Once upon a time
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Wednesday, August 02, 2023
Thursday, July 20, 2023
Kenyans are experiencing the effects of both capitalism and the futility of trusting in ‘leaders’. The soaring cost of living has led to protests with extreme violence resulting, according to the United Nations human Rights Office, in protesters deaths and injuries. To protect its power, and those of the asset owning class, the State will always initially resort to those members of the working class who have undertaken to defend bourgeoisie interests even to the extent of beating and shooting fellow workers.
‘Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for three days of anti-government protests starting on Wednesday.
The latest demonstrations are against tax hikes and follow two previous sets of protests this year against the soaring cost of living in East Africa’s economic hub and alleged malpractice in last year’s presidential election, which Odinga lost.
The new taxes were to take effect on July 1, but a Nairobi court halted their implementation pending further legal proceedings. Still, a tax increase on petroleum products was imposed, increasing fuel costs.
Odinga said more protests could be held after this week.
What are the latest protests about?
Odinga announced the protests on June 14 against a new finance bill, which introduced a 1.5 percent housing levy, a 16 percent tax on petroleum products and a 16 percent value-added tax (VAT) on money that policyholders receive as compensation from insurance companies.
“That finance bill will be the last nail in the coffin,” Odinga told his supporters. “If it is passed, it will make Kenyans slaves of paying taxes. …When they pass that bill, that will be the trumpet call. Will you be ready?”
The bill was signed into law on June 26.
On July 10, Kenya’s High Court extended an order barring Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u from implementing it.
The government mostly obeyed the ruling except for the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, which increased fuel prices, triggering an increase in public transport costs.
The price increases are from 182.04 shillings ($1.29) to 195.53 shillings ($1.38) per litre of petrol, 164.28 shillings ($1.16) to 176.67 shillings ($1.25) for a litre of diesel and from 161.48 shillings ($1.14) to 173.44 shillings ($1.22) per litre of kerosene.
What is the finance act about?
During the presidential campaign,the eventual winner, William Ruto, promised to reduce the cost of living and positioned himself as a poor “hustler” eager to wrest power away from the ruling dynasties that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga, sons of independent Kenya’s first president and vice president, represented. The younger Kenyatta endorsed the younger Odinga rather than his deputy, but Ruto was declared the winner and was sworn into office in September. President Ruto inherited an enormous government debt. At the time Kenyatta took office in 2013, it stood at 1.79 trillion shillings ($13bn). By the time Kenyatta left office, it had ballooned to 8.7 trillion shillings ($61bn).
Ruto then removed fuel subsidies, leading to a spike in the prices of basic commodities like bread and maize flour, which are directly affected by the cost of energy and transport.“In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidised,” he said in his inauguration speech.
New taxes followed. In addition to the housing levy, petroleum products tax and insurance compensation tax, digital assets taxes were also introduced. The government also imposed a 3 percent levy on transfer charges applied during the exchange of assets that cover non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and digital currencies.
The finance act also introduced a 15 percent withholding tax for digital content creators, a 35 percent tax for people earning above 500,000 shillings ($3,536) annually and the VAT on petroleum products was increased from 8 percent to 16 percent.
According to economists, the law will increase tax revenues collected from high-income earners while shrinking individual net income for low-income earners because of increased tax burdens.
What have the effects of the protests been?
According to a statement by a spokesman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, up to 23 people were killed by the police and dozens were injured in demonstrations in the past week. A couple of opposition members were also arrested.
“The UN is very concerned by the widespread violence and allegations of disproportionate use of force, including the use of firearms by the police during protests in Kenya,” Jeremy Laurence said. “We call for prompt, thorough, independent and transparent investigations into the deaths and injuries.
”What happens next?
Thousands of opposition supporters have protested in Nairobi and a number of other cities on back-to-back Mondays and Thursdays despite a strong pushback from law enforcement, so massive numbers are expected for the protests this week’.
Namibia is a a country in Southern Africa. Its population is over two million eight hundred thousand. Twenty six per cent of its population live in extreme poverty.
The most deprivation occurs in the the rural areas.
A report in the Namibian would appear to indicate that almost half of Namibia’s population are living in poverty or extreme poverty.
‘Almost half of the country’s population are faced with poverty, says prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. She was speaking at the launch of the delayed sixth National Development Plan (NDP6) by the National Planning Commission (NPC).
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government had reduced poverty from 38% to about 18%, however, matters have since worsened.
“If you look at the new formula to calculate poverty, close to 50% of the population is living under poverty,” she said. Since 2016, the country experienced a macro-economic deterioration which exposed Namibia’s vulnerability to external shocks, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
“These had a negative impact on our poverty and inequality. In fact, the gains we made in reducing poverty were almost completely wiped out,” she said.
A month ago, The Namibian reported that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said 43% of the country’s population are experiencing multidimensional poverty.
According to the UNFPA 2022 annual report, the Gini coefficient index shows that income inequality in Namibia stands at 57,2%.
The Gini index is a summary measure of income inequality, which incorporates the detailed shared data into a single statistic, summarising the dispersion of income across the entire income distribution.
The report indicates that the unemployment rate stands at 33,4%, with youths aged 15-34 taking up 46,1%, while women take up 48,5%.
The report further indicates that 46% of households are female-headed, while 41% are male-headed.
At that time, economic analyst Arney Tjaronda told The Namibian these figures are not surprising, as the cost of living has drastically increased while salaries remain low.
He said most concerning is the high unemployment rate in the country, and a job market that is unable to absorb the high number of graduates’.
An unemployment rate of over a third with young people and women being affected the most means that many Nambians are struggling under capitalism.
The World Bank notes: ‘Economic advantage remains in the hands of a relatively small segment of the population, and significant inequality continues. This lack of inclusiveness and society’s vast disparities have led to a dual economy—a highly developed modern sector, co-existing with an informal subsistence-oriented one’.
‘Namibia ranks as one of the world’s most unequal countries. Its Gini coefficient of 59.1 in 2015 was second only to South Africa. Geographical disparities in both economic opportunities and access to services are large and widening. High levels of inequality result in starkly different poverty rates across different groups, including by age and gender’.
‘Due to consistently negative per capita GDP growth since 2016, and the negative impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods, poverty rates are projected to have increased. Typically, female-headed households, less educated, larger families, children and the elderly, and labourers in subsistence farming, are particularly prone to poverty.
Capitalism is global. Capitalism is the cause of such misery. Capitalism is not the solution. Socialism is.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Nigerians experienced an almost twenty five per cent increase in their food bills in May.
Following on here from a post on poverty in Nigeria, 5 July, it is now reported that:
‘A state of emergency has been declared in Nigeria as a result of food shortages and surging prices, with the country’s government announcing a range of measures to address the crisis.
On Thursday, it was announced that fertilizers and grains will “immediately” be released to farmers, and 500,000 hectares of farmland and river basins will be activated for year-round farming.
The move will also expand the central bank’s role in financing the agricultural value chain.
“We declared a state of emergency and unveiled a comprehensive intervention plan on food security, affordability, and sustainability, taking decisive action to tackle food inflation,” President Bola Tinubu said on Twitter.
Tinubu emphasized that the goal of the intervention was to promote agriculture and increase job creation, pledging that “no one will be left behind” in his government’s efforts to ensure “affordable, plentiful food.”
Attahiru Bafarawa, a former governor of Nigeria’s Sokoto State, had warned earlier this month about banditry in the country’s north, saying it threatens food security and was a “serious disaster.”
Africa’s largest economy has seen a surge in the cost of food and transportation due to the president’s removal of fuel subsidies and sweeping exchange-rate reform since May.
In a statement on Thursday, government spokesperson Dele Alake said “savings from the fuel subsidy removal” would be directed at revamping the agricultural sector.
A National Commodity Board will be established and charged with reviewing food prices and maintaining a “strategic food reserve that will be used as a price stabilization mechanism for critical grains and other food items,” Alake said.
The cost of food in Nigeria had increased by 24.82% in May compared to the same time last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). It explained that the year-on-year increase in food inflation was caused, among other things, by price hikes in oil, yam, bread, cereals, and fish.’
We will keep on saying it; the solution is socialism.
Wednesday, July 05, 2023
The World Poverty Clock is a tool used to track poverty progress worldwide.
‘Nigeria has the awful distinction of being the world capital of poverty, with 71 million people living in extreme poverty today (World Poverty Clock, 2023) and a total of 133 million people classed as multidimensionally poor according to National Bureau of Statistics data.
About 828 million people will wake up every day having no idea when or where their next meal will come from, and many will go to bed that day without eating anything. This is according to a 2021 UN report. The UN further states that of these 828 million people, 25,000 will die today, including more than 10,000 children.
The T200 Foundation’s report shows that Nigeria has a serious hunger problem with a Global Hunger Index score of 27.9, but there are significant variations in the score across states.
Executive Director of T200 Foundation, Amb. Emmanuel Osadebay stressed the need for collaboration among stakeholders to end hunger in Nigeria by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.'
Thursday, June 08, 2023
'Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said South Africa had no intention of arresting Russian President Vladimir Putin after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him' Eyewitness News, 8 June).
Were any of SA's first three presidents put on trial for supporting another dictator, Mugabe of neighboring Zimbabwe? Mbeki during his tenure promoted alternative remedies such as vinegar rather than antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) which saved the state’s funds at a cost of up to 365,000 lives. Some members of the 99 percent called for him to be tried for crimes against humanity. Was he? Sharpeville II took place on 16 August 2012. With 17 workers killed and 78 wounded by the police, the Marikana Miners’ Massacre was the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against other workers since 1976. Commissioner Phiyega said that the police had acted well within their legislative mandate. Ramaphosa and King Zuma share responsibility for this mass murder. Were there ever plans to put them on trial? In June 2015, while in South Africa for an African Union meeting, the former dictator of Sudan (and one of 15 on the ICC's most wanted list), al-Bashir, was prohibited from leaving while a court decided whether he should be handed over to the ICC for war crimes. Was he?
The answer to all the above is NO! It is futile to punish such odious individuals whilst ignoring the vicious conditions which made them possible. War criminals are not responsible for war, which is caused by the struggles between competing capitalist states over markets and economic resources. War will only end with the abolition of capitalism. The dictators of yesterday, and the dictators and leaders of today, with their frightening military machines, only reflect the preparedness of their workers to ignore the bloodshed of all the conflicts before, during and after the war to end all wars and still to die for capitalism.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
MPs in Uganda have passed a controversial anti-LGBTQ+ bill, which would make homosexual acts punishable by death.
All but two of the 389 legislators voted for the hardline anti-homosexuality bill.
Fox Odoi-Oywelowo and Paul Kwizera Bucyana, opposed the new legislation.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
M23 rebels are perpetrating summary killings and rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – and they are doing it with the backing of the regime of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame. That was the conclusion of Amnesty International.
A recent 235-page UN report on the DRC includes aerial footage as well as photographic and video evidence, showing how Rwanda has been aiding and abetting M23 violence with cross-border supplies of artillery, weapons and ammunition. The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) has been reinforcing and fighting alongside M23.
Rishi Sunak, spoke to Kagame in what government advisers presented as a friendly call to discuss the UK-Rwanda “migration partnership” and “joint efforts to break the business model of criminal people smugglers and address humanitarian issues”.
Neither Kagame nor any of the M23 henchmen have been held to account for these grave violations – not during phone calls with Sunak, who still wants his migrant deportation pact with Rwanda, and not in the continued arming, funding and training of Kagame’s government and army by Britain and the US.
A surge in attacks on LGBTQ+ people in Uganda has been recorded by rights groups this year.
More than 110 people reported incidents including arrests, sexual violence, evictions and public undressing, to advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) in February alone. Transgender people were disproportionately affected, said the group.
“We haven’t seen anything like this in years,” said Frank Mugisha, director of Smug. “It is part of a deliberate, calculated, very systematic move by groups within government, parliament and the conservative evangelicals trying to erase the LGBTQ+ community.”
Smug said it had received reports of people having to flee their homes to avoid arrest by police tipped off by the public. Attacks have taken place at private events, parties and football games. A teacher at a girls’ school in Jinja, east of the capital, was arrested over allegations of “promoting homosexuality” at the school, amid suspicion she was a lesbian. Three trans women were arrested at their homes in the capital, Kampala, last month, and charged with committing “unnatural offences” and subjected to anal examinations.
“It’s a madhouse,” said Mugisha, adding that his organisation is overwhelmed by the numbers who need help. “Things have escalated to the worst. Before, there was fear from law enforcement but not fear from communities, from ordinary Ugandans like we are seeing now.”
Ugandan MPs reintroduced an anti-homosexuality bill, which would punish gay sex and “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities”. Religious groups in Uganda have been vocal in their persecution of homosexuality. Activists say that laws which indirectly criminalise trans people, such as impersonation and public indecency, or those that criminalise same-sex relations, add intense scrutiny.
Mukisa, a transgender and a former nurse, says, “People are living in fear and in hiding. “This whole situation is setting us back.”
Friday, March 10, 2023
Bad news from the DRC never stops arriving.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned of a growing humanitarian catastrophe in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where fighting between government forces and armed groups has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee.
“Civilians continue to pay the heavy and bloody price of conflict, including women and children who barely escaped the violence and are now sleeping out in the open air in spontaneous or organised sites, exhausted and traumatised.”
Most of the land routes to Goma have now been cut off, leaving flights the only reliable way to bring in supplies.
Thursday, March 02, 2023
The sixth annual One Planet Summit began on Wednesday, with the fate of forests at the top of the agenda. Politicians, scientists and NGOs met in Libreville, Gabon, to discuss the future of rainforests in the Congo basin, Southeast Asia and the Amazon basin. This year’s conference has been named the "One Forest Summit" to reflect this focus.
“The decision to hold this summit in the Congo basin is significant because Central Africa’s tropical forest is one of the main carbon sinks on the planet,” says Alain Karsenty, forest economist and researcher at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and a Central Africa specialist.
The tropical rainforest, which spans Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, currently stores stocks of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to 10 years’ worth of global emissions.
“Forests in Southeast Asia now emit more CO2 than they absorb due to deforestation,” Karsenty says. “In the Amazon, studies show that we are reaching a tipping point. The only place where forests are definitely still absorbing more CO2 than they emit is in Central Africa.”
In the Amazon, thousands of trees have been razed to make space for soy farms and pasture for livestock, and in Indonesia palm oil production has led to millions of hectares of deforestation.
But Central Africa’s rainforests have been largely – if not entirely – spared.
“Deforestation began in 2010, spurred by the pressure of a growing population. It was linked to slash-and-burn agriculture, which many farmers depend on, and the use of charcoal,” Karsenty says.
Levels of such “poverty deforestation” vary from country to country in the Congo basin. DRC was home to 40% of global deforestation in 2021, second only to Brazil.
But Gabon, which has a significantly smaller population than its neighbour, is a low deforestation country. “And Gabon has gradually emerged as the model student in the region,” Karsenty says. The country is called “Africa’s Last Eden” due to more than 85% of its territory being covered by rainforest.
Strict laws against using the forest for industry were also implemented, meaning manufacturers could only cut down a maximum of two trees per hectare, every 25 years. To deter illegal felling, logs were marked with barcodes so that they could be tracked, “which created jobs, helped the economy to flourish and limited deforestation”, Karsenty says.
As a final measure, Gabon inaugurated 13 national parks covering 11% of its land mass and installed a satellite-based surveillance system to monitor deforestation.
Karsenty says, “We need to go beyond these arguments and beyond rivalries, to put in place a communal agenda from countries in the Congo basin, achieve regional cooperation and preserve this tropical forest.”
Wednesday, March 01, 2023
The number of displacements in Somalia reached a new high of 3.8 million people, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Deputy Director General for Operations, Ugochi Daniels.
Climate risks and conflict will amplify current gaps following five consecutive below-average rainy seasons and a projected sixth in early 2023, which could force tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in major cities and towns, particularly in Baidoa and Mogadishu where IOM projects that approximately 300,000 people could be newly displaced by July 2023.
Most of the newly displaced might never go back to their places of origin because the land can no longer provide, and insecurity will only increase as competition for the already scarce resources grows. As a result, entire families will be born and raised in informal settlements amid unsuitable living conditions.
Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to climatic shocks and is one of the most drought-prone countries in the world1, and the severe drought that began in late 2020 has continued into 2023 with the passing of five poor to failed rainy seasons.
The 2023 Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requires $3.99 billion to target more than 20 million people across the country. This includes an estimated 4.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs).
13 million people are targeted for humanitarian response in drought-affected areas. The situation is getting more critical with each failed rainy season and has severely impacted pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities, particularly in the eastern and southern parts of the country, aggravating food insecurity, malnutrition, access to water and a worsening health situation with an increase of disease outbreaks. Worth noting is that some parts of Ethiopia are critically affected by both drought and conflict simultaneously, including Oromia and Somali regions.
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the humanitarian community today launched the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims at raising $2.25 billion to support the critical needs of 10 million vulnerable people in the country.
"Beyond mobilizing funds for vital needs, the Humanitarian Response Plan is a reminder of our common humanity, solidarity and shared responsibility towards populations affected by conflict, epidemics and natural disasters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains a major complex crisis and deserves all the attention it can get," said the Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Bruno Lemarquis.
Over the past 12 months, the humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by a spike in violence, particularly in North Kivu province where more than 600,000 people have been newly displaced since March 2022. In neighboring Ituri province, localities have been and continue to be the scene of inter-communal massacres, including in IDP sites, while diseases such as measles continue to affect thousands in South Kivu province.
Across the country, an estimated 26.4 million people are food insecure, making DRC the most food insecure country in the world.
Also, with 5.7 million people displaced by conflict, DRC has the largest number of internally displaced people on the African continent.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Russia seeks greater influence in Africa, and the Wagner Group is likely to be as much a part of this.
In the Central African Republic, for example, 1,890 "Russian instructors" are supporting government troops in the ongoing civil war.
In Libya, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries are believed to be fighting on the side of rebel leader Khalifa Hifter.
In Mali, the pro-Russian, anti-Western military junta has also brought hundreds of Wagner fighters into the country, where they are also accused of serious human rights violations.
In Chad, The Wall Street Journal, citing US intelligence sources, reported that the Wagner group was working with local rebels to plan a coup.
The Wagner group has been raking in massive profits with precious tropical timber from the Central African Republic. According to the report, the government in Bangui granted a subsidiary unrestricted logging rights across 187,000 hectares (722 square miles).
In the case of the Ndassima gold mine a concession was withdrawn from a Canadian mining company in favor of one from Madagascar that appears to be a Wagner subsidiary.
The First Industrial Company, which produces beer and spirits in Bangui, is apparently registered to a Russian businessman tied to Wagner.
For African governments, it can be quite attractive to pay for Wagner's services with mining rights or market access,
A representative of the All Eyes on Wagner research collective said. "You don't have to withdraw money from your account. You can just say, 'Here, for 25, 50 or 100 years, you can exploit this mine without any problems.' "
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Friday, February 24, 2023
“The EU and UK export a combined 74 million items of waste clothing to Kenya every year, an investigation by two NGOs has found. These useless textiles are often burned or dumped in landfills, despite most of them being made of toxic synthetic materials, the report claimed.
Published last week, the report found that of the 149 million items of used textiles exported to Kenya every year by the EU and UK, 74 million are instantly classified as waste upon arrival. Furthermore, almost 50 million of these waste items are plastic-based, meaning they cannot be easily disposed of.
Germany sends more of this waste clothing than any other European country, shipping 25 million waste items to Kenya every year. Poland is in second place, sending 18.5 million, with the UK sending 18.3 million. These three countries, along with Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, France, and Ireland, are responsible for 95% of all second-hand clothing exports from the EU to Kenya.
These statistics were compiled by Clean Up Kenya and Wildlight on behalf of the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation. In researching the report, teams from these NGOs found plastic-based clothing piled four storeys high in a dump in Nairobi, with items spilling into a river.
Items that aren’t piled into similar landfills are often burnt for fuel, the report claimed. Burning polyester clothes – which account for more than two thirds of textiles produced worldwide – “is highly toxic and contributes to air pollution as well as a myriad of health problems,” the report’s authors stated.
Importing used clothing is a thriving industry in Kenya that employs up to 2 million people. However, while the report says that “the lion’s share” of imports from Europe are waste, an industry spokesperson told Euronews that this is “misinformation.”
"This European report assumes that [clothing] traders in Kenya spend their money importing 50 per cent waste," the spokesperson said, adding that importers would be “fools” to do this. "This report is demeaning and an insult to all who work in the second-hand clothes trade across the continent and by spreading misinformation it further threatens millions of livelihoods,” she added.”
“Large swathes of the Greater Horn of Africa region will not likely see much rain until June, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center has warned. The organization says that countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda may be on course to experience a drought more severe than that of 2010 to 2012, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
The IGAD regional bloc issued the alarming forecast on Wednesday, saying in a statement that “in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season.”
Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Tanzania, and western South Sudan are likely to face similar adverse weather conditions in parts, they added.
With the March-May period contributing up to 60% of the total annual rainfall in parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, “the current trends are worse than those observed during the drought of 2010-2011,” the weather monitoring organization said.
The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), co-chaired by IGAD, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, estimated that approximately 23 million people are currently facing severe food shortages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. They added that any changes for the better in the weather during the early summer will have a delayed effect on food security in the region.
IGAD’s executive secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, called for an “immediate scaling-up of humanitarian and risk reduction efforts.” He urged national governments, as well as humanitarian and development organizations, to “adopt a no-regret approach before it’s too late.”
Mohammed Mukhier of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Africa expressed concern that the expected drought could further exacerbate “humanitarian challenges in the region, including the ongoing hunger crisis, the impacts of COVID-19 and internal displacement.”
According to UN estimates, 260,000 people, half of them children under five, died of drought-induced starvation in Somalia alone between October 2010 and April 2012.
Speaking in 2013, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, argued that a lack of early action despite indications of a looming drought was in part to blame for the massive death toll.”