Archive | July 22nd, 2017

If North Korea didn’t exist the US would create it

NOVANEWS
Reuters

There is only one reason why the US is obsessed with North Korea. It allows the US to maintain a massive military presence in East Asia. If not for tensions on the Korean peninsula, the US would lose its rationale for its network of military bases in the region, which are primarily meant to threaten and contain China.

In its latest move early June 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the United States to expand the scope of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its latest missile tests.

Prior to this the UNSC had slapped North Korea with six rounds of sanctions, but Washington and its allies have been pushing for more powerful and crippling sanctions in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, President Trump said “all options are on the table” (implying a military solution), while his Vice President Pence declared the “end of strategic patience.” Pence added:

“The patience of the United States in this region has run out …………The world has witnessed the strength and resolve of the US in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

Pence was alluding to the 59 cruise missiles the US launched at a Syrian military airfield, and the 22,000-pound “mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat by the United States, dropped in Afghanistan.

US war games

Right after striking Syria, President Trump dispatched a giant armada led by an aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, to the Korean peninsula as a show of force. The US also dispatched a nuclear-powered guided missile submarine, the USS Michigan, to the region, capable of launching up to 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of about 1,000 miles. The 6,900-tonne USS Cheyenne arrived in the South Korean port of Busan.

The US also has nearly 80,000 military personnel in South Korea and Japan, as well as military aircraft and other hardware on a high state of alert in South Korea. The USS Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group are based at the Japanese port of Yokosuka, while the US 7th Fleet, armed with tactical nuclear weapons, patrols the region.

US nukes are also based in South Korea and Guam, while heavy B-1 and B-52 bombers can fly from North America to Korea. In the event of a war with North Korea, the US military takes over the South Korean military with some 625,000 personnel as well as naval, air and anti-missile systems.

To top it all, U.S. performs, twice annually, the largest war games in the world with South Korea, in which it practises an assassination of North Korea’s top leadership, the invasion and occupation of North Korea, and a nuclear first strike against North Korea with imitation armaments.

The Foal Eagle war games include 300,000 South Korean soldiers and 15,000 US troops. This year, the exercises also feature Navy SEAL Team Six, which is best known for assassinating Osama bin Laden on Obama’s orders.

Moreover, an American plan was made public last September proclaiming that “the North’s capital city will be reduced to ashes and removed from the map if it shows any signs of using a nuclear weapon”.

THAAD provokes anger

The US also installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). This provoked strong opposition from China and Russia who consider it a provocative move and a threat to their national security. Chinese Foreign Ministry said:

“The THAAD deployment by the US severely disrupts regional strategic balance, undermines the strategic security interests of regional countries, including China, and does no good to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,”

THAAD system has also enraged the people of South Korea. The government there deployed 8,000 riot police to forcibly remove the residents and Buddhist monks protesting near the THAAD site.  Over 900 shaved their heads in protest. They expressed concerns about the electromagnetic waves emitted by the radar and the long-term impact on their health and agriculture

Police evicted the protestors to clear a path for 38 US military vehicles carrying THAAD parts and equipment. A total of 12 protesters sustained injuries and were taken to the hospital.

Under such conditions, any military action, however limited, would trigger a conflict that could draw in neighbouring countries. American administrations have been contemplating the idea of pre-emptive strike against North Korea, but were quickly restrained, knowing that it would prompt a counter-reaction. They couldn’t justify military action that would endanger lives of millions of Koreans, with 28,500 U.S. soldiers and 230,000 Americans living there.

US shreds peace pact 

In 1994 President Clinton entered a framework agreement under which North Korea that would end its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, while the U.S. would cut down its hostile acts.

It worked, as up to 2000 North Korea abandoned its nuclear weapons programs. Enter George W. Bush and he immediately launches an assault on North Korea, with his “axis of evil” mantra and explicit aim of regime change. North Korea in turn reverts to its erstwhile nuclear programme.

Once again, the two countries entered an agreement in 2005 and once again Bush shredded it and reverted to sanctions. North Korea backed off, and resumed its nuclear program. As Noam Chomsky said:

“If you like it, one can say it’s the worst regime in history, whatever you like, but they have been following a pretty rational tit-for-tat policy”.

DPRK not suicidal

Ex-US president Jimmy Carter once spoke about American militarism, saying since World War II, the country has been at war. He added that he “could not think of any place on earth today where the United States is working to promote peace”.

In the early 1990s, Carter met North Korean leader Kim II Sung who expressed the desire for a peace treaty with the United States. The result was a successful treaty that ended the Korean nuclear weapons program and economic embargo, allowing Americans to search for the remains of Korean War veterans.

While Bush dismantled that agreement, Obama intensified war games with South Korea, including a simulated nuclear attack on North Korea, and tightened the economic stranglehold.

In his address Carter said: “I’ve been there two or three times since the 1994 agreement, and I can tell you what the North Koreans want is a peace treaty with the United States and they want the 60-year economic embargo lifted against their people, so they can have an equal chance to trade… They make a lot of mistakes, but if the United States would just talk to the North Koreans…I believe…we could have peace, and the United States would be a lot better off in the long run.”

In fact North Korea has threatened to retaliate only in response to a U.S. pre-emptive military strike. In the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, its leader Kim Jong Un affirmed that his country “would not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was violated.”

Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, who helped negotiate a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear program during the Clinton administration, agrees: “I believe that the danger of a North Korean ICBM program is not that they would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States. They are not suicidal.”

Lesson from Gaddafi

Perhaps it would be suicidal for them to give up their nuclear arsenal, after what happened to Gaddafi of Libya.

Undoubtedly, Kim Jong Un knows only too well how Gaddafi ended his days, the way he was overthrown and then lynched under US/NATO command. By surrendering his military weaponry, he signed his death warrant. He submitted his weapons and deposited some $200 billion of Libyan national wealth in Western banks. Yet in the end the West took its skin.

In the West it is rarely brought to light that the US has repeatedly turned down North Korea’s offers to end nuclear weapon development. Offers have been put forward by North Korea back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s but were then rejected by the US.

The most recent proposal was made in 2015 when North Korea offered to “halt nuclear testing if the United States would cancel an annual spring military exercise with South Korea”, but Washington rejected the proposal.

War crime

It is hardly surprising that North Koreans want peace, for they remember the war in the fifties when the US Air Force carpet-bombed their country with incendiaries and explosives, dropping 635,000 tons of explosive bombs and up to 40,000 tons of napalm.

They remember the worst atrocities carried out by South Korean police, who took part in prostitution rings, racketeering, blackmail and the execution of thousands of political prisoners, and routine execution of prisoners of war, including old men, women and children. Western reporters who revealed these atrocities had US censorship imposed on them.

North Korea was carpet-bombed for three years by US, destroying every town and village. In the words of Air Force General Curtis LeMay: “We burned down every town in North Korea …. Over a period of three years or so we killed – what – 20 percent of the population”.

To quote Senator John Glenn, a Korea war veteran who ended up as an astronaut, “We did a lot of napalm work …. You could strafe them, bomb them, napalm them, flying in low. Quite a variety of weapons.”

And in the final stages of the war, mass bombing (1,514 sorties) of hydro-electric and irrigation dams was done, flooding and destroying huge areas of farmland and crops. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans.

Quoting Professor Charles Armstrong, Director of the Centre for Korean Research (Columbia University):

“The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating UN (read US) forces”.

Chief Justice William O. Douglas visited Korea in the summer of 1952 and declared, “I had seen the war-battered cities of Europe; but I had not seen devastation until I had seen Korea.”

One can thus barely blame North Korea if today it is highly militarised, displaying deep antipathy towards the state that rained death and destruction on its people, towns and villages. That mass killing and destruction of civilians was war crimes never brought to any court of justice.

US strategy

Instead, the US carries on with its threats of regime change and gun-boat diplomacy. Dennis Etler of Cabrillo College in California says the US refuses to deescalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula in order to maintain its network of military bases in East Asia and contain China.

“There is only one reason why US seeks to quarantine the DPRK. It allows the US to maintain a military presence in East Asia. If not for tensions on the Korean peninsula, the US would lose its rationale for its network of military bases in the region, which are primarily meant to threaten and contain China” he adds.

James R. Lilley puts it succinctly when he says: “At the end of the Cold War, if North Korea didn’t exist we would have to create it as an excuse to keep the Seventh Fleet in the region.”

He is talking of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 70 to 80 ships and submarines, 300 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel

Lilley speaks as an insider, having been member, together with his close friend, George H.W. Bush, of the infamous Yale University Skull & Bones secret society. He served some three decades at the CIA along with Bush. Both Lilley and Bush were US Ambassadors to China.

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Canadian media misleads public about country’s role abroad

NOVANEWS
Global Affairs Canada

Imagine if the media only reported the good news that governments and corporations wanted you to see, hear and read about. Unfortunately, that is not far from the reality of reporting about Canada’s role internationally.

The dominant media almost exclusively covers stories that portray this country positively while ignoring or downplaying information that contradicts this narrative. The result? Canadians are ignorant and confused about their country’s role in the world.

In a recent example of the ‘benevolent Canada’ bias, the Globe and Mail reported uncritically about a trip International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau made to the Congo. In a story last week headlined “Canada commits $97-million to Congo under feminist foreign-aid policy”, the Globe reported that “Canada has committed nearly $100-million to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support women’s economic empowerment, protect street children and provide humanitarian assistance.”

A week earlier Canada’s ‘paper of record’ decided a relatively insignificant Canadian project to help miners in eastern Congo was front-page news. “New gold standard emerges for Congo’s miners, Canada’s jewellery buyers”, detailed an Ottawa-funded initiative to promote legal exports and to standardize the price paid to miners.

While Partnership Africa Canada’s ‘fair trade’ gold initiative is an interesting project and the International Development Minister’s announcement was newsworthy, the narrowness of the two articles gives readers the impression Canada helps improve the lives of people who live in a country where 87% live on less than $1.25 a day. But, an abundance of evidence suggests Canada has actually impoverished the central African nation.

What follows is a brief outline of the context within which the “good news” about Canada’s role in the Congo should be seen:

Over a century ago Royal-Military-College-of-Canada-trained officer William Grant Stairs participated in two controversial expeditions to expand European influence over the Congo. In 1887, Stairs was one of ten white officers in the first-ever European expedition to cross the interior of the continent, which left a trail of death, disease and destruction. A few years later the Halifax native led a 1,950-person mission to conquer the resource-rich Katanga region of the Congo on behalf of Belgium’s King Leopold II. Today Stairs is honoured with a street, island and multiple plaques, even though he was openly racist and barbarous and added 150,000 square kilometres to the Belgium’s King’s monstrous colony.

During this period Hamilton, Ontario’s William Henry Faulknor was one of the first white missionaries to establish a mission station in eastern Congo. Between 1887 and 1891 Faulknor worked under the ruler of the Yeke kingdom, Mwenda Msiri, who would later meet his death at the hand of Stairs. Faulknor’s Plymouth Brethren explicitly called for European rule (either Belgian or British) over Katanga and like almost all missionaries sought to undermine local ways.

Following Faulknor, Toronto-born Henry Grattan Guinness II established the Congo Balolo Mission in 1889. Congo Balolo missions were located in remote areas of the colony, where King Leopold’s Anglo-Belgian Rubber Company obligated individuals and communities to gather rubber latex and chopped off the hands of thousands of individuals who failed to fulfill their quotas.

Faced with the violent disruption of their lives, the Lulonga, Lopori, Maringa, Juapa and Burisa were increasingly receptive to the Christian activists who became “the interpreter of the new way of life”, writes Ruth Slade in English-Speaking Missions in the Congo Independent State. Not wanting to jeopardize their standing with Leopold’s representatives, the Congo Balolo Mission repeatedly refused British-based solidarity campaigners’ appeals to publicly expose the abuses they witnessed.

In the 1920s the Canadian trade commissioner in South Africa, G.R. Stevens, traveled to the Congo and reported on the Katanga region’s immense resources. In de-facto support of Belgian rule, a Canadian trade commission was opened in the colony in 1946. In response to a series of anti-colonial demonstrations in 1959, Canadian Trade Commissioner K. Nyenhuis reported to External Affairs that “savagery is still very near the surface in most of the natives.”

Ottawa backed Brussels militarily as it sought to maintain control of its massive colony. Hundreds of Belgian pilots were trained in Canada during and after World War II and through the 1950s Belgium received tens of millions of dollars in Canadian NATO Mutual Aid. Canadian Mutual Aid weaponry was likely employed by Belgian troops in suppressing the anti-colonial struggle in the Congo.

Immediately after independence Canada played an important role in the UN mission that facilitated the murder of anticolonial Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961. Canadian Colonel Jean Berthiaume assisted Lumumba’s political enemies by helping recapture the popular independence leader. Lumumba was handed over to soldiers under military commander Joseph Mobutu.

Canada had a hand in Mobutu’s rise and Ottawa mostly supported his brutal three-decade rule. Then, Canada also helped get rid of Mobutu.

Ottawa supported Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion, which ultimately drove Mobutu from power. In 1996, Canada led a short-lived UN force into eastern Zaire (Congo) designed to dissipate French pressure and ensure pro-Mobutu Paris didn’t take command of a force that could impede the Rwandan-led invasion. As Rwanda has unleashed mayhem in the Congo over the past two decades, Ottawa has backed Kigali.

In 2002 a series of Canadian companies were implicated in a UN report titled “Report on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and other Forms of Wealth in the Congo”. Ottawa responded to the report by defending the Canadian companies cited for complicity in Congolese human rights violations.

At the G8 in 2010, the Canadian government pushed for an entire declaration to the final communiqué criticizing the Congo for attempting to gain a greater share of its vast mineral wealth. Earlier that year Ottawa obstructed international efforts to reschedule the country’s foreign debt, which was mostly accrued during Mobutu’s dictatorship and the subsequent wars. Canadian officials “have a problem with what’s happened with a Canadian company,” Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said, referring to the government’s move to revoke a mining concession that First Quantum acquired under dubious circumstances during the 1998-2003 war.

With about $4.5 billion invested in the Congo, Canadian mining companies have been responsible for numerous abuses. After a half-dozen members of the little-known Mouvement revolutionnaire pour la liberation du Katanga occupied Anvil Mining’s Kilwa concession in October 2004 the Canada-Australian company transported government troops who killed 100 people. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians.

In recent months a number of individuals have been killed at Banro’s mines in eastern Congo. Over the past two decades the secretive Toronto-based company has been accused of fuelling conflict in a region that’s seen incredible violence.

Of course one cannot expect a detailed history of Canada’s role in impoverishing Congo in a story about a government ‘aid’ announcement or a 1,300-word article about an initiative to standardize pay for some of the world’s most vulnerable miners’. But, the Globe’s failure to even mention the broader story reflects its bias and helps to explain why Canadians are so confused about their country’s role in the world.

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Charter of the North African Network for Food Sovereignty

Hamza Hamouchen

Activists from anti-capitalist militant organizations in North Africa met in Tunis on 4th and 5th July 2017 to set up the North African Network for Food Sovereignty. The network is a unifying structure for struggles in the region and will be involved in local, continental and international mobilisation.

The network has adopted the following Charter:

Food sovereignty is the human right of peoples as individuals and communities to define their own food systems. It means, working with nature and protecting resources to produce sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food by:

  • giving priority to local production and staple food,
  • putting in place popular agrarian reforms,
  • guaranteeing free access to seeds
  • protecting national produce
  • and by involving people in elaborating agricultural policies.

Food sovereignty is tied to the right of people to self-determination at the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental levels. It is also linked to a rupture with imperialist centres and international financial and trade institutions as well as to the struggle against regimes and governments that implement these policies to the benefit of foreign and domestic capital.

Food sovereignty is incompatible with agro-business, a system that is partly responsible for the destruction of natural resources and the climate chaos threatening the livelihoods of millions of people.

Unfortunately, food sovereignty has being undermined for decades in our region (North Africa). This process started in the colonial period and is being reinforced by neo-colonial, productivist and extractivist policies implemented in the name of development. This situation is worsened by different programmes of harsh neoliberal adjustments and by submission to conditions imposed by the World Trade Organisation as well as to terms of trade agreements with the European Union, United States and others.

Our region is subject to the hegemony of international financial capital and imperialist domination that are responsible for the ecological crisis, climate change and the pillaging of resources.

In order to address this situation and break away from this hegemony and in accordance with the above, we agree as follows:

1. The North African Food Sovereignty Network is a unifying structure that includes  all popular organizations, unions, associations and social movements fighting capitalism, extractivism,  ecocide, racism, patriarchy, hogra(contempt) and all other forms of discrimination.

2. The network is a horizontal structure that is democratically organized, open to all organizations working in the North African region in accordance with this Charter.

3. The network strives to achieve food sovereignty, climate and environmental justice. It will fight for the establishment of a new system that will end human exploitation and the destruction of life while satisfying people’s needs in a participatory and democratic framework that is in harmony with nature and inspired by buen vivirprinciples (living well).

4. In order to reach these goals, the network will put in place all possible militant actions: critical studies; campaigns, workshops, direct actions as well as networking, coordination and solidarity with ally movements that fight for the same objectives.

5. The network shall coordinate and work in synergy with all anti-capitalist struggles that fight resources dispossession, enslavement of peoples and against all kinds of segregation and racism at the national, continental and international levels.

6. The network aims to build alliances and tight relations with organizations fighting for food sovereignty in the region, the continent and worldwide.

7. To facilitate its functioning, the network shall set up a coordination that will comprise a representative from each organization present during the founding meeting.

8. The coordination ensures democratic and transparent functioning of the network for a period of one year. It is the representative and the spokesperson of the network and is responsible for its administrative and financial management as well as being in charge of maintaining the website and publishing reports and studies.

9. Prior to the expiration of the term (one year), the coordination has to draft a statute and bylaws (internal regulations) to be validated democratically.

Tunisia is temporarily the head office of the network.

10. At the end of that period (one year), the coordination will put in place structures that are in accordance with a legal statute that will be democratically validated.

Agreed in Tunis on 5th July 2017

Organisations and associations participating in the founding/constitutive meeting

Agro-ecology and Green Environment (Tunisia)

National Federation of the Agricultural Sector (Moroccan Worker’s Union)

National Initiative for the Support to Cooperatives (Egypt)

ATTAC-CADTM (Morocco)

One Million Rural Women (Tunisia)

National Union of Fishers – Coastal and Offshore fishing (Morocco)

Observatory for Food and Environmental Sovereignty (Tunisia)

National Coordination for Food Sovereignty (Algeria)

Environmental Justice North Africa (Algeria)

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The 4th July parliamentary coup in Nigeria

NOVANEWS
Lawyard.ng

The call on Bukola Saraki, the senate president, to assume the position of acting president because the president and acting president were allegedly out of the country, was not only contrary to the provisions of the constitution but had all the elements of a coup d’état.

In reviewing the farcical coup—orchestrated by the President of the Nigerian senate, Bukola Saraki—that took place on Tuesday, 4 July 2017, we were reminded of the French coup of 1851 by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and the analysis by Karl Marx.

Since the French constitution prohibited an incumbent president from seeking re-election, Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew) who was elected president in 1848 was due to leave office in 1852. On 2 December 1851, President Louis Bonaparte staged a self-coup as his followers broke up the French Legislative Assembly and established a dictatorship. A year later, he proclaimed himself Emperor Napoleon III.

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Marx, referencing the coup of 18 Brumaire, November 9, 1799, that brought General Napoleon Bonaparte, the uncle, to power, described how the class struggle (political crisis) in France “created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity (Louis-Napoleon, the nephew) to play a hero’s part.”

The political crisis in Nigeria is creating circumstances in which swindlers in the corridors of power and scoundrels posing as lawmakers are playing the part of heroes. And so, it came to pass that Nigeria’s senate president, Bukola Saraki, whose rap sheet is long enough to sew prison uniforms for every member of our notorious National Assembly, prevented himself from being sworn in as acting president of the country on July 4, 2017, and thus saving our fledgling democracy.

In the preface to the third German edition of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon in 1885, Engels concluded that “Marx came out with a concise, epigrammatic exposition that laid bare the whole course of French history…and in so doing did not even need to treat the hero of the coup d‘état otherwise than with the contempt he so well deserved.” The “hero” of the parliamentary coup of 4 July in Nigeria deserves all the contempt we can muster!

On a day that will perpetually live in infamy, Bukola Saraki, using his sidekicks, Eyinnaya Abaribe and Kabiru Marafa, and much to the approval of other senators toadying to their emperor, otherwise known as senate president, sought to undermine the constitution and illegally overthrow the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of which he is a highly placed member—the third in the hierarchy. The details of that coup, orchestrated by anti-democratic forces, would have been laughable if not that they are tragic.

After two weeks of vacation, Saraki and his colleagues resumed in their severely desecrated chamber and the main order of business, amid the political tension and excruciating economic conditions, was a scheme to overthrow the acting president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

Saraki had hardly finished reading a letter from the acting president requesting the senate’s confirmation of the appointment of Lanre Gbajabiamila as the Director General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, when the senate’s unrepentant paedophile, Ahmed Sani Yerima, raised a point of order to initiate discussion on the acting president’s position on the confirmation of nominees.

In a voyage of crass mischief and pathetic misunderstanding of the acting president’s stance on the power of the senate to confirm nominees from the executive branch, Yerima guided his colleagues to adopt the erroneous position that since the acting president believes the senate lacks the power of confirmation, there was no point entertaining letters from the executive branch asking for confirmation of nominees.

But Nigerians know that this mischief was aimed at undermining the acting president by twisting his position on the senate’s power to confirm executive nominees. His position was strictly in respect of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others in that category. What he said after the senate’s refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of EFCC following two appearances was that the presidency ought not to have sent Magu’s name for confirmation because the nominee did not belong in the category of appointments that the constitution empowers the senate to confirm.

This position was what these malefactors pretending to be lawmakers twisted to suit the grand plot they have long nurtured to subvert democracy. With Prof Osinbajo now head of government, in acting capacity, they must have reasoned that it would be much easier to finally undo the presidency and launch a process of floating an ultra-ambitious Saraki—a man who already sees himself as the putative leader of Nigeria—as the acting president and ultimately the president. Saraki knows there is no other way to the presidency for him except through this despicable and farcical route.

In acting out the plot, our senators, whose mendacity knows no bounds, took the first step by discussing Yerima’s point of order and resolving not to take any more requests for confirmation of nominees from the presidency until Ibrahim Magu is removed from office. Enter Dino Melaye, Saraki’s lapdog, who is battling furiously to stave off an imminent recall from the senate by his constituents.

Not to be outdone on this occasion, this minion of a senator tried to impugn Magu’s qualification for the job of EFCC chair. For an unabashed liar and a man with the putrid air of certificate forgeries—including claims of degrees from Harvard University and London School of Economics that have been refuted by both institutions—still hanging thickly around him, Melaye must have balls the size of a football to question anybody about his or her qualification for public office. Saraki and his dissolute co-travellers made it clear that if Ibrahim Magu is not sacked there would be severe consequences, including impeachment, even if not expressly stated. But as far as most Nigerians can tell, impeachment is what these senators have in mind.

Bent on undermining the laws of the land, our idle senators veered from Ibrahim Magu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Ike Ekweremadu, a lawyer, and the deputy senate president, took the floor and told the world that the issue of the recall of Dino Melaye was “dead on arrival” and that INEC had to seek the senate’s ratification before it could conclude the recall process. To impress his team of approving nitwits, the addle-headed senator emphasized with overt disdain and arrogance that the electoral body, even by doing their job as stipulated in the constitution, was “wasting their time” with respect to the matter.

When a man of the status of Ekweremadu, touted to be specialized in the workings of the constitution as a lawyer, pronounces in so scandalously expedient manner that an agency of government performing its duties as mandated by the constitution is engaging in a futile exercise, one can conveniently say there is no hope for Nigeria.

Such lawlessness and disregard for due process is the hallmark of the 8th senate, constituted by the worst group of senators since the return of democracy in 1999. When one of their own, Ali Ndume, called on Saraki and Melaye to clear themselves on the issue of non-payment of the requisite import duty for a bulletproof Range Rover SUV imported by the senate president and allegations of certificate forgery respectively, like the pack of debauched gangsters that they are, they descended on him and suspended him for six months.

So desperate has this senate become in their subversive agenda that it would make nothing of frustrating the executive—and grounding the country in the process—in virtually all matters, including the national budget which they have turned into a cash cow. They have ingloriously padded the national budget, arrogated to themselves the power to alter the budget, illegally removed planned national projects and shamelessly and criminally inserted so-called community projects, a euphemism for grand theft.

Now, to their ultimate goal. They can deny it as much as they like and their leader can feign disinterest, but the very irresponsible and disgraceful contribution of Eyinnaya Abaribe, pointing sinisterly to a non-existent vacuum in the leadership of the country and calling on Bukola Saraki, the senate president, to assume the position of acting president because in Abaribe’s warped logic, and contrary to the provisions of the constitution, the president and acting president were out of the country, has all the elements of a coup d’état.

For the record, the acting president went to Ethiopia to represent Nigeria at the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on Monday, July 3, 2017, and returned to Nigeria the same day. Not that it really mattered because, whether in or out of the country, the leader of any nation remains so, unless, in the case of Nigeria, he or she notifies the National Assembly of their inability to perform that role. The fact that our senators knew that no letter was transmitted by the acting president to the National Assembly did not stop Abaribe’s odious submission from receiving a raucous applause by our law-making cheerleaders.

It stands to reason that if the acting president was not in the country when Abaribe moved his criminally audacious and absurd motion, the Nigerian military would have been justified in taking over to “save the country”. We think Saraki and his cohorts have fired the first salvo. Despite their failed coup, they are not giving up and they will stop at nothing until they achieve their aim or drag the whole country down with them.

The masses who bear the brunt of the evil machinations of the Nigerian senate would have to find a way to get rid of these lawless lawmakers who have weighed down the country’s democratic process by their inordinate ambition, greed and corruption. Our senators have repeatedly trampled on the constitution, so looking toward the constitution for guidance is not an option. Recall is clearly not an option.

By their coup of 4 July, Saraki and his gang of pseudo-democrats are inviting a coup. Except that this time, the coup will be by the mass of our people, a popular revolutionary uprising. And the consequences are better imagined!

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South Africa: An open letter of SAFTU to the Communist Party

NOVANEWS
Why we are unable to honour the invitation to your Congress
Nigel Sibanda

The South African Federation of Trade Unions turned down an invitation to the congress of the South African Communist Party. SACP is an ally of the ruling African National Congress. SAFTU says SACP is as guilty as the Jacob Zuma government in implementing a neoliberal programme that is anti-poor, anti-working class, pro-capitalist and anti-socialist.

Dr Blade Nzimande
General Secretary
South African Communist Party

Braamfontein

Dear Comrade General Secretary,

Thank you for the invitation to your elective 14th National Congress, which we have carefully considered.

As the second largest and fastest growing trade union federation in the country, and one with an unambiguous socialist orientation, it would be entirely proper for a Communist Party to invite SAFTU to its Congress. However we are unable to accept your invitation for a number of reasons including the following:

Reflection is a revolutionary process 

Firstly, it would appear that the SACP leadership has been unable to seriously reflect on the consequences of their decision to actively support the destruction of the unity of the trade union movement.

By openly supporting the expulsion of over 340,000 metal workers, and then to stand idly by when hundreds of other unions members within COSATU were summarily expelled for demanding an end to corruption, financial and political accountability and transparency by their union leaderships makes us doubt that any serious reflection has taken place.

We have yet to hear the profound voice of a genuine Communist Party speaking out against the ‘business unionism’ of corrupt leadership within CEPPWAWU, SATAWU, SAMWU, etc.

It was clear at the time that the unity of the working class was of paramount importance if a challenge to austerity and capitalist rule were to be taken seriously. Workers have been under siege from the capitalist class and neoliberal programmes implemented by the government, from the genesis of GEAR right through to the NDP.

To weaken trade unions further at the time when no effort should have been spared to unite workers is an unforgivable act of treason. These anti-worker acts alone, we must say, have seriously undermined the credibility of the SACP leadership both locally and internationally.

Frankly, SAFTU unions are simply disbelieving and skeptical about the motives of the SACP leadership. An organisation that has recently and consciously acted to destroy workers’ unity simply cannot be trusted to act differently and do the same again, if the leadership were to believe the need arose to address what the SACP referred to as a “lingering irritation”.

Looking in the mirror 

Secondly, it would appear that the leadership of the SACP have been unable to ‘look in the mirror’ and learn the lessons from the past, and especially the constraints that have been imposed and internalized in order to secure Cabinet posts and other positions inside the belly of a capitalist state driving an anti-worker, anti-working class and pro-business economic agenda.

To witness SACP leaders in the Cabinet acting as spokespersons of those implicated in thieving schemes, and pulling the wool over the eyes of our people to obscure and justify brazen theft in relation to Nkandla was such a betrayal of the role the communists inside the SACP have historically played.

Joining the attacks on the judiciary and the media and going to the extent of proposing insult laws (by actively calling on the South African citizens not to insult Jacob Zuma and, therefore, calling for legislation to punish anyone who “insults the President”) was nothing but a move to muzzle the outrage expressed at the project that was and is still about destroying all the gains of our democracy. Given the evidence, which was widely available indicating that this project was about driving a programme towards a full-blown kleptocracy, this has left many in disbelief.

This programme did not start when the Guptas were gunning for the heads of SACP leaders and other Cabinet members in 2015. It started as soon as Jacob Zuma was elected in May 2009. Those with short memories must recall the disbandment of the crime and corruption busting capacity of the state in the Scorpions, the hollowing out of the intelligence services, the destruction of almost all state capacity, including state-owned enterprises, and more recently the capturing of the Public Protector and much more besides, are the limited examples we raise in this short letter to you.

It is only very recently that the SACP leadership has been bold enough to voice their disappointment with the leadership of the ANC, when it has been painfully obvious to everyone else, as wave after wave of evidence has surfaced making an irrefutable case against Gupterisation and state capture. The SACP in a very significant way together with many in the ANC helped Zuma and made him untouchable in the process.

There have been two kinds of state capture in our view. The first was the capturing of the ANC itself in the run-up to the 1994 which resulted in the abandonment of its historic mission to liberate black people in general and Africans in particular, to address the exploitation of the working people and end the triple oppression faced by women in their homes, workplaces and broader society. The Zupta capture is an immediate threat. Left alone, the Zupta project will destroy any prospects for a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

We are in agreement with the SACP on this immediate threat; however, those who raised the alarm from 2009, even from 2007, were labeled anti-majoritarian and, worse, counter-revolutionary by the SACP leadership. SACP members must ask how this was allowed to happen.

The alternative to neo-liberalism is not austerity by another name! 

Thirdly, the SACP does not appear to have reflected on its own role in justifying and propping up the status quo. We don’t believe that you have truly looked at the scale of the destruction caused by neoliberal policies and austerity measures that the SACP has been party to supporting at national, provincial and local levels.

Have SACP leaders not asked themselves why hundreds of thousands of poor people in our communities have taken to the streets over the last period, sometimes employing extremely desperate measures, in order to be heard, and to demand that ANC election promises of a better life for all to be honoured?

Have the SACP had an opportunity to look at the destruction of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and other sectors, which are being decimated?

Furthermore, we are convinced that the SACP leadership has not assessed ideologically the devastating impact the Zuma and ANC Alliance projects have had on the future prospects of a genuine left project.

The destruction of state-owned enterprises in particular, the hollowing out of the state and organs of people’s power have made it harder for left forces to convince and mobilise the public about the efficacy of an active democratic developmental state that could make real change possible through programmes such as the nationalisation of strategic sectors of the economy and other measures to redistribute wealth and power in our country.

Two factions: different sides of the same coin! 

Fourthly, the SACP appears to have to have fallen into the trap of factional politics. Despite the lessons of the past, in particular the devastating decision (which all of us rallied around and must shamefully regret) to rally the working class behind an extremely dangerous and compromised candidate such as Jacob Zuma and his NEC, it is ready to support the leadership of one faction against another by uncritically backing a pro-capital candidate as the next President of our country.

From a distance we see a repeat of history as another coalition of the wounded is put together to challenge a man who has become more and more unpopular.

Surely, the lessons of the Zuma period must teach us that a reliance on individuals, despite their rhetoric, has led to a disaster. Without an explicit programme to challenge capitalist rule, linked to the rebuilding of a mass democratic movement to ensure that the programme is implemented, will inevitably lead to further paralysis and, worse still, deepening levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption.

Meanwhile, the unending exploitation and misery that huge sections of our population experience today will continue, and blame will be placed at the door of the Alliance which you are determined to preserve regardless. Changing who occupies the Presidency will not change the class balance of forces, or the reality of workers’ lives in South Africa today, or restore the electoral fortunes of the ANC.

Despite the fact that we are possibly in the deepest political and economic crisis for decades, the SACP remains unable and unwilling to offer the working class an alternative to that posed by the dysfunctional ANC-led Alliance. In our view, Alliance policies at this time consist of little more than an accelerated continuation of the policies of GEAR and other variants of an austerity approach that is crippling the working class locally and globally.

The SACP is as guilty as the Jacob Zuma-led faction in imposing and implementing a neoliberal programme that is anti-poor, anti-working class, pro-capitalist and anti-socialist. You have to look at the rate of youth and women unemployment and the Esidimeni scandal to understand the full meaning of the crisis.

A question arises, is the SACP by inviting us and sudden talk of putting together a broad front of left formations not an attempt at redeeming itself and, worse, using us as a bargaining chip in its factional maneuvers inside the ANC-led Alliance to sort out the eating queue in 2017 and 2019, instead of addressing the crisis facing the working class and the black majority today?

Unity of the trade union movement 

Communist parties around the world have always understood the critical importance of the role trade unions must play as a school for working class consciousness. In fact Lenin defined that role as follows:

“When the workers of a single factory or of a single branch of industry engage in struggle against their employer or employers, is this class struggle? No, this is only a weak embryo of it. The struggle of the workers becomes a class struggle only when all the foremost representatives of the entire working class of the whole country are conscious of themselves as a single working class and launch a struggle that is directed, not against individual employers, but against the entire class of capitalists and against the government that supports that class. 

Only when the individual worker realizes that he is a member of the entire working class, only when he recognises the fact that his petty day-to-day struggle against individual employers and individual government officials is a struggle against the entire bourgeoisie and the entire government, does his struggle become a class struggle.” (Vladimir Lenin, On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet State)

The factionalist and sectarian behaviour of the South African Communist Party leadership has today turned the trade union movement in South Africa into a lap dog of capitalism. Look at the state of the once mighty COSATU to appreciate your own contribution to the destruction of the country.

The evidence of this assertion is the fact that the SACP, on the eve of the December 2013 NUMSA Special National Congress, wrote an open letter to NUMSA delegates to disown their national leadership who courageously called for Zuma to be removed. It is now a fact that you rejected these calls in 2013 BUT surfaced this same demand in 2017. Surely a Communist Party worth its salt should be seen to lead and not follow.

Actions speak louder than rhetoric! 

Fifthly, despite the fact that the SACP may still enjoy some support in sections of the working class and the poor, it has been impossible to detect any concrete actions to provide solidarity to workers and communities who have engaged in day-to-day struggles. We see no communist party flag in battles for “Outsourcing Must Fall”, “Fees Must Fall” and the 13 000 annual service delivery protests.

Actively supporting our people in struggle against exploitation, corruption and state repression is an essential task for any organisation claiming to be socialist and communist. The building and leading of genuine mass campaigns, to strengthen class-consciousness, and to take forward explicit demands that challenge the logic of capital is the hallmark of an organisation that is serious about challenging capitalist rule. Instead the SACP has been passive, or when pushed, has tailed organisations that represent wider class interests.

We could discuss these points in greater detail, but what we hope they illustrate is that the actions of the SACP leadership over the last period have been part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

We hope that those honest workers who have thus far continued to support the SACP, in the absence of anything else, will take note, and at the very least ask themselves if the programme of the SACP in the recent past, and at the current time, is capable of taking the class struggle forward. We believe that is decidedly not the case.

Only if, and when, the SACP decisively and publicly breaks with the politics of positioning, patronage and class collaboration will organisations like ours be able to accept an invitation to witness your deliberations. Until that time, we shall continue placing the needs of the working class at the centre of our concerns, for that is the real meaning of non-sectarianism.

Activists on the ground, if listened to, will testify and show evidence to indicate that the working class and the poor are desperately looking for organisations that will represent their interests, and who will also be ready to stand side-by-side with them in actively challenging, not accommodating the dictates of the market. That is what we intend to do.

We will await the outcomes of the SACP Congress to see if such an orientation is capable of emerging. We remain however convinced, unless otherwise proven, that you will remain hanging on to the apron-strings of the African National Congress, who has now proven to be the champion of neo-liberal capitalist policies.

Yours faithfully

Zwelinzima Vavi

General Secretary

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How markets undermine African development

NOVANEWS
WTO

The rules, institutions and operations of global markets, unchanged since the end of formal colonialism, are among the greatest obstacles to the development of African countries.

Global market rules are either in favour of, or are frequently bent to benefit industrial countries. Or, to put it differently, more restrictive market rules are often applied to African countries while industrial countries are accorded leeway to implement these in ways that benefit their companies, labour and economies.

The first of these is that industrial countries have more power to determine the rules of the market than African and other developing countries.

Many industrial countries following the 2007/2008 global and Eurozone financial crises nationalized failing banks, but if African countries try to do so, they will face restriction and criticism from markets, global media and financial institutions.

Many industrial countries, for example, can come up with monetary policies to ostensibly improve their export competitiveness, such as artificially keeping the value of their currencies and interest rates low. The US, the EU and Japan have been doing this for years.

In the aftermath of the 2007/2008 global and Eurozone financial crises the US, because interest rates there were already close to zero, introduced quantitative easing (QE), the strategy of injecting money directly into the country’s financial system. EQ is printing new money electronically and buying government bonds, which increases the circulation of money, in order to boost consumer and business spending.

Such unilateral monetary policies have undermined the competitiveness of African countries by causing seesawing capital flows, currency volatility and destabilization of financial markets.

African countries do not have the economic power to introduce their own quantitative easing – and even if they had, there are likely to be market, investor and industrialized-country backlashes against them.

Industrialized countries argue for free trade, but most have high tariff barriers for manufactured and processed goods from Africa. However, industrial countries insist that African countries open up their markets to both agricultural and manufactured goods from industrial countries.

Industrial countries frequently have non-tariff barriers such as high quality, health and environmental standards for products coming from African countries. African countries do not have the same freedom to enact similar non-tariff barriers for products coming from industrial countries.

Furthermore, industrial countries heavily subsidize their own sensitive industries, such as agriculture. Yet, African countries are punished when they want to protect their own infant or sensitive industries. The US Africa Opportunity Act (AGOA) or the EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), for example, allow US and EU governments to subsidize their strategic industries; but both the US and EU forbid African countries to do the same, or they will lose out on “benefits” from AGOA and the EPAs.

Industrial countries insist that African countries allow multinational companies unfettered investment freedom in African economies, often with disregard for the local environment, labour standards or good corporate governance. Again, if African countries do not allow the free entry of industrial country goods, they are likely to face market, investors and industrialized-country political backlashes.

The international currency in which trade takes place is either the US dollar or other industrialized-country currencies, such as the Euro, British Pound or the Japanese Yen. The raw materials that most African countries export to industrial countries are usually traded in these currencies. Fluctuations in these currencies impact disproportionally on African economies, particularly because the economies are heavily dependent on the export of one commodity.

The prices, exchanges and bourses of all African commodities are set in industrial countries. This means that, astonishingly, African producers, even where they are the global dominant producers of a specific commodity, have no say in the price of that commodity.

In the global market, labour from industrial countries can move freely to African countries; yet African labour movement to industrial countries is increasingly restricted. The arguments for free markets ring hollow, without the free movement of labour.

Industrial countries also control the supporting structures of global markets: the credit rating agencies, transport and logistics, insurance agencies and the banks and the global communications systems.

Industrial countries dominate global transportation, insurance and finance markets, needed to export African products. Major global credits rating agencies are controlled by industrial countries and are often biased against, lack knowledge of, or generalize about African economies on a one-size-fits all basis.

Global markets are increasingly underpinned by communications technology, with trading, financing and business done digitally. Industrial country companies dominate communications technology.

The global public institutions that support global markets are all controlled by industrial countries, their appointees and their dominant views. Some of these include ‘public’ global institutions such as the US- and European Union-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

African countries proportionally lose more through international tax rules that favour industrial countries and allow multinational companies great leeway to practice tax avoidance, illicit trade and profit shifting in African countries. As Rob Davies, the South African Trade and Industry Minister, said rightly “changing international tax rules and closing loopholes which facilitate and enable international tax evasion and aggressive avoidance” are only dealt with by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), which most African and developing countries are not members of.

African countries must push for such global issues, which impact directly on them, to be handled through multilateral intergovernmental mechanisms.

African countries must push for global public institutions that support global markets such as the World Bank and IMF to give them a greater say in decision-making.

African countries must forge better coalitions to push for the improvement of the governance of global markets, allow individual African countries with the same policy space to ‘govern’ markets. African countries must as a bloc introduce appropriate industrial, development and trade policies. This will make it more difficult for industrialized countries, global public institutions and global markets to punish individual African countries for policies that industrial countries implement but are not punished for.

African countries should then introduce the very same economic policies – if appropriate – that industrial countries implement, but which are seen by industrial countries, global markets and supporting public and private institutions as anti-market.

For more than half a century since the end of colonialism, of the 54 African countries, arguably only two have ever come up with an industrial policy on the scale of South Korea, Taiwan or  Singapore. African governments, leaders and civil society groups have more often than not come up with criticisms (rightly so) of how industrialized countries and global public and private market institutions and markets undermine African development.

But African governments, leaders and civil society groups have often never come up with pragmatic, well-thought out development policies, beyond slogans, such as “return the land”, or “return the mines”, or “nationalize foreign companies”. What is needed are detailed industrial plans, using a country’s talents, empowering the largest number of people, and using the best of what industrial countries and other developing countries are doing as long as it is appropriate to the African context.

African countries must also pool their own resources to create, in partnership with other developing countries, alternative, fairer and more equitable global public institutions because current ones are dominated by industrialized countries.

African producers of commodities must attempt to set up coordinating agencies, like the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), for the commodities they produce, in order to have a bigger influence in determining the prices of those commodities.

Our countries must diversify their products, and move away from overwhelmingly depending on commodity exports. They must also add value to their commodities by producing manufactured and processed products.

African countries must pool their markets and genuinely begin to trade with each other. They must introduce industrial policies to diversify their markets away from industrial countries.

But African leaders and governments must govern their countries better – poor governance further weakens their power against global public institutions, markets and industrialized countries.

African countries that are corrupt, mismanaged and with poorly thought-out policies undermine their own independence. They are not only unable to come up with policies more appropriate for their circumstances, but are also weak in bargaining with both industrialized countries and emerging powers such as China, and to resist destructive interferences from global public institutions such as the World Bank and IMF.

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Role of the legal profession in social justice struggles in Africa

NDI EUGENE NDI

Lawyers should claim their place in society by espousing Pan-African ideals. They should stop defending and colluding with corrupt African elites. A remarkable example is Henry Sylvester Williams, the Trinidadian barrister who, together with other Pan-Africanists, organised the first Pan-African conference in London in 1900.

The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), a continental membership forum for African lawyers and lawyers’ associations, held its eighth annual conference and fifth general assembly from 4 to 8 July 2017 in Durban, South Africa, under the theme “The Legal Profession: Re-capturing its Place in Society”.

Some readers might ask themselves if the legal profession does have a place in the society to begin with. The legal profession is perceived, not just in Africa, but also across the world, as a prestigious career that is detached from ordinary people and whose practitioners make money at the expense of their clients. Indeed, readers would recall that many parents in Africa aspire to see their children become lawyers, accountants or medical doctors when they grow up. These three professions have traditionally been associated with wealth and not caring much about broader challenges of the society, especially for those who are the most marginalised.

Fifteen years after eminent African lawyers founded it to reflect the aspirations and concerns of the African people and to promote and defend their shared interests, PALU is actively working to change that perception by encouraging its members to care and be part of social struggles. This call from PALU is being reinforced by a growing realisation that African lawyers need to have solidarity with other actors of the civil society such as the media, activists, academics, non-governmental organisations and social movements because of their common enemy: state repression.

In fact, over the last few years, a number of African lawyers and lawyers’ associations in countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Cameroon have faced increased threats from their governments. Some of these governments have been plotting to disband lawyers’ associations while others plan to put them under their control. Many lawyers see these threats as attempts to end the freedom of the legal profession in Africa. PALU members have been working to build solidarity and networks with other players of the broader civil society to help them fight back against government repression.

A number of African lawyers have put aside their traditional practice to be part of social justice struggles, including providing legal support to refugees and asylum seekers, working on climate justice, environmental protection, women’s rights, children’s rights, fighting against corruption and combating illicit financial flows (IFFs). Indeed, the role of African lawyers in fighting against illicit financial flows from Africa was one of the main topics for discussion during this year’s annual conference of PALU, and is the one which caught my attention.

Raymond W. Baker – president of Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a not-for-profit organisation that works to curtail IFFs via groundbreaking research, promotion of pragmatic solutions and provision of advice to governments – is a prominent campaigner against IFFs from Africa. During the conference, he highlighted the role that African lawyers can play to end IFFs from Africa, and reminded the audience that Africa loses $50bn annually due to IFFs. 65% of that amount is a result of unfair commerce between Africa and the rest of the world, while 35% results from criminal activities and 5% from corruption. Obviously, one could argue that corruption is the main cause for all IFFs from Africa, as it provides a conducive environment for criminal activities to thrive and for corrupt African leaders to willingly enter into unfair trade agreements with the rest of the world, thus robbing the continent of $50bn each year.

Some African lawyers, whether in government or working in independent law firms, have a hand in providing legal advice to African governments while drafting these unfair trade agreements. If the legal profession aspires to re-capture its place in society, it could start by helping Africa to recover the $50bn lost each year and stop colluding with African governments while entering into unfair commerce agreements with the rest of the world.

The legal profession could in reality claim its place in society by espousing again Pan-African ideals. Readers would remember that Henry Sylvester Williams, a Trinidadian barrister, together with other Pan-Africanists, organised the first Pan-African conference that was held in London, England, from 23 to 25 July 1900. During this conference, they appealed to European leaders to end their racist practices including colonialism in Africa and the West Indies so that African people could govern themselves. There is a need for the African legal profession to learn and remember the Pan-African ideals that their fellow lawyer Henry Sylvester Williams represented.

As mentioned above, lawyers in collaboration with accountants across Africa heavily contribute to the massive looting of African resources by helping African leaders to prepare unfair trade agreements and financial reports that hide evil practices. PALU is a platform that can support various on-going efforts in Africa to combat IFFs. At the annual conference, the organisation launched its code of ethics and invited its members and African lawyers’ associations to sign and adhere to the code while exercising their profession, especially for young African lawyers who are joining PALU and starting their career.

With a growing number of young African lawyers finishing their studies and are unable to find employment, it is very tempting to “defend” any client as long as they are paying well. These young lawyers need some guidance and good examples from leading Pan-African lawyers such as Henry Sylvester Williams who dedicated his life to social justice.

The legal profession can reclaim its space in society if it shows solidarity, opposes injustice, defends the poor and oppressed, and helps to protect African resources. The African legal profession can re-capture its space in society by supporting legal reforms that push for the interests of the poor and the most marginalised in the society.

As for the need for African lawyers to continue building solidarities with other actors of the civil society and to care for social justice struggles, no one says it better than Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public antagonist of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:

“…First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

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”Israel” and Rwanda, partners in persecution

NOVANEWS
Ann Garrison
Despite Kagame’s totalitarian regime being infamous for horrendous human rights abuses inside the country and in DR Congo, Rwanda is now a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Rwanda has signaled that it will use its seat to defend its friend, the colonial state of Israel.
On July 9, Rwandan “President” Paul Kagame arrived in Israel for another of his many visits to reinforce the longstanding pact between his military dictatorship and Israel’s brutal settler colonial regime. This time Kagame enjoyed an unusual honour not even afforded to President Trump when he visited Israel in May. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin both showed up to greet him upon arrival. The Jerusalem Postsuggested that the special welcome had to do with Rwanda’s seat on the UN Human Rights Council—seriously. President Rivlin appeared to confirm this in his remarks:
“Rwanda is now going to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council. This is a body which is always against Israel, unfortunately. So we welcome all those, all those who are prepared to speak for us. And we appreciate your support very much.”
Kagame’s totalitarian regime is infamous for human rights abuse inside Rwanda, including the murder and imprisonment of journalists and political opponents, and the imprisonment of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who dared to challenge him for the presidency in 2010. It’s also infamous for crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as confirmed in the UN’s own UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2003 to 2010. The report says that the Rwandan army’s massacre of hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees would be charged as genocide if brought to court. Kagame’s powerful friends have, of course, made sure that’s never happened; as Bill Clinton says, “It hasn’t been adjudicated.”
The UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in their 200120022003, and 2008 reports, documented Rwanda’s invasion and plunder of Congo. The 2012 UN Panel of Experts report identified Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe as the top commander of the M23 militia then ravaging the native populations of eastern Congo.
So, after all these damning UN reports, how could Rwanda have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council? How could it now be pledging to use its seat in defense of Israel?
That wasn’t difficult at all, and no more fraught with contradiction than other elections to UN officialdom. In 2014, the UN General Assembly’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee elected Israel’s representative Mordehai Amihai to serve as its vice chair. The Jerusalem Post actually managed to expand on that Orwellian illogic by calling it “an island of relative normality in the raging sea of injustice and outright absurdity that characterizes the UN’s workings.”
Also in 2014, the General Assembly elected Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to serve as its president for the next year, even though the UN Charter criminalizes wars of aggression against sovereign member nations, and Uganda has invaded three of them—Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan—over the past 27 years, leaving millions dead. No matter how many human rights abuses, wars of aggression, and mass atrocities member nations may have to their names, they move into UN positions of moral authority when it’s deemed to be their turn.
The UN Human Rights Council, where Rwanda has pledged to defend its friend Israel, is a human rights abusers council as much as not. Its 47 members include Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the United States of America, to name a few. The General Assembly elects its members to three-year terms through direct and secret ballot. Votes are putatively based on “the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.” They are in fact the result of politicking, vote trading, and slates in the five geographical groups represented: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Western Europe and Other [Western] States, and Eastern Europe. The African nations simply rotate off and on, so that none are ever singled out as unfit to serve.
The Council has nevertheless managed to make Israel cry persecution and call on Rwanda to come to the rescue. In March this year alone, it passed five resolutions censuring Israel—with the United States and Togo joining to vote against all five. According to AIPAC, “the UN Human Rights Council has passed 67 resolutions condemning the Jewish state since its inception in 2006, more than it has levied against all other countries combined.”
Who could be better suited to the task of standing up to such injustice than Rwanda, Israel’s perpetual partner in persecution? Upon Kagame’s arrival, Netanyahu repeated the “never again” pledge at the root of the Israel/Rwanda pact and the US/NATO ideology of humanitarian military “intervention”:
“We have pledged, I think, both our peoples, one simple pledge. Never again. Never again. We who witnessed the greatest holocaust in history, you who witnessed perhaps one of the most recent ones. Never again. That’s another great bond between us.”
Kagame, in turn, welcomed Israel’s expansion on the African continent:
“Ever since the Prime Minister’s historic visit to East Africa last year, Israel has continued to follow through on its commitment and objective of scaling up engagement across Africa. This is a very positive trend, which can only be welcomed and merits our support. We are looking forward to reinforcing our collaboration with Israel on common challenges of mutual interest.”
Current collaborations include Israel’s security forces training Rwanda’s. By the second day of his visit, Kagame was claiming that he needs Israel’s help to defeat jihadists in Rwanda—a nation that is more than 95 percent Christian—because al-Shabaab might spread south from Somalia, Boko Haram east from Nigeria. “We need these capacities,” he said, “to prevent that from happening and to deal with it when it happens.”
In fact, Kagame needs a fierce, all-pervasive military police force to control his own people, the majority of whom are Hutus who have been demonized, impoverished, and/or imprisoned by his de facto Tutsi dictatorship, much like Palestinians in their own homeland.

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Uganda’s refugee hospitality is exemplary

NOVANEWS
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP

Instead of being locked in crowded camps surrounded by barbed wire, the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda are given large plots of land in sprawling settlements to build homes or, if they like, small farms. If agrarian life isn’t for them, they can move freely around the country, traveling to towns or to the bustling capital of Kampala, which 95,000 refugees call their home.

The distinguished scholar and humanitarian activist Noam Chomsky characterizes European attitudes towards refugees “[as] among the signs of the severe moral-cultural crisis of the West that is mislabeled a ‘refugee crisis.’”

According to the latest report of Amnesty International:

“Measures implemented by EU leaders to strengthen search and rescue capacity in the central Mediterranean in April 2015 dramatically decreased deaths at sea. But this priority, which saw several countries provide more rescue boats closer to Libyan territorial waters, was short-lived. Instead, EU governments have shifted their focus to disrupting smugglers and preventing departures of boats from Libya: a failing strategy that has led to ever more dangerous crossings and a threefold increase in the death-rate from 0.89% in the second half of 2015 to 2.7% in 2017.”

This “failing strategy” confirms Chomsky’s observation that what is occurring along the central Mediterranean is actually more of a Western moral crisis than a refugee crisis and racism is the real cause, for the new normal is to let Africans drown in the Mediterranean rather than save them. Can you imagine this being the case if the ones needing to survive were White people?

Libya, Egypt and Sudan are places where refugees are subjected to degrading treatment, extortion, extreme abuse and slavery as they are tortured, raped and murdered. Bribing these countries to deter or contain refugees is the ultimate cruelty and cynicism. To depend and support the Libyan Coast Guard operating in lawless Libya is to become complicit with criminal gangs. According to a UNHCR study:

“[T]he conflict and instability in the country have contributed to create an environment where human smuggling and criminal networks flourish. At the same time, the collapse of the justice system and reigning impunity have led many armed groups, criminal gangs and individuals to participate in the exploitation and abuse of refugees and migrants.”

When a reporter asked Mahatma Gandhi what he thought of Western civilization, he famously replied: “I think it would be a good idea.” President Donald Trump is talking about the defense of Western civilization these days, but where is the evidence for any degree of civilized action in his policies? Precisely because they are the most vulnerable, attacking refugees and the poor has been the distinguishing hallmarks of his presidency thus far. The United States is increasingly a stingy and heartless bystander when it comes to refugees and other vulnerable populations. The United States and Britain as well are the leading merchants of weapons spearheading military interventions, yet they are hesitant to deal with the clean-up of the mess created by the current refugee exodus from war-torn countries awash in those very weapons.

The five wealthiest countries [the U.S., China, Japan, the U.K. and Germany]— which make up half the global economy — are hosting less than 5 percent of the world’s refugees, while 86 percent of refugees are in poorer developing countries that are often struggling to meet the needs of their own people.

Uganda, on the other hand, through its compassionate policy towards refugees, exemplifies the moral high ground abandoned by the United States under President Trump and, frankly, even to a lesser extent under former President Obama. There have been many remarkable testimonies on Uganda’s exceptional reception of refugees. Julian Hattem writing for the Washington Post states:

“Instead of being locked in crowded camps surrounded by barbed wire, the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda are given large plots of land in sprawling settlements to build homes or, if they like, small farms. If agrarian life isn’t for them, they can move freely around the country, traveling to towns or to the bustling capital of Kampala, which 95,000 refugees call their home.”

This generous policy comes at a huge price for Uganda as Bidi Bidi, the largest refugee camp in the world, has reached near a breaking point. Nevertheless, Uganda’s proactive refugee policy has been hailed as one of the best, if not the best, approach to host refugees. Unfortunately, as much as Uganda’s treatment of refugees has provided a model for how a civilized country deals with refugees, many countries in Africa have been a hellish nightmare for African refugees.

Sudan, Libya, Egypt and South Africa are horrific places to be a refugee. Refugees have been burned alive by South African mobs. There are few options for refugees and there are also very limited opportunities for resettlement: of the 16.1 million refugees of concern to the UNHCR around the world at the end of 2015, less than one per cent were resettled that year.

In contrast to Uganda, Europe and other wealthy countries are increasingly shunning refugees. Ignoring the plight of drowning refugees in the central Mediterranean off the coast of Libya has become the new normal. To discourage crossing the Mediterranean, European countries replaced the stronger Italian rescue operation, the Nora Nostrum, with Triton. The Triton operation was expected to complement the Nora Nostrum; instead it replaced it with no clear mission and with a stated function of “border management” within 30 nautical miles from the European border. The worry was that the Nora Nostrum was a “pull factor” for refugees from Africa.

The securitization of border control has gone a step further, with NATO launching naval patrols ostensibly to hunt for human traffickers in the eastern Mediterranean and for the first time returning refugees to Turkey. In 2017, Europeans have left it to the Libyan “Coast Guard” to apprehend refugees in boats at sea and force them to disembark back in Libya, where these same refugees become victimized again and again by gangs also purporting to belong to the Libyan Coast Guard. This situation is a logical extension of the “fortress Europe” mentality. These gangs have shot at refugees, and others have drowned during panics when approached violently by these gangs.

In contrast, European citizen humanitarianism, the ever exemplary NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Save the Children, private initiatives like individuals like the Moroccan-Sicilian Nawal Soufi, who uses her mobile phone as a lifeline for refugees in boats braving the Mediterranean, have helped save lives. The humanity of ordinary people from the island of Lampedusa is depicted in the film, Fire at Sea by Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, which won the Golden Bear prize at the Berlin film festival. It tells the story of the migrant crisis through the eyes of locals. Some ordinary fishermen and humanitarians have responded humanely during incidents where ships left refugees to die to avoid any responsibility. “According to Frontex, the EU border and coastal protection agency, around 40 percent of all rescue operations are carried out by volunteers.” Survivors of one of the worst shipwrecks in recent European history, in which 366 people died on october 3rd 2013, off the Italian island of Lampedusa, reported that boats nearby did not help. But these NGO’s are now under attack falsely accused of complicity with smugglers and encouraging refugees to make the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean.

In Europe, attitudes towards refugees are only hardening. More legal as well as physical barriers are being put in place. Razor wire fences are erected, the demonization of refugees as swarms, infiltrators, criminals, vermin, terrorists and threats to security, welfare-fleecing parasites gets heated, and their desperation only grows. The various barriers do not curb irregular migration but only serve to increase the death toll and do not stop refugees from trying to get around these obstacles. Human beings do what they need to do to try to survive.

Europe-wide agreement could easily and definitively define an asylum seeker and standardize legal rights and standards for their reception and treatment, but the future is more likely to be more fences and restrictions as governments face more and more extreme challenges from right-wing political parties. These challenges tend to be acrimonious, with blame for the refugee crisis oscillating between the front-line states (Greece, Malta, Spain and Italy) and non-front line countries (mainly Austria). The non-front-line countries blame the front-line countries for allowing more refugees to cross their borders and for not taking measures to guard their own borders, resulting in threats to exclude the front-line states from the privileges of Schengen.

In the current EU meeting in Estonia, responses to the refugee crisis centers on restricting the activities of life-saving work by NGO’s and on collaborating with African dictators and the so called Libyan Coast Guard in order to return refugees into the conditions from which they fled. “About half of the more than 90 million euros ($103 million)allotted for the refugee crisis on the Mediterranean route is to be spent on the providing the Libyan coast guard with more weapons and training.” Blaming NGO’s is in reality a diversion from the lack of inaction and impotence of the European Union. According to a study done by the Forensic Oceanography branch at the University of London:

“As long as migrants are forced to resort to smugglers for lack of legal pathways, proactive Search and Rescue at sea will be a humanitarian necessity – whether it is operated by states or NGOs. Only a fundamental re-orientation of the EU’s migration policies to grant legal and safe passage may bring the smuggling business, the daily reality of thousands of migrants’ in distress and the need to rescue them to an end.”

Uganda points the way forward. Uganda is a wonderful model for compassionate hospitality towards refugees, but the country is reaching a breaking point due to increasing demands for civilized accommodation of the large numbers of refugees. What was promised for Uganda from donors, during last year’s high level summit in New York has not been forthcoming. Supporting viable resettlement programs and working towards durable solutions is the only way to resolve the crisis. Part of what I view as a durable solution is using leverage to promote human rights and good governance in refugee producing countries. At present, increasing life-saving rescue operations in the Mediterranean is the right thing to do. Bribing the dictators who are the very reason for these flights is cruel and uncivilized.

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Kenya: Why I will not mourn Joseph Nkaissery

NOVANEWS
The Star

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior Maj. Gen. (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery died suddenly on Saturday, 8 July 2017. Nkaissery is certainly a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and his death brings to an end one of the saddest chapters in Kenyan history.

On 8 December 2014, the body of Isnina Musa Sheikh, a 48 year-old mother of five, was found in a shallow grave after she was brutally murdered. Hoping for investigations and justice for the mother, northern Kenya residents were perturbed when the now dead Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery called for a press conference and told Kenyans that the woman was a cook for the Somali-based terror group Al-Shabaab.

On the same day, Nkaissery accused northern Kenya leaders (specifically Billow Kerrow) of having a consistent agenda to frustrate the war on terrorism by accusing police of extra-judicial killings. He also blamed two television journalists, Mr Yassin Juma and Mr Mohammed Ali, of having made claims of mass graves through social media.

In June 2016, human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and his client, Mr Josephat Mwenda, and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, were tortured and killed by police. Lawyers led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo blamed Nkaissery for the rot in the police force.

Mr Nkaissery, they said, has a “habit of making comments that might be construed to mean that it is okay for the police to be brutal and violent with civilians.”

Nkaissery had previously dismissed police vetting as a waste of time.

On 30 July 2016, a Friday, the locals at Sheikh Barrow village in Lafey were going about their businesses when Al-Shabab attacked and destroyed Fino telecommunication network mast belonging to mobile telephone services provider Safaricom the previous night.

On their way back, a KDF vehicle was hit by an improvised electronic device planted by the terrorists. One soldier died in the line of duty. After the attack on their vehicle, the KDF, in eight vehicles, went to Sheikh Barrow shopping center, surrounded people and beat them to pulp.

Over eight people sustained serious injuries while one boda boda rider, identified as Ahmed Roble, was beaten to death with clubs by the soldiers. The KDF took away 28 mobile phones and a number of business wares including solar panels from the locals.

Lafey OCPD Bosita Omukolongolo and Joseph Nkaissery denied the claims of harassment, brutality and the killing of the boda boda man.

On 2 November 2015, Nkaissery blamed leaders of the refugee community in Dadaab of failing to fully cooperate with the government in the war on terror.

“A lot of radicalization is going on in Dadaab, the attacks on Garissa University and Westgate were planned in this town. Why are you not working with government to end this menace?” asked Nkaissery.

On 29 June 2015, three men went to the home of 45 year-old man, Farah Ibrahim Korio, an ethnic Somali Kenyan and teacher of Islamic education in Wajir. When they did not find him, they threatened to arrest his wife and five children if they did not disclose his whereabouts.

Farah is still missing even as Nkaissery took his last breath at Karen Hospital.

Between December 2015 and January 2016, over 6,000 people from Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties were reportedly arrested, illegally detained and mistreated by security officials, including KDF and police officers with inside knowledge of the operations by political leaders in the national and county government, human rights defenders, clerics and journalists.
Nkaissery neither acknowledged the scope and gravity of the numerous allegations nor condemned such abuses by security forces.

Hamza Mohammed Barre was taken away by police from his electronic shop in Garissa, four days after the Garissa University attack. Hamza joined the long list of Somali youth who have disappeared mysteriously after they were picked up by the police.

Joseph Nkaissery is adversely mentioned over a military operation in Pokot dubbed “Operation Nyundo” in 1984 by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report. According to the report, Nkaissery was in charge of the disarmament exercise that resulted in deaths of civilians, rape and murder in what has come to be known as Lotiriri Massacre.
The Lotiriri Massacre also led to starvation of over 20,000 livestock between 22 February and 22 May 1984.

Prior to the 2013 general elections, Nkaissery was accused of hate speech. He publicly told non-Masaais not to dare to seek elective posts in the Masaai counties of Kajiado, Narok and Samburu.
“We don’t want tribes other than Maasai to contest the seats of Governor, Senator or Women Representative. They can buy farms here, they can do business here, they can even marry our daughters, but we are telling them to leave these positions for the indigenous people” he said.

Nkaissery’s reign as CS for Interior is certainly a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and his death brings to an end one of the saddest chapter in the history our people: A history marked by widespread and systematic attacks directed against civilian populations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and mysterious disappearances.

And as they say in French, rien n’échappe a la justice de Dieu. Nothing escapes the justice of God!

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