Archive | August 1st, 2016

Prejudice disguised as critique: The legacy of AU Commission Chair Dlamini-Zuma

SIPHIWE SIBEKO / Reuters

Opinion is divided over the legacy of the AU Chairperson. It is arguable that she has resolved some of the historical challenges of the Commission and predictably either failed or worsened others. However, on the whole, Dlamini-Zuma has demonstrated what leadership can do if it is impelled by a clear vision.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ascended to the leadership of the African Union Commission Chair (AUC) amidst much controversy, not least the polarisation that ensued between Southern Africa and Central Africa on the one hand and the West and East Africa on the other. She prevailed after a bruising battle with the then incumbent Jean Ping. Dr. Zuma became the first Southern African and woman to head the African Union Commission since the inception of the African Union in 2002. She also became the first national of Africa’s big-five countries to lead the continental body much against the standing tradition to leave the post to smaller countries as a means of balance of power since the Organisation of African Unity days.

The messy power struggles that preceded her ascent to power and the reality of an institution fossilised in binary politics of language and crude regionalism were always going to be her bane. As though that was not enough, Dr. Zuma had to contend with a bureaucracy that had for years mastered the art of self-interest, dodgy deal-making, corruption, outright cronyism and unreceptiveness to fresh ideas and thinking. The administrative apparatus that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma inherited from her predecessors was shambolic, heavy on protocol rituals and very weak on delivery. The idea of a result based management or outcome based programming was rocket science. Everyone, including the systems prime beneficiaries, agreed that change was overdue.

Beyond the blurred ethical parameters, the African Union Commission was more an assemblage of silo departments run almost exclusively by donor interests with little coherence and common planning. Performance management was not only non-existent; it was viciously resisted as antithetical to the agenda of endless unproductive meetings.

She inherited a Commission which on paper had the right rhetoric, commitments, structures and personnel, but in reality one that was a mere paper lion. It lacked coherence and cohesion. On paper it had a department responsible for citizen affairs and diaspora and an ECOSOCC that barely met the aspirations of the bulk of organised civil society and social movements. Its erstwhile leadership in 2012/13 indicted it as corrupt and moribund. That notoriously inefficient platform for engagement between citizens and the African Union leadership was – candidly speaking – stillborn. It favoured those who were allied with its then leadership and hardly delivered anything of consequence to African Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders who were suffering from the onslaught of increasingly intolerant states and political elites.

Though there was a functional gender directorate that was regularly quoted and a youth division, these were woefully inadequate when it came to real transformative value beyond high-sounding declarations. African youth before the Zuma era were there to be seen and not heard. Even their department was headed by persons long past their youth.

Overall, the Commission was emasculated by an increasingly bullish Permanent Representative Council (PRC) and a band of Commissioners who were not politically accountable beyond their nation-states.

So has anything changed? Has Zuma been worth it?

Dr. Nkosazana Zuma-Dlamini has only been head of the AUC for less than 5 years. Any person with an understanding of performance management, let alone result based management, will tell you that for an institution as large and complex as the African Union Commission, it is almost impossible to make a dent on institutional culture within a period short of 6 years. Worse still for Dr. Zuma, she first had to establish a benchmark.

For those who care to remember, Alpha Konare had undertaken an institutional assessment of the African Union which – amongst others- had confirmed a dire dysfunction at the Commission. It is not clear why Jean Ping ignored it. One can only surmise that he was busy agreeing with Beijing on the construction of the new building. But the findings of the Adedeji report are instructive regarding four factors, namely:

  • The true lack of power of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission viz-a-viz the PRC, Executive Council and Assembly;
  • The false consciousness of an AU reform agenda driven by loosely coordinated and almost wholly funded RECs, Organs and Institutions; and
  • The poor or lack of effective participation by African citizens
  • Administrative, operational and political challenges implicit in the AU Structure and business model

These daunting challenges were well known and already on the table when Dr. Nkosazana Zuma-Dlamini took over a largely cash-strapped Commission polarised by her very election to its helm.

It is arguable that she has resolved some of the historical challenges and predictably either failed or worsened others. However, on the whole, she has demonstrated what leadership can do if it is impelled by a clear vision. Let me explain the basis of my favourable assessment of her short tenure. I have avoided comparing it to her most recent predecessors to steer clear of the sterile measurements based purely on what she did or did not do for certain regions or countries.

A fossilized bureaucracy 

Though she never succeeded to change the internal locomotive and bureaucratic functioning of the Africa Union Commission, when history is written, Madam Zuma will surely go down as one of the most consequential Chairpersons of the AUC. Although she didn’t change the bureaucracy, she managed to get a Union-wide consensus on the need for change and greater alignment of all AU Organs, Institutions and Structures. There are now clear costed plans for the AUC restructuring that her successor can implement and to wit with a proper capacity needs assessment and development plan. In fairness, it was never within her power to change the job descriptions of Commissioners and her other subordinates without the consent of the PRC and Executive Council. The fact that the PRC acts as boss over the Commission is itself a splendid travesty. Within her own powers, she ensured the appointment of highly qualified individuals into various positions to help her drive her dreams of an effective Commission. Little wonder most of the Departments where these new crop of appointees are have taken up initiatives such as the Legal Associates Programme and AU Leadership Academy.

As the Adedeji report suggested, without a restructuring of the relationship between the Chairperson and the Commissioners, departmental level accountability and efficiency will remain lacking. What is suggested will be a possibility of the Member States electing the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson with the powers to appoint their own team. This way, the responsibility of delivering on set agenda becomes wholly owned by the Chairperson and his/her Deputy.

In addition to this is the antics of some Member States on staff matters within the Commission. The fact that some of them shamelessly defend, cover-up and in most cases threaten the Commission’s leadership against taking disciplinary measures on their citizens in the employ of the Commission found wanting in the exercise of their duties is disheartening. AU Commission cannot be the burial ground for misfits and people with questionable character or capacity.

Interestingly, the just concluded Summit has requested President Paul Kagame to head a panel on the restructuring of the AU Commission. With no less than President Kagame, a man of proven and enviable efficiency, effectiveness and excellence, there is no doubt that if the report is implemented (and does not go the way of the Obasanjo alternative financing model), this will signal a good omen for the Commission.

African citizenship and common African passport

For more than a century, efforts to achieve a borderless Africa failed. Jean Ping spoke about it tirelessly to no avail; President Alpha Oumar Konare also was unable to make any significant headway. Then on July 17, 2016 Zuma presented the new African Union passport to the AU Chairperson Idriss Derby of Chad and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. For all true Pan-Africanists, this aspirational bold move, though not sufficient, established for the first time in the history of Africa that it is possible to achieve one of the fundamental goals for which the then OAU was created. It shows that with determination of commitments of African leaders, free movement of Africans within Africa is an achievable objective. This is a groundbreaking step for the continent. One that was at the essence of postcolonial OAU struggles but that has become difficult to achieve for many decades. The only regret is that –due largely to the nature of intergovernmental relations – the first passports are being issued to bureaucrats and political elites who already travel freely across Africa on their diplomatic passports. Why not a female cross-border trader or young woman scholar?

Nonetheless, this was a classic Zuma coup. It was an example of the many ways she tried to bulldoze her ideas and initiatives on a system designed to take its time to decide on any issue. What is most striking about this African passport is the intention by Zuma to force the hand of Member States on the need to open up their borders and foster a visa-free continent for its citizens. The symbolic action of issuing the passports to the Presidents without the completion and adoption of the Freedom of Movement Protocol will ensure that no matter what happens, reactionary forces cannot stop the protocol when it finally comes for adoption at the Summit in 2018.

Agenda 2063

Its most vicious critics argue that it is a subversive attempt to dilute a more transformative African development pathway articulated in the Lagos Plan of Action and African Alternative to Structural Adjustment Programme (AFSAP), but Agenda 2063 marks a clear definitive plan for Africa. It was Dr. Zuma’s leadership that persuaded Africa leaders, CSOs and other private sector actors, to rally behind a continental development agenda 2063. Never since the independence struggles of the late 1950s and 1960s had the continent rallied around a single but multi-faceted cause. Aimed at socio-economically and politically transforming the lives of the one billion citizens, shifting the focus from political independence to domestic growth, equality and infrastructural transformation of the continent. It is no mean feat that she managed to have a Capacity Needs Assessment and Capacity Development Plan and a ten-year Implementation Plan for Agenda 2063 done in less than 3 years.

One Africa, one voice

Unlike the weak negotiating position Africa endured during the development of the Millennium Development Goals, thanks to her vision, at the time of the development of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, Africans had already galvanized themselves around a common position making their voices and opinion relevant at the negotiating table. The Common Africa Position (CAP 2015) strengthened Africa’s negotiating power and clarity within the broader global processes.

This model was also replicated for the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey where Africa was the only region with a Common African Position on global humanitarian effectiveness. A major component of this position is the proposal to establish an African Humanitarian Agency aimed at facilitating operational humanitarian responses in the event of disasters on the continent. Currently, the Commission is coordinating the development of a Common African Position on Habitat III scheduled for October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. This was a deliberate attempt at ensuring that the African Union speaks with one voice on continental and global issues.

AU financing

Under Dlamini-Zuma’s leadership, following President Obasanjo’s report, for the first time, the AU took a decision to overcome its financial challenges and to fund 100% Operations Budget, 75% Programme Budget and 25% Peace and Security budget. Last week in Kigali, we saw signs of progress on this agenda when for the very first time, the African Union summit finally adopted a resolution to institute a 0.2 percent levy on eligible imports, in order to address the funding challenges the African Union has faced since its inception. This is a result of concerted efforts even after Member States threw out the initial proposals from the Obasanjo Panel on Alternative Financing.

Through a consistent addition of the financing issue on the Summit agenda and the appointment of Donald Kaberuka, former head of the African Development Bank, the AU Commission Chair has shown an uncommon tenacity to get the issue resolved. The onus of implementation is now in the hands of whoever her successor is.

Another mechanism established during her tenure is the little known AU Foundation aimed at mobilizing private sector resources to support the work of the African Union Commission.

Ebola crisis

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was not the first AUC Chairperson to lead in the context of humanitarian crises or epidemics (Evian Flu, HIV/AIDS, war, volcanic eruption in DRC, terrorism in the Horn and Sahel Region, etcetera). Many of her predecessors waxed lyrical and were rhetorical full of clichés describing but not resolving the problems that confronted them. Dr. Zuma’s leadership has been different in its activism and forthrightness. Confronted by one of the worst humanitarian and man-made crises the continent has ever faced in recent history, she swung into action in the face of divergent Member State reactions (some banning travels) and the challenge of coordinating efforts through intense lobbying. She convened and led an unprecedented fundraising drive on November 8, 2015 to support countries fight the catastrophe ushered by the Ebola under her leadership, and for the very first time, the private sector was mobilized to raise $32 million in one sitting; 855 volunteer health workers deployed to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea via national structures and the ASEOWA mission. In fact, through the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, over $100 million additional funds were raised from the #AfricaAgainstEbola SMS Campaign. These funds are now being channeled into the Africa Center for Diseases Control (CDC).

Vowing to ensure that the continent is able to anticipate and respond to such occurrences in future, she provided the leadership for the operationalisation of the African Centre for Disease Control. The need for an African CDC was recognized at the African Union Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Abuja in July 2013. The concept has since moved through various stages of development, stakeholder review, and approval. The African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (African CDC) will help African countries effectively monitor public health, respond to public health emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity.

Ending impunity

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was able to set up an unprecedented AU Commission of Inquiry, an all-African initiative led by President Obasanjo with a comprehensive report that informed the August 2015 peace deal and the decision to establish a Hybrid Court on South Sudan. The onus of implementation of this report is in the hands of the AU Member States, one of the grey areas in the real powers of the Commission in the face of all-powerful Member States.

Under her leadership, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic were suspended over unconstitutional changes of government and alongside policy organs, led various interventions to ensure the return to constitutional order. The swift response of the AUC alongside its counterparts in ECOWAS and UNOWA on the eve of the resignation of former President Blaise Compaore, occasioned by the annual governance gathering – DGTrends – remains a highlight of her tenure.

Even the unfortunate Burundi issue was not because of her lack of engagement but that of the realities of state-centric geo-political dynamics of the East African region. It was on record that the Commission (represented by Commissioner for Political Affairs, Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Chairperson at different times) visited the country and met with various stakeholders more than a year before the controversial elections, prevailing on the authorities in Burundi to abide by the spirit of the Arusha Accord and their constitution.

Total independence of colonised African territories

Never afraid to take controversial positions, Madam Zuma supported the self-determination struggles of the people of Western Sahara and welcomed the application of Morocco to rejoin the AU. Though these may now seem normal, her decisions to embark on some of these controversial situations were historical at the time and the very first in most instances. Without doubt, her liberation credentials played a huge part in this as she ensured that she provided the needed attention to the plight of the Sahrawi people. On her behalf, the Commissioner for Political Affairs visited the Tindouf Camp twice in the space of three years to assure the people of the efforts of the African Union on addressing their situation.

AU long-term election observation

Appreciating the sovereignty of Member States and the mandate of the Commission, there are limitations to the powers of the AUC. Its role is largely advisory and supporting capacity needs of Member States. This power imbalance notwithstanding, the AUC established a long-term election observation framework to complement its electoral assistance mechanisms to Member States. This enabled it to oversee peaceful elections and transitions across the continent ranging from Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Central African Republic, and Benin save for challenging situations like Burundi and Guinea Bissau. While concerns have been raised by several quarters on the AU election observation methodology, the Commission is currently reviewing its strategies aimed at enhancing its efficiency.

Youth and women’s voice

No AUC Chairperson in modern history has brought the issues of youth and women empowerment to the forefront of continental discussion like Dr. Zuma. From declaring 2014 and 2015 as the Year of Women’s Rights to the declaration of 2017 as the Year of Investment in Youths, she has galvanized the continent around and forced heads of states to consider women and youth policy issues as fundamental to achieving the African transformation agenda.

On women’s issues, her greatest legacy will be the establishment of gender parity at the AUC level ensuring that there are 5 men and women each as Commissioners. Even in appointments of staff, she ensured the appointment of highly qualified women into several positions within the Commission. She also appointed a Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security to shine the spotlight on the challenges faced by women in conflict situations on the continent. This is coupled with an institutional reform of the Gender Directorate, ensuring the appointment of a competent director to further drive home efforts on women empowerment on the continent.

While her exploits on youth development were mainly hindered by structural challenges within the Commission, her commitment shone bright in the implementation of initiatives such as the African Youth Volunteer Corps, the Annual Youth DGtrends and the institutionalization of regular interactions with young people through social media. In fact, the social media engagement by the Commission in her tenure has ensured that the Commission interacts with a lot more citizens beyond the continental pre-conferences often preceding many AU events which were always limited to INGOs, their sponsored partners and professional lobby groups. Though necessary, these groups did not always represent the broadest spectrum of African political, social and economic opinion.

While youth issues most definitely go beyond the current efforts, it is envisaged that over the coming months, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma may be able to leave a footprint on youth development issues by ensuring the operationalization of the Youth Fund and an appointment of a African Union Youth Envoy to set the agenda for youth empowerment and development going forward. This, coupled with the elevation of the Youth Division into a directorate under the office of the Chairperson, hopefully in the next administration will further foster coordination on youth issues on the continent.

Conclusion

Overall, depending on what side of the table one sits, every situation has its triumphs and travails. Madam Zuma has her own faults and failures, but she is definitely not a disaster as some pundits would have us believe. A lot of these facts are verifiable from people who’ve keenly followed happenings at the AUC and the AU. Dr. Zuma’s decisions have not been perfect but her stature in the history of the African Union and the African Union Commission is forever unquestionable. As the first woman to have occupied the position, she has given a good account of herself and justified the need for equal participation and leadership of women. The many initiatives she has catalyzed, established and implemented will remain fitting souvenirs of her tenure.

Posterity, they say, is the best judgement of actions. Let posterity be the judge.

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Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State

NOVANEWS
  Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state…

Gideon Levy

Israeli Border Police officers stand guard as Palestinians wait to cross through the Qalandiyah checkpoint, June 2016. Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

Eva Illouz described its signs (“Evil now,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 30). Her essay, which challenges the idea of the banality of evil, considers the national group as the source of the evil. Using philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept, she finds a “family resemblance” between the Israeli occupation and history’s evil regimes. This similarity does not mean that Israel is Nazi, nor even fascist. And yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. It’s a depressing and brilliant analysis.After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.

The evil that Illouz attributes to Israel is not banal, it cannot happen anywhere, and it has political and social roots that are deeply embedded in Israeli society. Thus, Illouz joins Zeev Sternhell, who warned in his impressive and resounding essay about the cultural soil out of which fascism is now growing in Israel (“The birth of fascism,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 7).

But alongside these analyses, we must also present a brief history of evil. We must present the instances that combine to create a great and horrific picture, a picture of Israeli evil in the territories, so as to stand up to those who deny the evil. It is not the case of the individual – Sgt. Elor Azaria, for example, who is being tried for the death of a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron – but the conduct of the establishment and the occupation regime that proves the evil. In fact, the continuation of the occupation proves the evil. Illouz, Sternhell and others provide debatable analyses on its origins, but whatever they are, it can no longer be denied.

One case is like a thousand witnesses: the case of Bilal Kayed. A young man who completed a prison term of 14.5 years – his entire sentence – without a single furlough, without being allowed to at least say goodbye by phone to his dying father; a clear sign of evil.

About six weeks ago, Kayed was getting ready for his release. A representative of the Shin Bet security service – one of the greatest agencies of evil in Israel – even showed him a photograph of the home his family had built for him to stir him up even more ahead of his release. And then, as his family waited impatiently for him at the crossing point and Kayed grew ever more excited in his cell, he was informed that he was being thrown into administrative detention for at least another six months, without trial and without explanation.

Since then, he has been on hunger strike. He is cuffed to his bed. His family is not allowed to see him. Prison guards never leave his room and the lights are not turned out for a moment. Evil.

Only evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Kayed – only an evil state acts this way. The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse.

Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif (who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil.

The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil.

From left, Halima and Hadiba Kayed, the first wife of the father of administrative detainee Bilal Kayed, and Bilal’s mother, respectively, at home this month. Amira Hass

A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil.

Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state.

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The oppressed can never be illegitimate  

i1os.com

In an antagonistic relationship defined by an imbalance of power between two forces, the oppressor and the oppressed, who is illegitimate? Protests by students, workers and other oppressed classes can never be illegitimate. In any case, it is not the part of those enjoying the privileges of the status quo to decide how the oppressed should understand and deal with their reality.

Professor Adam Habib, the Vice Chancellor of Wits University, said in January when students were protesting for free registration: “This strike is conducted by only 30 people who are disrupting registration and learning and it is therefore illegitimate”. The same sentiment was sort of repeated by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) recently when the opening of its 2nd semester was halt by a students’ and workers’ protest. NMMU released a statement stating: “Staff and students are advised not to come to North & South campuses today due to protests”.

Of course these comments cannot go unchallenged. The NMMU statement was clearly attempting to criminalize the “others” who were “not” staff and students who were protesting. It did that by asking staff and students not to come to campus because of a protest, as if those conducting the protest were not students and staff. It is the old tactic of the liberal system which alienates everything and everybody outside the class bracket it was inaugurated to serve, who are the rich, the white and the male in the main.

A protest is called by those who feel the oppressive weight of a violent system unto them and obviously if this violent system was formed to serve white rich males, then in contrast the oppressed who are attempting to re-humanise themselves with the protest will be the poor, black and unprotected students and workers. In other words, the NMMU statement was saying “the human beings called students and staff that we were designed to serve must not come to campus because there are black sub-humans who have closed gates protesting for what was not made for them”.

Prof. Habib was not far from what NMMU was stating. His assertion of illegitimacy is questionable, if not a fallacy. He first plays the mathematics game of saying, because a protest is organized by 30 people, it is therefore illegitimate. Yet he is the same person who goes around saying that he was a revolutionary in his student days when he and “a few other comrades” would disrupt university classes and burn colonial buildings under apartheid. This cosmetic activism is a sentiment mentioned repeatedly by other vice chancellors, professors and archbishops who claim to have been involved in the apartheid struggle. In other words, it was legitimate, revolutionary and “an act of bravery” for them to be 5 or 12 confronting apartheid machinery but illegitimate for students in 2016 when they are now university managers.

I have always emphasized that a social movement, no matter how big or small it is, no matter whether it is successful or not, has a message that it is communicating with us and which we must pay attention to. The people participating in a protest are not stupid or causing inconvenience, as some commentators would like us to believe. Instead, people participating in a protest are intellectuals of note. They are thinking and are in pain. They articulate their oppression and agitate for their freedom. They are a group that is coming up with a theory about their condition.

If you take politics, history and context into consideration, it was suffering and a social movement that produced giants of liberation struggle like Steve Biko, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Chris Hani and Robert Sobukwe, to name a few. Today that theory that oppressors tried to crush is being cited to produce PhD scholars and is a source of inspiration and political education to the youth. That can never ever be illegitimate.

Now this brings me to a question that we must ask ourselves and seek to answer quickly, which is: Between an oppressed student protesting and a vice chancellor presiding over a violent system, who is illegitimate? Or rather lets bring the question closer to home and ask: Between a poor citizen protesting for service delivery and a government official presiding over a corrupt state, who is illegitimate? Or lets put it even much more easier and ask: Between a Solomon Mahlangu hanged fighting for freedom and a PW Botha presiding over the apartheid machinery, who is illegitimate? Can the oppressed ever be illegitimate? Can we honestly say that an oppressed, poor, dehumanized, excluded, black and frustrated student is illegitimate, or are they reacting from being at the painful receiving end of polished illegitimacy?

Prof Habib is running a university system that is a superstructure built in an upper class suburb which entrenches violence on anyone below the class bracket it was created to serve; and NMMU is no different. A system that places a price tag on a human right called education and operates daily on a Eurocentric and white standardized infrastructure and curriculum will always be dehumanizing to the African working class student AND African worker because they cannot relate to it. It does not speak to their norms, values and standards because it was initially not created for them. It dehumanizes them.

Denying access to education, evicting students from residence, withholding exam results of poor students, delaying the minimum wage and outsourcing of workers – all these acts are intended to hurt, damage and dehumanize the African poor and working class student and worker in the main. It is in itself a crushing, brutal and evil act of violence to innocent human beings. Who is illegitimate between innocent human beings and a violent superstructure?

Traditionally, protests in South Africa originated in the townships where a racialized class dispute engulfed a black working class against apartheid capitalism. Those protests had no formal rules and arrangements. It was purely the masses of our people organizing themselves how they wanted and expressing the true extent of their tactics and emotions. Now because these protests have moved from townships to the upper class suburbs in universities where the rich reside, suddenly there is now caution, coordination, application and control of how the black working class must protest in an “acceptable manner”. Any black protest that does not appreciate the standard set by the rich suburb is deemed “illegitimate”. It is what Sibongile Mangolothi and David Fryer accurately describe as the system telling you that “this is how you are supposed to feel the pain, you are not supposed to feel the pain this way; this is how you are supposed to define the pain and you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are feeling the pain”

I ask again, in an antagonistic relationship described by an imbalance of power between two forces, the oppressor and the oppressed, who is illegitimate? The assertion by Prof Habib and NMMU of an “illegitimate student protest” is a myth and is completely invalid.

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The mission of Biafra

Nigeriamasterweb

Regardless of where in the world Black people are killed or brutalized, the violence is rooted in the white man’s diminution of African life. With their long history of struggle, the people of Biafra who seek to break away from neo-colonial Nigeria want to build for themselves a new civilisation where African life, all human life, fundamentally, is sacrosanct.

It is indeed striking if not extraordinary that quite a few people don’t seem to recognise the underlying features that link the almost routinised murder perpetrated by the police/other agents of the state in Africa on an African people in the streets of Nairobi, Onicha, Igwe Ocha, Aba, Oka, Uzo-Uwani, Bujumbura, Owere, Enuugwu and Asaba, for instance, with the stretch of murders of African-descent people in the United States carried out by police in innumerable cities including, especially, New York, Tulsa, Orlando, Washington DC, Omaha, Baton Rouge, Jacksonville, Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco, Columbus, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Rubric

These murders, east or west of the Atlantic, are configured and executed under that same overarching ideological rubric of the expressed “diminution-of-African life” that constitutes the engaging, subjugating template of 400 years of pan-European enslavement of the African humanity in the Americas and elsewhere, beginning in the 15th century, and Europe’s consequent occupation of the African homeland itself. Europe’s “Berlin state”-aftermath of this scourge of history in contemporary Africa duly operationalises the agelong legacy.

Thus, the significance of the late 1960s British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s notorious declaration that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept the death of half a million Biafrans if that was what it took” Britain’s client and co-genocidist Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the ongoing Igbo genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, 1977: 122) is a reminder to anyone who would wish to think otherwise (in the globe’s post-World War II era) that the raison d’être of the state that would “oversee” the lives of African peoples forthwith wouldn’t differ, significantly, from what Britain and the rest of Europe had constructed, in variegated forms, since the 1490s. The Nigerian executioners on the ground end up murdering 3.1 million Biafrans or 25 per cent of the Igbo population during 44 gruesome months (29 May 1966-12 January 1970) – far in excess of “massa” Harold Wilson’s “half a million Biafrans”-death wish, representing 4.2 per cent of the Igbo.

Just as the murderous gangs of camp overseers in the African enslaved estates in the Americas of earlier epochs, the overseers in present day Africa matrix estate formations, often drawn from constituent African nations opposed to the restoration of African freedom from the pan-European conquest and subjugation (e.g. Hausa-Fulani in a British Nigeria), are primed by the estate to murder conscientiously liberatory and transformative Africans as instantly, overwhelmingly and savagely as they deem fit.

Prize

It is precisely as a result of this devastating tract of antecedent that the soon to be freed Igbo people from genocidist Nigeria occupation have an opportunity to begin to build a new civilisation in Biafra where African life, human life, fundamentally, is sacrosanct. This is the immediate prize of the restoration of Biafran freedom. And Biafrans share this prize with the rest of African humanity – wherever they are emplaced across the world. Surely, for African peoples, 500 years later, this salient goal of Biafra cannot be overstressed. Never again does anyone anywhere on earth devalue African life as a ritualised instrument of state power.

Beginning

Biafra is an inclusive state where women and men live as co-operators and co-creators in fundamentally transforming their society. This is a state that accepts and accords full rights to all its people. This is a state where people enjoy the rights to differ and to dream dreams and dream different sets of dreams as they choose.
Biafra is a state dedicated to furthering and nurturing the resilience of its people and to enable them advance their highest creative endeavours. This state continuously strives to remove all limitations in the paths of its people and is committed to making life better and better and better.

This is a state that tasks its people to flourish.  Already, 50 years since the first dreadful murders of the genocide were committed in north Nigeria on Sunday 29 May 1966, Biafrans have written an extraordinary essay on human survival and fortitude, a beacon of the tenacity of the spirit of human overcoming of the most desperate, unimaginable, brutish forces.
Alas, this chokingly long drawn out catastrophe that is at once Britain’s Nigeria hotchpotch and the expanded timeframe of Europe’s totalising hegemony in Africa is over and truly African peoples do stand poised on the eve of a new beginning.

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Confessions of a racist

Wiki

Was it Africans who went to the Americas and butchered tens if not scores of millions of native Americans? Was it Africans that used their religion to hide their intent to steal as much territory as they could all the while denigrating the beliefs and cultures of innumerable peoples? Who was it that did so much raping that the bloodlines of Latin America changed forever?

I do not like white people.

Because of this affirmation some would call me a racist.

To this I answer, fine: I am a racist.

However, the question that needs to be asked, which coincidentally hardly ever is, is the following: Why should anybody who isn’t white like white people? What right do they have to the affection of anyone who doesn’t have the same skin tone as them?

For the sake of this article I think that I should give you an idea as to who I am. I am a Canadian citizen who was born in Jamaica. I am what would be referred to as black. I have lived in Canada for 26 years and during this period I have done a fair bit of reading.

Mostly history.

And seeing that I live in Canada the vast majority of history books that I have at my disposal are books about western civilization. I have read so much on this topic that it is fair to say that I have the right to form a synthesis of what I have read coupled with the intermingling that I have done with white people on a day-to-day basis.

My conclusion is the following: They are a plague that for the past 500 has swept through the worlds of man. Leaving behind a trail of destruction in their wake. They have destroyed opulent and refined civilizations, massacred hundreds of millions of individuals, raped even more, enslaved in the most cruel fashion the very peoples who welcomed them in as brothers, stolen vast expanses of land, introduced socioeconomic systems that were, are and always will be hopelessly unjust, been guilty of the most vile forms of treachery imaginable and are hypocritically oblivious to the crimes of their peoples even to this very day.

I could go on but I think that that was enough for one paragraph and I think that it appropriately sums up the essence of that which white people have done and that which they are capable of doing.

So, whenever I hear a white person speaking about so called ”reverse racism” or saying something to the effect that blacks are equally if not more racist than whites, it irks me.

Historically speaking, who is the criminal?

Was it Africans who came to the Americas and butchered tens if not scores of millions of native Americans? Was it Africans that used their religion as a smokescreen to hide their intent to steal as much territory as they could all the while denigrating the beliefs and cultures of various if not innumerable peoples? Who was it that did so much raping that the bloodlines of Latin America changed forever? Which peoples are guilty of the cruelest form of slavery known to man, reducing tens of millions of human beings to the most cruel of servitude to the point that they were considered no more than cattle if not less useful? Which group of people is responsible for the disappearance of dozens if not scores of indigenous peoples, be they the Australian Aborigines or native Americans?

Who is responsible for these crimes?

I could go on but whenever these subjects come up some would object and say that this is ancient history. As if white people long ago miraculously woke up from their state of murderous rapacity and decided to be decent human beings.

So, let’s talk of their contemporary misdeeds shall we?

Here in Canada thousands of native children were kidnapped from their families and forced to live on residential schools. What was the purpose of these schools? To remove the Indian from these children. By force if necessary. And force was used in the majority of the cases. Young boys were given over to the tender mercies of white homosexual pedophile Christian priests and were used as they desired. The same if not worse happened to the young girls with the nuns. And for those who were too recalcitrant they were simply executed and no one was held accountable even to this very day.

These acts went on here, in Canada. Until the 1970s. Where people have the reputation for being ”nice and polite.”

Imagine what happened in other parts of the world?

South of the border the crimes of Uncle Sam know no limit. From the war in the Philippines at the turn of the century that saw hundreds of thousands killed, to the invasion of Cuba and Haiti, to the war in Vietnam where at least 3 million people lost their lives, to the instigation of coup d’etats in the 60s in independent countries like Chile and Brazil, to the organization, training and equipping of death squads in Salvador and Nicaragua in the 80s to terrorize people fighting for a more just social system, to the genocidal tendencies of the pro-American governments in countries like Guatemala and Indonesia, to the recent invasion of Iraq where the destruction has been more atrocious than when the City of Baghdad had been sacked by the Mongols in the 13th century, the list goes on and on.

And we aren’t saying anything about the crimes of Great Britain, France, Holland, Belgium and other colonial powers with their blood soaked heritage of oppression.

Yet if I say that white people are evil I am considered the bad guy.

On a more personal level I have to admit that I don’t have one friend who’s white. And after having lived in this country for over 26 years if by now I haven’t got a white friend, guess what? I don’t want one.

I’ve done my best to integrate their social circles but nothing ever worked. I was always the odd man out. And even if there was the possibility of me being accepted it was always on the tacit condition that I “don’t make waves.”

So, no, I don’t like white people.

And if you aren’t white neither should you.

But for what it’s worth I don’t have a problem with Slavs or Armenians in general.

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White supremacy as cultural cannibalism

NOVANEWS
Blair Ryan

The pervasiveness of anti-blackness across the globe suggests that whiteness is not only spread through white people’s bodies but is also a system that survives on consuming and destroying other bodies. The only truly human body is the white body. Capitalism is the logical consequence of this. The challenge for societies across the globe is to nurture and defend alternative versions of being human.

Across the globe we observe similarities and intersections in black people’s struggles in both Western and non-Western contexts. This stems from pervasive socio-political and cultural notions that black bodies can a) be commodified, hence b) be consumed and, when of no use, c) killed. The consistency with which black people are made disposable is a result of the global grip of white economic templates.

At the core of the ripping, raping and exploitation of African descended people’s bodies, energies, creativity and souls (not to mention the eradication of entire societies-wisdoms-cultures) is the monolithic cultural thinking that is whiteness. Whiteness, as a system, converges it’s interests with other societies and institutions of ‘power’ across the globe to produce economic benefit through the creation of discourses, perspectives and structures that position being black as being sub/non-human and disposable (in narratives, bodies and futures). This instinct to consume black bodies has a name in some cultures, and Wetiko is one name given to it by the First Nations Peoples. The simplest definition we have is from Jack Forbes the Native American philosopher, who described it as “the consuming of another’s life for one’s own private purpose or profit.”

In the last few months I have been focusing on the ways in which the category human has been applied across time by human governing systems – in particular white-supremacist imperialist capitalist systems – as a lens through which to think about the resurgence of anti-blackness that is currently sweeping the world (in continuity of the well-erased profound historical contexts).

This trail of thought ensued in November 2015, when I joined the Black Women’s March in Brasilia. The march was part of a feminist global organizing platform for movement building, strengthening solidarities and critical rethinking of alternatives in relation to emergent post-capitalist rhetorics. The diverse conversations around Afro-Brazilian women’s rights to negotiate their thoughts, bodies and roles in Brazil’s democratic state were all underpinned by narratives of the racist structures that are silencing, commodifying (not metaphorically, there is a history of black bodies being circulated as commodities), overexploiting, victimizing and killing the Afro-Brazilian population – dating all the way back to slavery.

In the conversations building up to the march, community workers from across the Americas and the African continent met to share the contexts of their different geographies and collate new organizing principles. What became apparent in this conversation was the similarity in the lived experiences of young black people in these different contexts. Young black people find themselves faced with a (non)choice which comes down to either assimilation into capitalism (with an understanding that assimilation can, but does not necessarily mean benefiting i.e. we see black elites who assimilate and benefit and we also see the majority of black people assimilated as labor to be consumed) or, if one refuses assimilation, disposability through criminalization of poor black youths usually resulting in imprisonment or death.

As each person gave their organizing backgrounds from the Favelas in Brazil and the urban- poor youth in Kenya to black communities in the US, there was a realization that the common denominator in the shared experiences of extreme violence and criminalization was being black and unwanted within white- neoliberal-systems.

In Rio 2012, preparations for the World cup put a limelight on the persistent racism that affects the Black Favelas. The documentation of the “clean up” process to make the city “safe” for the games brought out the concentration of Black Residents more heavily in the substandard, precarious urban spaces effectively reserved for those without full rights.

Perhaps one of the most well known campaigns around this has been the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which ensued after the outrage over the number of young black and brown men criminalized, imprisoned and killed by the police in the United States. The last mapping is the profiling, abductions and killings of poor black youth in Kenya to control and protect property.

Grounded in these conversations, it seemed fundamental to map out the collective psychosis of white supremacist thinking in late-stage capitalism within the global socio-political and economic formations. Amongst the many deployed strategies to maintain power was (has been) the over assertion of control and silencing of the autonomy and voices of the majority of a people. The methods have varied from economic marginalization, creation of poverty, instigation of deep inequalities, eradication of diversity, excessive dispossession of the poor from their homelands for business ventures, investing in war economies, immigration restriction, and murder – through state and militarized violence, etc. The use of these tactics is most ignored and prompts least consequence when used against and over the lives of a) poor and particularly b) black people.

The pervasiveness of anti-blackness across the globe suggests that whiteness is not only spread through white peoples bodies but as a system that comes to work through various bodies. It is a system that functions to primarily benefit white bodies, but also one that has realized its survival depends on the assimilation, to different degrees, of other bodies.

For instance, the language of development in the African continent is one of assimilation. It has required African states to “move on from” the doings of colonialism to maintain good relations that in return “secure” economic growth. The frenzy of “Africa Rising” has allowed the re-possession of land and exploitation of resources by different foreign interests, and their local proxies – through whole strategies, relations and tactics to dispossess, divide and rule over the lives of African peoples. These interests may no longer walk in the same bodies, as in the colonial regime, but emulate the same cultures that reinforce anti-black and anti-poor sentiments.

Take, for instance, the collusion between state and capital in the Marikana massacre of 2012 in South Africa where police killed 34 miners for protesting the over- exploitation of their labor. Or the linkage between the U.S. war on terror rhetorics and tactics of the Kenyan state’s desire for economic and hegemonic domination to extract resources in Somalia. Or the vicious cycle of civil war in the Congo, which has been instigated, controlled and funded by imperial powers to mine the world’s richest minerals.

As a result of this, the societies, and most importantly the land, have become unbearable for African peoples to nurture and exist in, forcing immigration into foreign lands – where the same conditions of erasure, exploitation or disposability continue. Many people do not survive the passage out of the continent. Last year only, the death resulting from immigration of Africans from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and other war torn countries attempting to cross the Mediterranean was unfathomable. Those who do survive the passage face increasing levels of immigration restriction into Europe, paired with a cycle of deportations that amount to sending people back to their deaths.

African migrants across the world face anti-black violence the most notably being the slave-like conditions of exploiting labor from, and murders of, domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Many of whom only return through the repatriation of their dead bodies.

There is a lens that is largely being ignored in attempts to imagine post-capitalist futures – this missing link is a result of the evasion of the reality that capitalism is born of white supremacist thinking and domination – and is therefore directly linked to anti-blackness, and consequently the erasure of black lives and futures. Unless capitalism’s origins in the project of Empire are acknowledged we will continue to hold the flawed assumption that humanness is universally agreed upon. The current circulating prescription of being human is one offered by white capitalism and is highly fueled by control, greed and need for constant accumulation. As different societies across the globe increasingly invest in these structures and relations, we risk narrowing the potential for nurturing of alternative (less cannibalistic) versions of being human.

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Mega-philanthropy: Charitable deeds or monopoly tyranny?

Rolling Stone

How can a small club of extremely rich white men who have bullied markets, governments and competitors in the most undemocratic ways, now be looked upon to decree on democracy and accountability merely by the size of their bank balances and trust funds? This perhaps is the most insidious form of state capture.

In a time of great expectations and great contestations between and within societies at large, there seem to be as many things keeping people apart as those that bind them together. For every gain represented by the moment that Barak Obama entered the White House it often feels like there have been so many other losses including constant, largely racialised, police brutality, economies that do not seem interested in addressing structural inequalities, the fragmentation of Europe, the radicalisation of youth across the world into insurgent groups, etc. Many of these youth feel dislocated and disenfranchised from the world they inhabit.

It is almost impossible to see how and where we are Living Together, the title of Bill Gates’ lecture at the recent Nelson Mandela Lecture. His remarks touched on the importance of access to education (a nod to #FeesmustFall), youth enterprise particularly in the tech space, food security, access to health care and cultivation of good health and new forms of agriculture which will not do further damage to the fragile earth. (These were very   broad strokes delivered during very challenging times for the world at large.)

Several discussion points emerged before and after Gates’ lecture including the rationale for him as a choice of speaker. The underpinnings of Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seem to occupy different philosophical spaces and yet in many regards this nexus presents us with the opportunity to explore once more the discomfort of philanthropic capitalism and the approaches to philanthropy and its intersection – or not – with the democratic principles that the Mandela Foundation and the Centre of Memory are built on.

This tension is not new. John D Rockefeller’s inroads into the burgeoning petroleum industry were marked by monopoly control. He bought out smaller refineries that rightly feared being crushed. Though a strict Baptist, Rockefeller was not above political bribery to further secure his company interests and to stay ahead of the law. By the turn of the century he had donated more than half of his fortune, and his foundation continues to fund many of the progressive organisations that would naturally balk at any dealings with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

George Soros whose speculative money has funded a lot of sterling and even radical work offers another troubling example.

Bill Gates’ acquisition of wealth and his Rockefeller-like grip monopoly hold over the IT space has been described as the enemy of openness and innovation. That Microsoft is the default computer programme globally, has also been described as the end of chaos by some hardware manufacturers. It might also aptly be called the end of entrepreneurship, the suppression of vibrant competition. Legal battles by smaller competitors have sadly found in favour of Microsoft but do illustrate that not everybody is excited by the monopoly, not least those whose ideas were unethically taken and marked with a Microsoft label.

Even the BMGF has been the object of lawsuits by doctors in India for the questionable and illegal vaccine trials on minors. In addition to these eugenics, the food sovereignty debate that Bill Gates alluded to is extremely controversial terrain.  As Dr Vandhana Shiva has written:

“As in the case of GMOs, the rush for Gene Drives, and CRISPR-based Gene Editing are linked to patents. Bill Gates is financing the research that is leading to patents. And he with other billionaires has invested $130 million in a company EDITAS to promote these technologies. Bayer, the new face on Monsanto & Co, has invested $35 million in the new GMO Technologies, and committed $300 million over the next 5 years.“Biofortification” has been given the world food prize of 2016, yet biofortification is inferior to the nutrition provided by biodiversity and indigenous knowledge. The same forces promoting biofortification are also promoting the extermination of nutritious crops like amaranth, as well as rich indigenous cultures of food.”

At complete odds with food security.

This approach to ‘doing good’ is in a context of anti-democratic and patently unaccountable business practises warrants close examination for various reasons particularly when it spills over into  philanthropic work. The chestnut that we are over-fed is that states (particularly African states) are failing and that governments (again particularly those in Africa) are corrupt.  Therefore, continues this logic, private companies and markets are better equipped to solve societal and economic problems and bring people closer to ‘living together’.

These multi-billionaires (Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson among others) are a disturbingly powerful brand of philanthropist who tightly control and define the work of their foundations. They are extremely significant political funders and while claiming to enhance the cause of global humanity, they are able to exert massive influence in public policy and political agendas far beyond the average citizen. This is a deeply anti-democratic practise and suggests that having more money entitles a few people to determine global health, environment, education, food, medical, housing policies. Essentially this largely white, male minority rule is charitable plutocracy under the veil of doing good whilst in fact enforcing and benefiting from global and economic inequality. And all this replete with tax exemption. No wonder that calls for greater transparency in political and electoral funding is the bastion of many pro- democracy advocates.

As a colleague aptly asked, how can the surplus of inequitable capital, then be utilised to do good deeds? One would add how can entities who have bullied markets, governments and competitors in the most undemocratic ways, now be looked upon to decree on democracy and accountability merely by the size of their bank balances and trust funds? This perhaps is the most insidious form of state capture.

Moments such as the 2008 Wall Street melt down largely caused by Goldman Sachs’ manipulation of gold and sliver prices, shady repo rates reported by the Lehman Brothers and unethical data mining by various financial institutions are among the toxic and blatant reminders of how bizarre it is to presume that the markets are more trustworthy than governments. This is all the more unacceptable given that most of us will never meet these men in grey suits but at least have nominal access to electoral and policy processes no matter how flawed. Rather than removing the State – an agenda of the Bretton Woods crew since Structural Adjustment – it seems more useful to demand more accountable states, governments and transparency. The idea that those with money   should largely shape and – through their political and foundation funding – buy global discourses should keep us all awake in cold sweat.

Companies such as Microsoft, McDonalds, Philips, have used international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation to flout labour and human rights, push for inequitable tariffs which disable the Global South and have boosted their won trade output by 250% over the past 20 years. None of this bodes well for democratic practise. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is similarly buying up smaller companies and cannibalising the social media space in ways that bode badly for personal space, cyber democracy and the increased surveillance of private life. Yet he is presented as a poster child of youthful risk taking, the dropouts’ dream to young people across the world. It is a lie. These people all largely emerge from white priviledge (Bill Gates Snr was also philanthropist) and have leveraged capital and government patronage to monopolise markets and crush competitors.

It is difficult to understand how philanthro-capital –particularly from the Global North- can rehabilitate itself. As another colleague noted, even governments are behaving as though governance is a charitable exercise. When local councillors behave as though they are doing constituents a favour, the government announces the delivery of houses, taps, and schoolbooks as though our taxes did not pay for them, we should be concerned. These are not freebies under the seat on the Oprah Winfrey show. They are constitutional entitlements and electoral promises. Another colleague asked another sharp question: has democracy itself been captured? In all this, Mr Gates has been sanitised by his association with the Mandela Lecture and this requires critical and careful enquiry.

Bill Gates’ remarks did not light up any new ideas as he spoke somewhat generically about “Africa“ as a nation and blandly presented islands of excellence in Soweto, Kenya and Nigeria that we already know about.  His visit and the economic system that enabled Microsoft to emerge and create slush funds of sanitised and untouchable wealth presents us with an important departure point on the regressing role of the state globally, whether liberatory democracy has been evacuated, whether the development and philanthropic sector are part of the problem, and how the legacy of the liberation struggle can be redeemed by reforming other forms of giving and of citizen engagement.

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$250 million: The cost of ending racism at the World Bank

World Bank

As he did last year, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has announced another recruitment of Africans. But this is a PR gimmick meant to cover up deeply rooted racial discrimination against Black staff at the Bank. The Bank’s latest diversity report stresses that the Bank will not make substantive progress in eliminating subtle as well as overt racism unless more systemic changes are made.

Since 1971, numerous World Bank reports have documented that racial discrimination in the World Bank Group is “systemic”. On a graduating scale of 1 to 6, with 1 signifying “a mono-cultural institution” and 6 representing “an anti-racist, multi-cultural one” the Bank is “hoovering between 2 and 3”, according to a 2015 World Bank diversity report. [1]

The report noted that institutions in Stage 1 “see racial and cultural difference as deficits.” In Stage 2 they start “being tolerant of racial and cultural differences.” In Stage 3 they undertake “symbolic changes” that do not undermine the institutional architecture or cultural construct of the status quo. Stage 4 is the tipping point “where institutions develop an intentional identity as an ‘anti-racist’ institution and begin to develop accountability to [their] racial and ethnic constituents.”

Thirty-seven years after the Bank’s Board of Governors expressed commitment to stamp out racial discrimination (during the Bank’s 1979 Annual Meeting in Belgrade), admittedly the progress that the Bank has made is merely “being tolerant” of racial differences and making “symbolic changes.”

There are two cross-fertilizing factors that organically collide to form a stubborn resistance to a systemic change: an endemic culture of racism and the estimated $250 million financial cost of justice.

The Bank’s racial signature DNA was laid naked in a 1998 World Bank report: “Interviews with managers for African Issues Working Paper in 1992 revealed cultural prejudices among some managers, who rated Sub-Saharan Africans as inferior.” [2]

The report brought to light that “Sub-Saharan Africans are recruited at lower grade than comparably qualified staff from other parts of the world and earn significantly lower average salary level.”  A follow up 2003 World Bank report revealed that similar findings have been documented “with varying degrees of empirical rigor, in 16 earlier Bank Group diversity studies.” [3]

In 2000, the cost of ending the Bank’s institutionalized race-based grade and salary structures was estimated to be about $250 million dollars over 10 years.

At the time, the Bank was faced with an additional cost of $125 million to give long term consultants past pension credits. The story about the $125 million was published in the October 2000 issue of the Staff Association Newsletter. Long-term consultants were granted pension credits for their past services, after the Tribunal rendered a precedent-setting judgment in Prescott v. World Bank (2001).

The $250 million preliminary cost of ending institutional racism was erased from the Bank’s institutional memory and the matter was ignored.

Current World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim

The first thing that Dr. Kim announced after he came to the World Bank in 2012 was the need for streamlining of the Bank’s operations along with the resultant personnel restructuring. The reform agenda was silent on Diversity.

When Dr. Kim first announced the appointment of 16 senor directors to implement his signature reform, none was Black. It was in 2014 after an uproar from the DC Civil Rights Coalition and the African Board of Governors that he took a number of symbolic steps, including setting up quotas. This is a futile and superficial step. The Bank’s own studies have concluded that quota-driven policies do not address the root causes of the problem.

The 2015 World Bank diversity report stressed that the Bank will not make “substantive progress in eliminating subtle as well as overt expression of racism unless more systemic changes are made.” The conclusion is consistent with that of the aforementioned 2003 World Bank diversity report: “Barriers to inclusion that have become institutionalized rarely change in the absence of a substantial change” in the organization’s “business and legal environment.”

The report further noted that the Bank’s all too familiar diversity policies that are “always very numbers-driven will not address the root causes of the inequities and the problems will persist and recur, despite repeated special interventions.”

More importantly, the 2003 report revealed that “In interviews conducted during this study, staff from groups covered by employment targets made repeated statements such as ‘We never want to be tokens’ or ‘We want to be promoted based on competence, not a diversity profile.’”

Why is DR. Kim resisting the widespread and longstanding call for a transformative change? The answer becomes evident when reviewing the following question: Why has July become Dr. Kim’s preferred month to announce his yearly race-based recruitment drive?

In July 2015, the Bank announced a race-based recruitment drive stating: “Senior leadership has committed 80+ vacancies to be filled by African nationals.” Once again, in July 2016, the Bank launched another “World Bank Group Recruitment Drive for African Nationals.”

The fast track recruitment drives both in 2015 and 2016 included interviews as early as August and job offers by end of September. As was the case in 2015, the 2016 timing is carefully tied with the World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting in the first week of October, where the Bank will herald the new recruits before the Board of Governors as trophy hires to showcase Dr. Kim’s “commitment” for racial equality.

Beneath the symbolic quota-based racial recruitment drive resides a PR optics at best, or an outright manipulative scheme to cover up the root causes of the Bank’s systemic and endemic racism.

Dr. Kim understands that it is a hell of a lot cheaper to hire 80 Africans and appoint a few African vice presidents than to dismantle the Bank’s race-based grade and wage structures. Equally importantly, the symbolic gesture leaves the institutional architecture and cultural construct of the racial status quo intact. Remember this is the defining characteristic of institutions in Stage 3 of race relations progress.

A system of apartheid wage

A revealing statistical study that was conducted by three World Bank research economists established with statistical evidence that the Bank’s race-based salary gap is a result of a bank-wide institutional policy. [4]

The report noted that “large international organizations such as the World Bank pursue multiple objectives in hiring policies, including cost reduction… One way to reduce costs would be to pay employees their reservation wages.”

The reservation wage is the lowest wage rate at which a worker would be willing to accept a job offer. The study found that the Bank pays different groups “different reservation wages – implying unequal pay for equal work, or discrimination.”

The Bank understands that Sub-Saharan Africans (who have limited employment opportunities in their countries) are willing to accept substantially lower grades and salaries than their equally qualified European or American colleagues (who have better employment opportunities in their countries) and sets its grade and wage structure accordingly.

As noted by Justice for Blacks (an organization of current and former World Bank staff), the institutionalized grade and wage segregation can be demonstrated using data from the Bank’s IT vice presidential unit (VPU). Justice for Blacks picked the IT VPU because the Bank’s IT work is pretty standardized. Each IT staff is assigned to provide technical support to the same number of staff and each serves as a backup for the other.

As the chart below shows, the percentage distribution across the three cohorts senior officer (GG), officer (GF) and Analyst (GE) is relatively even for the non-black staff, with GF level representing the majority (43 percent). The same is true for non-Black women, showing the progress that the Bank has made in addressing gender discrimination issues for non-Black woman.

By contrast, for Blacks 61 percent are in the sub-professional (GE) cohort. Furthermore, the percentage difference across the three cohorts is huge. Only 7 percent are in level GG. Many Blacks with a Master’s degree and 20 years World Bank experience languish in level GE when they should be in level GG. It is highly unlikely, if at all possible, to find a non-Black IT expert with similar credential in level GE.

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America’s Self-Inflicted Defense Woes

NOVANEWS
By Ulson Gunnar

The United States poses as a champion against the great threats facing global security and stability, an uphill battle it claims requires equally great sacrifices, especially in terms of defense spending. It must be just a coincidence that the many policy think-tanks promoting this notion just so happen to be funded by huge multinational defense contractors.

The Atlantic Council, for instance, includes among its corporate members, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Thales, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, just to name a few. So when Atlantic Council authors wrote about the subject of close air support (CAS) aircraft, it should come as no surprise that the development or procurement of a new system was the option of choice, this despite the fact that a brand new aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, was already supposed to fill this role.

The Atlantic Council’s article, Starting with the Answer in Procurement: The USAF’s plans for new close support aircraft show an unusual willingness to move out quickly,” would claim:

… after years of hearing that the F-35A would be the sort-of replacement for the A-10C, it’s worth reviewing why it never could be. It’s not for the gun or the armor. It’s the increased threat: Russian motorized rifle brigades now run with lots of their own 30 mm guns, looking up. Missiles are now a bigger problem too. As Colonel Mike Pietrucha USAF wrote for War On The Rocks last month, the heat from that huge engine is itself a huge target for heat-seekers. Lockheed has worked hard to suppress the signature, but physics dictate there’s only so much that can be done. Overall, the hundred-million-dollar jet is just too expensive to hazard to for busting tanks that way.

The projected cost of the F-35 program in total is estimated to be well over 1 trillion USD. The cost for each aircraft averages 100 million USD. That the Atlantic Council’s authors deem it “too expensive” to use for one of the roles it was allegedly proposed to fill, should make US and allied taxpayers wonder just what they have mortgaged their futures for.

Currently for CAS, the US Air Force depends on the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, as well as multirole aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-16. To replace the A-10, the US plans to use F-16’s more widely, that is, until a new CAS system is developed.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly’s article, USAF considers future CAS options,” reports that:

In the short-term the USAF has plans to replace some A-10s with Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, but in the medium- to longer-terms there are plans to procure or develop either a platform that that can operate either in a permissive environment only, or one that can operate in both a permissive and contested environment. The options are being considered under the auspices of the recently announced A-X project.

So in addition to the 1 trillion USD F-35 program, there will be an additional program to develop the next generation of CAS aircraft for the US Air Force. One wonders if the F-35’s other slated roles will also require parallel defense programs to fill as the fundamental flaws of the entire program begin to unfold.

The F-35 is Just One Symptom of a Wider Malady…

A trillion dollars spent on a useless aircraft that requires multiple parallel defense programs to compensate for, represents different problems to different people depending on their perspective. To some, it appears to be supreme incompetence and poor planning. To others, a tragic waste of national resources. But to others still, it appears to be the only logical conclusion a nation and its tax dollars can arrive at, when it is driven by special interests in pursuit of power and profits, rather than any particular purpose.

The 1 trillion USD going into the F-35 program is not disappearing into a black hole. Lockheed Martin is receiving that money. With it, it will purchase more lobbying power in Washington, more clout on Wall Street, more authors to pen favorable “policy” proposals within the halls of think tanks like the Atlantic Council and more journalists across the international press to promote these proposals to the general public. It will also use this wealth to help promote the wars that will in turn, drive demand for yet more costly defense programs it will undoubtedly share a stake in developing and profiting from.

While the F-35, the new CAS program being developed to augment it, and virtually every other defense program the US and its allies are moving forward with, are predicated on maintaining national defense, it appears quite clear that the self-preservation of the corporations involved takes primacy over the former.

The US will not be safer with the F-35 in the air. In conflicts like the 2008 Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine or the war raging in Syria, Russia has proven that a fraction of the resources spent on defense, if spent properly, can meet or exceed the performance of US-NATO military capabilities.

On what is a shoestring budget by comparison, Russia’s combination of pragmatic military spending and proper strategic planning and implementation has become a case study of how a Middle East intervention should be done. The Syria Russia is helping preserve through its military intervention is one with a stable, secular government that has and will continue to be a valuable ally against armed militants throughout the region. Compare this in contrast to the trillions of dollars spent on US interventions throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia where the apparent, or at least evident purpose was to divide and destroy nations, leaving them tinderboxes of violence and conflict as well as breeding grounds for extremism, seemingly, purposefully, inviting conflict after unending conflict.

The US is spending more to make the world a more dangerous place, with unnecessary weapons systems even analysts working for think tanks funded by their manufacturers admit are too expensive and impractical to use on the battlefield for the roles they were intended to fulfill.

It is not that the US and its industry are incapable in technical terms of creating a functional and premier national defense, it is that the US and its industry are incapable of adhering to a rational policy that would require such a national defense. Defense dysfunction amid a world intentionally destabilized, it turns out, is much better for business, and the F-35 with its emerging parallel defense programs it now requires, is symptomatic of this.

Posted in USAComments Off on America’s Self-Inflicted Defense Woes

A jolly bit of tender

NOVANEWS

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Crimes Of Britain 

Churchill has been chosen by the Bank of England’s to be the face on their new £5 note set to be in circulation from September 2016.

The Governor of the Bank of England stated “Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a ”hero” of the entire free world.  His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all. I am proud to announce that he will appear on our next banknote”.

Churchill is fawned over in Britain. He was voted ‘Greatest Briton’ of all time in a poll run by the BBC in 2002. He is praised across the political spectrum, held up as the man who stopped Brits speaking German. When the truth is Churchill was never an opponent of fascism. He was a white supremacist who talked of the need of non-Anglo Saxons to “recognise the superiority of race”. In 1927 he praised Mussolini, “What a man! I have lost my heart!… Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world”. He went on to hold Hitler up as the ideal figure to lead Britain if they were to be defeated, “If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations”.

Winnie was still swilling champagne when he engineered a famine in Bengal which saw at least 4 million men, women and children to starve to death. Food literally taken from the mouths of starving people to ship it where it wasn’t even needed. The Black and Tan thugs were his brainchild. An advocate for the use of poison gases whilst Secretary for War and Air. He assisted greatly in the looting of Iran which kept Britain afloat. And when the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh threatened British ‘interests’, Churchill was there ready to desecrate democracy. He believed that Kenya’s fertile highlands should be only for white colonial settlers, and approved the removal of the local population. Over 150,000 men, women and children were forced into concentration camps. It was Churchill who arranged for Ibn Saud to receive a subsidy of £100,000 a year in 1922. He later gifted the founder of Saudi Arabia a Rolls Royce and lamented that his “admiration for him was deep, because of his unfailing loyalty to us”. When the democratically elected government in ‘British Guiana’ rolled out their nationalisation plan Churchill sent war ships and 700 British troops to put a stop to that. He assisted Zionism and was rewarded with a bust in Al Quds for his contribution in helping create the colonial settler state of ‘Israel’. Winston and his cabinet were deeply concerned about British people viewing Black American GIs favourably in WW2. He was obsessed so much that he wanted to get the Americans to stop sending Black soldiers to Britain. His racism didn’t stop there, when debating the adoption of new laws limiting immigration from the Caribbean he suggested the use of the motto “Keep England White”. All of Churchill’s wars were for defending and preserving the thieving British Empire.

I am releasing an in depth piece on his genocidal campaigns in the coming weeks. The British press have churned out a few articles here and there on Churchill but have glossed over the true extent of his crimes. Presenting them as OK because he led the Brits in their ‘finest hour’.

It really is no surprise that he is to decorate English currency, he is your archetypal Brit at the end of the day.

Posted in UKComments Off on A jolly bit of tender

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