Around Africa
January/February 2003 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Ivory Coast: Search for an African Solution
USA-Paltry Response to HIV/AIDS Crisis
AFJN's GRI Project Advances
Kenya Elections Herald Change
Child Soldiers Optional Protocol
Society of Missionaries of Africa
Africa Advocacy Days
Recent AFJN Sign-Ons


Dear AFJN Members and Friends:

 

President Bush has postponed his intended January trip to Africa.  However, in spite of previous pronouncements, indications are that Africa will be one of the administration’s priorities.  The reason?  Oil.

 

The world uses 50-million barrels of oil per day (b/d).  Of that the USA uses 20-million while producing only 6.  16% of the remaining 14 million b/d come from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  In 12 years, SSA’s supply will reach 25%.  In the past 10 years, its production increased 36% vs. 16% for other continents.  With more than 4-million b/d, Africa produces as much oil as Iran, Mexico and Venezuela together.

 

An association of SSA oil producers outside of OPEC would weaken that cartel.  It seems the administration is pushing for that to happen.  Rumors have it that the USA is planning a military base in Equatorial Guinea in view of such an eventuality.

 

Oil is not foreign to West African conflicts and NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development) is more likely to realize regional integration via oil.  Coincidence or not, the French have advised President Wade of Senegal that Africans should come to the June G-8 summit in Evian, France, with concrete proposals on NEPAD.  France has developed oil production capacities in Africa largely to be independent of the USA.

 

African oil presents advantages to the USA.  African regional conflicts would not disrupt its aims; most wells are off-shore and relatively secure.    However, for Africans oil is more likely to bring political unrest  than development and democracy.   In 4-years of dictatorship, Abacha of Nigeria had accumulated more wealth than Mobutu of Zaire in

3-decades of reign.

 

Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D

AFJN Executive Director 

 

 

IVORY COAST: Search for an African Solution

By Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D.

 

It is well known that natural resources have played a significant role in fueling African conflicts: oil in Sudan; copper and coltan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; diamonds in Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  Oil is also a factor in some West African hostilities.  Ivory Coast puts a new face on conflict - “cocoa guerilla warfare”.

 

French military intervention has the virtue of creating a stalemate and bringing belligerents to the negotiating table with a secondary but no less important result that the cocoa producing belt is protected.   Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa in the world.  It alone accounts for 40% of the GDP of the West African monetary zone.  It is France’s main economic partner in francophone Africa and its third largest in SSA.   Like France, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) is becoming more engaged in Ivory Coast (while the USA pays for transporting ECOWAS' peacekeeping forces and the EU and France support its troops with equipment, armaments and fuel).

 

The local conflict is being played on the international stage.  Paris suspects that some British businesses are dealing with rebel groups (as French businesses have been accused of similarly doing in Liberia).  Complications also arise from a regional power struggle, particularly between Togo and Senegal.

 

In the meantime, the crisis is affecting more than a half-dozen neighboring countries because of the population migration, the future of the franc monetary zone, the intensification of arms trade and trafficking, the connections between the Ivorian situation and other conflicts and tensions in the region (particularly Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo).

 

The imbroglio is dangerous for regional stability but, if solved, it can also offer a solution for many countries.  The same patterns and structures are shared throughout sub-Saharan Africa: stratification of ethnic groups; religious polarization; geography based opposition (in Ivory Coast the north is mostly Muslim and the south mostly Christian) with a history of xenophobia since independence in the 1960s.  At the peak of its economic success in the 1980s, the foreign-born component represented more than one third of the population.  But the economic downturn of the 1990s has been blamed on foreigners.  Politicians have exploited the situation for their own gains.  Intellectuals joined in and crafted the concept of “Ivoirite” – a “real Ivory Coaster.”   That policy has excluded “foreigners” as well as many northerners from political life, including A. D. Ouattara, former Prime Minister of President Houphoet-Boigny.  If the diversity issue is successfully managed, it will show the way to the whole continent.

 

Ivory Coast will also be a testing ground for another African headache: the military establishment.  How to build a functional army without fear of coup d’etat; how to ensure military loyalty while ensuring the national identity of armies; and how, within the armed forces, to avoid class struggle between the military elite and the “lumpen militariat” ( to borrow an expression of Ali Mazrui), a “class of soldiers, semi-organized, un-polished, and semi-literate?”  This class of combatants has difficulties drawing the line between law and lawlessness and between right and wrong.  The Sierra Leone crisis saw the emergence of the “sobel” (soldier and rebel): soldier at daytime and rebel/gangster at night (committing robberies, rape and murder and/or lending uniforms and weapons to criminals).

 

Far from being national entities, African armies are based on ethnicity and recruited for political reasons to ensure loyalty and obedience.  The military elite then tends to be corrupt and more interested in personal gains; the rank-and-file, poor and resentful.  A journalist, Muriel Pomponne, described the situation she found in Equatorial Guinea in 1994 (Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2003): “… an island so poor that the twenty soldiers stationed there the past few months had eaten all the cats, leaving the harvest at the mercy of the rats.  Such misery had made the inhabitants angry at [the military]”.  It is this kind of lumpen militariat that has been creating havoc in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the two Congos and now in Ivory Coast.

 

A true African solution to the Ivorian crisis does not consist solely of sending in other African politicians and troops to straighten it out.  It requires creating a social acceptance for diversity and serious rethinking and reforming of the armed forces; and above all, establishing a society where justice is strong and strength is just.

____________________

Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN

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USA OFFERS PALTRY RESPONSE TO HIV/AIDS CRISIS
By Larry J. Goodwin

 “To date, over 20-million people have died of AIDS worldwide.  Some 40-million people are living with HIV/AIDS today—most in the developing world where resources to respond and health infrastructure are limited.  Today, like every other day, some 13,000 people will become newly infected and more than 8,000 people will perish due to AIDS.  This crisis is unfolding with the full knowledge of the international community.  Business as usual will not halt this disease.  The pandemic requires a massive scaling up of financial resources so that proven programs can be implemented and expanded.”

 

The HIV/AIDS Working Group of the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA), in which AFJN actively participates, recently reported these statistics.  Within them is embedded another haunting figure– 28-million Africans live with HIV/AIDS.  What is the USA doing to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic?  Is it enough?  Does it reflect the scope of the crisis and our honest ability to address it? 

 

The math can be convoluted and mind-numbing.  However, let’s try to work through the basics of USA funding levels over the past 2-years just in terms of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, called for by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and USA bi-lateral assistance to Child Survival/Development Assistance AIDS programs.  This will help us understand what ADNA and other groups are asking from our government and why. 

 

2002 – The US government (USG) allocated $200m to the Global Fund and $395m to its bi-lateral AIDS programs.  ADNA and others joined in urging the USG to provide an additional $700m in supplemental emergency funding to the Global Fund.  

 

In response, the House provided $200m, while the Senate version of the supplemental initially contained $100m.  Senators Helms (R-NC) and Frist (R-TN) offered an amendment to add another $400m for a Senate total of $500m.  At the request of President Bush, they knocked their amendment down to $100m.  This left the Senate figure at $200m (the original $100m plus the $100m in the Helms/Frist amendment), the same as the House.

 

In the end, all was for naught.  Appropriation of the funds depended on the president designating that they were needed as an emergency requirement.  President Bush refused to make the designation and the funding collapsed.

 

2003 – ADNA and its partners called on the USG to contribute $2.5b to address the AIDS crisis, of which 50% should go to the Global Fund.  To date, no 2003 money has been allocated to the Global Fund or to bi-lateral AIDS programs.  Why?  Because the 107th Congress adjourned last year without finalizing most Fiscal Year 2003 appropriations bills; they left that for the 108th Congress that was sworn in at the beginning of this year. 

 

More’s the pity because prior to the 107th Congress adjourning, the House had passed a bill calling for $1.3b, including $750m for the Global Fund.  And the Senate had passed a bill authorizing $1b for the Global Fund and $800m for bi-lateral AIDS assistance.  Authorizing bills cannot be carried over from one Congress to another, so both died upon adjournment.

 

What now? – As Congress moves to determine appropriations for the remainder of FY2003 and set the budget for FY2004, ADNA and its partners are lobbying hard for a combined 2003-2004 contribution of $3.5b, which translates to $2.25b for the Global Fund and $1.25b for bi-lateral AIDS programs.  The Global Fund most recently estimated that it needs $6.3b in 2003-04 in order to fund approved programs.  We are asking the USG to furnish $2.25b of that amount.

 

Is that too much to ask?  To put it in perspective, the 250 wealthiest USA corporations, including Enron, enjoyed $98b in tax breaks between 1996-1998.  President Bush is ready to fight for much more on their behalf.  If he and members of Congress read the first paragraph of this article, would they not agree that we can afford a sliver of that largesse for the Global Fund? 

 

Action: Write or phone your members of Congress (202/224-3121) urging them to appropriate $2.25 for the Global Fund

___________________

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN

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AFJN’S GRI PROJECT ADVANCES
By Larry J. Goodwin

 

The Africa Grassroots Response Initiative (GRI) has been an AFJN flagship project for the past two and a half years.   It has successfully generated awareness and support for African farmer and community rights among our partner organizations, African NGOs and a wide-range of international civil society organizations.  And it has provided an effective tool for collaborating with our kinspeople across the Atlantic, the Africa-Europe Faith & Justice Network (AEFJN). 

The issues that AFJN addresses through the GRI project hold enormous stakes for African smallholder farmers and rural communities, food security, local culture and biodiversity.  GRI chiefly aims to uphold farmers’ rights to seeds, plants and other agricultural genetic resources over against corporate-led policies that would patent and control them for their own private interests.  Numerous African plants and food crops, the heritage of countless generations of farmers, have already been patented by outside individuals, universities and companies.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) allows this under its “Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights” (TRIPS) agreement.  The USA is the foremost proponent of privatizing crops, seeds and plants, partly out of ideological conviction but, to a large extent, because USA agrochemical companies are in a position to benefit hugely from the agreement.  That is why the present USA administration places enormous pressure on developing countries to knuckle under to its demands in the WTO and in regional trade agreements.  This will be one of the critical issues involved in negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with southern African countries, which is about to get underway. 

What do esoteric-sounding “Intellectual Property Rights” over agricultural genetic resources portend for African smallholder farmers?  Nothing short of a future of serfdom and dependence on corporate agribusiness.  The ultimate aim of private-sector advocates is to establish a global patent regime, whereby a single system of patents would be enforced throughout the world.  Seeds and food crops would be the exclusive property of global firms.  If they succeed, developing country farmers would no longer be allowed to save seeds from their harvests but would have to buy them under contract from agrochemical companies.  Nor could they freely sell their produce if corporations had exclusive monopolies on crop varieties. 

The African Model Law, an African Union initiative, attempts to thwart this privatization scheme by banding African countries together to enact national legislation establishing community rights to agricultural resources.  In 2002, AFJN and its coalition partners worked hard to urge the House of Representatives to adopt H. Con. Res. 260, the AFRICA Resolution, upholding the principles of the African Model Law, which was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters.  We made progress but did not succeed.  As the 108th Congress begins its first session, we will continue the fight and make every effort to have the resolution introduced in both the House and Senate. 

In the current atmosphere, what are the chances of influencing USA policy on this issue?  In the short term, very slim.  But this is a long term battle that we must wage for the sake of economic justice, the right to food and food security, and in recognition that earth’s bounty is part of the global commons we all share, not a commodity for sale.

___________________

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN

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KENYAN ELECTIONS HERALD CHANGE
By Cathy Majtenyi

 

The swearing in of Mwai Kibaki, leader of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), as president of Kenya on December 30, 2002 replaced 39 years of post-independence, dictatorial rule by the Kenya Africa National Union (KANU).  Amidst an optimism and euphoria that saw mini-bus drivers distributing free sodas to passengers, Kibaki reiterated his new government’s plans to offer free primary school education,

revitalize the economy and stamp out corruption, amongst others.

 

The United States government (USG) was quick to offer its praise, both for the election’s democratic process and its result.  “We have assured President Kibaki of continued United States friendship and support for Kenya,” Philip T. Reeker, deputy State Department spokesperson, said in a release.  “We look forward to working closely with him on issues of regional peace and security, human rights, counter terrorism, enhancing trade, job growth, and investment, and fighting HIV/AIDS.”

 

Details of the United States’ and Kenya’s plans to cooperate with one another in the fight against terrorism have so far been scant in the month that the NARC government has been in power, and NARC’s manifesto was unclear on the issue of fighting terrorism.  A January 2, 2003 State Department briefing said that the USA “looks forward to working with the new government” to track down and convict Felicien Kabuga, whom the USG wants for allegedly authorizing the Rwandan genocide of 1994. 

 

The dust is still clearing in Mombasa, where, on November 28, suicide bombers ploughed into a group of Israeli tourists at the Paradise Hotel, killing15 and injuring 80. At about the same time, two missiles were fired on an Israeli charter plane taking off from Mombasa’s Airport. 

 

Historically, Kenya has been very useful to the United States in its war against terrorism. “[Former President] Daniel arap Moi has been the United States' best friend in terms of national security interests; he has never refused USA requests to use the Nairobi airport or the port of Mombasa … and it's very important that we keep the new president on the same wave length as us,” Herman Cohen, professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, said in a December 30, 2002 PBS Online News Hour report.

 

Kenya could potentially play a pivotal role within the next few months in the USA’s planned operations against Iraq, again by providing a base for those operations.  However, whether Kibaki and his NARC government will be as cooperative as the former regime remains to be seen.

 

According to Dr. Moustafa Hassouna, lecturer at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, the USA will face several challenges in its relations with the NARC government.  First, elements within the new government, particularly people such as Prof. Anyang Nyongo (Minister for Planning and National Development) and Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi (Minister for Trade and Industry), are critical analysts who might be much less likely to “tow the U.S. line” like what was done in the former regime, he says.

 

“There are so many sharp minds within the Kibaki government that critically think about certain issues,” he said.  “They will debate these things in Parliament.  They will debate Kenya’s role in the Iraq war.  They will debate everything, which may not be too good if the USA wants to get some sort of streamlined opinion pushing onwards under the umbrella of fighting terrorism.”

 

He says that some people who are now in government are on record as saying that Kenya is insensitive to the Palestinian issue and has backed oppressors such as apartheid South Africa and Hutu extremists in Rwanda, and might even see the USA as being the “oppressor.”

 

Second, the new government’s top priorities are to turn the economy around and fight corruption, not necessarily to fight terrorism, he says.

 

The USA needs a stable Kenya, which might be difficult to achieve in transitional politics.  Hassouna points to a rise in domestic violence that includes random killings against the civilian population by vigilante groups, who are allegedly backed by KANU elements and groups opposed to the current government.  Hassouna predicts that the violence may increase over time when people become frustrated if the pace of change is slow.

___________________

Cathy Majtenyi, a journalist in Nairobi, wrote this article for AFJN

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Child Soldier Optional Protocol - End of the Beginning
By Sr. Beverly Lacayo, MSOLA

 

On 23 December 2002 the United States became a State Party to the United Nations’ Optional Protocols on the Rights of a Child.  It thus joined the international community in working to end the abuses of children in two very important areas: the use of children under l8 in armed conflict and the exploitation of children for pornography and prostitution.  This last treats the exploiters as criminals liable to serious punishment.  On the global level the protocols promote cooperation in international law enforcement, areas which still need to be worked out at the practical and legal levels.

 

The Protocol on Child Soldiers confirms eighteen as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and stipulates that anyone under18 cannot be sent into direct hostilities.  It also promotes the rehabilitation and social reintegration of young people who have been involved in armed conflict and asks the signatories to take all feasible measures to demobilize children currently being used as soldiers in areas within their jurisdiction.  The international protocol applies not only to national armies but also to armed forces of rebel groups.

 

According to the statement released by the State Department on the day the USA deposited the ratification at the UN: “At any one time, over 300,00 children are used in armed conflict as soldiers, messengers, guards, runners, bearers, spies, cooks and sex slaves.  An estimated 1-million children are currently trafficked for coerced sexual exploitation or labor.  At the least, these children face interrupted or total suspension of education.  Often they live with fear, pain and degradation – or don’t survive at all.”

 

The Optional Protocols were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May 2000 and signed by President Clinton that same year.  They were ratified by the Senate unanimously in 2002.  The United States is the 45th country to ratify the protocols.  Twenty-four African countries have signed them but only eight have ratified them so far.

___________________
Sr. Beverly Lacayo is a Staff Associate at AFJN
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SOCIETY OF MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA

By J. Philip Reed, M.Afr.

 

  In each issue AFJN tries to profile one of its member organizations.  This month we present the Society of Missionaries of Africa. 

Nicknamed “White Fathers,” because of their white habit, the Society of Missionaries of Africa was founded by Charles Cardinal Lavigérie of Algiers in 1868.  The habit was chosen by the founder in order to help them fit into their first milieu, Kabylie and Muslim North Africa.  Ever since, the Missionaries of Africa have kept a special place in their ministry for work with Muslims.  

 

Numbering around 1900 members, priest and brothers, the Missionaries of Africa work in 22 countries on the continent of Africa, both North and Sub-Saharan.  They are guardians of the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem where they run an ongoing formation and retreat center that annually serves their own members as well as many African colleagues.

 

From the beginning, the Missionaries of Africa were heavily involved in creating a catechumenate program for the young Church in Africa.  They remain involved in this work but also staff parishes, schools, seminaries and increasing numbers of specialized ministries.  Over the last few years they have pulled out of parishes and dioceses that are well established and have opted to move to new projects in areas where primary evangelization and dialogue with Muslims are the priority.  Recent General Chapters have underlined the importance of these activities and encouraged them as well to integrate a greater concern for justice, peace and the integrity of creation in all areas of their ministry.

 

Today the Society welcomes African members.  More than two thirds of candidates come from Africa and are now assisting the Society in its continuing task of fitting into the milieu and serving the people of God in Africa and the Diaspora.

___________________

Fr. J. Phillip Reed is Chair of AFJN’s Board of Directors

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AFRICA ADVOCACY DAYS

23-26 February 2003 – Washington DC

 

An Educational and Advocacy Event for People of Faith
Committed to Working for Just USA Policies toward Africa

 

REGISTER NOW -- Africa Faith and Justice Network, the Washington Office on Africa and the Lutheran Stand with Africa Campaign are joining with Church World Service and Churches for Middle East Peace in an educational and advocacy event, organized in 2-tracks, focused on Africa and the Middle East. 

 

The Africa Track will provide challenging speakers, briefings on issues like HIV/AIDS, debt, conflict, trade, economic justice and advocacy training to help you understand and address USA/Africa policies. The event will culminate in the opportunity to lobby your members of Congress directly on HIV/AIDS and economic justice for Africa. 

 

For registration, program and lodging information, go directly to the event website at www.loga.org/advocacy2003.htm

 

You can also contact Anna Rhee directly at 301-384-3615 or anna@cmep.org for further information

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RECENT AFJN SIGN-ONS

 

03 December 02 – Letter to USA Trade Representative Robert Zoellick opposing free trade agreements that put patent rights before rights of poor people for access to affordable drugs and which undermine countries' rights to protect public health.  This letter focused on the USA-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which is seen as a guide for others like the one planned for negotiation with 5-countries in southern Africa.

 

17 December 02 – Letter to USA Trade Representative Robert Zoellick protesting the USA position at the WTO, which would narrow previous agreements dealing with the production and export of essential medicines.  The USA position should support upholding rights of countries to protect public health and access to essential medicines, without restriction as to diseases or vaccines.

 

20 December 2002 – Letter to USA Ambassador to the FAO Tony Hall objecting to his accusations that Zambia’s rejection of genetically-engineered food aid was a crime against humanity.  Instead, the USA should purchase non-genetically engineered food from other African countries and regions to alleviate famine and stimulate local agriculture.

 

24 January 2003 – Letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell urging support for renewing the term of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which also deals with the activities of six U.S. corporations named in its report.

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