Obama in Africa: ‘Let’s do business’
July 4, 2013 | 0 Comments
In Senegal last week, Mr Obama had visited Goree Island; until the mid-19th Century it was from there that slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to America, bound in chains.
In Tanzania on Tuesday, the focus was on more recent events.
In a rare joint appearance, President Obama and his predecessor, George W Bush, bowed their heads as a marine laid a wreath at a memorial for the 11 victims who lost their lives in the bombing of the US embassy in Dar es Salaam in 1998.
The brief ceremony was a reminder of the challenge still faced by the US and its allies, 15 years later, from Islamist militants in East Africa.
In Somalia, al-Shabab, a group with links to al-Qaeda, continues to battle the US-funded Somali government and African Union forces.
But the focus of this six-day tour was not on security, nor on the past.
In 2009, during Mr Obama’s first term in the White House, China overtook the US as the world’s biggest investor in Africa.
So now, as he made his first extended visit to the continent, President Obama’s message was in essence: “Let’s do business.”
The centrepiece of the visit was the announcement of a new initiative, dubbed “Power Africa”.
Mr Obama used an address to students at Cape Town University in South Africa on Sunday to pledge $7bn (£4.6bn) of US government money to bring “light where currently there is darkness”.
“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age,” Mr Obama said on Sunday.
“It’s the light that children study by, the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business.
“It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs, and it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.
“You’ve got to have power.”
Two days later, at a power plant in Tanzania, Mr Obama had the opportunity to test an innovative bit of new technology: the “soccet ball”.
“It’s an airless, energy-generating soccer ball,” explained Jessica Matthews, a Nigerian-American inventor, as she gave the BBC a sneak preview before handing her creation over to the US president to kick around.
“As you play with it, it basically harnesses that kinetic energy that’s generated during play.
“So then you can use it as a power source to power small appliances like lamps or cellphones.”
Ms Matthews plugged a light into the socket in the ball, and it lit up like magic.
But Mr Obama’s ambitions go way beyond small appliances.
“This plant represents the public-private partnership we want to replicate across the continent,” the president said at the US-owned Ubungo plant on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
“This is a win win. It’s a win for Africans: Families get to electrify their homes; businesses can run their plants; all this will make economies grow.
The visit to South Africa was overshadowed by the news of the ailing health of Nelson Mandela, Mr Obama’s “personal hero” and the man who, we learned, inspired him to make his first political speech at the age of 19.
One of the most poignant images is surely that of Mr Obama standing alone at the gateway to Goree Island off the coast of Senegal.
He stares out to sea, contemplating presumably the arc of history that saw a black man become president of the United States.
There is no doubting Mr Obama’s popularity in Africa.
His personal connection to the continent makes him an automatic hero for many.
But there are plenty here who believe that, in his first term at least, Mr Obama failed to engage with Africa.
This trip may have gone some way to overcome that sense of disappointment.
But when it comes to investment, America’s businessman-in-chief is still playing catch-up with China.
Professor Ali Mazrui on A Century of Colonialism and Fifty Years of Pan-Africanism
May 25, 2013 | 2 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
On The Transition of Organization of African Unity T0 African Union
I was on a committee to consider the change of name from Organization of African Unity to the African Union. I was against changing the name, but I was out-voted. The United Nations had changed enormously since 1945 when it was created. And yet the UN had not changed its name. I also argued that South Africa was changing with the abolition of apartheid. And yet South Africa was not changing its name. I also argued that the name “African Union” sounded like an imitation of “the European Union,” but all my arguments against the change of name fell on deaf ears.
On The African Union
On the other hand, I was fully in favor of the proposed new agenda (expanded) of the new organization. I supported the African Union’s new jurisdiction over its member-states in case of a crisis. I also supported such new institutions as the legislature based in South Africa. I was also in favor of expanding the African Union’s role towards promoting a Common Market, a future Common Currency, and an eventual Central Bank of Africa.
The original agenda of the Organization of African Unity had been primarily to struggle against colonialism and apartheid, and to protect the territorial integrity of African states. In those three endeavors (anti-colonialism, anti-apartheid and pro-territorial integrity), the O.A.U. was supremely successful while it lasted. Fifty years of continental unity did include putting an end to colonialism, mobilizing world opinion against apartheid, and preventing African conflicts from breaking up African states.Exceptions were subsequently made when Eritrea was allowed to secede from Ethiopia with the approval of Addis Ababa. A later exception gave South Sudan a referendum in which they decided to secede from the colonial boundaries of the bigger Sudan.
Kwame Nkrumah was an eloquent voice for Pan-Africanism. He regarded Ghana’s independence as inadequate without the independence of the whole of Africa. Nkrumah spent more time supporting African objectives than he spent being President of Ghana. Because of that, I have argued that Nkrumah was a great African, but not a great Ghanaian.
The first generation of post-colonial leaders were more highly motivated on African issues than are the present crop of African politicians. The most towering political figures of the second half of the twentieth century included Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.
Even the earlier military leaders had a greater sense of purpose than have the more recent ones. The earlier military nation-builders included Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Murtala Muhammed of Nigeria, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo [Zaire], and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
On Short comings of the AU and Partnership
It is true that the African Union has not yet adequately fulfilled its own objectives. There is no Africa-wide Common Market, or continental trading community, or region-wide financial institutions. It is a learning process, and the next generation of African leaders may become more sophisticated and more committed.Sharing African resources with Chinese, Japanese and Americans makes sense. But Africa should protect its interests and promote its primary objectives.
*Perspectives are based on responses to a questionnaire Prof Mazrui answered from PAV. Prof James N.Kariuki who runs the Global Africa blog at www.panafricanvisions.com was most resourceful in helping get the questionnaire across to Prof Mazrui.
Pan-Africanism is more important than ever – Dlamini-Zuma
May 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Elissa Jobson and Parselelo Kantai in addis ababa*
The continent cannot wait until the African standby force becomes operational in 2015 to be able to resolve conflicts like Mali, says the AU Commission chair. Inequality – at the root of these crises – must also be addressed.
The three issues – pan-Africanism, sustainable development and the empowerment of women – loom the largest in Nokosazana Dlamini-Zuma plans for the African Union.
Like many South African activists, Nokosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s attachment to pan-Africanism is more practical than ideological.
It was the African National Congress’s ability to mobilize diplomatic and military support across the continent that enabled it to pressure the nationalist government in south Africa.
The pan-African spirit, says Dlamini-Zuma, started as a means to define Africa’s identity and fight against racial oppression.
It then assumed a vital organisational function. It got Africans to speak with one voice during the anti-colonial struggle and in subsequent diplomatic and economic negotiations.
“Now pan-Africanism is even more important, we’ve got a huge population, over a billion.
But if you divide us into individual countries, we are not significant,” Dlamini-Zuma argues. “You can’t ignore a billion plus people, but you can ignore five million people.”
For her, the founding vision of a borderless Africa with a single market, freedom of movement for labour and capital must underpin the continent’s development strategy.
The struggle has now moved on, she says, to organising the ports, the continental highways and power plants that will change people’s lives but require unprecedented cooperation.
In all this, it is Dlamini-Zuma’s determination that women should play a leading role in the African Union’s development, diplomacy and security work.
It was the women’s rights activists that pressured the authors of the AU’s constitutive act to include “the effective participation of women in decision-making” as one of the central objectives of the AU.
Now at least 50 percent of the AU commissioners must be women.
Those provisions helped women’s organisations such as Binta Diop’s Femmes Africa Solidarité to lobby more effectively for Dlamini-Zuma’s election as chair of the AU Commission last July.
The Africa Report: Is pan-Africanism relevant in the 21st century?
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: Pan-Africanism is still very relevant and even more important in a way. We have reserves of arable land. We have natural resources that – if we are able to turn them into wealth – can make a very prosperous continent. But if you divide us into individual countries, we are not significant. So it’s very important that we integrate, and integration is an expression of pan-Africanism.
Will Africa have abolished all national borders within 50 years?
I am quite sure that by 2063 there should be free movement of people within our continent. The free movement of people plus goods and capital is critical.
We should be able to drive from Cape to Cairo, go by train from Djibouti to Dakar. Even if you’re borderless, if you can’t drive from one place to another it means nothing.
How can the African union (AU) help make the current economic upturn into sustained development?
I think the AU should be a catalyst. The AU should work with member states, finding partnerships within the continent and externally.
We should be able to mobilise resources within the continent and diversify our partnerships. We’ve had partnerships with Europe and that should continue, but there are other partners in the Americas and Asia.
With the African Development Bank and with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa we should look at an audit of the continent to see which skills are critical to implement the priorities.
We should look at [African renaissance] as a process not as an event. It had to start with liberation because you can’t have a renaissance of people who are repressed. Now it has to be liberation in terms of human development, sustainable development and modernisation.
What about liberation from aid dependency?
This is very important. If you look at the important documents like the Lagos Plan of Action, part of the reason we’ve not been able to implement all these great initiatives was because we thought we could implement them through aid.
No country can have donor aid as the mainstay of its development. Donor aid is welcome, but it should be contributing to what we are already doing. We cannot wait for the first dollar to come from outside. Our mindset needs to change.
How can Africa tackle its own security crises without the need for foreign interventions in places such as mali and libya?
We should first be looking at why are these crises taking place. If we were to address truly the issue of inclusive development and participative democracy, we will get fewer of these crises. The equitable distribution of wealth, participative democracy and inclusive economic development are going to be key to sustaining peace and stability.
We also have to look at what can we do in the short term as Africans to be able to have a rapid response to these crises.
If you recall in my opening [statement] at the [January] summit, I did say that we need to look at that because this issue of the standby force – which is going to be operationalised in 2015 – does not help [in the] problems [we are having] now.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary [of the Organisation of African Unity/AU], we should be reflecting on that●
*Source African Report.Follow Africa Report @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook
Stop the Plunder of Africa
May 10, 2013 | 4 Comments
By Kofi Annan*
With Africa’s economies riding the crest of the global commodities wave, there is an unprecedented opportunity to convert the region’s vast resource wealth into investments that could lift millions out of poverty, create jobs, and bring hope to future generations.
Seizing that opportunity will require strengthened governance backed by international cooperation to stem the hemorrhage of revenues associated with tax evasion, secret deals and illicit financial transfers.
Natural resource exports have propelled Africa into the world’s high-growth league. Around one-third of the region’s economies grew by more than 6 percent in 2012. Strong demand in emerging markets is set to drive another decade of high prices for Africa’s natural resources, and foreign investment is on the rise. Mozambique and Tanzania are poised to emerge as major exporters of natural gas. Guinea and Sierra Leone stand to reap windfall gains from iron ore exports. Demand for Zambia’s copper and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s cobalt is booming.
Unfortunately, the rising tide of wealth is not lifting all boats. Poverty has been falling far too slowly, and in some countries — including Zambia and Nigeria — it has increased. Few governments have used the increased revenues generated by resource exports to counteract rising inequality, build better health care and education systems or strengthen smallholder agriculture. Moreover, corruption remains endemic.
African governments themselves must step up to the plate and address these issues. They need to recognize the urgency of converting their country’s resource wealth into the human capital and investments in infrastructure on which sustained and inclusive growth depend. And they should follow the example of countries like Liberia and Guinea that are combating corruption by posting all mining contracts online for public scrutiny.
In other areas, action by African governments alone will not succeed. As we highlight in this year’s Africa Progress Report, no region has suffered more from tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and plunder of national wealth through offshore-registered companies. These are global problems that demand multilateral solutions.
The scale of the losses sustained by Africa is not widely recognized. Transfer pricing — the practice of shifting profits to lower tax jurisdictions — costs the continent $34 billion annually — more than the region receives in bilateral aid. Put differently, you could double aid by cutting this version of tax evasion. The extensive use made by foreign investors of offshore-registered companies operating from jurisdictions with minimal reporting requirements actively facilitates tax evasion. It is all but impossible for Africa’s understaffed and poorly resourced revenue authorities to track real profits through the maze of shell companies, holding companies and offshore entities used by investors.
There have been some encouraging recent developments in the multilateral response to these challenges. Under the Dodd-Frank Act in the United States and comparable measures in Europe, extractive companies are now required to meet higher standards of disclosure. (In what is surely an act of strategic folly, many of these companies are swimming against the tide of reform by mounting a legal challenge to the Dodd-Frank Act.) Meanwhile, the British government has taken the lead in putting international cooperation on taxation at the center of the agenda for next month’s Group of 8 summit.
This is an area in which the G-8 can make a real difference. The summit should serve as a launch-pad for the development of a rules-based global system on transparency and taxation.
It is time to draw back the veil of secrecy behind which too many companies operate. Every tax jurisdiction should be required to publicly disclose the full beneficial ownership structure of registered companies. Switzerland, Britain and the United States — all major conduits for offshore finance — should signal intent to clamp down on illicit financial flows. And the G-8 and the G-20 should work together to expand the scope and reach of the Dodd-Frank legislation.
It is also critical that the G-8 helps to empower African governments. The region’s revenue authorities are hopelessly ill-equipped to tackle problems such as transfer pricing or to counter illicit transfers. That is why the Africa Progress Panel has called on the G-8 to provide the technical, financial and administrative support to build capacity.
More than 50 years ago, as African states emerged into independence, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, commented: “Never before have a people had within their grasp so great an opportunity for developing a continent endowed with so much wealth.”
With political leadership at home and strengthened international cooperation we can seize the opportunity that Kwame Nkrumah identified.
“Empowering Africa Through the Diaspora”
May 4, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Amini Kajunju*
AAI President Amini Kajunju Delivers Speech on “Empowering Africa Through the Diaspora”
Good evening. It is such a pleasure and honor to be here with you tonight to serve as the keynote speaker for The Africa Now: Policy Series discussion on the theme, “Empowering Africa through the Diaspora” .
I would like to congratulate the African Development Institute and the Institute for Multicultural Communications, Cooperation and Development, Inc. for organizing The African Policy Series to bring together and strategically engage the Africa Diaspora and civil society groups for the empowerment of Africa. It’s truly refreshing to see these collaborative partnership happening.
And I’d like to thank Dr. Kwame Akonor, Director of African Development Institute and Seton Hall University’s Center for Africana Studies, for reaching out to me to speak on this important topic.
The theme of tonight’s keynote address is quite timely and comes at a momentous time for Africa. Indeed, the African continent is experiencing a renaissance. The continent boosts one of the world’s fastest growing economic regions. Six of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa. And Africa’s fast emerging middle class now comprises over 300 million people.
With enormous progress taking root across the continent, Diasporians are uniquely positioned to contribute to boosting the economic growth and prosperity in Africa. The African Diaspora is not a monolithic group – some of you were born and reared in the United States; many came to the States at a young age; while others, like me, arrived here to attend college. No matter how you arrived here, as Diasporians, you bring a distinct perspective to the discourse on Africa because in some way you have experienced both worlds – Africa and the United States – and can serve as a bridge in fostering greater understanding between the continent and the Western world.
The organization that I lead, The Africa-America Institute, or AAI, has served in a very similar role for nearly 60 years. AAI’s core mission is to promote engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue. Our focus has been on education for Africans, and about Africa. Empowering talented Africans has always been central to this mission.
As African nations were gaining independence from colonial rule, AAI was founded in 1953 to build human capacity on the continent. With funding from the U.S. State Department, AAI assisted African students in pursuing academic degrees at top universities in the United States. After receiving their degrees in the U.S., more than 90% of our alumni returned to Africa to become business and political leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, health care professionals and educators where they contributed to strengthening the foundation for African development.
With 23,000 AAI alumni worldwide, we proudly count prominent alumni such as Wangari Maathai, the late Kenyan environmental and women’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate; Prime Minister H.E. Nahas Angula of Namibia; and President Joyce Banda of Malawi; among other African leaders.
Today, we offer non-degree education and professional training programs to women and men from across the African continent who exhibit talent and leadership in key fields – ranging from business and entrepreneurship, to agriculture and natural resource conservation to health – and who display a deep commitment to advancing to Africa’s development.
Through AAI’s programs, we are building an educated and skilled workforce of African professionals and playing a vital role in bringing a new generation of Africans into a knowledge-based global economy.
So, what can YOU as Africans in the Diaspora do to empower Africa? Tonight, I would like to offer 10 things that you can do….
Now, take out your pen and paper!
Number 1. Diasporians can help dispel myths and stereotypes about Africa to change the storyline about the continent.
All Diasporians can serve as “brand ambassadors” to bring a new vision and inspiring ideas for Africa. It’s hard to believe that in this day and age many still hold very negative perceptions about Africa – but it’s true. You can become the face of a “new Africa” – young, educated, optimistic, and actively working to transform and shape Africa’s future. We are a new generation of African leaders. There are endless possibilities of how we can make an impact on Africa!
Number 2. Diasporians can help shape U.S. foreign policy priorities and international policy. Since many in the African Diaspora still maintain strong connections to the continent, Diasporians can help shape U.S. foreign policy priorities by offering informative analysis of on-the-ground realities in African nations and sharing underreported success stories of progress taking place, as well as the challenges.
Most importantly, we need to expand and strengthen a constituency for Africa in the United States. We hope all of you will become engaged in forums and other events hosted by AAI and others to weigh in on critical issues impacting Africa.
Number 3. Africans in the Diaspora can help bring reforms to the continent. We are at the vanguard of fostering positive changes and reforms in Africa through our deep connections across continents, especially the on-the-ground and personal relationships with individuals, business leaders and officials in the respective countries. The power of technology and social networking can strengthen the connections with other like-minded members of the Diaspora who want to bring needed reforms to accelerate progress on the continent.
And Diasporaians shouldn’t shy away from obtaining government jobs to reform that sector. Bringing their management skills, resources and expertise to government, Diasporaians can help transform that sector by assisting governments in improving their transparency, accountability and service delivery to create a conducive environment for development progress to thrive and flourish. Now — no one is saying reforming the government sector will be an easy task or will happen overnight, but there are some real opportunities to make a difference.
Number 4. Diasporians can serve as a “bridge” between our home country and the U.S. Just as Diaspora communities can help shape U.S. and international policies and bring about reforms, you can also serve as a “bridge” to advance better communications and stronger, deeper relationships between your home country and resident country. In many ways, we have a “transnational identity” and can easily move back and forth culturally and physically between our resident and home countries. We are able to share, interpret, and understand both points of view, and provide insight and expertise on a broad range of issues relevant to each country.
Number 5. Diasporaians can quickly mobilize resources for humanitarian disasters. When a humanitarian disaster strikes or an outbreak of conflict, an organized Diaspora can assist in quickly raising funds for the relief effort and in rebuilding countries. The Diaspora can also assist in channeling updates on what’s happening in-country and how real lives are impacted by the disaster or conflict.
Number 6. As the African continent progresses on an upward path, continue to make remittances to your family back home – for now. I know many of you are doing this now. The World Bank estimates that African immigrants living abroad send home between $32 and $40 billion a year. This figure is far more than official global development assistance from the international aid community. While remittances alone will not promote sustainable development in African nations, it can help to provide for the immediate needs of individual households and greatly improve the quality of life for families. Because of your remittances, younger family members may be able to go to school to earn an education, achieve gainful employment, and eventually increase the family’s economic potential.
Number 7. Diaspora can lead in investing in Africa’s emerging markets.
Explore opportunities to invest in and launch successful African-led businesses and enterprises in Africa to create well-needed jobs and spur economic growth. The continent offers some of the highest return on direct foreign investment in the world. Increased investments are needed to expand local capacity and bolster economic growth.
As Diasporaians, we understand the local economy and culture, and are willing to take on greater risks on the business and investment opportunities that others may opt to pass on.
You can join in launching home-grown thriving African businesses like:
- Ecobank, a pan-African banking conglomerate with operations in 30 African countries;
- Zain, one of Africa’s most successful telecoms founded by Mo Ibrahim;
- The Dangote Group, established by Nigeria’s business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is West Africa’s largest industrial conglomerate, with manufacturing interests in sugar, flour and cement;
- Iroko TV, called the ‘Netflix of Africa’, is a Nigerian-based company that streams African movies online. Today, it is the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies.
- SoleRebels, founded by Ethiopian-born Bethlehem Tilahun, is an eco-friendly shoes and sandals company that has blossomed into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. The SoleRebels footwear is sold in over 30 countries around the world.
Number 8. Diasporas can spark innovation and technological know-how in their home countries. Historically, AAI brought talented Africans to the U.S. to earn higher education degrees. Our alumni returned home where they applied their world-class education to their country’s development and have made remarkable achievements.
Today, Africans in the Diaspora are continuing this “brain gain” trend. Skilled professionals are recognizing the tremendous opportunities that exist in Africa and are returning home in greater numbers, bringing new technologies, knowledge and ideas to drive innovation in their home countries.
Number 9. Become Mentors to Young Professionals in Our Home Country.
We can empower young African professionals on the continent – as well as in the U.S. — by sharing our knowledge and expertise. Diasporians can nurture professional growth in young professionals and narrow the existing “skills gap” by exposing them to new careers and fields of study, expanding their horizons to wider opportunities in their profession.
Number 10. Diasporians can bring our talent, energy, and skills to furthering economic progress in Africa.
Many Africans in the Diaspora want to eventually go back home after living abroad. However, one of the biggest challenges is finding suitable employment once they return.
An educated and skilled workforce is essential to fill top positions at Africa-based multinational corporations and organizations and to ensure that the continent can effectively compete in a global economy.
For this reason, we are launching the 1st Annual Africa-America Institute Career Roundtable in late-September. The purpose of the roundtable is to bring together talented and professional Africans living in the U.S. with private companies, NGOs and African governments for jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities.
AAI’s Career Roundtable seeks to promote African talent as well as to solve the human resource needs of the institutions and companies working in Africa. The roundtable will match participating companies and institutions with highly qualified African professionals in one place with the goal of finding the right candidates to meet their human resources needs.
We’re in the planning stages now for the Career Roundtable. We hope you will visit AAI’s website at aaionline.org in the coming weeks for more information. And be sure to become a Facebook “fan” and Twitter “follower”. We also hope that you join us, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary by tapping into the anniversary activities and attending our Annual Awards Gala. Stay tuned for more details….
So, there you have it! Ten ways for Africans in the Diaspora to empower Africa….
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you this evening. I’ll now take questions.
*Source AAI . Amini Kajunju is president and CEO of The Africa-America Institute
Making Sense of Sudan
April 14, 2013 | 0 Comments
Celebrating the bureaucratisation of peace: the Addis implementation matrix
By Aly Verjee*
March 2013: another Addis negotiating marathon, another document heralded as the ‘breakthrough’ agreement between Sudan and South Sudan. The 68-point implementation matrix (not counting sub-points), signed on March 12 by Idris Mohamed Abdel Gadar for Sudan and Pagan Amum for South Sudan, follows the meeting on March 8 of the defence ministers of both states, who agreed again to withdraw their forces from the previously defined Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).
Or as South Sudan’s negotiating team put it, with a first sentence tongue-twister for bored diplomats and journalists covering the next meeting in Addis: “On March 8, 2013, after months of negotiations, the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan’s Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) came to an agreement on the content of a framework for implementing the commitments made in the bilateral September 2012 security arrangements agreement. This important development should result in the creation of a safe demilitarized buffer zone along the two countries’ shared border. Both sides have already ordered their armed forces to withdraw to their side of the buffer zone.”
Point seven of the March 8 document tells of the delays suffered after the last supposed breakthrough agreement, the cooperation accords of September 2012. It subtly ignores that failure of implementation and just says: “the original D-Day for the implementation plan matrix was 19 December 2012. The matrix has been reviewed and the JPSM have set D-Day at 10 March 2013.”
Three months delay could be forgiven if the intentions of the parties were now honourable. Unfortunately, there is reason to be sceptical of that being the case. Orders by Khartoum and Juba to withdraw their troops from the border are encouraging, but are just as easily reversed. Resuming oil production is welcome, until the next crisis comes. We celebrate the matrix, because even modest progress is better than the alternative. Our faith is in this new bureaucratisation of peace: the idea that if only there are or were enough technical benchmarks, processes, committees, mechanisms and modalities, on paper and on the ground, all that underlying emotional antipathy and mistrust and suspicion could be controlled if not eradicated entirely.
Turning on the oil taps averts economic annihilation for both sides. But having initially shut down production in a bold attempt to show Khartoum that seizures of oil cargoes would not be tolerated, Juba has no guarantee of future good behaviour. That, for example, there will be an end to aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Armed Forces on South Sudan’s territory; that Khartoum will lose interest in the various rebel militias of Jonglei; that Khartoum’s share of oil revenue isn’t used to finance future military action against South Sudan. For its part, Khartoum hasn’t ensured that South Sudan will really expel the SPLM-N officials who frequent Juba, cut off access to South Kordofan from Unity State, or stop exploring alternatives to the Port Sudan pipeline through Kenya and/or Ethiopia.
Plenty of official allegations of bad behaviour have been made by both sides. For the most part these fall to the JPSM to address. In almost every case, the security modalities document says one of the following: “refer to Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission (JBVMM) for investigation,” “refer to Ad-hoc Committee for investigation,” or, “on receipt of evidential detail it is recommended JPSM form Committee…to determine veracity of the concern/complaint.” In the unlikely event a thorough investigation is conducted, neither side is likely to be satisfied with the findings: each side believes it is the victim of the other.
With no end in sight to the war in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan makes a guest appearance in discussion of border arrangements. More than a year and a half after UNMIS left South Kordofan, and a decade after the successes of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), international monitoring returns to Kordofan: the JBVMM will move from Assosa, Ethiopia, to Kadugli, the capital of Sudan’s presently most troubled state.
As the meeting minutes state: “Kadugli was accepted as a suitable temporary JBVMM HQ before moving to final location in Abyei. There was acceptance that there would be no move of the JBVMM HQ to Abyei until the Temporary Arrangements were implemented and accommodation provided by UN.”
The JBVMM borrows the successful joint monitoring team concept from the JMC. Teams made up of SAF, SPLA, and police and NISS personnel from both sides are joined by international monitors to investigate agreement violations, report on security in the border zone, arbitrate local disputes and report unlawfully held weapons. But whereas in 2002 the JMC monitored violations of a genuine ceasefire in South Kordofan while the war continued in southern Sudan, today’s JBVMM deals with the inverse: international border management between two states legally at peace while civil war continues in the Nuba Mountains, a few towns away.
In the aspirational matrix, where three of the 68 points are marked ‘complete’, and work on most other issues is yet to start, there are the usual bugbears:
“1.4 Obligation: Determination of the final status of Abyei and consideration of formation of the Abyei Referendum Commission (Art 4.2). Timing: Date to be agreed. Responsible: The Presidents.”
“5.4.3. Obligation: Completion of non-binding opinion of the AU Team of Experts (AUTE) on the status of the 5 Disputed Areas. Timing: 5.4.1 [D-Day + 66] + 60 [translation: 126 days from March 10, or July 14]. Responsible: AUTE. Remarks: Parties have commenced cooperation with the Experts in line with draft Terms of Reference for the AUTE. Timeline subject to change by Parties pursuant 5.4.2.”
Indeed, nothing sums it up better: ‘responsible: the Presidents’, and ‘subject to change’. The end of matrix modifications has not yet arrived. But spreadsheets are better than embargoes and air strikes. One hopes the need for urgent breakthroughs does not return too soon.
Mbeki On Mbeki.
April 9, 2013 | 0 Comments
Former South African Leader opens up on personal life experiences in an interview with Sunday Times.
Below is a full version of an interview which former President Thabo Mbeki (TM) did with Sunday Times journalist, Ziphezinhle Msimango (ZM), earlier in March. An edited version was published on the newspaper’s edition of March 31, 2013.
ZM: What are some of your most treasured childhood memories?
TM: It is difficult to answer your question because I can only remember my childhood mainly in the context of the politics of the day. Before this, one of the things I really treasure is the fact that especially my mother taught me to value education. In addition, I can also say that I grew up in political families. In this context, I can talk to you about two events that happened in Queenstown in 1952 when I was 10 years old. At that time I was staying with my uncle and his family, the musician Mike Moerane, my mother’s brother. In this regard, whereas my parents were members of the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa, (CPSA), which later became to SACP, the South African Communist Party, my Uncle Mike Moerane was a supporter of the Non-European Unity Movement (NEUM). If we had time I would discuss with you what this meant in terms of how this impacted on us at home in Queenstown in 1952. That year white South Africa celebrated the 300th Anniversary of the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and therefore the beginning of the colonisation of our country. But this was also the year of the historic ANC-led Defiance Campaign. I participated in both these events, in the first as a curious spectator, and in the second as a failed volunteer. Malome Mike punished me for even daring to run to the then Queenstown ‘Agricultural Showground’ to watch the spectacle white South Africa mounted to celebrate the Van Riebeeck tricentenary, but happily did absolutely nothing to obstruct my fruitless attempt, as a 10-year-old, to volunteer to defy the unjust apartheid laws. The following year, I went back to the Transkei, specifically to Butterworth. Here I was confronted with different politics. The ‘headman’ in our area, who was in fact an important political regional leader, C.W. Monakali, and a friend of my father, invited me to his house – then an 11 year old – to discuss matters that were agitating the Transkei population at the time. These were government-decreed cattle culling, evidently to protect the health of the pastures in the region, and the enforcement of a system of instituting contours on the peasant farms, evidently to reduce soil erosion. C.W. sought my views with regard to both these measures, around 1953, to see what could be done to resist both. Accordingly what I can tell you about what I remember most are these political experiences. The exception to this is my two-year experience at Malome Mike’s house in Queenstown when I learnt to play the piano and the flute, and to read classical musical notation. My greatest regret, to this day, is the fact that in time I lost all these musical skills, basically because in those young years, after the age of 10, I could not find a piano on which I could play! When I arrived at the Lovedale Institution boarding school as a 12-year-old, and much to my anger and disappointment, I found that the only piano at this famous and historic school was a mere wooden upright frame whose strings had over many years of neglect been completely destroyed by all manner of rot. The things I have said describe a childhood of learning as required of a pupil, an introduction to the liberation struggle, and an introduction to the creative arts, especially music. In this regard you must understand that I am merely summarising some parts of my childhood which contributed to the making of who I am today.
ZM: What motivated you to enter politics? Was it an inevitable path for you?
TM: As you can see from what I have said, I grew up in political families during the apartheid years. It was therefore inevitable that I would be involved in the struggles of the day. Accordingly I believe that the issue never occurred to me to take a decision about whether or not to be involved in the liberation struggle. Both the family circumstances of my upbringing and the fact of apartheid oppression which impacted in us as young people made it inevitable that like others of my generation, I would have to be involved not in politics, but in the liberation struggle.
ZM: If you went back in life, would you take the same path?
TM: Inevitably, yes!
ZM: Who are some of the people who influenced you in your life and why?
TM: Given my age, of course you will know that I have interacted with very many people. I think the central issue with regard to your question is not so much who influenced me as the ideas which impacted on what I became as an adult. You must therefore understand what I will say in this context, that what was important was not so much the persons as the ideas they represented. I will give you some examples in this regard. During my first year at Lovedale, in 1955, I was a member of SOYA, the Society of Young Africans. This was the youth wing of the NEUM. The following year, a much older member of the ANC, and fellow student, Themba Mqotha, spoke to me to explain why I would make a more effective contribution to the liberation struggle as a member of the ANC Youth League than as a member of SOYA. I understood and accepted what he said and therefore joined the ANCYL in 1956. I can therefore say that I owe my membership of the ANC to Themba Mqotha. Years later, in Johannesburg, I was privileged to meet Mike (Mick) Harmel, then a leading member of the SACP. I was very fortunate that I had the possibility further to interact with him during our years of exile in London, in the UK. It was in good measure because of his intellect, his palpable non-racialism, his humanity and his obvious respect for all human beings that I became convinced that the whites involved in our struggle were truly genuine comrades. In addition, he, originally of Irish origin, introduced me to the Irish liberation struggle, including my favourite poet in the English language, W.B. Yeats. I have also had the privilege to stay in the then Soviet Union and to study the writings of the revolutionaries, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Lenin. The writings of these renaissance and revolutionary intellectuals have taught me important lessons about the intellectual imperative to understand social development in all its complexity, the requirement of respect for objective and dynamic empirical reality, and the challenge to understand and write about this reality in an intellectually honest and disciplined manner. As a university student in England, I also had the privilege to study under the progressive and renowned Economics Professor, Tibor Barna. He insisted that in the end Economics, even as an academic discipline, had to do not with any abstruse theories, but the transformation of society and providing a better life for the people. Because of my exposure to the ideological left movement, including here at home, which insisted on the need to access all human knowledge, I was exposed, even as a student in Economics, to the wider world of literature and therefore all human thought. Because of this I became familiar with all manner of ideas presented by world-famous thinkers from all countries, including scientists, poets, novelists, playwrights, philosophers and others. It is therefore impossible for me to identify particular persons who might have impacted on my formation as a human being. What I can say in this regard is that I feel very privileged that I have had the opportunity throughout my life to access the entire spectrum of human knowledge, regardless of the originators of this knowledge. In this context I hope you will understand the impact on us as young South Africans of the clause in the Freedom Charter – the doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all!
ZM: Who is your favourite author and which is the most thought provoking of their work?
TM: Given what I have said, you will understand that for me there cannot exist such a person as a favourite author. Obviously there are particular authors I would respect, depending on the particular area of human thought and action we would be discussing.
ZM: When did you learn how to drive?
TM: I learnt to drive a car in 1961. This was because the then ANC Secretary General, the late Duma Nokwe, and particularly also his late wife, Sis Tiny, insisted that, to assist him to do his work, I had to learn to drive the ANC cars to which he had access – a 1947 Chevrolet, a 1948 Dodge, and a much more modern Zephyr station wagon.
ZM: When did you get your driver’s licence?
TM: I must confess that I have never had a driver’s licence. This was because to get one here at home, I had to get a “pass”, the Reference Book. I was determined not to do this especially in the aftermath of the Anti-Pass Campaign. The best or worst I did was to get a piece of paper which said that I had been to a “pass office” to apply for a “pass”. I used this piece of paper to pass through all police road blocks. I have therefore not driven a car since we returned home in 1990.
ZM: Have you ever had an accident and what were the circumstances?
TM: The only car accident in which I was involved occurred in Swaziland in 1975/1976. The learner-driver, the late Albert Dhlomo, could not control the car he was driving on a gravel road when the car went into a skid. The car capsized. Fortunately both of us, the only passengers, did not suffer any serious injuries.
ZM: Do you miss driving yourself?
TM: No, especially given the very poor quality of driving by many drivers in our country, which results in too many deaths and injuries on our roads.
ZM: What music do you listen to?
TM: All music, including European classical music, all South African and African popular music, all jazz, US blues, all gospel and church music, old and new pop, and so on. I would like to believe that I do not suffer from any prejudice about the musical form, as a result of which I would come to the conclusion, both spiritually and intellectually, to close my ears to one expression of music as opposed to any other.
ZM: What is your favourite sport? When last did you watch a game at a stadium and where?
TM: I am a fan of all sports codes, exactly, again, because involvement in sports and sports competition is about the expression of healthy human achievement, whatever the particular discipline. The last time I was at a stadium was at the home of the Nashua Titans, the Centurion Cricket Grounds, I think in 2011, to watch a T20 game between the Proteas and the English.
ZM: You spent 30 years of your life in exile. What struck you the most about the South Africa of 1990 and the one you left behind as a young man when you left the country in 1962?
TM: What was most striking in this regard was how much the value system in the country had changed for the worse. We got an indication of this even before we returned from exile. Accordingly, when we returned, we could not avoid noticing how much the personal acquisition of material wealth had become entrenched as an important social value. This included the ostentatious display of this personal wealth, regardless of how it was acquired, through the wearing of designer clothes, driving expensive cars, owning sumptuous houses, organising costly parties, and so on.
It seemed clear that the personal acquisition of material wealth had become the accepted standard in terms of which one would be judged by society as a successful citizen, and therefore a role model.
ZM: You became South Africa’s Executive Deputy President after the 1994 elections. What was your first impression of the Union Buildings when you stepped foot in your office?
TM: My personal office, excluding the staff offices, was merely two or so rooms, with some furniture, a functioning telephone, and nothing else. This told the message, practically, that we had to build something new, starting from what you might call a new slate.
From inside, the building was not as imposing and therefore as intimidating as a centre of power as it had looked from the outside when we used to sing, during the liberation struggle – siyay’ ePitoli! Nothing suggested that it should not be easily accessible to the people who had elected the new President and Deputy Presidents who occupied the East Wing of the Union Buildings. I would like to believe that from the very beginning of our democracy we did nothing to sustain the belief that the Union Buildings were holy territory in terms of access by all our people.
ZM: The statement you delivered on behalf of the ANC on the occasion of the adoption of the Constitution, commonly known as the “I am an African” speech, is rated by many as one of your best. What were your considerations when you wrote it?
TM:What informed me as I wrote this speech was that it was not every day that any country had the possibility and privilege to adopt a Constitution.
In addition, it seemed obvious that in our case, given that our diverse nation, through its democratically elected representatives, would for the first time together make a definitive and defining statement about its future, it was important to speak about this reality in words and images that extended beyond the ordinary.
TM: I thought that it was imperative that the ANC, a central architect of the perspective that would be spelt out in the new Constitution, should, on the historic day of the adoption of the Constitution, speak in a manner beyond what could amount to nothing more than an ordinary political speech.
Briefly, it seemed clear to me that the unique occasion of the adoption of the Constitution demanded a unique address which, among other things, would affirm the statement that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, confirm that as a nation we had agreed to live according to a particular value system, and make the unequivocal statement that we are part of the African Continent and not a European outpost.
ZM: Do you still subscribe to the same vision of South Africa’s future as you contained in the speech?
TM: Yes and absolutely!
I am certain that South Africa will not succeed in its efforts to rebuild, reconstruct and develop herself if she does not inspire all our people, black and white, to accept that they share an equal and shared responsibility and opportunity to work together to ensure a happy future for all. Equally, we will not succeed in our efforts if we do not sustain the values and vision which inspired millions of our people to engage in the costly and protracted struggle whose fundamental objectives are reflected in our Constitution. Similarly, we will not succeed as a country if the rest of our Continent, Africa, also does not succeed to address the common challenges we all face as Africans.
ZM: What were some of the toughest challenges during your Presidency?
As you would know, the toughest challenge for Government was driving the process to achieve visible progress in terms of eradicating the legacy of colonialism and apartheid in all their elements. These include poverty reduction, the reduction of the racial and gender inequalities in terms of wealth, income and opportunity, and radically raising the skills levels among the people to reduce the number of the unemployed, within the context of a growing economy. Of course and fundamentally, the latter, as it relates to sustained skills development, includes the sustained improvement of the educational system as a whole, starting with Grade R.
One of the most difficult moments was when we took the decision to relieve the then Deputy President of the Republic, our current President, of his position in Government.
ZM: What in your view are the qualities of a good leader and a good leadership?
TM: I think that to provide proper leadership certainly as this relates to Government, one has to have a very good understanding of one’s country and its challenges, including the global setting; work on the basis of a clear programme to address these challenges; always act on a principled basis; listen constantly to, and respect the views of the people; and conduct ones’ self within the context of a value system at whose centre must be the obligation always and only to serve the people.
ZM: You have been out of public office for five years now and involved in the Sudan peace process. How far is that process and how do you spend your free time?
TM: The Republics of Sudan and South Sudan have finalised almost all the required Agreements. Essentially only two remain outstanding. One concerns an element of relations between the two countries. The other is about ending some of the internal conflicts in Sudan. In reality the major task facing the two countries now is the implementation of the Agreements they have concluded.
With regard to your question about how I spend my free time, I am afraid I still do not any free time.
ZM: What are you reading at the moment?
TM: Currently I am reading two books. These are “The Tamil Eelam Liberation Struggle: State Terrorism and Ethnic Cleansing. (1948-2009)” by Dr Murugar Gunasingam and “On China” by Dr Henry Kissinger.
ZM: What is your message to the youth of South Africa?
TM: I think our youth should understand the serious reality it faces that it will inherit the country. It will therefore have the enormously challenging responsibility to answer the question practically – what will it do with this inheritance? Accordingly, one of the main tasks it faces even today is to answer the related question, honestly – how well prepared is it to discharge its responsibilities in this regard? I would therefore say that our youth has the solemn task seriously to prepare and position itself to take over as our new leadership, a critical echelon within the nation in terms of what South Africa will be tomorrow, and even perhaps today.
ZM: What is the one thing that you’ve never done before that you still want to do?
TM: I would very much like to re-learn how to play the piano and learn to speak, read and write in Tshivenda, seTswana, Afrikaans and French.
ZM: When are you publishing your memoires?
TM: Precisely because I have not had ‘free time’, it is impossible to answer this question. We will see!
*Source Thabo Mbeki Foundation
‘Appoint all 100 Senators Now and Save State Coffers’– Chris Fomunyoh to Biya
March 27, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Innocent Chia*
Other than the silly rumor of the improbable escape of First Lady Chantal Biya, allegedly and uncharacteristically disappearing from the national spotlight for a jiffy last year, little else has in recent times, sparked as much conversation as Biya’s precipitated Senatorial Elections in April. Without any rhyme or rhythm for such a short calendar, the President Decreed an election less than 60 days from his announcement. Whilst most observers are still scratching their heads over this decision, there are those who see no value in the exercise and are making calls for any legitimate opposition to refrain from it.
But there are those who say not-participating is not an option because the Biya regime has never lacked takers (fake “Opposition” that it creates) to fill up seats in the Parliament when the “real” opposition seats out. The problem for proponents of participating is that the record of achievements for the “real” opposition over the last two decades has been abysmal. Their greatest failure was strategic foresight because they underestimated the resilience of the CPDM; did not factor the capacity of their own leadership to withstand corruption; and overestimated the tenacity of the general population. In this exclusive interview with The Chia Report, Chris Fomunyoh, Ph.D – Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Washington DC and Cameroonian – delves into the why’s and why not’s of this charade.
Chia Report (CR) – Dr. Chris Fomunyoh – For those that have little familiarity with Cameroon’s political landscape, President Paul Biya recently announced on February 27th that there will be Senatorial Elections this coming April 14th, 2013. You care to contextualize the decision?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: Article 14 of the constitution of our country as adopted in 1996 provides that Cameroon shall have a bi-cameral legislature or parliament made up of the National Assembly and the Senate. Article 20 stipulates that that second body or upper chamber will have 100 Senators, 10 from each region of the country, seven of whom would be elected and three others appointed by the Head of State. The same constitution and subsequent laws stipulate that the seven Senators shall be elected by indirect balloting through regional electoral colleges constituted of local councilors and regional councilors. These instruments also lay out that regional councilors derive from divisional councilors who are designated to represent administrative divisions (or prefectures) in their respective regional councils.
The outcry that you hear today across the country arises from questions about the legality of today’s electoral college and the fact that the legitimacy of Senators elected under these circumstances may be tarnished beyond repair: regional councils have not yet been created, and current local councilors are serving on bonus time as their fixed five year term mandates expired last year. Moreover, the electorate of 2013 is definitely different from that which participated in the local elections of 2007, and there are legitimate reasons to question the representative mandate of the councilors that will cast ballots on April 14.
CR: Presidential Decree N° 2013/056 is some 17 odd years late in application of the 1996 Constitutional provision that created an Upper House Chamber in Cameroon. From the date of his announcement to the date of elections there are 45- 46 days. Is there an urgency, you think, that has caused the convening of the Electoral College and almost immediate application of Decree?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: It is a shame that in our country, the population is ambushed at every election, including that for the Senate which under normal circumstances should be a very easy exercise given the small size of those called upon to vote. First, ELECAM (the lection administration body) was conducting voter registration outside of the January to August period stipulated in the election law, and Cameroonians were told that this was in anticipation of the election of local councilors and members of the National Assembly whose extended mandate would be ending soon.
Then comes the decree on Senatorial elections which forces political parties to scramble to meet deadlines for identification of candidates and submission of lists. This limited time frame does not allow any of the political parties, including the CPDM, enough time to organize public and transparent candidate selection activities with grassroots input, which means that this decree, like many others signed by President Biya, inflicts collateral damage on internal democracy within Cameroonian political parties. I do not see the urgency that a tainted Senate would address in the immediate term.
CR: Biya supporters are praising this initiative as another example of his stewardship and leadership as far as strengthening democracy in Cameroon. You care to say why they may be wrong or right?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: Unfortunately, over the past 30 years we have seen and heard the most unimaginable declarations from supporters of this regime. Cameroonians have become accustomed to such praise singers by day and critics by night. To extrapolate somewhat, the emperor could be standing naked in the street and his supporters would sing his praises for his new dress code, even as the rest of the world sees clearly that the emperor has no clothes.
Lest we forget, in the early 1990s, as other African countries were opening up their political systems and Cameroonian democrats were advocating for more freedoms and liberty, some of these same individuals marched in the streets of the capital saying “no to democracy and political pluralism.” The Cameroonian people will remember.
CR: Talk to the concerns that about 90 percent of the Electoral College of Municipal Councilors – 9032 of 10636 – are from Paul Biya’s ruling CPDM. Will this have an impact on the quality and quantity of representation in the Senate and how?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: The concerns are more serious than just a number’s game. The issue is that the demographics of the country and the electorate have shifted between 2007 and 2013, so much so that one couldn’t tell in advance whether credible local elections in 2013 would give the CPDM more or less local councilors. What about new political parties that have emerged or gained strength and increased membership since 2007? The main question is: if the country is this close to holding new local elections, why not hold those elections first in order to have councilors of irrefutable legitimacy and more equitable representation who would then be called upon to participate in the election of Senators?
CR: According to the same Decree of application, President Biya will be appointing 30 of the 100 Senators. What effect does this have on the national polity?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: The provision that allows the president to appoint 30 Senators is in the constitution, although many Cameroonians disagree with the concept of the head of the executive branch hand picking members of the legislative branch that are supposed to exercise oversight over his performance, as in every democratic society. With already so much power centralized in the hands of one individual in the Cameroonian context, giving that individual even more powers entrenches patronage and cronyism, and simply makes a mockery of the institutions and systems of checks and balances that every democratic society has, and that we as Cameroonians deserve.
CR: It has been said that the idea of a Senate was to mimic the US system. Why is this not a moment when the US is flattered that it is getting copied by Cameroon?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: Well, the United States can speak for itself, but for me as a Cameroonian who loves his country and cares about the future we need to build for our youth and future generations, this whole exercise about a Senate is a very bad joke at many levels. The United States has 100 Senators for a population of 300 million inhabitants and a GDP (gros domestic product) 600 times that of Cameroon; so our leaders hand pick their own 100 Senators for 20 million people, and we call that mimicking the US?
Perhaps some of our leaders think that by creating a Senate, they can brag about the democracy they practice just as they say unashamedly these days that Cameroon has more than 200 registered political parties, and therefore is freer and more democratic than countries such as the United States, France, Great Britain, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal that have less.
Many Cameroonians even question why have a Senate when the current National Assembly is understaffed and under-resourced to carry out fully its legislative and representative functions, and when we have other institutions such as the Economic and Social Council in existence for decades with no visible impact on governance and, worse still, no accountability for the annual budgets allocated to such institutions.
There is reason to be anxious about the future of our beloved country. We still have a long way to go and greater commitment needed to attain the appropriate democratic institutions and processes that many Africans now take for granted.
CR: The Law and Decree of Application both address Regional Representation. But they are both silent about demographic representation, including youth and women.
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: To be honest with you, my feeling is that the current regime uses the words ‘women and youth’ as mere slogans. Besides getting women to wear party uniforms and dance at public events glorifying ‘the great leader’, I am still to identify specific government policies and actions that benefit the Cameroonian woman. Look at the placards carried by some women during the last March 8 ceremonies marking international women’s day.
We deny many young Cameroonians even the right to vote by crafting an artificial voting age at 20 years old whereas the age of maturity is 18 years; we create artificial statistics to hock wink young people into believing the government has their interest at heart: in 2011, Cameroonian youth were promised 25,000 jobs and for a long time it was unclear whether or how those jobs were all filled; then at year end 2012, youth were promised 300,000 jobs without stating clearly how that would be done in an economy that is stagnating and for which the regime itself promises economic emergence only in 2035, more than 22 years from now.
CR: Let’s talk some about the opposition in this process. What are the chances that the opposition stuns Biya and his cohorts and wins a majority?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: No chances for opposition parties at all! Zip! Zero! Left to its own devises, the regime that governs our country today seems intent on driving us back into the dark days of one party rule.
CR: Why do Fru Ndi and his nominal opposition not bear the credibility of yesteryears to pull it off?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: The deck is stacked against opposition parties in our country. The playing field is so tilted in many areas. Even then, and as I said during a public conference in Yaounde in November 2012, the opposition also needs to take stock of itself, recognize its strengths and weaknesses, size up its assets and liabilities, review its accomplishments and failures, in order to redefine the role its wants to play in shaping the country’s future.
The population has become disenchanted, apathetic and disrespectful of some of the opposition leaders and parties for good reason. In fact the frequent inconsistencies of some leaders deprive the people of the right to hope for change and a different and better tomorrow.
CR: Is it an accurate assessment that this Senatorial Body, if Cameroonians let the charade continue, is nothing but another rubber stamp masquerade for the Executive Branch, without a mandate to change the course of history for the development and prosperity of Cameroonians, and another foundation for the thriving plague of corruption?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: You captured it very well. I have even said, in dismay and disbelieve at the frivolous manner in which democratic institution building is handled in our country, that if the regime already has its list of 100 Senators, it should name them now and save us all the unnecessary expenditure from state coffers and further embarrassment before other Africans and the rest of the world. Thank goodness there’s precedence that in a country such as Senegal, President Macky Sall upon getting into office saw the futility of a Senate created under similar circumstances and scrapped it completely. Senegal’s democracy hasn’t lost a dent of its credibility.
CR: At the last Presidential Elections in 2011 there are many Cameroonians who strongly believed that your town hall meetings across North America were to explore the chances of running against Paul Biya. You care to explain why it was a no-go at the end?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: As I stated during a press conference in Douala on September 13, 2011, the town hall meetings across North America and Europe and the extensive consultations across the country were aimed at hearing from my fellow compatriots about their hopes and aspirations with regards to the political leadership of our country and the role we could play in bringing these expectations to fruition going forward. While some felt that one needed to take the bull by the hones, many others worried about being compromised by a flawed process that seemed pre-arranged for a predetermined outcome.
We therefore determined that we could not, in good conscience, become accomplices in the charade of an electoral process. Developments since then continue to prove us right; and when President Biya stated in Paris recently that his legitimacy could not be questioned because he won a competitive presidential election against more than 20 other candidates, whom by the way he treated with disdain as if they were stooges, many of our fellow compatriots were relieved that I was not one of them.
CR: Can you tell the disillusioned Cameroonian youth what, if anything, they can and should be doing to fend off this onslaught by the current generation of leaders?
Dr. Chris Fomunyoh: My piece of advice to the Cameroonian youth is ‘do not despair’! Leaders come and go, but countries leave on. So, the opportunity will come for our country to bounce back and regain its rightful place among the community of truly democratic nations. The clock turns in only one direction and, despite the challenges of the moment, that one direction keeps me hopeful for our youth and optimistic for the future of our resource-rich country. So, working with the youth, we must keep expanding and strengthening the networks of like-minded, committed and patriotic Cameroonians, so that once the opportunity arises and the stars align themselves, the youth will rise up and make their voices heard loud and clear, once and for all.
*Source Chia Report
In the shadow of the baobab: Kagame blows cold and hot on a third mandate
March 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Kris Berwouts*
In October 1990, after Fred Rwigyema’s death on the third day the struggle to conquer Rwanda, Paul Kagame took over the command over the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and led it to victory in July 1994. He became Vice-President and Minister of Defense in the transitional government installed after the Rwandan genocide. In March 2000, President Pasteur Bizimungu felt that he could no longer contribute to a regime dominated by the RPF. He resigned and Kagame became the Head of State. He has subsequebtly won presidential elections in 2003 and 2010.
In 2017, when his second mandate as an elected President expires, he will have led the RPF for 27 years and will have been Rwanda’s most powerful individual for 23 years (for17 of which he has been the country’s President). The Constitution, adopted by referendum in May 2003, foresees a maximum of two consecutive mandates for the Head of State. This means that he cannot stand for a new term in 2017.
Very soon after his re-election in August 2010, speculation and rumour developed about the chances that Kagame, with or without a review of the Constitution, would seek a third mandate. On February 27th 2013 he gave a press conference on the issue stating that he is not interested in running again.
This press conference was a reply to earlier announcements by opposition parties such as Victoire Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi and Frank Habineza’s Green Party that they would oppose changes to the Constitution allowing Kagame to continue. But at the end of the press conference, Kagame left all options open. He isn’t seeking a third mandate and doesn’t ‘need’ this job, but he doesn’t exclude the possibility of bowing to the will of the people if they want him to stay on. “At the end of the day, let’s remember that Rwandans have to decide,” he said.
2010: a landslide victory
On 9 August 2010, Kagame was re-elected with an overwhelming 93% of the vote. In the election itself he faced three candidates who were considered by the traditional opposition as “satellite candidates, phoney opposition players intended to maintain the illusion of pluralism”.
The months before the elections had been very tense when the more genuine opposition parties started to prepare their campaigns: the Social Party Imberakuri (PSI) led by Bernard Ntaganda, the Green Democratic Party (GDP) with a leadership that came mainly from the anglophone community and which, according to many, was a result of the discontent within the RPF; and lastly the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi), formed around presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, who had returned to Rwanda in January after an absence of 17 years. The leaders of these parties confronted hostility and significant verbal aggression from the authorities and media. Victoire Ingabire in particular, with her clear message and direct, flambuoyant style received a lot of national and international attention. However, when the election actually arrived, none of these candidates were able to formally run for office.
In the end, all went well for Kagame. When you have almost complete control over the legislative, executive and judicial institutions, when an independent press has almost completely disappeared, when that section of opinion which has not openly sided with you has attained an extraordinary level of sophistication in the noble art of self-censorship, when for a large part of national and international opinion you represent the ending of genocide and the return to stability, you don’t lose elections.
The annus horibilis
In the months before the elections the focus of tensions changed. General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a long term companion of President Kagame and former Commander in chief of the Rwandese army, left Rwanda and its regime to join the dissident Colonel Patrick Karegeya in exile in Johannesburg. Karegeya is a former intelligence chief, but above all central to the running of the Congo Desk – created during the war in Congo to manage the exploitation of natural resources in the eastern DRC. In the months after Nyamwasa’s departure, others left too – influential and high profile people like Theodore Rudasingwa (Kagame’s former director of cabinet), Gerald Gahima (former Prosecutor General and Vice-President of the Supreme Court) and Kagame’s private secretary David Himbara. All of a sudden, Kagame wasn’t struggling with his traditional enemies but with his frustrated comrades-in-arms. The ruling inner circle was losing its coherence and had to fight against its own disintegration. When it looked at itself, it was confronted with the cracks in the mirror that belied the united and serene image which it wanted to show to the public in Rwanda as well as internationally.
Three weeks after Kagame’s re-election, the French newspaper Le Monde leaked the draft of the UN’s DRC Mapping Exercise Report which aimed to document the most serious violations of human rights in the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003. In paragraph 517, the report states: “The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.”
This was nothing less than an earthquake for Rwanda. For a decade and a half the regime functioned as the incarnation of genocide victims over those who had perpetrated it. The report, published on October 1st 2010, suggested that this might only be one side of the story, that the reality of Rwanda’s traumatic recent history might be much more complex.
The report is nothing more than a very extensive inventory of the most important human rights violations in one decade, and as such it is not a basis for prosecution. Most of the facts reported by the UN researchers were known, but for the first time they were brought together in one comprehensive document and acknowledged at the level of an official UN document. Thirty months after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the report, there has been insufficient follow-up by governments in Africa’s Great Lakes region and by the UN itself.
The landscape of Rwanda’s political and military elite has changed a lot with Nyamwasa’s departure. There are many indications that Nyamwasa and Karegeya tried to organize an armed resistance on Congolese soil, bringing together people from backgrounds as different as the part of the CNDP that had stayed loyal to Nkunda, certain Mai Mai groups, the FRF, bits of the FARDC and FNL. Contact was even made with some people within the FDLR. All these forces had their reasons to be against Kagame and the ambition was to unite them in an ad hoc movement against the regime in Kigali. To do that, they had to reconcile water and fire. They tried but failed, this was because of several factors.
By the end of 2010 it became clear that they would not able to raise international support for an armed initiative. The main reason for this was that Kayumba Nyamwasa did not have a sufficiently high profile to incarnate the reconciliation of water and fire. He had always been considered a hardliner of the regime, whose conflict with Kagame was about the President’s attempt to dismantle the parallel economic structure that Nyamwasa and Karegeya had organized around the plundering of Congo’s minerals.
It has never been easy to distinguish between hawks and doves inside Rwanda’s regime, but Nyamwasa was definitely not to be considered a dove. He did not seem to have much added value to Kagame in terms of democracy, reconciliation nor good governance. For the same reasons, the political party he founded with Karegeya, Gahima and Rudasingwa isn’t much of a threat to the RPF: Kayumba Nyamwasa and his crew aren’t a credible alternative to Kagame. 2010 was his annus horibilis, but Kagame won back the full control over the regime.
Since 2011, a change of generation has taken place around Kagame. People who are or could be influenced by Nyamwasa lost space and made way for younger men and women with a different profile: born in the late seventies or early eighties, ambitious, well-trained technocrats rather than military, polyglot intellectuals rather than the leaders who grew up in the refugee camps, fought in the bush against Obote and Habyarimana, eventually getting rich through the plundering of Congo. The people who shaped Kagame’s Brave New World were replaced by the people who grew up in it (mostly receiving training and education abroad).
Not another Mugabe
Over the last few months, some Rwanda watchers have seen indications that Kagame is interested in a Buyoya-type of exit scenario: remain present and influential with a rather low profile on the national level, and play a role on the international scene as a mediator in conflicts. Other people believe he’s constructing a more Medvedev – Putin inspired leapfrog. Both sides believe that Kagame would like to avoid the political damage and loss of credibility if he continues. He is not looking forward to gaining a reputation as the new Mugabe or Museveni. His main concern will be to gain guarantees that he will not be persecuted by international justice.
Speculation has inevitably started on who could succeed him. At some point Richard Sezibera seemed in pole position. Born in 1964 and presently Secretary General of the EAC, Sezibera served as Minister of Health and as Ambassador to the US, Rwanda’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and as Kagame’s Senior Advisor. He is a medical doctor who practiced for many years in Uganda and Rwanda and has a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.
Another person referred to internally as a potential successor is Donald Kaberaku (1951), currently President of the African Development Bank. He studied in Tanzania and the UK (obtaining a PhD in economics from the University of Glasgow). In October 1997 he was appointed minister of finance and economic planning in Rwanda and is considered as one of the masterminds behind the recovery of the Rwandan economy after the genocide.
Sometimes other names appear – they seem to come and go in waves. But Sezibera, in particular, is to be taken seriously.
The M23 misadventure
At the time of writing these lines, the latest offshoot of the RCD-CNDP tree ‘M23’ has been involved in several days of heavy internal fighting between the factions loyal to Bosco Ntaganda and Sultani Makenga. The draft of a peace agreement between M23 and the DRC government is circulating, but it remains to be seen if it will ever be signed. M23 started nearly one year ago as another rebellion led by Congolese Tutsi. A settlement might be found around an old school arrangement which integrates the rebels in to the army, giving them grades and control over men and mines. Things might calm down for a while until the next time someone believes that his community’s interests are best served by a new rebellion.
This episode has weakened everybody – including the Rwandan government. It seems they overplayed their hand. As soon as it became clear that Kigali was very actively supporting M23, its most loyal partners took extraordinary measures. Nations like the UK, USA, Sweden, Holland and Germany suspended at least a part of their aid. Rwanda received heavy criticism and now knows that any future moves and actions will be looked upon with great suspicion.
As usual, the events in Congo have divided the Tutsi and, more generally, the Rwandan community in Congo as well as in Rwanda. Unlike earlier Tutsi-led rebellions, M23 wasn’t able to mobilise a lot of support among Congolese Hutu and the Banyamulenge. The Tutsi of South Kivu declared from the very beginning that they had nothing to be gained from the M23 rebllion, with which they did not identify at all. The backbone of M23 were Tutsi from the North Kivutian territories of Rutshuru and Masisi, and since the Framework Agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, they are mainly fighting each other. What separates them (strategy, geography, clans, economic interests, political affinities) is felt within the inner circle of power in Rwanda and affects cohesion there.
Not really, Mr. Blair
I do truly believe that the Rwandan regime is working on a succession scenario. However, anybody who has traveled to Africa knows that nothing, apart from scrub and mushrooms, grows underneath a baobab tree. It is very difficult for new and younger leadership to emerge in the shadow of a strong leader. Kagame led the RPF for more than 22 years and turned the country into a virtual one party state. It is not easy to replace such a leader, even in the most serene conditions. And conditions aren’t serene in Rwanda after one year of the M23. The country has been weakened by the events, as has any other actor in Central Africa involved in it, with the possible exception of Museveni.
Kagame has, however, managed an effective policy of damage limitation. Important international partners threatened to leave, but some of them have come back already. On February 22th Tony Blair wrote a letter, together with Howard G. Buffet, Stand with Rwanda. According to Mr Blair “Slashing international support to Rwanda ignores the complexity of the problem within DRC’s own borders and the history and circumstances that have led to current regional dynamics. Cutting aid does nothing to address the underlying issues driving conflict in the region, it only ensures that the Rwandan people will suffer — and risks further destabilizing an already troubled region… Cutting aid to Rwanda also risks undoing one of Africa’s great success stories.”
I do not belong to the group of people who believe that the alpha and the omega of Congo’s scourge, woe and disaster can be reduced to Rwanda’s role in it, but I do believe that a huge part of Rwanda’s success story is due to the surplus it extracts from Congo’s minerals, and that the Rwandan government is aware that it needs to consolidate this extraction if it wants to prevent the walls of its reign from tumbling down.
Congo’s complex problems are the fruit of its own colonial and post-colonial history, but the fall of Mobutu’s empire and the difficulties of reinventing and rebuilding the new Congo after the departure of le Président-Fondateur, have been complicated by the fact that Rwanda exported its problems on to Congolese soil.
Of course, “the international community should support the three regional governments — DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda — in their efforts to build a sustainable solution to the conflict”, as stated by Mr Blair, but I don’t really think this will happen without a delicate balance between support and pressure. Not only pressure on the DRC (as it seems is the case in the Framework Agreement signed last month in Addis Ababa), but on all partners involved, Rwanda included. Pressure which does not foresee measures or sanctions is no pressure at all.
*Source African Arguments. Kris Berwouts has, over the last 25 years, worked for a number of different Belgian and international NGOs focused on building peace, reconciliation, security and democratic processes. Until recently, he was the Director of EurAc, the network of European NGOs working for advocacy on Central Africa. He now works as an independent expert on Central Africa.
Multiple challenges for Kenya’s new leader
March 11, 2013 | 0 Comments
By Karen Allen*
“Uhuru [Kenyatta] has won the presidency. It’s done. Let’s move on.” The son of Kenya’s first independence leader may not have secured Francis Odera’s vote but, like so many other Kenyans, this middle-aged Nairobi resident is just relieved the election has concluded peacefully.
Now he and others believe it is time to return to work and do what Kenyans do best.
Kenya did not burn, in most places riot police remained idle for much of the day, revellers and those licking their wounds showed restraint and Mr Kenyatta and his challenger Raila Odinga drew praise from many Kenyans for statesmanship in their respective speeches.
Yet, as one Kenyan friend put it, there has been a “revolution in Kenyan’s political maturity but not a revolution in the leadership”.
Kenyans have pinned their hopes on a new constitution, which dilutes the power of the presidency and offers a degree of devolution. Most agree that it was a vital ingredient that helped to avoid a repetition of the violence of five years ago. Kenyans have a right to be proud.
Millions of Kenyans are excited at the prospect of having the youngest leader ever – Mr Kenyatta is just 51. He is a familiar figure, the son of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, but as the country celebrates half a century of independence, Kenya now enters a period of uncertainty .
Mr Odinga is challenging what he calls another “tainted election” tinged with “rampant illegality” at the supreme court.
The detailed allegations will emerge over the coming weeks but it is far from clear whether this “evidence” would significantly sway the result. One has to ask how will Odinga supporters react to a defeat at Kenya’s top court?
Meanwhile, Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are bound by a fragile ethnic alliance which some commentators doubt will last.
And both men are facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes allegedly committed the last time Kenya went to the polls.
Mr Kenyatta was delivered a solid mandate by the Kenyan people. The constitutional threshold he crossed to avoid a second round run-off was indeed “paper thin” but he still won outright.
The matter of the ICC is viewed as an inconvenience rather than an impediment by most of his supporters, who regard Mr Kenyatta as an innocent man, confident he will clear his name.
He also now wields tremendous power, influence and personal wealth. The unwritten narrative from the victorious Kenyatta camp is “Game On”.
The international community’s pre-election threats of “consequences” for Mr Kenyatta may well have backfired.
Their position softened in the days leading up to the election but it was no doubt one reason Kenyans supported Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition.
The Kenyan newspapers bear this out in the post-election flurry, with Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a senior lawyer, writing in The Nation that the Kenyatta and Ruto victory “must be seen as a slap in the face of sponsors of ICC cases”.
Mr Kenyatta has promised to “honour international obligations” but warned foreigners to “respect the sovereignty” of his country.
Britain, which committed £16m ($24m; 18m euros) to the Kenyan election, is going to have to find an accommodation with the new leadership.
Not only does it rely on co-operation from Kenya to deliver its long-term security agenda but five of the top firms in Kenya are wholly or partly British-owned.
So look out for compromises and a more conciliatory tone. Lawyers are discussing the possibility of giving evidence at The Hague via video link and British businesses will be keen to keep Mr Kenyatta on side.
Price of peace
Which brings us to the issue of peace. Campaigners for justice have coined the phrase “peace coma”.
They argue that, blinded by the “haze of peace” which mercifully kept violence off the street, Kenyan voices of dissent risk being hushed for fear of being branded peace traitors.
Jebet, a member of Mr Ruto’s Kalenjin community in the Rift Valley, fears that “Kenya has gone back to the Moi era”.
President Daniel Arap Moi ruled with an iron fist until the advent of multi-party politics in the early 1990s.
As a Kalenjin, Jebet says: “We have gone back to an irrational system that says, let’s take care of our own… and looking after our own has not paid off for the majority of Kenyans.”
Jebet, like many other young Kenyans. worries that checks and balances on Kenya’s leadership will be muted for the sake of peace.
A prominent commentator from one of Kenya’s daily newspapers has spoken of a similar fear: “The peace industry has overwhelmed the media, it has basically become uncritical, losing its oversight role.”
These may be premature fears before the president has even been sworn in but they do speak to Kenya’s complex contradictions.
On the one hand, Kenya has embarked on a new kind of politics, ushering in a new constitution. The promise of more democratic rights for more people is considered by the majority to have helped deliver a calm and peaceful election.
But it is the same political elite that has secured the levers of power. Many believe the challenge now is for the new leadership to convince Kenyans that they will use that power for the benefit of all, to continue on that democratic path.
A first step would be to reach out to those who did not vote for them.
Africa’s rocky road to democracy
March 5, 2013 | 0 Comments
By John Mukum Mbaku*
It is now more than 20 years since pro-democracy grassroots organizations led struggles that eventually resulted in the overthrow of long-serving authoritarian regimes in many countries in Africa.
Since the 1990s, there have been significant improvements in the transition to democratic governance in Africa. However, there have also been some major reversals.
Unfortunately, some pre-1990 incumbent leaders (for example, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe) remain in power, despite efforts by the opposition to unseat them.
In addition, Mali, which had made significant progress toward deepening and institutionalizing democracy, suffered major regression, first, by the capture and subsequent occupation of the northern part of the country by a group of separatist rebels, and second, by a military coup that ousted its democratically elected government.
Soldiers also intervened in Guinea-Bissau, suspended government institutions and proceeded to engage in activities that seriously undermined the rule of law. Meanwhile, violent mobilization by ethnic and religious groups continue to negatively impact governance in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Kenya, Uganda, and Madagascar.
The failure of national institutions to grant adequate protection to individual liberties continues to plague countries such as The Gambia, where a U.N report says several prison inmates were executed last year without due process of law, and South Africa where the police last year used deadly force against miners who were exercising their rights to strike.
Despite these setbacks, there have been significant and spectacular achievements in the continent’s struggle to deepen and institutionalize democracy.
Ghana continues to lead the way. First, after the country’s president, John Atta Mills, died in office in July 2012, he was succeeded, as required by the constitution, by the country’s vice president, John Dramani Mahama. Second, in December 2012, the country held competitive, fair and peaceful elections, which were won by Mahama. He was subsequently sworn in as the country’s president.
Finally, Ghana has also shown significant leadership in openness and transparency in government. In 2003, Ghana committed to the extractive industries transparency initiative and has since emerged as a leading example of how governments can minimize corruption in the management of public revenues from the extractive sector.
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Guinea and Malawi have made some gains as they move steadily towards democratic governance.
Ivory Coast, after a violent and extremely bloody civil war, inaugurated a new president, followed by the development of new laws and institutions, especially those dealing with corruption and openness and transparency in government. In addition, the country now has a fully functioning legislative assembly, and the country’s security situation, previously worsened by sectarian strife, has improved significantly.
Sierra Leone, whose institutions were destroyed by a long and brutal civil war, has seen restoration of many national institutions and a return to the rule of law. This is exemplified by the fact that the country’s 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections were free, fair and peaceful and the results were accepted by the people. The winners went on to form a government which continues to rule the country in peace.
Senegal also held elections in 2012, which resulted in the peaceful transfer of power. Since taking office, the new president, Macky Sall, has made significant efforts to improve openness and transparency in government, as well as force public officials to be accountable to the constitution and the people.
Lesotho’s governance system was strengthened by successfully conducting fair and free elections, which resulted in the peaceful transfer of power. Both Malawi and Guinea saw some improvements in their governance systems — in Guinea, opportunities for civic dialogue improved significantly and in Malawi, the death of the sitting president was not followed by bloody chaos; instead, as required by the constitution, the vice president, Joyce Banda, was inaugurated the new president.
The Arab Spring brought significant improvements to governance structures in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The tragic death of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, by self-immolation, brought about a grassroots political movement among Tunisians that effectively overthrew the country’s authoritarian ruler, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
This movement, which was subsequently nicknamed the Arab Spring, spread to Egypt and Libya, resulting in the ouster of long-serving dictatorships in those countries as well. Elections, considered fair and free, have since been held in all three countries and each now has a democratically elected government.
Nevertheless, many groups within these countries, especially those which historically have suffered exploitation and persecution at the hands of their governments (e.g., ethnic and religious minorities, and women) have expressed the fear that although these new regimes came to power through democratic elections, they are likely to reject or abandon democracy once they have had a chance to consolidate their power bases.
Already, such fears appear to be coming true in Egypt, where the new president, Mohamed Morsy, has already engaged in extra-constitutional practices to grab more power for himself.
In addition, the elected parliament was dissolved by the anachronistic supreme constitutional court, and the new constitution was hurriedly drafted and done so through a top-down, elite-driven, non-participatory process.
As a consequence, what had started as a dynamic grassroots-led program to transform Egypt’s laws and institutions and produce a more effective and relevant governance architecture, has degenerated into a struggle by entrenched interests, led by Morsy and his Freedom and Justice party, to further entrench themselves politically and economically.
In Tunisia, the revolution, which since the ouster of Ben Ali had been progressing well, despite opposition from several Islamist groups, suffered significant regression following the brutal and cowardly assassination of Chokri Belaid, a secularist and staunch critic of the ruling Islamist-led government of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.
Meanwhile, the brutal assassination of the U.S. ambassador and the wanton destruction of property in Benghazi, the cradle of the Libyan revolution, is indicative of a still-born transformation, one that had failed to create institutions capable of guaranteeing the rule of law in Libya.
The struggles of grassroots organizations in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are symptomatic of what needs to be done throughout Africa to deepen and institutionalize democracy.
The many individuals that participated in North Africa’s grassroots revolution to replace authoritarianism with democracy are frustrated because their revolutions did not achieve their critical goals — reconstruction and reconstitution of anachronistic and dysfunctional state systems inherited from the ancien régimes to provide legal and judicial systems that guarantee the just rule of law.
That is, laws and institutions that protect individuals’ rights, including protecting all citizens from violence directed at them either by state or non-state actors, and enhance people’s ability to engage in productive activities to create the wealth that they need to fight poverty and improve their living conditions.
Such laws are consistent with the provisions of the universal declaration of human rights and other international human rights instruments. These revolutions, as has been the case in other African countries, were hijacked by entrenched opportunists, whose main interest is in preserving the status quo, so that they can continue to use these anachronistic state structures to enrich themselves at the expense of their fellow citizens.
In order to advance the transition to democratic governance in Africa, as well as minimize the chances of regression, each African country must engage all its relevant stakeholder groups in state reconstruction through democratic (i.e., bottom-up, participatory, inclusive and people-driven) constitution making to produce institutional arrangements that adequately constrain civil servants and political elites, enhance the ability of each country’s diverse population groups to coexist peacefully, and create economic and political environments that maximize entrepreneurial activities and the creation of wealth.
*Source CNN .John Mukum Mbaku is presidential distinguished professor of economics and Willard L. Eccles professor of economics & John S. Hinckley research fellow at Weber State University. He is also a nonresident senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., and an attorney and counselor at law, State of Utah.
Africa investment boom sees beyond conflict-driven headlines
February 26, 2013 | 0 Comments
* Africa equity funds expand nearly fivefold in last 6 years
* Investors include local pension and sovereign wealth funds
* Nigeria banking stocks among top picks
* High returns, low correlations attract funds
By Carolyn Cohn*
Turmoil in Tunisia? Conflict in Mali? Fraught elections in Kenya? Investment in Africa is thriving regardless.
African investment funds have grown nearly five times in value in the past six years and are attracting new forms of capital, from local pension money to sovereign wealth funds.
Conflicts are still making the news and corruption remains a concern. Elections in Kenya next month and a probable vote in Zimbabwe in July are also stoking unease.
But investors have worked out that economies and markets vary widely in this large continent, and that businesses can carry on through difficult political times.
They are also looking beyond the region’s natural resources.
Favoured investment plays now include banking stocks, particularly in Nigeria, with demand seen for financial services from a growing middle class. Telecoms, pharmaceuticals and breweries are also in demand, while mining stocks remain attractive, though these are often listed outside Africa.
Investors have become more knowledgeable about Africa, and focus more on how, rather than whether, they will commit funds.
“When I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I noticed that people no longer ask so many questions about Africa but more about us,” said Sven Richter, head of frontier markets at Renaissance Asset Managers. “They have come to a realisation that Africa is not one country – if you heard there was a problem in Slovenia, would you worry about investments in France?”
Equity funds that badge themselves Africa or African held assets of less than $1 billion in 2006, according to Lipper data. That rose to over $3 billion by the end of 2011, and to nearly $5 billion by the end of last year.
That is small compared with over $38 billion in funds labelled Latin American at the end of 2012 but with a much stronger growth — a near five-fold increase in six years for Africa funds, versus less than 40 percent growth for Latin American ones.
African equity funds include major names like Templeton and Morgan Stanley as well as Africa specialists such as Investec and Renaissance.
The sum covers funds bunching north Africa and the Middle East or focused mainly on north or south, but excludes those invested mainly in better developed South Africa and the Africa component of many frontier funds.
The economies of Africa, the world’s poorest continent, are among the fastest-growing, though it’s from a low base, at only a few percent of the world’s GDP.
The change is driven by youthful populations coupled with improving mortality rates and an expanding middle class, as well as by exports to richer economies.
Analysts point to economic reforms in many countries, even when this does not go hand in hand with democratic reform.
“Countries are starting to enter into their second series of free and fair elections, but to paint all of Africa as a Switzerland is pushing it,” said Gus Macfarlane, director of political risk consultancy Maplecroft, who added that corruption has not lessened significantly in recent years.
Nevertheless, economic reforms have allowed local pension funds to set up, while intra-regional trade has also risen.
Sovereign wealth funds, particularly from the Middle East, are increasingly enamoured of the high returns in the riskier markets of Africa, compared with the developed world.
African stocks can be volatile, dropping 30 percent in 2011. But they have outperformed broader frontier and emerging market indices since, climbing 38 percent in 2012 and over 9 percent so far in 2013.
Some of the best-performing stocks in the past year have been Nigerian banks like Guaranty Trust and Zenith , as investors reckon financial services will catch up with ballooning demand for mobile phones and consumer brands.
Big Pharma is also attracted by opportunities to treat chronic diseases afflicting the new middle classes, rather than just fire-fighting infection.
Private equity deals in Africa have attracted mainstream houses like Carlyle, which last year set up offices in Johannesburg and Lagos, and invested in a cashew nut trader in Tanzania.
Standard Chartered invested in Zimbabwe last year and said this month it was looking for more deals there, while local bond markets across the continent are also in the radar, alongside several billion dollars of hard currency bonds.
African markets have avoided much of the lock-step trading that has characterised bigger markets during the global crises of the past few years, making them a useful diversification play.
They are neither closely correlated to the larger emerging markets like those of the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China, nor even to one another.
Kenyan stocks and Egyptian stocks have a 200-day correlation of only 0.1, for instance, where a reading of 1 would signal perfect correlation.
There have been flashpoints across the continent over the past few years, starting with the Arab Spring regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt two years ago.
But that failed to deter veteran emerging market investor Mark Mobius, who was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at a time of protests late last year and kept Egypt holdings in his $1 billion frontier fund, while local stock Orascom Construction has attracted the attention of Bill Gates.
In Mali, where French troops are among those trying to crush rebels in the north, investors point to the distances in this vast country, insulating southern-based mining companies.
Senegalese telecoms company Sonatel, which has 64 percent of the market share in Mali, beat 2012 profit forecasts.
But investors may grow more cautious ahead of the Kenyan elections, after a vote in 2007 set off unexpected post-election violence. And in Zimbabwe, a March 16 referendum on a proposed new constitution should pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections in July in a country where violence overshadowed disputed polls in 2008.
Low volumes also make getting in and out of trades difficult and expensive, while governments may not always pay up – Ivory Coast restructured debt in 2010, only to default on it less than a year later, following civil war.
The continent is so complex that investors also complain the level of analyst research on various markets is not always sufficient, favouring specialist emerging market investors who are able to carry out their own on-the-ground checks.
Local Africa-watchers say investors may not take into account the fact that new-found wealth is not trickling across the populations – in Nigeria, the gap between rich and poor is rising, even though the country is expected to grow nearly 7 percent this year.
Investors may ignore these issues at their peril, as social unrest can hinder investment.
It’s a concern for Alquity Investment Management, which runs an Africa equity fund on a sustainable model, taking into account environmental, social and governance factors. Failing to take account of those risks can destroy long-term shareholder value, Alquity says.
David Mcilroy, chief investment officer of Alquity, says Africa investors also have to take a longer term view and not be afraid to ride out short-term turbulence.
“You have to roll with the punches,” he said. “We are long-term investors, we are not traders.”