Around Africa
June-July 2003 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editorial
USA Enacts HIV/AIDS Legislation
Ugandan Rebels Threaten Catholic Church
Sudan: War and Peace
G8 Summit Misses Opportunity
AFJN Advocates for African Farmers' Rights
Water: Conflict and Cooperation
Namibia Faces Election Questions


  

DEAR AFJN MEMBERS & FRIENDS:
J. P. Lederach (Messiah College, IN), in calling for “Moral Imagination” in a book in progress, reported a dialog between the Konkombas and the Dagonbas of Northern Ghana. The Dagombas have a centralized political system. The Konkombas are more disperse and lack statehood. Violence escalated as the Konkombas strived to build a political structure. Following is an abridged version of the conversation.

Dagomba Chief (DC): … Who are they that I should be in this room with them? They do not even have a chief. Who am I to talk to? …They could have…brought an old man …They are just boys born yesterday.

The Konkomba: You are perfectly right, Father. We do not have a chief... And this has been a problem. The…reason our people go on rampages and kill arises precisely from this fact … It really is not about the town, or the land, or the market Guinea Fowl ...You are a great chief. But what is left to us? Do we have no other means but this violence to receive in return of the one thing we seek, to be respected and to establish our own chief who could indeed speak with you, rather than having a young boy do it on our behalf?

DC: I had come to put you people in your place. But now I feel only shame. Though I insulted your people, you still me called Father. It is you that speaks wisdom, and me who had not seen the truth … we have not understood the denigration you suffered. I beg you, my son, to forgive me.

And Lederach concludes: “The possibility of change away from century-long cycles of violence began and perhaps the seeds in that moment were planted that avoided what could have been a full blown Ghanaian civil war.”

Marcel Kitissou, PhD
AFJN Executive Director
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On 27 May President Bush signed into law the Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 (H.R. 1298). The bill offers hope, and a lot to worry about too.

H.R. 1298 is an authorizing bill, meaning that it spells out HIV/AIDS policy. It provides spending authority but does not actually allocate funds. Appropriations Committees do that. They are not obliged to stick to the levels in authorizing bills, and rarely do. Therefore getting policy authorized is only one step in the process. Getting money to implement it is another.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate total needs for HIV/AIDS for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 to be $10.5b, plus $0.7b for TB and $3b for malaria, for a combined total of $14.2b. NGOs estimate a fair share for the USA, inclusive of bi-lateral programs and the Global Fund, to be 25 percent or $3.5b.

President Bush has pledged $15 billion over 5-years for Africa and Caribbean countries to address HIV/AIDS, by which he means only 12-African countries, Haiti and Guyana, not Africa as a whole. Activists are focused on turning that pledge into law.

H.R. 1298 comes through in some important ways. It authorizes $3b for each Fiscal Year 2004-2008. It authorizes up to $1b for the Global Fund in FY 2004 and “such sums as necessary for 2005-2008.” The “such sums as necessary” is weak language that shirks firm commitment down the road. But $1b for the Global Fund for FY 2004 is a good start.

The remaining authorization goes to support USA bi-lateral efforts. Here the president can furnish assistance “on such terms and conditions” as he may determine. This gives him considerable scope - and power - in setting requirements of his own choosing. And again the bill keeps funding levels vague by authorizing “such sums as may be necessary for each of the Fiscal Years 2004-2008.”

The bill recommends but does not mandate that urgent priority be given to anti-retroviral treatments. This is supportive of those who argue the need for both treatment and prevention versus those insisting primarily on prevention. A controversial aspect of the bill is its focus on sexual abstinence provisions, which many feel intrusively attempts to legislate behavior.

An unexpected but welcome section deals with the debt crisis. Activists have strongly argued for canceling developing country debt to free up resources for poor countries to combat HIV/AIDS. H.R. 1298 supports the reduction of a poor country’s debt stock, and it holds annual payments to no more than 10 percent (or 5 percent for a country suffering a public health crisis) of current annual revenues from the country’s own internal resources. While couched in non-binding language and far short of the definitive cancellation sought by the social justice community, this provision, if enacted, would double the amount of debt relief that could go to combating HIV/AIDS. It would also end the practice of major creditors like the IMF and World Bank requiring that poor countries charge fees for basic health care and education, forced privatization of services like water, and policies that restrict worker’s rights.

Limited though it is, H.R. 1298 won’t mean much unless the Appropriations Committees come through with the necessary funding for treatment and prevention. And for what is the administration willing to fight in the Appropriations process? Prior to passage of H.R. 1298, the President’s budget only sought $1.6b for global HIV/AIDS, of which $200,000 for the Global Fund. At a minimum will he now push for the levels authorized in H.R. 1298? Or was H.R. 1298 just for political consumption? We won’t know until the administration shows its true colors in the appropriations battle, especially given the huge tax cut just signed into law that will make raising money for HIV/AIDS difficult.

Implementing H.R. 1298 depends on the willingness of Congress and the administration to put their money where their mouth is. It would be excessively cruel to crush the hopes of HIV/AIDS victims were the USG to backtrack from the expectations it has raised.

For more information on debt, visit the Jubilee USA Website.

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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UGANDA REBELS THREATEN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Adapted from a Report by BBC Network Africa

 

17 June 2003 – BBC On-Line reports that Catholic priests and nuns are the new targets of northern Uganda’s brutal rebels.

The Lords Resistance Army (LRA) has become well known for abducting children to use as soldiers and sex slaves during its 17-year insurgency. But after attempts by church leaders to mediate a ceasefire between the rebels and the government, LRA leader Joseph Kony is reported to have ordered Catholic missions to be destroyed, priests and missionaries killed and nuns beaten up.

CHURCH FEARS
Archbishop of Gulu John Baptist Odama told the BBC's Network Africa he was taking the warnings very seriously, but could not understand why the LRA were now targeting them.

Churches provide much of the health care and education facilities in the north - and thousands of civilians seek protection in church compounds.

Archbishop Odama said he was "very much surprised" that the war, which had always been a political one, was now taking a religious turn. He added that if the army could not halt the attacks then international help was needed.

ATTACKS
One missionary leader Father Carlos Rodriguez told reporters "We have no reason to doubt the message was authentic ... In the last five weeks LRA has burned, bombed and desecrated churches on nine occasions."

According to the Italian-based Missionary Service News Agency (Misna) the order given to the LRA rebels by their leader was: "Catholic missions must be destroyed, priests and missionaries killed in cold blood and nuns beaten black and blue."

Father Rodriguez said he believed the attacks were being ordered because some junior LRA commanders had deserted after peace meetings with church officials.

Last year, the Ugandan army was given permission to enter Sudan to wipe out the LRA's rear bases there. But since then the attacks have intensified.

Full story at BBC Network Africa
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SUDAN: War and Peace
By Marcel Kitissou

 

As the preamble of UNESCO advised, wars first begin in the minds of people, and it is first in the mind that the foundations for peace should be built.

The war in Sudan has lasted so long that most of the people affected think of sustainable peace as an unrealistic proposition. The war began in 1955, opposing southern Sudan (mainly black and Christian or animist) and northern Sudan (mainly Arab Moslems). There was a pause between 1972 and 1983. Since then, 1-2 million have been killed. 4 million have fled their homes. To complicate the picture, other regional wars (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, DRC), have created 900,000 refugees, with two-thirds concentrated in the Kassala region near the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The majority are “Habash” (from Abyssinia); the rest are Chadian and Congolese.

The crisis in Sudan should not be separated from its regional context. In the same vein, the apparent absence of the Arab world in peace efforts is striking. The Arab Sudanese are facing the “dilemma of a black people with white culture”. According to a writer analyzing the behavior of the northern ruling class [Africa News Bulletin, 5/1/03, pg. II], “One the first decision they took after independence was to join the Arab League. Like other marginalized categories, Sudan was almost forgotten by the Arab in normal and stable times … beyond any doubt … the Arabs do not really consider northerners to be Arabs, but rather as abib (in Arabic, plural for slave).” Actually northerners use the same word for southern Sudanese. Identity crises will remain a major issue in creating peace in a unified Sudan. There are emerging voices in the north rejecting the unification of Sudan in a post-war period because of differences in language, religion, race, traditions and cultures. One writer wondered: “How can unity be achieved between two nations when what divides them outweighs what brings them together?” [ANB, 5/1/03, pg. II]. It may be helpful if states of sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Middle East show more commitment to achieving peace in Sudan alongside Christian-dominated countries. The leadership of the West and internal circumstances have created a window of opportunity for peace negotiations.

First, US pressure is particularly intense, threatening to choke the Sudanese government with economic sanctions and bankrolling the SPLA. Second, President Omar Bashir needs peace: among other things, he cannot continue to be a pariah and he needs respectability and US technology to pump oil in Sudan. Third, the SPLA knows that oil revenues have increased the ability of the government to inflict heavy casualties. This may be the right time for the two main belligerents to make a deal. The SPLA is interested in both oil revenues and power sharing in a post-war democratic society. But how much oil and power sharing will there be? And how much democracy is the government willing to accept, or the SPLA prepared to practice?

Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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The world’s richest nations lost a major opportunity to help Africa’s poor at Evian. Occupied with divisions over Iraq, contrasting styles of leadership and worries about their own economies, the G8 leaders failed to turn their pledges into actions.

In a speech to the G8 on 21 May 2003, President Bush made clear that his top priority was security and combating terrorism. In that context he touted the $15b over three years he has pledged to fight AIDS and the $5b per year for the Millennium Challenge Account, a new approach the administration is crafting to provide aid to developing countries. Bush challenged other nations to do as much as the US and criticized the Europeans for their “broken development policies.” The President went to Evian claiming leadership on development assistance to Africa, but his unilateral approach and early departure after one day produced no immediate results.

Also on 21 May, Jacques Chirac, as G8 host, said the summit was an opportunity for nations to act together for the good of humanity, promoting economic growth and fulfilling the UN millennium goals. Chirac placed priority on Africa, saying that the "Evian Summit will be the one that implements the Africa Plan of Action adopted (in response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, or NEPAD) at Kananaskis [Re: AA, May 2003, pg. 4]. He said that important decisions would be made on fighting famine, preparations for an African peace keeping force, market access, mobilization of public and private funding for growth and infrastructure, fighting corruption and depletion of natural resources. He invited leaders of twelve developing countries to present their case for more help from the wealthy nations. Attempting to build on the momentum of Kananaskis, Chirac scheduled a broad agenda for the longest (three days) summit to date. This too brought no concrete results.

African leaders from Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa attended a working dinner with the G8 on the 1st day. They reminded G8 leaders of their previous pledges and asked for financial backing for NEPAD, whose stated aims include halving the numbers of Africans in poverty by 2015 through faster economic growth in exchange for African efforts to eliminate corruption and human rights abuses, establish good governance and reform their economies.

The 2003 summit produced more documents and pledges than any previous G8, but lacked firm commitments to assist the world’s poor. While some progress was made in raising the $6b pledged last year at Kananaskis, the G8 is far from meeting the estimated $35b/yr needed to attain the UN millennium goals. Evian tried to lock in $3b/yr for the Global AIDS Fund, but even that must wait for a subsequent EU meeting and a donation by Japan.

African leaders were discontented by the lack of progress over debt relief, affordable medicines, conflict resolution and the removal of agricultural subsidies and trade barriers. African NGOs were more assertive. They criticized the G8 commitments as inadequate and hollow: “the summit has been a stunning failure... the money is far from what is needed and it is not on the table yet”.

Peter Jacxens is a volunteer at AFJN
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As Around Africa goes to press, Sacramento, CA is gearing up to host the “Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology” from 23-25 June. USDA, USAID and the State Department tout it as part of the US government (USG) commitment to strengthen global food security. Many NGOs see an attempt to pressure developing countries into accepting genetically modified (GMO) seeds and food and to back the US on GMOs at the September World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico.

While no one argues with the goal of feeding hungry people, a fierce difference of opinion exists over the best means to do so. On the eve of the Sacramento conference, two Zambian experts spoke out in Washington, DC against the USA forcing GMO seeds and crops on Africa. Amadou Kanoute, Consumers International Office for Africa, and Dr. Drinah Nyirenda, Program Against Malnutrition, briefed congressional staffers and reporters on why many African governments and civil society groups oppose GMOs. They cited reasons like corporate patents, unknown health effects for Africans to consume GMO maize and grains, which comprise 70% of African caloric intake versus 3-4% for Americans, and promotion of monocultures to the detriment of biodiversity and local crop varieties necessary for food security.

These are among the concerns that prompted the African Union to devise the African Model Law, which espouses the principle of community rights to agricultural resources and opposes patenting living organisms, with the aim of maintaining seeds and crops in the public domain rather than cede them to private control. AFJN members are familiar with our efforts to get the USG to support the principles of the African Model Law. To that end, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-35-CA) introduced the AFRICA Resolution (H.Con.Res. 260) in the previous Congress.

The urgency of safeguarding African farmers’ rights that gave rise to the African Model Law and the AFRICA Resolution is more acute than ever. The American agro-chemical industry has launched a full-court press to establish GMOs in Africa. AFJN and its partners are extremely worried about how a proposed Free Trade Agreement with five southern African countries could force the USA agriculture agenda onto them, and thence onto the rest of the continent.

AFJN remains fully committed to African farmers’ rights. Rep. Waters has promised to reintroduce the AFRICA Resolution in this Congress, and we are working very hard to find a Senator to introduce a companion resolution. Our goal is to have both resolutions in hand before the September WTO Ministerial, using them to mobilize our members and partners to advocate with the USG at Cancun in support of African farmers.

AFJN is grateful to the Greenville Foundation of Sonoma, CA, for a generous grant to support our work this year on African farmers’ rights.

Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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Our planet is 70% water-covered. Less than 2 percent of it is potable. During the last century, the world population had tripled but the consumption of drinkable water has multiplied by six. Between 1970 and 1990 we lost one-third of the water available per person. According to a UN projection, in 2050, out of a population of 9.3 billion, 7 billion people in 60 countries will be affected, at various degrees, by lack of water.

While nature has unevenly distributed water resources between, for example, Papua-New Guinea and Algeria, consumption exemplifies a structure of global apartheid. A North American or Japanese consumes an average of 600 liters per day; a European, 300 liters; and a sub-Saharan African between 10 and 20 liters per day. In that framework, North America consumes 19 percent, Europe 9.2 percent and Africa 4.7 percent of the world’s water. 250 million people living in 26 countries are affected by insufficiency of water.

Two consequences arise from this situation. First, as water increasingly becomes a commodity, market mechanisms of supply and demand are activated, attracting big corporations, creating a wave of water privatization and driving up cost. This issue is crucial in sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority lives on less than $2 per day.

The potential for ecology-related conflicts is high worldwide. There are 215 trans-border rivers. Their basins cover 50 percent of lands and form 32 percent of borders. Africa houses great lakes and rivers but also lacks water in vast areas: the Sahara, the Kalahari and the Namib deserts. The combination of increased demography and industrial and agricultural activities puts more strain on a decreasingly available resource. The Nile may become the Jordan River of Africa, and the Okavango delta a bone of contention between Botswana and Namibia.

Africa has peculiar characteristics that many other areas don’t. First, in times of peace, many regimes lack respect for human life. And times of war are times of gross atrocities. Second, African wars seem open-ended. The reason is simple. It is not that leaders are irrational and stubborn. It is about the structure of African conflicts. It has proven easier to mobilize ethnic groups than whole nations. Armies and armed factions are mostly ethnic-based and this is a mixed blessing. Because of a lack of large support no party can ensure a quick or sustainable victory. Examples abound: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and the Great Lakes etc. An ecology-related (vs. resource-based) conflict, in which whole populations will have to fight for their very survival, will be even more devastating. The combination of atrocity and duration of African conflicts calls for immediate attention to the potentials of ecological wars in Africa (the Rwandan genocide is partially tied to competition for space).

Fortunately, for the time being, there is more cooperation than conflict in Africa around water. Regional integration, the ultimate goal of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), is being accomplished more rapidly through hydroelectricity than via other means as only 5 percent of African water resources are exploited. In the north by 2005, Mediterranean countries will complete their hydroelectric network. Meanwhile Egypt, Libya, Jordan and Syria are already connected; Western Europe is directly linked to Morocco and indirectly to Algeria and Tunisia. The Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) includes South Africa and a dozen other African countries. The Pool Energetique de l’Afrique Centrale (PEAC) comprises a half dozen countries. In West Africa there are networks around the Senegal River, the Akosombo dam of Ghana, and the Mono and Niger Rivers respectively. A continent-wide network of hydroelectricity is being discussed.

If this trend continues, there is hope that water-related conflicts will be avoided in Africa.

Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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As next year rapidly approaches, Namibians are watching with baited breath to see if President Sam Nujoma – the only president to rule Namibia since the country gained independence in 1990 – will run again in the country’s next election, which should be held in 2004.

He is on record as saying that he does not plan to run. In early May, the 74-year-old leader told The Namibian newspaper that he would stick to the constitutional limit of two five-year terms for president. Nujoma explained that his SWAPO ruling party changed the constitution in 1999 to allow him to run for a third term because of a “unanimous request from the Namibian population,” according to The Namibian. This is a claim that the opposition Congress of Democrats (COD) denies.

When SWAPO amended the constitution in 1999 to allow Nujoma to run again, the party argued that his first term, from 1990 to 1995, did not conform to the constitution’s definition of a five year term, as it was only in 1994 that the Namibian people themselves voted him in. In 1990, the Constituent Assembly had unanimously elected Nujoma.

If Nujoma decides to run again, then he would need another constitutional amendment through a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and in the National Council, or a two-thirds majority of all votes cast in a national referendum.

According to the Research and Teaching on Human Rights, Gender issues and Democracy in Southern Africa project: “With the currently overwhelming SWAPO dominance in both houses of Parliament, two-thirds-majorities are likely to be achieved in both the National Assembly and the National Council in favour of a fourth term. “

President Nujoma’s human rights and democracy record is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, he is widely hailed to have brought prosperity and stability to Namibia. The Southern African Development Community’s first report – released in 1999 and titled “Governance and Human Development in Southern Africa” – ranked Namibia as the most democratic country of seven southern African countries, saying that it had “respect for the rule of law” and “a general democratic culture.” However, the report slammed the constitutional amendment that saw Nujoma run for a third term.

Other assessments are not so favourable. An analysis by the Afrol News Agency states: “The government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, but several concerns have been raised the last years: Members of the security forces have committed several extrajudicial killings while conducting extensive security operations in the Kavango and Caprivi regions along the country's northern border with Angola. Members of the police force are reported to have committed serious human rights abuses. Arbitrary arrest and lengthy pre-trial detentions are a problem.”

And, the World Press Freedom’s 2002 report concluded that: “President Nujoma is not taking any chances and has tightened the screws on newspapers that his government believes are “too critical,” declaring himself Minister of Information on August 27, 2002. “After years of colonial rule, the Namibian government still refuses to accept that the independent press is essential for the enhancement of democratic rule and national development,” says the report.

Cathy Majtenyi is correspondent for AFJN in East Africa
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