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Posted on on December 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Following after Nelson Mandela | 1918 – 2013


Generation Born After Apartheid Sees Mandela’s Fight as History.


Born Free: The future of South African politics may depend on the generation born after Mandela.



JOHANNESBURG — Sitting in her comfortable suburban living room 45 minutes east of Johannesburg, Nokuthula Magubane, 18, was doing something close to unthinkable to older generations of black South Africans: She was affectionately praising Afrikaans.

“Afrikaans is such a laid-back and beautiful language,” she said. “You can just sit back, relax, speak your Afrikaans and be happy.”

Mandatory instruction in Afrikaans during apartheid was one of the sparks that set off the Soweto student uprisings of 1976. Hundreds of young people, many younger than Ms. Magubane, were killed. Countless others chose to abandon education rather than receive instruction in what they considered the language of the oppressor. It was a seminal moment in the struggle against apartheid, and the day of the uprising, June 16, became national Youth Day in the new South Africa.

But to Ms. Magubane, “At the end of the day, Afrikaans is just a language.”

Such feelings are common among members of Ms. Magubane’s generation, known as the born frees because they were born after the end of apartheid, or just before it ended, and are too young to have many memories of it. And while they certainly know Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, it is almost impossible for them to grasp what it was like to see him emerge from prison in 1990 and become president in the nation’s first fully democratic elections four years later.

The born frees make up a huge segment of the population — about 40 percent, according to census figures — and their many critics among older South Africans contend that they are apathetic and apolitical, unaware of the history of the struggle that made their lives better.

But the born frees have another name as well — the Mandela generation — and they insist that their determination to look to the future and not the past is the greatest tribute they can pay him.

“Yes, we were oppressed by white people; yes, it happened; yes, it hurt,” Ms. Magubane said while Mr. Mandela was still clinging to life. “But let us forgive each other so that we can move on fully and contribute fully to the South Africa we want to see in the future.”

Akhumzi Jezile, a 24-year-old producer, television personality and speaker, says the born frees are portrayed as apathetic because they do not respond with the same emotion, or in the same numbers, as the Soweto generation does during Youth Day marches and similar remembrances.

“It’s not a matter of not understanding apartheid; it’s just a matter of us having different challenges,” he said. “I think the feeling that the born frees are ignorant comes from an older generation that sees a youth that doesn’t react the way they do. But that is normal. We didn’t live it, but we have a vibrancy. We are fighting our issues.”

He pointed to education campaigns led by young people to fight the scourges of substance abuse, crime and H.I.V. infection.

“The generation of 1976, or the generation before us, had different challenges,” he said. “We cannot talk about apartheid every day forever.”

Many, though certainly not all, of the born frees’ attitudes differ markedly from those of older South Africans because their experiences are so sharply different. Young people, for instance, are more likely to socialize with people of another race, according to the Reconciliation Barometer, a yearly gauge of public opinion.

“It seems young people may be developing deeper relationships across historic dividing lines, beyond just interaction,” the 2012 Reconciliation Barometer reported.

They are also less likely to have faith in political leaders, and less likely to blame apartheid for South Africa’s current economic and social inequality, according to the Reconciliation Barometer.

And despite the warning from Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of South Africa’s powerful confederation of trade unions, that South Africa’s young are a “ticking time bomb” because of the unemployment and poverty rates they face — twice as high as in the general population — born frees are overwhelmingly optimistic, the Barometer and other surveys have found.

Indeed, their generation in other countries — often known as millennials elsewhere — also tends toward optimism.

Even young people from impoverished townships display a heady enthusiasm, though for many life has changed little in material terms since the end of apartheid, and unemployment is worse.

“Now there are no boundaries,” said Miles Mabaane, 18, a resident of Vosloorus, southeast of Johannesburg. “We young people have the potential to come up with new strategies of how to save the country, how to do things better, how to accommodate everybody in this country.”

While older South Africans complain about born frees not acknowledging the past, some born frees complain about their parents’ trying to hold them “captive” to it.

“We are constantly reminded of what happened directly by those who were involved in the struggle — as a means of keeping us loyal, they brainwash us by continuously reinstilling fear about what the ‘white man’ has done, about how much pain was caused, how much suffering their generation suffered,” wrote AkoLee, a blogger who says she was 6 in 1994, when Mr. Mandela became president. “They say we are ungrateful for not thinking the same way they do, for questioning what the ‘black man’ is doing.”

One popular hip-hop artist in South Africa who goes by the name HHP — pronounced “double H P” — seemed to sum up the experiential disconnect between the generations in a song called “Harambe,” which also shows a clear appreciation for the sacrifices of the previous generations.

“I’m not the political type,” the song says. “Not the type to fake an image for the sake of this whole consciousness type. Never been called a Kaffir before. Can’t imagine seeing 10 cops and dogs charging through my front door. Can’t say what tear gas smelled like. Can’t even imagine what a rubber bullet on your back felt like.

“But it’s because of you that I don’t speak Afrikaans today. I have chance today.” The song continues, “Because of you the black youth of today is emancipated.”

Researchers warn that the born frees’ hopefulness could sour once their expectations of a better life are not met.

“Without more effective and sustained job creation, and soon, a mismatch between these expectations and the capacity of the economy to absorb young people is inevitable, and will have consequences,” the Reconciliation Barometer said.

Many measures of inequality are just as a bad, or worse, for the born frees than for previous generations. “Many born frees face the same, if not greater, levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality and hopelessness as their parents,” wrote Robert Mattes, director of the Democracy in Africa Research Unit at the University of Cape Town’s Center for Social Science Research. Polls show they just do not know it.

The born frees, both in the townships and in more affluent suburbs, say political leadership has failed them. Opposition parties have tried to tap into a growing disillusionment with the governing African National Congress, so far with limited success.

“The A.N.C. doesn’t really hold the appeal it had for our parents, but neither do the opposition parties,” said Lerato Moloi, acting head of research at the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Most black South Africans 20 years ago would not have recognized the life that Ms. Magubane leads. A third of her friends are white. She has known many of them since she started school. She calls her white choir leader “Tanni Christine,” or “Auntie Christine” in Afrikaans.

As for Mr. Mandela, she said: “We have seen his example, and now we’re going to follow it. We’re going to take it one step further into the future, and we’re going to build the South Africa that he would have loved to see.”



“Yes, we were oppressed by white people; yes, it happened; yes, it hurt. But let us forgive each other so that we can move on fully and contribute fully to the South Africa we want to see in the future.”

NOKUTHULA MAGUBANE, 18, of South Africa.



Disappointment in Successors to Nelson Mandela, a Revered Father of a Nation.


Per-Anders Pettersson for The New York Times

A family outside its home in Mvezo, South Africa, where Mandla Mandela, the eldest grandson of Nelson Mandela, is chief.

MVEZO, South Africa — Adam Bhasikile’s day begins at dawn, always in the same way. Flanked by donkeys, she walks to the valley floor, collecting water for the family to cook, clean and bathe from the Mbashe River, which snakes around this hilltop village like a winding moat. It is an unending ritual that Nelson Mandela’s mother, who gave birth to the future president here in 1918, almost certainly performed as well.

More recently, Mrs. Bhasikile passes something else on her walk: a sprawling complex with gleaming porcelain toilets, showers and faucets that gush water with a flick of the wrist. The complex includes a cavernous meeting hall, a tribal courtroom and a private residence for the village chief. And not just any chief — the man in charge here is Mandla Mandela, favored grandson of Mr. Mandela.

But the truck that fills the water tanks at the Great Place, as the hulking set of buildings is known, does not stop at Mrs. Bhasikile’s house.

“That water is not for us; it is for them,” she said with a disapproving grunt as she walked up the craggy hillside, 40 liters of water astride each of her three donkeys. As for Chief Mandla, Mrs. Bhasikile is unimpressed despite his pedigree. “He is not like his grandfather,” she said.

The disgruntlement among Chief Mandla’s subjects mirrors the disappointment many South Africans feel about the generations that have succeeded the heroes of this nation’s liberation struggle. Mr. Mandela’s death on Thursday in many ways is the end of the line for the cohort of leaders who carried the battle against apartheid from a lonely and seemingly hopeless struggle to an inevitable moral and political victory cheered by much of the world. Other lions of the struggle, like Oliver Tambo, Walter and Albertina Sisulu and Joe Slovo, have been dead for years.

Perhaps inevitably, the following generations of leaders have struggled to live up to their legacy. Mr. Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, was roundly criticized for his resistance to broadly accepted methods of treating and preventing AIDS, a stance that added to the nation’s death toll from the disease, researchers concluded. South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, has been under a cloud for years, investigated in corruption and rape cases.

Younger leaders like the firebrand Julius Malema have attracted a following among disgruntled, jobless youth, but his radical views and harsh criticism of older leaders got him expelled from Mr. Mandela’s party, the African National Congress. And the children of some families deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid — the Mandelas, the Tambos and others — have largely shied away from politics.

“In all of the great liberation movements there is the problem of producing great leaders to take over,” said William Gumede, an analyst who has written extensively about Mr. Mandela. “But in this case, there has really been a failure to pass the torch.”

Mr. Mandela is often called the father of the new South Africa, and he leaves behind an impressive legacy, even if the future of his metaphoric child, the Rainbow Nation, remains uncertain. But the story of his flesh-and-blood family has been marked by missteps, tragedy and neglect — a legacy of Mr. Mandela’s admitted failings as a husband and father amid the battle against apartheid and his decades of imprisonment.

His former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, is a polarizing figure, as underscored when the bodies of two young men last seen severely beaten at her house 25 years ago were unearthed in Soweto this year. Their deaths were connected to the Mandela United Football Club, a thuggish group that she used as her security team. She would eventually be sentenced to prison twice, though she never actually served a term because one sentence was reduced to a fine and another was suspended.

Mr. Mandela’s daughters with Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela have also suffered in the harsh glare of the spotlight. One daughter, Zindzi Mandela, has long been a fixture in the tabloid press, the subject of stories about her penchant for lavish birthday parties and her extensive personal debts.

One of Mr. Mandela’s sons-in-law, Isaac Amuah, was charged with rape in 2010. One of his grandsons, Zondwa Mandela, has been implicated along with a nephew of the current president, Mr. Zuma, in a deal that stripped the assets of a gold mine while leaving its 3,000 workers unpaid.

Mandla Mandela, the eldest grandson, was at the center of a public battle with the more than a dozen family members in recent months over where three of Nelson Mandela’s children, and eventually the leader himself, would be buried, leading to court-ordered exhumations.

And a separate squabble over a trust fund that Mr. Mandela set up for his descendants has led to a tense fight between two of his daughters and one of his oldest friends, resulting in a bitter exchange of affidavits in which the Mandela sisters are portrayed as impatient to get their hands on the money set aside for future generations.

Makaziwe Mandela, Mr. Mandela’s eldest daughter and one of the relatives in the legal fight, told The Daily Mail in October 2010 that “I have none of the simple memories other children have with their fathers, the day we went swimming together, or for a picnic or camping. No, no, no, nothing.” She continued: “I’ll be sad when he’s gone, but he hasn’t been a constant presence in my life.”

Two of Mr. Mandela’s granddaughters are appearing in a reality television show chronicling their lives as young professionals and inheritors of the Mandela legacy. The show was widely mocked when it aired in South Africa.

Mr. Mandela was aware of his failings as a husband and father. “I led a thoroughly immoral life,” he writes in his autobiography, without fully explaining.

“To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy,” Mr. Mandela wrote. “But it was a joy I had far too little of.”

His children have often been at odds. When his son Makgatho died of AIDS in 2005, relations were so strained that some of his siblings were not allowed to sit with the body during the traditional mourning period, according to the book “Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years,” by David James Smith.

Unlike the descendants of Walter and Albertina Sisulu, another prominent family, Mr. Mandela’s descendants have largely shied away from public service, mostly avoiding politics. One daughter from his marriage to Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela, Zenani, serves as ambassador to Argentina. And his grandson Mandla has reclaimed the Mandelas’ place in the ruling family of the Thembu clan of the Xhosa people, to which Mr. Mandela belonged.

Mandla Mandela’s rise was a great source of pride for Mr. Mandela, who wrote of the pain of his father losing his chiefdom after a dispute with colonial authorities.

But Chief Mandla has been surrounded by controversy. He decided to destroy the ruins of the hut in which Mr. Mandela was born and replace them with a replica, angering preservationists and officials at the Nelson Mandela Museum. His messy divorce fight with his wife, Tando, tarnished his image when she testified in court that he had abused her and cheated on her.

Chief Mandla’s second wife — South African traditional law allows polygamy — gave birth in 2011 to a son, who was presented to Mr. Mandela as a great-grandson. But in 2012 Chief Mandla denied that the boy was his, accusing one of his brothers of fathering him. Meanwhile, he had taken a third wife, in defiance of a court order issued in connection with his divorce from his first wife. In the deeply traditional society here, his behavior has not sat well with residents.

Chief Mandla also quietly had the bodies of his grandfather’s three children disinterred from a family graveyard in Qunu, where the elder Mr. Mandela grew up, and reburied them here in Mvezo. This was widely perceived as an attempt to ensure that his grandfather would also be buried in Mvezo, despite his expressed wish to be buried in Qunu. A judge ordered that the bodies be taken back to Qunu for reburial.

Mvezo sits in the poorest of South Africa’s provinces, the Eastern Cape, almost entirely a so-called Bantustan during apartheid. These quasi-independent regions were homelands for blacks, who had no citizenship in the South Africa ruled by whites.

These areas were badly neglected, a legacy that remains throughout the Eastern Cape — in its dilapidated schools and hospitals, its crumbling roads, its isolated villages.

In his autobiography, Mr. Mandela described the leadership style he had learned from the king of the AbaThembu. “I always remember the regent’s axiom: A leader, he said, is like a shepherd,” Mr. Mandela wrote. “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

But few here see the younger Mr. Mandela as following in his grandfather’s footsteps. “I must tell the truth, Madiba brought people together,” said Noluzile Gamakhulu, a resident, referring to Mr. Mandela by his clan name. “Mandla is very far from the old man’s way of doing things.”

Of course, few people could measure up to the elder Mr. Mandela — a Nobel laureate and beloved figure. But the disappointment echoes a broader disenchantment with the inheritors of the liberation struggle. Victoria Msiwa, 84, whose grandfather was Mr. Mandela’s teacher, said that the younger generation had spoiled the country, leaving her oddly nostalgic for the quiet certainties of the apartheid era.

“When I compare what we grew under to what is today,” she said, her voice trailing off. “I don’t make out a difference. People say we are free, but we cannot walk around at night.”

Her tractor was stolen by thieves two years ago.

“Look at this, we have burglar bars, here in this rural area,” she said. “The analysts can say if this is better. I am old. I am tired.”



Mandela’s African National Congress was once deemed a terrorist organization by both his home country, South Africa, and by the United States. And America’s view of Mandela and of South Africa’s system of apartheid cannot be whitewashed, even as we now venerate Mandela in death. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher plainly bad-mouthed Mandela to her permanent discredit.

As Noam Chomsky wrote in his 2010 book “Hopes and Prospects”:

“Through the 1980s, U.S. trade with South Africa increased despite the 1985 congressional sanctions (which Reagan evaded), and Reagan continued to back South African depredations in neighboring countries that led to an estimated 1.5 million deaths. As late as 1988 the administration condemned Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress as one of the world’s ‘more notorious terrorist groups.’”

{It was only recently that US Congress removed the last traces of its anti-ANC and anti-Mandela decisions. Now three or four US Presidents will go to South Africa to celebrate Mandela’s life.}

Be brave. Courage is not required to execute that which is easy or convenient.

As the Texas progressive author and agitator Jim Hightower once put it, “Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”

Courage is drawing up your shoulder and pushing into the resistance. Courage is doing what is unpopular or dangerous or discomforting because, even if you must do it alone, it is the right thing to do.

As Mandela put it: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” We all feel fear. In fact,  fear the person who claims that he or she does not. But fear withers under the heat of righteousness. It cannot spread when it is cornered by those of noble conviction.

Remember that no one can divest you of your basic humanity without your submission and allowance. Discrimination and injustice are insidious, virulent scourges that the world is working hard to remedy, but they remain stubbornly resistant to complete eradication. Even as we labor to be rid of them, let us all retain our resolve and rise up in our dignity.


Posted on on June 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune was down in the Gulf again this week. He said that if we all saw what he saw — pelicans struggling to fly under the weight of globs of oil, dolphins swimming through oil slicks — we’d be storming Washington D.C. calling for leadership and action.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do — we’re launching a bold new campaign to move our nation Beyond Oil.

Watching the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history unfold has been infuriating — it’s clear that there is no quick fix to clean up this mess. We need to make sure this type of disaster never happens again.

Are you fed up? Sickened by what you’re seeing in the Gulf? This is the time to join together and help break our nation free from Big Oil’s stranglehold.

The Sierra Club will be holding rallies and events, running ads, and engaging people all across the country to generate a movement to move Beyond Oil. We have never needed President Obama’s visionary leadership more than we do right now — it’s time to stop letting the oil industry call the shots, and to start embracing clean energy, he said.

But nay, this is not the attitude of everyone, not even from among those most afflicted by the disaster.

We just saw on CNN the lady President of Lafourche Parish of Louisiana defending the drilling for oil because 60% of the people there are employed by the oil industry and 60 years there was no major problem she said.

The Nation must understand that we need to continue drilling she said. If you put on a hold on drilling the rigs may move to West Africa and never come back here. This will only cause more foreign oil that will be coming here.

That also echoes what I heard the other night from a US Department of State official. State is actively out after a list of over ten countries that are being encouraged to look for oil and start develop their resources. This is not a matter of foreign aid – but of security he said, though I wondered if we speak the same language – if we both understand the same thing when uttering security.

The countries mentioned are: Papua New Guinea, Timor L’Este, Uganda, Suriname, Guiana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Vietnam.

I remarked that except for Vietnam all of theses countries are countries in conflict and thought to myself that an influx of oil money will surely re-inflame civil strife and government suppression. That is what you get for having oil!

This seems the sequel to our posting –

(Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre” of gluttonous Breughelland, explains the Louisiana suffering and Washington’s long standing lack of care. Amazing indeed!)


Posted on on January 7th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study:
The Global Report

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
3:00 – 4:30 PM
World Bank “J” Building, Washington D.C.
(entrance on 18th Street between G and H)
Room B1-080


The ongoing World Bank study – the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change  – has tried to further the understanding on two key issues: what will it cost developing countries to adapt to climate change and how can countries make their development plans more climate-resilient?

This event will provide highlights of the groundbreaking Global Report and draw lessons from it to explain: (i) the what, how, and why of adaptation; (ii) whether adaptation is simply development (or not); and, (iii) how different estimates of global costs of adaptation fit together.

An overview will also be provided of the “Country Case Studies” track of the study, currently underway in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa and Vietnam, and implications of adaptation for country-specific development paths.

Warren Evans, Director,Environment Department, World Bank

Sergio Margulis, Study Team Leader and Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank
Urvashi Narain, Senior Environmental Economist, World Bank

Otaviano Canuto, Vice President,Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, World Bank

The study is made possible through the generous support of the UK Department for International Development (DfID), The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

RSVP to Ms. Hawanty Page:  hpage at by Friday January 8, 2010


Posted on on June 1st, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

nbsp;   > World   > Africa – looking at a new mess in the making.

U.S. Africa Command Trims Its Aspirations – Nations Loath to Host Force – Aid Groups Resisted Military Plan to Take On Relief Work.

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 1, 2008; Page A18

The U.S. Africa Command, designed to boost America’s image and prevent terrorist inroads on the continent, has scaled back its ambitions after African governments refused to host it and aid groups protested plans to expand the military’s role in economic development in the region.

Africom, due to begin operations Oct. 1, will now be based for the foreseeable future in Stuttgart, Germany, with five smaller regional offices planned for the continent on hold while the military searches for places to put them.

Nonmilitary jobs, created within Africom to highlight new cooperation between the Pentagon and the State Department, have been hard to fill and will initially total fewer than 50 of 1,300 headquarters personnel. Plans to broaden the military’s more traditional overseas training and liaison responsibilities to include development and relief tasks were curbed after U.S.-funded aid groups sharply objected to working alongside troops.

“I think in some respects we probably didn’t do as good a job as we should have when we rolled out Africom,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said recently, adding that “I wasn’t there” when the command was conceived by his predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and approved by President Bush.

“I don’t think we should push African governments to a place they don’t really want to go in terms of relationships,” Gates said.

Planning for Africom began in early 2006, when the Bush administration designated Africa an area of “strategic concern” and policymakers cited a number of “pre-conflict” situations there. Based on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is deeply involved in civil affairs and economic development efforts, Africom was fashioned as a template for a new interagency structure that would coordinate “hard” and “soft” U.S. power.

U.S. Agency for International Development personnel were assigned to Africom, and a senior State Department diplomat was named one of two command deputies under Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward. Not only would Africom help make Africa secure, Bush said when he unveiled it in February 2007, it would help promote “development, health, education, democracy and economic growth.”

Africa has always been an orphan in the U.S. defense establishment, divvied up among the Pentagon’s four regional “Unified Combatant Commands” — European, Central, Southern and Pacific — that manage U.S. military relationships and operations overseas.

Of the four, only Eucom, established in post-World War II Germany, is based overseas.

Pacom handles Asia from its headquarters in Hawaii;

Southcom, responsible for Latin America, and Centcom, in charge of operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, are both in Florida.

There was no Africom – period – probably Nigerian oil was left to be handled by the local ccoperative rulers. That was good until the Chinese showed up. Now the Indians, the Japanese, the Brazilians, are not far behind. comments.}

Under Africom, one command will consolidate military responsibility for all of Africa, excluding Egypt.

Although it encompasses the volatile Horn of Africa and the U.S. Navy’s forward operating base in Djibouti and will take over training tasks on the continent, it has no other dedicated troop components. “There are very few scenarios which would create a U.S. military intervention” in Africa, said one Africom officer who was not authorized to speak on the record. “Arguably, there are no scenarios.”

With its headquarters on the continent, liaison groups of 20 to 30 military personnel established in key countries and U.S. units brought in to help with development and relief tasks, the command was envisioned as an example to Africans of how their own armed forces and civilians could work together for the good of their nations. { ??? }

The trouble was, no one consulted the Africans. “Very little was really known by the majority of people or countries in Africa who were supposed to know before such a move was made,” said retired Kenyan army Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande. Worry swept the continent that the United States planned major new military installations in Africa. { ?!?!}

“If you know the politics of Africa,” said Opande, who has headed U.N. peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone and Liberia, “you know there are certain very powerful countries who said, no, we are not interested in having a headquarters here.” South Africa and Nigeria were among them, and their resistance helped persuade others.

Over the past seven years, the administration has more than tripled U.S. assistance to Africa, to about $9 billion annually, nearly half of which is spent on prevention and treatment for HIV-AIDS. U.S. military training for African forces has steadily expanded, and U.S. troops have undertaken humanitarian missions in several countries — digging wells, building schools and providing medical care. Africom’s budget request for 2009 is about $400 million.

But despite the promise of new development and security partnerships, many Africans concluded that Africom was primarily an extension of U.S. counterterrorism policy, intended to keep an eye on Africa’s large Muslim population. {!!!}

“I think everyone thought it would be widely greeted as something positive,” the Africom officer said. “But you suddenly have wide publics that have no idea what we’re talking about. . . . It was seen as a massive infusion of military might onto a continent that was quite proud of having removed foreign powers from its soil.” {it seems that the expectation was similar to Iraq -they will embrace the US army as liberators. ?}

The United States “equates terrorism with Islam,” senior Kenyan diplomat Bethuel Kiplagat said, and few African governments wanted to be seen as inviting U.S. surveillance on their own people.

Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, thought Africom was “something that would show real respect for Africa.” But there was no question, Feingold said, that the concept had “a neocolonialist feel to it.”

The subject was at the top of African leaders’ agendas when Bush visited in February. “The purpose of this is not to add military bases,” he told reporters after meeting with Ghanian President John Kufuor. By Bush’s own account, Kufuor confronted him, saying, “You’re not going to build any bases in Ghana.” Bush told reporters that the very idea of establishing such bases was “baloney. Or as we say in Texas, that’s bull.”

At home, major U.S. nongovernmental aid organizations protested that what might work in the Iraq war zone — where government civilian-military “provincial reconstruction teams” operate together under heavy security to build local governing capacity and infrastructure — was ill-suited for non-conflict zones. Not only would a military presence draw unwanted attention and increased risk for development workers, they argued, the military had neither the training nor the staying power for effective development.

“Is the face of America in Africa a baseball cap or a helmet?” asked Samuel A. Worthington, president of Interaction, the Washington-based umbrella for many development and relief organizations. “We told the military — do what you’re good at. Stay in your lane.”

Since last year’s announcement, senior U.S. officials have been trying to make up for what they acknowledge was a bad beginning. There has been a “retooling” of the mission, the Africom officer said, away from development and toward “peacekeeper training, military education, a counterterrorism element — programs that have been going on for some time.”

“I’ll be candid with you: There was a misunderstanding of sorts,” said Ward, Africom’s commander. African governments he has visited since his confirmation last fall, he said, wanted to know “were we going to be establishing large bases, bringing in large formations of troops, naval bases and air squadrons? My answer was no.”

To USAID and other U.S. government development partners, worried that the military’s vast human and financial resources would overshadow them, Ward said he has explained that “we absolutely have no intention of being the leader in doing development on the continent of Africa. It is not our job, not our lane. We have no intention of taking over.”

{will next Administration be able to correct these impressions, while still be able to take a closer look at Islamic extremism ? And what is the story about Egypt?}


Posted on on May 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

SOUTH AFRICA, May 27, 2008 – Migrants Seek Assistance to Return Home – Thousands of foreigners fleeing South Africa in the aftermath of the ongoing xenophobic attacks are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, prior to and after arrival in their home countries with IOM receiving constant requests for voluntary return assistance from many different nationalities.

“We are currently assessing the numbers and needs of people who need assistance to return home and are consulting with South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs to roll out an appropriate response,” says Liselott Verduijn, IOM regional programme development officer in Pretoria. “So far, IOM has been contacted directly by hundreds of people urgently requesting such assistance.”

IOM estimates that thousands of people could need voluntary return assistance. Government authorities in Mozambique have reported that over 20,000 Mozambicans have already fled back home with many going home in buses chartered by their government. Meanwhile, about 25,000 Zimbabweans are believed to have gone to Zambia according to the Red Cross and Red Crescent with thousands others going to other Southern African countries. An IOM reception centre at Beitbridge on the border with South African and Zimbabwe has also in recent days been providing food, medical care and final transport to home communities to Zimbabweans fleeing the violence.

The attacks that began just over two weeks ago have now left 56 people dead and, according to latest government figures, over 35,000 displaced people taking refuge in more than 48 sites throughout the country.

A South African bus driver at one of the refuge sites where Mozambicans are departing from, refusing to be identified for fear of reprisals by fellow South Africans, noted that the migrants were in need of a great deal of assistance. “We drop them off in Maputo, but they leave here with nothing because they lost everything. We don’t know what happens to them when we drop them. Maybe they cannot even reach their homes.”

For the many thousands who are now displaced within South Africa, conditions are difficult without food, shelter or money. With their numbers growing and their situation worsening, IOM is urgently seeking initial funding to provide basic humanitarian assistance for thousands of displaced migrants including return and reintegration assistance.

Meanwhile, IOM is working with METRO FM, South Africa’s largest urban commercial radio station, to educate the public on the dangers of xenophobia and to raise funds to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to people affected by the violence. So far, IOM has distributed 2000 assistance packs with basic necessities including mats and blankets, and 500 infant kits.

For more information please contact Nde Ndifonka at IOM Pretoria – Tel: +27.82.667.27.76 or +27.12.342.27.89, Email:  ndifonka at


Posted on on May 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Defiant Mugabe threatens to expel US ambassador: “I’ll kick him out of the country.”

By Cris Chinaka, for the Independent of London, as per Reuters.
Monday, May 26, 2008

Robert Mugabe: ‘I’ll kick him out of the country’ – this about the US Ambassador.

The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, accused the United States of political interference and threatened to expel its ambassador yesterday, as his party, Zanu-PF, began its campaign for next month’s election run-off.

Mr Mugabe also said the US State Department’s top diplomat for Africa had behaved like “a prostitute” by suggesting that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had won the elections on 29 March.

Mr Mugabe’s attacks on the American Ambassador, James McGee, and Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, signalled the start of his campaign for the run-off on 27 June against Mr Tsvangirai, who won the first round but fell short of an absolute majority.

“He [Mr McGee] says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out,” Mr Mugabe said at a campaign rally. “As tall as he is, if he continues to do that, I will kick him out of the country.”

Of Ms Frazer, he said: “You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act.”

Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since the end of white rule in 1980, routinely accuses the US and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000. He told supporters in Harare that the Western allies wanted to control Zimbabwe’s resources.

He also promised land to Zimbabweans who returned from South Africa. Some 3.5 million people have fled the country to escape poverty in an economy where inflation is more than 165,000 per cent; four in five adults have no job; and food and fuel are in desperately short supply.

Tsvangirai returns and calls on Mugabe to “set the people free:” Zimbabwe’s opposition leader tells the President that attacking his supporters will not stop them voting.

By Angus Shaw in Harare
Sunday, 25 May 2008

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home quietly yesterday after an absence of more than a month, stopping first to visit supporters in hospital who were targeted in an onslaught of state-sponsored violence. He then called on President Robert Mugabe to “set his people free”.

Mr Tsvangirai left six weeks ago to warn the world about impending violence. He first tried to return last weekend, but called that off after his party said he was the target of a military assassination plot. The former union leader has survived at least three assassination attempts.

Last week, a meeting of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Harare and a rally had been planned for his return. In the end, he came back in typically low-key style, speeding off in a three-car convoy to a Harare hospital where victims of political violence were being treated. “I return home to Zimbabwe with a sad heart,” he said afterwards. “I have met and listened to the stories of the innocent people targeted by a regime seemingly desperate to cling to power.”

Mr Tsvangirai faces a presidential run-off against Mr Mugabe on 27 June. Independent human rights groups say opposition supporters have been beaten and killed by ruling party thugs to ensure the 84-year-old President, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, wins the second round. He trailed the MDC leader in the first round on 29 March.

“Mugabe once led our people to freedom,” Mr Tsvangirai said. “He can now set his people free from poverty, hunger and fear” by stepping down.

The violence poses questions about whether the run-off can be free and fair, but the opposition candidate did not expect his supporters to stay away from the polls. “If Mugabe thinks he has beaten people into submission, he will have a rude shock on the 27th,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said farewell to his family in Johannesburg, and said it was not clear when his wife and six children would join him. Among the assassination attempts the 56-year-old has survived was one in 1997 by unidentified assailants who tried to throw him from a 10th-floor window. Last year, he was brutally assaulted by police at a “prayer rally”, and images seen around the world of his bruised and swollen face came to symbolise the plight of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

When Mr Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe early in April, he said he wanted to present regional leaders with information that Mr Mugabe planned attacks on the opposition. He then embarked on an international tour to rally support for democracy in his country. “I’m sure that we have managed to ensure an African consensus about the crisis in Zimbabwe,” he said yesterday, adding it was now time to turn his attention to rallying his supporters at home.

Since the first round of voting, 42 of his party’s “most dedicated, brightest and strongest” supporters and activists had been killed.

The MDC leader says he won the first round outright, and that official results released on 2 May, showing a run-off was necessary, were fraudulent. Asked whether he thought Mr Mugabe would be any more likely to step down in June than he was in March, Mr Tsvangirai said the run-off result would be “definitive”.

Saying that he was looking ahead to the difficult task of healing a nation “traumatised” by political violence, Mr Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans who have fled political and economic collapse to return. At least four million Zimbabweans are abroad, most in South Africa, where they have been among the main targets in a deadly wave of anti-foreigner violence. This could also be blamed on Mr Mugabe, he said yesterday, adding: “Our crisis in this country is impacting on [neighbours’] economies and societies. The entire… region awaits a new Zimbabwe.”


Mbeki says South Africa ‘disgraced’ by xenophobic riots as death toll rises to 50.
By Ian Evans in Cape Town
Monday, 26 May 2008

President Thabo Mbeki admitted last night that South Africa had been “disgraced” by the wave of anti-foreigner violence which has convulsed the nation.

Facing intense criticism over his government’s ineffectual handling of the attacks, Mr Mbeki said in a televised address that South Africans’ heads were “bowed” and reminded his countrymen that their economy rested on the work of migrants from across Africa.

His intervention came as police raised the official death toll from the spree of violence from 43 to 50 and said that 35,000 people had been left homeless in the fortnight since armed gangs in the squatter camps and informal settlements in the main urban centres of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town began killing, raping, beating, stabbing and burning nationals from other African countries.

Mr Mbeki has come under fire for travelling to Tanzania for an African Union summit on Wednesday and for waiting until the same day before ordering the army on to the streets to help the police. He has also been criticised for being too out of touch to realise that the violence was in part fuelled by the lack of adequate housing and jobs for the poorest South Africans.

A front-page editorial in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper said: “Throughout the crisis, arguably the most grave, dark and repulsive moment in the life of our young nation, Mbeki has demonstrated that he no longer has the heart to lead.”

Moeltsi Mbeki, of the South African Institute of International Affairs, who is Thabo Mbeki’s brother, said the government had lost credibility.

“Even a strong statement by somebody who has such weak authority will not convince the people. This crisis is the result of the failure of their foreign policy against Zimbabwe and they don’t want to admit that,” he said.

The Johannesburg area has borne the brunt of the trouble and most of the deaths, but seven of the nine South African provinces have reported attacks against immigrants.

Thousands of refugees and economic migrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other countries are making their escape from South Africa from bus and train stations in the transport hub of Johannesburg. But even there, armed police are guarding them from marauding gangs armed with axes and knives.

Mozambique said yesterday that 20,000 of its nationals had fled South Africa, a reverse influx which has prompted authorities there to declare a national state of emergency.

In South Africa, makeshift tented refuges have sprung up in the big urban centres to take in some of those fleeing their attackers. In Cape Town alone, 10,000 people have been displaced. Some refugees have been put up at police stations, community halls and churches, also with armed police protection, but voluntary groups complained yesterday that they, rather than the authorities, were bearing a disproportionate burden of the humanitarian relief and emergency response.

On Saturday, 400 people arrived at a Cape Town race track looking for a place to shelter after a nearby settlement was targeted. Hundreds of Zimbabweans and Somalis chased from Cape Town into the surrounding Cape Peninsula have been put up in giant marquees on a beach on the Atlantic coastline. Volunteers and local government workers have been providing blankets, clothing and food to the community at Soetwater, which police claim is too remote for local South Africans to attack.

The violence has been waged by poor South Africans who claim the refugee population, which some estimate to be as high as five million, take their jobs and dwellings and commit crime. However, police and politicians say there is also a significant element of thuggery and criminality with shops and homes looted for personal gain.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC leader and the man tipped to succeed Mr Mbeki as president, visited townships around Johannesburg yesterday. He told a rally of some 5,000 people in Johannesburg yesterday: “Fighting won’t solve your problems but will instead exacerbate them and they will therefore remain unsolved. Peace should prevail and we must engage each other on whatever issues there might be.”

On Saturday, 2,000 people marched in central Johannesburg to protest against xenophobia. Risking violence themselves, the crowd held aloft posters saying “xenophobia hurts like apartheid” and “we are all Zimbabweans”.

The president of the United Democratic Movement party, Bantu Holomisa, said yesterday that Mr Mbeki’s inquiry into the outbreak of violence needed to reveal whether a so-called “third force” was responsible for stoking the crisis. He said: “The key here would be to remove any kind of suspicion that this thing was unleashed deliberately and orchestrated by whoever. Ministers are already telling us there is a third force. Let them bring that evidence to the commission.”


The Independent Leading article: Lessons for Mbeki.
Memorial Day in the US, Monday, 26 May 2008.

There is a terrible irony in the recent tragic events that have gripped parts of South Africa, where township residents have been turning on economic migrants, killing some and driving away thousands of others.

It lies in the fact that Thabo Mbeki’s government has bent over backwards to remain onside with the Mugabe regime in Harare, downplaying its criminal folly and blunting initiatives to rid Zimbabwe of its dictator. South Africa is now suffering the consequences of Mbeki’s policy, as Zimbabwe’s misery ripples outwards to encompass its neighbours and as millions of Zimbabweans flee their country in search of jobs and livelihoods.

Of course, there are other elements to this grim saga, starting with the inexcusable xenophobia of the men behind the violence. It is notable that not all the incomers who have borne the brunt of these thuggish attacks have been Zimbabweans. But the huge number of Zimbabwean migrants present in South Africa, estimated to be at least 3 million, is a factor in the bloodshed, placing enormous strain on the bonds holding the townships together and adding to the competition for resources.

And when the question is asked, as it should be, about why so many Zimbabweans have left their country for its neighbour, part of the answer is that the Mugabe regime remains in power, and is busy completing the ruin of Africa’s former breadbasket, with the South African president’s apparent complicity.

Loath to bow to the former colonial powers, Mbeki has shielded Zimbabwe’s venal and selfish old leader from criticism, blind to the consequences. Now that the wretched condition of Mugabe’s dissolving state has been brought to his door, one must hope the president sees this as a reminder of the need for South Africa to play a more constructive role in helping its once flourishing neighbour get back on its feet.

It is especially urgent that South Africa changes its tune on Zimbabwe now, as Mugabe heads into a run-off presidential election with his nearest rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change returned to Zimbabwe for the campaign yesterday.

Arguably, this election should not be taking place; because Tsvangirai appeared to win the first round. But we are where we are. As Zimbabwe prepares to vote a second time, Mbeki must stop making excuses for his ally and start expediting rather than blocking change in Harare. If he does not, the impact of Zimbabwe’s collapse will continue to have repercussions for South Africa, and we may see more shameful scenes in South Africa’s already fragile, hard-pressed townships.

At we saw all of this coming when we watched that May 2007 Friday night, in Room #4 of the UN New York Headquarter’s Basement how South Africa led the Africans to self-immolation and the tearing down of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development by fighting for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe to take over the CSD Chairmanship for one year.

Now that year is over. The CSD is still in the pits, Mugabe is on the roll – but South Africa is in deep …. and my friends tell me that it will only get worth. They did not like what Thabo Mbeki did to it, and say that Zuma will be worse. They even told me that the Soviet Union under Stalin will be the model for next phase of the SA – that will still be led by this intermediate generation that did not study leadership through the academy of Robin Island – but still is not led by people that are true Nationalists. The problem is called corruption.


Posted on on April 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU aid chief says rising food prices risk African ‘humanitarian tsunami:’ As food riots sweep the developing world, the EU’s foreign aid chief has warned that sky-rocketing food price rises threaten a “humanitarian tsunami” in Africa, and has promised a boost in aid to support food security.

“A global food crisis is becoming apparent,” said EU humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel after a meeting with African Union Commission President Jean Ping, “less visible than the oil crisis, but with the potential effect of a real economic and humanitarian tsunami in Africa.”

By Leigh Phillips, April 9, 2008, the EUobserver, Brussels.

The commissioner said that the EU would boost emergency food aid from the European Development Funds from its current €650 million to €1.2 billion.

In recent weeks, food riots have swept the developing world as UN World Food Programme officials warn that a ‘perfect storm’ of poor harvests, rising fuel prices, the growth of biofuels and increased pressure from a growing middle class in China and India is rapidly increasing world hunger.

The last two days have seen food riots in Egypt over a doubling of the price of staple food items in the past year. Some 40 people died in similar riots in Cameroon in February, with violent demonstrations also recently taking place in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Mauritania.

Less deadly protests in the last week have also occurred in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Bolivia.

In the last week in Haiti, five people have been killed in riots over price rises for rice, beans and fruit, with protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday (8 April), while UN staff in Jordan have gone on a one-day strike this week asking for a pay rise to deal with the 50 percent increase in prices.

Elsewhere, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan are introducing restrictions on rice exports.

The UN’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, on Tuesday said that rising food prices are threatening political stability throughout the developing world.

“The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe,” said Mr Holmes, speaking at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) Conference, according to the Guardian. “Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity,” he added.

Kanayo Nwanza, vice president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Tuesday: “Escalating social unrest as we have seen in Cameroon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and in Senegal could spread to other countries,” reports AFP.

African finance ministers met last week in Addis Ababa to consider the food crisis. In a statement, the ministers warned that food price rises “pose significant threats to Africa’s growth, peace and security.”

Last month, the head of the UN World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said that high oil prices, low food stocks, growing demand from China and the push for biofuels are causing a food crisis around the world.

“We are seeing a new face of hunger,” she said. “We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it.”


Posted on on March 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


The General Assembly today agreed to convene a high-level meeting this September, on the eve of its annual general debate, on how to better meet the development needs of Africa, which is struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target date of 2015.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, Assembly members agreed both to hold the meeting on 22 September and that it should result in a formal political declaration on the issue.

The text calls for participation at the highest possible political level, including heads of State and government, and it also asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit in advance a comprehensive report, including recommendations, on African development needs.

The meeting “will constitute a significant event that will review the implementation of all commitments made to and by Africa in order to comprehensively address the special development needs of the continent,” the Assembly said in the resolution.

* * *


Governments, businesses and the general public need more sophisticated information from their national weather services if they are to prepare adequately against natural disasters and better adapt to the threats posed by climate change, the head of the United Nations meteorological agency says.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told a workshop yesterday in Cape Verde that there is “a vital need to better understand the linkage between environmental protection and sustainable development.”

Mr. Jarraud noted that the global economy had become increasingly sensitive to the fluctuations of weather, climate and water phenomena. Climate change, the growing competition for water, ozone depletion and the impact of desertification all require countries to have access to the best available information.

“There are also raised expectations and demands for newer and more sophisticated types of services by most sectors of the economy, all of which are highly relevant to your respective societies,” he said.

The workshop, help on Sal Island on Cape Verde, runs until Friday and is aimed at helping Portuguese-speaking countries develop greater partnerships between government and civil society on environmental and climate issues.


Posted on on January 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


THE ELDERS -well known people gathered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in order to provide counsel in areas of conflict or on subjects that impact human life, human rights, the right to development etc.
The activity that brought to our attention this group centers now on the attempt to resolve the Kenya crisis. Among Their supporters is the UN Foundation and individuals like Richard Branson.

Welcome Elders Latest Events Global Village Press Our Supporters History


Posted on on November 8th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Africa is becoming better and better,” writes Globe&Mail on line’s Monkaagedi Gaotlhobogwe from Gaborone, Botswana, November 7, 2007.

Two of Africa’s most respected elder statesmen, Botswana’s former president Ketumile Masire and Mozambican ex-leader Joaquim Chissano, believe the continent is finally shedding its reputation as a theatre of conflict and corrupt governance.

In interviews with Agence France-Presse as Masire launched a new peace foundation this week, the two men both painted an upbeat assessment on Africa’s future based both on their time in office and recent careers as conflict troubleshooters.

“The future is bright. We are dealing with positive changes,” said Masire, who has served as a mediator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Lesotho and Swaziland since standing down in 1998.

“The economies are better, elections are taking place in many African states, presidents are willing to leave offices, and there are no coups these days,” added Masire whose country is one of the few in Southern Africa to have escaped conflict since independence.

Chissano, Mozambique’s leader from 1986 to 2005, spent the first six years of his presidency trying to end a civil war which erupted soon after the former Portuguese colony gained independence in 1975.

He won widespread praise for not only overseeing the south-east African nation’s reconstruction but also standing down voluntarily and was awarded a new $5-million prize for leadership last month.

Chissano said continuing unrest in the DRC, Sudan and Uganda were “remnants of conflicts from long time ago” and did not reflect a broader picture.

Better and better
“They are not new conflicts. Uganda used to have many movements, now there are two or three remaining, the main one being the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army], the one I’m working with right now,” said Chissano, who was last year appointed as a United Nations envoy to end the long-running conflict in northern Uganda.

He has played a similar role in Guinea-Bissau and also sits as the chairperson of a forum of 29 former African heads of state dedicated to peace efforts.

“We [the forum] have availed ourselves to help sitting heads of states, as well as helping in peace facilitations,” said Chissano.

“We are playing the role of advocacy in Africa, we believe the trend is changing, Africa is becoming better and better. The changes are good for peace, stability and integration.”

Asked about some of the continent’s worst conflicts of recent years, Chissano said “conditions for peace are ripe” in the DRC while the “situation is improving” in the Côte d’Ivoire.

“I believe in Sudan the leaders will discuss, Darfur will find a way out. Secession is possible but I believe they will first work for unity, I do not believe they are in a hurry for secession,” he added.

Masire said his foundation aimed to raise money to ensure peace efforts do not unravel due to a lack of funding.

“When I was the head of the mediation team in the DRC for instance, there was no funding for such a mission, and I had to pay the mediation team from my pockets,” he said.

“The aim of the foundation is to raise funds to enable peace facilitators to do work. They could be useful but they are often discouraged by lack of funds for transport, accommodation and other related activities.”

‘Not for the media to know’
Both Botswana and Mozambique have prospered at a time when their common neighbour Zimbabwe has been plunged into a crisis characterised by assaults on opposition leaders and the world’s highest rate of inflation.

Chissano was reluctant to be drawn on Zimbabwe but said there were signs that South African-led mediation talks were bearing fruit.

“Zimbabwe faced worse situations and found solutions before, so if helped, if given a chance, Zimbabwe could find a way,” he said.

Masire was also tight-lipped, saying the mediation efforts were sensitive.

“If it is happening behind the scenes, it’s not for the media to know,” he said. – Sapa-AFP


Posted on on October 26th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (


Regional Governance Forum Challenges Africa’s Heads of State on Transparency, Legitimacy, Participation African countries commit to strengthening state capacities for good governance.

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 26 October 26, 2007 — After three days of around-the-clock deliberations, the 300 delegates at the Seventh Africa Governance Forum (AGF VII) here agreed today on recommendations to boost the efficiency and responsiveness of African governments to deliver essential social services to their people. Their proposals will be presented to Presidents and Prime Ministers from across the region at the next African Union Summit.

Capped off by a dialogue with Burkina Faso’s President, Blaise Compaore; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; and Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem of Algeria, the AGF VII brought together government officials, civil society representatives, journalists and business leaders from more than 30 countries under the theme “Building the Capable State in Africa.” A flagship governance initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the AGF VII was convened by the agency’s Regional Bureau for Africa.

“The Ouagadougou Summit is for us an opportunity to remind the international community about the importance of additional support to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,” said President Compaore.

Having hosted the 2006 edition of the AGF in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that the region has made much progress, with rising economic growth rates, democratic elections in many countries, increased space for civil society and the media, and the creation of effective regional institutions. Despite these advancements, he noted, many African states have low capacity, leaving them unable to lift their citizens out of poverty. “The creation of the capable state in Africa is long overdue. These discussions have been going on for a long time. It is now time to translate these discussions into actions.”

During the Forum, participants focused on the following topics:

Redefining the role of the state and development challenges in Africa;
Developing institutional and human capacity for public sector performance;
State legitimacy and leadership;
Strengthening state performance through decentralized governance;
The role of non-state actors;
Globalization and state capacity; and
The role of women in building the capable state in Africa: challenges and opportunities.

In their “Commitment of Ouagadougou,” participants assert that capacity is one of the key missing links to development and democratization in Africa. They identify a number of challenges which factor into Africa’s capacity equation, including the need to improve popular participation and electoral systems; peace and security issues, such as preventing and resolving conflicts; service delivery, including investments in education, health, water and sanitation, and housing; economic governance, especially the effective and transparent use of natural resources and transparency in accounting and contracting and procurement systems; promoting civil society and media development and supporting marginalized groups like youth; globalization; and gender, including how to ensure that women have access to education, land and credit.

The delegates recommend 11 steps to help strengthen the capacities of the state in Africa – from increasing government efforts to consolidate the rule of law (mainly by ensuring the efficiency, integrity and independence of the judiciary); invest in education, with a view to nurturing future generations; factor women’s participation into the process of building a capable state in Africa – to placing importance on good governance as a guarantee of political stability so as to improve the quality of people’s lives.

They challenge African Heads of State to take the “Commitment of Ouagadougou” seriously and put its recommendations to good use.

A high point of the Forum was the presence of Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique and Chairman of the African Forum, who peacefully left the reigns of his country in 2005 and was recently named the first winner of the Mo Ibrahim Award, which recognizes African countries and former presidents for their achievements in good governance in Africa. During the opening ceremony he said that political change is taking hold in Africa. “Increasingly, African States have renounced the culture of military and single party rule and presidency for life. I stand before you as a clear testimony to the emergence of this new form of political governance in Africa.”

On the sidelines of the Forum, UNDP, in collaboration with the Reuters Foundation, conducted a media dialogue for journalists from AGF countries. The dialogue provided participating journalists an opportunity to explore from a media point of view the meaning and definition of a capable state in Africa and hear about the prevailing capacity development challenges and opportunities. The agenda for the media dialogue included an exclusive group interview with President Chissano and a briefing by Protais Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Local Administration, Good Governance, Community Development and Social Affairs.

“At the heart of all development challenges that African governments are facing is the lack of capacity to deliver education, water, sanitation, health, electrical power, telecommunications or roads to their people,” said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, UNDP Regional Director for Africa. “Human development is ultimately defined by degree of access to these services. I hope that the countries and partners represented here will take home the message that building capacity for effective service delivery is the critical element in the agenda for building the capable state in Africa.”

The AGF was conceived as a UNDP joint initiative with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Previous AGFs have focused on the African Peer Review Mechanism, Local Governance for Poverty Eradication, Parliament as an Instrument for Good Governance, Conflict Management for Durable Peace and Sustainable Development, Accountability and Transparency in Africa and Meeting the Governance Challenge in Africa.

The following countries participated in the Forum: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In addition, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea Conakry, Mali and Niger attended as observers.

For more information, please visit:…

For press queries, please contact:

In Ouagadougou:
Cassandra Waldon:  casandra.waldon at, Cell Phone: +1-917-432-7965, +226-76-940-793
Theophane Kinda:  theophane.kinda at, Cell Phone: +226-70-218-256
Simon Omoding:  simon.omoding at, Cell Phone: +226-76-337-681

In New York:
Niamh Collier-Smith:  niamh.collier at Office: +1-212-906-6111

UNDP is the UN’s global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.


Posted on on October 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

OCTOBER 19, 2007, A report by the International Action Network on Small Arms, Saferworld, and Oxfam International, states that Armed Conflict Costs Africa $18 Billion Each Year.
Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations have been involved in armed conflict. The list includes Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.
During the past 15 years, almost $300 billion has been squandered on armed conflict in Africa, capital that could have been used to lift the continent out of extreme poverty and to prevent continued disease epidemics, a new study revealed.

The estimated $18 billion per year “is a massive waste of resources—roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period. It is also roughly equivalent to the additional funds estimated to be necessary to address the problems of HIV and AIDS in Africa, or to address Africa’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation,” the report stated.

In effect, 38% of the world’s armed confrontations take place on African soil.

In addition, the report highlighted that “the average annual loss of 15 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) represents an enormous economic burden—this is one and a half times average African spending on health and education combined.” “This is money Africa can ill afford to lose,” Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stated in the introduction of the report.

“The sums are appalling; the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for TB and malaria. Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built, positively affecting millions of people. Not only do the people of Africa suffer the physical horrors of violence, armed conflict undermines their efforts to escape poverty.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf understands the huge loss it represents for the continent, including her own country. Since 1991, Liberia has been one of the African nations that has been the target of armed combat and widespread civil strife. Although conditions for peace in the country were established in 2003 after President Charles Taylor left office, Liberia continues to experience political and economic perils, including the challenge of accommodating thousands of Liberian refugees who have returned to their homeland since the war ended.

However, it is not only robbed human lives and financial resources stolen in conflict that continue to cause the most damage to the continent, but the intangible daily mental and physical effects felt by the people themselves—and in some cases, other nations around them not directly involved in the conflict itself.

According to the report, African countries involved in conflict have, on average, “50 per cent more infant deaths, 15 percent more undernourished people, life expectancy reduced by five years, 20 percent more adult illiteracy, 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient, and 12.4 per cent less food per person.”

In the report, experts conclude that the majority of the problem lies in poor regulation of arms movement across borders—approximately “95 per cent of Africa’s most commonly used conflict weapons come from outside the continent.” These include the Kalashnikov assault rifle, more commonly known as the AK-47.

Also of primary concern is the tendency for regionalized conflicts to be magnified into international ones. According to the report, the situation in Darfur has already “drawn in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic,” and other clashes in the area have caused similar situations.

Additionally, the economies of countries in armed skirmishes become intertwined. “In 2002, when fighting in Cote d’Ivoire made access to the key Ivorian seaport of Abidjan virtually impossible, foreign trade was disrupted in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,” the report stated. And in Somaliland and Mozambique, “informal economies that provided a basic means of survival in wartime have been partly responsible for the collapse of formal rural market networks and have been an obstacle to post-conflict resolution,” the report said.


Source: MCT