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A Memo to Paul Biya, President of Cameroon on: The Urgent Need for Public Policy Mediation and Negotiations in the Ongoing Armed Conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Rev. Fr.  Wilfred Emeh*

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

How did we get here?

It has been nearly three years since the unprecedented outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow on the facets of life of our beloved nation. The UN has reported nearly 2,000 deaths, property has been destroyed, schools have been torched, and uncertainty looms as thousands of people continue to live in misery. The devastation on our economy and human resources are inestimable; businesses have been forced to close, and talented citizens continue to flee their homeland. Thousands of families have been displaced, and many others have become refugees in foreign lands.

How did we get here? The escalation of the ongoing conflict is consequent upon grave administrative failures that include mass arrests and brutal force and extrajudicial killings at a time when peaceful civilians merely sought to express their grievances against the ruling government. Over time, insurgent groups emerged, acquired arms, and targeted the military and security officers, in what has become a full-blown armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

In retrospect, crass failure to implement educational and judicial policies, that are foundational principles of our co-existence, was the main cause of the Anglophone uprising. This was a glaring neglect of pertinent policies on equal partnership, the preservation of cultural heritage and identity of each region as stipulated by the union-agreement between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions. Evidently, this failure of policy implementation was a symptom of more profound ailments within our political institution that favors corruption, marginalization and social injustice. The implementation of policies, especially those that are constitutionally founded, are essential in the democratic decision-making process of every nation.

Despite the current situation, it would be in our national interest if all parties resort to the public policy mediation process which is an inclusive, transparent process of negotiations among government agency officials and diverse stakeholders that often results in consensus agreements rooted in nuanced understandings of a conflict (Potziba, 2019). This memo largely seeks to identify the root causes of the current crisis and propose recommendations for a swift resolution of the ongoing armed conflict.

Where are we?

So far, the government’s approach and tactics have been futile; attempts to set up a bilingualism commission failed no less than the authoritative leadership style. On the other hand, opposition groups have engaged in propaganda and destructive ideologies. Several factions have emerged with multiple pseudo-leaderships, void of any clear sense of direction. Civil rights activists are in jail while young people have been radicalized. The future is bleak as there seems to be no real leadership on either side of the aisle. And, while the government persists in cracking down on political activists and insurgents, the latter seem resolved to resist and fight back to the last ounce of their blood. It is rightly said, “as hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching.”

Consequently, our people are hurting. Worse still, both the government and the separatist forces seem to be on extreme ends of the political spectrum. Clearly without any strategies or plans for a resolution, an already precarious economy is worsening by the day, while armed bandits continue to terrorize and harass hard working civilians.

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

Brief theoretical framework

There is urgent need for public policy mediation, which should include revisiting the political roots of the problem in a spirit of dialogue, conferences and negotiation. “In several Western democracies, attempts have been made to find a way out of these problems by trying out new forms of conflict resolution based upon negotiation and participatory procedures such as policy dialogue, consensus conferences, participatory technology assessment, mediation, or facilitation” (Holzinger, 2001).

The benefits of policy mediation and negotiation are enormous; it brings together policy experts from international platforms who will forge the path to a lasting resolution. Usually policy mediation fosters deliberations among parties that represent every aspect of a situation, supported by expertise as needed, resulting in agreements that avoid unintended consequences (Podziba, 2019).

Another important benefit of policy mediation is face-to-face deliberations that promote civil discourse. This is quite different from the vitriolic attacks and incivility that we have also witnessed on social media platforms, spewed by both the government spokespersons and opposition groups.

Negotiation and policy mediation are bedfellows, encouraging the willingness of both parties to shift positions with a clear focus on a win-win outcome. During successful negotiation, emotions are separated from the factual basis of the problem, shifting the focus to the benefits without the pride of clinging to positions. Lines of communication are opened, paving the way toward rational analysis of arguments, discussion of concessions and pursuit of compromise to the benefit of everyone.

Understandably, the ruling government has an uphill task in initiating dialogue with diverse opposition groups, some of which have been tagged as terrorists. This must be dealt with initially as it is the outcome of the delegitimization of the premier civil rights consortium. A committed public relations bureau of the government with sound knowledge on the issues should identify the main rival groups and extend an invitation to them.

What must we do?

  • Amidst these tumultuous times, political leaders need to rise beyond personal feelings, hurt, and mistakes of the past and look at the bigger picture: the future of our children, peace, and stability are priceless. It is time to demonstrate true leadership by involving the grassroots in a process of dialogue that can bring real change in Cameroon. Richard Box (1998) explains that finding a way to equitably resolve differences is a key interpersonal skill, opening the door to more citizen-oriented governance. For elected leaders and public service practitioners, this means a flexible attitude toward change, shedding of protective feelings of personal turf, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue on issues facing the community (as cited in Denhardt et al., 2014).
  • The time for blame games is over. It is urgent for warring factions to come to the negotiating table in a spirit of sincere dialogue that allows deliberations on all options including federalism. The current efforts being made to host an All-Anglophone Conference (November 21-22) is commendable. These kinds of initiatives – notably dialogues led by civil society, whether secular or religious – should get strong support from governments and international organizations, including the U.S., the European Union, the African Union, and even the Vatican. The International Crisis Group has recommended the Catholic Church as potential mediator of the crisis.
  • There is need for a neutral arbiter in the policy mediation process. This is no longer an internal affair as often claimed by some overzealous political pundits. The constant refrain by Anthony Guiterez, Secretary General of the UN, that Africans should solve their own problems, is unrealistic, perhaps even bizarre. We would be repeating mistakes of the past to the detriment of human life and human dignity.
  • A decentralized form of government should be considered to better serve the needs of the people, which would devolve power and control to the local communities, limiting the concentration of management of the nation’s resources in the hands of a few high-positioned officials. By shifting control rights from the central bureaucrat (who otherwise acts like an unregulated monopolist) to a local government, decentralization typically tends to expand service deliveries as authority goes to those more responsive to user needs (Bardhan, 2002).

 

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

In conclusion, our nation must strive toward good governance. Most armed conflicts in Africa are caused by bad governance. All over the world, people naturally rise against regimes that deprive them of their rights and privileges due to institutional corruption. In retrospect, armed conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Liberia, just to mention a few, were all linked to bad governance. The United Nation Children’s Fund notes, “corruption and bad governance were among the causes of war. The majority of the people had no voice in the government and no opportunities in life and so they were easily provoked to violence” (as cited in Yiew et al., 2016). Good governance is key to mitigating armed conflict. Empirical studies show that countries that uphold democratic principles, where corruption is under control, where law and order is maintained, where the people are served accordingly, are less vulnerable to armed conflicts (Yiew et al., 2016).

References

Bardhan P. (2002). Decentralization of governance and development. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(4), 185–205. Retrieved from https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533002320951037

Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. Routledge.

Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, T. (2014). Public administration: An action orientation (7th ed.). Cengage Learning

Holzinger, K. (2001). Negotiations in public-policy making: Exogenous barriers to successful dispute resolution. Journal of Public Policy21(1), 71-96.

Konings, P., & Nyamnjoh, F. B. (1997). The anglophone problem in Cameroon. The Journal of Modern African Studies35(2), 207-229.

Podziba, S. L. (2019). Conflict, Negotiation, and Public Policy Mediation in the Trump Era. Negotiation Journal35(1), 177-181.

Staff, C (2018). Cameroon cardinal helping organize conference to tackle Anglophone crisis. Retrieved from https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/04/cameroon-cardinal-helping-organize-conference-to-tackle-anglophone-crisis/

Yiew, T. H., Habibullah, M. S., Law, S. H., & Azman-Saini, W. N. W. (2016). Does bad governance cause armed conflict? International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research14(6), 3741-3755.

*Rev. Wilfred Emeh is a doctoral student in Public Administration at the West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of concentration is governance and armed conflict in Africa

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Is Africa Rising Narrative A Propaganda Or A Reality?
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka*

Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda

Why is it that African continent which is a home to sixty percent of world’s remaining arable land, and is vastly blessed with numerous utilizable water resources and various agro-ecological zones, is still a net food importer and is persistently failing to break the food import chain and food trade deficit that it is trapped in?

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, and which is expected to reach 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is extremely worrying. This is almost the same amount, the continent needs to close its power deficit, which is among the key needed ingredient to make the continent meaningfully diversify its economies.

My firsthand accounts of seeing extremely malnourished children in many areas of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Liberia, coupled with very low agricultural productivity, stemming from, overdependence on rain, minimal fertilizer application, use of rudimentary tools, absence of use of appropriate irrigation and water harvesting technologies, and poor farming practices, accompanied with agricultural policy distortions, I have witnessed in many African countries, casts a gloomy picture of Africa’ agricultural sector.

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, estimated to rise to 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is besides annihilating its agriculture, also a key continent’s growth and development decelerator. Currently, 250 million people in Africa, are undernourished, and with dwindling agricultural yields, and skyrocketing population, the continent food import bill, is poised to keep on expanding.

Two years back, while on a research assignment, in South-Kivu, North-Kivu, and Tshopo provinces, in DRC, the dilapidated human shelters housing thousands of malnourished and undernourished families, I witnessed shocked me. This is a vast country, which besides, being almost the entire size of Western Europe, is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and is also richly endowed with uranium, diamond, gold, copper, oil, and other precious metals, in addition to possessing large swatches of fertile lands, and world’s second longest River, Congo River, but majority its citizens are extremely very poor.

The situation is not different in other African countries. Forget the rising GDP figures, which the cunning politicians and economists, base on to advance the African rising narrative, and embark on extensive journey in rural areas of many African countries, the skyrocketing poverty levels you will witness, will surprise you.

The persistent use of per capita income as a gauge of African economies growth, should be discarded. It is largely misrepresentative of real situation on the ground, as it does not factor in, the distribution of growth. For instance, according to GDP figures, Uganda economy, has from, 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 expanded from, 25.00 USD billion to 29.00 USD billion, but collaborative government and civil society statistical data, shows that, poverty levels, have in the same period tremendously increased, which in essence implies that, the so called economic expansion is of no value to the majority of its citizens.

All African countries are debt- distressed and billions of monies, they have for years borrowed and are still borrowing from world bank, IMF, China, and other lending institutions and countries, to finance, roads, standard gauge railways construction, power, and other infrastructural developments, with the main aim of attracting foreign direct investments, have not and are not translating into economic wellbeing of the masses. The machinery and technologies used in these infrastructural projects, is foreign imported, very few Africans are employed in these projects, and a big percentage of this borrowed billions, is often swindled through syndicated corruption, involving African leaders and their thieving cronies.

There is no ground-breaking inventions, innovations, and technologies, being generated by Africa’s academic institutions, meant for spurring Africa’s industrial development. All the industries in Africa, are majorly powered by imported technologies. Why is this so and yet we have science, technology, and inter-disciplinary faculties in our universities?

Research is now a major growth and development accelerator of leading world economies. All the ground-breaking technologies that translates into economic well-being of the citizens are attained, through heavily investing in research. Is research financing a priority to African countries? How much does each country apportion to research each financial year? Can that research financing amount enable each country to produce ground- breaking technologies to leapfrog its forward in meeting the needs its citizens?

All over the continent, youth unemployment is on rise, and so is endemic corruption, both of which are deleterious economic bombs, that have been and are set, to continue exploding causing political unrest and destabilizing Africa growth agendas. What has happened and is happening in Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, among others is largely a governance question.

Almost all African leaders are pursuing two personal egoistic agendas: personal/family wealth accumulation, and creating a sort of political system/dynasty that provides for continued enjoyment of ill-gotten wealth even when not in power. Creating societal wealth is not their main agenda.

In sum, Africa rising narrative, will only become a reality, when the continent get visionary and transformative leaders, whose main agenda, is to trigger accumulation of an all- inclusive societal wealth. Today’s Africa rising narrative that is mainly advanced basing on GDP growth figures, is largely deceptive, as reality on the ground shows that it is fundamentally exclusive of majority of continental citizens.

*Moses Hategeka, is Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer.Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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A Response To Moise Shewa’s ‘Don’t Fan Flames Of Hatred In Cameroon’
November 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mufor Atanga

 

Dear Moise Shewa,

History Lesson: 64th President of the UN General Assembly Ali Triki presents President Biya with two maps of La Republique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons in an audience during festivities to mark the 50th independence anniversary of Cameroun

History Lesson: 64th President of the UN General Assembly Ali Triki presents President Biya with two maps of La Republique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons in an audience during festivities to mark the 50th independence anniversary of Cameroun

It is one thing to express your bias opinion through fiction; it is completely another matter to try to make such an opinion pass as facts, as in your opinion piece in the New African of November 2018, (pp 34 – 38).  The actual facts do differ with the general thrust of your article and the otherwise highly respected New African has done itself no favours by publishing such a vacuous diatribe. However, what makes it most disagreeable is your deliberate attempt at fudging the facts. Deliberate, because you should know better or ought to; and if you do not, you should first educate yourself on the subject before making what is at best spurious claims to the truth.  It would seem though there is a more sinister agenda at play here; first popularised by the Nazis and now being rehashed by the adepts of Trumpism like yourself, it relies on the simple premise that you only need to repeat a lie several times and people start believing it, even when they know it is not the truth. There are many things that have gone wrong with the way and manner in which the quest for restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons is being pursued. However, that does not in any way undermine the legitimacy of the issues raised, or the cause itself. Ordinarily, I would have ignored your article, as I do most that have been published during the course of the current phase of the Southern Cameroons quest for restoration since 2016. However, this will be doing you and the readership of the New African a disservice if the fallacies contained therein were not to be corrected:

  • I read Chimamanda’s piece at the time it appeared and I have watched a couple of JJ Rawlings’s and PLO Lumumba’s outings on the Southern Cameroons. There is nothing in their views that could be contested as being unfounded. What makes your referencing them as the anchor of your article particularly disingenuous is your argument that because they are foreigners, they do not fully understand what is happening in the Cameroons. Your attempt to discredit their stance as such with the rather weak argument of proximity to the situation and circumstances falls flat as it is an argument that has already been debunked on several different occasions and one need not belabour here. As it has been proven several times over, often foreigners are not only more knowledgeable about local history and situations but also do appreciate the nuances that underpin local circumstances and actions.

 

  • Are you ignorant of the fact that in the Cameroonian context the use of the term Anglophone (as with Francophone) has a specific historical, geographic and socio-political connotation that goes beyond one’s mastery of the English language or principal language of communication?  It is not some Anglophones who believe that they are marginalised; it is the vast majority of Anglophones who are aware of the fact that they have been under colonial occupation by what is itself a French colony since 1961, and who want to be out of Cameroun through the restoration of the statehood of the Sothern Cameroons. Aren’t you well aware of the fact that it is not about language but the instrumentalization of language, in this instance, English and French? Besides, aren’t you well aware of the uncontested facts on how the Southern Cameroons as a territory and people have fared in Cameroun since 1961, and to say it is simply a matter of belief is another lie? The problem with some journalistic opinion pieces, such as yours, is that they are often shallow and devoid of facts. Besides, it is near impossible to attempt refuting every sentence that is misleading or an outright lie. Often it is a waste of time attempting to debunk an article not only because it is presented as an opinion piece but also because it is not all those who might have read the initial article who would invariably read any rejoinder.

 

  • It is also misleading to state that in 2016 the lawyers were protesting against the use of English in the courts. As important as the language being used in the courts in the territory is, the protests of the lawyers at the time, as you ought to know, went far beyond the use of language. I recall it was Ngongang Ouandji who as Minister of Justice in 1985 whilst on a visit in Bamenda, at a meeting with the judicial corps stated to the effect that there is need to harmonise the legal system; and his very next sentence was that what obtains in the Anglophone provinces is bad, meaning there is need for the Anglophones who practice the common law system to adopt the civil (Napoleonic) law system that obtains in French Cameroun. So too, with the educational system, for until our widespread protests in 1984, led by Anglophone students in the then lone University of Yaounde, our cohort would have been the experimental guinea pigs of writing the BAC syllabus in English in the name of harmonisation of the educational system. Hence, as with the legal system, harmonisation has never been about the development of a unique indigenous system in Cameroun but a superimposition of a bastardised and poorly mastered francophone system onto the anglophone education system. The recent presidential decree (October 2018) truncating the GCE Board further illustrates the point, and bears testimony to the demonstrated bad faith of the Francophone led regime, from the onset of the tacit Union, if any was still required. As amply experienced during the past 57 years, intention cannot be legislated, as the Francophone led regime had approached unification as a zero-sum game and subsequently back peddled on every written understanding entered into with the Anglophone community; for, it is as recently as 1993 that the GCE Board was established after protests by anglophone parents, teachers and students during which many were injured and lives lost. It is that mindset that still informs policy formulation and decision making when it comes to Anglophone Cameroun.

 

  • It is another false argument to state that the Anglophones are protesting against the lack of jobs and development in the territory, as important as these are. As you should know, there was a clearly spelt out tacit agreement and terms which brought the two territories together in 1961 in the form of the federal constitution. The Francophone led regime orchestrated the abrogation of this agreement through the pseudo-referendum that took place in 1972, thereby ending the quasi-federalism that existed until then. Hence the constitutional and institutional arrangements that were meant to guarantee the autonomy of the territory and people were systematically undermined and destroyed. As such nothing legally binds the two territories together.  Not only that and as I have amply demonstrated elsewhere (The Anglophone Cameroon Predicament, 2011), the Francophone led regime over the years systematically destroyed all important economic initiatives, both state and private, that could have provided opportunities to the people of the territory turning it into a vast labour reserve. Otherwise, what happened to the once thriving commercial seaport of Victoria where you live and are heavily invested, to mention only this?

 

  • Another not so subtle argument which you make, and is often made by the Francophone led regime and most of the Francophone intelligentsia who are against the restoration of the Southern Cameroons statehood is that the territory historically belongs to Cameroun and was simply returned in 1961. I wouldn’t go into this as it has been extensively exhausted by others. Suffice to extent your logic by asking why the other parts of German Kamerun that are now parts of Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Congo Republic haven’t been returned to Cameroun? I suppose you would claim not to have come across the 2005 Banjul judgement of the ACHPR on the territory and peoples either? Don’t you know of when boundaries in Africa became immutable? And has the position of the African Union on the immutability of boundaries at independence changed?

 

  • Your assertion that the issue in Cameroun is one of tribalism is not only insulting but nonsensical given some of the preceding points advanced and to follow. Does it mean that if tribalism was to be removed as a factor in the body politic of Cameroun would it suddenly rediscover its once vaunted peace and stability? Isn’t it being rather reductionist to conflate and reduce the myriad of governance issues that make Cameroun inherently unstable to the existence of tribalism? Again, it is similar to some of the arguments made by a number of Francophone intellectuals that the problem in the Cameroons is one of tribalism:

 

  1. the so-called Anglophones as you very well know, are not a tribe; and there are many ethnicities or nationalities in the Southern Cameroons;
  2. this is the same argument that the Francophone led regime advances with its since abandoned geo-ethnic policies (in favour of the concentration of power and resources overwhelmingly in the hands of one ethnic group) whereby Anglophones are perceived as an ethnic group in the allocation of resources, spoils of political office and appointments in the civil service; and
  3. What is the basis of your assertion that the reason for the many wars that have plagued our continent since independence is tribalism? There is no need for me to go into the theoretical and ideological underpinnings of wars here. Suffice to state that the causes for wars generally and in particular in Africa are multi-dimensional. Whilst ethnicity is often a factor in African politics, it is very simplistic to attribute the lack of the ability to manage diversity (which ought to be a source of wealth) to be the main cause of fragility and violent conflict in the postcolonial state in Africa. Besides, the Southern Cameroons (which is multinational and multi-ethnic) quest is not to capture power in Yaounde per se, but for the restoration of its statehood;
  4. again, to illustrate how simplistic your argument is, how many ethnic groups (or tribes, your preferred terminology) constituted the old Somalia which you covered as a journalist in the early 1990s? And why has Somaliland refused to be part of the old Somali state, given that it is made up of the same ethnic group?

 

  • Another fallacious assertion you make is that most of the leaders of the uprising live abroad. This is not only cannily similar to the argument that the Francophone led regime makes, but it also denies those living the experience back in Cameroun agency and the ability to think for themselves. It was in May 2015 that the lawyers initially made their demands to the government from Bamenda; publicised by way of a Conference Declaration, all of them were living in the Cameroons. It was because the government gave deaf ears to the legitimate demands of the lawyers initially and subsequent follow ups that by mid-2016 the situation degenerated. The teachers soon followed suit during the latter part of 2016 with their own legitimate demands. These were not simply trade union demands as some would rather misrepresent as both the legal and educational systems have a material and immediate impact on the daily lives of the people. It was precisely because the government failed to address the demands that the trade unions along with other civil society organisations hastily created the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) which led the initial attempts to negotiate with the government. The government’s half-hearted attempt to negotiate (perceived in many quarters rightly as an attempt to identify the leaders) with CACSC failed primarily because the government concessions were correctly perceived as window dressing and did not go far enough in addressing the grievances.

 

  • Prior to the CACSC being banned in January 2017, in November and December 2016 the government had already killed hundreds of those who sympathised with the cause of this organisation. It is precisely because the government banned the organisation, arrested some of its leaders with whom it was previously negotiating, whilst others who had escaped the government’s dragnet went on exile that the organisation morphed into the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front (SCACUF). As such:

 

  1. Whilst some of the leadership of the uprising are currently to be found abroad, most of them remain in Cameroun and are either in jail or leading various forms of resistance including self-defence;
  2. It is the government’s poor management of the crisis which led to its degeneration and the demands for a return to federalism;
  3. The government’s refusal to entertain the demand to reconstitute the nature of the initial implicit union led to further demands for the restoration of the statehood of the Southern Cameroons, which had been a longstanding demand of several groupings, particularly accentuated since the 1993 All Anglophone Conference;
  4. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that prior to young people taking up arms in the Southern Cameroons for self defence the government had carried out massacres in the territory particularly on 22 September and 01 October 2017 against peaceful demonstrators.

 

  • There is equally credible evidence to show that most of the intimidations, kidnappings for ransom, banditry, is perpetrated by elements of the Cameroun military and vigilante groups set up (to discredit the Amba Boys) by Anglophone government functionaries – Patrick Ekema, the Mayor of Buea and Atanga Nji Paul, the notorious Minister of Territorial Administration, it has been repeatedly alleged, are said to be behind many of such fake Amba fighters and incidents, such as, the Menka-Pinyin massacre of May 2018, the kidnapping of a number of Chiefs around Fako in August 2018, or the recent (around the 4th and 5th of November 2018) abduction of about 90 students from a Presbyterian secondary school, PSS Nkwen, in the city of Bamenda.   Recently, the leader of the once formidable opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, claimed to have evidence of government Ministers who are sponsoring fake “Amba Boys” as reported by the Guardian Post.  It is the government that as the current US Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin once indicated, employ targeted killings, kidnappings, etc in the territory. It is the President of Cameroon who in November 2017 declared war against a section of the country and a people he claims to be ruling.  It is the armée Camerounaise that is applying a scorched earth policy in the prosecution of the war against the so-called ‘Amba terrorists’ with at the last count over 140 villages razed; with old grannies and the infirmed being burnt alive in their homes, hospitals and schools being set ablaze, just as it was done in the Bamileke region in the 1960s.

 

  • Again, it is a lie that the Anglophone leadership of the uprising has advocated for the attack of Francophones. On the contrary what I am aware of, is the repeated emphasis that the quarrel is with the Francophone led regime in Yaounde and not with the ordinary Francophone who generally are mired in the same poverty and misery as prevalent in Anglophone Cameroon. On the contrary, there is well documented evidence of senior government officials, such as the Governor of the South West Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, referring to Anglophones as rats that should be exterminated; whilst a number of Francophone radio and TV stations such as Vision 4 in Yaounde have gained notoriety with their anti-anglophone propaganda.  Through such inflammatory utter nonsense, it would appear it is the author and his likes who are attempting to fan the flames of hatred of Anglophones by Francophones and vice versa. What needs to be pointed out here as well, is that very few Francophones (such as Patrice Nganang) have realised that the shortest course to true independence for French Cameroun is by supporting and teaming up with the Southern Cameroons restoration quest.

 

  • What are the exaggerated stories of marginalisation, that have been told to Ms Adichie, Messrs Rawlings and Lumumba by their Anglophone friends since reunification 59 years (sic) ago? How, by the author’s own admission, does the brutalisation and murder of students, teachers and lawyers, or the shutdown of the internet and many other atrocities being committed by the paramilitary gendarmes, the army and other agents of the vampire state become an exaggeration? As you did read English Literature in the University of Yaounde, you should have been taught by Prof Bernard Fonlon who is considered not only as a leading Anglophone of his time but also an intellectual of international renown – largely perceived in certain quarters as a system legitimiser because of his close collaboration with the despotic Ahidjo regime, are you unaware that he is one of the principal authors of the New Social Order published in 1985 and hence one of the intellectual godfathers of the Ambazonian uprising along with the likes of Fon Gorgi Dinka and Albert Mukong? Did you ever read his Shall we Make or Mar which as the scribe of the KNDP he penned to Ahidjo and his UC acolytes in 1964 and which shows that by then there was already clear signs of the collapse of the union? If you cared to, you would have discovered that there is a body of academic literature generated largely by Anglophone scholars  and their foreign counterparts beginning with the Canadian Jacques Benjamin’s Les Camerounais Occidentaux… in 1972 being the first book length publication on how federalism had been practised and collapsed in the Cameroons?[1] Did you read the article published by a Francophone, the former Governor of the then Anglophone provinces of the  North West and South West and subsequently Secretary General at the Presidency of Cameroun, Abouem à Tchoyi in  January 2017?  What of the memorandum published by the Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Province of Bamenda in December 2016[2] as well, to mention but these few?

 

  • Even if independence had been declared on 01 October 2017, symbolic or otherwise, did those who had made the declaration use force? Was the wholesale slaughter of unarmed civilians by the so-called security forces the most appropriate response by the government? Was that the first time such a declaration had been made or the population coming out to celebrate? I may not have agreed with the actions of those who had made such a declaration at the time – however, given the many illegal acts of the regime from 1961 signposted by the subterfuge of a referendum in 1972, reverting  to the name La Republique du Cameroun through an ultra vires presidential decree in 1984, and being the name with which French Cameroun  was known prior to the purported union with the Sothern Cameroons, the various presidential decrees over the years that eroded the autonomy of the Anglophone region, amongst many other illicit acts, making such a declaration by the restorationists was quite understandable and it is not treasonous as you posit. That’s why as earlier referenced the letter published by the Catholic Bishops of the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference (BAPEC) in December 2016 recommended addressing the root cause of the uprising just as the American Ambassador, Henry Peter Barlerin, amongst many others, have stated. In this instance, just as throughout your article your stance reflects the regime’s position and often using its exact phrasing.

 

  • Again, comparing the Anglophone territory and peoples to other regions in Cameroun is another false comparison as those regions never held a UN organised plebiscite (whose legitimacy is now being questioned by some in the International Community) in 1961 to gain independence by joining the Federal Republic of Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroon; nor did they enter into an informal union with Cameroun through a clearly defined federal constitutional framework (although with its own shortcomings) which outlined  minimum safeguards to guarantee and preserve the identity and autonomy of the region. It is not the Southern Cameroons that breached the informal agreement at every turn and there is no point returning to the status quo ante as the experience of the past 57 years has been one long nightmare. Obviously to you, the complete wiping out of more than 140 towns and villages, the deliberate indiscriminate slaughter of the peoples of these towns and villages with over 4000 dead so far, the more than 50 thousand refuges to be found in Nigeria, the more than 500 thousand internally displaced persons (many living under extremely precarious conditions in the forests) in the territory, do not constitute acts of genocide perpetrated by your Francophone kinsmen from across the Mungo and Matazem.

 

  • It is unsophisticated sophism to attempt to compare the Southern Cameroons restoration quest to the Biafran experience or other civil wars that have been fought on the continent in the recent past, for reasons already advanced here and more. Besides, the Southern Cameroons quest is to a large extent a demand for the rectification of a historical injustice done to it with the complicity of the so-called international community, in particular the UN, Britain and France. Restoration is not antithetical to pan-Africanism either as you attempt to insinuate. If anything, it is the acts of genocide currently being perpetrated that will hinder good neighbourliness for a people and states condemned to live side by side, whatever the outcome of the current uprising.

 

  • There’s nothing confusing about the status and identity of immigrant peoples and settler communities in the Southern Cameroons. Such immigrants were granted Southern Cameroons citizenship if they so choose and many of them actively participated in Southern Cameroons politics and many held senior cabinet and civil service positions in the various governments in the Southern Cameroons and subsequently in the various governments in West Cameroon. I happen to know that most of them, are quite active in the current restoration quest. If the author understood the Anglophone and had searched the soul of the Southern Cameroonian, he would have discovered deep within the burning desire for liberty that cannot be quenched by some cosmetic changes; he would have realised that this time nothing but visible irreversible progress towards the attainment of such freedom will calm the uprising that has gripped the imagination of the population. If the views expressed in your opinion piece, and which are not different from those of the authoritarian regime in Yaounde, are the same you express when you are with some of your Anglophone friends, it is not surprising then that they throw jibes at you as to your ‘Anglophoneness’.

 

  • No less a personage than the highly respected and most eminent Christian Cardinal Tumi recently confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the Anglophone population is for restoration, if the story carried in The Guardian Post of 02 November 2018 is to be believed.  Amongst the Anglophone population, only a tiny minority, less than 0.25 percent, in the main senior politicians and civil servants as well as business people, who rely heavily on the regime’s patronage and contracts for survival are not in favour of restoration. Even amongst these most will settle for a loose form of federation with La Republique du Cameroun. However, given the events of the past couple of years this is no longer a tenable proposition.

 

  • Your condemnation of some amongst the Anglophone leadership for holding British or American citizenship is not dissimilar from the hypocrisy of the Yaounde regime that has systematically, and since the beginning of the current crisis intensified the  prevention  or expulsion from Cameroon of its critics who travel on foreign passports such as the writer and academic, Patrice Nganang (perhaps it is worth pointing out that Patrice, a Francophone, and redoubtable critic of the regime actively supports and campaigns for the Anglophone cause) in January 2018, or refusing to grant a visa to the iconic  musician, Richard Bona  to attend the funeral of his mother in mid-2017 – both of them having acquired US citizenship. These would have been understandable if the regime applied such measures even-handedly; but it is not the case, as most of Biya’s Ministers and senior civil servants openly carry foreign passports. Perhaps the issue then is not foreign passports per se and the only rational explanation is that these regime functionaries who also hold French nationality are not considered by the regime to have dual nationality since Cameroun remains a French colony in everything but name, and one could as such see why the current policy that does not allow for dual nationality does not apply to them. During the last French presidential elections, Roger Milla, the soccer legend and Adolf Moudiki, the Director General of the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH), were shown on the national television, CRTV, casting their votes at the French Embassy in Yaounde.

 

  • It is extreme mischief, if not outright cruelty, at a time when the peoples of the Southern Cameroons are confronting an existential threat, for the author to make light of the struggles of the long-suffering and besieged Anglophones in the Cameroons. He is the one indulging in irredentism with a very strong dose of revisionism. A lot of blood has already been spilt and remains ongoing, on both sides, simply because the moribund but arrogant regime in Yaounde lacks any redeeming leadership features. It should be clear to all including the regime by now that this is a war it is not going to win in the battlefield. Initially, it thought that it will be a matter of weeks before it crushes the uprising; exactly a year since the formal declaration of war by Mr Biya, yet the ragtag and poorly equipped Amba Boys are only growing in strength with each day that fighting continues. In spite of several false flag activities carried out by the agents of the government and the military such as the Menka-Pinyin massacre, aimed at discrediting the Amba Boys with the international community by portraying them as mere bandits and terrorists; and alienating them from the population who by and large they rely on for support. It remains incumbent upon the regime to open negotiations with the Anglophone leadership.

 

  • Disagreeing with the legitimate aspirations and quest of a people, doesn’t mean the truth should become the first casualty as your writeup attests. If anything, a veritable revolution has taken place during the past couple of years – the people have awoken to the magnitude of historical injustices carried out against them. At no time in the history of the people of the Southern Cameroons have they learned as much of their long-suppressed history as now.  As such, no amount of hacked writing and distortion will ever sway the people from this consciousness and their burning desire for freedom. As it is often the case, nobody is currently in control of the violence that has been unleashed on an unsuspecting people by the rogue regime in Yaounde. Ultimately both parties will end up at the negotiating table and a responsive and responsible  government could have spared all us from this unnecessary senseless war.

[1] For a quick but comprehensive introduction to understanding what is happening in Cameroon today, see amongst others, M. Atanga, (2011) The Anglophone Cameroon Predicament, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon;  Piet Konings and Francis Nyamnjoh (2003) Negotiating An Anglophone Identity: A Study of the Politics of Recognition and Representation in Cameroon, Brill, Leiden and Boston; and Carlson Anyangwe (2008) Imperialistic Politics in Cameroun: Resistance & the Inception of the Restoration of the Statehood of Southern Cameroons, Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon.

 

[2] “Memorandum presented to the head of state, His Excellency President Paul Biya, by the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bamenda on the current situation of unrest in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon”, BAPEC, 22 December 2016.

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Open Letter To AU On The Way Forward For Monetary Policies in Africa
November 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

To: African Union and African Leaders.

Your Excellencies,

Martin Atayo

Martin Atayo

We have launched an important, but crucial call to African Union and African Leaders for the creation of African currency base vis-à-vis the Central Bank of Africa as a gigantic transformation of our global economy that guarantees elevated level of competitive free market enterprising economy.

An African currency base, well mapped out, will compete with British pounds, US dollars, French francs, Chinese yen, all of which are top rated the most powerful international currencies of today. Any realization of the Central bank of Africa could mean the highest and intensely valuable financial institution to oversee all existing monetary institutions in Africa, and will be charged with responsibilities ranging from currency design, and currency mint for all nations within the continent of Africa, intra-continental (country to country)financial activities, inter-continental International financial transactions, as well as, function as a network hub for monitor, regulations and foreign exchange and policy recommendations.

More importantly, the central bank of Africa is envisaged to function from generation to generations, and oversee data and assets planning management and infrastructural support recommendations to African Union. When, and if debated and approved, will be created to remain passive in functional operational responsibilities discovery phase period of 2-4 years, after which, it moves into active implementation status.

We call on an open dialogue, consultation with more developed nations for proper Institutional structural design, especially, friendly nations in the West, Europe, far East, as well as Asia for broad base contributory ideas. A critical step in rendering African economy stronger, more manageable and competitive in emerging global economic transformational order.

Thank you.

Martin Atayo

Washington DC 20013

*Martin Atayo is an Executive in Chief of Multipurpose Global Application Technologies Corporation with headquarters based in Washington DC. He is a research scholar of Leadership, and inventor of applied science new study field, consciousness universality, or universities consciousness. He is the first to have advised African nations to adopt, encourage, support and promote private sector small business enterprising through government   guaranteed low interest loans to small business enterprises. He is an adviser to governments.He can be reached via email MartinAtayo@mpgatechnology.com.

 

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I Ran for President in Cameroon. Here is What I Learnt
November 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

President Biya won disputed elections on 7 October amidst rising unrest in Cameroon

By Akere T. Muna

 Akere Muna set standards in his own way by publicly declaring his assets

Akere Muna set standards in his own way by publicly declaring his assets

On 6 November, Paul Biya was inaugurated for the seventh time. The 85-year-old has already been in power for the last 36 years and will now serve another seven-year term.

President Biya won disputed elections on 7 October amidst rising unrest in Cameroon. The country is divided into the Francophone area – which makes up four-fifths of territory – and the smaller Anglophone area. In the last two years, the latter region has been in a situation just short of civil war.

Over the decades since unification, the Anglophone regions have been increasingly dominated (https://bit.ly/2DDukwx) and felt resentful. This led to a movement that, in 2016, began by holding strikes and peaceful demonstrations. Activists called for the restoration of the English-speaking education and judicial system.

The government responded with furious repression and shut down any discussions about federalism. This led to a spiralling crisis. Today, the talk is about secession, while the conflict has become bloody. There are now over 300,000 internally displaced persons and more than 40,000 refugees in Nigeria. At least 90 villages have been razed, while over 400 civilians have been killed and thousands more wounded. 40% of Cameroon’s revenue derives from the Anglophone regions, but the local economy has been deeply undermined by the insecurity.

This is the context in which Cameroon’s elections were held last month. In theory, this exercise was an opportunity for citizens to shape the direction of the nation. But the reality is very different.

The body that organises Cameroon’s elections is supposedly autonomous, but all its members are appointed by the president and can be removed at will.  All electoral disputes are settled by the Constitutional Council, but all its members are also appointed by the president. The Minister of Territorial Administration, another presidential appointee, handles all other administrative issues connected with elections.

In Cameroon, the voting system is first-past-the-post and uses multiple ballots. Voters are given papers for all the candidates and then cast their vote by putting their favoured nominee into the ballot box. This means they can leave the booth with the papers of the other candidates, allowing vote-buyers the ability to check how people voted. Calls to adopt a single ballot paper system have been ignored.

For presidential hopefuls, getting onto the ballot in the first place is challenging. Nominees must pay around $60,000 to submit their candidacies. They must either be endorsed by a party with at least one elected official or, if running as an independent, produce at least 300 signatures from specific kinds of dignitaries from every region.

In the elections themselves, there are close to 25,000 polling stations. What candidate can field representatives in each of these locations? The official campaign period lasts two weeks and it is illegal to campaign before this period. How can one visit 360 districts in just 14 days? The presidential campaign team, which includes ministers and other dignitaries, travels the country at the expense of the state, meaning the playing field is nowhere near level. Meanwhile, the state media turns into the ruling party’s propaganda machine.

Despite the very high hurdles, however, I decided to run for president. I have spent the last 25 years defending good governance and fighting corruption. In 2000, at a time Cameroon was accused of being the most corrupt country in the world, I founded the national chapter of international anti-corruption NGO Transparency International. Needless to say, this earned me the ire of the establishment. I went on to work for bodies such as the African Development Bank and High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.

In this time, I watched as my country steadily moved in the wrong direction. And with the worsening situation in the Anglophone regions threatening to pull apart the fabric of our nation, a sense of responsibility weighed on my soul. I knew that I had to put my experience at the service of our citizens and attack the issues at their source – the system.

In the end, though, I withdrew my candidacy and backed Maurice Kamto. There is nowhere in African where the opposition has removed a dictator like Biya without presenting a common front. In Cameroon, the remaining eight candidates held some further meetings, but never met once together as a group. This meant that there was no single opposition candidate. This fact discouraged voters who concluded it was a waste of time.

In the final tally, Biya officially won with 71.28%. Kamto came second with 14.23%. But there were reports of massive fraud. The absence of opposition officials at many polling stations allowed the stuffing of ballot boxes. An incomplete biometric system meant that certain people voted multiple times.

The legal challenge against the election results that followed exposed the Constitutional Council as political institution. This all played out on national television and many citizens, for the first time, witnessed the fraud that cripples our electoral process.

Akere eventually threw his weight behind Kamto

Akere eventually threw his weight behind Kamto

The danger that Cameroon now faces is that its elections’ lack of credibility could lead voters to question the need to participate. And if electoral justice becomes captured by politics and hence incapable of addressing issues raised by the proper, the streets will take over. Since the presidential elections, there have been demonstrations against what has been described as a faulted political process. These demonstrations have been relayed to the Diaspora in Europe and America.

Cameroon needs to design an adequate electoral system. It is essential to make reforms so that the individual controlling the process is not also a player in it. This year, Cameroons saw first-hand the effects of a lopsided system. If the electoral playing field is not evened out then the country risks being stuck in an interminable loop created by a government for the government. Cameroonians will only stand for this so long. Till then, Cameroon remains a state captured by a few oligarchs.

 

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Nigeria:Much Ado About PMB’S Certificate
October 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Philip Agbese*
Buhari

Buhari

Elections are around the corner again. Politicians and political parties are scheming on how to take over power or how to retain power in places where they are in charge, and therefore political shenanigans, propaganda, lies, outright falsehoods and even hate speeches are all on the increase at this time.

These are not the best times for those who value character and decency. I read somewhere some people are calling on INEC to disqualify President Buhari from contesting the 2019 general elections because he doesn’t have his school certificate. Very laughable, how many times will they try the same old trick? President Buhari has been contesting elections since 2003. Between 2003 and now there have  been four election circles Buhari has contested in all these elections.
At no point was the issue of his WAEC certificate questioned until suddenly in 2015 as soon as he won his party’s primaries . Those who knew he was unstoppable from there on, began to unleash different ludicrous propaganda after propaganda. From “Buhari will Islamize Nigeria” to” Buhari is terminally ill”, to” Buhari has no certificate”. All of their propaganda fell flat on their faces.
Now that elections are around the corner, they have resurfaced again with the “ Buhari has no certificate “ propaganda. It will be a complete waste of effort this time as this election is going to be about issues and not propaganda. The election is going to be about track records of the different parties while in office.
The people are going to be comparing the roads now and then, they will compare power supply now and then. The parents of the over 7 million schools pupils being fed every school day will compare now and then. The over one million most vulnerable poorest of the poor amongst us receiving 5000 Naira conditional cash transfer every month, the over  half a million graduates receiving 30,000 Naira every month all of these people will compare the party in power now with the performance of those who left power in 2015. These are what the Nigerian people will be discussing in 2019 not some mundane propaganda, sponsored by some failed politicians who squandered the opportunity to better the lot of the people whilst they were in power.
Let me also use this opportunity to dismiss their lies. The constitutional requirement to run for office of the President are very clear and unambiguous. Section 131 (d) of the 1999 constitution states that: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the president if”, subsection (d); “He or She has been educated up to at least school certificate Level or its equivalent”.
Many legal luminaries addressed this issue in the run up to the 2015 elections, so many legal opinions on this section. One of such that will help anyone interested in more clarity on this issue is the article written by the legal luminary Prof Taiwo Osipitan in the Guardian on the 26th of January 2015. He dealt extensively on the fact that the requirement was for such aspiring candidate to show evidence of education up to or even equivalent of school certificate. In the case that your certificate is missing like every other vital missing document an attestation letter can then suffice which INEC can confirm with the school. This is a very simple matter that some mischievous people hope to draw some political points from.
President Buhari’s former school , Government College, formerly Provincial Secondary School Katsina released a statement that Buhari actually graduated from the school and that he wrote the School certificate Examination there. The school later went ahead to release the result to the public, including a copy of the result spread sheet showing other candidates who sat for same exam with their results as well. So what other evidence would the detractors of the President require before they are satisfied?
In an interview granted to the punch newspapers on the 13th of November 2016, Chief Alex Ajayi. The octogenarian who was a former director at the West African Examination Council (WAEC) mentioned in the interview and I quote him “I had the opportunity of issuing WAEC certificates to three former Heads of State; Buhari, Abacha and Babangida in the 60s”.
It is outright ridiculous and very mischievous to claim that President Buhari isn’t educated up to school certificate level. A man that rose to the pinnacle of his career . A general in the Army . He has attended several courses across the different continents of the world.
There are those who believe that the PDP might have sponsored some people to tamper with President Buhari’s documents with the army. If not, how could this suddenly just be an issue in 2015. The same forms he submitted to INEC 2003, 2007 and 2011 and this issue was not raised, then suddenly in 2015 his documents are missing. I am tending to believe in this line of thoughts by now. If not, how do you confidently wake up and then start accusing  a retired general of the Nigeria army that he didn’t attend secondary school. There must be something informing such confidence may be they know something we don’t know.
In 2015 whilst President Buhari and his party were out there campaigning, telling the people what they will do. I remember a Fani Kayode and his fellow party man Gov Ayo Fayose were busy selling propaganda to the people calling Buhari all sort of names. Rather than tell the people what they have done and what they intend to do better they rather preferred abuse and propaganda. We all saw what the outcome was President Buhari trumped them at the polls with a wide margin. The Nigerian people will have none of their nonsense any more.
The Same thing is already playing out now. President Buhari as usual will not join issues with anybody. He has been focused on the job at hand,  commissioning projects up and about the whole country, on the other hand those who are challenging to take over are not telling Nigerians what they will do better but want to start the nonsense they did the other time and lost, again. The propaganda that could not save them whilst in power is not likely to get them back to power now that they are out. Nigerians are interested in real issues that affect them daily. Not mundane propaganda about President Buhari’s health or certificate.
*Agbese is a human rights law researcher  based in the United Kingdom.
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GTI: What The World Needs To Learn From The Nigerian Army
October 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Karen Goulding*
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai

Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai

The Global Terrorism Index is a tool that has been developed to help governments understand whether and how they are making progress in containing insurgencies or hostile to the state or specific communities.  The Index derives its scores by measuring the direct and indirect impact of terrorism.  This includes the number of lives lost, injuries, property damage, business impact (closings and lost revenue), as well as the psychological effects on the communities affected.

Between 2007 and 2015 Nigeria’s score was not good.  The Boko Haram insurgency had reached its peak, destabilizing communities in the North-east all the way to the capital, Abuja.  This worsened the life of the entire North-east region, but for specific localities that were targeted, there were maimed inhabitants, dislocated communities, shuttered schools and businesses, murders and kidnappings.  The Boko Haram not only shook up the political status of the region, but also impacted the economic and social activities of the people.
In 2015, Boko Haram overtook ISIL to become the deadliest terrorist group in the world. In the 2015 report, Nigeria moved up to the 3rd country with the highest impact of terrorism with an index score of 9.213, only surpassed by Iraq and Afghanistan.
Little did the people of the region know that good news was on the way.  And the way Nigeria turned the tide on terrorism is a lesson for other communities, a lesson of local capacity and local solutions, of a nation that didn’t beg for help, but set itself on a course, together with key neighbors, to drive the insurgency from its territory.
On assuming office in May 2015, the Buhari administration fast-tracked the government’s response to the Boko Haram threat first by moving the military headquarters from the FCT to Maiduguri.
Next, given the transnational dimension of Boko Haram, he reached out to garner support from Nigeria’s immediate neighbors: Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, which culminated in the formation of the regional Multi-National Joint Task Force (MMNJTF). The MNJTF framework allowed for joint operations between the countries concerned such that troops from Chad and Niger were permitted to operate on Nigerian soil specifically in the Lake Chad axis.
The Nigerian army’s intelligence gathering abilities, operational scope, and overall impetus became more active. Furthermore, Nigeria also entered into pacts with foreign nations in the fight against terrorism. This meant military aid from allies especially with regards to training of personnel, provision of ammunition and intelligence sharing improved the morale and made better the abilities of local and regional troops.
This gave rise to a steady recapture of a sizeable portion of territories initially in control by Boko Haram. These territories during the peak of the violence in late 2014, covered an expanse the size of Belgium according to available reports.  The Terrorism Index in Nigeria decreased to 9.01 in 2016 from 9.31 in 2015.
The exploits of the Nigeria Army in the past three years speaks volume of a rededicated commitment to Nigeria. More specifically, implementing the basic tenets of professionalism in an unconventional war situation as well as respecting human rights and sticking to the rules of engagement are the hallmarks of the operations of the Nigeria Army under the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The era of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai in the north-east has been unique and exemplary for many reasons. Clutching to the experience garnered as an infantry general, some may have questioned if he was the right man for the job. The Infantry is the branch of the army that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. How would a man who commands such close combat have the strategic awareness to effectively deal with the situation at hand?
But he did, and his infantry experience may have been the key.  Many security experts observe that the infantry have much greater local situational awareness than other military forces, due to their inherent intimate contact with the battlefield.  This is vital for taking or holding ground (really for any military objectives), securing battlefield victories, maintaining military area control and security both at and behind the front lines, for capturing ordnance or material, taking prisoners, and military occupation.  General Buratai brought all of these attributes  to bear in his leadership of the Nigerian Army, in the course reclaiming all of the Nigerian territories that were once under the control of Boko Haram terrorists.
One important step General Buratai took may not seem as vital, but in the end helped to secure not only territory, but also the hearts and minds of the population.  Under the leadership of current Chief of Army Staff, the Nigerian Army commissioned its Human Rights Desk. The establishment of the Human Rights desk office was borne out of the increasing interest of the local and international human rights bodies on what the army was doing in the North East and other parts of the country. But it was also a key tactic to earn the trust of the local population.  This is also on the heels of the excellent record the Nigeria Army has attained by ensuring that civilian casualties are kept at the barest minimum.
There are indeed lessons to be learned from the exploits of the Nigerian Army. Lessons on how to win a war and sustain the tempo. And how to keep the morale of a fighting force high. In some quarters, it has been stated that the coming of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai in 2015 opened a new vista in the operations of the Nigerian  Army, especially with the fight against terrorism. This fact was evident as mentioned earlier in the Global Terrorism Index rating that indicated a 33 percent reduction in the number of terrorism-related deaths in four of the terrorism ravaged countries including Nigeria compared to that of the previous years.
Under Lt. Gen. Buratai, the leadership of the Nigerian Army nourishes the standards of discipline and professionalism through the enforcement of commensurate rewards and a strict punishment system. Similarly, a recent appraisal of the counter-insurgency campaigns in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast, by the United Nations Organization (UNO), also applauded, as exemplary, the Nigerian Army’s professional execution on the Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency, as conforming to international best practices. Additionally, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) led by its President, Ambassador Mathew Rycroft, expressed same eulogies on Nigerian troops fighting the counter-insurgency war when they were in that country  on assessment tour.
An additional recognition of General Buratai’s superior leadership was the conferment of the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award, in recognition of his contributions to world peace and for leading a most successful military campaign in North East Nigeria with minimal casualties and respect for human rights. It is, therefore, safe to say that since the coming of the present administration in 2015, a lot has changed in the operations of the Nigerian military. If you call the Chief of Army Staff a rare breed, you won’t be entirely wrong, because of his passion for not only the professional development of the troops but also providing for their welfare within the available resources. The Army has been reinvigorated since he assumed leadership. These are rare attributes worthy of emulation by critical stakeholders in Nigeria, other military forces in Africa, and indeed all active forces the world over.
*Goulding contributed this article from the United Kingdom.The views in this piece are hers
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Breastfeeding Programs In Africa Will Lead To Poverty Reduction, Increase Child Survival And Keeping Mothers Alive.
September 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

Nevson Mpofu

The GLOBAL 2018 Theme for Breastfeeding is BREASTFEEDING– FOUNDATION FOR LIFE.  The World is working hard to achieve Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] .To show its commitments. ZIMBABWE is part and parcel of SCALING UP NUTRITION MOVEMENT [SUN] formed in 2010.

Currently Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations scaling up Nutrition Alliance [ZCSOSUNA] are scaling up Nutrition sensitive interventions with a network of its various stakeholders. The ‘hot’ topic is on the 1st 1000 days as African Governments are urged to look more on Breastfeeding than politics.

The First 1000 days of an infant baby’s survival and life are being sustained. They stand crucial as Nutrition security and Food security are to be heightened by Command Agriculture and NUTRITION scaling up programs .How-ever , African Governments needs to increase budget and scale up Nutrition for child survival .

In the 1st 1000 days, great continuum of care, empathy and financial support is no doubt to ignore .There is need to scale up Nutrition as we support Food and Nutrition security to eliminate stunting .Stunting occurs when a child lacks nutritious food . He or she in life becomes shorter than his or her expected age .If given all the necessary food requirements in what is called Balanced Diet, there is no stunting.

An Expert in the field of Nutrition, Kudakwashe Zombe advocates Scaling Up Nutrition as the great way forward in the nourishment of health for babies. They need continuum care as they grow up in well-balanced diet.  It is true since it is needed for growth, body function, metabolism and body health  ,maintenance and improvement.

‘Our voice is to African Governments to put more budgets on Nutrition. A Dollar spent on Nutrition in return comes with a profit of 16 Dollars .Therefore Investments in Nutrition returns more for Economic Growth and community development.

‘’We are Civil Society in Nutrition working on Scaling up Nutrition. We save children as enshrined in Convention on the Rights of the Child articles. Protocols must be followed by all countries in the Scaling up Nutrition Movement.

‘We stand for this cause to push for technical and financial support .We also call for a balanced budget spared on nutrition , to net-work, capacitate knowledge on Nutrition security and to bring advocacy and communication .’’He said.

 

Several diseases and conditions in line with Malnutrition namely kwashiorkor, marasmus, pellagra, anemia, scurvy .rickets and under- growth condition are called stunting.  These are a threat to achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Research must be highly linked to Infant survival; a goal key to Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations .As long Nutrition targets are not met, certain goals of the United Nations won’t be realized. Prevalence rate of absolute poverty, that is lack of 3 basic needs increases.

Although Zimbabwe has done better on Millennium Development Goals 2 Achieving Universal Primary Education and 3 on Gender equality, more was meant to focus on goal 4 on improving Infant Mortality. Also there was need to look at Goal 5 on Maternal mortality and on Goal 6 , HIV and AIDS. Much still need to be improved on Sustainable Development Goals .Such is the focus on Breastfeeding.

On the sideline of Sustainable Development Goals, ZCSUNA Chairperson, Tendai Gunda is much concerned of infants’ survival chances through adequate nutrition .This must be in communities where some people are marginalized.

‘’Zimbabwe must work hard on areas of child mortality and maternal mortality.  Countries must score on Sustainable Development Goals .Millennium ones, Goals 4 and 5 on the 2 areas, child mortality reduction and maternal mortality were not well done with in many developing countries.’’

‘As a nation, the need for scaling up nutrition is no doubt a priority since we are part of the scaling up nutrition Movement. We also need to network, communicate, advocate and capacitate knowledge on Nutrition’, .

There is no perfect food more than breast milk from mothers .In fact policy issues must be dealt with in-order for us to push and succeed on all we need and work towards.’’ ‘she said .

 

 

Breast milk is a universal vital component for babies is essential in combating diarrheal diseases. It increases the baby’s survival chances. Apart from these advantages, there are some outstanding advantages which stand to keep the baby always health of which breast feeding experts have explored. Therefore, a dollar spent on Child Nutrition offers more benefit to humanity than any other form of Investment. A dollar spent in return is 16 US dollars in profit.

On winning a goal for life, it is crucial to understand the past, plan for the future and celebrate 10 years of Global strategies on breastfeeding. In this age we are, breastfeeding developments are growing up at a time we are facing the adversities .These are HIV and AIDS, Climate Change and Variation which cause disasters, natural and man-made, famine, drought and floods.

On grounds of certainty, it is not the fault of the mother alone for the baby to be infected. On the level of fair talk, It is the male parent who infects the female parent. Also fathers might have been infected by some women/woman in sexual concurrent partnerships. HIV TRANSMISSION IS A VICIOUS CIRCLE.

Some men are drug users who use injections; some may be gays, like wise lesbians who are women, but the point is, its more for gays who in USA spread GRIDS [Gay related Immune Deficiency Syndrome]. From homosexual sex point of view, the virus can infect either of the parents.

Heterosexual activities are KEY transmitters in HIV and AIDS in KEY POPULATIONS. This comes later to be an effect to those babies. They become victims because of their parents who got infected during unprotected sexual intercourse and unplanned marriage as the fact might be.

 

The human immune virus is transmitted from the parent (in this respect) the mother) through 3 ways. First, it is during pregnancy Secondly, during birth and lastly during breastfeeding. The baby gets mainly transmitted the virus through the vaginal canal at a time of giving birth followed by breast feeding and lastly while in the womb .

 

Mothers upon arrival at Ante-Natal clinics according to HIV Testing Services and Maternal policies, they get tested.  HIV POSITIVE pregnant mothers are – medically advised to use ARVs like Nevirapine which suppresses the virus. This is advised with their infants. Blood testing is very important to be taken regularly when mothers are pregnant. Exclusive Breastfeeding is recommended for the 1st six weeks even if the mother is positive to HIV .

The PPTCT – Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission program was first introduced in 1999 initially by ZVITAMBO PROJECT until it spreads into clinics and hospitals and taken up by some Civil Society. Up to now it has rose to greater heights. One organization at International level is Elizabeth Glacier Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

From a baby care initiative point of view, it is the right of the baby for him/her to be protected and prevented from the virus spread which causes AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is when CD4 count goes down to below 250 cells / ml of blood . Despite the threat of the virus, mothers are advised to breastfeed the first hour of birth. After that there is advice for mothers to continue breastfeeding taking into consideration the first 1000 days.

The first six months are biologically important, this infancy stage. Mothers are advised to breastfeed exclusively although positive. Exclusive breastfeeding is important because breast milk is completely perfect for babies. It provides all nutrients and water babies need during the first six months. Colostrum, the first milk is essential because it protects the baby from many diseases, boosting immunity and strengthening the body.

A senior Nutritionist Monica Muti from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, contacted for a vibrant comment pointed out that it is important to practice breastfeeding because it protects babies from diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. She even gave a deep meaning of Exclusive Breastfeeding.

“It means giving milk only and nothing else, not even water sips, except for prescribed medicines by doctors. This goes on in hot or cold weather for about 6 months .After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, 70 to 100% must be mother’s milk.”

“Breast milk can contain HIV if the mother is infected.  The virus can pass through breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces chances of a baby becoming infected and it increases chances of survival of babies” she stressed out clearly.

Mother to baby empathy binds the two such that their relationship moulds time and gain. During this time mothers breasts are fully solid with milk. They first produce maternal oxytocin which stimulate milk and attracts baby attention.

The Nutritionist further pointed out that after six months of birth, babies can feed on soft baby prepared food like porridge. This is called supplementary feeding. This may include bottled milk, mealie-meal, porridge mixed with peanut butter or margarine. Despite this 70%-100% must be breast milk.

In 1998 World health Organisation (WHO) concluded, “When children born to women living with HIV can be ensured  uninterrupted access to nutritionally adequate breast milk substitutes that are safely prepared and fed to them, they are at less risk of illness and death. However if these conditions are not nullified, in particular in an environment where infectious diseases and malnutrition are primary causes of death during infancy, artificial feeding substantially increases children’s risk of illness and death.’’

According to research findings since time immemorial, infants who do not get adequate nutrition suffer from marasmus and kwashiorkor. Infantile marasmus is often caused by premature weaning from breast milk. Supplements from other sources deprive infants of necessary calories and proteins.

Kwashiorkor affects a child who is weaned to a diet sufficient in calories but deficient in proteins and nitrogen .This condition comes under diseases related to malnutrition which are common in many developing countries .These fall under banana republic’s South of America, Southern and Eastern Africa, Central Europe and Asia and some Island parts of the world.

Depriving infants mother’s milk is an unhealthy situation because the milk contains docosahexia aenoic and acidonic acid which energises, strengthens muscles, activates brains and improves sight. Also present is calcium which moulds bones and strengthens teeth.

Breastfeeding extends post partum infertility by delaying ovulation and reducing menstruation and normally women do not menstruate during breastfeeding. Women who have breast fed have lower chances of suffering from breast cancer @ the same time their babies have more chances of survival.

Breastfeeding gives mothers spacing time thereby reducing fertility leading to planned ways of giving birth.

Experts of sundry dimensions had a lot to say, a Medical Doctor, Portia Manangazira pointed out.

“Breastfeeding increases an infant’s survival chances. Infants’ breastfed during the first two months of birth have only 37% risk of death. It is important in countries with high mortality rates especially in Africa, south of the Sahara”, she said.

Some experts have viewed breastfed infants as more boxum and smarter than any other infants. However, in this era of HIV and AIDS inspite of its presence, women being positive or not are highly advised to breastfeed exclusively especially the first six months after birth and look beyond 1000 days, that is the first 3 years of life. .

On a higher note concerning women health, it is a fact that women who lose blood during child birth suffer anemia. It  is defined as red blood cells or oxygen carrying capacity insufficient to meet psychological needs which vary by age, sex attitude ,smoking and pregnancy status. According to this journalist’s qualitative research, women of age 15 to 49 years are 28% anemic.

When mothers are said to be anemic, it means they lack iron which is important in mostly breast feeding mothers .Iron deficiency in lactating mothers leads to reduction in immunity to certain extent that they give room to HIV, that is if they engage in unprotected sex when they are pregnant or before it.. This is called Iron Deficiency Anemia.

 

 

The other type of anemia is vitamin B12 Foliate Deficient Anemia. Foliate is from folic acid which helps tissues grow and cells work. Symptoms of anemia are energy loss, rapid heartbeat, difficult breath, headache, dizziness, pale skin, leg cramps and insomnia which is lack of sleep. Lactating women who suspect these symptoms must immediately visit the Medical Doctor for diagnosis of anemia.

 

Mothers are recommended to get straight advice from doctors and nutritionists for more information on nutrition guidelines. However the code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and Infant Regulation recommends breastfeeding mothers not to use bottled milk the first six months. Even if it is to be used there are particular guidelines to be followed.

Author can be contacted via emai;nmnevsonmpofu755@gmail.com

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D.R.Congo:What Do Our Cenco Bishops Finally Want?
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
FILE - Archbishop Marcel Utembi, second left, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), and other Catholic bishops arrive for the signing of an accord at the interdiocesan center in Kinshasa, Jan. 1, 2017 following talks launched by the Roman Catholic Church between the government and opposition.

FILE – Archbishop Marcel Utembi, second left, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), and other Catholic bishops arrive for the signing of an accord at the interdiocesan center in Kinshasa, Jan. 1, 2017 following talks launched by the Roman Catholic Church between the government and opposition.

Since President Joseph Kabila’s unprecedented historic decision to scrupulously respect the Constitution by not running for a third consecutive term, it had been believed that the quarteron of the Catholic Church’s crowned heads who were auctioning off the alleged project of violation of the Basic Law by the Head of State, had come to their senses.

No, I don’t think so. The temptation of clericalism, which is the clergy’s claim to dominate political life, even though it was criticized by Pope Francis, was clearly too strong in some of them.

Since Monday, they have returned with a heavy burden against the Congolese electoral process, yet until recently they were passionate defenders through an advocacy document addressed to the President of Zambia in his capacity as President of SADC.

Certainly, the Bishops of CENCO who signed this memorandum underline some significant progress in the process. But the concerns and worries they express embrace point by point the most far-fetched theses of a certain radicalized opposition at the same time as they tend to destroy the work of appropriation of the said process by the Congolese themselves.

Whether it is the insecurity in the East that they pretend to suddenly discover whereas they were clamouring for elections despite this insecurity, which is also in the process of being reduced;

Whether it is a question of some deficiencies in the electoral register already settled or in the process of being settled by the CENI in accordance with the Electoral Law or the exclusion of some candidates for the presidential election for reasons of ineligibility based on the Law, such as the prohibition of a third consecutive term of office for President Kabila, which they had made themselves the spokespersons;

And finally, the use of the voting machine, which responds to the need to rationalize the electoral process advocated by the entire political class in December 2016, under their auspices;

In view of the recommendations made by the Bishops, which are nothing less than an attempt to dispossess Congo’s sovereignty in favour of foreign actors such as the SADC, to which they demand that the subcontracting of Congolese elections be entrusted, one may wonder whether these prelates do not relapse into their historical role as foreign intermediaries opposed to the total independence of the DRC as their Belgian precursors were in the aftermath of independence in 1960.

Their apocalyptic alarm bell sounds in this respect, resemble a call for the Congo to be placed under guardianship, and an early encouragement to undermine the credibility of any idea of national sovereignty. This is an attitude that is unacceptable to all Congolese patriots, who lay  claim  to their full rights of  self-determination acquired 58 years ago, as well as peace and respect for the rule of law.

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Zimbabwe’s Election And The Path Ahead
August 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Dr. Gary K. Busch*

FILE - Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a rally in Bulawayo, June 23, 2018.

FILE – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a rally in Bulawayo, June 23, 2018.

The victory of ZANU-PF in the recent Zimbabwe elections over the cobbled-together forces of some of the opposition parties was not a surprise. It was a “harmonised election” in that it combined a vote for a president, a parliamentary seat and officers in local governments on the ballots. Although there are 133 registered political parties in Zimbabwe only 55 of these were registered to take part in the election. These fielded 23 candidates for president in the July 30th election. Four of the presidential candidates were women: Joice Mujuru‚ of the People’s Rainbow Coalition‚ Thokozani Khuphe‚ of the MDC-T‚ Melbah Dzapasi of #1980 Freedom Movement Zimbabwe and Violet Mariyacha of United Democratic Movement. There were 210 seats contested for the House of Assembly by various political parties and independent candidates. The Electoral Commission announced that the final tally of registered voters was 5.6-million.

The principal opposition party which sought to oust the ruling ZANU-PF was the MDC Alliance. It was a coalition made up of seven political parties. These were the MDC-T led by Nelson Chamisa‚ the MDC led by Welshman Ncube‚ the People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti‚ Transform Zimbabwe led by Jacob Ngarivhume‚ Zimbabwe People First led by Agrippa Mutambara‚ Zanu-Ndonga led by Denford Musayarira and Multi-Racial Democratic Christian Party led by Mathias Guchutu. As most of these members of the Alliance have spent the last eight years tearing pieces off each other in an extensive battle of factions for the remnants of Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, their unity was tissue-thin.

The fact that these seven factions joined together to fight the election did not resolve the fundamental problem that the MDC has faced over the years. In its 20 years of existence, the MDC hasn’t come up with a viable plan for taking power from an entrenched ZANU-PF under Mugabe and later Emmerson Mnangagwa {‘ED’) who were prepared to use force to render the MDC powerless. Voters are all too familiar with a pre-election routine in which MDC leaders prophecy imminent change—and bay at the moon impotently following their loss of another election. In 2008 the MDC refused to participate in the second round of the presidential election even though it had a slight lead over ZANU-PF in the first round. The MDC won control of the legislature and Tsvangirai became prime minister. However, the incompetence of the MDC in power led to wide disillusion by the electorate. The MDC showed itself and its leadership to be grossly incompetent in performing its governmental duties. The apathy of the Zimbabwean electorate towards the MDC as a result has been a major factor in failing to create a party with mass appeal.

In 2008, the first acts in government by Tsvangirai and Tendai Bit (then in charge of the economy) frightened everyone, including the MDC overseas sponsors. Tsvangirai and Biti announced, to the horror of the security chiefs in the Army and the Police, that the MDC would give back the farms which had been taken from their owners by ZANU-PF. Irrespective of the merits and morality of such an action a precipitate dislodging of the current occupiers would have presented the authorities with a security nightmare they knew they couldn’t control. It was a recipe for conflict which no one could control. The security forces were alarmed. Even worse, when the issue of a transition to a possible new MDC government arose at the meeting in Lusaka by African states to promote democracy after the election, the MDC leadership told the African presidents that there were British Special Forces standing by at a ‘secret airbase’ in Botswana run by the Americans who would come in, arrest the Zimbabwe security chiefs, and take over internal security until order was re-established.

The pattern of behaviour by Biti and his supporters was established in the 2008 election and now repeated in the current 2018 election. The MDC decided to lie and exaggerate.

The MDC embarked on a campaign of manipulation through issuing false and misleading statements which were delivered by the MDC secretary-general Biti. His wild claims of a 60% sweep of the election were entirely figures made up for the occasion. Even the others in the MDC did not believe them. His tales of ballot-rigging and violence against voters had no basis in fact. Biti and Chamisa attempted to create an image, primarily designed for the international audience, that somehow the ZANU-PF were rigging the election and that the MDC was their innocent victim.

Lawyer Doug Coltart with Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa's spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda arrive to file opposing papers at the constitutional court in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Lawyer Doug Coltart with Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda arrive to file opposing papers at the constitutional court in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

A second element of this campaign in 2008 was the rash of emails and SMS messages being sent from Harare full of disinformation. These messages said that Tsvangirai had been killed; that his bodyguards had been massacred; that electoral fraud was widespread. When the source of these emails and SMS messages was traced they were found to have come from within the US Embassy in Harare. These false messages announced fake press conferences; false electoral results and fake meetings. On further investigation it was found that two US nationals, employed by the National Democratic Institute, an NGO sponsored by USAID, were the source of these emails. They were deported at the request of the Zimbabwean Government. Two of the journalists who were disseminating their information were also picked up. Their hearing showed that they had ‘no case to answer’ so they were released, only to be picked up on different charges.

At the same time the Zimbabwe authorities observed clandestine meetings between the MDC officials and some members of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The MDC were offering incentives for the ZEC to come up with a low count for Mugabe’s votes. These were taped, and the perpetrators arrested. Seven ZEC people were arrested and were accused of deliberating low-counting Mugabe votes in four provinces.

The MDC went to the High Court for a Writ of Mandamus, charging the ZEC with the urgency of releasing its figures on the Presidential ballot, even though all the ballots had not been fully verified.

There was a nasty backlash from all the above elements. The MDC propaganda was full of Biti’s fantasies; but the rank and file know that most of what had been said was an exaggeration. At the same time the ZANU-PF people felt a sense of outrage at the attempt by the MDC to steal the election and to portray the country internationally as filled with thugs, bandits and plotters.

However, Biti and Chamisa repeated these very same lies and exaggerations in the current 2018 election. They pushed to get bodies in the street to protest and demonstrate. The Army responded with excessive violence and made the MDC case easier to credit

Biti sought asylum in neighbouring Zambia but was deported back to Zimbabwe in a move condemned by the United States. He was also charged with falsely and unlawfully announcing results of the July 30 election, which Chamisa also rejected as fraudulent; they are set to challenge in the Constitutional Court and the inauguration of ED has been postponed. If found guilty, Biti could face up to 10 years in jail, a cash fine or both.

As this election was part of an attempt by ED and ZANU-PF to throw off the perceived mantle of misrule by Mugabe and the ‘Lacoste’ and ‘G40’ factionalism within ZANU-PF these events have made it more difficult to set off on a new path of legitimacy, rule of law, and economic renaissance which Zimbabwe urgently needs.

The information gathered in an evaluation of the Zimbabwe’s electoral predicament is predicated on a much wider range of analysis than the battle for the Presidency.

The Background to Zimbabwean Political Development

Zimbabwe has an unusual political history. The country was invaded by white British mining entrepreneurs in 1889, led by Cecil Rhodes, who set up the British South Africa Company (‘BSAC’)  to exploit the gold mining wealth of Mashonaland. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1889 modelled on that of the British East India Company. As in the Indian subcontinent model, the BSAC became the ruler of the lands in South Africa, Rhodesia, Botswana and Zambia. The BSAC maintained its own mercenary army and enforced its version of the law in the territories it controlled. Its principal source of wealth and power derived from its mining interests in South Africa.

The BSAC control of its South African business was threatened by the Great Trek of Afrikaaners from the Cape to their new homes in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State when 12,000 to 14,000 Boers from Cape Colony in South Africa, between 1835 and the early 1840s, rebelled against the imposition of British rule and searched for fresh pasturelands beyond the reach of the Cape Colony. There was another ‘Voortrekker’ colony established in Natal, but the British took it over but granted recognition to the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1854.

Rhodes had many supporters in London and plotted with them to create a false “civic uprising” In Johannesburg which could be used to oust the Boers in the Transvaal. Rhodes formed the “Reform Movement” to fight against the new taxes and administration by Kruger over the Johannesburg mining interests. The Reform Movement decided to overthrow the Transvaal government by taking up arms. The uprising was timed to coincide with an invasion of the Transvaal from Bechuanaland (present day Botswana), by Dr Leander Starr Jameson, who commanded the BSAC mercenary army. Rhodes wanted to take over the government of the Transvaal and turn it into a British colony that would join all the other colonies in a federation. Chamberlain helped plan the Jameson Raid.

The raid was launched on 29 December 1895 but was a failure as none in the Reform Movement could agree on a common plan. Jameson was forced to surrender to the Boers on 2 January 1896 at Doornkop near Krugersdorp. Many were put on trial and the British removed Cecil Rhodes from his post as the premier of the Cape Colony. This defeat of the BSAC forces spurred on the leaders of the African communities in Rhodesia to rise up to drive the company out of its lands. They began a war against the occupying forces. They called this a Chimurenga;  a word in the Shona language, roughly meaning “revolutionary struggle”. This First Chimurenga refers to the Ndebele and Shona insurrections against the BSAC during 1896-1897; also called the Second Matabele War.

The ill-fated Jameson Raid left the company’s Rhodesian forces depleted. The Ndebele began their revolt in March 1896. In June 1896, Mashayamombe led the uprising of the Zezuru Shona people located to the South West of the capital Salisbury. The third phase of the First Chimurenga was joined by the Hwata Dynasty of Mazoe. They succeeded in driving away the British settlers from their lands on 20 June 1896. However, by 1897 the BSAC’s forces, the British South African Police, were able to regain their lost territories. The First Chimurenga ended on October 1897. Matabeleland and Mashonaland were unified under company rule and named Southern Rhodesia; still under the control of the BSAC.

The Rhodesians sent troops and men to fight for the British during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). They were under the general command of Colonel R S S Baden-Powell of the 5th Dragoon Guards (the founder of the Boy Scouts). They restored the BSAC in the Rhodesias. The issue of land tenure was crucial to the development of the region. The Land Tenure Commission reserved all the lands, other than enclosed in “Native Reserves” to the whites. The Committee’s land apportionment was 19 million acres of prime farmland for Europeans and 21.4 million acres for Native Reserves. A further 51.6 million acres was unassigned, but available for future alienation to Europeans.

Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ZANU PF party gather to march for non-violent, free and fair general elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 6, 2018.

Supporters of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU PF party gather to march for non-violent, free and fair general elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 6, 2018.

In 1922, the BSAC entered negotiations with the Union government in South Africa for the incorporation of Southern Rhodesia into South Africa. However, as the BSAC charter was due to expire in 1924, a referendum was held in 1922 in which the electorate was given a choice between self-government for the white citizens of Southern Rhodesia or entry into the Union of South Africa. The whites chose self-government. In 1923, the BSAC charter expired and Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing colony. Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) became a protectorate.

The Ethnic and Political Divisions In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has been since its inception a divided country. The first division is the great tribal split in Zimbabwe between the Shonas and the Ndebele – the latter an offshoot of the Zulus of South Africa who moved into Matabeleland under the leadership of Mzilikazi, one of Shaka’s lieutenants. Most of post-independence Zimbabwean politics has been the jockeying for power between the distinct clans that make up the Shona. The Shona, who began arriving from west central Africa more than a thousand years ago, share a mutually intelligible language. But ethnically they are not homogenous. Between the clans there is a diversity of dialects, religious beliefs and customs.

The five principal clans of the Shona are the Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau and Korekore. Of these, the biggest and most powerful clans are the Karanga and the Zezuru. From the beginning an almighty struggle has been going on within ZANU-PF between Karangas and Zezurus.

The Karanga are the largest clan, accounting for some 35 per cent of Zimbabwe’s 11.5 million citizens. The Zezuru are the second biggest and comprise around a quarter of the total population. The Karanga provided the bulk of the fighting forces and military leaders who fought the successful 1972-80 Second Chimurenga (struggle) that secured independence and black majority rule. Nevertheless, the ZANU movement – since renamed ZANU PF – was led by a Zezuru intellectual with several degrees – Mugabe.

The Zezuru hegemony has crept up and became a fact of life in Zimbabwean politics, although for many years there was intense debate as to the authenticity of Mugabe’s origins.

What is more certain is that in 1963, when ZANU was formed, Mugabe was appointed to the powerful position of secretary general after being nominated by the late Nolan Makombe, a leading Karanga who had convinced his co-tribesmen in the movement that Mugabe was a fellow Karanga of the influential Mugabe dynasty of chiefs from the area of the Great Zimbabwe ruins near Masvingo. Mugabe cleverly encouraged this belief until he was well entrenched in power.

Although at its inception ZANU was led by Sithole, a Ndau from Manicaland from the far east of Zimbabwe, the party was dominated by the Karangas. Its powerful individuals included Leopold Takawira, Nelson and Michael Mawema, Simon Muzenda and Eddison Zvobgo – all Karangas. The tribal composition replicated itself in the armed wing of ZANU with the Karangas, led by Josiah Tongogara, forming the backbone of the liberation struggle. Other prominent Karangas were Emmerson Mnangagwa; retired Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai; and Army Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe.

When in 1974 Mugabe was smuggled out of what was then Rhodesia into Mozambique by a Manyika chief, Rekayi Tangwena, to join the Chimurenga, he was not easily accepted by the Karanga and Manyika guerrilla leadership. When he eventually ascended to power, the first thing he did was to neutralise the Karanga element in the movement by imprisoning many of them – most notably Rugare Gumbo who was the original mastermind of the guerrilla war. Gumbo and several fellow Karanga leaders were kept in underground pit dungeons until independence in 1980.

To quell any Karanga suspicions of his tribal manoeuvres, Mugabe kept the respected Simon Muzenda, a Karanga, as his sole vice president until the latter’s death in 2003. Other Karangas, such as the late firebrand lawyer Eddison Zvobgo, long seen as a future leader of the country, were systematically downgraded to provincial leaders. Josiah Tongogara, the military commander of ZANU in exile, was a Karanga who died in Mozambique on the eve of independence in an as yet unexplained car accident. Sheba Gava, a Karanga, was the most powerful woman guerrilla during the Seventies war but when she died in the following decade she was not granted national heroine status.

During the Second Chimurenga (the war of independence) there were two separate parties and two separate armies. The main liberation party, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), split into two groups in 1963 – the split-away group being named Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). Though these groups had a common origin they gradually grew apart, with the split away group, ZANU, recruiting mainly from the Shona regions, while ZAPU recruited mainly from Ndebele-speaking regions in the west.

The armies of these two groups, ZAPU’s Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), and ZANU’s Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), developed rivalries for the support of the people and would also fight each other. When Zimbabwe won independence, the two armies so distrusted each other that it was difficult to integrate them both into the National Army. These problems were not only in Matabeleland, but throughout the country. For example: former ZANLA elements attacked civilian areas in Mutoko, Mount Darwin and Gutu. It seemed both sides had hidden weapons. There were major outbreaks of violence between ZIPRA and ZANLA awaiting integration into the National Army. The first of these was in November 1980, followed by a more serious incident in early 1981. This led to the defection of many ZIPRA members. It was thought that ZAPU was supporting a new dissident war to improve its position in Zimbabwe. In the elections held in April 1980, ZANU-PF received 57 out of 100 seats and Robert Mugabe became prime minister.

With the election of Mugabe in 1980 the government was directed to putting Zezurus and their allies the Korekore in most of the positions of power in the new state. Mugabe is a Zezuru,, the head of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga (formerly Dominic Chinenge) is a Zezuru and almost half the top commanders with the rank of Colonel in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces  are Zezurus. Until recently the head of the Central Intelligence Organisation Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe was Zezuru and almost half of the intelligence officers with the rank of Provincial Intelligence Officer are Zezurus. The head of the Zimbabwe Republic Police until recently was Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri (a Zezuru) and half of the police commanders with the rank of Assistant Commissioner are Zezurus. The head of The Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perence Shiri is the first cousin of President Robert Mugabe. Half of the commanders with the rank of Group Captain are Zezurus. The head of the Prisons of Zimbabwe, Major-General Paradzai Zimonde is Zezuru and nearly half of the commanders with the rank of Colonel are Zezuru. The Chief Justice of Zimbabwe is Godfrey Chidyausiku who is a Zezuru and the Judge President George Chiweshe is a Zezuru and half of the judges are Zezuru / Korekore. Nearly half of the cabinet of Zimbabwe since 1980 has been composed of Zezuru/ Korekore and half of Permanent Secretaries are Zezuru and Korekore.

RUNNING FOR COVER: Nelson Chamisa's MDC supporters barricade a road in Harare . Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

RUNNING FOR COVER: Nelson Chamisa’s MDC supporters barricade a road in Harare . Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

To quell any Karanga suspicions of his tribal manoeuvres, Mugabe kept the respected Simon Muzenda, a Karanga, as his sole vice president until the latter’s death in 2003. Other Karangas, such as the late firebrand lawyer Eddison Zvobgo, long seen as a future leader of the country, were systematically downgraded to provincial leaders. Josiah Tongogara, the military commander of ZANU in exile, was a Karanga who died in Mozambique on the eve of independence in an as yet unexplained car accident. Sheba Gava, a Karanga, was the most powerful woman guerrilla during the Seventies war but when she died in the following decade she was not granted national heroine status.

Throughout the political development of Zimbabwe, the conflict between the Zezuru and the Karanga has been a key factor in the constitution of the state. In reality in Zimbabwe distinctions between these groups are not so straightforward. These differences are linguistic differences and primary identity is by clan or totem. There is also no such thing as an ethnic Zezuru, ethnic Karanga, ethnic Korekore, ethnic Ndau, ethnic Manyika in Zimbabwe. Those are language dialects only. When it comes to ethnicity the Shona today have got clan identities that cut across dialects, geographic regions and even tribes. So, while it is simple to identify Mnangagwa’s Karanga faction, Mujuru’s Zezuru faction and all the other ethnic based factions within ZANU-PF it leaves out the important distinctions of totem and clan.

For example, Mnangagwa is a Madyira and Madyira and Gumbo people are all Mnangagwa’s relatives. In fact, in terms of classical Shona culture, even before you propose to a woman, you are supposed to ask for their totem. “Nhai asikana mutupo wenyu chii?” (Young lady, what is your totem?). That question is considered a traditional introduction of the intention to propose love in Shona culture and to avoid “incest” in marrying “your sister”. What is more noteworthy in assessing affinities of the politicians is their clan; such as Mugabe’s identification with the Gushungo totem of the Zezuru; Grace (although born in Benoni, South Africa) is a Sinyoro like many prominent Zimbabwean political figures; Joice Majuro (though born in Mt. Darwin) is of the Korekore. These are distinctions that tend to matter even more than to which dialect group the politician belongs.

The discussion of ethnicity is not just a cultural construct. It has to do with the most important aspect of life in Zimbabwe, and indeed most of Africa – control and title to land. The question of belonging is not a theoretical exercise. There are rarely any certificates of title or Land Registries for non-white landholdings. The local ethnic group is the attestation and court of reckoning for land title. Outside of the cities, much of the only real title to land and water rights resides in the local community. The question of ethnicity is crucial to economic well-being and status. Projected onto the wider canvas of the political system the question of ethnicity is very important.

The Pernicious Policies of Britain and the U.S. In Zimbabwe Development

 Although it is a simple shorthand to say that the ZIPRA forces were supported by the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc and the ZANLA forces by China and North Korea, the overweening effect of the Cold War has had a devastating effect on Zimbabwe’s development. Because of the support by independent Zimbabwe of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the battle to free Mozambique and Angola from the Portuguese, and, most especially, the military support offered to Kabila in his efforts to create a free and independent Democratic Republic of the Congo, the forces of the West lined up to oppose Mugabe. Added to this, the British policy of refusing to realistically oppose the UDI of the Rhodesian Front as “kith and kin” allowed this rebel group to wage a dirty war against the Zimbabwean liberation movements.

British rule over Zimbabwe ended in 1965 with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front. Other than the few months at the end of the Rhodesian War when Abel Muzorewa’s Government reverted to British colonial control to negotiate the Peace Accords establishing Zimbabwe in 1979, Britain’s control over Rhodesia/Zimbabwe effectively ended in 1965. There is, in reality, no one in Zimbabwe under the age of fifty who ever lived under British colonial rule. In fact, the median age in Zimbabwe is less than twenty years. That means that the largest sector of people in Zimbabwe not only never lived under British rule, they also didn’t live under Rhodesian Front rule either. Independence was almost forty years ago, and the bulk of Zimbabweans were not even alive at the time. Theirs is not the politics of colonialism or anti-colonialism; it is the politics of a nation beset by a concerted campaign by the international community against it.

BRITISH RENEGE ON CONSTITUTIONAL PROMISES

In addition, during the post-independence period most of the ‘kith and kin’ that the British saw as a group whose rights they had to defend, have left the country. One would be hard-pressed to find more than a few thousand kith and kin left in Zimbabwe. The British bought some time for these kith and kin by insisting at the Lancaster House talks that the new constitution include several “entrenched clauses” in the Zimbabwe Constitution at independence which protected the land rights and tenure of the white farmers for ten years after independence. The new Zimbabwean government agreed to suspend any expropriation of white farmers’ lands for ten years on the basis that the British gave its solemn guarantee that, at the end of the ten years, Britain would make available one billion pounds to compensate the assist financially with the cost of transition from white-ruled farms to local land ownership. At the end of the ten years the British refused to pay.

When Mugabe moved forward with redistribution he was told by Blair and the Labour Party that they would not compensate the land reform agreements because they had no faith in his government; citing human rights abuses and the lack of democracy. At the root of their argument the Blair Government stated that it was the Conservatives who entered into the agreement for a new Zimbabwe and not Labour. On November 5th, 1997 Clare Short wrote to Kumbirai Kangai, the Minister of Agriculture and Land in which she said “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers. We do, however, recognise the very real issues you face over land reform. We believe that land reform could be an important component of a Zimbabwean programme designed to eliminate poverty. We would be prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy but not on any other basis.”

Mugabe went ahead with the land reform and claimed back the lands held by the white farmers and told the farmers to collect their compensation from the British Government. The conflict this engendered led to the seizure of white farms and the expropriation of some of their lands. The British, whose refusal to conduct its policy towards Zimbabwe according to its obligations, used these seizures as evidence of the supposed failure of ZANU to act fairly.

BRITISH VENEGANCE IN SANCTIONS

In response, the British undertook a policy of almost two decades of political and economic subversion against the Zimbabwe government and encouraged its international partners in Europe and North America to follow its lead in combatting Mugabe and sanctioning the country and its political leadership. It created the MDC political party and promoted its leaders in Parliament, the European Union and NATO in their efforts to oust Mugabe and the ZANU-PF. The efforts of the MDC to take power in the elections precipitated a period of violence and mayhem which led to the doomed coalition of Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

The coalition was doomed because it was accompanied by a unique and epic failure of the Zimbabwe dollar to retain its value. Spiralling inflation finally drove the country to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar (which had traded at one Zimbabwe dollar equalling one US dollar and sixty cents at independence). The US dollar and sterling were accepted as the currencies for Zim. This destruction of the currency and the impact of the international sanctions imposed by Britain, the European Union and the United States had a devastating effect on the Zimbabwe economy and political structures. It has taken over ten years to start recovering from that crisis. The Zimbabwe economy has almost recovered from that crisis despite the sanctions and the imposition of foreign currencies as the reserve currency.

US SUPPORT THEIR BRITISH COUSINS IN DESTABILISING THE REGION

With founding President Robert Mugabe out of the way, many are keen to see what posture the west will take towards Zimbabwe

With founding President Robert Mugabe out of the way, many are keen to see what posture the west will take towards Zimbabwe

The role of the US in undermining Zimbabwe and its economy was no better than the British. The US has always viewed the African nationalists of Southern Africa as their enemy based on the relentless Cold War policies of combatting the Soviet Union in every theatre. The nationalists of the ANC and, PAC in South Africa; ZANU and ZAPU in Rhodesia; MPLA in Angola; FRELIMO and COREMO in Mozambique; and the several governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (starting with Lumumba) were all viewed as ‘too close to the Soviet Union’ and thus the enemies of the US. America has been fighting wars in Africa since the 1950s – in Angola, the DRC, Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti among others. In some countries they used US troops, but in most cases the US financed, armed and supervised the support of indigenous forces. In its support of the anti- MPLA forces in Angola it sent arms and equipment to the UNITA opposition. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Larry Devlin of the CIA was an unofficial branch of Mobutu’s government; the US ran its own air force at WIGMO. US airmen supported the South African forces in the Caprivi from WIGMO. The hostility and opposition of the US to African nationalism took many forms.

The US cast its first veto in the United Nations Security Council in 1970 when Ambassador Charles Yost vetoed a resolution on interdicting the international sale of Rhodesian chromite ore. The US argued that the beneficiary of the sanction against Smith’s Rhodesia would be the Soviet Union which was also selling chromite ore. It has been a unique feature of US African diplomacy that the Cold War legacy of opposition to African nationalism continues to shape US policy. The US sanctions against Zimbabwe were established by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA) and continue to today. The US has threatened to continue these sanctions and expand them because of its ‘uncertainty’ about the election of Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF.

One Of The Dirtiest of Dirty Wars

The predominance of youth in the Zimbabwean body politic has meant that they cannot remember or never learned some of the full horrors of the Rhodesian Bush War that preceded independence. For many of today’s aging political and military leaders and war veterans this is still a potent memory; one which shapes the conviction that foreign powers are still trying to manipulate the nation, and that the MDC and its factions are the main vehicles for that continued intervention. A lot of the sworn testimony emerged from the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa; producing testimony that would have been job for life of the ICC if it existed then.

Even as they knew they were losing the battle in 1978 the Rhodies experimented with the use of weaponised anthrax against the civil population. 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). Together with the South Africans the Rhodesian Front used biological and chemical weapons against the guerrillas, rural blacks to prevent their support of the guerrillas and against 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 black 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 storage trove.

Pfini Yenyoka Kungoruma Icho Isingadyi

Dr Gary K.Busch

Dr Gary K.Busch

There is an old Shona saying, Pfini Yenyoka Kungoruma Icho Isingadyi, which means “the spite of the snake is just to bite what he cannot eat” or in other words it is wrong to inflict unnecessary pain and anguish in an election which you cannot win. Chamisa, Biti and the others in the MDC Alliance know that they haven’t won the election, but they continue to lie, exaggerate and pretend that they did win to keep the transition from moving forward. There may well have been errors or faults but, according to the international observers, these were not enough to invalidate the elections.

There is no question that the Army used excessive force in blocking the misguided protestors pursuing their chimerical outcome. It is also true that ED is not everyone’s shining image of a democrat; his past is too well known and discussed. However, the election was much more than a beauty contest for ZANU-PF and ED. It was hoped that it would be a positive step in moving away from the legacy of the past and attracting capital investments, a stable currency and hope for the country. Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa and abounding with enough foodstuffs to feed the whole African continent. Years of domestic bad planning were coupled with a concerted program of destruction and interference by Britain and the West in the Zim finance and banking sectors.

There are no white knights in charge of the country but there is a period of hope and expectation that MDC is trying to destroy which might lead to real development and the spread of social justice. It should not be denied or impeded. The Karangas are finally in charge (except for the Army)  and are unlikely to be pushed out soon. The main worry is that the Karangas have not developed a younger cadre of potential leaders as most of the oxygen of growth has been hoarded by the Zezurus. This will change if it is given a chance.

It would be a real pity if the ‘nay-sayers’ are received as genuine victims. They are what they always have been; a foreign-sponsored band of incompetents whose skills include making semi-plausible lies and distractions. Zimbabwe deserves better.

* 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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Cameroon: New video shows more brutal killings by armed forces
August 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

A horrifying video obtained by Amnesty International shows Cameroonian security forces shooting at least a dozen unarmed people during a military operation in the village of Achigaya in the Far North region of the country, the organization said today.

Using advanced digital analysis tools, Amnesty International experts were able to confirm that the video, shot at an unknown date but prior to May 2016, corroborates previous accounts of extrajudicial executions which the Cameroonian authorities have denied.

“This shocking video shows armed men lining people up face down or sitting against a wall and shooting them with automatic weapons. A second round of shooting ensures no survivors. Here is yet more credible evidence to support the allegations that Cameroon’s armed forces have committed grave crimes against civilians, and we are calling for an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation. Those suspected to be responsible for these abhorrent acts must be brought to justice,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad Researcher.

“Last month we analyzed footage from another location which showed two women and two young children being killed by soldiers who were clearly members of Cameroon’s armed forces. What further evidence do they need before they act on these atrocities?”

Amnesty International has documented multiple extrajudicial killings, as well as the widespread use of torture by Cameroonian security forces who are fighting against the armed group Boko Haram in the Far North region of the country.

Amnesty International researchers analyzed the weapons, dialogue and uniforms visible in the latest video, as well as testimony and satellite imagery, to conclude the approximate timing and exact location of the executions, and determined the suspected perpetrators to be members of the Cameroonian security forces.

The footage shows a group of soldiers in their distinctive “lizard stripe” camouflage uniforms, patrolling the village of Achigachiya. Some are armed with Zastava M21 rifles, and others are mounted on a pick-up truck with a ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun.

The video, apparently recorded by a member of the security forces, shows soldiers burning structures which are likely to be homes, and then focuses on a group of 12 people lined against a wall, all sitting or lying down. At 01:40 minute into the video, numerous soldiers using automatic weapons fire into the group for an extended period, from several meters away. A soldier then walks forward and fires again at close range at several persons in the group, presumably to ensure there are no survivors.

Speaking in French, the soldiers describe themselves as carrying out a “kamikaze” operation.

The footage supports evidence of extrajudicial executions previously documented by Amnesty International in a July 2016 report. The report documented the unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions of over 30 people, including several elderly, in Achigachiya following an operation by the security forces seeking to recover the bodies of the soldiers killed by Boko Haram on 28 December 2014, which were abandoned in front of the military base destroyed by the insurgents. This operation by the army was also done as a collective punishment against the population perceived as supporting Boko Haram.

The Cameroonian government announced an investigation following the release of the video in July, but their rapid dismissal of the video as “fake news” casts serious doubt on whether this investigation would be genuinely impartial and effective.

“In failing to hold suspected perpetrators to account for the horrific crimes documented by Amnesty International and others, the Cameroonian authorities have created a climate of impunity in which the armed forces have free reign to kill and torture,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi.

“There must be accountability for these brutal killings. In the face of reams of hard evidence, the blanket denials of the Cameroonian authorities amount to complicity and the tacit endorsement of these crimes.”

*Source Amnesty International

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Choosing Peace For The Horn Of Africa
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

 By Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka*

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Horn of Africa and the global community witnessed two dramatic events on July 8 and July 14 as the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea visited each other respectively. The smile and the big hug exchanged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki on Sunday, July 8 surprised many people who have followed the bitter conflict and sour relationship between the two countries in the last few decades. The two historic visits we have witnessed these past days express the joy and hope that come with ‘choosing peace.’ To further the peace process, the embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia was opened once again on Monday July 16.

From the UN general assembly vote to make Eritrea a central component of Ethiopia in 1952 to the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1958 and the decades following the two events, the two countries have had turbulent relationship especially few years after the independence of Eritrea in 1993. Between 1998 and 2000, the crisis reached its pick and had continued these past two decades with attendant human, economic, mutual distrust, political and social losses.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean crisis negatively impact the Horn of Africa as is evident in   Djibouti and Somalia. The area has been affected by years of famine, disease, low economic development, weak governance, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate social services and the growth of different militia groups. These threats to human well-being and peace in developing countries that should apply their little resources to promote the dignity of persons and communities torn apart by avoidable conflicts show the nobility in the decision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki a noble one.  A careful and committed completion of this process will reassure the return of peace and development in the region. It is a movement of courage because order requires courage to say no to violence.

In a time when African peace is continuously threatened locally and regionally from South Sudan to DR Congo, Burundi to the Central African Republic, Cameroon to Nigeria, etc., with untold hardship, deaths, displacements, and starvation, every step towards peace and reconciliation must be appreciated. In a time in the continent when millions of children die of malnutrition and diseases of all sorts resulting from violent conflict situations, when women and their daughters are mercilessly raped and violated by security agents and militia groups alike, when the Mediterranean sea and the desert have become the graveyard of African youths fleeing their continent in search of life and hope, peace ought to be pursued with every sense of urgency. The destruction of human, social, moral and economic fabric and resources of Africa through violent conflicts invite us to use nonviolent initiative for peace as a way of life.

The gesture of the two leaders represent what it means to choose peace as they bear eloquent testimony to the words of the Psalmist, “how good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together”(Psalm. 133: 1, The New Jerusalem Bible). The above was illustrated when the Ethiopian Prime minister’s chief of staff said to the President of Eritrea, ‘welcome home President Isaias.’ Peace is possible when we make the courageous choices and understand that “it is by considering our peers as brothers and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts” (Francis, 2016). Peace is possible when we understand that we are ‘one family under God’ irrespective of our religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural identity and affiliation.  Peace benefits all just as war destroys all.  The gesture of the two leaders is a sign of hope for the millions who have waited for the day of peace in the region. The day of order introduced by this brilliant move must be appreciated as we look back to the cost of conflict suffered the two countries and their neighbors as well as humanity at large.

It is important to remind ourselves that in the last two decades, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused among other things 80,000  deaths, more than 600,000 displacements of people, and a massive damage to the economy of both countries and their neighbors( (Negash & Tronvoll, 2000;  (Bazebih, 2014). Thus, “the war left ineffaceable imprints in the minds of the schoolchildren in Mäqällä. The inhumane killing of innocent children in Aydär is still fresh in the minds of many residents and families of the victims. The Eritrean leadership claimed that the bombing was targeting a military site but in reality, it was the Aydär Elementary School’s 58 pupils and civilians that lost their lives and 185 were injured by cluster bombs (Tronvoll, 2003). Most shockingly, “at the height of the war, Ethiopia increased the total size of its army from 60,000 to 350,000 and increased its defense expenditure from $95m in 1997/98 to $777m in 1999/2000. Overall, the cost of the war for Ethiopia was nearly $3bn. In the meantime, the size of Eritrea’s army increased to 300,000 (almost 10 percent of the population) through National Service Conscription following the outbreak of the war, and the government has been using the intractable stalemate between the two countries as a justification not to demobilize the unsustainably high number of troops for a small nation like Eritrea” (Allo, 2018).

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

What the bitter truth about the two countries and all of us must deal with is that in the destructive conflict, the two developing countries lavished hundreds of millions of dollars on the war. Thus, the resources could have been used to fight diseases, poverty and other development issues that threaten the dignity, existence, and freedom of the poor citizens of the countries and their neighbors. From the thirty years of war with the Mengistu regime to the present times, the two countries have known the harsh cost and consequences of war.

Looking back to the loss of the two countries in the last two decades, Abiy and Afirkwi in the previous few days re-affirm by their action that , “violence is wrong  that we can live in peace, that peace works, that peace is possible, indeed  that peace is the only way for the human family to live and survive.” (Dennis, 2018). The two leaders have recognized that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (Madison, 1795). Both countries cannot regain what they lost in war, but they can avoid more losses by refusing to adopt the culture of war and violence. Precious lives were cut short in the conflict of the last two decades putting families and communities in pain and sadness.

The two leaders by this act are chatting a new path for Africa and the global community. They teach us to embrace nonviolence initiative as a way of life. This is a unique moment in African history. A moment to reawaken the consciousness that peace is about dealing with our differences in a nonviolent manner as ‘build bridges, fight our fears and pursue a style of dialogue that is open and sincere seeking the good of all citizens” (Francis, 2015). This special moment invites African leaders, stakeholders and all people of good will to see from the lens of John Paul 11 that, “war is a lie….because it destroys what it says it wants to defend”(John Paul 11, 2002). For two decades, war has lied to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and by their noble gesture, Ahmed and Afwerki say no to the lies war.

What if we say no to the lies of war and conflict in other parts of Africa where millions of our people have lost their lives?  How many lives do we defend by killing our people? How can we not see the pain of the child whose ribs can be counted because of the lies of war? How can we not know the agony of the woman who walks hundreds of miles with her children and loads on her head in search of shelter and peace because of the lies of war? How can we not feel the tears of the young girl who has been raped and violated many times because of the myths of war? How can we not see the lies of war in the child soldier who has been forced to carry the gun, kill and be traumatized all his life? How can we not see the destruction of Africa with our own hands at this time? A friend of mine from Ethiopia told me last Monday that he cried when he saw how the people of Eritrea came out to the streets to receive this good news of peace. He said to me, ‘the common man does want war, war is designed by the arrogance and interest of the elites’.  It is evident that, “for much too long, powerful people and political decision-makers have been promoting a paradigm that justifies enormous loss of human life and widespread destruction of the planet in pursuit of an elusive peace, false security, national geopolitical interests and tremendous profit for few people and companies”(Dennis, 2018). The poor people in Africa ask our leaders for just a peaceful environment as they struggle to survive.

African elites who have become conflict entrepreneurs ought to listen to the voices of citizens as we saw in Eritrea and Ethiopia this last week. African elites need to see in the action of Abiy and Afwerki a call to embrace ‘active nonviolent action’ as a tool for social change and African transformation.  A peaceful environment where justice and dignity of all are upheld enlarges people’s freedom and choices. The poor citizens in Africa are mostly affected devastatingly by wars, not the elites. African political leaders and elites need to appreciate that peace starts from within just as these two leaders have shown. The goodwill, the resolve, the process and implementation ought to begin from within not neglecting external contributions.

Is the world listening to these two voices from the Horn of Africa? .Because we do not hear the sounds of bombs and guns in the Horn of Africa, the view of peace echoed by these two leaders may be ignored. Gestures such as the two leaders made this last week must be encouraged in Africa as effort must be made stop supplying arms to Africa thereby reducing African citizens to objects for money making by transnational companies and their governments. Arms and we open of war do not build peace. Disarmament should be encouraged and promoted by local and global policymakers.  Are the warmongers and those who specialize in increasing military spending, building and bragging for nuclear weapons armament listening to these two leaders? Are governments, global and regional regimes, transnational co-operation who see Africa as a money making a machine for weapon transaction listening to these voices re-affirming that we spend much less to build peace than to embark on war?

What if we choose peace and promote the path to nonviolence as Abiy and Afwerki have demonstrated? The action of these two leaders is at the core of the Nonviolence initiative of Pax Christi International encapsulated in the understanding that various forms of violence at the cultural, structural, systemic levels that affect interpersonal, social and international relationships can be transformed without resorting to violent means (Dennis, 2018). What we witnessed from the two leaders is a statement that says no to more than two decades of war as a means of addressing differences. They have seen that “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence,nor repressions which serve as the mainstay for a false civil order”(Paul VI, 1968)

Our hope is that the step initiated by these two leaders and all people of goodwill restores peace in the Horn of Africa.  The global community is urged to embrace the ‘Nonviolence Initiative’ of Pax Christi International, make it a lived experience and approach for sustainable peace because war no matter how just it looks is always “a defeat of humanity” (Francis, 2013). It is the position of nonviolence initiative of Pax Christ that extraordinary steps such as the one taken by Abiy and Afwerki can heal and reconcile peoples and the planet more than any weapon war of war. Battle defeats us. War diminishes us and questions our moral fabric.

*Rev. Fr. Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Howard University in Washington DC.

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