origin operate in the academic world, especially in the United States and Canada, and to a lesser extent, in the United Kingdom and France. African universities with links to higher education and research institutions in these countries are piloting a programme of cooperation with their country of origin, supported by these overseas institutions.
In 2010, Mahmood Mamdani, who was director of the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University, New York (from 1999 to 2004), created the Makerere Institute of Social Research at the Makerere University in Uganda. In 2016, Ousmane Kane, who holds the Chair of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society at the Harvard Divinity School in the US, started an academic exchange programme for students from Senegal, his country of birth.
There is a long list of African researchers and academics who are helping to regenerate higher education and research in their countries of origin, through teaching and research programmes and co-publication projects.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Returning to the land

Poor job prospects and low pay in cities are pushing thousands of unemployed young people to return home and take up farming, said David Mugambi, a lecturer at Chuka University in central Kenya.
"Young people are increasingly realising that farming can pay off," he explained.
Kenyan youth are not only turning to farming, they are bringing their digital skills with them to rural areas, according to Mugambi.
"For example, tech-savvy youth are very good at using mobile apps that tell them when to plant or what fertilisers to use," he said.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rhodesia (1968)

The Review Column from the December 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

Harold Wilson, who knows where the votes come from, has never lost any sleep over upsetting his left wing. So we know what to expect from any negotiations over Rhodesia.

It was clear that the stands originally taken in both London and Salisbury left no chance for discussion. Something had to give if the two sides were ever to talk to each other again. In other words, some promises would have to be broken, some vows once fervently taken would have to be betrayed, some fierce political infighting takes place.

Smith’s political problems were severe, only partly solved by the purge which got rid of men like Lord Graham and by the Rhodesian Front’s recent by-election victory. The big advantage he had was that the Rhodesians could make concessions which were more apparent than real.

Wilson’s problem was to drop the albatross of the original pledge that there would be no agreement to independence without some copper-bottomed guarantee (to use one of the Prime Minister’s favourite phrases) of majority African rule.

The "No” in Nimbar was as unrealistic as Lennox Boyd’s famous “never” over Cyprus independence. Wilson quietly abandoned NIMBAR and suddenly most of the newspapers were telling us that this once-sacred principle was foolish and unreal. Of course the left wing fumed but who cared about them? None of the M.P.s who protested went so far as to risk their career on the principle by resigning their seat. The left have always stopped short of that.

Wilson went on governing and the negotiations continued by his man George Thomson in Africa. At the time of writing the talks have reached deadlock and Thomson is back in London, although it was clear that both sides were straining to reach agreement. Even so, now that there is this apparent readiness to abandon what were once called principles, there will probably be further efforts in the future.

After all, capitalists in Rhodesia and Britain, as well as the Rhodesian farmers, have a lot to gain by the resumption of friendly trading relations. They will not let a little matter of the suppression of a few million people obstruct the noble enterprise of profit.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The African Challenge

On January 17, Italy's parliament approved the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat "irregular migrant flows" and the trafficking of people towards Libya, and, from there, to Europe. A number of other European countries are pursuing similar policies, including France, Germany, and Spain.

The acronym OPL 245 means little, if anything, to most people. Yet, it is the name of the deal for the acquisition of the largest oil block (over 9 billion barrels of crude) in Africa. The $1.1bn invested by European oil and gas companies in the acquisition of this oil block would have covered over 80 percent of Nigeria's entire health budget for 2015. The ordinary citizens of Nigeria did not see a penny from the deal. The acquisition, finalised through blackmail, benefitted only a very limited number of corrupt officials and money launderers.

The natural resources (fuel, gold, gas etc) of most, if not all, African countries and a number of the states in the Eastern Mediterranean are still being syphoned off through offshore companies that, to a large extent, are linked to European and American companies and businessmen. As the Panama Papers confirmed, anonymous companies (about 1400) and tax havens are used to exploit the natural wealth of some of the world's poorest countries.

 People tend to migrate when they feel unsafe or unable to fulfil their needs. In this context, it is enough to mention that, according to data provided by the US State Department, "incidents of terrorism" increased by 6500 percent (199 attacks in 2002, 13,500 in 2014) since George W Bush started the so-called "war on terror" in 2001.

The total population of Africa will grow from the current 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050, while some European countries will see their populations decline or stay relatively stagnant over the same period. For example, the EU predicts Italy's population to decline from nearly 61 million to under 59 million by 2050.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Congo is getting worse

 A humanitarian disaster in eastern Congo is quickly worsening as aid agencies have been forced to pull back due to growing insecurity and slashed budgets, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said. Persistent clashes between government soldiers, local militias and foreign rebels in the eastern borderlands have worsened. The area around Beni has witnessed some of the worst violence in recent years.

More than 4.4 million people have been displaced in Democratic Republic of Congo amid rampant violence that has been aggravated by a political crisis sparked by President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016.

"We are overwhelmed and underfunded," NRC head Jan Egeland told Reuters in an interview in the town of Beni in North Kivu province. "The crisis in Congo, especially here in the eastern part of Congo, is phenomenal. It is horrible. And we do not have the global solidarity and response that we need," he said. "Just outside of town, just here in Beni, there were several massacres in recent days," said Egeland, "These clashes go on endlessly. The civilian population comes in the crossfire."

Clearing the slums - clearing out the corruption

 Corruption, poor management and lack of public consultation have hurt repeated efforts to improve slums, including Kibera, the country's largest, researchers said.

Fieldworkers from Urban ARK, a global research programme, studied three projects in Kenya's slums and recommended future projects consult with affected communities in order to improve the chances of success. Future projects to improve slums must include residents' input rather than imposing solutions on them, said Jack Makau, the Kenyan representative of Slum Dwellers International, a network of urban-poor organisations.

"Working with the community is usually the best entry-point," Makau said.

Kibera, just 5 kilometres (3 miles) from Nairobi city centre, has seen three major upgrade programmes since 2004, but none has significantly improved slum-dwellers' living standards, the researchers said. One reason is a failure to communicate, said Ezekiel Rema, chairman of Muungano Wa Wanavijiji (MWW), which represents slum residents.

"The understanding of our people of slum upgrading (is that) it means slum evictions. That's why you find when a project is initiated it takes over 20 years to (get going)," he told a forum in Nairobi. 

One project Urban ARK studied was the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme, an initiative by the government and the United Nations' urban development agency UN Habitat to build high-rises for families in Kibera. The initiative saw about 1,200 families moved from mud homes to apartments, the ministry of housing said. However, it faced lawsuits from slum-dwellers angered at irregularities in the allocation process.

Another project, the National Youth Service (NYS) Slum Upgrade Initiative, engaged young people to build houses and toilets, and provide daily cleanup activities in Kibera and other slums across the country. It was dogged by scandal and eventually closed after tens of millions of dollars went missing, leading the minister of devolution and planning to resign in November 2015.

A third - the Railways Project - tried forcibly to evict people living alongside the railway in Kibera and move them to new housing elsewhere. It was halted after community activists intervened to prevent the evictions.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why is Africa still hungry?

According to the United Nations, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, affecting about 23 per cent of the population. The situation is worse in Eastern Africa, where the prevalence of undernutrition was about 34 per cent in 2016.
The African Development Bank estimates that Africa spends about $35 billion (Sh3.53 trillion) annually on food importation, and that is estimated to increase to about $110 billion by 2025. Moreover, the number of undernourished people in Africa will rise to 320 million in 2025, up from 240 million in 2015. 

At 57.7 per cent, Burundi has the highest proportion of stunting on the continent. The average stunting rate in East Africa is estimated at 44 per cent. An estimated 3.4 million Kenyans in 23 of the 47 counties were food insecure in September 2017. This was a whopping 31 per cent increase from February 2017. As a result, about 421,000 children under five and 39,000 pregnant and lactating mothers faced acute malnutrition.

Why is Africa still hungry many decades after the colonialists left Africans to run their own affairs? Why is Africa still hungry when the continent recorded the highest GDP growth and is on the upswing? Why does agriculture, which employs more than 70 per cent of Africa’s workforce, contribute the least to the continent’s GDP? Why is Africa still hungry when it is jam-packed with NGOs, civil society, research and academic institutions focused on agriculture? Why is Africa hungry when the World Bank, AfDB and foundations such the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller foundations and MasterCard have made available hundreds of millions of dollars to fund agriculture. Why is Africa still hungry when thousands of African researchers have received higher training in agronomy, economics, soil science, crop and animal breeding, agroforestry, finance and insurance? Why is Africa hungry when each country has an agriculture department and a plethora of policies and strategies? 

Africa has 65 per cent of the world’s uncultivated land. Moreover, the country with the youngest population in the world.

The answer is Capitalism

Monday, February 12, 2018

Background to Aparthied (1968)

From the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

The system of Apartheid thought out and applied by the National Party regime in South Africa is a consciously racist one. There is a long history of repressive and discriminatory legislation aimed against the ‘‘non-white’’, and in particular the African population. The National Party under its leaders Hertzog, Malan, Strijdom and Verwoerd reduced the limited representation of the none-white population until today it is non-existent.

In an effort to stem the rising nationalist fervour among Africans and prevent the consolidation of opposition forces, as represented by the African and Indian National Congresses, and elements of the "Communist" and Liberal Parties, the government has extended the normal ruling class policy of divide and rule to include actual geographical separation. There have thus been created so-called “Bantustans” which, as a scheme on paper, has been so often used by the hypocritical supporters of Apartheid as a conscience absolver. In fact the “Bantustans” or “Black Homelands” amount to nothing more than a large number of scattered reserves covering about one-seventh of South Africa’s territory, much of it of the poorest quality. Claims by the National Party as to the self-governing nature of the reserves are quite false.

The self-set task of the government has been not so much the preservation of the traditional African tribal system as its re-creation. Much of the tribal system was destroyed long ago by military defeat in a series of wars waged against conquest, as well as by the widespread adoption of Christianity. If the government had directed all the resources of the state into a genuine attempt to build up the remnants of the tribal society, it may have halted the clock for a while, but it could not have turned it back. As it was they were unwilling to lose the economic advantage of African farm and factory workers, not to mention personal lackeys. The result has only been to continue and sharpen the internal strife, with the government becoming more desperate and openly repressive in their attempts to safeguard the dominance of the Afrikaner farmer class.

Inevitably the already restricted freedom of speech and press has been removed in an effort to bolster the apartheid regime. Both the African and Indian National Congress that had been so successful in breaking down political apathy among farmers and workers are now banned. One of the most far-reaching attacks on democracy made by the government has been the Suppression of Communism Act. The wide definition given to ‘communism’ and the absolute authority given to the Minister has meant its use against any and all opponents of the regime. Govan Mbeki, the author of The Peasants Revolt was detained in solitary confinement for two months under this law before being acquitted of the charge against him. He was only one of many African political organisers to be subjected to this same sort of treatment. Radio and the press are also subject to censorship and the introduction of television is actively resisted by the S. African state.

In the field of education, the non-white population is at a serious disadvantage both through the type and amount available, though education for white workers is warped in many spheres, in particular, that of race. A large number of distortions appear in the history textbooks provided for both white and non-white pupils. Two myths, in particular, are widely believed, namely that the Dutch landed in an empty territory, and that clashes with African tribes were always violent, with massacres of innocent unsuspecting whites by the Africans. This is in complete contradiction to the accounts of many early travellers. The addition of “race studies” to many school curricula has been fraught with danger from the very beginning, though perhaps more for what it left out than for what it included. There is, for instance, a high percentage of space devoted to “Bantu tribal life in the reserves” but very little to “Bantu in Urban Areas” which has resulted in the whole picture becoming distorted, and most white children left utterly ignorant of the industrial shanties and slums, and the general frustrations suffered by non-white workers.

The policy of Apartheid has been and continues to be, a definite hindrance to industrial expansion in South Africa. While it has provided a vast supply of cheap unskilled labour, it has ignored the pressures of world competition toward the need for increased technical skill and specialisation. The National Bureau for Educational and Social Research reported in 1962 a shortage of 12 per cent among junior scientists and 10 per cent among professional engineers without taking account of posts filled by inadequately trained labour. In its annual Economic Review the South African Reserve Bank drew attention to “an insufficient supply of certain classes of skilled manpower. Such shortages were evident, for example, in the building, iron and steel, general engineering and motor industries”. The Minister of Education, forecast a shortage of 1,500 doctors in 1965, and this in a field which has been more open to Africans than other professions. Capitalist groans at this state of affairs have been echoed by the National Developments Foundation of South Africa, as the following speech by Dr. F. Meyer, its President demonstrates:
  Why cannot we increase productivity and bring down the cost of living? Why cannot we modernise our factories? Why cannot we improve or expand our marketing and selling? and hundreds of similar questions you may ask. The answers arc all the same, namely: because we do not have the trained managerial executive and technical manpower to plan, organize and administer these things. The opportunities are there. We can get the money, the materials and the equipment, but we cannot lay our hands on the trained manpower to turn ideas into action.
It may fairly be said that the capitalist class in South Africa are for the most part opposed to the strict apartheid measures that have been applied, even though their representation on the political field, through first the Unionist and later the United Party, has been one of compromise with the numerically predominant Afrikaner Nationalists currently entrenched in the seat of power The more radical Progressive Party and the now dissolved Liberal party forthrightly called for a multi-racial South Africa taking an attitude very similar to that put forward by W. H. Hutt in his The Economics of the Colour Barpublished in 1964 — “When we buy a product in the free market we do not ask about the sex, race, nationality or political opinions of the producer. All we are interested in is whether it is good value for money”. 

In spite of the ideology of Apartheid and its associated practices, the complete separation of people into tribal and ethnic groupings has proved impossible. With such a closely integrated economic structure, and with all the important harbour facilities, the best arable land, and mineral wealth owned by “white" people, it could not have been otherwise. Hampered as they arc industrialisation and urbanisation continue. in many cases with restrictive employment laws being openly breached. Between 1962 and 1964 the African population of Johannesburg increased from 609,100 to 706,389. Increasing numbers are being recruited through the labour bureaux in the Transkei. The figures are endless, all of them testify to the impossibility of complete separation. They reveal the policy of apartheid as a scheme for the subjection of non-white farmers and workers in the interests of Afrikaner farmers.

That the capitalist class will gain political as well as economic control of South Africa is inevitable. The question remains—when and how. Should the National Party remain in power, unwilling to make any sort of compromise then violence will be the only alternative—a bloody revolt will commence, the result of stifled opinion and pent-up frustrations of years of racism.

Michael Bradley

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fact of the Day

In a recent report of the African Development Bank, the bank said that about 152 million Nigerians now lived below $2 a day which means poverty is on the increase and that Nigeria may have the highest number of poor population by the end of 2019, overtaking India. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

World Bank Leeches

A new World Bank reports documents the continent’s impoverishment by rampant minerals, oil and gas extraction — but the bank enforces policies that feed it. Africa desperately needs diversification from mining, but governments remain influenced by trans-national corporations intent on extraction. Even within the World Bank such bias is evident, as the case of Zambia shows.World Bank staff work not in Zambians’ interests, but on behalf of other international banks and trans-national corporations. From 2002-08, Zambia’s president Levy Mwanawasa came under severe privatisation pressure from the World Bank so as to repay older loans, including those taken out by his corrupt predecessor, Frederick Chiluba. That debt should have been repudiated and cancelled.

When privatising Africa’s largest copper mine, Konkola, Mwanawasa should have received $400m for Zambia’s treasury. But the buyer, Vedanta CEO Anil Agarwal, bragged to a 2014 investment conference in Bangalore how he tricked Mwanawasa into accepting only $25m. "It’s been nine years and, since then, every year it is giving us a minimum of $500m to $1bn."

From 1990-2015 many African countries suffered massive shrinkage in adjusted net savings, including Angola (68% of its wealth), the Republic of the Congo (49%) and Equatorial Guinea (39%).
There are two ways to address trans-national corporations’ capture of African mineral wealth: bottom-up through direct action to block extraction, or top-down through reforms. The latter is exemplified by the African Union’s 2009 alternative mining vision (AMV).
It proclaims, "Arguably the most important vehicle for building local capital are the foreign resource investors — trans-national corporations — who have the requisite capital, skills and expertise."
South African activist Chris Rutledge opposed this neo-liberal logic in a 2017 ActionAid report titled, The AMV: Are we repackaging a colonial paradigm?
"By ramping up models of maximum extraction, the AMV once again stands in direct opposition to our own priorities to ensure resilient livelihoods and securing climate justice. And it does not address the structural causes of structural violence experienced by women, girls and affected communities," it says.

Congo - The People Flee

 On Jan. 13, the Congolese army announced a general offensive against the ADF after an attack on a U.N. base in December blamed on the ADF that killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers. The  military offensive launched last month by Congolese troops against Ugandan militants in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to force nearly 370,000 people from their homes, the United Nations said. The fallout from a joint effort by Congo and Uganda to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) will compound Africa's worst displacement crisis and further stretch meagre humanitarian resources.

Persistent conflict in Congo's eastern borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and insurrection in the centre of the country have displaced 4.3 million people internally. Last year, it led the United Nations to declare Congo a level three humanitarian emergency - on par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The campaign against the ADF is expected to displace 196,300 people in Beni territory and another 173,200 people in neighbouring Lubero territory, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.

More than 532,000 people in the two territories near the Ugandan border fled their homes in 2016 and 2017, largely driven out by attacks by the ADF and other armed groups as well as military responses, the report said. 

"The absence of protection measures for civilians in the most affected zones risks worsening. The risk of shells falling on civilian sites ... cannot be excluded," it said.


Uganda's Child Labor

A new law introduced in 2016 which criminalizes child labor has failed to stop exploitation due to inadequate implementation. More than 2 million children in Uganda are estimated to be still affected.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) claims 45% of children from households living below the poverty line are forced out of school to work and supplement their parents' incomes, with children aged between 5 and 17 years the worst at risk. But although the government approved the Children Amendment Act in 2016, which officially criminalizes child labor, follow-ups on identified cases are often not carried out.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) who are required to tackle child labor say many challenges come with the job – not least of which is the lack of will among the country's leaders to implement the laws, as they seek political popularity.


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Africa's Heritage

The empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were powerful medieval states in West Africa. Each empire was advanced in matters regarding the administration of government and economic prosperity. During each era of their respective histories, they were powerful nations with vital trading links with the commercial world of North Africa and Europe.
Ghana was the first of the three empires to rise as a regional power in West Africa. The history of Ghana is based largely on the writings of Arab travelers who visited and traded with its people. Before the Roman Empire left North Africa in the 4th century AD, Ghana was already a powerful nation. Various countries in Europe were dependent on imports of gold before the discovery of America. The “civilization” of Ghana was advanced to such a level that a system of taxation was imposed on every load of goods entering or leaving the empire. Trading, therefore, was a highly organized system on which the wealth and importance of Ghana was based. According to El-farzari, an Arab writer of that period, the people of Ghana were also successful in exporting their advanced methods of warfare and their weapons, which were swords and lances.
The Empire of Mali emerged when Ghana’s powers declined. In the 13th century, the Mandingo speaking people began to extend their kingdom and pushed towards the south and southeast regions of West Africa. Ghana’s military forces were eventually defeated. When Sundaiata Keita became ruler of Mali, it became the most powerful of all the kingdoms of the Sudan. The gold trades continue to flourish under his reign. After Sundiata, his grandson, Mansa Musa, became ruler. During his reign, Mali became known throughout the Mediterranean world and in Europe.
During the decline of Mali, the Songhai Empire emerged. In about 1464, Soni Ali became king of Songhai. He was an ambitious young man who led his army to capture Timbuktu, a city known for its learning centers and trade routes, in 1468. Thereafter, he also captured Jenne, another famous city like Timbuktu. After Soni Ali’s death, one of his generals removed his son from the throne and took control of the empire by force. He, thereafter, named himself Mohammed. Mohammed was very organized and instituted a system of disciplined governance. He created a number of central offices, similar to our contemporary government departments to oversee justice, finance, agriculture, and other matters of importance in the affairs of the state. Under his rule, trade in gold from Sudan continued to flow northward into Europe. Askia Mohammed imported manufactured goods, clothes, and salt from Spain and Germany. It was also during his reign that Timbuktu became a greater center of learning. Its university, one the first in Africa, was so famous that scholars came to it from all over the Muslim world, Europe, and Asia. As a Muslim himself, Askia allowed Islamic influence to spread throughout the Sudan.