Multinational Corporations in the African Economies: Bane or Blessing?
August 23, 2014 | 9 Comments
By TANGWE Abraham
Multinational corporations (MNCs) are companies with plants or direct investments in one or more foreign Countries. There are also known as Transnational corporations. They have their home or headquarters in one Country and owns and run subsidiaries in other Countries. It is therefore a corporation that operates in a multiplicity of environments. Africa after independence was inundated by a plethora of such companies which have hard a stranglehold on the African economies. They have had some positive fallout but with the limitations of such companies the main reason why African development is still farfetched.
Their origins and evolution in the African economies was well crafted and executed. After the Second World War, their presence was effectively felt and this was explained by the fact that instead of trying to break through tariff and other barriers to be able to export goods to other Countries, many of these companies found it easier to gain access inside such Countries in order to save transportation and other costs so as to make their goods more competitive. Also, many of these Countries offered cheap labour, special tax treatment or exoneration, the new technological innovations and the spread of communication and travels, the containerization of cargo and the emergence of computers capable of storing large amount data all made it possible for MNCs to expand their operations.
Postcolonial Africa faced a mountain of socio-political and economic problems which brought untold misery to the African people and thereby forced them to look for means and ways of tackling the problem and this made the MNCs to appear useful in salvaging them from such precarious settings.
MNCs provided the much needed capital?, technological and marketing skills in exchange for a very profitable market. This has been compounded with their use of sophisticated marketing methods and organization with maximized linkages with their metropolitan base. The talk of transferring technology is a farce because you cannot transfer technology and expect it to stick. Technology has to be invented taking cognizance of the inherent societal peculiarities for it to thrive.
However, their activities have helped in job creation, nay, employment improving in the process the national income through their payment of taxes which the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union is sure to put into jeopardy. Such employment and improved income for governments led to improve development, standards of living and the undertaking of reforms.
At first glance, MNCs appear to be real developmental partners but a careful examination of their intrinsic undertones would disclose their devilish savvy in exploitation as they retard African economies, sap resources living the hitherto buoyant natural resource base barren thereby leading to an anomalous situation that injects underdevelopment than development. MNCs are neo-colonialist creation or agents bent on advancing the capitalist ethos.
The dependent theory of Wallerstein is a good base for this argument. This theory argues that the African economies are peripheral or based on primary products to be exploited by the industrialized nations or their agents who are the MNCs. Other theorists like Frank simply posit that the world economies were divided into the developed economies or metropoles and the peripheries or underdeveloped economies with the peripheries dominated by the metropoles. These ideals at face values refer to an era akin to the colonial period but a critical look reveals a different scenario.
As such, we realize that independence to African states was a smokescreen with diminished control over the elites and a “behind the scene” stranglehold of the African economies by the MNCs and their agents otherwise referred to as neo-colonialism. The metropole has therefore ceded that exploitative role to the MNCs who are more ruthless in their drive for profit which has left the African economies under permanent anesthetics or the economic surgeons “thieving” knife.
Unlike the colonial enterprise that was contingent on purity and as far as procedure and end results were concerned, the MNCs opted for a mélange of both; they used all the local mechanisms to extract profit even at the expense of looking for indigenes to control capital. MNCs are in quest of amassing wealth at the detriment of other variables like the welfare and developmental needs of the given societies.
Underneath the MNCs is found a vicious lethal drive for an outright extinction of the African economies. They were seen as offering the so –called modern industries to Africa but their interests in doing so conflict in part with African developmental goals and given the marginality of Africa to global goals or operation, they are in a position to drive very hard bargains.
Perhaps, referring to them as “devils incarnate” may be hard but their destructive base far exceeds their productive base. This could be discern via the Oguni crisis where the late environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa vigorously challenged the American oil consortium Shell for environmental pollution without a corresponding fallout to the affected masses. This led to a kangaroo court trial session for him on trump up charges for allegedly masterminding the murder of some Oguni chiefs who were against his campaign and was later executed. The late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha therefore cooked this alibi with Shell to silence him.
In 1997, ELF, the French oil company sponsored and masterminded the overthrow from power of Prof. Pascal Lissouba because it was alleged that he was about to grant the exploration of new oil wells to American companies on a better deal. ELF decided to sponsor a stooge in the person of Denise Sassou Nguessou to reverse this trend and allow them a permanent monopoly. In fact, this is what has forced President Yahyah Jammeh of the Gambia to remark that is better to allow the resources to remain in the ground than exploiting them with nothing to show for it by the people.
We can go on and on. What happen to the contract of construction of a bridge linking the economic capital of Cote D’Ivoire, the French, Laurent Gbagbo and the Chinese? Of course, the Chinese who had a better deal were sidelined with the French and their Shylock terms holding sway and with Gbagbo standing trial for war crimes! Take a walk down memory lane with Charles Taylor and the Americans. Is Charles Taylor really guilty of fanning and abating war in Sierra Leone and for war crimes?
What is glaring is that MNCs wield impressive political, economic and social power. It does not matter whether that power is sought or unsought. It exists! More so, if the political survival of the host government is therefore at stake due to the economic operation of an MNC, that host government is pressured unless it can provide expertise through alternative sources to grant favourable concessions to guest MNCs. You can check the former Zaire under Mobutu where extremely favourable concessions were granted to a number of MNCs for exactly the same reasons and suffice to state here that Zaire is just a storm in the tea cup.
MNCs decisions can either reduce or increase employment levels within a Country, compromise or enhance the security of a Country (Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville) and lead to greater or lesser dependent on it by one country or another. One scholar has rightly remarked that the relationship between MNCs and the nation-states can be termed as “sovereignty-at-bay” meaning that the power and authority of national governments is being at least challenged if not completely overtaken by MNCs.
MNCs are therefore a bane or trauma to African governments and to solve the problem, nationalization or getting a majority of shares in these corporations is a condition sine-qua-non. Nationals should be allowed to group themselves and allowed to put resources together, safeguarded by national governments for their development. Zimbabwe is trying in this direction but this must be accompany by the requisite through quality education.
Democracy And The Quest For Justice In Cote D’Ivoire.
June 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
By TANGWE Abraham*
Democracy has been defined variously as government of, for and by the people or simply, the rule of the majority over the minority. In effect, the better option is the exercise of the will of the majority and the respect and upholding of the rights of the minority. It should be borne in mind that the cornerstone of such a mode of governance remains the selection of leaders through free, fair, transparent and very credible elections. Here the people through universal suffrage exercise through secret ballot are allowed the liberty to select from the lot a trusted few to steer their destiny with and for them. This can be so if and only if the field is made level so as to accommodate differing views and opinions that do not need to tie with those of the governing class. The thing is, democracy has to tolerate individual rights and liberties with the individuals owing the state the obligation of being patriotic enough to meet the demands of the supreme laws of the land.
Indeed, the concept called democracy is divided into western and African democratic modes. The western mode is near perfect when it comes to practice with the mode in Africa completely adulterated. It is a curse to Africa than a blessing and remains the Achilles heels that this continent has had to grapple with since the advent of independence. All instability of late on the African continent is elections related or democratically linked.
Africans more than fifty years after independence are continuously eclipsed by the knowledge that they may wake up one morning to be threatened by war, starvation and poverty that continue to recur every other year with no end in sight and the ominous development into repressive dictatorship almost everywhere on the continent. Leaders more than ever before have failed to rise above petty partisan politics to occupy a revere position amongst their peers due to egoism. It’s a continent fraught with leaders who behave more like masters and not public servants thus doing all to keep their fear in abeyance by creating even more fear than learning to doing what is just and fair for the people thereby engaging the people more in democratic experimentation, dialogue, genuine reconciliation akin to “Mandemania” in South Africa and the virtues of peace and tolerance which has engendered a new phenomenon of late known as terrorism.
Cote D’Ivoire has seen its own fair share of most of the above insinuations that is slowly building into falsehood and the Houphouet years of claimed economic prosperity which ended up into the mayhem we just witnessed! You may recall that the late Robert Guei after tasting of the juicy nature of the spoils of power did all to transform his military outfit to a civilian one despite the fact that the popular will at the time was in perfect accord that Prof. Laurent Gbagbo, a history guru and opposition chieftain to take over the mantle of leadership.
This ended up in people power demonstrations on the streets that catapulted Gbagbo to power. Erstwhile leader before Guei, Henri Konan Bedie had earlier on introduced the issue of “Ivoirite” to make sure that his arch political rival, Alassane Dramane Ouattara was prevented from contesting elections despite haven served as Houpouet Boigny’s Prime Minister for a very long time. One begins to wonder how someone could be Prime Minister of a Country without being a citizen. Popular opinion however rejected such machinations which was not heeded and ended up plunging this once purported Island of peace to an area fraught with ethnic and tribal upheavals.
Following the 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo challenged the vote count, alleging fraud. He called for the annulment of results from nine of the country’s regions. Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner and was recognized as such by election observers, the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States. However, the Constitutional Council, which according to Article 94 of the Ivorian Constitution both determines disputes in and proclaims the results of Presidential elections, declared that Gbagbo had won. After a short period of civil conflict, Gbagbo was arrested by backers of Alassane Ouattara, supported by French Forces of “Operation UNICORN”. In November 2011, he was extradited to the International Criminal Court, becoming the first head of state to be taken into the court’s custody.
The Force Nouvelles led by henchman Guillaume Soro who had led the Civil war against Gbagbo following the signing of a peace agreement on March 4, 2007, he became Prime Minister. According to Soro, the group has transformed itself from an armed movement into a force that is “responsible, credible and capable of managing the affairs of state. Today, he is President of the Ivorian national Assembly and a purported “Pan Africanist”.
The principles of democracy were thwarted here whether wrongly or rightly by an international community with vested interests. This problem originated from democratic elections and common sense would have warranted the Ivorian political class to use dialogue and Ivorian institutions to cool down the tempers. The biggest error of the present leadership of Alassane Ouattara was to arraign Gbagbo, wife and followers and sending Gbagbo to the International criminal Court (ICJ) to stand trial for crimes against humanity.
Come to think of it; what criteria was used to determine his guilt? Who started the war? Can we sincerely say that the destruction of lives and properties was the sole preserve of the Gbagbo Camp? In modern warfare, we do not look at victors or vanquished but of the number of casualties with the parties involved in the war made to answer for whatever problems emanating from their actions in equal measure. Should Gbagbo therefore be standing trial alone while the rebel leader and warlord, Guillaume Soro is allowed to parade himself as a responsible politician?
Where is the justice in all these? The architect of notion of “Ivoirite” Henri Konan Bedie should also be made to stand trial for inciting ethnic cleansing while Guillaume Soro is also arrested and arraign before the international criminal court for crimes against humanity. If not, no matter how hard the Ivorians try, peace would always elude them. At best, they should withdraw the charges against Gbagbo and bring him home for genuine reconciliation akin to what the icon, Nelson Mandela did in South Africa.
Perhaps, it would be of interest to note that far from being a saint, Laurent Gbagbo’s only crime is his nationalist stance against French neo-colonialist interest in Africa. Of course, he started by boycotting Francophonie summites and demanding a repelling of the French colonial pact and a return of all monies already deposited in the French treasury by dint of that accord. Worst of all, he awarded a multi-billion bridge contract to the Chinese instead of the French. Are you now surprise why the French “UNICORN” aided and abated the Force Nouvelle of Soro to Oust Gbagbo? Are you again surprise that Soro is not on trial like Gbagbo?
Let justice and democracy be allow to prevail in equal measure in Cote D’Ivoire, else the flabby and frantic efforts made at achieving peace there would have a boomerang effect like in the days of Felix Houpouet Boigny.
IS CAMEROON BILINGUAL OR UNILINGUAL?
May 20, 2014 | 1 Comments
By TANGWE Abraham*
In most areas of the world, Cameroon is known as a former French colony and hence French speaking. This completely negates the historical background of this country otherwise known as “Africa –in-miniature”. Cameroon (Kamerun) has been a German colony from 1884 until 1916 when they were ousted by a combined forces of the British and the French during the First World War. This ouster led to an attempted joint administration or condominium between the British and the French which failed due to fundamental differences but prominent amongst which were the authority and territorial issues.
The condominium that had started in 1914 woefully went comatose in February, 1916 occasioning the partition of Cameroon between the British and the French. This partition gave 4/5 of the territory to the French and 1/5 to the British. This partition was later confirmed in 1919 following the Versailles settlement and the League of Nations followed suit and declared Cameroon a mandate after seizure of former German colonies all over the world and this mandate was placed under the tutelage of the British and the French effective from 1922. When the League of Nations became defunct at the end of World War Two, all former mandates were simply transferred to the trusteeship council of the United Nations as trust territories after 1945 still under the British and the French with a key objective being their preparation towards independence.
The era of independence struggle occasioned the holding of a United Nations conducted plebiscite in February 1961 in which the former Southern Cameroon or those under the British voted to join the French Cameroonians. It should be noted that this took place after close to forty years of living as separate linguistic, cultural and historical entities. During this period, the English speaking or Anglophones as they came to be called lived and were mentored under the British parliamentary political setup, economic, educational, judicial and linguistic culture. They only accepted to reunite with their French brothers as a distinct and separate political entity which gave rise to the federal constitution that was crafted at foumban in July 1961 making Cameroon an independent bilingual, bicultural and bijural state of the English and French entities from thence till date.
This brief political history of Cameroon is an attempt to debunk the fact that Cameroon is French speaking even if the Francophone leadership has done all over the years to paint this picture to the world through a well-orchestrated plan that has reduced Anglophones in Cameroon to second class citizens through outright marginalization and debasing the English language to a level where the President has never address the nation in English. Worst of all, despite the fact that English is one of the two official languages in Cameroon as stipulated in the constitution, all official documents are in French to a level where the language is near extinct in all official circles.
The above stance of Cameroonian leaders is fanned by statements such as the one made by Syd Madicot, former British high commissioner to Cameroon in an interview he granted a local tabloid, THE POST no.01077 of August Monday 17, 2009 in which he claimed that the Anglophone problem is visible and felt when viewed along the different European languages used by Cameroon. According to him therefore, residents of the North West region (English speaking) and the West region (French speaking) share a lot in a common culture also known as the “grassfield culture” and it doesn’t make much if one group speaks French and the other one English.
The very fact that such a high British official could make such inflammatory and unguarded statements pointed to the fact that the English component in the Cameroon equation was inconsequential though born out of their heritage and legacy. In fact equating the Anglophones in Cameroon as a mere ethnic group is very provocative, vexing and a diplomatic blunder. It denies Cameroon her international personality of a bilingual state made up of English and French.
Britain had always developed cold feet towards the former British or Southern Cameroon always wanting to submerge it to Nigeria or French Cameroon for one flimsy reason or the other. Britain exhibited such bad fate during the UN plebiscite talks and the fact that Britain refused the English speaking Cameroonians that opportunity to attain its independence before embarking on what form of union it wanted with the then Cameroon or gaining that independence as a separate state with the right to self-governance. There is overwhelming evidence to show that Britain rigged the votes during the plebiscite for northern British Cameroon to join Nigeria and succeeded! Her game plan was visible through Anglophone Cameroon struggle to negotiate her way with her French brothers and sisters. She stood idly by and watched the Anglophones undergoing humiliation and near annihilation.
It’s a very pathetic and irksome history each time it is revisited and those concern are always dejected and hurt by it whenever it is mentioned. This explains why the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) was created in the 90 s to seek redress and it is advocating for outright secession. In effect, what do you expect them to do in such circumstances when the doors of negotiation are closed to them?
The statement by Syd Madicot is an indirect confirmation of the fact that Anglophones in Cameroon are a storm in a tea cup. It is thumbs up to the powers that be to know that their discriminatory policies against these people are perfectly in order and should continue. It is a tacit approval of witch-hunting and despise that these people have been subjected to for all these years.
Unfortunately for them, the UN may have realized itself and its errors if recent press statements are anything to go by. According to the Nigerian daily Globaltimes, “..the UNO has given an official authorization, signed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, for Prof. Martin Chia Ateh to issue identification cards to citizens of the Southern Cameroons…” In the article that carries the pictures of Presidents Paul Biya and Goodluck Jonathan, Globaltimes, quoting Section 76b of the UN Charter as well as Act 102(1) and (2) noted that the terms of any union between a member state of the United Nations and another country have got to be evidenced in writing and a copy filed at the United Nations secretariat which will publish it. It adds that failure to do so as was the case with the Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun “renders the whole arrangement invalid under international law as it cannot be cited before any organ of the United Nations…
This indicates that something may be happening and may end up restoring the independence of Anglophones in Cameroon and not just that they are an entity almost submerged in French Cameroon. The leaders of Cameroon should borrow a leaf from this and engage in meaning dialogue with the Anglophones on the eve of the 42nd celebrations of the Cameroon national day.
*Tangwe shares his opinions on critical issues in the Blog African View Points
BOKO HARAM: BEYOND NIGERIA’S INTEREST!
May 16, 2014 | 1 Comments
By TANGWE Abraham
For a while now, the Boko Haram sect has given the Nigerian and world leader’s sleepless nights over the kidnapping of 234 girls in a boarding school in Chibok in Northern Nigeria on the 14 of April, 2014. This kidnap exposed the government of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as a limping duck so near the doldrums of abyss. His non-action or statement over the kidnap for three weeks was the apogee of irresponsibility and a very clear demonstration of incompetence and in the west, he would have simply resigned. As if that gaff was not enough, Dame Patience Goodluck ordered the arrest of protesting helpless mothers; a first lady who herself is a woman haven gone through the pains of labour. What effrontery!
Boko Haram by that kidnap inadvertently shot itself in the leg. It should be noted that this group started in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a cleric whose aim is an Islamic state in Nigeria. He was killed in 2009. The group’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, surfaces sporadically in videotaped messages. Boko Haram opposes the education of girls and has kidnapped girls to use as cooks and sex slaves.To it, western education is evil to be discarded at all cost. This explains why after the girls were kidnapped, their leader argued that they were supposed to be married instead of wasting time schooling. They believe in violence and have a great dislike for Christians. It has killed hundreds of children. The group seeks to replace Nigeria’s government with a strict Islamic state. Its home base is the Sambisa Forest, a game reserve in Nigeria’s northeast region, and it has a few thousand fighters.
The most intriguing of the actions of Boko Haram is that the sect has extended its activities in the North of Cameroon with an incessant kidnapping of Catholic priests and French nationals and also attacking and killing hundreds of nationals. In fact, a few days back, a small bridge linking a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria in the far Northern region of Cameroon was blown off when the sect got wind or suspected that it could be used as a rescue route of the girls.
Such actions by the sect has made reprisal antics far from being Nigeria’s action alone. The notion of “sovereignty-at-bay” in international law counts for nothing in this case as the susceptibility of Nigeria’s immediate neighbours viz: Cameroon, Chad, Niger et al to the effects of the actions of this sect are telling on the denizens of these countries. The case of Cameroon is glaring as Akwaya in the South Western region of Cameroon like the Northern regions is inundated with people fleeing the barbaric acts of Boko Haram besides intermittent attacks from the sect itself on the afore mentioned areas.
It is inconceivable that President Goodluck has not taken very bold steps to get its neighbours involve in the struggle to hem in, annihilate and completely wipe out Boko Haram through diplomatic offensive. That he sluggishly turned to the USA, Britain, China and other world powers for succor without first attempting to get assistance from its neighbours is complete betrayal and spite to the whole idea of seeking African solutions to African problems. In all fairness to President Goodluck, even with the help of these powers, if the neighbours are ignored, whatever is done would just be as the saying goes “throwing water on a duck’s back.
Worst of all, it is a known fact that terrorism anywhere must be fought with vim and alacrity. How then do we explain the belated statement of our darling African Union that has ended at issuing just that statement? Is the issue, a Nigerian issue? One would have expected the A.U. to take the lead in efforts against the actions of Boko Haram because children everywhere are precious but most importantly because the actions of the sect are having an adverse effects not only in Nigeria but her neighbours as well. How then can the AU claim that it has the capacity to secure the continent when the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shaabab in Somalia and Kenya are simply condemned with no action taken by her?
Be that as it may, the activities of Boko Haram have gone far above the confines of the nation of Nigeria and the Nigerian government should not make the error of trying to go it alone without its neighbours for this would have a boomerang effect. The fight should be led by Nigeria and its neighbours with tactical support from the AU. All western support should have been channeled through the AU to all affected countries. Care must be taken to ensure a safe rescue of the girls as the sect might trap the rescuers by using the girls as human shield. Our hearts go out to the Nigerian nation especially the affected mothers in such difficult moments like this. Indeed, bring home our girls!
CAMEROON, WASTING SO MUCH YET VERY MUCH IN NEED!
April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
For a while now in Cameroon, the people and particularly the fourth estate has been awash with the allocations made by parliamentarians to themselves as car allowances for the current mandate. The Speaker of the house was given 80 million FRS CFA ($160.000), the first Vice speaker had 65 million FRS CFA ($130.000) with the other five vice speaker taking home 60 million FRS CFA each ($120.000). All the questors had 50 million FRS each ($100.000) and the rest of the bureau members each bagged 45 million FRS CFA ($90.000). These allocations do not include free housing for all bureau members, two servants, a lump sum as sitting allowances and one third of the said allowances as car maintenance allowance besides other undeclared allowances. In all, about 2 billion FRS CFA ($4million) was allocated by these bureau members to themselves (21 in all). Wao!
Indeed, this scandal came to the limelight because the other members of parliament felt cheated since the rest of them were each given ‘just’ a paltry 10 million FRS CFA ($20.000) out of this looting or should I say booty? Is this not rather interesting in a Country that is talking of emergence only in 2035? How can the peoples representatives go this far to pilfer from the public purse in the name of comfort at work?
A vast majority of Cameroonians live beyond the poverty line with big cities like Yaounde and Douala in dire need of portable water and affordable habitable standards and the law makers can afford to divert such huge financial resources that could have been used for development as per diems? How do you explain the fact that Bamenda, Cameroons third major city has no roads and our leaders selfishly see only under their nostrils? The South West region produces more than 60% of Cameroons resources but lack roads and yet we tolerate such waste? Cameroon is one of the only Countries steeped in a vast array of sub soil resources ranging from petroleum, all varieties of agricultural products, timber, diamonds, iron ore amongst others and yet fifty three years after independence cannot boast of a double carriage way in any of its major cities.
It is still amongst the limping few who use more than 65% of the annual budget for the running of the administrative machinery largely made up of octogenarians who are recycled always to keep syphoning public funds. Cameroon has been described as “Africa in miniature” because we are endowed with human and natural resources compared to no other Country on the African continent but due to an entrenched culture of waste and misuse of public resources, we have been reduced to beggars and amongst the wretched of the earth and this due to the lack of political will to turn things around by our leaders.
Due to such mismanagement, unemployment has attained monumental proportion as the churning out of graduates by the higher institutions of learning is far greater than the available opportunities. Reasons why the youths have devised all the dubious means to survive in a cruel society that has refuse to hearken to their yearnings. They are therefore involved in feymania, falsification of documents in a bid to get through to opportunities denied them by no fault of theirs and are blacklisted in most countries of the world. It also explains why the best Cameroonian brains and technicians are in diaspora. Indeed, one of the best high profile surgeons in the US now is a Cameroonian when we need them badly at home
Cameroonians live far below the poverty line with a vast majority struggling to ebb out what is left of life from less than a dollar a day. Such corrupt practices are rife and such brazen thievery and embezzlement of public funds in the name of allowances can go unchecked because the president leadership appears incapable of calling the shots as it should be. Public funds seemingly remains a free for all affair in so far as you can boast of a godfather or just finding yourself makes it a condition sine-qua-non to be able to benefit of such unprotected peoples patrimony. The war against graft is cosmetic because the real perpetrators are left off the hook to keep parading themselves with such reckless abandon while those of them who dare to raise their eyes towards the royal throne are blacklisted, arrested and remanded to custody without much ado..
The Cameroon parliament has proven to be a toothless bulldog only when it comes to acting as a check to the executive. They complain of party discipline and their hands being tied but such party discipline is thrown to the dogs when it comes to rewarding themselves for no work done. This time around, all acted in complicity as even the opposition parliamentarians in the bureau maintained seal lips over the issue simply because a mouth dripping with palm oil does not talk for fear of tainting the outfit. What a shame. In fact, it is quite strange that the western world listens to this and goes ahead to give aid to such regimes!
It is very clear that Cameroons parliamentary leadership is involved in theft and embezzlement and should be probed else, it would suffice for any budget manager to sit and decide what gets into his or her pocket at any time they deem so. As law makers, they should produce a document spelling out salaries beginning from the Head of state, senators, parliamentarians and judges including allowances and not just doing them at the spur of the moment.
Cameroon has the necessary resources to emerge even tomorrow if our so-called leaders can decide to work for the interest of their people more. The culture of waste is so entrenched in the fabric of leadership life in Cameroon and that explains why the President of the defunct economic and social council also allotted to himself a whopping 100 million FRS CFA ($200.000) as car allowances. It is even worse with the Senators just newly elected. It is a real pity that this is happening in Cameroon with its people drowning in an ocean of poverty lacking basic amenities like portable water, electricity, schools, and hospitals and affording three decent square meals a day.
Alan Paton, the South African novelist puts it very aptly “Cry the beloved Country” for we are crying for our beloved Cameroon going down the drain every other second.
THE WEST AND THE CULTURE OF DOUBLE STANDARDS:WHAT HAS AID GOT TO DO WITH GAY RIGHTS?
March 23, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Tangwe Abraham*
Same sex or gay relations has for a while now animated debate on the African continent and has refuse to leave the stage as the debate has been reignited with an interview granted the AFP news agency by 69 year old Cameroon gay rights activist, Alice NKOM. Hear her “When a country uses weapons, the police and all available legal and prison means against a section of its population, while it has a commitment to protect, it is apartheid.”
This comment rekindled in me the rough waters Uganda of late has been treading for daring to pass a bill outlawing same sex relationship. For doing that, the World Bank suspended aid to Uganda and Sweden follow suit and blocked all bilateral aid. It is not too long that President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan of Nigeria despite the internal security threats from Boko Haram signed into law a bill declaring same sex relationship a no go area for all Nigerians. This of course attracted angry reactions from Nigeria’s so-called partners.
The case of Cameroon is peculiar as the authorities despite the gaffs in governance issues have stood their grounds against pressure from the West to legalize same sex relationship. The ranting of the learned Barrister Alice NKOM is in place as it is her right to say what she thinks but that right does not negate the fact that she should not step on others toes. Homosexuality is total anathema in Cameroon and the Penal code forbids it upon pain of imprisonment. Culturally, it is a very strange phenomenon and a vast majority of the Cameroonian people detests it including all legal and constituted institutions in Cameroon.
Perhaps, she is leading a noble course for those who feel that way and have decided to put her in the spotlight with awards (She recently received an award from the German Branch of Amnesty International in Berlin) but she should be reminded that Cameroon is a State of law and no amount of underground networking can change that.
Cameroon is Africa in miniature and the last time I checked as someone with a deep knowledge in history, I did not anywhere see homosexuality as one of the key elements of the richness of Cameroon. We cherish our values and nowhere is it written that homosexuality is part of such values. We refuse as a people to be led to the slaughter because of selfish interests.
The Divine dictates on which we base all moral arguments and reflections be it in the West or Africa forbid same sex marriage and see it as very disgusting. Why should we at any time question that? Why do you think that God in his Divine wisdom created man and woman and commanded them by telling them “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Gen. 9:7) and a mere mortal would stand up and declare that for the sake of human rights, we should spite such a norm?
Is there anyone of them shouting at the top of their voices for the legalization of same sex relationship who is in that kind of relationship? What is the essence of such hypocrisy? Africans are predominantly polygamous and it is part of them. How many Western societies recognized polygamy? For how long shall we allow ourselves to be place under such double standards? Is it only right when it comes from the West and wrong when it is African? Must the world survive when others dominate?
Besides, why should AID be pegged to the legalization of same sex marriage? Embezzling money and robbing people of resources that could be used for national development is a human rights issue and should be treated as such. Besides, Western companies exploiting Africa or fueling conflicts in Congo are human rights issues as the destiny of millions of people and their livelihood are put into complete jeopardy. Again, the very fact that the West has elected to remaining silent while African leaders embezzle and lodge money in western bank accounts without the west blinking is an issue that needs very serious reexamination. Such money that could have been used to transform the lives of the people and the economy is lying fallow and useful to western capitalist while the people go hungry, lacking basic amenities like portable water, health facilities and electricity. And you tell me the West is helping Africa by trampling on her cultural values and rights? It is double standards and hypocrisy at its best to hinge aid on same sex relationship when there are more serious things that tie down Africa.
When Barrister Alice NKOM argues that homosexuality is compared to slavery in America, where does she leave Africa in all these? Is she aware that the non-compensation of Africans and Africa for the millions that she lost in human resources during the era of slave trade constitutes a human rights abuse? Are we sure that she is just an activist fighting for people or she has vested interest related to homosexuality somewhere? Africa has come of age and the people are ready to stand by their leaders on such burning issues of morality. If we should be given aid base on our recognition of gay rights as a people, then such aid can be kept and used to prod homosexuals in the West.
In all these, African leaders should pull their resources on it and issue a common statement. They should stop playing to the gallery and pretending by betraying their peers in the name of maintaining ties with the West. The activists have a right to their opinion but they should desist from abusing the rights of others by trying to force their views on them. Yielding to such western antics would be like dying before your real death!
*Tangwe will be sharing his opinions on critical issues in the Blog African View Points
As we celebrate we must solemnly reflect
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Duru*
I would like to start by congratulating the African Union on the commemoration of its 50years of existence. As a young person, I would like to give kudos to the AU on its commendable efforts towards youth development, like the formulation of the African Youth Charter. However, as viable as the African Youth Charter may be, it will be useless without serious implementation on a continental scale. As we celebrate, we must remember to take a walk down memory lane to recapitulate the true ideals of our Pan-Africanism and reiterate the vision of the founding fathers of the African Union, as we know it today.
Our libration and independence dates back to the ‘50s, since when we have witnessed different scales of liberation struggles which resulted to the uncertain freedom we enjoy today. Looking back, the first half century of our independence has been plagued with corruption, economic mismanagement, extreme poverty, conflict, hunger and disease. However, Africa’s history is not just one of despair, but also one of achievement, success, freedom and ingenuity. And this is what we must let the rest of the world know, by highlighting Africa’s stories of freedom, achievements, success, ingenuity and hope. Africa is far too often thought of or portrayed in a negative light (this or that suffering, conflict or famine) and far too little are those stories told that make Africa everything that it is told in the mainstream media.
Africans should stand united and make the rest of the world realize that Africa is old enough to conduct its own socio-economic and political affairs. Only a united front built in a united Africa can help us zap our myriad challenges and put an end to neo colonialism. At 50, the African Union should be capable of uniting Africans to action towards solving Africa’s problems in the African way. Then, and only then will Africa be respected and taken seriously among the comity of nations. We have the resources more than any other continent in the world. All we need is to properly channel them for the greater good of our people and the world at large. Pan-Africanism, has become the constant buzzword and refrain of the African Union, but the African majority do not understand what Pan-Africanism truly means, neither do they put its ideals in practice. As the apex Pan-African organisation the AU should not only sing the chorus of Pan-Africanism, but strive to educate the younger generation on this important ideology that binds us. We must get rid of stereotypes and national demarcations; these are antithetical to Pan-Africanism.
I strongly recommend that the AU should among other things encourage youth entrepreneurship and youth participation in civics, political process, leadership and in the decision-making processes that affect their future on the Africa continent. This way, Africa will harness the potentials of its youth bulge. We’ve seen a plethora of African youth innovation. How can we harness this for Africa’s benefit? Africa’s prodigies and best brains continue to look towards the West. It’s high time our continent became an incubator of African innovations and a sanctuary of hope for all that live in it.
*Samuel Duru is from Nigeria. He’s a social justice activist, eco-enterprise developer, poet, writer and creative thinker; currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.He sees his role in the way the society is managed and developed as a sine qua non. Samuel is a strong believer in the fact that youth are powerful driving force for positive social change, hence, they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but leaders, as well as partners of today. He’s passionate about giving visibility to young people by inspiring them to discover their passions in life and live their dreams to the fullest.
AU should lead the continent in harnessing its vast potential for economic transformation
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Frank Kagabo*
Fifty years ago, the luminaries of the Independence struggle on the African continent formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). At the turn of the century, it was transformed or renamed the African Union.
This Change of name, was not only a change in form, but the people responsible, saw it as a change of content and substance. They drew from the fact that the organisation had been ineffective in a number of areas, and it was important that it be transformed to adequately respond and embody the aspirations of the African people.
But what are these weaknesses that rendered it ineffective in some aspects? The OAU, was bedeviled with the fact that it had for the most part, been a club of sit tight dictators who neither represented the people, nor sought to help transform the plight of the millions of poor Africans across the continent.
The principle of non interference in the internal matters of nation states that was part of the OAU charter, was one of the reasons for what I would regard as reason for some failures on part of the organisation. That the continental body could not intervene to protect Africans against dictators and military regimes usurping the will of the people, is a major blot on the legacy of the organisation.
However, we need to give credit where it is due. It was thanks to the efforts of African leaders, organised under the OAU that the people of Mozambique, Namibia, and Angola were able to defeat the yoke of colonialism that had lingered on in those countries when most of Africa had gained political independence.
In the same regard the OAU was instrumental in the anti apartheid campaign in South Africa. Nevertheless, the organisation now known as AU, remains enormously challenged in global power politics. Its position on Libya during the crisis that led to the fall of Gaddafi was ignored, showcasing it as a toothless organisation when it came to playing with the big boys.
What is important, is that the AU should lead the continent in harnessing its vast potential for economic transformation, which is the bedrock of any influence and respect on the global stage.
*The author is a former editor of the Weekend Editions of the New Times publications of Kigali, Rwanda. He is currently an Erasmus Mundus graduate student of Journalism at Arhus University, Denmark
AU’s 50 years; a bitter sweet
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Alex Taremwa, Uganda*
In 1963 when Pan-African-ists hatched a dream that saw the establishment of the Organization of African Unity, they had same aspirations that among others included promoting unity and solidarity of African states, coordination and intensification of their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.
50 years later as we look back and reflect on how far we have come as Africans, we take pride in what Dr. Nkrumah, Col. Muammar Ghadaffi, Gamel Abdul Nasser among other pan African leaders of the time put in place. With the OAU as a bureaucracy, the idea of social consciousness has penetrated the African continent; Civility has been extended to countries that still suffered from the subversive forces of colonialism, imperialism and apartheid not forgetting to mention the continued fight against dictatorial regimes the fight the interests of their citizens by putting the interests of self beyond the country’s.
Ever since the Organization of African Unity rebranded to become African Union during the Lome Summit of July 11th 2000, the ideals of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance have since 2003 been for some reason side stepped by massive vote rigging, political instability all over the continent and governments that have a high cultivated interested of staying in power until their dying days. Therefore the idea of “realizing the dream of the founding fathers for a peaceful, prosperous and united Africa” is being undermined by the very leaders that claim to have been part of those who masterminded the formation of this very entity.
With Africa becoming the fastest developing continent with the exception of China, producing food that feeds other peoples worldwide, Africa still remains with the poorest populations who increase by year, the worst ever recorded income disparities, poorest infrastructures and yet we possess a fortune worth of resources. How therefore do we hope to achieve the targets set by our founding fathers when those who hold the keys to run the infrastructures of our respective states continue to undermine the only strategies that have the capability transform this continent into something much more rewarding eventually.
My appeal to the African Union as we celebrate both a successful and tear breaking 50 years of the existence of this entity is that within the Strategic plans 2014 to 2017 adopted by the 14th extraordinary session of the Executive Council held on April 8th be reformative aspects on value addition, term limits and a continued relationship between citizens and the idea to transform their livelihoods. After the core values are set, then the off shoots of free-press, trade and economic prosperity will automatically prevail after a foundation has been laid for blood free political transitions and financial stability which in the long will reduce the dependency of most African states on donor money that brings along attachments that undermine our independence as Africans.
*The Writer is Journalism finalist at Uganda Christian University, Mukono (Uganda).
The Need For Resourceful Leadership
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Andrew Nganga*
The Africa Union and her predecessor the Organization of African Union (OAU) have in the eyes of many Africans had a checkered and controversial rein and the putsch by ‘modern day’ African Leaders led by Thabo Mbeki for drastic reforms and including actual name change signifying definite break with the past is the most resounding evidence.
But it is unfair to expect the juggernaut that is the former OAU now AU and which is our organization that we staff and manage and hence is a reflection of ourselves to perform any differently than we that birthed it. While the AU has failed in many pursuits, so have we the people of Africa individually, socially and even as nations. The AU has never been blessed with a creative and resourceful leadership capable of comprehending and conceptualizing solutions for Africa’s milliard problems. But even had it had good leaders, it still lacked a subject base, a followers’ base on whose behalf to intervene. I do not imagine it is easy being the umbrella organization advocating for the welfare of Africa’s people to a Heads of State panel comprising tin pot dictators like Idi Amin, Bokasa, the Nigerian clique, and all those crazy war mongers that were essentially the leaders of Africa who funded and sustained and were pretty much in control of the OAU.
Even outstanding and celebrated diplomats like Tanzania’s Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim could not manage much in that situation. The triumph of multi-party democracy which heralded relatively open governance in many of the African countries as well as the emergence of ‘new’ nation states like South Sudan, Rwanda, etc.is obviously a God send for the fortunes of the AU but we are not yet out of the woods. Africa needs better by and of themselves before we can rightly demand better from the institutions we man. Thank you.
* Andrew is Kenyan, aged 43 , currently resident in Rwanda for the last 3 yrs working as General Manager of a Tour Operating company with offices in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.He also lived and worked in Tanzania before and Uganda. He says he is am extremely enthusiastic about Africa, want to see solutions and sitting in Rwanda, in the heart of Africa gives us a very unique perspective across the entire continent – sub-Saharan.
AU MUST PROVE IT IS NOT A CLUB OF POLITICAL GLITTERATI
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Songa Samuel-Stone*
The relevance of the African Union in the next 50 years will rely partly if not mostly on its relevance to the ever-changing African issues. Now fifty years old, the continental organization will have to score more in terms of how it helps Africa beat her challenges.
In July 2002, the present day African Union replaced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) created in 1963 as much of the continent reeled out of colonialism. By 2002, the challenges that were on the must-solve list of the OAU in 1963 had somewhat changed or modified. The focus of the successor who came after all African states had fought off white man rule was vested into achievement of peace and prosperity with political and economic integration being the ultimate goal.
The men and women behind the OAU-AU transformation envisaged a more action-oriented organization that was to do more than mere talk. Years into the AU’s existence, direct and collaborative contributions towards solving and mitigating conflict continue to give off some fruits. These can be counted in terms of how many democratically elected presidents there are currently or how many African countries are warless. The body’s approach to intervene where necessary in the affairs of member states has also seen it attempt to act on the modified challenges that stand in the way of Africa’s path to economic development. Protocols whose results are scanty aimed at facilitating free movement of people and goods across borders have since been signed to remove trade barriers between countries.
However, many critics of the organization insist these efforts and many like them have only managed to yield a few tangible successes in solving Africa’s current bottlenecks. Its commissioner, the first woman to hold the office, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma points out that the biggest challenges facing the continent are under development, poverty and the inequitable distribution of wealth. While peace retains its place as one of the many things Africa needs to foster and maintain, the AU’s relevance in the next half a century will be scored from how much it contributes towards dealing with the challenges Dr Nkosazana raises.
The AU is made up of people. Africans. People that represent people that make up the fifty four countries that make up Africa. The very same leaders most of whom continue to entertain corruption in all its forms. If the organization is to stay relevant to the citizens of the countries they represent, it will have to decide to act on one of Africa’s most malignant cancers. Corruption. Before they move to deal with trade barriers to boost intra-African trade, the people that make up the African Union ought to exhibit the highest level of commitment aimed at dealing with the vice. Corruption is the reason why infrastructural projects that would further integrate Africa continue to lag behind. Billions of money are lost to corruption in nearly every other African state.
There’s no better way to explain why at least 97% of programmes in the AU (which preaches Pan-Africanism) are funded by foreign donors other than the fact that Africa is yet to achieve economic growth to help it stand on its own. The discovery of pockets of oil in Kenya and Uganda recently has sparked excitement with suppositions that when black gold starts flowing, wealth will start raining. But unless we deal with corruption, Africa’s chance to shape its own future might be headed towards a dead end. Whether it is creation of jobs for young people, efforts towards making better the health and education sectors, service delivery…name it, corruption undermines it all.
Pan-Africanism hinges on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress and aims to “unify and uplift” people of African descent. It is high time the continent united against corruption and leaders, the people that make up the AU, need to participate in this campaign directly. And fighting corruption is not appending signatures to documents such as what happened during the The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in Maputo on 11 July 2003. And that only 31 states had by 2010 ratified this treaty explicitly shows how this talk raises little dust of commitment.
The African Union faces the challenge of proving to the more than a billion people (more than 60% of them are young people) that make up Africa today that the organization is not some club of political glitterati that meet once in a while to talk about issues and leave it at that.
As May events to celebrate 50 years since the establishment of the Organization for African Unity, now the African Union, under the theme: “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance” continue, it is high time the organization realized how much its challenges continue to change and the need for modified solutions that must be based on the collective will to have more things done than jotted down. And if there’s a list of these modified challenges, corruption smiles down at all of us on top of that list.
*Stone is Ugandan Journalist.Follow @SongaStone
The African Union is a great start to a Pan-African dream that Kwame Nkrumah was envisioning in the 1960’s.
May 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Goz Anyadiegwu*
The African Union is a great start to a Pan-African dream that Kwame Nkrumah was envisioning in the 1960’s. He wanted Africans to wake up and unite politically and economically. Africa is easier to manipulate when it is divided. When there are over 50 states then it is easier to do divide and conquer. Africa is a lot stronger when united. This is why the African Union is around, they want to unite Africa and the Diaspora. This is why they allowed Haiti to join the African Union.
It succeeded by trying to promote African unity. It is providing jobs for people as well. But it does have some failures as well. It fails to handle situations by itself. It has to go to America for supplies and support when they went to Somalia. It also took them too long to go into Mali. This is why the French had to come. It fails to be independent and still relies on foreigners for help. It also did a bad job in the Ivory Coast when the French took away Laurent Gbagbo who was fighting for African liberation. There are conflicts in DRC where the African Union troops should have been there to help save people. The African Union needs to build a more military power so Africans don’t have to go to the west for help.
It needs to be more self dependent because right now the African Union relies on foreign donors to fund their engagements. As Thomas Sankara said “He who funds you controls you.” Even the building was built by Chinese engineers. This is bad because we are too dependant on other people. We need to be self reliant in order to fix our problems by ourselves. We have many engineers, why couldn’t they get the contract? The AU needs to help Africa industrialize and become self-reliant. The African Union must revive the Pan-African dream with the African Monetary Fund, African Central Bank, and African currency. Leaders in the past have tried this but ended up dying trying. The African Union also needs to do an economic trading block and including the CaribbeanIslands and people of African descent in the west. This will make it easier to move goods and services from place to place. The Pan-African passport will help the movement of people as well. It needs to finance projects that are working for the benefit of Africa instead of going to the International Monetary Fund which gives African bad loans which keeps us enslaved by debt. The African Monetary Fund would do this. This will be a true Pan-African economic dream that Marcus Garvey would be proud of.
So the African union has to build military, economic and political power of Africans and the Diaspora. This will bring Africa back to its past great power.
*Information about the writer:
Hello this is Goz Anyadiegwu the Founder of African Economic Development Plan. Goz is a student at DePaul University in Chicago studying Global Economics with a minor in management at the College of Commerce. He will be studying Global Economics at Howard University in the fall of 2013. He is the founder of the African Economic Development Plan It was an idea started in 2012 with the Nigerian Economic Development Plan (www.nigerianedp.com). But the site wasn’t the best looking and I wanted to give it a more Pan-African approach so I created the African Economic Development Plan (www.africanedp.com). I started it because I realized that Africa doesn’t create finished goods, we export raw materials and import finished goods which are just like colonialism. SO I decided to start to promote African finished goods, fashion, art, tourism an investing. All of these things will stimulate economic development. The long term goal is to add African American, Caribbean Islands, Afro-Brazilians, and other people of African descent around the world. If millions of people of African descent around the world buy these goods then jobs and wealth will be generated. This will make us more independent of other people’s businesses.