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Shifting Battlefronts In Africa
November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

By  Scott Morgan

The current struggle against the Islamic State (IS) is shifting fronts.  No longer will the major campaign take place against the former concentration of power in Syria and Iraq but it will shift to the Sahel.

During a Ministerial Level meeting that took place at the State Department on November 14th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced to his counterparts that change in strategy would in fact be taking place soon. What would this actually look like is a question that is certain to be bandied around by analysts across the CT spectrum.

If we are to assess what the struggle in the Sahel will look like we should look at the operations in Iraq and Syria for some guidance. We saw a group that took advantage of a vacuum that had a space that needed to be occupied. In the Middle East the voids were provided by a long standing civil war in Syria and poor governance originating from Baghdad. These actions created the situation where IS were able to find willing recruits to join their crusades.

Switching focus to the Sahel we do see several areas where a very similar scenario has been unfolding. One area of concern we should have is this area has had this issue that actually predates the rise of the IS. Weak governments which have porous borders with their neighbors actually provides a context where cross border operations can be conducted with ease by a non-state actor. This is a key fact when the actors are native to the region as well. So should it really be a surprise to learn that some of the routes being used by the terrorists date back to the days of the Mali and Songhai empires?

Another point that is often overlooked is the rise of Al-Aqaeda in the Maghreb. The group rose to prominence after the controversial 1992 elections in Algeria. Back then it was better known as the GPSC (Salfaist Group for Preaching and Combat). It later played a prominent role in the ouster and demise of Qadaffi in Libya and in the collapse of  the central Government in Mali before the French led intervention known as Operation Barkhane.

Speaking of Libya one has to consider that the offensive by General Haftar and his international partners have to be considered as a factor in the rise in the spread of Jihadist acts in the region. His drive southward at first then west and finally north towards Tripoli has forced some fighters to seek a new place for sanctuary.

Currently where do we stand regarding the Sahel? Despite the French led intervention and a United Nations Peacekeeping Force which has allowed for both a tentative peace deal and several elections in Mail the situation is still in flux. There are still attacks in the Central part of Mali that have the potential to unravel the work that has been accomplished.

Another country that currently fits the profile of a potential front is Burkina Faso. It was earlier in the year when the late IS leader Al-Baghdadi called upon attacks on French and Crusader interests in the region. After the release of his statement for a month a Catholic Church in the northern part of the country was destroyed per week. Mosques have also been targeted as well as well as the extractive Gold Industry.

Niger which has seen its share of attacks by Boko Haram over the years is now the home base to a US facility that will be flying UAVs. With the presence of US Special Forces in Mali as well indicate that the US is concerned with events in the region and will do what it can to support France.

This action is being taken now so that the West doesn’t wake up one day and realize that the Jihadists have taken over parts of Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast and Benin. These Governments are already warning that IS is already in their countries.

*The Author is President Red Eagle Enterprises, a firm with the dual Mission of Supporting African Business Development, and also Providing Analysis of African Intelligence, and assistance in relations with the United States Government .He sits on the Round tables for the Advocacy Network for Africa, and the International Religious Freedom Caucus in Washington ,DC.

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Demonizing Oil and Gas companies is not a constructive way forward on energy transition. Africa will push for “the Right to Drill”
November 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk *

African nations must and will take advantage of their hydrocarbon resources for economic development. Environmental sustainability is a part of it, not an impediment.

Johannesburg, 14 November 2019: In an article written for the Guardian newspaper this week, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa argued for an Apartheid-style boycott on coal, oil and gas companies as a solution to fight climate change and help ensure global environmental sustainability goals. “We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters,” the subtitle of the piece reads.

The sentiment expressed by Mr. Tutu is laudable and speaks to many across the world that have become rightfully concerned by the effects of climate change on our environment.

However, it is also a misguided sentiment. Oil and gas companies are not autocratic regimes focused on oppressing the people and steal their resources. They are businesses, which yes, are focused on profit, but they are also focused on the sustainability of the business itself. In practical terms, it means that these companies adapt to the needs of the economies they are integrated in. Boycotting oil and gas companies will not have an impact on carbon emissions, but it might raise the price of fuel in the long run. That is not the goal intended. 

While there is demand for hydrocarbons, there will be production. The shift in the dynamic of supply and demand in recent years can already be spotted in the way oil and gas companies have restructured. More and more, these companies are diversifying their portfolios to include renewable energy assets and many of them are at the forefront of research and development of new technologies to help exploit renewable resources. I cover this extensively in my recent book, Billions at Play. Oil and gas companies are shifting into becoming “energy companies”, they are even rebranding, with Equinor (former Statoil) being the most evident example, to showcase that change in corporate paradigm. And in all honesty, who else would be better prepared, better funded and better placed to drive the energy transition that we all seek. Demonizing energy companies is not a constructive way forward, and ignoring the structural role that carbon-based fuels have in today’s society distorts the public debate. Bringing energy companies, governments and civil society groups together to find functional solutions will achieve much more.

This is especially the case in Africa. While the concerted effort amongst all of the world’s nations is fundamental to curb the effects of climate change, it is paramount to have a clear understanding of what efforts will be most decisive, and which regions of the world are in a better position and have the biggest responsibility to tackle these issues.

To be sure, Europe, North America and China, by and large responsible for much of the CO2 emissions that are behind the changes in our climate, have to live up to that responsibility and move towards more sustainable practices.

We can not expect African nations, which put together have polluted 7 times less than China, 13 times less than the United States, and 18 times less than Europe since the beginning of the industrial revolution, according to Carbon brief, to undermine their best opportunities for economic development by simply aligning with the Western view of how to tackle CO2 emissions.

Gabriel Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, summed it up quite decisively to the press last week during the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town. “Under no circumstances are we going to be apologising,” he said, “anybody out of the continent saying we should not develop those

[oil and gas]

fields, that is criminal. It is very unfair.”

Minister Lima’s blunt words are an answer to a number of misconstrued views about the African continent, and about the oil and gas industry it is striving to develop. While a few nations across the continent have been producing hydrocarbons for decades, these resources have mostly been exported to fuel industrial development in Europe, the US and Asia. The reasons for this are varied and have as much to do with the European colonial legacy as with the lack of existing financial resources and expertise to develop local economies over the last century.

That, however, is coming to a change. As I have argued and championed for years, African nations are finally starting to make use of these resources to develop their own national economies. We must remember that nearly half of all Africans still don’t have access to electricity and that nearly every company in the continent struggles with the lack of power reliability, which raises operational costs, reduces productivity and hurts their ability to compete in international markets. African leaders are now painfully aware of the damage an unreliable energy network causes on national economies and are moving to change that.

Today, natural gas is by far the most economically sustainable way of producing power in enough quantities to fuel economic development. Petrochemical plants represent a massive economic opportunity to produce byproducts from oil and gas with a higher value within the supply chain, an opportunity to create jobs, develop infrastructure and produce wealth. Refineries too have a dramatically positive impact in curbing the need for fuel imports. All of these are fundamental pieces of the puzzle that will foster Africa’s economic growth and promote the betterment of the lives of its people. I have been saying this for a long time and have helped with that development through the African Energy Chamber, supporting cooperation amongst African nations to promote intra-African trade on energy resources and build synergies, which is the way forward.

The African Development Bank has estimated that between USD$130 and USD$170 billion a year in the run up to 2025 would be needed to close the infrastructure gap across the continent. How are African nations to fund these fundamental developments if they give up on exploring their natural resources? How can the Western world, or anyone for that matter, suggest, or demand, that African nations leave these resources underground when it was these same resources that powered economic development everywhere else?

After decades of colonial occupation and subsequent political and military in-fighting, many African regions have now reached the level of stability that will allow them to build working functioning economies. The fuel for that will be these countries’ natural resources, be it oil, gas, coal or diamonds. Boycotting the companies that can help these countries develop these resources would be paramount to economic suicide.

This is not to say that environmental sustainability and climate change should not be at the top of the list of concerns when debating the African energy sector, but it should inform environmental impact assessment policies and foster best practices in the industry, not put a stop to it.

Yes, renewable energy sources can have a role in contributing to expand electrification in Africa, and solar and wind power have become competitive when compared to carbon-based generation, but that will always depend on the resources available in each region and will always have to be supported by other forms of generation capacity that can overcome the issue of intermittency that follows renewable power generation.

This is already happening. Kenya, for instance, is one of the world’s leading nations in terms of the share of its energy matrix coming from renewables, on its way to reach 100% in the coming years, but it also holds some of the world’s largest geothermal energy reserves, and it will continue to develop its oil reserves because it needs the money to fund economic development.

Africa’s time to grow and develop is finally here, and it will be funded by its natural resources. Misguided moral lessons from the West will do little to change that because the financial resources coming from these activities are crucial and irreplaceable. In a somewhat ironic way, even if Africa wanted to stop using fossil fuels and shifted every power station to renewable sources, it would still be forced to develop its oil and gas fields in order to fund that transition.

There is no point in promoting radical approaches to the energy transition, particularly for Africa. A balanced manageable and well-lead approach of progressive transitioning combining hydrocarbons and renewable energy development alongside strong environmental protection policies in the sector is the option that is not only realistic, but that will allow to combine economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The New York Times quoted Mr. Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Energy Minister, in an article covering the Africa Oil Week. “Energy is the catalyst for growth,” he said, “they even want to tell us to switch off all the coal-generated power stations,” “until you tell them, “you know we can do that, but you’ll breathe fresh air in the darkness”.

Enough said.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group and the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. His experience negotiating oil and gas deals has given him an expert’s grasp of Africa’s energy landscape. He is the author of “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and doing deals.”

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When the Anglophone Crisis meets Elections: advice from a Constitutionalist
November 12, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Barrister Paul Simo, Esq*

Cameroon’s political firmament is at present gripped by two major quandaries: that of resolving the first major crisis bordering on armed conflict to have affected the country in close to 50 years (the Anglophone crisis), and renewing the 5-year electoral mandates of the members of its Lower House of Parliament (the National Assembly), as well as elected Municipal Councilors (who in turn vote local government Mayors). The said mandates have already been extended for one (1) year. Both are indisputably national priorities, and both affect the NW/SW Regions in a particular manner. However, as every manager knows, there is a distinction between what is important, and what is urgent. All important tasks are not urgent, but an urgent task (even if unimportant) left unattended to, may dramatically increase its importance.

In the coming days, we will be releasing a major, longitudinal study of Special Status, Special Regional Autonomy, and Special Administrative Regions in countries around the world, informed by the crisis affecting the Northwest and Southwest Regions. The said 40-page study contains proposals for a Legislative Whitepaper on the Special Status framework for Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. One of the fundamental pre-requisites we observe in Special Status regions around the world, is that for them to be created, and for their attributes to be modified, legislation adopted by the national Parliament is not enough. Due to the fact that they create a unique type of relationship between a region of the country and its central State, Special Status arrangements need to be ratified through a democratic vote by a constituent assembly or by the elected representative body (legislature) of the Regions in question.

Presently, the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon do not have elected Regional Councils (same with the country’s other Regions). Therefore, any crafter of Special Status arrangements for both regions needs to scan keenly for which elected, representative body will stand in their stead, to validate the Special Status law once it is enacted by the National Legislature. It does not take particular constitutional genius to discern that the only democratically-elected alternative in place is to have recourse to a sui generis (specially-constituted) group of elected representatives from both regions, namely their Senators, Members of the Lower House (National Assembly), and Municipal Councilors. The current composition of those representatives from the Northwest and Southwest regions, elected in 2013, hold a popular elected mandate.

If elections were to be held in the Northwest and Southwest regions in February 2020, it must be assumed either that the current group of regional representatives will approve the Special Status content before the election, or that the February 2020 election will produce a democratically representative group of elected officials. And furthermore, that there will prevail a climate of sufficient calm and security in both regions, to allow a meaningful exercise of the most fundamental civic duty. None of the above assumptions sound feasible, let alone likely.

It must also be borne in mind that Special Status or Regional Autonomy arrangements, where undertaken to resolve a political crisis bordering on an armed conflict, must be embedded in a peace agreement which reaches out to, entices, and involves the belligerent armed groups. The August 2005 agreement signed in Helsinki, Finland, and brokered by the renowned Finnish Statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Martti Ahtisaari, which brought to and end the separatist conflict in the Indonesian Island province of Aceh (fought for three decades between 1976 and 2005) is a shining example in this regard.

That peace agreement contained the prospect of regional autonomy, and succeeded to wean off the Free Aceh Movement (an armed insurrection that had received support for armed struggle from as far away as Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya), to renounce its separatist project and aspire for regional autonomy within a Unitary State of Indonesia. That peace agreement continues to hold to this day, 14 years later. The Peace Agreement (2005) was then reflected in a Special Status Law on the Governance of Aceh (2006). Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement went hand in hand, whereas in Cameroon’s context, the Special Status process at national level, and the existing and undeniable early-stage peace process with armed groups are operating in silos, heightening the risk that the latter will later fundamentally revise the former.

To return to the timing of elections in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the most likely prospect, given current incidents, is that elections convened in February 2020 (even assuming a Special Status law has been passed) will meet hostile terrain. It is not the civic, traditional, and political Anglophone elites who met in Yaoundé from 30 September to 4 October (and endorsed the regional Special Status proposal) who are wreaking havoc in the two Regions, nor is it they who will disrupt an election therein. There is therefore the risk that an election held in the two Regions will have extraordinarily low levels of voter participation (anywhere from 1 to 2 % of the registered voters), casting a major doubt on the democratic, electoral legitimacy of the resulting Municipal Councilors and elected Lower House Representatives. To give such an unrepresentative group (since Regional Council elections are not also yet foreseen) the onus of endorsing and granting Regional imprimatur to the Special Status arrangements, is a way of killing this important prospect for peace in the two Regions.

It is therefore perennial that no-one who means well for resolution of the crisis should argue for elections to take place within those Regions without considering the dynamics above. Putting in place unrepresentative electoral “representatives” of both Regions, knowing fully well that those Regions’ representatives need to validate and endorse regional Special Status legislation to give it legitimacy, is culpable.

In order to address the counterargument that the entire country’s elected institutions cannot be left indefinitely in a limbo, the best approach for Cameroon will be to proceed with a split election. Hold the Legislative and Municipal elections in the other eight (8) regions of the country and defer the elections in the NW/SW for another year or so, pending the Special Status Legislation and Peace Agreement. (By the way, if deep insecurity blights parts of the Far North and renders elections materially impossible, they can be deferred, and by-elections conducted when security conditions improve). The practice of conducting by-elections is not anathema to democracies around the world – those are also convened when a local or regional election result is overturned in postelectoral litigation.

The argument that Cameroon is one unique national “constituency” and no citizen should be disenfranchised, falls on its face: Article 9 of Cameroon’s Constitution envisages both a State of emergency and a State of war, which can adequately, legally justify deferring elections. And it is questionable what “enfranchisement” of their residents occurs when those Regions have to hold “elections” amidst violence, impracticability of road transport, and massive internal displacement of their citizens across the country.

* The author specializes in the areas of constitutional, public, and international law. For 20 years (1999 to 2018) he worked on countries undergoing peace-processes and political transitions in East, Central, and West Africa. Between 2007 and 2018, he served the United Nations at Headquarters, and in multi-dimensional peace operations in Africa. He advised senior UN diplomats working on the following countries’ peace/reconstruction processes: Uganda (LRA conflict), DR Congo (regional conflagration in the 2000s), Burundi (2000s peace process), Sierra Leone and Liberia (Mano River region conflicts in the early 2000s), and the Central African Republic (escalation of politico-religious violence since 2013). He was Law valedictorian of the first graduating cohort of the University of Buea, Cameroon (LL.B. 1996) and holds a graduate law degree, summa cum laude, from the Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is an Attorney at the Bar of New York (2001) and a Barrister in Cameroon (2010). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author. He is based in Douala and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Email: p_n_simo@yahoo.com.

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Please Hold Your Horses…A word of caution about the dismissal of the African Union permanent representative to the United States of America.
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ed. DUCHE

Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao

The African diaspora in the United States of America and around the world is riled up in controversy following the dismissal of the African Union Head of Mission to U.S.,  Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao by the African Union Commission Chairman  Moussa Farki Mahamat.

A petition on the popular site ww.change.org  initiated by Professor Apollos Okwuchi Nwauwa
Secretary of the African Diaspora Congress to “Reinstate African Union Ambassador Chihombori-Quao” on Sunday, October 20, 2019 has garnered approximatively 60,000 signatures in counting. The petition reads as follow:

“…Dr. Arikana has been outspoken about neo-colonial maneuverings and exploitation that still exist today. Her dissemination of the truth has garnered her attention and support around the world… However, not everyone is embracing her bold but honest discourses for effecting change for the betterment of Africa.  On October 7th, 2019, Ambassador Quao was relieved of her position as the “Permanent Ambassador” in a unilateral decision made by the African Union Commission Chairman without any hearing or explanation, and yet presented as representing the opinions of all 55 countries. The questions are: why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of states and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism? Leadership based on self-interest and preservation that does not benefit the people they serve is no longer acceptable…[1]

An cnn.com article, authored by Bukola Adebayo, dated October 16th  2019 and titled “AU faces backlash after terminating ambassador’s appointment[2], the authorstated that  on October 7th, 2019, A.U. Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat relieved the Ambassador from her position in line with the commission’s rules, and suggested that the dismissal was due to her “strong views on France’s occupation and hold over its former African colonies, which she shared publicly[3]”. The assertion is that the firing occurred under direct pression from the French Government. Apparently this is also Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao  narrative and argument in pushing back on her dismissal and in making a case directly to the diaspora in support of her reinstatement as  the continental organization permanent representative to the United States of America.

Believing that Ambassador Dr. Arikanna Chihombori-Quao was fired over her criticism of the French and their colonial practices in Africa, several preeminent members in the African American community, the Diaspora and International leaders,  appalled by the A.U. action, are adamantly criticizing the leadership of the African Union and calling in to question the independence of African countries vis-á-vis their former colonial power. The situation is rapidly degrading and becoming another public opinion nightmare for the A.U. commission and its leadership. In the U.S. and especially in Washington DC, Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao appears to be  another “victim”  of a stand against colonialism.  Many are expressing outrage on her behalf and throwing their support  behind her  in pressuring  the A.U Commissioner to  give her  the job back.

The office of AU Chair Faki issued a statement saying the change was customary diplomatic practice.Photo credit Twitter

Looking at the way the situation is unfolding, the mastery  in display, the activism deployed and the narrative peddled by the Ambassador’s supporters, It is of a paramount importance to exercise caution in embracing the situation as painted, and restraint from jumping to conclusions.   Indeed, a closer look reveals that   there may be a lot more to the story than what we have so far read on social media and in news stories.

Curiously, for all the communication that has been selectively leaked both from the AU to Ambassador Chihombori and from her to the AU, there is no mention of the existence of a damning audit report about the Ambassador’s tenure. Is this just an oversight, or a deliberate attempt to peddle a narrative that favors one party as the victim and hero, while labeling the other as the villain? Indeed, on August, 22nd  2019, an investigation into Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao governance of the A.U., mission in Washington DC for the period of September 2016 to February 2019 was submitted to the chairperson of the Commission.

The subject of the investigation report is “Alleged violation of Procurement Procedures, Abuse of Authority/Misuse of Office and Conflict of interest[4]  and the transmittal letter reads in its entirety as follows: 

“The investigation is based on the allegation by a whistleblower that the Head of Mission (HOM) Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao has been violating AU procurement rules by single sourcing contracts, bid splitting to circumvent procurement procedures, receiving three quotation from the same bidder to create the semblance of legality and also failure to submit bids above the threshold of $50,000 to the headquarter Tender Board for approval. It is also alleged that Ambassador Quao misapplied funds earmarked for other activities to Miss AU Pageant, the AU Diaspora retreat and the African Diaspora Youth League summit without approval from the AUC Chairperson…” the report continues, “…Furthermore, Ambassador Quao is alleged to abuse authority/misused of office and also involved in conflict of interest issues with the African Union-African Diaspora Health Initiative (AU-ADHI) is registered as her private organization and the “Wakanda One” project. The AU-ADHI is registered under her name as a private citizen and currently being funded by AU as political sub division of the African Union approved initiative established for the purpose of galvanizing the African Diaspora to participate in the development of Africa as stated in an Agreement signed by her with a Washington DC based Attorney”.

The investigation report was very damning to Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao. It described in detail a stream of procurement violations, misuse of public funding as well as instance of conflict of interests in details and concluded by ascertaining the veracity of the whistleblower allegations and recommended sanctions against the Ambassador.

For example the audit reported that  “$181,204  Miss AU pageant cost was a misapplied funds earmarked to other activities…”   “Ambassador Dr Quao cancelled the MOU with Newdesk Media and single source the contract for the production of the Magazine -invest in Africa- to AMIP family business at the cost of $60,000 USD[5]”, “Dr.Quao single-sourced the production of the 2017 Calendars to 5 Star Eventz  for $9,583 meanwhile the 2019 Calendars were printed for $3,600 following a Request for Quotation initiated by the Finance Officer...” Moreover, the Ambassador has “registered associations in her own name that are being funded using AU resources” thereby creating a blatant conflict of interest. Two companies “Homestrings and Global Political Solutions were single-sourced and awarded a contract without the knowledge of the Finance and Administrative Officer…”

As one reads the investigation report, it becomes clear that there is a lot more to the history about why the Ambassador was fired. It is now obvious that one should exercise caution, wonder, ponder, and hold the horse, before jumping too quickly into the bandwagon of an emotionally driven narrative on the news. The anti-colonialist narrative for being the reason for the Ambassador’s dismissal has “muddied” the water.  The conclusion   that the Ambassador was relieved of her duty due to her stand and denunciation of the French colonial engagement in Africa is questionable in light of the damning audit report.

 It is well known that French colonial engagement is an issue, many people have spoken and continue to speak against it both in Africa and in the diaspora. Leaders like President Paul Kagame who have lashed out at the French are some of the most admired, and influential people in Africa and beyond. While we may not completely rule out that veracity of the allegation  from Arikana’s partisans on the French influence in forcing her out, we must put everything in context, evaluate all the factors and circumstances before jumping into conclusions .

Ambassador Chihombori Arikana with AU Chair Moussa Faki, Dean of Elliot School of International Affairs Reuben Brigety and former Tanzanian Ambassador to the USA Liberata Mulamula . The tenure of Ambassador saw more vibrancy on African issues in Washington. Photo Credit Elliot School

This opinion piece is essentially a cautionary advice to not let the situation spin out of control and in the process cast a discredit of the AU Commission as well as in damaging the Diaspora judgment. It is understandable and counter intuitive for many not be outraged in light of what appears to be an injustice perpetrated against Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao  especially when she performed admirably  well and above expectation on  her duties in Washington DC.  However we can’t overlook the facts in the Audit report and if history teaches, let’s then remember lesson learned from high profile cases of rush to judgment, public response that followed suit and ultimately  jury conclusion.

As the AU spokesperson Ebba Kalondo said in statement, diplomatic transfers and changes are standard practice. In the USA for instance, it is hard to see an Ambassador spend four years in the same duty post.  While emotions may be charged, it would be good if the diaspora could channel this energy into more useful initiatives. It could be to lobby for projects to Africa, raise funds to support development initiatives, use its clout to build useful networks and more. For all she did and that the AU acknowledges , the Mission to the USA did not start with Ambassador, nor will it end with her. The diaspora should build on her successes and ensure that the momentum she has created is built upon or sustained by her successor for the greater good of Africa. After all, not many in the diaspora knew Ambassador Arikana Chihombori prior to her appointment and not many probably knew she would perform well. I am sure she will be the last person interested in seeing the work she did go up in flames or to see the mission she led destroyed because she was relieved as Ambassador.

For Ambassador Arikana Chihombori, there is still more for her to do out there. It will be good if she can rein in her partisans by letting them understand that, the services we render to mother Africa are beyond any one individual. There are people in the diaspora and specifically in the Washington, DC metro area who have spent a lifetime fighting for African causes without fuse, and without expectations. Some of them actually worked with Ambassador Arikana, just as they worked with her predecessor and will hopefully work with her successor. Just like someone ran and handed the baton to Ambassador Chihombori, she too has done her own running and should pass the baton to another person in peace for the task of moving Africa is like a relay race , where it will take the efforts of many, infact effort from all Africans and its diaspora for sustained progress to be made.


[1] https://www.change.org/p/african-leaders-and-presidents-reinstate-african-union-ambassador-chihombori-quao

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/africa/petition-over-sacking-of-au-ambassador/index.html

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/africa/petition-over-sacking-of-au-ambassador/index.html

[4] AU inter office Memorandum from the Director of Internal Audit to the Chairperson of the Commission

[5] AU inter office Memorandum from the Director of Internal Audit to the Chairperson of the Commission

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How the 1996 Constitution Can Take Care of the NW/SW Exception: A legal Perspective of a ‘third option’.
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

BY: ASHU NYENTY (Ph.D.).*

Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute chaired the dialogue

As delegates to the major national dialogue, especially those from the two regions that triggered the dialogue in the first place, converge on the Conference Centre beginning this Monday, and judging from the tenor of proposals in the consultations engineered by Prime Minister, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, the debate has largely focused on two potentially rancorous and divisive concepts: Unitarism v Federalism. It is on these two concepts that most of the attention is focused, as if to say it is   either one or the other, as a solution to the crisis in the NW and SW regions.

The mistake that may be ineluctable if care is not taking is that delegates get into what I call an ideological blockage and fail to adequately explore an alternative that appears to be at arm’s length, but which seems to have been long forgotten. This is mainly so because of lack of familiarity with the various territorial or regional organization models available to Cameroon.

The purpose of this paper, as my own contribution to the major national dialogue, is therefore, to inform public opinion that these two are not the only alternatives and that they should watch out for the potency of a possible ‘third option’ or model that may send everybody home happy- the NW and SW, the other eight regions and of course the government.   The issues discussed here would be more relevant to the commission on decentralization and local development, though they may necessarily have ramifications on the work of other commissions such as education and justice system. The reason is that this is the most politically sensitive area of the discussions that may have legal repercussions after the dialogue.  

                      What is the current status of the issues at stake?

Writing on the issues at stake in the national dialogue, Barrister Paul Simo, who has over 20 years’ experience working on countries undergoing peace-processes and political transitions across the world, opined that the discussion has often been tailored in terms of three options, to wit, “separatism, federalism and unitarism”.

In this analysis, I deliberately leave out separatism, because in the context of a national dialogue, that option is dead on arrival. I will proceed to discuss the other two.    Federalism in the present state of discussions has two variables. First, an “arrangement similar to the 1961-1972 federation, or in another, to a new multiple federated-state configuration”. The inconvenience of this is that if either of the two configurations is adopted it would lead to a sudden and drastic transformation of the administrative configuration of the state that may force the other eight regions into an arrangement they never asked for or for which their base did not mobilize for; many in the other regions do not yet understand the contours and ramifications of a federation. If there could be an agreement on that fine, but in my view, still coming out of a three-year gruesome war, be sure this option will be resisted with vigour.

Unitarism on the other hand is considered, even by many in the other regions as largely responsible for the despicable state of affairs in the North West and South West regions. Many in the other regions also feel the pinch of Unitarism even though they have not been as vocal as their counterparts’ from the two regions. It is clear that Unitarism as it is currently perceived and practiced may not satisfy or meet “the high aspirations of the people of the NW and SW” and also “of all the other components of our nation”, who clearly want to have a greater say in the management of their local affairs.  If these two concepts, in the current state of affairs may be resisted or rejected, what then is the way out?

                                     What is the ‘third option”?  

The crux of the matter  is that because of their peculiarities( to be discussed shortly) the NW and SW regions desire an arrangement that would provide them with a greater hand in what goes on in their respective regions. That is what leads us to what I have termed the third option (its political and administrative advantages will also be elucidated shortly). In discussions of this nature and based on our immediate past history, I think it would be counter-productive to appear intransigent or take a zero-sum posture of this or nothing. It seems to me that it is advisable to be flexible, weigh the different options and then give and take. That is the very essence of a dialogue.

 In my view, the third option is found in the current Constitution of Cameroon. Since the 1996 Constitution was adopted, one provision that has often been ignored and indeed even overlooked, since the search for solutions to the crisis started, is the last Section of Part X devoted to Regional and Local Authorities.  That Section 62(2) stipulates that:

“Without prejudice to the provisions of this Part, the law may take into consideration the specificities of certain Regions with regard to their organization and functioning”.

The underlying notion in that section is what is known in modern constitutional engineering as “territorial asymmetry”, which is consonant in countries that have an entrenched minority factor as is the case of the NW and SW regions.   According to Barrister Simo,   this is an arrangement “in which some regions…would be granted certain attributes and competences different from those granted to other regions”, because the latter regions do not have the same specificities.  This model has been practiced with success in countries such as India and even China over Hong Kong, in what is known as the one country two systems paradigm. Even though not everybody in Cameroon espouses this variable geometry in the treatment of regions, the beauty of this asymmetric treatment is that it also works well in a unitary form of state. The example of China and its asymmetric treatment of Hong Kong, and which is a much more centralized system than Cameroon is necessary to point to again. This means that the present Decentralized Unitary system could be maintained, while at the same time the NW and SW find satisfaction in the management of their local affairs. Besides, given that the present Constitution of Cameroon allows for the continuous application of the Common Law, it is recognition of the exceptions that constitute the NW and SW regions. Apart from the examples already given, two of Cameroon’s colonial masters, whose double heritage the Cameroon of today enjoys, that is, Britain and France are  plausible other examples. In   the case of the United Kingdom, there is a separate status each for Wales, Scotland and even Northern Ireland within the same unitary state. In France, the Corse has a special status. It must be pointed out that it were calls for greater autonomy and threats of breakaway that among other factors pushed the French authorities to give a separate administrative status to that region.

Dr Ashu Nyenty

Furthermore, in the couching of the provisions of Section 62(2), it would appear the drafters were foresighted enough to preempt the possibility of considering variations between the different regions in the extent of the powers they should have, depending on their ability and history. My understanding of that section is that the drafters of the Constitution of Cameroon had already envisaged a situation where some regions could be allowed to sail in different boats within a unitary state framework, based on their linguistic, historical, cultural or even demographic peculiarity. The case of the two regions is a very good example, where these conditions of peculiarity are amply fulfilled.  

                                How are the NW and SW peculiar?

To amply justify the need for a special status each for the North West and South West, it would be necessary, in my view, to demonstrate the peculiarity of these two regions. It is clear to everybody of good faith in Cameroon that there are fundamental differences between the NW and the SW on the one hand, and the other eight regions on the other. However, some detail analysis of a few examples would be necessary to make the point. The fact that francophone parents in their numbers send their children to English speaking schools is an eloquent testimony to the fact that there are differences in the educational systems between the two components. It is not simply the language of instruction, the culture of teaching and learning is also fundamentally different.

In addition, in the legal domain, the common law is practiced in the English speaking regions while the civil law holds sway in the other regions. Though some attempt has been made at harmonizing some aspects of the two, they still remain for all intent and purposes walls apart. The Constitution of Cameroon clearly recognizes this legal disparity. It is instructive that it is the perceived adulteration of the educational and legal systems that is the immediate cause of the current crisis.

Again, the colonial past of the two components is different. While the British practiced indirect rule and the Native authority which gave the people much leverage in the management of local affairs, the French system of assimilation, paternalism and the Jacobin-style strong state authority did not afford much of that. So in matters of governance the colonial experiences of the two components differed and this heritage which has been transferred to younger generation has now met zones of friction and conflict.

Even though there are many other examples, these few, in my view sufficiently make the case for the NW/SW exception, within the bigger Cameroonian picture.  

          What should be the content of the special status arrangement?

Since the current constitution already mentions that possibility, it sounds reasonable that the main worry now for the delegates, if this third option were to be adopted, is  to present  a basket of what should go into the special status arrangement. What powers do the two regions want to have for themselves exclusive from the central state authorities? Before I proceed to discuss what this basket could contain, it is germane to point out that the special status arrangement could be applied exclusively to the two regions concerned as a matter of priority. However, in order to allay the fears of geometric treatment of regions, which I mentioned, earlier, these powers could also be extended, of course   in relative degrees to the other regions if they find no objection for the time being.

Having said that emphasis should at this juncture be focused on the package deal or what I will call the content of the basket.  That is what I think the commission on decentralization and local development should be able to do. This is because as I said earlier this is the most political of all the eight commissions. The other issues to be canvassed by the other commissions could only come to add up to that.  The basket would certainly be for the delegates to fill but based on my own experience in the understanding of the conflict, the package deal may include but not limited to the management of the education system, the protection of the common law legal system, the proportion of the use of the two official languages in the regions. That basket will include the powers that the regions want to control and the powers of the local councils as well. The central government should be clear on what it intends to irreversibly relinquish to both the regions and the councils. 

In addition to the merit of this model mentioned already, this model is neither to the right nor to the left of the debate spectrum. It is at the Centre. It accommodates the desires of those who are opposed to a change of the form of state and also satisfies those who seek greater autonomy. There is no doubt about it; we have already seen that special status arrangements work perfectly well in a unitary state arrangement. In that way everybody is satisfied and consensus is easy to reach on both sides.

Some of these changes if adopted would obviously necessitate legislative, administrative, policy or even constitutional reform. If the commissions consensually agree on what  to do then they can easily propose the kind of reform that may suit their agenda so as to protect what they may have proposed.

 I submit that the tenor of section 62 discussed above requiring the law to “take into consideration the specificities of certain Regions” is weak.  I would rather propose that based on comparative constitutional law, and even Cameroonian history, such fundamental aspects are better guaranteed in the highest legal norm in the hierarchy. In this case it is the Constitution. If that were the case a constitutional revision could be sought to the extent that those guarantees are entrenched.

                       Is a constitutional amendment possible? 

In the run up to the convening of the dialogue and even after the fundamental question on many lips was whether proposals and or conclusions arrived at may be translated into constitutional reform. To this question and analyzing the tenor of President Paul Biya’s 10 September speech, convening the dialogue, some legal experts have argued that such reform was “neither mandatorily required of, nor specifically excluded from the purview of the Dialogue process”.

But that possibility comes to life when you read other portions of the speech together with legal and constitutional provisions in force. On page 14 of the English language version of the speech, he announced his decision to convene a national dialogue “in line with our Constitution”, to “enable us to seek ways and means of meeting the high aspirations of the   people of the North West and South West Regions”. My understanding is that if the high aspirations of the people in those two regions are to take charge of those affairs as we have discussed above, and possibly other arrangements agreed to in other commissions,  it means that based on what the President said we have to go into the Constitution to seek to satisfy them. Either the Constitution has the answer directly or it points at the direction we must take.

If the Constitution does not have a direct response then a constitutional revision may be necessary to accommodate the issues at stake. And if a proposal is made in this regard, it seems to me that it does not overstep the confines of the Constitution. Provided the revision is pursued in a procedure that is in line with the Constitution of Cameroon, which the President swore to uphold.

On this score, it should be noted that the ‘Natonal Dialogue’ if it is working within the Constitution, does not have the locus standi or power   to deliver “binding resolutions” or seek Constitutional amendments. It may only propose. Based on the President’s speech, which for now is the guiding instrument on the purview of the Dialogue’s powers, it has the power to propose whatever it wants to propose, if these can address the concerns and aspirations of the people in those two regions.  But it is not within its powers to insist, to push amendment to Parliament, otherwise it would be acting ultra vires and out of tune with the fundamental law of the land.

People gather at the Congress Palace during the opening session of the National Dialogue called by President Paul Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sept. 30, 2019. Photo Credit VOA

Who has the power to seek a constitutional amendment in Cameroon? According to section 63(1), “Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed either by the President of the Republic or by Parliament. These are the only two authorities that are constitutionally empowered to seek an amendment of the Constitution. This may of course be through a government bill from the President of the Republic to Parliament or a Private Members bill in Parliament. However, The President of the Republic may also decide to bypass Parliament and directly “submit any bill to amend the Constitution to a referendum; in which case the amendment shall be adopted by a simple majority of the votes cast” and that will be constitutionally correct. .

 While a constitutional amendment is not illegal,   there are some amendments that will be inadmissible.

According to section 64 “No procedure for the amendment of the Constitution affecting the republican form, unity and territorial integrity of the State and the democratic principles which govern the Republic shall be accepted”. This means in clear terms that any amendment that seeks to change the state from a Republic to a monarchy, transfer part of our territory to another state or institute a one-party state shall not be accepted.

In fine, given the positions held by the different protagonists in the national dialogue and leveraging on my understanding that more consensual conclusions and recommendations may be viewed in a better light, I submit unequivocally, that a third option as I have discussed should be given a thought and explored, if all the parties must take back something to their bases.  

*The author of this article is a Doctor in Law and Political Scientist. (The content are his personal views) .The article was previously published in the Median Newspaper on 30 September before the National Dialogue started in Cameroon

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Anti-corruption war: A case for whistleblower law in Nigeria
October 5, 2019 | 0 Comments
The corruption fight promised by Buhari has not yielded desired results

By Godwin Onyeacholem

At every given opportunity, President Muhammadu Buhari not only proudly re-affirms his administration’s commitment to mount a vigorous fight against corruption, he also as best as he can often ticks off some of the initiatives laid out for that purpose and the achievements so far. Here is the reason: waging war against corruption was one in the triumvirate of key promises he made to the electorate in the run-up to the 2015 election.

In fact, nothing else could be said to have fetched him the presidency other than the general belief that he would be ruthless in tackling corruption, and also a perception of him as a steadfast symbol of integrity.

Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary on October 1 was yet one of such familiar opportunities where Buhari once again used his speech to gloat about how the war against corruption under him has been living up to its billing. In that speech he ran through a couple of his administration’s anti-corruption strategies and, as he had done in the past, never failed to mention the whistleblower policy which in many respects remains the flagship of his anti-corruption design.

Recounting the achievements, Buhari said those initiatives had “saved billions of naira over the last four years, and deterred the rampant theft and mismanagement of public funds that have plagued our public service.” That’s not entirely true. Although stealing may not be “rampant,” a somewhat disturbing degree of subtle stealing of public funds, combined with barefaced impunity, is still going on.

He also said, “This administration has fought corruption by investigating and prosecuting those accused of embezzlement and the misuse of public resources.” That is also not completely true. At least there are two personalities under the presidency who were accused of corrupt practices but are still enjoying the protection of Buhari, if nothing else. One is his own chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, whose was never investigated much less prosecuted.

Then there is Dr. Marilyn Amobi, the MD/CEO of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc. Both Abba Kyari and Amobi cavalierly spurned repeated invitations from the popular Brekete radio to state their side of the story. Although Amobi was investigated and indicted by ICPC, and the report of the investigation submitted to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in March, up till the time of writing this piece, she has not been suspended, much less prosecuted.

All of this you expect not to witness in a government with Buhari as the head, given the subconscious awe and no-nonsense aura around his reputation prior to 2015. In essence, for the war against corruption to be convincing, Buhari needs to do more than self-laudatory speeches and come down much harder on the perpetrators of corruption in both the public and private sector. And he must do this with as much evenhandedness as can be summoned.

A significant chunk of the billions of naira which he said had been saved since the inception of his administration are most likely looted funds recovered courtesy of the whistleblowing initiative which was introduced just about one and a half years after the government was inaugurated. But this highly commendable initiative is now in grave danger of extinction as nothing is being done by this government to protect those patriots, yes patriots for that is what they truly are, who continuously risk their lives to blow the whistle.

In its operations, the whistleblowing policy is only currently restricted to corrupt practices and other variants of wrongdoings in the public sector. Since it came on stream, huge sums of looted public funds in various denominations as well as property have been recovered through the efforts of whistleblowers, a majority of whom are public servants who are not even induced by the reward attached to successful recoveries.

This administration acknowledges the efficacy of the whistleblowing as a tool for fighting corruption but regrettably closes its eyes to the varying degrees of unwholesome retaliations perpetually meted out by top public officers to courageous subordinates who heed the call to report corruption and wrongdoing. These reprisals range from long-term suspension from work without pay, outright dismissal, denial of salary and other entitlements (annual leave, promotion, etc.), intimidations, threat to life sometimes extending up to family members, undue harassments, physical assault and other kinds of unimaginable inhuman treatment.

Just last week, Murtala Ibrahim, once the deputy head of internal audit at the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) was fired by the bank’s management after about two years of being subjected to constant maltreatment which culminated in his transfer from the headquarters in Abuja to Jalingo, Taraba State. His boss, Teslim Anibaba, was transferred to the Kaduna office from where he resigned last year out of frustration.

Both were punished for uncovering official alterations of figures of a half-year report and for refusing to co-operate in other corrupt transactions initiated by top officials of the bank. The Nigerian government, which said it could not successfully fight graft on its own, and therefore urged citizens to join in the fight, could not save them from the ruinous excesses of the bank’s management. It is important to point out that whistleblowers who were lucky to be reinstated are still going through some form of victimization in their offices. The envisaged whistleblower law can take care of this.

However, whistleblowers like Sambo Abdullahi of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and Joseph Akeju of the Yaba College of Technology, to mention just a few, are still wallowing in the misery imposed by the way they have been treated by the heads of their places of work. The main anti-corruption agencies received their petitions, but the petitioners have yet to see any sign of reprieve from their predicament. Sambo has been denied his salary and other entitlements since December 2017, while Akeju was sacked barely two weeks to his retirement from public service. Their offence was nothing more than reporting corruption and abuse of office in their places of work. Buhari needs to investigate these cases and ensure that these whistleblowers get justice.

Continuing, he said in his independence anniversary speech, “We are determined to ensure that transparency and good governance are institutionalized in public service. We must commit to installing the culture of good governance in all we do.” It’s a commendable, lofty aspiration that is unrealizable unless a critical agency of actualization, the whistleblowers, are given effective protection through the provisions of a progressive whistleblower law. US, Britain and our African brothers–South Africa, Ghana and Uganda, already have one as a sign that they are committed to caging the monster of corruption.

As corruption continues to chip away at the development edifice Nigeria has been struggling to construct in the past six decades, Nigeria cannot afford to keep lagging behind.  To this end, Buhari should urgently direct conscious efforts towards seeing that a whistleblower bill is submitted to the National Assembly for passage into law and his assent of same in the next 12 months. It must be done within this time frame before activities for 2023 elections begin to gather momentum.

Unless whistleblowers enjoy protection via a firm legal backing, the seed of the whistleblowing tree planted in 2016 will die in no time. It doesn’t seem that is what this government wants. Neither does any stakeholder in transparency, accountability and good governance in Nigeria.    

*Godwin Onyeacholem is with the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)

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Clear frameworks key to investor interest in Africa’s renewable energy industry
October 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Grant Henderson*

Solar panels in Africa. Image: IRENA

With a population of more than 1 billion people and a collective economy of around US$1.5 trillion, Africa is a continent ripe for economic growth.  Developing the capacity to satisfy its people’s energy demands is key to unlocking that potential.

We already know that sustainability is a critical component of any real, meaningful development. Increasingly governments are coming to realise what this means; that in order to deliver on their broader economic and socio-political objectives they need to focus their attention on producing more power with renewable energy projects and innovative electricity storage and distribution strategies being a key part of this.

Historically, one of the biggest inhibiting factors associated with renewable energy projects has been the cost, however, the cost of delivering power from renewable energy projects is declining as a result of emerging technologies.

Securing the buy-in of the private sector is key to development in this sector. Incentivizing investment in the industry is at the heart of this, but so too is the establishment of clear, transparent frameworks for procurement and the setting of tariffs.  Investors need not only a thorough understanding of the environment in which they are committing, but assurances that these markets will remain predictable and stable. In the absence of these frameworks and the security that they provide investors will simply take their capital to countries to where the environment is perceived as more secure.

The second iteration of DLA Piper’s Renewable Energy in Africa summarises the regulatory environment for renewable energy in twenty African countries, highlights the key policy objectives for national governments and provides insight into the projects which are expected to deliver these goals. In showcasing the diverse approach to renewable energy being adopted across the African continent – and the legal, economic and technological developments being implemented – this report highlights that African governments are, despite the challenges they face, increasingly prioritising the creation of policies and frameworks that allow for the industry to be developed.

Kenya, for example, has since the 1990s allowed for independent power producers to operate in the country. Now with its long-awaited 2019 Energy Act finally having been passed in March of this year – the private sector will also have the opportunity to participate in the industry in a distributive capacity.  This is likely to result in a significant increase in competition which, in turn, should see the quality of the service being provided drastically improve. This in the wake of last December’s launch of the Kenya National Electrification Strategy, which provides a roadmap for universal access by 2022.

Uganda, meanwhile, is actively working to promote private sector participation in the renewable energy industry and encouraging partnerships that can effectively harness the potential of the country’s vast untapped natural resources. This as the government moves to reach its target of a rural electrification rate of 22% by 2022. Add to this the legislative changes introduced in 2016 that are serving to open up Botswana’s energy market to independent producers and you can see a positive and progressive picture of the industry’s development on the continent.

If the improvements to the regulatory environment continues, then so too will the accompanying spike in investor interest. Coupled with the wealth of renewable energy resources Africa has to offer – including solar power, wind power, geothermal energy and biomass – this could herald in the start of a whole new era for the continent’s renewable energy industry.

The future could hold some exciting developments, such as the ability to store electricity and a move away from fixed grids to the development of mini or micro grids to power remote communities and businesses.

The direct employment opportunities that emerge during the construction and development of renewable energy projects are, on their own, significant, but so too are the knock-on effects. Put simply, the absence of power is an economic inhibitor and developing and adding power to the grid provides and encourages opportunity in many forms. Ultimately, more power drives stronger economies and that is something that we should all get behind.

*Director at DLA Piper Africa

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Robert Gabriel Mugabe And The Battles To Free Southern Africa
September 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By  Gary  K. Busch*

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe addresses a crowd in Harare stadium during a political meeting in July 1984.
 Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

It was a shock to hear of the death of former Zimbabwe President Mugabe at his hospital retreat in Singapore. His death was no great surprise as he had been suffering for several years from a recurring complaint which required regular treatment at the Singapore clinic. He was 95 years of age so this, too, was not surprising. The shock was the finality of his passing.

However, what has been more shocking than his death has been the commentary in the world press on his life and efforts which pictures Mugabe as some sort of illegitimate villain who terrorised Zimbabwe for the thirty-seven years of his rule. This is not a truthful picture of his life and works. It demonstrates a serious lack of knowledge of the forces which shaped his policies and a woeful ignorance of the realities of Zimbabwe’s’ place in the Pan-African struggle to free Southern Africa.

Unfortunately, even within Zimbabwe, there are too many young people who don’t know or who never learned the real history of their country and their region or the amazing feat of winning the struggle for the independence of the country from the servitude of colonial and white settler politics.

Zimbabwe is one of a very few African nations which actually won its independence as a result of an armed struggle; as opposed to demonstrations, strikes and boycotts. During that armed struggle (The ‘Second Chimurenga’  the First Chimurenga  was the Shona revolt  against encroachment upon their lands, by the British South Africa Company and Cecil Rhodes in 1896 and 1897) Zimbabwean men and women took up arms and fought the White settler government of the Rhodesian Front and their “kith and kin” backers in the British Government. They risked their lives, their property and their futures in the battle against the injustice of White supremacy.

However, the struggle for freedom and self-rule in Zimbabwe was much more than a battle against the White settlers or the perfidious British. It was a Pan-African battle, of mighty proportions, which pitted the Frontline States of Africa (a coalition of African countries from the 1960s to the early 1990s committed to ending apartheid and white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia) whose membership included, initially Botswana, Tanzania and Zambia and later, as the struggle progressed, Angola (1975), Mozambique (1975) and Zimbabwe (1980). Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere was the chairman until he retired in 1985. His successor was Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda. These Frontline States sheltered, armed and supported the wide variety of national liberation movements which were seeking independence; among them ZAPU, ZANU, ANC, PAC, SWAPO, FRELIMO, COREMO, FLEC, MPLA, and several others as well as the military wings of these movements – among them ZIPRA,ZANLA, Umkonto we Siswe, POQO, PLAN and FAPLA.

Support for the liberation struggles in Southern Africa was not limited to the Frontline States. Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and others supported these liberation movements with equipment, trainers and officers. When the Southern African Development Coordination Conference was created in Lusaka on 1 April 1980, it dedicated itself to the cause of national political liberation in Southern Africa, and the reduction of these nation’s dependence on apartheid era South Africa for transport and logistics. On August 17, 1992, at a Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, the Heads of State and Government signed the SADC Declaration and Treaty that effectively transformed the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) into the Southern African Development Community, (SADC). Mugabe was the chairman of SADC’s organ on defence and security for the whole region. He was the key co-ordinator for the continuing struggle against apartheid and colonial polices.

What is even more important for the history of the liberation struggle was the financial, military, intelligence and political support ranged against African liberation movements by the United States and its NATO allies who viewed these struggles a part of their Cold War battles against the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Their aim was to support the South Africans in resisting African uprisings and, despite protestations to the contrary, their support for White supremacy rule in the Southern African region. The Soviets (supported by their international allies in East Germany. Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Cuba) played a major role in supporting the African liberation struggles with arms, finance and military assistance. The Chinese, as well as their North Korean allies were also very active in Southern Africa. Looking at a snapshot of the deployment of combatants in the Angolan War in 1986, in addition to the domestic liberation forces, is a good guide.

Opposing them were the armed forces of South Africa, with its own weapons-manufacturing capability (ARMSCOR and DENEL), UNITA (a local ‘liberation movement’ funded by South Africa and the US and reliant on South African logistical supplies), the remains of the White Rhodesian forces which had escaped the formation of Zimbabwe in 1980 with their aircraft, and the support and finance of  Zaire (now the DRC) whose President, Mobuto, was a key supporter of Savimbi’s UNITA.

As Mugabe was leading the battle against the White settlers and their South African and international backers his actions were tempered by and his abilities hindered by the Cold War in the African theatre. Throughout this struggle Mugabe concentrated first on creating the independent state of Zimbabwe and returning the control of its land to indigenous farmers. The fact that he was able to do this is a testament to his vision and his ability to function against such powerful enemies; most of whom were outside Zimbabwe.

Rebellion and the Urgent Need for Land Reform

One of the principal causes of the Rhodesian Bush War was the inequitable division of the land in the country. From the earliest days of Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (‘BSAC’), Whites were encouraged to come to Rhodesia to farm the rich, arable lands in a climate which was “suitable” for Whites. Between 1890 and 1896, the BSAC granted an area encompassing 16 million acres of prime land (about sixth the area of Southern Rhodesia) to White European immigrants. By 1913 this had been extended to 21.5 million acres. Most of the land owned by Africans was used as pastureland where they grazed their herds. As the Whites began to exploit the land they had been given they found themselves in competition with the African herds for pastureland.

In 1900 the colonial government decide to divide sections of Rhodesia’s land. They divided the land into five separate regions, based primarily on the amount of rainfall. “Region I comprised an area in the eastern highlands with markedly higher rainfall best suited to the cultivation of diversified cash crops such as coffee and tea. Region II was highveld, also in the east, where the land could be used intensively for grain cultivation such as maize, tobacco, and wheat. Region III and Region IV endured periodic drought and were regarded as suitable for livestock, in addition to crops which required little rainfall. Region V was lowveld and unsuitable for crop cultivation due to its dry nature; however, limited livestock farming was still viable. Land ownership in these regions was determined by race under the terms of the Southern Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act, passed in 1930, which reserved Regions I, II, and III for white settlement.[i] 

Region V and a segment of Region II which possessed greater rainfall variability were organised into the Tribal Trust Lands (TTLs), reserved solely for black African ownership and use. This created two new problems: firstly, in the areas reserved for whites, the ratio of land to population was so high that many farms could not be exploited to their fullest potential, and some prime white-owned farmland was lying idle.

It was difficult for Africans to sustain themselves on the least favourable farmlands and many were compelled to work as labourers om White farms. This inequitable division of the land acquired by the Whites without compensation to the Africans who had toiled on the land for generations caused a great deal of unrest and agitation.

After a long period of protest and opposition, the Southern Rhodesian Government revisited the land tenure issue and passed the Southern Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act which reserved 49 million acres for white ownership and left 17.7 million acres of land unassigned to either the Whites or the Tribal Trusts.

When the Rhodesian Front issued the Universal Declaration of Independence, the Ian Smith Government passed the Rhodesian Land Tenure Act of 1969.  This kept the forty-five million acres of prime land in White hands but allowed for the expansion of the African lands in the lower rainfall areas. The White farmers abused these reforms by using them as an excuse to expand the borders of their farms into formerly African areas and in evicting African farmers from their farms. The resentment at the inequitable division of the land was a burning issue in Rhodesian African societies and the main grievance which precipitated the agitation for reform which landed many African leaders, like Mugabe, in detention for ten years.

The Lancaster House Treaty and the Constitution which emerged from it, in addition to the terms of the ceasefire, was principally argued on the urgent need to include in the Constitution the radical reform of land tenure in the new Zimbabwe. The British Government was afraid that turning the land over to Africans immediately would cause unrest and conflict. Carrington proposed constitutional clauses underscoring property ownership as an inalienable right of all Zimbabweans (but not all at once). This was enshrined in Section 16 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, 1980. Lord Carrington announced that the United Kingdom would be prepared to assist land resettlement with technical assistance and financial aid. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Sir Shridath Ramphal, also received assurances from the American ambassador in London, Kingman Brewster, that the United States would likewise contribute capital for “a substantial amount for a process of land redistribution and they would undertake to encourage the British government to give similar assurances”.[ii]

The Lancaster House Agreement stipulated that farms could only be taken from whites on a “willing buyer, willing seller” principle for at least ten years. White farmers were not to be placed under any pressure or intimidation, and if they decided to sell their farms they could determine their own asking prices. Exceptions could be made if the farm was unoccupied and not being used for agricultural activity. These were “entrenched clause” in the Constitution.

When Mugabe took office as Prime Minister, his government created the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Redevelopment to assist in the acquisition of land from the White farmers under the terms of the Constitution. Not surprisingly the White farmers were not interested in selling their land, except perhaps their second or third farms. They raised the prices well above what was the fair market price for farmland, so the reform of land tenure was stuck in the aspic of the entrenched clauses for the full ten-year period. During that period the Ministry recovered only 7.41 million acres of farmland. The Zimbabwe population was furious as they thought that when they won the war they would get their land back. Mugabe and Nkomo said that the constitution had to be obeyed, even though it was inequitable. There were many Zimbabweans, mainly veterans of the war, who did not want to wait. Mugabe and ZANU-PF kept up with their side of the bargain.

At the end of the ten-year restraint of the entrenched clause (1990) Mugabe and his government announced to the British that the time of restraint was over. Lord Carrington had promised up to a billion pounds for compensation to the White farmers whose lands were being purchased. Mugabe asked how they should proceed.

The British made some small token payments to the White farmers, but the main expense was laid at the Zimbabwean government’s feet. Land Reform was going slowly as the Zimbabwe Government found it could not pay for the purchases. Another problem was that many leading African politicians used their positions to acquire farms without compensating the owners. The Land Reform, such as it was, was benefitting the politicians more than the populace. There was a great deal of unease among the White farmers and they conveyed this to the rest of the world.

In June 1996, Lynda Chalker, British secretary of state for international development, told Parliament that she could not endorse the new compulsory acquisition policy in Zimbabwe. She urged Mugabe to return to the principles of “willing buyer, willing seller” which was the term used in the “entrenched clauses”. Worse news came on 5 November 1997, when Tony Blair’s International Development Secretary, Clare Short, sent a letter describing the new Labour government’s refusal to honour the financial commitments made by the Conservative Government in the Lancaster House talks to compensate White farmers for the loss of their lands in land reform.

She said that the UK did not accept that Britain had a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding the Lancaster House commitments, Short stated that her government was only prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy. She had other questions regarding the way in which land would be acquired and compensation paid, and the transparency of the process. Her government’s position was spelled out in a letter to Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister, Kumbirai Kangai. The Short letter wasn’t widely circulated internationally but was, effectively, a total abandonment of the British Government’s commitment to comply with the system they compelled the Patriotic Front to agree to at Lancaster House. Since Labour had replaced the Conservatives in the British Parliament the Labour Government washed its hands of any commitments made by the previous Foreign Office. The actual letter states

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This was, effectively, a declaration of economic war against Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF politely explained to the British that they were removing the entrenched clauses in the Constitution as the ten years had passed. They were now going to acquire the farms from the White farmers and pay them what they had originally paid for them – zero. If the White farmers wanted compensation they should make their claims to the British Government out of the billion pounds they had been promised at Lancaster House.

This development was broadcast across the media internationally as horror stories about the occupation of White farms; without any reference to the role of the British in delaying and then denying their contribution for the return of land to Zimbabweans. The hostility of the West to Zimbabwe escalated and the vilification of Mugabe, in particular, grew. The White farmers were portrayed as victims. They could promote themselves as victims because the actions of the Rhodesian Front Government against Africans had been overlooked and buried out of reporting and analysis by the Western media.

The Rhodesian Front Policies Against the Africans

 The injustices of the Rhodesian Government of Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front have been airbrushed over in the last forty years and the crimes of the oppressors have been relegated to a foot note as has the active involvement of the Western Powers in covertly supporting Rhodesia and South Africa despite this knowledge. What they did, and later admitted to, would have kept the ICC judges in The Hague busy for a generation had the court been formed at that time. Even as they knew they were losing the battle in 1978 they experimented with the use of weaponised anthrax against the Black population in Rhodesia. In 1979, the largest recorded outbreak of anthrax occurred in Rhodesia.  As shown in sworn testimony and repeated in the autobiography of Ken Flower, Chief of Rhodesia’s Central Intelligence Organization(‘CIO’) and CIO Officer, Henrik Ellert, the anthrax outbreak in 1978-80 was anything but benign. The original outbreak was the result of a policy carried out by the Rhodesian Front government with the active participation of South Africa’s ‘Dr. Death’ (Dr Wouter Basson) and, together with the South Africans, the Rhodesian Front used biological and chemical weapons against the African liberation forces and the rural Blacks to prevent their support of the civil war and against their cattle to reduce rural food stocks.

 Much of the detailed background of this program emerged from testimony at the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings. Dr. Death used Rhodesia as a testing ground for their joint chemical and biological warfare programs. Witnesses at the commission testified to a catalogue of killing methods ranging from the grotesque to the horrific:

 1. “Project Coast” sought to create “smart” poisons, which would only affect blacks’ people, and hoarded enough cholera and anthrax to start epidemics

 2.    Naked black men were tied to trees, smeared with a poisonous gel and left overnight to see if they would die. When the experiments failed, they were put to death with injections of muscle relaxants.

 3.     Weapon ideas included sugar laced with salmonella, cigarettes with anthrax, chocolates with botulism and whisky with herbicide.

 4.    Clothes left out to dry were sprayed with cholera germs.

 5.    Water holes were doused with poisons to kill the cattle and anyone else who drank from them.

 Dr. Wooton Basson was aided by the work of Dr. Robert Symington, professor of Anatomy at the University of Rhodesia. The active work was performed by Inspector Dave Anderton, head of the “Terrorist” desk at the CIO. In 1979-80 there were 10,748 documented cases of anthrax in Rhodesia which involved 182 deaths (all Africans). In contrast, during the previous twenty-nine years there had been only 334 cases with few deaths. This was no accidental outbreak. Some of the weaponised anthrax was delivered to the US by the South Africans where it provided feedstock for the US chemical and biological feedstock; later stored on Johnson Island.

Despite these ongoing horrors and atrocities, the Rhodies continued to receive open support from South Africa and covert support from the U.S. and its Cold War allies who feared the influence of the Soviet Union and “Red” China on the continent.

Zimbabwe’s Initial Challenges

The newly independent Zimbabwe faced many challenges beyond the problems of Land Reform. The Rhodesian Bush War was not the only war of liberation in Africa at the time. It overlapped several Cold War conflicts in its neighbouring countries, including Angola’s war of independence (1961-1975) and civil war (1975-2002), Mozambique’s war of independence (1964-1974) and Civil War (1977 to 1992), and Shaba I (1977) and Shaba II (1978) in the DRC These conflicts, which often pitted  Soviet or Chinese military trainers and equipment against NATO members and their allies, made any coherent response to the demands for liberation, pan-African solidarity and justice a pale vision of what was demanded.

Initially the Afro-Asian Bloc in the UN had greater power over its ability to determine policy and raise support from the international community. Each year at the General Assembly the delegates had to vote over the application of the People’s Republic of China to substitute itself for the Republic of China (Taiwan) which was a member of the UN and had a Permanent Seat on the Security Council. Each year, before the vote on admitting Red China to the UN, the Afro-Asians were able to get political concessions and foreign aid projects arranged with the West in exchange for a “No” vote on China. On Oct. 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly voted to admit the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and to expel the Republic of China (Taiwan).  Once the PRC was voted into the UN the Afro-Asian Bloc lost much of its power and influence. The admission of Red China to the UN was one of the most important changes in how the world viewed Africa. It became safe to ignore Africa and its demands for liberation and development. On the other hand, it also gave China’s African associates a new clout in their dealings with the UN and the international organisations by being able to mount support from China in the Security Council.

One of Zimbabwe’s main problems was that it is a landlocked country, so its trade had to pass through other countries, by rail or road. A map shows why Zimbabwe relied on its neighbours for safe passage of its imports and exports.

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That situation meant that most of the goods going in and out of Zimbabwe had to go through either Mozambique or South Africa. This was also a problem for the Rhodies in the later stages of Rhodesian Front rule. In response to a program of international sanctions against Rhodesia the Rhodesian Front was able to create a relatively sophisticated system of sanctions-busting commerce. Part of its ability was the use of transport links through the Mozambican ports of Beira and Laurenço Marques (later Maputo). This was facilitated by the Portuguese colonial authorities which controlled Mozambique at the time. This co-operation lasted until the Carnation Revolution in Portugal on 25 April 1974 when a military coup in Lisbon overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo Regime in Portugal by dissident soldiers who were committed to ending Portuguese overseas colonial rule; especially because the colonial budget was eating up over 40% of the national budget. This was partially derived from the fact that the Portuguese were fighting colonial battles with African insurgent movements.

The U.S. and NATO had reluctantly supported the Estado Novo government in Portugal because it was virulently anti-communist. However, this did not stop the creation and financing of anti-colonial forces in Portuguese African colonies by both the West and the Communist Bloc. In the Portuguese African colonies, there were multiple liberation movements. Some were supported by the Soviet Union; some by China; some by the U.S. and Britain; and others by South Africa. In many countries the French supported both or all sides.

When the Portuguese abandoned their African colonies in 1974/1975 this caused a severe problem for the Rhodesian Front as easy movement of goods from Rhodesia through Mozambican ports was restricted by a FRELIMO Government which was financed by the Soviet Bloc and a RENAMO military force supported by South Africa; both of whom contested transport on the road and rail links. As a result, almost 90% of Rhodesia’s trade became dependent on South African road and rail connections as the Mozambican routes were more difficult and unsafe; even the oil pipeline built by Lonrho from Beira to Rhodesia which supplied most of the energy needs of Rhodesia was threatened. This dependence on South Africa for its commercial trade with the world was a very heavy burden for the new Patriotic Front Government as it took office. The South African Government, with whom ZAPU and ZANU had been fighting for years as a result of the South African support for the Rhodesian Front had a very effective grip over the Zimbabwe economy.

In fact, the problems Mugabe faced with the Land Question and competing ethnic strife between Shona and Ndebele, and internal Zezuru/Karanga Shona rivalries, were important to Zimbabwean unity and growth, but the strategic problems of logistics were a far more pressing and difficult problem. Its solution lay, not in economics or discussion of political or ethnic abstractions but in manoeuvring through the minefield of the impact of the Cold War battles in Southern Africa on free transport. The success in addressing that is Mugabe’s greatest legacy to the Zimbabwean people.

This delicate balance between Zimbabwe’s economic and trading programs and the Pan-African programs of liberation was well recognised by the US and its allies. In a paper prepared for the US Deputy Director of Central Intelligence on 9 July 1986, this dependence was illustrated. It concluded that “A review of trade and financial statistics shows that all neighbouring states, except Angola, are vulnerable to South African economic retaliation.”[iii]

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This expanded on a Research Paper on the transport system “Transport Routes in Southern Africa”[iv]

The findings of that study did not favour the African states. It found, “Much of the region’s trade moves along the “Southern Route” of north-south rail lines running from the Zairian Copper Belt to South African ports.

The transportation dependence of the black states of the region also includes their use of South African equipment. South African freight cars are used in nearly all the black states, as are South African locomotives in several-states. An equipment recall by Pretoria would, in our view, strangle the economies of the landlocked states.

In our view, the short-term prospects for implementing this strategy are gloomy. The insurgencies in Mozambique and Angola would have to end, and massive investment in equipment and training of personnel would be required. The SADCC has had difficulty raising transportation develop­ment funds, and the transportation systems of several of the member states—particularly the coastal ones—have deteriorated further since initial cost estimates were made…

Even if the insurgencies in Mozambique and Angola end, which would open vital east-west routes, we believe that South Africa would still maintain considerable leverage over the transport and more general economic options available to the black states.”

In response, the SADC states drew up a plan for a “Beira Corridor” which would channel Southern African trade through Mozambique. Although progress began on expanding and protecting the rail line to Beira and the oil pipeline from Beira to Umtali in Zimbabwe, progress was slow and risky as South Africa sponsored the RENAMO forces in Mozambique who opposed the FRELIMO government which took over from Portuguese rule and from attacks by South African commandos. This opposition to free trade through Beira led to Mugabe ordering the creation of the 5th Brigade under Gen. Shiri, trained by North Koreans, to fight against the RENAMO and South Africans to keep transport moving.

In July 1986, the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA produced a research study “Beira Corridor Vulnerability” in response to a request from SADC for U.S. support of the project. The study found “The history of sabotage and attacks in the Beira transportation corridor, and our analysis of the military capabilities of government and insurgent forces that operate there, indicate that the road, railway, pipeline, and port cannot be effectively protected against attacks carried out by either the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) or South Africa. In our judgment, Mozambican and Zimbabwean troops may be able to provide reasonable security for the corridor’s limited number of bridges, oil pumping stations, and other key targets, but are unable to prevent insurgent ambushes, land­mines, and sabotage along this route through RENAMO’s heartland. Furthermore, the corridor also is vulnerable to attack by South African commandos, aircraft, or naval forces.             

In our judgment, development of the corridor, as an alternative to dependence on South African facilities, probably would result in greater South African confrontation with its neighbours. Moreover, Zimbabwe’s military requirements to protect the Beira corridor may create an opportunity for Moscow to initiate a major arms supply relationship with Harare.”[v]

The Cold War in Southern Africa

When Mugabe and his colleagues emerged from the British detention centres in 1974/1975 they found an Africa which was far different than that of the Africa of the mid-1960s when they were jailed. The aborted independence of the Belgian Congo had been a testament to the willingness of the U.S., Belgians, and French and South African mercenaries to openly intervene in the national liberation struggle by assassinating Patrice Lumumba and installing Moise Tshombe and Joseph Mobutu as tame leaders under their control. The US set up its own airbase in the Congo, WIGMO, guided by Larry Devlin of the CIA who became a “superminister” in the Mobutu Government. The French thwarted true independence in its colonies after Guinea choose direct independence over a “flag independence” under continued French rule and did not submit to the Pacte Coloniale which tethered the other francophone African nations to the political, economic and military control of France. An imprisoned Mugabe missed the Biafran War, where the French oil interests funded the breakaway state of Biafra with the support of South Africa and the Air Trans Africa pilots from Rhodesia. On the Federal side Russian, Ukrainian and Egyptian pilots supported the federal government.

The war for independence for Southwest Africa had begun while they were in prison and there was a Cold War struggle for control of the insurgents by the Soviets and their allies supporting the MPLA of Angola and SWAPO of Namibia. The Soviets sent down Vasily Grigoryevich Solodovnikov, the former head of the Institute for African Affairs in Moscow, to co-ordinate Soviet assistance from a base in Lusaka, Zambia. There were around twenty-one KGB officers in charge of planning, logistics and training in Lusaka. They arranged for African volunteers (cleared by their local parties) to travel to Odessa and other training bases in the Soviet Union for the military struggle. Mischa Wolf, the head of the East German STASI, sent down key officers to offer intelligence support and training (mainly in Angola). In fact, there were many “translators” from Moscow who served in Africa, including the Russian Igor Sechin (the current head of Rosneft and a key associate of Putin) and Viktor Bout. They all represented an important Soviet presence in Southern Africa. Many of the current Southern African military and intelligence officers (like Emmerson Mnangagwa) were graduates of this training program, as were the key leaders of the ANC in South Africa; both political and military.

The Chinese, too, had an extensive presence in Africa based in Tanzania. They even had their own arms factory in Pemba. They offered their support for training at their academy in Wuhan, China for African volunteers and spread military officers across Southern Africa offering support to the liberation movements.

The U.S. was active in restraining African liberation. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson sent Averell Harriman to the Congolese capital, Leopoldville to assess the growing power of the insurgents after Christphe Gbenye, Gaston Soumialot and Lawrence Kabila had taken over much of the Eastern Congo. Harriman and Cyrus Vance the Deputy Defense Secretary, drew up plans for an American airlift, carrying Belgian and South African soldiers, to install Tshombe as head of Katanga. They succeeded in installing Tshombe but created a much more serious problem for the West.

The U.S. flew in Belgian soldiers from the U.S. airbase in the Azores to Stanleyville. It had the approval of the Unite Nations and the support of Harold Wilson’s UK. One result of this open foray into interventionism was the growing involvement of the Cubans in the politics of the region. Che Guevara had gone to the UN and spoken against the Western action. He flew to China to meet with Chou En Lai, who had just been in Africa and then with Nasser in Egypt. They all pressed Che for a greater involvement in Africa and the need to express Cuba’s opposition to the U.S. after the Cuban missile crisis and the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. Che went back to Fidel and got permission to send a delegation of Cuban fighters to the Congo.

Che disappeared. His sudden disappearance was a subject for conjecture all over the world. He eventually surfaced in the Congo where, with 100 Cuban guerrilla fighters to assist him, he put into action his theories of how to help the oppressed peoples of Africa throw off the yoke of colonial imperialism. His first task was to help the young Laurent Kabila in his struggle against the dictator Mobutu, who had seized power in the newly independent Congo following the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. The diaries that Guevara kept during his months in Africa record a political, strategic and ideological failure.[vi] He wrote,” We went to Africa to Cubanise the African fighters. Instead they Africanised the Cubans.” Despite this, Fidel sent thousands of troops to Africa to fight on the side of African insurgents. They played an important role in the Angolan War and were, in the minds of the Western planners, an example of the clear and present danger of allowing the Soviets and their allies to grow too strong in the region.

The US Military in Africa

The U.S. is no stranger to military invasions in many countries, including a large number on the African continent. The United States engaged in forty-six military interventions from 1948–1991, from 1992–2017 that number increased fourfold to 188.The latest statistics are produced by the Congressional Research[vii] who show several more.

Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only four overt U.S. military operations in Africa were recorded, though large-scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive. Under the administrations of US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. (1981–1993) military intervention accelerated, rising to eight, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarised intervention in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, 17 armed incursions took place, including a large-scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwandan genocidal regime. Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up a long-standing troubled regime. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under George W. Bush, 15 US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.

The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries (including Libya prior to the recent war). Washington’s efforts to militarise Africa and turn its armies into proxy forces for the War on Terrorism got a boost in 9/11/2001. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism” Henceforth, US foreign policy strategists, with the backing of both liberal and neoconservative congress-people, moved to centralise and coordinate a military policy on a continent-wide basis forming AFRICOM. AFRICOM organises African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to conduct anti-terrorist wars based on bilateral agreements (Uganda, Burundi, etc.) as well as under ‘multi-lateral’ links with the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The bulk of the U.S African interventions before 1995 were concerned, directly or indirectly, with the preservation of South Africa in its struggles against African liberation movements. The interventions after that were largely about fighting terrorists.

Why Was African Liberation Delayed by The Cold War?

The principal problems which African liberation leaders had to face in the period from 1960 to 1995 derived from the fact that the international community viewed their struggles as part of their worldwide struggle between NATO, the forces of the Warsaw Pact and the emerging Chinese efforts to expand their influence globally. However, Africa was not always a priority in these Cold War conflicts.

The problem for most journalistic and academic studies of these struggles is that they do not start from an appreciation that, in real life, almost everything is “joined-up”. As the U.S. was approaching the problems of Southern Africa and its covert support for the South African government it was also struggling with the demands of the Vietnam War (militarily, financial and political) and its battles in Iran and the Middle East. The Soviets were facing dramatic internal changes after their invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia; the growing dissidence in Poland and East Germany and costly wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan. China was suffering the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In all these cases, African demands, while important, were very much on the back burner and well-behind in the queue for focussing national expenditures. Access to Africa’s great mineral resources was the main motivator for Great Power interest in Africa; both in acquiring them and in denying them to their enemies. The activities and interests in Africa by the UK and France, however, were in preserving their traditional colonial advantages and control. South Africa was fighting for its survival against a growing, politicized African majority prepared for armed conflict, especially after Sharpeville.

That meant that the African leaders, like Mugabe, had several separate and competing tasks for their attention. The first was the battle to achieve independence from the British colonial forces and the Rhodesian Front government which had assumed British prerogatives. That meant fighting the Bush War against the Rhodies and then negotiating independence with the British after they had reclaimed Zimbabwe from the Rhodesian Front. In order to achieve the military power to fight the Rhodies a source of weapons, training and support had to be acquired. The primarily Ndebele forces joined together in a political party, ZAPU, under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo. They had their own military force (ZANLA) and were headquartered in Lusaka, Zambia under the control and support of the Soviets and their advisors led by Solodovnikov. Not only did they receive arms and training, they sent hundreds of the ZANLA forces for training inside the Soviet Union. This was mirrored in the Soviet support of Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia.

On the other hand, the primarily Shona political forces united in a political party, ZANU, based in northern Mozambique and led by Robert Mugabe. It too, had a military arm (ZIPRA) and was sustained in its military pursuits by the Peoples’ Republic of China which provided arms, training and guidance to ZIPRA in Africa and in training camps in China. Many of the leaders of ZANU came from among the Zezuru/KoreKore Shona while the bulk of the armed forces of ZIPRA were Karanga. Although the vicissitudes of the negotiations led the leaders of ZAPU and ZANU to join under the rubric Patriotic Front, there was little, if any, co-operation between the ZANLA and the ZIPRA forces. Even when the Patriotic Front won independence in 1980 the two military wings had difficulty joining a united Zimbabwean Army. A British officer was assigned to help them.

The aims and ambitions of the Soviet Union and China were clear. They were able, for very little expense, to engage with the liberation forces in support of their liberation aims and gain untrammelled access to African resources which were very much needed at home. They were able to remove the British and the French from their colonial possessions in Africa and built up solid political and commercial relations with the African leadership which transcended the winning of liberation. They were also able to put pressure on the “glavni vrag” (the main enemy), the US, for appearing to support the forces of apartheid South Africa and White Supremacist Rhodesia. Despite protestations by successive U.S. governments (Republican and Democrat) that they were not racists and didn’t support racism in any form, the policies on the ground gave lie to this assertion as they established a quiet working relationship with the South Africans in their wars against SWAPO, MPLA, FLEC and their efforts to subvert independent African governments in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the DRC.

The US role in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba left little doubt of the US willingness to actively subvert newly independent African states for its own, perceived, interests. On March 17, 1970 the U.S. cast its first veto ever in the Security Council as it joined with Britain in rejecting an African-Asian resolution that would have condemned Britain for not using force to overthrow the white-minority government of Rhodesia. The U.S. justified its veto because it would block exports of Rhodesian chrome and unjustly enrich the Soviet Union, the second biggest chrome exporter. A CIA Intelligence Assessment at the time, Chromium: Western Vulnerabilities and Options [viii] rationalised support for exempting chromite from the UN sanctions on Rhodesia by pointing out “ Southern Africa’s severe economic, social, and political problems might disrupt mining and transport activities in one or more countries of the re­gion at any time and the USSR could embargo chromite exports to the West as it did during the Korean war…The Soviet Union would benefit from a disruption of chromium supplies from southern Africa. After 1985 it might even be able to expand its own exports to capture disrupted markets. It might do so selectively, however, as a means of nurturing economic and political ties with key Western countries. Large-scale exports during a prolonged disruption would in turn serve to increase Western dependence on the East by discouraging the development of alternative sources”.

Funding Rival Liberation Movements As Surrogate Troops

This Cold War competition in the liberation struggles in Southern Africa led to forming rival liberation movements across the region – some supported by the Soviets and Chinese, and their rivals supported by the US and South Africa; all in the same country or with neighbours.. African liberation became a proxy war for the main protagonists. Africans fought other Africans in the name of liberation, with the US and Soviets watching on and cheering their acolytes.

The rivalries and intense levels of warfare between domestic forces was bitter and bloody. In Angola the Soviets and the Cubans supported Neto’s MPLA – the US and South Africa supported Savimbi’s UNITA. Neto, and then Dos Santos, travelled, with great fanfare to Moscow and Havana, while Savimbi was feted in the US and Switzerland. The liberation forces which had set up headquarters in Luanda actively supported Sam Nujoma of SWAPO for the liberation of Namibia while the US and South Africa supported Dr. Kareina of SWANU and the South African-backed Turnhalle Alliance as an opponent of SWAPO. There were few sights more bewildering than in oil-rich Cabinda, when the South African commandos attacked the Cubans guarding the Gulf Oil installation. In Mozambique the South Africans created RENAMO to fight the FRELIMO government and assisted RENAMO by sending South African commandos to accompany them. In Botswana, Potlako Leballo’s POQO army of the Azanian People Liberation Army was suppressed by the South African military with the quiet support of the ANC; the US posted POQO as a terrorist organisation, advertising its putative Chinese connections.

In South Africa itself, the ANC was divided between the “regular” ANC and the “Vula Boys” of the MK. Far more damaging to the cause of the liberation of South Africa was the creation by the South Africans of a Zulu military force, supported and trained in camps in the Caprivi Strip by the South African Army,  engaged to fight against the ANC inside South Africa, “Operation Marion”. The South African Nationalists funded the Inkatha Freedom Party (‘IFP) of Buthulezi and provided the fighters of the IFP with weapons, explosives, communications equipment and training facilities. During November 1985 Buthelezi set out his needs to the then Director of Military Intelligence, Major-General Tienie Groenewald who offered military support, which included both an offensive and an attacking capacity. Buthelezi’s requests were placed before an extra-ordinary meeting of the SSC at Tuynhuis on 20th December 1985; where Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan, Minister of Law and Order, Louis Le Grange and Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, Chris Heunis were tasked with establishing a “security force” for Buthelezi against the ANC internally.

Two hundred and six Inkatha men were recruited by M Z Khumalo for this. The 206 were taken to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia where they received training at Hippo Camp by the Special Operations component of Military Intelligence and Special Forces. The recruits were divided into operational groups; one of which was an offensive group of some 30 men. The trainees were instructed that their targets would be located within the ANC. They began a campaign of murder, assassination and destruction of the ANC leadership. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission over 20,000 died, more than half of whom died after the ANC was unbanned.

On 21 January 1988 Chief Director Intelligence Operations, Major General Neels Van Tonder met with Buthelezi. Van Niekerk, Colonel Mike Van den Berg and M.K. Kumalo and agreed to build more training bases for the Operation Marion IFP Zulus at Port Durnford and a separate base for the rest of the group at Mkhuze. By 1990 there were more than 5,300 IFP “Self-Protection” fighters operating against the ANC in South Africa.[ix]

There were similar bases set up for African military groups, like RENAMO, by the South African “Securocrats” to fight against African liberation groups; the most well-documented of which was the support for Savimbi’s UNITA. In addition,” Lang Hendrick” van den Bergh, the head of the Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.), recruited and operated African intelligence officers in many of the Frontline states. This was particularly effective in Zimbabwe when the Central Intelligence Organisation (which took over from the Rhodie Ministry of State Security) could continue after independence under its existing head, Ken Flower, and several of his colleagues.[x] Unfortunately for Mugabe and the CIO they covertly maintained contact with Van den Bergh and assisted in the creation of RENAMO and  empowered three BOSS operatives to place arms caches in the farms of ZAPU politicians after the ZANLA riots at Entumbane, Glenville and Connemara in Matabeleland which precipitated the  Gukurahundi  massacres of Ndebele civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army. Periodically, CIO leaders like Geoffrey Price and three other colleagues would defect to South Africa and worked with BOSS. It wasn’t until Happyton Bonyongwe took effective control of the CIO that there was any trust by Mugabe and ZANU-PF of the role of the CIO. Happyton Bonyongwe was later succeeded in his role by the current Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Challenges Faced By Mugabe

When Mugabe returned from the Lancaster House talks to become Prime Minister of the new Zimbabwe there was great anticipation of his victory dramatically changing life for Zimbabweans. While most people did not expect an overnight change to their lives they were not expecting the immense challenges and delays faced by the Patriotic Front.

First, it was not possible to redistribute land because of the entrenched clauses of the new Constitution. Many returning soldiers felt that this was the main item they had been fighting for and it was not immediate and was being resisted by the Rhodies and the British. Secondly, the new army could not accept all the returning soldiers. Some would have to leave the military and look for jobs in the civilian economy; trying to find work when there wasn’t a lot of work to be found. Moreover, the ZANLA and ZIPRA forces had to be combined into a single national army; a difficult task for those who military experiences had been so different. Thirdly, and importantly, the disquiet between the Shona and the Ndebele over accepting political appointments and legislative power was viewed by both sides as essentially unfair. The external forces to Zimbabwe, Cold War, British and South African fostered and promoted these divisions and factionalism and made progress slow and hazardous for the government. Fourthly, the liberation struggles in Southern Africa continued and nationalist wars in Angola, Namibia and the DRC continued unabated and required that Mugabe, as head of the Defence Section of SADC, play a role in supporting the anti-colonial forces.

Mugabe was in a difficult position. He was not particularly friendly with the Soviet Union as they had supported his competitors for years.  There was very little that the Chinese could do to assist. The U.S. had adopted the Korry Report under President Johnson which effectively reduced the U.S. from a broad engagement in Southern Africa by choosing five nations on which to concentrate its assistance. The rest were consigned to a policy of “benign neglect”. It was only under Nixon that Henry Kissinger changed U.S. policy in Africa after his realisation that there were thirty-seven thousand Cuban troops active in the area. He issued the famous National Security Study Memorandum 39 (NSSM39) which quietly recognised support for the South African Government and channelled covert U.S. policies to them to support the South Africans while making many speeches about the unpleasantness of apartheid.

The limits of US rhetoric were the result of the effective internal opposition to US government policies by opponents of the Vietnam War, by the civil rights activists who were empowered by the civil rights movement and by the rise of the Black Power movement in the US military. Battles between US Black soldiers and the White officers in Vietnam was not uncommon. In the US Navy, the Black Power groups formed the Black Faction group which included the Stop Our Ships (SOS) movement. The SOS supervised confrontation between Black sailors and the Navy which impeded the USS Ranger, the USS Kitty Hawk, the USS Richard B. Anderson, the USS Midway, the USS Constellation and the USS Forrestal from sailing or deploying to and from Vietnam. The fires set by them on the USS Forrestal alone resulted in over $7 million in damage and was the largest single act of sabotage in naval history. They were supported on shore in the US by thousands of anti-war protestors.

The effect of these protests and demonstrations against U.S. racial and civil rights policies of its government tempered the willingness of the Nixon administration to display its NSSM39 policies and, most important of all, made it clear that the use of U.S. military power in Africa would have to be through surrogates. They understood the risk of using the U.S. military, including a large proportion of Black soldiers, to shoot and kill Africans would likely provoke such protests in America that the consequences were too dire to predict.

Mugabe was forced to be patient but kept up a steady pressure on the British to proceed with Land Reform and exposed to the world the background funding and support by the British of a new Ndebele political party, the MDC, which challenged the ZANU-PF electorally. Despite enormous Western pressure against the move, Mugabe and Moven Mahachi, the Defence Minister delivered Zimbabwe’s military support behind the battle for control of the DRC Government of Laurent Kabila by the force of Rwanda and Uganda.

Little by little Mugabe achieved his aims. Zimbabwe remained free and independent. The land issue was resolved. With the assistance of the Zimbabweans, the DRC was saved; Namibia and Angola were liberated, the ANC took power in South Africa. The price paid for this was very high and the greed and avarice of Zimbabwean politicians has made a mockery of the ideals they preached and kept the nation from making an economic success of the great resources of the country. Mugabe made several unfortunate choices but, at the end of the day, his legacy is positive. It is for this that he should be remembered. His enemies were not only in Zimbabwe.

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[i] Angus Selby, “White farmers in Zimbabwe 1890-2005.” PhD Thesis, University of Oxford: June 2006

[ii] Martin Plaut, “Africa : US backed Zimbabwe land reform”. BBC News 22 August 2007.

[iii] CIA, Talking Points For DDCI- Southern Africa, , Declassified  2011/09/16 : CIA-RDP91B00874R000100200003

[iv] CIA, Transport Routes in Sothern Africa, , March 1983,  CIA-RDP90T01298R000100040001

[v] NSC “MOZAMBIQUE: Vulnerability of the Beira Corridor”, CIA-RDP86T01017R000707340001-9, 1986

[vi] Che Guevara, The African Dream: the Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo. Harvill Panther, 1971

[vii]  Barbara Salazar Torreon and Sofia Plagakis, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2019, Congressional Record Service, D.C., Updated July 17, 2019. These do not include CIA interventions.

[viii] CIA, “Chromium: Western Vulnerabilities and Options “, CIA-RDP84S00558R000100100002-1

[ix] Gary Busch, https://www.academia.edu/19646357/Jacob_Zuma_the_Vula_Boys

[x] Ken Flower, Serving Secretly: An Intelligence Chief on Record, Rhodesia into Zimbabwe 1964-1981, 1987.

* The author is the editor and publisher of the web-based news journal of international relations www.ocnus.net and the distance-learning educational website www.worldtrade.ac. He speaks and reads 12 languages and has written six books and published 58 specialist studies. His articles have appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Wall Street Journal, WPROST (a leading Polish weekly news magazine), Pravda and several other major international news journals

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Schools: Useful in Theory, Useless in Practice?
September 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D*

If you could be wealthy without going to school would you spend the time and resources to go to school for education? While formal education (schooling) is critical for national development and stability, the program of studies (curriculum) has barely changed from the days of the “Saber-Tooth Curriculum” (teaching hunting and gathering skills). The school system predominantly lectures to age-determined students and has hardly evolved, despite galloping changes in research, communication, society, technology, and culture. The schools’ lack of adaptation, rising costs, and unrealistic expectations related to immediate gains from schooling cause people today, especially on social media, to wonder if schools are necessary.(https://happinessishereblog.com/)

Students who drop out of primary school and are lucky enough to have lucrative careers often believe there is no need for formal education. Many drop-outs argue that employment and money are the reasons for formal education and that schools exist merely to prepare students for a job or career.  Consequently, some people wonder if students are wasting time and resources by sitting in age-determined groups, listening to lectures, and memorizing facts that can easily be looked up from computerized databases.

Critics of formal education usually forget that education is important for reasons beyond career preparation. Formal education develops disciplined minds, transmits the culture and helps students function in society. Enlightened leaders like Mandela alluded to the fact that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  A UNESCO document “Education transforms lives,” highlights the following:

  • Each year of liberal education reduces the risk of conflict in society by 20%.
  • Each year of schooling increases a person’s potential income by 10%. 
  • Increased access to education decreases the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

I agree with critics who believe that formal education needs reform to match our evolving society. Fundamentally, the curriculum of formal education has not kept up with the times. Technology has rapidly evolved, and it is challenging for some teachers and parents.  However, I disagree with the assertion that society no longer needs formal education, especially beyond high school. With a well-developed curriculum and an appropriate interactive delivery system, formal education whether private, public, home-school, online, or via apprenticeship is supposed to produce a community builder who actively and positively contributes to the community. It is also designed to pass on culture and produce liberated citizens who are inquisitive, productive and reflective.

We need schools to educate mindful, ethical, compassionate citizens.  Imagine what would happen to handicapped individuals if there were no schools to accommodate their needs, advocate for them and educate them to make them more self-reliant and independent? Formal education helps to provide or equalize opportunities for many people regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, or age.  Societies with inequalities and disparities are not usually stable or peaceful. A good educational system provides individualized learning, authentic problem solving skills, and social development. Education also helps reduce the unemployment rate and the prison population. People learn when they recognize that education will help to give them autonomy, empowerment, and emancipation. Education is good for self-development and social cohesion.

For schools to succeed, a committed partnership between students, teachers, parents, government, and society must exist. Some critics of formal education expect schools to cure all societal ills – environmental destruction, drug abuse, racism, gun violence, teenage pregnancy, obesity, sexual abuse, etc. That is not practical, especially with “hands-off parents” working round the clock.  Educators cannot do it all.

In schools where the curriculum is based on local needs and not a foreign system, the learners develop good self-concept, collaboration, integrity, human dignity, patience, empathy, and other important values of the society.  That is why nations like the Southern Cameroons and other developing states fight to change the school system to fit local demands. The people put off any form of colonial or foreign design with the belief that “Back to School” at the appropriate time will pay off. For about three years, students in the Southern Cameroons have not been to school. They are hoping for a better tomorrow, so they can be taught using an up-to-date curriculum by teachers who understand their language and culture. Colonial education is set up to make the colonized subservient.  The teaching materials and methods lead to minimal gains for the development of society.

Good school systems are not static but keep changing and adapting to the times and the needs of all the citizens.  Technology is there to facilitate education in formal settings since most research and development is done in formal institutions of learning. Technology will not replace schools. Formal education is necessary and needed by every citizen.  Formal education breeds the love for life-long learning for the good of citizens, nations, and the world at large since there are global problems that need collaborative-solutions from educated minds. Social media critics provide a catalyst for useful school theory and practice in keeping with the changing times.

* The writer is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology.

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My vision for education investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amini Kajunju*

Early in 2019 during a maiden visit to neighboring countries, a newly-elected President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi announced in Brazzaville that his government will provide free primary education to all Congolese children starting the beginning of the next school. This is great news—in a country with so much untapped wealth, parents should not have to pay for public primary education fees.

The budget allocation would be $2.6B about 40% of the country’s budget of about $7B with 50,000 state primary schools possibly receiving $52,000 per capita. Many schools are in total physical decay and academically inadequate. For President Tshisekedi’s offer to have any real value, his government must further commit to fundamental reforms and pledge a significant financial investment.

The DRC is famous for its vast wealth of natural resources including minerals, timber, and rivers. But the new government has a responsibility to turn its focus to another untapped resource: its human capital.

From the age of three to 30 years of age, young citizens are a captive audience, eager to learn and to innovate. We need to give them a good start for their future so that the country can experience high productivity and wealth creation through massive investment.

If one is looking for an excellent example of how investments in education transformed a poor country into a wealthy one, we need only look to South Korea. In the 50s, South Korea was a poor country. Through visionary leaders and actions, it made education, industrialization, manufacturing, and trade the pillars of their economy. At the height of this investment, the country spent 22% of its budget on education. These investments paid off. Today, South Korea has one of the most educated populaces and the 11th largest economy in the world and currently spends about $20.9B on education about 5% of the country’s budget. DRC’s economy is ranked number 99 today.

Despite DRC’s struggling economy, there is hope. Citizens are ready for a government that is committed to undoing a history of economic disinvestment and mismanagement, to restoring democracy, and to the provision of public goods. To assist with these aspirations, I propose seven fundamental reforms that will create thousands of jobs, accelerate economic development, and meaningfully reduce poverty. It is important to note that these actions will be doubly successful if coupled with substantial investments in energy, water, healthcare, transportation, and agriculture. The following seven reforms are the building blocks of a successful educational system:

DRC’s one number asset is its people and the strong and productive institutions that it creates and sustains

a.   Every government has three key jobs: collect enough taxes and fees to fund public goods, protect the citizens from internal and external threats and create an enabling environment for prosperity.

b.   Currently, the DRC government collects about $5.6B to $7B per year to fund its operations for a country with a population of 85M people.

c.   No real impact can be made from this low tax base to educate millions of youth

d.   The individual and collective efforts of Congolese nationals working in the education is important and valuable and must be celebrated.

e.   And, we will not be able to educate the masses without government investment and vision.

f.   Bring in the private sector as partners and investors in the training and the preparation of the world of work.

g.   No country has ever made it into the G20 or the G7 without a productive government and an educated populace.

Train teachers for the 21st-century classroom to increase the quality of learning in elementary and secondary schools.

a.   Teachers are the backbone of any educational system. Without adequate training , professional development and pay, teachers will not have the motivation or skills to teach.

b.   Build and maintain at least two teacher training colleges in every province of DRC

c.   Disseminate these newly trained teachers in all elementary and secondary schools

Implement a 21st-century curriculum from primary to university.

a.   A 21st-century curriculum is rooted in the following principles: technology, upgraded learning tools and concepts, a culture of inquiry and research, and the development of problem-solvers and leaders among all participants within the system

b.   Set the standards and focus on achieving the required competencies and learning at every grade level

c.   Upgrade and increase STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education

d.   At the university level, fund R&D and entrepreneurial investments with the aim of eradicating tropical diseases such as malaria

e.   Increase learning and action around climate change and environmental studies as Congo is known as the 2nd lung of the world

f.   Upgrade and increase access to learning materials by securing the latest books, online resources, and other educational tools

g.   Increase history, civic education, and social responsibility courses

h.   Replace rote learning with dialogue, inquiry, and critical thinking at every grade

i.   Introduce key soft skills like teamwork, initiative, and ethical leadership

Infuse technology into every aspect of the education system.

a.   Every public school from primary to university should have the most updated computer labs for experimentation and learning

b.   Provide free 24-hour internet service to all public schools from primary to university

Require age-appropriate entrepreneurial education for every student.

a.   Small businesses are the backbone of a thriving economy and the creators of jobs

b.   Providing entrepreneurial education will motivate those who are inclined to use this education to found companies and create jobs

Renovate and expand the physical facilities of all existing public education institutions from primary to university.

a.   It is very difficult to learn in classrooms and buildings that are collapsing or destroyed

b.   Public educational facilities and buildings must represent the goals and dreams of a nation

c.   A 21st-century curriculum requires upgraded and functioning physical facilities

Build 26 technical institutions—one in each province.

a.   Manufacturing and industrialization are requirements of a modern economy

b.   Technical colleges teach the competencies and skills required for industrialization and manufacturing

c.   A modern economy needs electricians, plumbers, and health technicians as well as experts in HVAC, aviation, construction, automation, technology, tourism and much more

For a country to advance and reach its full potential, the education system must aspire to improve and join the 21st century. Congo should use its resource-rich environment to propel its economy forward. However, the most valuable of all of Congo’s resources is its people. Therefore, the single most important area for the country to invest in is education. Free primary education is a great place to start, but now is the time to commit to more.

*Ms. Kajunju, a Congolese national, is the executive director of the IUGB Foundation and formerly the President and CEO of Africa-America Institute.Culled from LinkedIn 

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Time to Make Energy Work for Africa
September 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans

By Prince Arthur Eze*

It is long past time that we made energy work for Africa. It is past time that Africa’s natural resources benefited Africans; that every African had access to electricity; and that the wealth created by oil and gas would lead to the sustainable development of African economies.

Certainly, much needs to be done to make these dreams a reality, and the continent’s top leaders in the energy industry will gather in Cape Town on October 9-11 in Africa Oil & Power 2019 (http://www.AOP2019.com) to drive the conversation forward and #MakeEnergyWork.

Thankfully, success stories and opportunities abound.

The incredible story of Senegal, for example, stands as a roadmap on creating a transparent government; building the needed infrastructure to support future development; creating an attractive regulatory framework to bring in much-needed FID and new investment; and for using the oil and gas sector to spur new growth. The country, led by H.E. Macky Sall, the President of the Republic of Senegal, has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, consistently ranking in the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world. Government reforms, led by Sall, have improved Senegal’s image both domestically and abroad, encouraging a string of new investment in oil and gas, electricity, roads, fisheries and tourism.

The outlook for the country’s oil and gas sector, led by Sall, is bullish, with two of the world’s most-watched projects — SNE oilfield and the Great Tortue/Ahmeyim gas project — moving forward. Both are expected to start producing export revenues in the early 2020s.

H.E. Sall, winner of the prestigious “Africa Oil Man of the Year” award during the 2019 Africa Oil & Power conference, has certainly provided Africans with a strong example of leadership and cooperation. We are honored to recognize and support H.E. Sall’s achievements and continued efforts at Africa Oil & Power (https://AfricaOilandPower.com/).

At Atlas-Oranto, we are proud to be leading pioneers in the sustainable development of Africa’s energy sector, ensuring growth in countries like South Sudan, where we are honored to operate Block B3; in Equatorial Guinea where we operate Block I and in Nigeria, where we operate OML109. In total, Atlas-Oranto is active in 11 countries in Africa and we are committed to working with the governments and communities of these countries to ensure our operations meet the highest standards of energy development. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, we are currently investing $350 million into the country’s gas monetization and backfill project.

At Atlas-Oranto — Africa’s largest privately-held, Africa-focused exploration and production group — we have faith in Africans, and we invest heavily in frontier markets so that the continent as a whole can continue to grow. We know first-hand what it takes to get new investments off the ground and how to grow small-to-medium enterprises. It takes boots on the ground, as well as understanding and coordination with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Indeed, with new investment opportunities on the horizon and a new drive to cooperate across borders, now is the time to spur this sustainable growth in Africa with energy as the catalyst.

At Africa Oil & Power 2019, many of these opportunities will be featured, including the ongoing licensing rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Angola; the launch of the South Sudan licensing round; and more.

For three days, over 1,200 of Africa’s foremost thought leaders, industry experts, private sector executives and government officials will gather together to discuss the incredible role of technology in Africa’s energy sector; the rise of renewables; the incredible upstream opportunities from South Africa to Senegal and the need for cooperation.

Let’s get busy and #MakeEnergyWork.

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Between extortion and the sanctity of Petroleum contracts in Nigeria, DRC and Senegal
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations

NJ Ayuk

NJ Ayuk

By NJ Ayuk*

Last week, a commercial court in the United Kingdom gave reason to a claim by engineering company Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID), which demands over USD$9 billion from the Nigerian government over a failed gas deal. The decision follows a 2017 arbitration award and turns it into a legal judgement, which could allow P&ID to seize Nigeria’s international commercial assets.

P&ID’s claim is based on a 2010 contract signed with the government of Nigeria for the construction and operation of a “gas processing plant to refine natural gas (“wet gas”) into lean gas that Nigeria would receive free of charge to power its national electric grid,” the company’s website states. Under the deal, the Nigerian government should have provided the necessary infrastructure and pipelines needed to supply gas to the plant. P&ID would build the plant for free and then operate it and commercialize the output for a period of 20 years.

The company claims that over this period it would have earned USD$6.6 billion in profit, an incredible figure that becomes ever more fantastic as the company claims that the yearly 7% interest it is supposedly charging on this capital has now accrued to USD$2.4 billion, at the rate of USD$1.2 million a day, which closes the full amount at a perfectly round USD$9 billion. The whole situation is in itself extremely puzzling. Afterall P&ID, a company created specifically for this project, is claiming it is entitled to the full amount of what it would have gained over a period of 20 years of work, even though that period would not be over for another decade and some. Further, it is already charging interests on capital it would, if the project went forward, it would still be a decade away from generating. On top of that, it has chosen to pursue the matter in a British court, and has a separate law suite in an American court, when the contract was signed in Nigeria, under Nigerian law, and should be pursued in a Nigerian court, as the Nigerian legal team has repeatedly stated.

Nigeria is seeking an appeal to the decision, but P&ID is not wasting any time in trying to seize Nigerian assets abroad, and it might well manage to do so, at least in part.

Further, P&ID has never even broken ground on the construction of this power plant, which it claims would have benefitted so many thousands of Nigerians. The company has reportedly spent USD$40 million on preparatory work, although it is impossible to attest what that work has been.

Even just looking to the amount spent, work done and compensation sought, the figures seem simply absurd. USD$9 billion corresponds to 20% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, it would be unthinkable that a nation state would pay that much capital to a small unknown enterprise that invested not but a small fraction of that amount in the country and done none of the contracted work. Further, it is perplexing that a British court would even consider such a decision.

However, this issue represents an important cautionary tale for African governments everywhere. Very few things matter more in the struggle to attract investment and build a favourable business environment that will push the economy forward than the absolute sanctity of the contracts signed.

Investors need to know that their investments are safe and that they will be protected by the law in case the other parties falter on their obligations, as it seems to have happened with the Nigerian government. It is by no means the first time a situation like this happens. Just in March, an international court ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay South African DIG Oil Ltd USD$617 million for failing to honor two oil contracts. This is an unacceptable and unjustifiable loss of capital for the people of the DRC. Particularly taking into account that the loss is incurred because the country’s leaders failed to comply with a contract that could have brought a considerable amount of wealth for the country for many years to come, in both royalties and taxes, as well as help develop its oil industry.

Senegal’s government under President Macky Sall was very smart to avoid this kind of litigation when it was confronted with the issue of the Timis Corporation and its ownership of acreage that included the Tortue field, which is estimated to contain more than 15 tcf of discovered gas resources. If President Macky Sall would have proceeded with terminating a valid contract for the acreage, the Timis Corporation would have engaged in arbitration and would have probably gotten a favorable judgment against Senegal. In the process, the gas fields would have sat dormant and produced no returns for Senegal and its citizens. Sometimes leaders are confronted with tough choices and it takes a profile in courage to find solutions and still respect the sanctity of contracts.

Even with criticism from civil society groups, Equatorial Guinea has honored contracts with U.S. oil companies that many oil analysts believe are unfavorable to the state. This principle has kept Equatorial Guinea’s oil industry stable and US firms continue to invest in new projects like the EGLNG backfilling project with Noble, Atlas Oranto, Glencore Marathon and the state.

African leaders and African nations can not afford this sort of mistakes anymore. If on the one hand, contracts must be respected, protected and followed through, the people in charge of evaluating and signing those contracts must have the project’s feasibility as the dominant reasoning behind any decision. What is the purpose of signing contracts for fantastic projects where there is neither the capital nor the conditions to pull it through. Our economies live out of their reputation too. No investor wants to work in a system where contracts are not honored and where their investments are not protected.

While P&ID’s request for USD$9 billion in compensations seems absurd, companies that see the contracts they sign with African governments, or any governments, disrespected, must have the right to claim compensation, just in the same way that African leaders must be responsible for the contracts they sign and must make sure that situations like this do not repeat themselves. Enough money has been wasted on lawsuits that could be used to benefit the lives of Africans. This is true for the oil and gas industry and in any other industries.

*NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber, author of the upcoming book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

 

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