Category: Africa
Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption
worker | June 1, 2021 | 8:53 pm | Africa | No comments

Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 31, 2021 (2021-05-31)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“The scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” has already cost the country at least 11 billion US dollars, and has plunged an additional two million people into poverty, according to a detailed study of the costs and consequences of the debt published on Friday by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), and its Norwegian partner, the Christian Michelsen Institute. The term “hidden debts” refers to illicit loans of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014 to three fraudulent, security–linked Mozambican companies – Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).” – report by Centre for Public Integrity (Mozambique) and Christian Michelsen Institute (Norway)

Long-time subscribers to AfricaFocus Bulletin will know that I occasionally publish two Bulletins on one day (although not more than 4 times a year). This Bulletin (available at http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105b.php) and its companion Bulletin on Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity (http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz1205a.php) are the first such double-posting this year. The reasons are both personal and analytical, given my editorial criterion of focusing on developments relevant for the entire continent and for the world, as well as one particular country. This editorial note is also longer than usual, although even so it points to more questions than answers.

First, it’s personal for me, since Mozambique has been the African country to which I have had the most personal ties for more than 50 years, since first arriving in Dar es Salaam to teach at the FRELIMO secondary school in 1966. My time actually living and working with Mozambicans, first in Tanzania and then in Mozambique and working with Mozambicans only amounts to five years in the 1960s and 1970s. And my occasional visits for research or conferences in the decades since then have been far less frequent than I would have wished. But like my Mozambican friends and others who have worked in that country, I am acutely and painfully aware that Mozambique is now suffering its third war over the last six decades.

All three have been the result of complex interactions of national, regional, and global factors. The armed struggle for independence lasted 10 years, from 1964 to the 1974 agreement for transition to independence in 1975. The post-independence war from 1976 to the peace agreement in 1992 was simultaneously a regional war fueled by Rhodesia and South Africa and an internal conflict. And the present “insurgency” in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado is driven both by internal discontent and by a mix of external factors. It began in October 2017 and has escalated sharply since March 2020, drawing increased international news coverage and debate.

But much of that coverage is superficial and focused on the single issue of whether external actors should intervene militarily or not, and if not, which of the numerous candidates to do so should step up first. Within Mozambique and the Southern African region, there is a much better informed debate by both scholars, civil society activists, and in the media about the causes of the conflict and what kind of response is needed from Africa and the global international community, prioritizing humanitarian assistance and development rather than a military solution.

[Those who know me will know that I am normally not a fan of webinars, which often supply less solid content than the time they take to watch. But this 2-hour webinar hosted by SAPES Trust on May 27 (https://www.facebook.com/sapestrust/videos/1076962609494070) is an exception. These are real experts from Mozambique and the region with in-depth knowledge of the issues engaged in real debate. No answers, but keen insights and eloquent presentations. A must-watch for anyone wanting to understand the real options for international response to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado.]

Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado is now a central test case for whether lessons have been learned from the consistent failures of such a military solution in Mali, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria. Sadly, it is likely to be a protracted repetition of such mistakes, with the added complexity of the interests of multinational natural gas companies.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the new report quoted above on the hidden debt in Mozambique, as well as some additional reflectino by Joseph Hanlon on the future of natural gas in Mozambique. The situation is rapidly changing, but Hanlon regularly provides updates, links to other sources in English and Portuguese, and well-informed analysis. You can subscribe to his newsletter at https://bit.ly/Moz-sub.

My apologies for the length of this comment and of these two Bulletins. If you do not have time to read them now, I hope that you will put them aside for later reference. For now, however, I have several suggestions.

  1. Do read and watch this first short on-the-scene report from the conflict zone in Cabo Delgado by veteran BBC journalist Catherine Byaruhanga, who is based in Uganda (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57254543), from on May 27, 2021
  2. Do read this summary of the report on the hidden debts, from the Mozambique News Agency, May 29, 2021 (https://allafrica.com/stories/202105290201.html), and
  3. Take a break from the news by watching the short music video embedded at the end of this Bulletin (a new feature I added last week, featuring videos I have found it essential to watch while taking breaks from writing subjects which more often feature grim realities than hope for change. The videos I choose are not linked to the specific theme of each Bulletin, but they definitely illustrate the visions of the resilience and hope needed both by Africa and the world.)

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Mozambique, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/mozambique.php

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and conflict in Africa, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-peace.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Costs And Consequences of The Hidden Debt Scandal of Mozambique

Centro de Integridade Pública (CIP), Moçambique, and Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway

May 27, 2021

[Excerpts below from the executive summary and the preface.

For the full report in English:
https://www.cipmoz.org/en/2021/05/27/costs-and-consequences-of-the-hidden-debt-scandal-of-mozambique/

Additional coverage from CIP, in both English and Portuguese
https://www.cipmoz.org/en/category/dividas-ocultas/]

Executive Summary

How a $2 billion hidden and corrupt loan has cost $11 billion and increased poverty

In 2013, bankers in Europe, businesspeople based in the Middle East, and senior politicians and public servants in Mozambique conspired to organise a USD 2 billion loan to Mozambique – an incredible 12% of GDP of one of the poorest countries in the world. The loan was kept hidden. None of the borrowed money, except bribes, went to Mozambique, and there were no services or products of benefit to the Mozambican people.

The knock-on effects of such a huge corruption scandal may already have cost Mozambique at least USD 11 billion – nearly the country’s entire 2016 GDP – and almost 2 million people have been pushed into poverty. If Mozambique is forced to service this debt, there is USD 4 billion more to pay, on top of future damaging impacts.

This report is an inventory of the huge costs and consequences of the hidden debt scandal – measuring them in numbers where possible and tracing the chain of harmful events and tendencies resulting from it. The impacts were economic (direct costs and damages), social (reducing welfare), and institutional (worsening politico- institutional environment).

Economic costs

There are direct costs associated with the loans, mainly past and future costs of interest and repayments. Past direct costs – those incurred up to, and including, 2019 – amounted to USD 674,2 million. To that will be added another USD 3,93 billion that the country will have to pay to service the hidden debt until 2031.

The economic crisis was caused partly by the debt itself, but even more by the damage that flowed from the secrecy and corruption, and the following discredit. And its impact on Mozambicans was hugely more than the hidden debt. When rumours about hidden loans began to circulate, Mozambican ministers lied to the IMF and ambassadors of Mozambique’s development partners, denying the existence of any loans. When the Wall Street Journal revealed the hidden debt in April 2016, the anger was extreme. Donors and lenders had kept the country afloat, and they pulled the plug.

The IMF halted its programme and donors cancelled direct budget support and other aid to the government – a reduction of USD 831 million in 2016 compared to the year before. The cascade that followed included a fiscal crisis making the government unable to pay its bills, there was a major currency devaluation, foreign debt became unpayable, the economy slowed down sharply, real GDP per capita fell, unemployment soared, and poverty increased.

This report calculates that damage. The best and simplest overall measure of it is the fall in the value of the GDP caused by the debt, which we calculate to be USD 10.7 billion in the four-year period. Future costs of lost GDP will continue to pile up, since the damage caused by the HDS is perennial.

[see table by year in full report]

Summarised, a group of corrupt businesspeople and senior government officials committed Mozambique to a debt of over USD 2 billion and split the proceeds of the fraud. That cost Mozambicans, in the years 2016-2019 alone, over USD 11 billion – or USD 403 per citizen.

On top of that, in the decade to come, Mozambique is scheduled to pay nearly USD 4 billion more in direct costs, plus the incalculable economic damage.

Social Costs

The sudden reduction of external donations after the hidden loans were revealed in April 2016 triggered a fiscal and monetary instability that forced the government to reduce public spending severely.

In 2016 real public expenditure (in USD) was cut to less than half of what it was in 2014. That reduction in public expenditure hit the sectors aiming at social welfare. Comparing the three-year average of 2016-18 to the three previous years, spending on health and education fell by USD 1,7 billion – entirely due to the debt. Put in per capita terms, the scandal caused, for each Mozambican citizen:

– USD 10 less in the education sector, each year
– USD 7 less in the health sector, each year

There are many indications that poverty increased during the years after 2015, in various ways of measuring it. The sudden rise in inflation in 2016 and rising prices drove 2,6 million people under the threshold of consumption-based poverty, as shown by studies projecting poverty levels in 2016 using data from the most recent household surveys (IOF 2014/15). We then estimated the proportion of the increase in poverty to be explained by the hidden debt, and found that:
– because of the hidden debt scandal, at least 1,9 million people fell below the line of consumption-based poverty by 2019.

There is no starker measure of the tragedy that the hidden debt scandal has inflicted upon Mozambicans.

Political and institutional costs

The costs and consequences of the hidden debt scandal on the political and institutional landscape in Mozambique were real and severe, yet no single figure or currency captures its full impact.

Mozambique’s performance deteriorated on all relevant indexes measuring aspects of democracy, governance, public financial management and credibility in the decade between 2010-2020. Many of them also registered an acceleration of the deterioration after 2013 when the debt was incurred, and a particularly sharp fall coalescing with the discovery of the secret debt in 2016 – the “smoking gun” evidencing the secret debt’s contribution to the deterioration. This report goes beyond circumstantial evidence and also shows how and why the hidden debt contributed to the deterioration of governance.

Knowing that the debt was illegal and fraudulent, some powerful Mozambicans pushed developments contradicting good and democratic governance. They acted to:

• Cover up the deal and the debt, reducing transparency. Senior politicians lied to the public about the debt, and public finance management reforms stagnated or were reversed.

• Seek impunity, manipulating politics and institutions to avoid accountability for punishable offences. So far, no one in Mozambique has been held to account and convicted for manifestly illegal actions. Checks and balances failed. The Justice system and the Assembly of the Republic were unable to control the actions of the Executive. A Special commission of the Assembly of the Republic was highly critical, but no action was taken. The Constitutional Council ruled that the hidden loans were unconstitutional, but the Executive has ignored this.

• Create political conflict, reducing institutional cooperation. Injection of large amounts of money into one faction of the political elite, and the inevitable bickering over responsibility following the fraud, increased factional fights and institutional chaos.

• Discredit the country and its reputation, as the eventual and inevitable discovery of the debt damaged the Government’s and country’s reputation and integrity. Mozambique’s credit rating plummeted, and its reputation as a serious development partner was severely dented.

Some were inevitable costs of the decision to defraud the state and the population. However, some political choices were not inevitable. When Mozambican society reacted to the fraud with demands of accountability and refusal to pay the debt, the state chose to implement: authoritarian measures, countering the principles of the liberal-democratic Constitution. Harassment of key individuals reduced the scope for public criticism. Blatant manipulation of elections in 2018 and 2019 reduced chances that the regime would lose power.

Summarised, the hidden debt and ensuing scandal impacted heavily on politics and institutions and led to:

1. More contradictions and debilitating conflicts within the state and political system.

2. Worse governance quality and weakened state institutions.
3. Disrepute of the regime and government.
4. A less democratic and more authoritarian country.

Preface

. . .

The hidden debts, the pandemic and other disasters

The final draft of the report was drawn up in the second half of 2020, a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was battering both Mozambique and the rest of the world. This analysis will make no mention of this plague, for the simple reason that the last year included in the report is 2019. It is, however, noteworthy that is in that year Mozambique suffered the abnormal consequences and costs associated with the damage caused by the cyclones named Idai and Kenneth. The consequences of these disasters will be included in the due analyses under the relevant indicators.

The reader will have the opportunity to understand that a small group of people linked to the hidden debts scandal, some of them Mozambican and others foreign, caused damage which greatly exceeds the losses caused by the cyclones. The debts which they managed to conceal until 2016 resulted in an economic meltdown, a weakening of the institutions of governance, and a loss of political and international trust. They contributed to a worsening of the social indicators.

While we do not yet know the consequences of the pandemic currently under way, we are sure that Mozambique would have had much greater capacity to face the pandemic – and perhaps also the growing problem of the war in Cabo Delgado – had it not been for the hidden debts. For example, we will show that it is likely that, without the hidden debts, the health services would have been in better condition. Although our analysis is mostly retrospective, it is obvious to us that the costs of the hidden debts will have consequences of delaying development, also in the future – like a coefficient that multiplies the weight of all the other difficulties.

The analysis in the report leaves aside speculations about the future, the forensic debate about the individuals responsible, and the politico-normative considerations about the necessary reforms in governance. It is dedicated mainly to describing and analysing the consequences of the hidden debts, and calculating their costs realistically, from their conception up to the end of 2019.

The judicial situation of the HD

When the CIP and CMI team of researchers finished writing this report, 17 citizens were under arrest in Mozambique, accused by the Attorney-General’s Office of being involved and of having benefitted directly from this corrupt scheme. Among them there stand out:

* Ndambi Armando Guebuza, son of the former President of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza;
* Gregório Leão, former director of the State Intelligence and Security Services (SISE) ;
* António Carlos do Rosário, former Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Ematum, ProIndicus and MAM;
* Inês Moiane, private secretary of President Armando Guebuza;
* Renato Matusse, political advisor to the then President Armando Guebuza;
* Teofilo Nhangumele, one of the Mozambicans who is also accused in this same case by United States prosecutors.

Internationally, the former Minister of Finance, Manuel Chang, has been under detention in South Africa since 29 December 2018, awaiting a decision as to whether he will be extradited to the United States or to Mozambique. While Chang was awaiting this decision, in the United States, in a New York court, Privinvest official Jean Boustani was tried and the jury considered he had not committed the crimes of which he was accused within the New York jurisdiction, and so he was acquitted.

In London courts, other lawsuits are under way. In one of them, the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office is pitted against the bank Credit Suisse and Privinvest, while in others a group of creditors is fighting the Mozambican government, as well as VTB against MAM and the Republic of Mozambique.

So, when the final draft of this report was produced, this case was still far from reaching an outcome in the various jurisdictions where the lawsuits were being waged. However, its effects, as from 2016, are already visible in the lives of millions of Mozambicans who have witnessed a worsening cost of living and the deep economic and financial crisis into which the country has been plunged. With regard to the lawsuits, although it is regrettable, the delay in the trial of the various cases related with this enormous corruption scheme is understandable. It is justified by the fact that the cases are taking place in several jurisdictions and may potentially have a contagion effect – that is, the decision in one case may influence or produce evidence for the other cases.

The path to follow

However, the same excuse cannot be used for the delay in introducing structural reforms to prevent the occurrence of new scandals on this scale. Since the discovery of the hidden debts, in April 2016, more than four years have passed and the focus of the analyses is still on the individuals who were behind the contracting of the debts, and never on analysing how the system of checks and balances completely failed to create antibodies so that a fraud of this nature would not happen .

The Assembly of the Republic (AR) failed completely in its role of checking the actions of the Executive, and did not redeem itself even after the debts were discovered. The parliamentary commission that investigated the case was a clear example of this failure of the AR. The Mozambican parliament never managed to take the case of the hidden debts as an opportunity to initiate a more profound debate on the role of the legislature as inspector of government actions, probably because parliament is controlled by the ruling party which benefitted from the swindle (in the New York court, documents were presented which proved bank transfers of about USD 10 million to finance the party’s campaign), in which at least part of the leadership was complicit. So, it is an inconvenient matter for the Frelimo parliamentary group.

As for the judiciary, this also showed it did not have enough power to force the Executive to comply with the Constitution. The refusal of the government to obey rulings of the Constitutional Council is the most flagrant example.

It is essential that the country should reflect deeply on the structural reforms that should be implemented so that cases like this are not repeated. And after this reflection, mechanisms must be set up to guarantee that these reforms are undertaken. The Assembly of the Republic should lead this process.

But intellectuals, academics, civil society organisations and the public in general can and should play an important role in helping the political institutions make the necessary reforms. Currently, the weaknesses of the system persist. Hence, new actors and the knowledge of what went wrong with the hidden debts, could lead to an even more daring swindle, and one which avoids financing from western countries, such as the United States and Britain who have legislation which can act belong their physical borders.

If the internal control systems remain weak, if the parliament and the judiciary remain decorative bodies, then the Government of the day, under a presidentialist system in which the President of the Republic is all-powerful, can seek financing from creditors who are outside of the western financial systems, but who have liquidity and as a counterpart for the high risks involved, demand in exchange the country’s natural resources.

The institutional weakness, the weakness of the institutions that should act as checks and balances raises some questions in the event that Mozambique manages to win the lawsuits that it brought in London, and if it has to be compensated for the damage done to Mozambicans. If this hypothesis comes to pass, where would the money paid to the country in compensation for the damage caused by the HD go? If the institutions are not credible and controlled by the Executive and by the party that controls the government, it raises the possibility of this money returning to the hands of some of those involved in this case, thus overturning all the efforts that are being made so that companies such as Privinvest, Credit Suisse can be held responsible for the damage done to the country.

This report is a contribution to the debate around this matter and may be a useful tool for political decision makers, for public institutions, for the Assembly of the Republic, the Attorney- General’s Office, the Administrative Court, the Constitutional Council, the private sector, civil society organisations, intellectuals, academics, and the public at large.

We are confident that the report will contribute to constructive and structuring debates. Debate it, criticise it and improve its analyses and estimates! But, above all – use it! Let the extent and gravity of the injustice committed be known, so that it is never repeated, and so that its lessons may be used to build a more just, equitable and safe society!

Edson Cortez
Executive Director of CIP
May, 2021

*******************************************************

Mozambique 546 – Energy agency says no more Moz gas; Total demands peace – 20 May 2021

International Energy Agency says no future for Mozambique gas

This newsletter in pdf is on http://bit.ly/Moz-546

Mozambique’s gas fields cannot be developed if global warming is to be kept to 1.5º above pre-industrial levels, according to a dramatic International Energy Agency (IEA) report published Tuesday (18 May). The IEA is part of OECD and thus represents establishment, mainstream thinking. So when it says gas is done, that carries significant weight.

The IEA report is entitled Net Zero by 2050, and shows what needs to be done to reduce global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050, to limit the long-term increase in average global temperatures to 1.5º C, and ensure universal access to electricity and clean cooking by 2030. https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050

To do this requires that “beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development.” Only two Cabo Delgado projects fit within that window – ENI’s floating LNG plant (3 million tonnes per year – mt/y – of LNG) and Total’s suspended project (13 mt/y). ExxonMobil has still not committed, and Total has not committed to a larger project, so under IEA scenario they are excluded. In any case, the Economist (4 Feb) reports that shareholders are pushing ExxonMobil to go green. This means production of at most 16 mt/y, which is far less than the 100 mt/y being predicted just six years ago.

“The contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far- reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels. No new oil and natural gas fields are needed.” This will mean a huge cut in projected income for gas-producing countries. “Net zero calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy.”

“No new natural gas fields are needed… beyond those already under development. Also not needed are many of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) liquefaction facilities currently under construction or at the planning stage. Between 2020 and 2050, natural gas traded as LNG falls by 60%. … In the 2030s some [gas] fields may be closed prematurely or shut temporarily.”

. . .

Global 2º compared to 1.5º for Mozambique: Hotter, drier, worse cyclones; south hit hardest

IEA cites extensively a report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which is so detailed that it is possible to estimate the difference between global warming of 1.5º and 2º for Mozambique. The 1.5º and 2º are global average increases, and the actual impacts vary significantly across the world, and even within Mozambique.

+ Temperature rise in Mozambique will be more serious at global 2º than global 1.5º of warming. The hottest days and coldest nights will both be hotter. Global 1.5º causes a Mozambique temperature rise, but the increase is much greater at 2º. The number of hot days increases more in the north than in the south.

+ Southern Mozambique will become much dryer at 2º with droughts. Water shortages will be more severe at 2º than 1.5º. The number of consecutive dry days increases, particularly in the south.

+ Total rainfall will decrease more at 2º than 1.5º across Mozambique, and will be most serious south of the Zambeze river. However extreme rainfall increases significantly, particularly in northern coastal zones.

+ The number of cyclones may actually decrease, but their intensity increases. Thus flooding causes by heavy rain and intense cyclones will be more serious with 2º warming than with 1.5º.

+ The ocean will get warmer, and sea level will rise – with significant difference between 1.5º and 2º.

+ There is increased risk to mangroves.

+ Moving from 1.5° to 2° of warming reduces maize yield and the suitability of maize as a food crop. Food shortages are predicted, and the risks at 2º are “much larger than the corresponding risks at 1.5°”.

This all comes from an extremely detailed comparison of 1.5º and 2º with maps good enough to identify differences within Mozambique in Chapter 3 of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) thick 2018 tome Global warming of 1.5ºC https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ .

Higher Ground 2020 (Stevie Wonder) | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

441,167 views

There are many other versions of this song available on-line, including different versions by Stevie Wonder

Three that I found and think you might like are

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV1DK9tSHio – Stevie Wonder in 1973

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PEPrPRAp4M – Stevie Wonder, Shakira & Usher at Obama inauguration

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYi8Haq4C-oAfrican River

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity
worker | June 1, 2021 | 8:51 pm | Africa | No comments
Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity

Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 31, 2021 (2021-05-31)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“No amount of international military assistance will, within two years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in place in 2025.” – Joseph Hanlon

Long-time subscribers to AfricaFocus Bulletin will know that I occasionally publish two Bulletins on one day (although not more than 4 times a year). This Bulletin (available at http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz1205a.php) and its companion Bulletin on Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption (http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz1205b.php) are the first such double-posting this year. The reasons are both personal and analytical, given my editorial criterion of focusing on developments relevant for the entire continent and for the world, as well as one particular country. This editorial note is also longer than usual, although even so it points to more questions than answers.

First, it’s personal for me, since Mozambique has been the African country to which I have had the most personal ties for more than 50 years, since first arriving in Dar es Salaam to teach at the FRELIMO secondary school in 1966. My time actually living and working with Mozambicans, first in Tanzania and then in Mozambique and working with Mozambicans only amounts to five years in the 1960s and 1970s. And my occasional visits for research or conferences in the decades since then have been far less frequent than I would have wished. But like my Mozambican friends and others who have worked in that country, I am acutely and painfully aware that Mozambique is now suffering its third war over the last six decades.

All three have been the result of complex interactions of national, regional, and global factors. The armed struggle for independence lasted 10 years, from 1964 to the 1974 agreement for transition to independence in 1975. The post-independence war from 1976 to the peace agreement in 1992 was simultaneously a regional war fueled by Rhodesia and South Africa and an internal conflict. And the present “insurgency” in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado is driven both by internal discontent and by a mix of external factors. It began in October 2017 and has escalated sharply since March 2020, drawing increased international news coverage and debate.

But much of that coverage is superficial and focused on the single issue of whether external actors should intervene militarily or not, and if not, which of the numerous candidates to do so should step up first. Within Mozambique and the Southern African region, there is a much better informed debate by both scholars, civil society activists, and in the media about the causes of the conflict and what kind of response is needed from Africa and the global international community, prioritizing humanitarian assistance and development rather than a military solution.

[Those who know me will know that I am normally not a fan of webinars, which often supply less solid content than the time they take to watch. But this 2-hour webinar hosted by SAPES Trust on May 27 (https://www.facebook.com/sapestrust/videos/1076962609494070) is an exception. These are real experts from Mozambique and the region with in-depth knowledge of the issues engaged in real debate. No answers, but keen insights and eloquent presentations. A must-watch for anyone wanting to understand the real options for international response to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado.]

Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado is now a central test case for whether lessons have been learned from the consistent failures of such a military solution in Mali, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria. Sadly, it is likely to be a protracted repetition of such mistakes, with the added complexity of the interests of multinational natural gas companies.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts on the war in Cabo Delgado from recent newsletters by Joseph Hanlon. The situation is rapidly changing, but Hanlon regularly provides updates, links to other sources in English and Portuguese, and well-informed analysis. You can subscribe to his newsletter at https://bit.ly/Moz-sub.

My apologies for the length of this comment and of these two Bulletins. If you do not have time to read them now, I hope that you will put them aside for later reference. For now, however, I have several suggestions.

  1. Do read and watch this first short on-the-scene report from the conflict zone in Cabo Delgado, from May 27, 2021, by veteran BBC journalist Catherine Byaruhanga, who is based in Uganda (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57254543).“Today, on one of the islands – Quirimba – rows of white tarpaulin tents line the white sandy beaches. We are the first international journalists to arrive here since the attack on Palma. More than 9,000 people from different parts of Cabo Delgado are seeking shelter here. By this point, it was nearly two months since the town was overrun but she’s spent all that time travelling to Quitunda and other villages before taking a boat to Quirimba where she hopes other family members will join her.
  2. She started her journey seven months pregnant, but while out at sea she went into pre-term labour and her son died.” – Catherine Byaruhanga
  3. Thirty-two-year-old Mamo Sufo from Palma and her three young children arrived at the island just days before we did.
  4. Do read this summary of the report on the hidden debts, from the Mozambique News Agency, May 29, 2021 (https://allafrica.com/stories/202105290201.html), and
  5. Take a break from the news by watching the short music video embedded at the end of this Bulletin (a new feature I added last week, featuring videos I have found it essential to watch while taking breaks from writing subjects which more often feature grim realities than hope for change. The videos I choose are not linked to the specific theme of each Bulletin, but they definitely illustrate the visions of the resilience and hope needed both by Africa and the world.)

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Mozambique, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/mozambique.php

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and conflict in Africa, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-peace.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Mozambique: News Reports and Clippings

545 – part 1 – 16 May 2021

Editor: Joseph Hanlon ( j.hanlon@open.ac.uk)
To subscribe or unsubscribe: https://bit.ly/Moz-sub
Articles may be freely reprinted but please cite the source.

This newsletter in pdf is on http://bit.ly/Moz-545-gas

Part 1 – security

Security will be at the top of the agenda when President Filipe Nyusi meets French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday (18 May) in Paris. Also in Paris will be Antonio Costa, who is both Portuguese Prime Minister and President of the Council of the European Union (EU), and he will probably also meet with Nyusi. But their agendas will be very different. Macron wants Nyusi to agree on a French security cordon so Total can return to Afungi. Costa wants Portuguese soldiers in Mozambique, preferably under an EU umbrella.

Total’s declaration of force majeure and its complete withdrawal from Afungi means it does not expect to return soon – definitely not this year. But it has to return within two years. Longer than that will require renegotiating contracts – with buyers, contractors and the Mozambique government, And a delay in production to 2026 or 2027 will require rethinking about whether or not there is a long term market for gas (discussed in part 2 of this special report).

What Total decides determines what happened to the other large gas block (area 4), which is run by Exxon Mobil (with a 28% stake). Exxon has repeatedly delayed it final investment decision, now pushed back to 2023, and will not agree before Total is back at work. Area 4 has China’s only gas investment in Mozambique; China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has a 12% stake. The newsletter China-Lusophone Brief (30 Mar) says this investment in now imperilled. So what happens in the next two years determines the future of not just Total, but Exxon and its partners as well.

No amount of international military assistance will, within two years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in place in 2025.

After being misled by President Nyusi in March about the ability of the Mozambican defence forces to protect Palma and Afungi, Macron will probably tell Nyusi that Total will only return if France has complete control of a large security zone. This will be hard for Frelimo to swallow and there will be delay, but they want the gas money and will eventually agree – especially if there is another successful attack on Palma.

. . .

Multiple foreign players

With Mozambique’s defence forces (FDS) weak, divided and corrupt – and now at the centre of high level fights inside Frelimo – the FDS has little chance of winning a purely military war against guerrilla insurgents. That leaves two alternatives. One way is to resolve the grievances that are at the root of the war, sharing the resource wealth and creating thousands of jobs. That is unacceptable, because so many people are profiting, and because if Mozambique admits the cause of war is poverty and inequality, it is effectively admitting responsibility. The alternative route is to blame external aggression by Islamic State (IS) and call on outsiders to join the new holy war against IS. And this is the route that Frelimo has chosen.

Four countries and two international bodies have shown some interest in joining the war: the United States, Portugal, South Africa and Rwanda, as well as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the EU. Because of Total, France is also a possible player, although it might prefer to stick to its security zone.

Portugal is sending an 140-person training mission of whom 60 are already in Mozambique, training marines in KaTembe and commandos in Chimoio.?Training will continue for three years. Portuguese and Mozambican defence ministers Joao Cravinho and Jamie Neto met in Lisbon 10 May and signed a five year military cooperation agreement.

United States (US)  A dozen US special force soldiers completed two months of training of Mozambican marines on 5 May, and another training session will start in July. On 10 March the US called the insurgents “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria- Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique)” and designated them as a “foreign terrorist organisation”. The US said on 6 May that it would provide humanitarian assistance in response to what the US State Department called “devastating violence by ISIS-affiliated terrorists”.

Rwanda. President Nyusi flew to Rwanda on 28 April and met President Paul Kagame, who promised military help. Just 10 days later, on 8 May, a Rwandan military mission was seen in Pemba.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) sent an assessment mission 15-21 April which recommended a 3,000-person regional military force plus submarines, surveillance aircraft and drones. SADC expects the EU and US to fund the mission. It would take a year or more to get such a mission on the ground. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on 10 May South Africa would join such a force if asked. But Mozambique has not encouraged the SADC mission.

The European Union (EU) is divided and slow. The European Union must move with “urgency” to step up its support for Mozambique, said Josep Borrell, EU “foreign minister” (High Representative for Foreign Affairs) on 6 May. But with a hint of frustration, he continued: “We are considering a potential European Union training mission, like the ones that we already have in several African countries.” Borrell said any mission would be similar to the EU’s involvement in the Sahel. He hoped a mission could be sent to Mozambique before the end of the year, and suggested sending 200-300 soldiers to Mozambique. Portugal currently holds the EU’s six month rotating Council presidency, and has been pushing for EU involvement in Mozambique. “Portugal has already offered half of the staff [and] sent in advance military structures. It will be integrated into the EU training mission, if we finally agree on that,” said Borrell. But there is no agreement yet.

. . .

Does a military response ignore the roots of war?

The rush for military support has caused substantial debate. Many of the issues were raised in a letter from 30 African civil society organisations (CSOs) to SADC, in response to the proposal to send 3000 troops – a major military force. The CSOs’ letter is on http://bit.ly/Moz-CSO-SADC

It welcomes “collective action from SADC” but continues: “We urge our leaders to consider the lessons learnt from other similar conflicts in Africa. Sahel, Somalia, and the Niger Delta offer stark contemporary reminders that a purely militaristic solution (devoid of measures to address the causes of the insurgency) increases the likelihood of its intractability. It is also unlikely to pave the way towards achieving sustainable peace.”

“Any SADC intervention should also provide avenues to pursue political and diplomatic solutions to the conflict. This necessitates an acute understanding of the root causes of the conflict, push and pull factors that lead to the recruitment of locals and youth into insurgency operations, and the motivations of actors operating in the region.” Creating a sustainable peace requires creating “avenues for local communities to address their grievances with government, which is paramount to addressing the root causes of conflict.”

And the CSO letter calls for “holding government and businesses to the highest levels of accountability regarding their operations in Cabo Delgado. Corruption, maladministration, and skewed development are central to communities’ feelings of marginalization. Ensuring that citizens receive the lion’s share of dividends from gas revenue form part of broader longer-term socio-economic solutions to insurgency.”

Two key issues are raised by the CSOs’ statement, the roots of the war and danger that foreign military forces will remain indefinitely.

There is a quite broad agreement that the insurgency was initially local and based on local grievances about growing poverty, inequality and marginalisation. The division is about what happened next. The US argues that the insurgency has been totally taken over by IS which now commands and controls. But the respected International Crisis Group say IS does not have “the ability to exert command and control.” Local researchers confirm that although there is contact with IS, command and control remains local and the grievances remain important for insurgent recruiting.

The CSOs stress the role of government and business in the “skewed development”, which effectively puts the blame for the war on Frelimo and government. This suggests that diverting money from those getting rich on the gas and minerals and instead using the wealth to create jobs and development would play a key role in ending the war.

It is also central to the interveners. The US, EU and others would not support Mozambique to kill hungry, illiterate peasants demanding a share of the wealth. But they would intervene in a war against Islamic State.

And Frelimo and the Mozambique government are being very careful that those who intervene do not talk about grievances and root causes. Thus it supports intervention by foreign governments and private military companies, which it can control, and not by international bodies such as the UN, EU and SADC, which issue statements it cannot control.

. . .

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Mozambique: News Reports and Clippings

546 – 20 May 2021

This newsletter in pdf is on http://bit.ly/Moz-546

Total will return only with peace and tranquillity

“As soon as Cabo Delgado has peace again, Total will return,” the president of the French oil and gas company, Patrick Pouyanee, promised Monday (17 May). President Filipe Nyusi confirmed Tuesday (18 May) that Total will return only when everything “is calm”. “Total may demand that there is tranquillity and peace to develop its economic projects,” Nyusi added. (Lusa 18 May)

France has shown “complete willingness” to provide whatever is necessary for Mozambique’s fight against terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, according to President Filipe Nyusi after his meeting in Paris with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday. (18 May) Nyusi said “we discussed in detail the situation of terrorism. The matter is unavoidable. France has shown great willingness, but it has left sovereignty in the hands of Mozambicans”. To follow up, Nyusi said, the two countries must advance quickly to sign the agreements which will define exactly the type of support to be granted by France. (Mediafax 19 May) But it remains unclear if Mozambique sovereignty will allow enough of a French presence to guarantee the tranquillity and peace Total demands.

Nyusi also met in Paris with Arnaud Pieton, executive administrator of Technip, the principal offshore contractor. Pieton said “we have received guarantees from the Mozambique government that they are doing everything to reintroduce security, and this is a fundamental condition for the project to be developed rapidly.” ( O Pais 19 May)

Government still blocking aid to Palma; the focus on ‘terrorists’ makes it worse

There is still no aid reaching up to 20,000 people not being allowed to leave Quitunda near Palma. Finally Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has spoken out. “Significant restrictions are placed on the scale up of the humanitarian response due to the ongoing insecurity, and the bureaucratic hurdles impeding the importation of certain supplies and the issuing of visas for additional humanitarian workers,” said Jonathan Whittall, MSF Director of Analysis, on 14 May. http://bit.ly/Moz-Palma-MSF

It is also made very difficult for foreigners to visit the area. The UN was allowed to send a team to Quitunda on 21 April, but could not negotiate aid access. After the visit, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called “for full humanitarian access and a reduction of bureaucratic impediments, including the issuing of visas [for UN experts], to ensure timely and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid.” There is also a need for “greater and strategic engagement with the Government,” said Laura Tomm-Bonde, IOM’s head of mission in Mozambique. But the call fell on deaf ears.

Whittall, too, recently visited but apparently without gaining access.

He writes: “What does seem set to scale up is the regionally supported and internationally funded counter-terrorism operation that could further impact already vulnerable people. In many conflicts, from Syria to Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen how counter-terrorism operations can generate additional humanitarian needs while limiting the ability of humanitarian workers to respond.

“Firstly, by designating a group as ‘terrorists’, we often see that the groups in question are pushed further underground – making dialogue with them for humanitarian access more complex. While states can claim that they ‘don’t negotiate with terrorists’, humanitarian workers are compelled to provide humanitarian aid impartially and to negotiate with any group that controls territory or that can harm our patients and staff.”

“For Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), successfully providing impartial medical care requires reserving a space for dialogue and building trust in the fact that our presence in a conflict is for the sole purpose of saving lives and alleviating suffering.”

Whittall is showing why the Mozambique government is trying to keep out the foreign humanitarian workers. The government says that it cannot find anyone with whom it can negotiate. MSF says it can “negotiate with any group that controls territory” – and clearly has in Cabo Delgado.

“Counter-terrorism operations try to bring humanitarian activities under the full control of the state and the military coalitions that support them. Aid is denied, facilitated or provided in order to boost the government’s credibility, to win hearts and minds for the military intervening, or to punish communities that are accused of sympathising with an opposition group. The most vulnerable can often fall through the cracks of such an approach, which is why organisations like MSF need to be able to work independently. … Being aligned to a state that is fighting a counter-terrorism war would reduce our ability to reach the most vulnerable communities to offer medical care.”

“In counter-terrorism wars around the world, we often see civilian casualties being justified due to the presence of ‘terrorists’ among a civilian population. Entire communities can be considered as ‘hostile’, leading to a loosening of the rules of engagement for combat forces,” Whittall writes.

And he concludes: “The current focus on ‘terrorism’ clearly serves the political and economic interests of those intervening in Mozambique. However, it must not come at the expense of saving lives and alleviating the immense suffering facing the people of Cabo Delgado.”

548 – 30 May 2021

South Africa says send troops; Tanzania says no troops,  instead negotiate, develop

South Africa is pressing for urgent military intervention in Cabo Delgado, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told Reuters (21 May) in a telephone interview. Since 2008 SADC has had a regional defence pact that allows military intervention to prevent the spread of conflict. “We support the use of the defence pact. It’s never been really been utilised in the region, but we believe this is the time, this is a threat to the region,” Pandor said.Tanzania will not send troops to Mozambique to counter insurgents in Cabo Delgado, Minister of Foreign Affairs Liberata Mulamula said Wednesday 26 May in Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania government has, instead, emphasised on the need for talks as a means of promoting peace and tranquility in Mozambique, calling on the international community to help the country by sending development aid. (Citizen 27 May)

A SADC evaluation proposed 3000 troops and equipment including a submarine. The SADC summit scheduled to discuss this was postponed from April to 27 May, and the summit simply postponed the issue until a new summit on 20 June. President Filipe Nyusi’s longstanding opposition to a multi-lateral force and the opposition of some countries such as Tanzania suggest the SADC force will never happen.

At the Frelimo Central Committee on 22-23 May, President Filipe Nyusi made clear he wanted foreign troops. But in his closing speech, he stressed the “concentration on bilateral efforts to combat terrorism in Cabo Delgado”. It is a point he has stressed in private talks with diplomats for more than a year, that he does not want international forces – SADC, EU or UN. Instead he wants agreements with individual governments and the ability to move and assign foreign troops to particular zones or tasks. SADC or UN troops would have their own external commanders, but Frelimo will only accept foreign troops that it controls – which means private military companies (PMCs) or bilateral arrangements with governments.

Will Rwandan troops create the Total security zone?

Rwandan troops may play a central role in creating the security zone around the Palma-Afungi natural gas area. Rwanda has become a major participant in peacekeeping missions and has had troops or police in Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and other countries. But more three-way discussions will be needed between France, Rwanda, and Mozambique.

On 28 April Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi flew to Rwanda for talks with President Paul Kagame. Just 10 days later a reconnaissance team of Rwandan officers was in Cabo Delgado. Nyusi and Kagame were in Paris for the French Africa summit 17-18 May; both met President Emmanuel Macron and Cabo Delgado was discussed. Last week Marcon was in Rwanda and South Africa to meet their presidents on 27 and 28 May. Again, Cabo Delgado was discussed, although not top of the agenda.

France’s acceptance in a report this year that it bore a responsibility for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda marked a “big step forward” in repairing relations between the two countries, which are now on the mend, Kagame said.

After the fiasco of President Nyusi guaranteeing a security zone including Palma just days before the insurgents took Palma against little resistance, Total wants more than just promises. It will demand overall French control of any security zone, and French navy control of the ocean off of Cabo Delgado. Mozambique will demand that its soldiers are on the ground, but will accept a foreign presence. Rwanda fits the bill. For Mozambique, Rwandan troops are more acceptable than South African soldiers. For France and Total, Rwandan troops are well trained and experienced, and much more effective than Mozambican army or police. Improved relations between France and Rwanda complete the package.

Who will be top dog?

An increasing number of countries want part of the action, and there is a quiet struggle as to who will be top dog. On the ground Portugal has 60 soldiers doing training, the US just finished its first training mission, Rwanda has a military investigation team, and South Africa has had private military companies and sent in soldiers to rescue its civilians after the Palma attack.  Off shore, France and South Africa have regular naval patrols and the United States and India have had less frequent patrols.

French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Africa and met Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday 26 May and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday, 28 May. In both countries, the Cabo Delgado war was on the agenda. In South Africa Macron said France is available to assist the Mozambican military, but only in the “‘context of a political solution”. And any help “should be an African response at the request of Mozambique and coordinated with the neighbouring countries,” he said. The interest of both Rwanda and South Africa is that France and the EU pay for their intervention.

Macron particularly stressed that France already has a regional presence in its island territories of Mayotte and Reunion, and stood ready to offer naval assistance. “We have frigates and some other vessels in the region and on a regular basis organise operations. So we could be available, and very quickly so, if requested,” he said.

Meanwhile EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell said on 28 May that the EU could have a military training mission in Mozambique in months. “The problem will be to look for capacities. Apart from Portugal, who else is going to contribute?”

Saudi Arabia is working with SADC to support the Mozambican military fight the insurgents, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman said on 20 May. There is a certain irony in this, as many Mozambicans have been trained in Saudi Arabia in fundamentalist Islam.

The United States is now beefing up the embassy’s security advisory team with the help of private military contractors (PMCs). A new adviser to head up the counter-terrorism programme will be provided by one of the Pentagon subcontractors bidding for the contract, reports Africa Intelligence (28 May), a Paris based newsletter which backs Paris in its confrontation with Washington. The US has been strongly critical of the use by Mozambique of PMCs, despite their being extensively used by the US in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Difficult negotiations are ahead as Mozambique desperately tries to keep support fractured and in pieces it can control, and at least four countries want to be top dog:

United States: Wants a base in southern Africa and has long coveted Nacala, with its big airport and deep water port that would be good for submarines. Mozambique could be its new base for the war against Islamic State. Mozambique could be the new Afghanistan or Libya.

France: Wants control of the gas zone but appears willing to accept Rwandan fighters. But will expect to control coastal security.

South Africa: Wants to assert itself as the regional power but has been cutting the military budget, so hoping the EU will pay.

Portugal: The military of the former colonial power want to return and prove their ex-colony still needs them. They are using their position as president of the EU to gain EU backing for their operation.

None of these four has won a recent war against a guerrilla insurgency. Frelimo won a guerrilla independence war 47 years ago, but has never beaten a guerrilla force.

Fighters or job creators?

As governments try to militarise Cabo Delgado, civil society groups increasingly stress the need to resolve the roots of the war – growing poverty and inequality, youth seeing no jobs and no future, and the belief that the Frelimo elite are eating all the wealth from rubies, gas, and other resources.

Speaking to Reuters, [South African] Foreign Minister Pandor said “We have had our colleagues, for example in Nigeria, saying: ‘don’t allow this to get out of hand because once it does it is uncontrollable and very difficult to reverse’. So, that is why we believe it is urgently necessary that we have action.” Academic analysts point to the similarity to the roots of Boko Haram in Nigeria and al Shabaab in Cabo Delgado. Both are groups in Muslim areas where young people feel marginalised and with no future, and they are recruited on that basis. Thus the “don’t allow this to get out of hand” lesson is the need to create jobs and development before the war gets out of hand. It is, contrary to Pandor, not military but development intervention that is urgent.

Three articles from the South African mainstream establishment point to alternative thinking:

“Suicidal SADC military deployment to Mozambique looms” was the headline of an opinion article in the Johannesburg Business Day (28 May) “SA soldiers will return home in body bags, as was the case in the failed military deployment to the Central African Republic in March 2013. The defence force must serve sovereign national interests and not the interests of private actors working for profit.” The article argues that South Africa government is under pressure from national corporations and France to protect the profits of their investors.

The article continues: “Like France and its transnational corporation Total, the LNG project in Mozambique is critically important for SA and its corporations. SA state financiers the Industrial Development corporation (IDC), the Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) have, in total, lent more than $1bn in public funds to the LNG project. Standard Bank has sunk $485m into the project, and other major players include Absa and Rand Merchant Bank.”

The article is written by Sam Hargreaves, director of WoMin/African Women Activists, and Anabela Lemos of Justica Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique. The article’s publication in a mainstream business newspaper suggests opposition to militarization of Cabo Delgado is gaining a hearing.

“Regional support is a good start, but much more than a SADC military deployment to Mozambique is needed,” according to a 27 May report from the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) of South Africa. “At the root of the conflict is a governance challenge that includes allegations of deeply entrenched corruption in the ruling party, Frelimo. Poor governance and state absence have antagonised the local population and left a security vacuum. … The government must commit to the development and effective governance of the region.”

Military support may be needed to contain the violence. But the report stresses “the education system must be reinvigorated to train and prepare locals for skills suited to new job opportunities. Authorities in Cabo Delgado would also need to invest in public works programmes to complement job creation in the formal and informal sectors and offer social activities such as sport to engage the youth. An important poverty-alleviation measure would be a cash transfer (or social grants) programme that would directly benefit the community and demonstrate the government’s commitment to development.”

“Maputo needs to own and drive the response to the insurgency and the recovery of local and investor confidence. No amount of private security advice, support or foreign troops and equipment can compensate for political leadership and the establishment of trust between people, the government and regional actors.” Lead author of the report is Jakkie Cilliers, founder and former Executive Director of ISS – another indication that senior establishment figures are pointing to the roots of the conflict.

“Regional military intervention in Mozambique is a bad idea,” wrote Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, on 27 May. He argues “SADC interventions in internal conflicts in its neighbourhood haven’t worked out well.” In 1998 Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe intervened in Lesotho. “South African troops lost their lives and SADC troops had to withdraw in ignominy. The SADC has since had to continually intervene as a peacemaker in the fractious terrain of Lesotho politics.”

The other major intervention was by Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa to defeat the M23 Movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2013. Initially it made a difference. “But the militia menace in the region has continued unabated, raising questions about the long term efficacy of the brigade’s work,” notes Khadiagala.

More generally, military interventions in resource curse civil wars only make matters worse, he says, citing South Sudan, Cabinda in Angola, and the Niger Delta.

“SADC is now being asked to intervene in a conflict [in Mozambique] that it has neither resources nor the political will to manage. When the body bags begin to come home, there will be tremendous pressure on SADC forces to withdraw. Rather than the folly of an intervention, the region should be encouraging the Mozambican state to address the grievances of the communities in Cabo Delgado.” Khadiagala concludes: “SADC’s military intervention will only embolden die-hards in Frelimo who are reluctant to find peaceful and political solutions to the crisis. And the intervention will postpone a problem that is not going to go away any time soon.”

One Love with Playing for Change

One Love (Bob Marley) feat. Manu Chao | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

59,419,809 views

There are many other versions of this song available on-line, including two by Bob Marley.
Three that I found and think you might like are:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdB-8eLEW8g – Bob Marley, with lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13RSENmoamk – Bob Marley, 1978 Peace Concert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXLumLvHWfA – Benefit for UNICEF

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Africa/Global: Decolonizing Medical Technology
worker | May 18, 2021 | 8:06 pm | Africa, Health Care | No comments

Africa/Global: Decolonizing Medical Technology

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 17, 2021 (2021-05-17)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“A continent of 1.2 billion people should not have to import 99% of its vaccines. But that is the tragic reality for Africa. Fixing the lack of home-grown manufacturing capacity has become a top priority for Africa’s policymakers. Last week, 40,000 people, including researchers, business leaders and members of civil-society groups, joined heads of state for a two-day online summit designed to share the latest developments and kick-start fresh thinking on how to bring vaccine manufacturing to Africa.” – Nature magazine editorial, April 21, 2021

Covid-19 has revealed the urgency of reducing the inequality in global access to vaccines, prompting a wide-ranging and ongoing debate about what must be done about what many are calling “vaccine apartheid.” But, as stressed in this summit convened by the Africa CDC and the African Union, the issue goes beyond any single disease, to the need to plan for future pandemics and address the inequities in capacity in both research and manufacture of vaccines.

This is already the case for malaria. A new vaccine with over 70% of efficacy was first reported earlier this month. African and world leaders and health officials are increasingly focused on the possibility of accelerating the fight against this deadly disease, which in 2019 caused over 84,440 deaths world-wide. Ninety-seven percent of those deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. So while global campaigns under the slogan of “Malaria Must Die” continue, it is clear that the initiative for action must come from Africa.

Even once vaccines are available, there will remain formidable problems of manufacturing and distribution. On April 13, African leaders pledged to increase the share of vaccines manufactured in Africa from 1% to 60% by 2040. It will not be easy.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin includes (1) key links on the current status of the fight against malaria, (2) an open letter to international funders from African researchers, reposted here in full with permission from Nature magazine; and (3) excerpts from a news story and an editorial in Nature magazine on the urgency of development of vaccine capacity in Africa.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on health, visit

http://www.africafocus.org/intro-health.php

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Two additional notes about this Bulletin

1. Unlike many if not most readers of AfricaFocus, including my wife, I have never had malaria, despite a total of more than five years spent in areas of the continent where the disease is endemic. But my awareness of the disease began long before I first traveled to Africa. My father, Dr. David Minter, served as a malaria control officer in the South Pacific during World War II, where in the early years the disease caused more casualties among U.S. troops than the Japanese military. Atabrine, DDT, and education of the troops brought the toll down significantly.

Unlike many wartime assignments, his posting to this position made good sense, as he had several years of experience in treating malaria in the 1930s in Mississippi, where malaria was endemic before the war.

His colleague in the South Pacific in this effort, Filipino physician Dr. Francisco Dy, who later served as the World Health Organization regional coordinator for the Western Pacific, became a life-long friend of my parents.

2. With this Bulletin, I am including a short embedded video featuring the Kanneh-Mason family cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. I may make this a regular feature of the Bulletin, featuring short music videos that do not take up extra bandwidth in the email. The idea came from the editors of Quartz Africa, who often end their weekly email with a note saying “written while listening to.”

I am not good enough at multi-tasking to listen while I write. But I do find it necessary to take short breaks from writing to listen and watch short music videos. That is essential for the spirit, particularly when one is writing about subjects which more often feature grim realities than hope for change. The videos I will choose for inclusion are not linked to the specific theme of the Bulletin. But they definitely illustrate the visions of the resilience and hope needed both by Africa and the world.

I hope some of you enjoy them. If you don’t, it’s easy not to watch. They aren’t set to auto-play.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Recent news and background on malaria

 

https://theconversation.com/new-malaria-vaccine-proves-highly-effective-and-covid-shows-how-quickly-it-could-be-deployed-159585

https://qz.com/africa/2005934/africa-can-avoid-covid-19-vaccine-missteps-with-malaria-vaccine/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria

https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/distribution.html

https://allafrica.com/malaria/

https://allafrica.com/stories/202105040682.html
Meeting of African Leaders Malaria Alliance

https://malariamustdie.com/
World campaign against malaria, headlined by David Beckham

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Open letter to international funders of science and development in Africa

April 15, 2021

Nature Medicine, April 15, 2021

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01307-8

From Ngozi A. Erondu? ?1,2;, Ifeyinwa Aniebo 1,3,4; Catherine Kyobutungi 5; Janet Midega1, 6; Emelda Okiro 7; and Fredros Okumu 1,8.

1 Aspen Institute, Washington, DC, USA; 2 O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, USA; 3 Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria; 4 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA;

5 African Population Health Research Center, Nairobi, Kenya; 6 Wellcome Trust, London, UK; 7 KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi, Kenya; 8 Ifakara Health Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Contact email for authors: ngozierondu@gmail.com

To the Editor—Recently there was an announcement1 of a US$30 million grant awarded to the nonprofit health organization PATH by the US government’s President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). The grant funded a consortium of seven institutions in the USA, the UK and Australia to support African countries in the improved use of data for decision-making in malaria control and elimination.

Not one African institution was named in the press release. The past year has been full of calls from staff and collaborators of various public-health entities for equality and inclusion, so one might imagine that such a partnership to support Africa should be led from Africa by African scientists, partnering with Western institutions where appropriate, especially where capacity has been demonstrated.

We write this letter to the major international funders of science and development in Africa as African scientists, policy analysts, public-health practitioners and academics with a shared mission of improving the health and wellbeing of communities in our continent and beyond. We represent a diverse group of institutions and communities dedicated to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to establishing a more equitable world.

Our work is informed by lived experiences and accumulated local knowledge of diseases such as malaria, AIDS, diarrhea, meningitis and polio, which have plagued millions of our families and friends for ages. We are therefore grateful that organizations that fund international health research have long been part of the international efforts to rid the world of these illnesses and their associated inequities. We believe the reason these organizations are financing global health and development is that they share in our dreams and aspirations.

We also believe, just like you, the decision-makers at these major funding organizations, that all humans, regardless of where they are located, are equal, even if opportunities are not. We recognize multiple injustices that have been perpetuated through historical practices, often without due consideration of their negative consequences. The current political climate has amplified the global call to ‘decolonize global health’, a more overt stance against what public-health practitioners in both high-income countries and low-income countries have known all along: that the predominant global health architecture and its business model enable ‘western’ institutions to gain more than, and sometimes at the expense of, the people and institutions in the countries where the actual problems are.

As the ‘decolonize global health’ movement has demonstrated, dismantling structures that perpetuate unequal power over knowledge and influence must support the quest for justice and equality. Global health institutions, especially funding organizations, must therefore examine their own internal policies and practices that impede progress toward justice and equality for populations that they intend to help. We write this letter as a collective, hoping to accelerate, and in some cases initiate, a process toward real fairness. We believe that there are many issues with this specific consortium focused on malaria, including the fact that there are strong African institutions with excellent capabilities this area, including some already actively engaged on the ground, such as the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Information for Malaria (INFORM) initiative that began in 2014 (http://inform-malaria.org/).

International funding, such as that from the President’s Malaria Initiative, has substantially advanced the goal of improving people’s health and wellbeing in Africa and beyond. However, funding models such as that of the PATH-led initiative are among the reasons that after several decades and billions of dollars spent, the control of diseases such as malaria is still heavily donor dependent, This type of funding has also contributed a model of implementation that puts the delivery of several health interventions directly in the hands of Western non-governmental organizations, which further diminishes the capacities and ownership of national programs to deliver to their populations and ultimately leads to weak health systems and a lack of sufficient local capacity. Decisions about such major funding initiatives should be made in consultation with in-country scientists and researchers involved in this work, alongside ministries of health and national malaria-control programs, to augment national priority research efforts. Such efforts have the best chance of success if they are run by local research agencies and institutions that can work closely with governments and are well positioned to support decision-makers in integrating data into local policies and strategies.

The new ‘high burden to high impact’ initiative from the World health Organization rightly recognizes the need for such vital work to be country-owned and country-led to reignite the pace of progress in the global fight against malaria and to increase the likelihood of success in eliminating malaria. Omitting African institutions from leadership roles and relegating them to recipients of ‘capacity strengthening’ ignores the agency these institutions have, their existing capacity, the value of their lived experience and their permanence and close proximity to policy-makers.

In 2017, the USA, UK and Canada collectively spent US$ 1.1 billion on malaria development aid, which includes research funding. When the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation data-visualization tool is used (https://vizhub.healthdata.org/fgh/), it appears that once global fund contributions are removed, 81% of funding was used to support institutions in the funding country and 18% went to non-governmental organizations (probably based in high-income countries)—that leaves just 1% of malaria funding available to local in-country research institutions. We recognize that the current funding structures create an imbalance of power and a monopoly that favors Western institutions and is derived in part from the perpetuation of inequities in access to funding with policies that lock out African institutions. These structural inequities must be examined, and they must end.

We know that several decision-makers of these organizations recognize the limitations of the model that you have woefully applied to the issue of which we speak. The New Partnerships Initiative from the US Agency for International Development (https://www.usaid.gov/npi) and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (https://www.aasciences.africa/aesa) are good examples of funding local institutions for impact. The latter is shifting its center of gravity by ensuring its funding is provided directly to African scientists and institutions, which in turn empowers and enables them to shape their research agenda and to conduct research relevant to the continent. But we argue that these are the exceptions. For long-term progress, true partnerships and stronger collaborations, you, the funders, are responsible for totally transforming this model. We believe that in the same way we have to apply innovation in our work to fight diseases, innovation can be applied to the design of sustainable funding models with local researchers and organizations at their center.

We are asking that all major international funders of science and development in Africa commit to finding and implementing short-term and long-term changes to these models with consideration of the points we have listed above and with further consultation with reputable Africa-based institutions and scientists. There is a way to create equitable and dignified partnerships and to defeat the diseases that threaten everyone. We who authored this Correspondence are few, but we are committed to assisting any organization that is willing to make a substantial change.

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01307-8

References

1. PATH. https://www.path.org/media-center/path-announces-pmi-inform-malaria-operational-research-project/ (10 February 2021).

2. World Health Organization & RBM Partnership to End Malaria. High burden to high impact: a targeted malaria response (WHO, 2019).

Author contributions

All authors were involved in the original drafting, reviewing, and editing of this letter and gave final approval of the version to be published. This letter is signed in an individual capacity. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of any organization they (the authors) are associated with or employed by.

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How COVID spurred Africa to plot a vaccines revolution

For decades, Africa has imported 99% of its vaccines. Now the continent’s leaders want to bring manufacturing home.

Nature magazine, April 21, 2021

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01048-1

[excerpt from full news story available at link above]

Prompted by the pandemic, Africa’s leaders are on a path to ramp up capacity in vaccine manufacturing and boost the continent’s regulatory bodies for medicines. On 13 April, they pledged to increase the share of vaccines manufactured in Africa from 1% to 60% by 2040. This includes building factories and bolstering capacity in research and development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left Africa woefully short of vaccines, according to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), based in Addis Ababa. The ambitious move represents an important step in boosting Africa’s capacity in public health, he added.

Nkengasong was speaking at a 2-day vaccines summit on 12 and 13 April, co-organized by Africa CDC and the African Union, and attended by 40,000 delegates. Also taking part were heads of state and leaders from research, business, civil society and finance.

“We have been humbled, all of us, by this pandemic,” said Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, Senegal’s minister of health and welfare. The 1% figure “boggles the mind”, added virologist Salim Abdool Karim, formerly a science adviser to South Africa’s government.

. . .

In the next pandemic, will Africa make its own vaccines?

The AU meeting ended on an upbeat note, with delegates talking of “tipping points”, “now-or-never moments” and “global goodwill” to enable Africa to finally create its own vaccines industry. Progress will need political commitment, long-term finance and regional cooperation, said Patrick Tippoo, executive director of the African Vaccine Manufacturers’ Initiative, a group of vaccine manufacturers and research institutes.

The foundational problem, Tippoo added, is that the continent’s leaders have lacked the vision to recognize the centrality of local vaccine manufacturing in health-care policy.

The lack of manufacturing and weak regulation will require long-term governmental support if they are to be overcome, said Solomon Quaynor, a vice-president at the African Development Bank Group. Without such support, he warned the meeting’s delegates, “there will be no vaccine manufacturing in Africa”.

But momentum is on the side of new beginnings. “In the final analysis, the onus is on us as Africa. I do know we can do the job,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister and now director-general of the World Trade Organization.

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Africa’s vaccines revolution must have research at its core

It’s an injustice that Africa has to import 99% of its vaccines. COVID has sparked a push for change — and researchers have a crucial role.

Nature magazine, April 21, 2021

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01038-3

[excerpt from full editorial available at link above]

A continent of 1.2 billion people should not have to import 99% of its vaccines. But that is the tragic reality for Africa. Fixing the lack of home-grown manufacturing capacity has become a top priority for Africa’s policymakers. Last week, 40,000 people, including researchers, business leaders and members of civil-society groups, joined heads of state for a two-day online summit designed to share the latest developments and kick-start fresh thinking on how to bring vaccine manufacturing to Africa.

For more than a century, vaccine research and development (R&D) and manufacturing have been concentrated in Europe, India and the United States. Amid a raging pandemic, one result of this is that people in low- and middle-income countries might have to wait until the end of 2023 before they can be vaccinated against COVID-19. This is simply unacceptable.

Delegates at last week’s summit vowed to accelerate plans to boost the continent’s vaccine manufacturing, research and regulatory capacity. They endorsed a proposal for 60% of Africa’s routinely used vaccines to be made in Africa within 20 years, and agreements were signed with international organizations representing companies and donor agencies. But achieving this goal will need some hard conversations in the weeks and months ahead.

One such conversation must be on the need for sustained and long-term investment, especially in domestic R&D, as a vaccines industry cannot be created without this. In spite of the best efforts of researchers such as the late Calestous Juma, who founded the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi, most governments, for a variety of reasons, pushed back against the idea that domestic R&D is of long- term value. It needed a pandemic to persuade Africa’s leaders to be convinced of the case for bigger investments. That is to be welcomed — but it will need more than warm words at a conference to provide assurance that the plans being hatched will come to fruition.

There will also need to be hard conversations with donor countries, their pharmaceutical companies, and funders and researchers — essentially, all those currently involved in supplying Africa with vaccines. If the goal is now African self-sufficiency in what some call the vaccine ‘value chain’, then international partnerships with the continent’s institutions will require a different approach. A partnership in which the objective is to empower the continent’s own researchers and businesses will need to be different from existing partnerships, in which the objective is to supply Africa with vaccines. Some international companies might regard African self- sufficiency as a long-term risk to their business; some might fear a loss of influence. Firms and researchers from outside Africa shouldn’t take this view if they agree that a genuine partnership of equals is in everyone’s interests. Vaccines are essential to public health. And public health is essential to strong economies.

. . .

The world’s researchers have created, and continue to create, innovative vaccines. But it is now time to grow and share this knowledge with colleagues in under-served regions, especially in Africa. Their intervention in Africa’s vaccine-manufacturing ambitions might well be too late to make a difference during the present pandemic, but it will almost certainly help to ensure that the continent’s people are much better protected during the next.

Redemption Song (Arr. Kanneh-Mason)

312,283 views

There are many other versions of this song available on-line.

Three that I particularly like are

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhtZ5SyGHFU – with Bob Marley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZncWCgN-zms – with Angelique Kidjo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55s3T7VRQSc – Playing for Change with Stephen Marley

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Africa/Global: African-Language Literature in Global Scholarship
worker | May 3, 2021 | 7:49 pm | Africa | Comments closed

Africa/Global: African-Language Literature in Global Scholarship

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 3, 2021 (2021-05-03)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“Broad early modern comparative projects often fail to address Africa at all. A search of the MLAIB [Modern Language Association International Bibliography] finds that the number of pieces published in the last thirty years on the subject of ‘globalization’ is in the thousands, and yet only 5 per cent of them address Africa or African countries. When it comes to eighteenth-century studies, the exclusion is total: not one of the pieces on globalization addresses Africa or African countries. Not one. … This is more than unfortunate. No arena of study can be successful that has Africa as a lacuna.“ — Wendy Laura Belcher

The systemic character of the global marginalization of Africa is a theme which appears often in AfricaFocus Bulletin, most often in relation to current issues of economic inequality, vulnerability to global crises, and the continued dominance of global governance by a minority of rich countries. That reality, however, is also deeply rooted in ingrained biases in cultural production and scholarship, where the challenge to Eurocentrism is in many cases only beginning to gain momentum.

That is why I am very pleased that AfricaFocus reader and comparative literature scholar Wendy Belcher consented to have Africafocus present a condensed version of her recently published essay in a scholarly journal on 18th century fiction, a location where few would expect to find a focus on literature in African languages.

The topic of the importance of African-language literature is not new, of course. Nor is the evidence of marginalization by “global” opinion-makers. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who has repeatedly been among the leading contenders for the Nobel Prize in literature, has long been a passionate advocate of writing in African languages and has set an example himself with his own works. In the 120 years since the prize began, only a handful of African writers have won that prize. In the 1980s there were two (Nigerian Wole Soyinka and Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz) and in the last thirty years only two, both white South Africans (Nadine Gordimer and J. M. Coetzee).

Literary scholar Mukoma wa Ngugi’s The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity, and Ownership, published in 2018, critically analyzes use of African languages versus English by African writers over the period since the late 19th century.

But, notes Belcher, there is still only minimal scholarship devoted to African-language literature from before the mid-19th century. Partly this is based on the erroneous assumptions that there was little written in African languages before that time. But, Belcher notes, there are literally thousands of works written in African languages before that period, without even counting the many more written in Africa by Africans in Arabic over many centuries.

The much-shortened version below was condensed from the orignal by AfricaFocus Bulletin and the author. Original article with footnotes, figures, and full text, is available at https://oar.princeton.edu/handle/88435/pr13j84. Citation to the original article should be given as “Belcher, Wendy Laura. (2021). “Reflections. Are We Global Yet? Africa and the Future of Early Modern Studies”, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 33(3):413-446. https://doi.org/10.3138/ecf.33.3.413.”]

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on culture, education, and the media, visit http://www.africafocus.org/cultexp.php

Of particular interest in relation to the Bulletin’s topic today is http://www.africafocus.org/docs15/moz1509.php, in which Jacques Depelchin cites an ancient Egyptian poem called “The Eloquent Peasant” in relation to today’s issues of speaking out against injustice.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

African Language Literature and the Future of Early Modern Studies

Wendy Laura Belcher

Wendy Laura Belcher is Professor of African literature with a joint appointment in the Princeton University Department of Comparative Literature and the Department for African American Studies.

Abstract

Research on early (pre-1850) African-language literatures has declined since 2003 or has continued to flatline at nothing. A radical antiracist solution is needed, for no field can succeed with Africa as a lacuna. I call on all early modern scholars, regardless of their language knowledge, to cite at least one early modern African language text in their next publication. I describe five such in this article, a tiny sample of the thousands of written texts that Black Africans across the continent composed in African languages before 1830. Asking early modern scholars to embrace the uncomfortable practice of “token citation” will enable these texts to circulate in the realm of knowledge and further efforts to diversify and broaden the field.

Has the field of early modern studies become more attentive to the people and places outside of Europe and has it done so in productive ways? Further, have we attended to Africa specifically? And what does attention to Africa offer to eighteenth-century studies as a whole and for its future? I argue that we have seen an impressive increase in literary scholarship on non-European texts, but that research on African-language literatures has remained abysmal. As a part of broadening early modern studies, I describe five vital early modern African texts and propose the uncomfortable practice of their “token citation” to seed the field with possibilities for a more inclusive future.

While acknowledging the following terms’ limited and problematic nature, I use (to avoid lengthy phrases for period and place) “early modern” and “the eighteenth century” as interchangeable for the period from the late 1600s through the early 1800s CE (that is, as describing a set of years not asynchronous temporalities); “global” for the whole world and its relationships; “we” for all living scholars of this period, regardless of nationality; “Africa” for all the complexities of the whole continent (and not just sub- Saharan Africa); and “Africans” as shorthand for all the Indigenous Black peoples of the continent and the genius of their thousands of languages and cultures.

Broad early modern comparative projects often fail to address Africa at all. A search of the MLAIB finds that the number of pieces published in the last thirty years on the subject of “globalization” is in the thousands, and yet only 5 per cent of them address Africa or African countries. When it comes to eighteenth-century studies, the exclusion is total: not one of the pieces on globalization addresses Africa or African countries. Not one. That is, many scholars discuss the “globe” and manage never to mention Africa, a fifth of the world’s land mass and population. This is precisely why academics’ use of the term “global” has been so widely castigated. As Gayatri Spivak lamented in 2003, for comparative literature Africa “does not exist at all.” This is more than unfortunate. No arena of study can be successful that has Africa as a lacuna.

Research on so-called “minor” languages of the early modern period is slim and citation of them is slimmer. This is not for any lack of warning— Mauritian scholar and former American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) president Françoise Lionnet fired across the bow of literary studies in 2013, arguing that the MLA needed to “rise to the challenge of language diversity” and rise above “readers’ lack of linguistic or cultural competence and their inability to recognize exogamous influences.” Unfortunately, literary scholarship has remained focused predominantly on literatures in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. In an article also using MLAIB as a source, three scholars show that scholarship on “minor” European language literatures has been declining every decade since the 1970s.

This lamentable trend is doubly true for African-language literatures. Depressingly, research on them has declined since 2003 or remained flatlined at zero—even though many of these languages are not remotely “minor.” Over a dozen African languages have between 10 million and 100 million native speakers each and have attested early modern writing, including West African languages (Fulah, Fulfude, Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo); East African languages (Swahili, Ge`ez, Amharic, and Somali); southern African languages (Zulu and Xhosa); North African languages (like Tamazight); and Malagasy. Given the expanding population in Africa, none of these languages with tens of millions of speakers is disappearing any time soon; most have vibrant print cultures today.

Despite the richness of these early modern literary cultures, the MLA African literature forums, set up by scholars of African literature, reflect the general assumption of the field itself that no written early African literature exists, being divided into “Pre-1990” and “Post-1990.” That is, the field pairs a forum on thirty years of literature with a forum on thirty centuries of literature. In terms of numbers of scholars, this division is not wrong—the pre-1990 forum is not very populated, with the few scholars in it focusing almost entirely on the 1950s and 1960s—but, in terms of texts, it represents a failure of the field of African literary studies.

Further, few scholars focus on Afrophone literatures, which “remain a neglected component not only of comparative literature, postcolonial studies, and world literature, but also of African literary studies at large.” I am not offering this critique at some remove. The fact of early African-language written literature came as a shock to me when I began to study the issue about twenty years ago, even though I, a white American woman, had grown up in Ethiopia and Ghana and should have known better.

To overcome my own biases, I decided to assume that all African languages have always been written. Assuming such is the only way to overcome a predisposition not to see Africa as the home of writing. (As an aside, I think the primary reason we believe this myth is because libraries, not writing, were rare in Africa. Centuries of the slave trade and colonialism extracted the local wealth required for the mechanisms of preservation—archives. That is why “relying entirely on the availability of written documents to trace the beginnings of a writing tradition” in African languages will get you nowhere fast.) For me, this assumption about presence not absence has yielded many findings. I continue to find more and more written texts in more and more African languages. Others have assumed it fruitfully as well: Mariana Candido’s research on Angolan slave ports is a terrific example of the ground-breaking scholarship that can happen when a scholar assumes there are early African primary sources and does not stop until she finds them.

Early Modern Studies Needs to Cite African-Language Written Literature

To solve this lack, I demand that all early modern scholars, regardless of their language knowledge, cite at least one early modern African-language written text in their next publication. A scholarly paragraph about one of these texts would be splendid, but a sentence or even a footnote would be great. If twenty early modern scholars cited one of these texts in their next publication, we would take an important step toward broadening the future of early modern studies. I will address possible objections to such “token citation” later; for now, let me explain how you could actually do this.

One way to cite early modern African-language texts is time consuming: actually reading and studying them. Excellent work has been done translating and anthologizing early writing by Africans in African languages. To name a few here, consider Jan Knappert’s Four Centuries of Swahili Verse; Albert S. Gérard’s Four African Literatures: Xhosa, Sotho, Zulu, Amharic; B. W. Andrzejewski, Stanislaw Pilaszewicz, and Witold Tyloch’s Literatures in African Languages: Theoretical Issues and Sample Surveys; Karin Barber and Stephan F. Miescher’s Africa’s Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self; Abena Busia’s extraordinary four volume Women Writing Africa from the Feminist Press; and any number of works from Markus Weiner Publishers, including John F. P. Hopkins and Nehemia Levtzion’s Land of Enchanters: Egyptian Short Stories from the Earliest Times to the Present Day.

The easier way, but still radically helpful, is to cite one of the five African-language texts which I will now introduce, all of which have English translations. While thousands of unique, early modern African language written texts exist, almost none have English translations. (And yes, this essay is against the move by some comparatists to quarantine works in translation—they are not a disease but a gateway, however limited, to what the theorist of translation Lawrence Venuti calls the “utopia” of connection.)

Let me repeat this point, so it is clear—these five are not the only extant early African-language written texts. There are thousands. I have selected these five from among those thousands as a tiny sample of what Black Africans across the continent have written in African languages before 1830. This sample—drastically limited by what is available in English—is importantly specific (texts from specific districts and authors), evading the trap of representing “Africa” as if it were a whole. … In case it is unclear how easy citing these texts can be, here are two invented examples using the first text below. (Yes, the first text I recommend is a co-translation that I did; but I chose to translate it precisely because, out of thousands of possible texts, I thought it could do the most to persuade people of the value of early African literature.)

One possibility might be having a sentence like this in your next article: “Female religious leadership in the eighteenth century is not, of course, a solely English phenomenon, as demonstrated by the African-language biography of 1672 about the Ethiopian Orthodox abbess Walatta Petros (Gälawdewos).” Or, perhaps, “Queer identities in a range of European and non-European eighteenth-century texts is a burgeoning area of scholarship; for instance, see work on the Ethiopian Orthodox abbess Walatta Petros (Gälawdewos).”

Adding seventy words, as each of these examples would do (including the citation), will not always be possible. Yet I urge you to consider it. By doing so, you will prove that these texts exist and provide a paper trail for another scholar. Most of what I know about early African literature I found out by following up on a footnote. The aim of my edict is to ensure that these texts circulate in the realm of collective knowledge.

Ge`ez: The Life of Walatta-Petros

The first early modern African-language written text I recommend for citation is the Gädlä Wälättä Petros. An Ethiopian monk named Gälawdewos (fl. 1670s) wrote it in the African language of Ge`ez (classical Ethiopic) in 1672. The translation of it into English came out in 2015, and the student edition came out in late 2018. This extraordinary book is about an Ethiopian woman—a female religious leader and monastic founder with hundreds of followers, both men and women. She was an early anticolonial resister, refusing to convert to Catholicism when the Jesuits came to Ethiopia in the 1600s. She also had a life-long female partner, and the text contains an anecdote about nuns being lustful with each other.

The text is a masterpiece of Ge`ez literature, which has thousands of original creations written from the 1300s into the 1900s (this biography is only one of over a hundred early book-length biographies that Ethiopians wrote in Ge`ez). This book includes fascinating human animal encounters, beautiful embodied poems, and a radical theology. The translation does not assume the reader has any knowledge of Ethiopia or Ge`ez and provides a robust contextual framework to help readers cite it or teach it: thousands of substantive and philological notes and a massive glossary of people, places, rituals, and things. Instructors are teaching it to great effect in medieval courses, early modern history and literature courses, and gender and sexuality studies courses.

If you want to do more than token citation, check out the excellent work on early modern Ge`ez literature done by a range of Ethiopian scholars, most of all the prolific MacArthur Fellowship winner Getatchew Haile. You may also consult the massive encyclopedic and cataloging projects for Ge`ez. Good scholarship has also been done on other written languages of Ethiopia, including Amharic, Tigrinya, and Oromo, although with little surviving written literature until the late 1800s.

Tamazight: Ocean of Tears

The second early modern African-language written text to cite is Ocean of Tears (Bahr ad-Dumu), a book written in what many call Berber, but which speakers prefer to call Tamazight, an Indigenous African language common in North Africa. The author Muuammad Ibn Ali Awzal (ca. 1680–1749), who lived in what is now Morocco, wrote the book in 1714. A fascinating figure in his own right, he fled the town where he grew up after accidentally killing a man, became a religious scholar, returned to his town (where the family of the man he killed forgave him), and lived his life there as a teacher and author. He is the most important author of the Sous Tamazight literary tradition, which constitutes the several thousand Indigenous Moroccan scholars writing between the tenth and nineteenth centuries. …

Scholars can read the book in English or French translation. The research in both is outstanding, and the translations are very erudite, although the awkwardness of the English is occasionally painful for native speakers. Nevertheless, the translation provides a full understanding of its themes and concerns, making it citable.

If you want to do more than token citation, check out the excellent work on early modern Tamazight literature by a range of North African scholars, including Salem Chaker, Lamara Bougchiche, Mohand Akli Haddadou, and Abdellah Bounfour, as well as the prolific Paulette Galand-Pernet, Daniela Merolla, and Maarten Kossmann; you may also consult the extensive Encyclopédie Berbère.

Hausa and Fula: Sufi Women

The third early modern African-language written text to cite is any of the poems by Nana Asma’u bint Shehu Usman dan Fodiyo (ca. 1793–1864), a fascinating and influential woman who was a scholar, teacher, and poet of West African Sufi Islam. She was not a minor figure in her land, but a revered woman whose authorial name is still mentioned along with male authors. She wrote in the Indigenous languages of Fula (her first language) and Hausa as well as Arabic. As many African intellectuals have for centuries, she used Arabic script, or ajami, to write these languages, much as many African languages now use the Latin script.

Hundreds of thousands of manuscripts in ajami are extant in West African archives, and yet the history of these books, their libraries, and the manuscript culture of early African Muslims have only begun to be studied in the Euro-American academy with any depth. For such archives to inform the collective understanding of literature scholars globally, we need to recognize the crucial abilities of multilingual scholars, those who are able to read Arabic script, to understand the African language of the text deeply, and to communicate their findings for publication in widely read language. And we must enable more Indigenous scholars to publish their research.

If you want to do more than token citation, check out the excellent work on early modern ajami literature done by a range of African scholars, including the indefatigable Fallou Ngom, as well as Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Shamil Jeppie, Ibrahima Diallo, and Ousmane Kane. Consult Ousseina Alidou and others on early written Hausa literature specifically.

Swahili: Song of Liyongo

The fourth early modern African-language written text to cite is Takhimisa ya Liyongo, a long praise poem written in Swahili by Sayyid Abdallah bin Nassir (ca. 1730–1820) in 1750. Swahili is rich in praise poems, a dominant genre across West and East Africa; as well as in epic written poems, such as Utendi wa Tambuka (1728), about the ancient wars between the descendants of Mohammed and Byzantine Christians; and didactic poems, such as Utendi wa Mwana Kupona (1858), a mother’s instructions to her daughter. Takhimisa ya Liyongo is about the great early modern poet- warrior trickster of legend named Fumo Liyongo, who likely lived in the 1200s.

This epic figure lived large—dancing, drinking, fighting; he was eventually killed by his own son. Liyongo was the firstborn of his kingly father, and enormously popular, so the second son, wishing to eliminate him as a threat, imprisoned him. Liyongo escaped, but his son, for the reward, killed him with a copper nail, the only object capable of taking his life. In the poem that Nassir wrote about Liyongo, based on earlier folk-tales, both the protagonist and the antagonist practice deception, which Joseph Mbele has argued is the poem’s sophisticated critique of heroism itself, and any supposed gap between heroes and villains.

Of all African-language literatures, that in Swahili has received the most published attention, with no little focus on its early written literature, going back as far as the 1600s, so I mention it only briefly here. If you want to do more than token citation, see the excellent work by a range of East African scholars, among them M.M. Mulokozi, Mohamed H. Abdulaziz, Euphrase Kezilahabi, Ibrahim Noor Shariff, Alamin Mazrui, and Joseph Mbele.

Nsibidi: Men and Women

The fifth early modern African-language written text to cite is any of the stories translated from Nsibidi. Nsibidi is a written system, an ideographic script, elaborated by the Efik people of Nigeria in the 1770s for their secret society, but with symbols in it found on pottery dating to a thousand years earlier. Although sometimes dismissed as merely representational, Nsibidi is far richer than that, a type of what one scholar has called “a vast, deep-time, curated supply of symbols.” Only members who have been trained to read Nsibidi can understand its texts, which are used to narrate events, such as court cases and love affairs. Enslaved people in the Americas used this language to communicate, so it is particularly vital that Americanists be aware of it.

Nsibidi is a secret language protected by its peoples and therefore access to its stories is rightly limited. No historical, political, or legal texts have been translated from it; rather, those seen as frivolous, and therefore not in need of protection from prying eyes, have been.

If you want to do more than token citation, see the excellent work on Nsibidi done by African scholars, including Basil Amaeshi, Ekpo Eyo, Olu Kalu, and Maik Nwosu, and the interpretive work of the modern Nigerian artists Victor Ekpuk and Chike C. Aniakor. If you are interested in teaching about it and other African writing systems, consult the online exhibit Inscribing Meaning by the Fowler Museum and the National Museum of African Art.

Anticipating Objections

Some people will want to dismiss these five examples of written African texts. For them, they will not be “African” enough, not “literary” enough, not “early” enough, not “enough” enough.

So let me remind such readers that most literatures are not enough in the same ways. The history of writing in most regions is not local, for instance. European texts were written in the foreign language of Latin (unless written by Italians, for whom it was native) into the 1800s. Likewise, many African texts were written in the foreign language of Arabic, with few written vernaculars. Yet no one says that European texts are not European because they were written in Latin.

Just so, no one should say that African texts are not African because they were written in Arabic. Nor should anyone say that because a text was written in North Africa or East Africa, that they are not African. Their bracketing arises from the racist assumption that Africa is a place without writing and history, and that therefore anywhere with writing and history cannot be Africa.

The history of writing in most regions is not “early” either. Almost no vernaculars were written until quite late in human history. Most European languages were not written until the 1500s CE. By contrast, Egyptian languages had written texts by 2,600 BCE, two thousand years before the Greeks arrived to “civilize” Egypt. Tamazight language inscriptions appear across North Africa and West Africa by the 1000s BCE. Sudan and Ethiopia had written languages by the 100s BCE. By contrast, even the major European languages appeared much later: the first English, Spanish, and Portuguese written texts are from the 700s, 1200s, and 1500s CE respectively.

A more serious critique of the citation practice I am recommending is that it is “mere tokenism,” a glib attempt to be inclusive without fully recognizing or engaging the bodies of work ostensibly included (or the ethics of translating Indigenous language texts into colonizers’ languages). Yet, “token citation” is the very definition of a heuristic technique—being both imperfect and yet useful—and is a practical way of making a vital strike at the Eurocentric foci of US scholarship while destabilizing the canon and helping literary studies support decolonization.

Yes, real inclusion—and recentering of scholarly focus— requires more than such gestures. But absent radical transformation, doing nothing is not the solution. As the famous Amharic proverb goes, “slowly, slowly, the egg goes by its legs;” (that is, incremental change is the basis for large change). As one example of its practicality, token citation can keep alive for future scholars that which is not valued in the present.

Take the scholarship on Olaudah Equiano, a luminary of the eighteenth century who had faded almost entirely from cultural awareness in the nineteenth century but for the work of a handful of African American scholars. A single descriptive sentence in 1913 in a brief article by no less a figure than W.E.B. Du Bois reintroduced Equiano after a century of general neglect and enabled Equiano’s star to rise again.(Yet another case of African American scholars, through the critical language and theoretical approaches they developed, bringing to light the overlooked contributions of African writers.) In the same way, token citing of early modern African-language written texts would be an important seeding of the field.

Such practical methods, while they do not in and of themselves solve the problems of a field’s systemic exclusions, can help to make more long-term changes possible. …

Early Modern Studies Action Items

I have suggested one way to improve the future of early modern studies—by encouraging readers to cite early African language literature, not only to improve their own citational practice, but crucially to seed the field with the necessary references that will enable future scholarship to attend more fully to the disproportionately neglected archives of early African literatures and counteract the limiting Eurocentrism of early modern studies.

It is my sincere hope that one hundred years from now, someone will cite this article as an example of how farcically limited early scholarship on written African literature was, and will chastise me for standing on the edge of its vastness and seeing so little. Yes, token citation may invite sanction. Especially if you are white, it may feel safer to say nothing than to do something so clearly insufficient in the face of such severe inequities. But a difficult truth of our time is that you can be cowardly correct (adhering to familiar ways of exercising your expertise and protecting yourself while doing nothing to improve the conditions of academic knowledge work), or you can bravely risk your status to do something, however contingent or small.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Confronting Global Apartheid Demands Global Solidarity
worker | April 19, 2021 | 8:09 pm | Africa | Comments closed

Confronting Global Apartheid Demands Global Solidarity

AfricaFocus Bulletin
April 19, 2021 (2021-04-19)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“The COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed and deepened structural inequalities around the world. Nearly every country has been hit by economic downturn, but the impacts are unevenly felt. Within and across countries, the people who have suffered most are those already disadvantaged by race, class, gender, or place of birth, reflecting the harsh inequality that has characterized our world for centuries.”

Regular readers of AfricaFocus Bulletin will already be familiar with the US-Africa Bridge Building Project, founded by Imani Countess, on which I am working as a consultant. This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the first essay in the project’s Transnational Solidarity Playbook, which is being released on the project website today. The format for that website was designed by Go!Creative and Village Green Consulting, and is much more professionally designed and attractive than the workable but out-of-date home-made format constructed for AfricaFocus by your editor more than 15 years ago.So do check out the links above in this paragraph.

That essay is accompanied by excerpts and an embedded video from the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture by Angela Davis in South Africa in 2016. Other original essays as well as other material for the Playbook will appear in later months, authored by a diverse set of authors with activist experience and scholarly knowledge of a range of transnational solidarity movements.

For an earlier set of essays by Imani Countess and me based on similar perspectives, see “Beyond Eurocentrism and U.S. Exceptionalism: Starting Points for a Paradigm Shift from Foreign Policy to Global Policy,” at http://www.africafocus.org/usa-2020.php.

For another recent article on U.S. policy and Africa, by Elizabeth Schmidt and me, published on April 8, see https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/04/08/in-africa-an-acknowledgement-that-counterterrorism-has-failed/.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Confronting Global Apartheid Demands Global Solidarity

by Imani Countess and William Minter

This essay is part of a series that will be included in a Transnational Solidarity Playbook to be published by the US-Africa Bridge Building Project. The series is based on the premise that progressive forces must increase our capacity to join forces across national borders, defeat authoritarian regimes and movements based on hate, and find the strength to build a future based on common humanity and justice for all.

Imani Countess is the project director for the US-Africa Bridge Building Project. William Minter is a consultant for the Project and the editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin.

The COVID-19 pandemic has both revealed and deepened structural inequalities around the world. Nearly every country has been hit by economic downturn, but the impacts are unevenly felt. Within and across countries, the people who have suffered most are those already disadvantaged by race, class, gender, or place of birth, reflecting the harsh inequality that has characterized our world for centuries.

This deepening inequality haunts our global future. According to a report released by Oxfam in January 2021, “Billionaire fortunes returned to their pre-pandemic highs in just nine months, while recovery for the world’s poorest people could take over a decade.”

International scientific collaboration has yielded multiple vaccines against the novel coronavirus. But the most vulnerable people and countries have been last in line for doses, or are not in line at all, threatening a vaccine apartheid. If that continues, it will be impossible to end the pandemic, as the virus will continue to mutate and spread across borders.

“Global apartheid” is more than a metaphor

The term “apartheid” comes from South Africa, notorious in the 20th century as the last stronghold of white minority rule. Political apartheid in South Africa ended in 1994 with free elections open to South Africans of all races. But South Africa and the world are still embedded in an international system of inequality reflecting the history of European conquest and domination.

In this system, wealth and power are still structured by race and place, both within and between nations. Whether or not one labels it global apartheid, there are striking parallels with South African apartheid.

Credit: Our World in Data, 2017  

In July 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in the annual Nelson Mandela lecture, addressed what he called the “inequality pandemic” and called the world to a “new social contract.” Such a contract, it is clear, will not happen quickly. But it will not happen at all unless millions around the world mobilize to make it happen.

South African apartheid was part of a global system of unequal rights

South Africa shares a history of white supremacy with other white settler states, including the United States, as Senator Robert Kennedy acknowledged in a speech to students in Cape Town in 1966. Its apartheid regime was part of a world order defined for centuries by hierarchies of racial privileges both between and within countries.

Since the discovery of diamonds and gold in the late 19th century, South Africa and its neighbors in the Southern African region had been linked closely to Western economies, particularly the United States, England, and continental Europe. Internally, apartheid in South Africa was a multilevel system of labor control and differential rights, paralleling the global hierarchy. There were gradations of privilege for whites, Asians, “Coloured,” and “natives,” as well as for “natives” in urban areas, those in rural “homelands,” and “foreign natives.”

Beginning in the 1960s, when independent African countries joined the United Nations, the end of political apartheid played out on a global stage. Exposure of the South African regime’s inhumanity, including forced labor, torture, and attacks on neighboring states, led the United Nations General Assembly in 1974 to designate apartheid as a crime against humanity.

Transnational solidarity was essential to the anti-apartheid movement

Over the next two decades, the regime maintained highly visible repression within its borders while also waging proxy wars that devastated the entire Southern African region. The human toll on South Africans and their neighbors mounted into millions of lives lost. South Africa’s Western allies, despite growing willingness to speak against apartheid, stubbornly maintained their military and economic ties with the regime.

In opposing white minority rule, the South African liberation movements relied on mobilizing internal opposition, but they also issued appeals for support worldwide. They called for sanctions against the white minority regime and for direct support for South African liberation, including support for armed struggle. This outreach was essential because of the extent to which rich Western countries both profited from and sustained the South African economy and state.

Those calls were answered in different ways by governments, by multilateral bodies such as the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations, and by hundreds of solidarity organizations in almost every country of the world.

Solidarity was based on the recognition of common humanity

By the 1980s it was possible to speak of a transnational anti- apartheid movement. But it was a movement that drew in many different constituencies, with varying connections to and understandings of the situation in South Africa. For people in Africa and other world regions who had themselves experienced European conquest and colonial rule, the connection was clear. In the United States, too, the long history of the Black freedom movement closely paralleled that in South Africa. And the entire world recalled the anti-fascist struggle of the mid-20th century and its promises of freedom. South Africans seeking solidarity understood that they were speaking to specific audiences, not to an undifferentiated global community, and they strove to meet people where they were.

The fundamental message of the transnational anti-apartheid movement was, and remains, equal rights for all, applicable not only in South Africa but around the world. We must learn to live and work together on the basis of our common humanity, as expressed in the African concept Ubuntu.

That does not mean calling for neutrality or covering up the realities of injustice and oppression. It does mean rejecting the principle of separation (the literal meaning of “apartheid”) and bringing people into more inclusive communities with a common vision of justice for all.

Collective action relied on diverse strategies and multiple constituencies

In the 1980s, activists developed a range of collective action strategies to support South African calls for political liberation. These included divestment of corporate, pension, and municipal funds from institutions invested in apartheid, as well as protests, mobilizations, and campaigns. Local activists used their own experience and knowledge of specific places and specific institutions to craft appropriate strategies and tactics.

The movement drew in politicians and civil servants in national governments, staff of multilateral institutions, leaders of religious, student, trade union, professional, and social justice organizations, and grassroots leaders in local communities. These diverse actors built collective power and worked together for a common cause. In doing so, they had to look beyond racial and national divides, work through internal debates about strategy, and overcome conflicts driven by ideology and personal ambition.

The same general principles apply today to movements confronting a global pandemic, the climate crisis, and rising overt threats from authoritarianism, xenophobia, and racism. But today’s global movements must also confront not only new global realities but also enduring injustices not addressed by the anti-apartheid movement or other national freedom struggles of the 20th century.

The victory against South African apartheid was real but incomplete

The victory we celebrated with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 was real, as were earlier victories in freedom struggles in other times and places. But that victory was by no means complete. Democratic political rights, in South Africa or any other country, are essential prerequisites for social and economic justice – but provide no guarantees. Indeed, the 21st century has brought steadily widening inequality and mounting threats to democracy, in South Africa and in countries around the world.

Today we have a new set of intersecting crises, with the authoritarian playbook of “divide and rule” gaining ground in many countries. In meeting this moment, we can take inspiration and guidance from the collective victories of earlier generations. We must take seriously the truth that none of us are free until all of us are free. This principle, voiced over the years by Emma Lazarus, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Martin Luther King Jr., must apply across all the intersecting divisions that separate us from each other, including national borders as well as the familiar triad of divisions by race, class, and gender.

The transnational anti-apartheid movement is one powerful illustration of how this principle can be applied. First, the movement built strong personal and organizational ties across borders in commitment to a common cause. Second, global leadership came from those most endangered by South Africa’s apartheid regime, namely movements in South Africa and its neighboring countries.

But that movement also had internal shortcomings. The greatest limitation, as in other movements targeting national, racial, or class injustice, was the failure to address gender injustice. Despite public celebration of women in the struggle, failure to listen to women’s voices, and even tolerance of gender violence, was more the rule than the exception. That remains the case today worldwide, despite the profusion of pledges to address gender equity.

New movements give hope for global solidarity

Over the past decade, as global inequalities have deepened, a wave of movements has been charting new strategies and paths forward. These movements include, to give just a few examples, Black Lives Matter, the climate justice movement, movements for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, and union organizing among care workers and those in the informal economy, who are disproportionately women and youth.

These emergent movements build on new understandings of history as well as on an analysis of the current moment. As Angela Davis noted in the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture in 2016, our work must be rooted in history yet must go beyond the limitations of the past. That means building structures that raise the voices of those who have been barred historically from leadership positions in social change movements. From the local to the global level, organizations and movements must feature “inclusiveness, interconnectedness, interdependency, intersectionality, and internationalism,” Davis told the audience at the University of South Africa.

The obstacles may seem overwhelming. But we can redefine the possible, argues Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement, the youth movement that has put the Green New Deal at the center of the political debate on climate change in the United States. “In your demands and your vision, don’t lead with what is possible in today’s reality but with what is necessary.”

Whether on climate, on the Covid-19 pandemic, or on rising inequalities by race, gender, class, and place of birth, joining forces for justice across national boundaries is not a choice. It is a necessity.

A movement, not just a leader

by Imani Countess

Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned leader of the African National Congress, was the best-known face of the anti-apartheid movement. Millions around the world watched as Mandela was released from prison in February 1990.

Two months later, I sat in London’s Wembley Stadium with 70,000 others celebrating Mandela’s release and the start of a difficult but hopeful transition in the movement against political apartheid. Several Americans sat in front of me. It turned out they were from Pikesville, Maryland; I was born and raised in nearby Baltimore. Pikesville was a majority-white suburb of folks who fled the city in the 1960s and ’70s in response to desegregation efforts. Nonetheless, there we were in London, joined together in celebrating the success of a transnational solidarity movement led by Black and Brown South Africans.

That movement included not only iconic leaders like Mandela, but also grassroots leaders not in the international public eye. Just as important, it included countless activists around the world – a complicated mix of campaigners, national liberation parties, political formations and organizations, UN agencies, faith-based organizations, unions, students, and scholars.

Such a coalition is just as essential in confronting today’s global apartheid.

Selected Resources on the Transnational Anti-Apartheid Movement

Have You Heard from Johannesburg?
https://www.clarityfilms.org/haveyouheardfromjohannesburg/
7-part video series on the transnational anti-apartheid movement, available as video-on-demand.

The Road to Democracy in South Africa: International Solidarity
http://www.sadet.co.za/road_democracy_vol3.html and http://www.sadet.co.za/road_democracy_vol5.html
Extensive studies by South African and other scholars from the South African Democracy Education Trust. Some chapters are downloadable.

African Activist Archive Project
https://africanactivist.msu.edu/
On-line digital documentation (more than 10,000 items) from national and local activist groups in the United States

The Anti-Apartheid Movement
https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/anti-apartheid-movement-aam
Brief summary and selected documents from South African History Online

Walter Bgoya: From Tanzania to Kansas and Back Again
http://www.noeasyvictories.org/select/04_bgoya.php
The key role of Tanzania in Southern African liberation struggles

O. R. Tambo’s forgotten speech at Chatham House
https://mg.co.za/africa/2020-07-09-exclusive-or-tambo-chatham-house-speech/
Speech by ANC President Oliver Tambo, 1985

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Africa/Global: People’s Vaccine vs. Vaccine Apartheid
worker | April 11, 2021 | 7:08 pm | Africa, COVID-19 | Comments closed

Africa/Global: People’s Vaccine vs. Vaccine Apartheid

AfricaFocus Bulletin
April 6, 2021 (2021-04-06 )
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

Despite the vast disparity in the pace of vaccinations for Covid-19, currently at over 20% having one dose in North America, 5% in the world, and less in 1% for Africa, the United States, other rich countries, and pharmaceutical companies are still rejecting growing demands to waive patents and transfer technology. See chart below and data by country at https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations.

“In prepared remarks Monday [April 5] to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs ahead of meetings this week of international finance officials,” according to the Washington Post, Yellen called on richer countries to step up both economic and public health assistance to poorer nations reeling from covid. She noted as many as 150 million people across the world risk falling into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis.”

“This would be a profound economic tragedy for those countries, one we should care about. But, that’s obvious. What’s less obvious — but equally true — is that this divergence would also be a problem for America,” Yellen said. “Our first task must clearly be stopping the virus by ensuring that vaccinations, testing and therapeutics are available as widely as possible.”

[The full speech, in which Yellen also called for international agreement on a global minimum corporate tax, is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR-2jA1gtOQ

This AfricaFocus includes several recent articles and other links documenting the potential to begin to repair this wide gap. The major barrier is political will on the part of those forces still trying to monopolize vaccinations and profits for themselves.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Africa’s health, visit

http://www.africafocus.org/intro-health.php

For an article on vaccination from January this year, see http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/vacc2101.php

For a March 25, 2021 Zoom webinar on Covid-19 Vaccines for Africa and her diaspora
Africans Rising, Advocacy Network for Africa, and Africa and African Diaspora
https://fb.watch/4BpZ91RWOb/
Includes updates from the Africa CDC on current status and a wide range of well-informed speakers.

For a global petition, now at almost 1 million signatures, visit https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/peoples_vaccine_2021_loc/

For petitions to the U.S. Congress and to President Biden, visit

https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/emergencies/covid-19-peoples-vaccine/,

https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/support-the-people-s-vaccine-1

or https://rethinktrade.org/actions/urge-biden-reverse-trumps-deadly-obstruction-of-global-covid-19-vaccine-access/

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Webinar on April 12, 2021

Register at https://tinyurl.com/3b2erv5a

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

Coalition Calls on Biden to Use US-Owned Patent to Share Covid Vaccine With the World

“The U.S. government can help end the pandemic if it uses its legal leverage with Moderna to jumpstart an ambitious vaccine manufacturing program to benefit the world.”

Common Dreams, March 26, 2021

by Jake Johnson, staff writer

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/03/26/coalition-calls-biden-use-us-owned-patent-share-covid-vaccine-world

Public health advocacy groups and scientists are pressuring the Biden administration to use the U.S. government’s ownership of a key patent as leverage to ensure that the coronavirus vaccine co-developed by Moderna and National Institutes of Health is widely produced and distributed around the world, particularly in developing countries.

The patent in question covers crucial spike-protein technology developed by the NIH, an invention that has since been utilized in at least five major Covid vaccines—including the Moderna-NIH shot formally known as mRNA-1273.

In a letter (pdf) earlier this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, NIH Director Francis Collins, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci, a coalition of advocacy groups led by PrEP4All and around a dozen scientists said the government-owned patent should be used as a “tool” to “facilitate scale-up of production of mRNA-1273 and ensure rapid, equitable global access.”

“The U.S. government has not licensed the patent to Moderna. It is imperative that the NIH uses any licensing agreement to include provisions to help increase global access to this lifesaving technology, rather than just a monetary royalty,” the letter reads. “U.S. taxpayers have invested over $2.5 billion in the development of mRNA-1273. Now it is time for our government to ensure that this critical lifesaving technology be made available to all. This could contribute to saving millions of lives globally.”

The new demand comes as the United States and other rich nations continue to block an India and South Africa-led push to temporarily waive certain international patent protections in order to expand access to coronavirus vaccines in countries currently struggling to administer a single shot.

In their letter on Wednesday, the public health organizations urged the U.S. government to use its leverage to negotiate patent licensing terms that “require technology sharing with the World Health Organization to help ramp up global production” and guarantee widespread distribution of the vaccine at a low cost.

As the New York Times reported earlier this week, the WHO “created a technology pool last year to encourage companies to share know-how with manufacturers in lower-income nations. Not a single vaccine company has signed up.”

“The problem is that the companies don’t want to do it,” James Love, head of the nonprofit Knowledge Ecology International, told the Times. “And the government is just not very tough with the companies.”

Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, lamented in a statement that “the U.S. government has an embarrassing history of giving away publicly-funded and publicly- owned medical technology to corporations, which then ration it back to the people at monopoly prices.”

“The U.S. government can help end the pandemic if it uses its legal leverage with Moderna to jumpstart an ambitious vaccine manufacturing program to benefit the world,” Maybarduk said. “We must do better. Many lives are at stake.”

Read the full letter:

Dear Secretary Becerra, Dr. Collins, and Dr. Fauci:

We write about the soon-to-issue-patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,960,070 (“the ‘070 patent”), that protects the use of proline-substituted coronavirus spike proteins stabilized in their prefusion conformation as a vaccine immunogen. The mRNA-1273 vaccine, co-developed by NIAID and Moderna, utilizes this technology for its immunogen. The ‘070 patent is owned by the United States Government, reflecting the critical contributions that NIAID and NIH made to the invention of this technology.

This government-owned patent is an important policy tool that the U.S. government could use to facilitate scale-up of production of mRNA-1273 and ensure rapid, equitable global access. Currently, at best, only one billion doses of mRNA-1273 will be produced in 2021, far short of global demand.

The U.S. government has not licensed the patent to Moderna. It is imperative that the NIH uses any licensing agreement to include provisions to help increase global access to this lifesaving technology, rather than just a monetary royalty.

Specifically, the licensing agreement should:

1. Empower the U.S. government to authorize manufacturing of mRNA-1273—including by government-owned production facilities.

Currently, Moderna has only contracted with a single contract manufacturing organization (CMO), Lonza Group AG, to produce drug substance for mRNA-1273. By contracting with other CMOs to produce drug substance and help perform other manufacturing steps, more doses of mRNA-1273 could be produced. Such provisions should include the ability for the U.S. government to compel transfer of know-how from Moderna to other CMOs to facilitate scale up for all production steps of the manufacturing process.

2. Require technology sharing with the World Health Organization to help ramp up global production.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization has urged countries to share vaccine technology and know-how openly to help build global manufacturing capacity. Moderna has so far ignored requests from developing country manufacturers to share technology. Requiring Moderna to work with the WHO’s COVID-19 technology access pool can help unlock additional production.

3. Include requirements for accessible pricing universally.

Moderna is currently charging between US$10 and US$40 a dose for mRNA-12738, despite it costing less than $3 a dose to manufacture. This high price, coupled with Moderna’s lack of planned market entry for many low-and middle-income countries, may prevent those most in need from accessing mRNA-1273. Licensing the ‘070 patent gives the U.S. government leverage to increase global access by requiring accessible pricing to mRNA-1273.

Assertion of U.S. government-owned intellectual property to increase access to pharmaceutical products is not unprecedented. In 2019, the federal government sued Gilead Sciences for its infringement of government owned patents protecting the use of Truvada and Descovy for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—and per the complaint itself, is using that litigation to increase access to PrEP. That lawsuit is ongoing.

U.S. taxpayers have invested over $2.5 billion in the development of mRNA-1273. Now it is time for our government to ensure that this critical lifesaving technology be made available to all. This could contribute to saving millions of lives globally. It also will help protect public health here at home. Global vaccination with highly effective vaccines, like mRNA-1273, is our best defense against the development of vaccine-resistant variants of SARS-CoV2.

Thank you.

**************************************************************

U.S. and European COVID-19 shots aren’t enough. It is time to tap into Africa, Asia, and Latin America’s enormous production capacity.

by Matthew Kavanagh, Mara Pillinger, Renu Singh, Katherine Ginsbach |

March 1, 2021

[Excerpt: for full article visit https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/03/01/to-democratize-vaccine-access-democratize-production/]

As wealthy countries inoculate millions of their citizens against COVID-19 and other countries wait to even begin the rollout, G-7 leaders are increasingly struggling to address geopolitically charged vaccine inequities.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently noted his fear that countries would turn to China and Russia for vaccines and “the power of the West will … not be a reality.” He later walked back his statement somewhat, clarifying that vaccines are a matter of public health—not power. They are, of course, both. But Macron and other leaders will never get either issue right as long as they remain focused on what portion of a relatively small supply of vaccines to share. Rather, the real game-changer lies in a very feasible effort to expand the pool of available vaccines.

At the moment, vaccine production approved in the United States and Europe is needlessly limited to a handful of companies struggling to get enough vaccines out the door to meet demand. Yet in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, there is enormous human and production capacity that could be mobilized to make more vaccines and address the needs of people in low- and middle-income countries. Governments and companies, especially in middle-income countries, have been asking to do so. As Western firms have demurred, Russia has taken them up on their offers, sharing Sputnik V know-how for production in Brazil, India, Turkey, and South Korea. If U.S. and European Union leaders want to address both the public health and diplomatic imperatives facing them—while also vaccinating their own populations—they should consider doing the same.

Vaccine development is largely funded by public money. The United States and Europe have poured massive resources into research and development as well as advance purchase agreements that remove risks for companies to develop vaccines. The United States, for example, put $2.48 billion into the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) /Moderna vaccine alongside a huge investment of effort in government scientists who pioneered them. Likewise, the German government provided $445 million to develop the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

This spending brought remarkable breakthroughs for stopping COVID-19 and for future global health security. The kinds of shots Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and others have developed are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, which are simpler to make, easier to scale, and faster to adapt in the face of variants than traditional vaccines. The technology might soon bring breakthroughs against HIV, malaria, or influenza and enable rapid COVID-19 vaccine development against new emerging diseases. Logistical challenges that have dogged the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, like cold chain storage, can be tackled. Moderna, for example, announced just before approval that its vaccine can now be kept refrigerated, not frozen, for 30 days.

The United States and Europe have far more to gain by sharing these technologies than by hoarding them, from preventing a never-ending cycle of new variants to rebuilding global trade and gaining soft- power influence. They should immediately work to allow production of cutting-edge COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Some observers have claimed that such an effort would not be possible, take too long, or cost too much. They are wrong, as the world’s experience developing HIV medicines shows.

After millions died without access to medications, today’s cutting- edge HIV drugs frequently come to market with near-simultaneous production by multiple companies in low- and middle-income countries. This is a direct result of government investment in production capacity, sharing of technology, and use of voluntary and compulsory measures to overcome patent barriers.

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A national vaccine effort and speedy rollout is literally a matter of life and death

By Mark Heywood

30 March 2021

Mark Heywood is the editor of Maverick Citizen.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-03-30-a-national-vaccine-effort-and-speedy-rollout-is-literally-a-matter-of-life-and-death/

Maverick Citizen: Editorial

As South Africa stares at the looming third wave of Covid-19 and the strong possibility that travel restrictions will be reintroduced over Easter, it is now clear that the warnings and anger expressed by scientists and civil society early this year about SA’s vaccine preparedness were not unfounded.

As of Saturday, we have vaccinated only 220,129 healthcare workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as part of the Sisonke clinical trial. This is about 25% of our health workforce but only 0.4% of our total population. It has not included many front- line workers in the health system, such as community health workers, or administrative staff, such as porters, cleaners and security guards. Vaccines have also not reached rural healthcare workers.

This means that when the third wave breaks, health workers, many of whom have already been ill with Covid-19, will again find themselves in the line of danger.

We should be doing much better and people are entitled to honest answers about why we are failing. It is a matter of life and death. In developed countries that have scaled up vaccine rollout there is growing evidence that vaccines are making a difference. For example, an editorial this week in the South African Medical Journal records that: “Where the AstraZeneca vaccine is in use, mortality in vaccinated populations has plummeted, including in the UK, home to its own more infectious and virulent B.1.1.7 variant.”

Questions remain as to why we sold on a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Similarly a study just published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that, after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, rates of infection among healthcare workers at California hospitals reduced the absolute risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 to between 1.19% and 0.97% among healthcare workers at two large hospitals. Life and death: these are the reasons why there is growing public anxiety and anger over South Africa’s failures so far.

There is nothing people in SA want more than unity around a national vaccine effort. We are desperate to rally behind and contribute to a well-thought-out national strategic plan, which we are told will soon be approved by the Cabinet. But to achieve unity government will need to act differently.

Below are six steps we believe will save lives and restore confidence.

Consistent reporting of numbers vaccinated and of health system readiness

Since early in 2020 government has released daily reports on the Coronavirus Resource Portal of the numbers of Covid-19 infections, tests, deaths and recoveries. It has also sent these reports to the media. This now includes the total number vaccinated. But it is also important that information include numbers of vaccinations by province; by category of health worker; and a list of vaccination sites that are ready for phase two of the rollout.

Publishing all Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) advisories

Since 11 January this year no MAC advisories have been made public, and in particular none of the advisories of the MAC on Vaccines. People have the right to know what scientists are advising the government and whether government is acting on these advisories.

A high-visibility public communication campaign and community-based social mobilisation to overcome vaccine hesitancy

We are well aware of vaccine hesitancy and misunderstanding. Even nurses are reported to be declining vaccinations in some areas. But there is very little visible or audible public information and education campaign. Where there has been information, much of it is on digital platforms, which leaves out millions of people, including those who are most at risk. A massive decentralised campaign in the media, but also on the ground, mobilising the very same people and organisations that will organise the vaccine rollout, needs to start now.

Fixing the health system and rooting out corruption and incompetence

This week Maverick Citizen raised the alarm about the near collapse of the public health system in the Eastern Cape. We appealed to the Minister of Health to intervene. Our health system is now in ICU. This threatens our ability to vaccinate and treat not only Covid-19 but also other epidemics of HIV, TB and noncommunicable diseases. There is an urgent need for a fully funded plan to fix the health system. This also means acting against corruption and incompetence that violates constitutional rights, including dignity, life and access to healthcare services.

Transparent negotiations with pharmaceutical companies

So far, we believe, the Vaccine MAC has recommended three vaccines for use in SA: they are Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Pfizer and Moderna. Moderna is a highly efficacious vaccine but is excessively priced and so is not being considered. It is of great concern that negotiations with AstraZeneca, J&J and Pfizer are taking place in total secrecy. We have learnt that this is on the instruction of the companies, which have imposed far-reaching non-disclosure agreements on our government. This has been their behaviour worldwide. Although it is accepted that not every aspect of a contractual negotiation can take place in public, total secrecy causes distrust and fear; it is open to abuse and corruption. In SA there is a constitutional right of access to information. Multinational pharmaceutical companies cannot be allowed to exploit desperation so as to escape public scrutiny about the terms they are imposing. These private companies have a monopoly over a public good. South Africa is a sovereign constitutional state, founded on human rights, and has power in relation to these companies. Government should be prepared to use it just as civil society demanded in relation to access to antiretroviral medicines for HIV.

African and international solidarity and actively pursuing the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) waiver

SA and India have formally applied for a waiver of certain provisions of the World Trade Organisation TRIPS agreement during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Removing ill-deserved intellectual property barriers could increase the manufacture and supply of Covid-19 vaccines and give governments greater power through the use of compulsory licensing where warranted. So far SA’s proposal has been supported by 100 countries, but is being opposed by the US, the UK and other countries. It is now one year since the start of the hard lockdown. Perhaps the greatest difference as we enter the second year is that we now have pharmaceutical interventions that can help us fight the pandemic.

This is not a reason to dispense with masks, sanitisers or physical distancing. But it is a means to save lives, limit the damage to our economy and restore hope. Urgency, transparency and accountability must start now.

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Links to more recent articles

https://www.pressenza.com/2021/03/why-the-u-s-and-its-allies-are-stupid-to-turn-covid-19-vaccination-into-a-geopolitical-power-play/

https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/02/24/vaccine-geopolitics-could-derail-africa-s-post-pandemic-recovery-pub-83928

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/21/world/vaccine-patents-us-eu.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/20/covid-vaccine-global-shortages/

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/03/12/nobel-economists-suspend-vaccine-patents-halt-pandemic

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/10/dont-let-intellectual-property-rights-get-way-global-vaccination/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/coronavirus-vaccine-distribution-global-disparity

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see http://www.africafocus.org,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit bookshop.org, which supports independent bookstores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.

Sahel: Questioning Counterterrorism?
worker | March 25, 2021 | 7:57 pm | Africa | Comments closed

Sahel: Questioning Counterterrorism?

AfricaFocus Bulletin
March 22, 2021 (2021-03-22)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“In the context of complex and protracted conflicts, it is time to rethink the role of the international community and acknowledge its limits. Today, success depends first and foremost on the willingness (much more than on the capacity) of corrupt leaders to reform and renew their social contract with citizens, especially in rural areas. International efforts will fail as long as impunity prevails and local armies can kill civilians and topple governments without consequence.” – Chatham House Research Paper

The critique is not new (see, for example, earlier reports in Africafocus in 2017, 2009, and 2007). What is new is that the critique now seems to be the consensus in elite Western policy circles, as reflected in the report cited and excerpted below from Chatham House in London and two very similar analyses from CSIS in Washington and the International Crisis Group in Brussels.

All seem to agree that Western counterterrorism policy in the Sahel has been both over-militarized and ineffective. All suggest, in slightly varying language, that policy must be “rebalanced” or “rethought” to emphasize governance and diplomacy, including “talking with terrorists.” The emphasis on governance as well as military action has long been part of the rhetoric of the international community and of the powers most engaged in the region. But the tone is now clearly different and the recognition of the failures to date is widespread.

Unfortunately, it seems likely that the policy in practice is still unlikely to follow the rhetoric, as the institutions invested in military solutions have far more influence due to their bureaucratic weight and untested assumptions such as that military success must come first. Attention to the realities of national governments and local communities is sporadic and inconsistent in contrast to globally reinforced counterterrorism dogma. And there are strong incentives for policy makers to resist the realization that their military action is not only ineffective but in fact often accelerates violence.

This is now painfully being illustrated across the continent, as the United States and other Western powers are moving to provide new military support for Mozambican government forces in Northern Mozambique fighting against a brutal Islamist insurgency there. This comes against the advice of virtually all knowledgeable about the conflict (see new reports last week in the New York Times and in the well-informed newsletter on Mozambique edited and published by Joseph Hanlon).

In addition to excerpts from the Chatham House report on the Sahel, this AfricaFocus Bulletin contains brief excerpts from three new reports on U.S. counterterrorism interventions in the Sahel and elsewhere in Africa, as well as excerpts from a report from the New Humanitarian on new secret negotiations with jihadist insurgents in Burkina Faso.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and security, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-peace.php

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AfricaFocus Bulletin is a strategic partner of the new US-Africa Bridge Building Project, and will periodically be including excerpts and short links related to that project.

Introducing Tax Justice Network Africa

Interview with Farah Nguegan, Manager, Communications, Campaigns and Outreach

March 2021

The Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA), founded in 2007, has been one of the most active and successful of the regional federations working to stop tax evasion and illicit financial flows. Since 2015, the Mbeki report from the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the civil society Stop the Bleeding Africa campaign brought much wider recognition of the fundamental importance of tax justice to solving the critical problems both of Africa and of a grossly unequal world. Yet Covid-19 has made it clear that inequality is still being deepened, while a global elite continues to control a larger and larger share of the world’s wealth.

We asked Farah Nguegan of TJNA to answer a few questions. Click here to read the interview. — Imani Countess

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U.S. Counterterrorism Operations in Africa

Nick Turse, “Stunning Classified Memo Details How U.S. Commandos Are Getting Beaten By Terrorists in Africa,” Vice, March 18, 2021

Full article at https://www.vice.com/en/article/4adzpb/secret-plans-detail-failures-of-us-commandos-in-africa

Excerpt: Special Operations Command Africa “is responsible for countering the VEO threats in Africa,” reads a formerly secret set of plans obtained by VICE World News. This “foundational document” laying out SOCAFRICA’s “campaign activities” over the years 2019 to 2023, not slated to be declassified until May 2043, details how the command intends to “achieve its mission of degrading, disrupting, and monitoring violent extremist organizations over the next five years.”

But halfway through their campaign, America’s commandos are already failing, according to a recent Pentagon report. That analysis, authored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department research institution, paints a troubling portrait of the security situation on the continent, showing a 43 percent spike in militant Islamist activity and sharp increases in violence in 2020 as part of a steady and uninterrupted rise over the last decade.

Nani Detti, “Assessing counterterrorism operations in the Sahel,” Center for International Policy, US-Africa Policy Monitor, February 23, 2021

Full article at:https://mailchi.mp/debbf09e76a5/the-continent-us-africa-policy-monitor-23-february-13356971?e=ab1b4c604e

Excerpt: For the last two decades, the U.S. has provided nearly $1.4 billion in security assistance to the G5 Sahel, and in the past few years, France has spent 600 million euros annually to sustain its military operations in the region. But despite their costly military expenditures, neither the U.S. nor France have been successful in stopping the increase in extremist violence in the region. The time is long past due for both France and the U.S. to reassess their militarized foreign policy in the Sahel and initiate a different approach.

“Why the US’s counterterrorism strategy in the Sahel keeps failing,” by Frank Andrews

Mail & Guardian, 16 Feb 2021

Full article at: https://mg.co.za/africa/2021-02-16-why-the-uss-counterterrorism-strategy-in-the-sahel-keeps-failing/

Excerpt: In mid-2011, Matthew Page and his team at the United States Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) began to suspect something was awry in Mali.

As the DIA’s senior analyst for West Africa, Page had access to highly-classified signals intelligence from the National Security Agency and reports from the department of defence (DOD) and CIA. Together, they told a troubling story: one of corruption and discontent in the Malian military, a long-term beneficiary of US training and weapons that had recently sustained brutal losses to armed groups in the northern deserts.

But Page, now an associate fellow with the Africa programme at Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London, felt the diplomatic cables coming out of the US embassy in the capital, Bamako, were painting a far rosier picture.

“We were pretty sceptical of how all this training and engagement had magically transformed the Malian military into a much more professional fighting force,” he said.

So, at their huddle of desks in the DIA headquarters in Washington DC, Page and his colleagues wrote several reports on the fragilities in Mali’s military.

“This narrative was really not welcomed by the ambassador at the time,” said Page, referring to then-US ambassador to Mali, Gillian Milovanovic, who “really savaged the assessment we made”.

She declined to answer questions about her recollection of this exchange.

Analysts sometimes get pushback from ambassadors, said Page, who spent more than a decade in government as an intelligence analyst covering West Africa and Nigeria.

Page’s concerns proved to be well-founded. In March 2012, Amadou Sanogo, a Malian captain who had trained in the US, overthrew Mali’s democratically-elected government. It was a disaster for the US, who for a decade had pumped tens of millions of dollars in counterterror training and weapons into Mali.

“Nine months after [the embassy] received our note,” said Page, “the elite unit had killed the other half of the elite unit we had trained and buried them in shallow graves.”

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Rethinking the Response to Jihadist Groups Across the Sahel

The solution to insurgency in the Western Sahel lies in human security and better governance, not military action

Chatham House Research Paper

2 March 2021

https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/03/rethinking-response-jihadist-groups-across-sahel

Dr Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos

Senior Researcher, Institut de recherche pour le développement

The dominant narrative of a global jihadi threat has overshadowed the key role played by military nepotism, prevarication and indiscipline in generating and perpetuating conflict in countries of the Western Sahel. This narrative has pushed the international community to intervene to regulate local conflicts that have little to do with global terrorism or religious indoctrination.

Mali offers a clear example of how structural failings that long predate the ‘war on terror’ – evident in poor governance and weak state security mechanisms – have been the main driver of the growth of insurgent groups over the past decade. By contrast, the recent experience of Niger, which shares many of the structural and historical challenges faced by Mali, demonstrates that progress is possible where deliberate steps are taken to achieve more inclusive governance.

External actors – national and multilateral – see engagement in the Sahel as critical, but a primary focus on insurgent groups as terrorists limits the policy options available to them to help promote regional stability and limit human suffering.

Reframing responses away from ‘hard’ counterterrorism towards a more holistic view of human security, and an emphasis on tackling underlying challenges of governance, impunity and development, may offer a more durable route to peace and stability in the Sahel.

Summary

Rather than the ideology of global jihad, the driving force behind the emergence and resilience of non-state armed groups in the Sahel is a combination of weak states, corruption and the brutal repression of dissent, embodied in dysfunctional military forces.

The dominant narrative of a global jihadi threat has overshadowed the reality of the key role played by military nepotism, prevarication and indiscipline in generating and continuing conflict in the Sahel – problems that long predated the ‘war on terror’. Moreover, it has pushed the international community to intervene to regulate local conflicts that have little to do with global terrorism or religious indoctrination.

Mali offers a clear example of this. The widespread use of poorly controlled militias, the collapse of its army, two coups – in 2012 and 2020 – and a weak state presence in rural areas, on top of a history of repression and abuse suffered by its northern population, has done much more to drive the growth of insurgent groups than did the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011, Salafist indoctrination, or alleged support from Arab countries.

It is time to rethink the role of the international community and acknowledge its limits in this context. Today, success depends first and foremost on the goodwill (much more than on the capacity) of political leaders to reform and renew their social contract with citizens, especially in rural areas. International efforts that seek to support military action against armed groups will fail as long as impunity prevails and local armies can kill civilians and topple governments without consequence.

The recent experience of Niger might not offer a model that can be replicated in its entirety in Mali, or elsewhere in the Sahel, but it demonstrates that there are possibilities for improvement. Though by no means perfect, Niger’s democratic experience shows that it is possible for states in the region to overcome the legacy of their bloody and divided past.

01 Introduction

Structural problems that long predate the ‘war on terror’ underline that poor governance and the weakness of state security mechanisms lie at the root of violence in the Sahel.

The liberation war of Mali is over. It has been won. The intervention of the French military has helped this country to recover its sovereignty, restore its democratic institutions, organize elections, and foster national unity. – Jean-Yves Le Drian, 2014 [French Defense Minister at the time]

Rather than the ideology of global jihad, the driving force behind the emergence and resilience of non-state armed groups in the Sahel is a combination of weak states, corruption and the brutal repression of dissent, embodied in dysfunctional military forces. These are structural problems that long predate the ‘war on terror’, and they serve to underline that bad governance and the weakness of state security structures, including police and justice, lie at the root of violence in the region.

Mali offers a clear example in this regard. The collapse of its army, two coups – in 2012 and 2020 – and a weak state presence in rural areas, on top of a history of repression and abuse suffered by its northern population, have done much more to drive the growth of jihadist groups than did the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in 2011 or the rise of so-called ‘radical Islam’, the power of Salafist indoctrination and alleged support from Arab countries. By contrast, the relative resilience in recent years of Niger, a country that shares many of the structural and historical challenges faced by Mali, demonstrates that progress is possible if more inclusive governance can be built.

In such a context, international responses that seek to support military action against armed groups without tackling deeper challenges of governance, especially in the domain of police, defence and justice affairs, are very unlikely to succeed. The dominant narrative of counterterrorism and religious extremism obscures underlying political grievances and dysfunctionality, and the widespread use of poorly controlled state-aligned militias to tackle insurrection – in the absence of effective state military capacity – has only served to fuel violence and worsen intercommunity tensions.3

Figure 1. Jihadist group presence in the Western Sahel

Source: Map extract by the author and Eric Opigez, IRD-CEPED, based on map published in Pérouse de Montclos, M.-A. (2018), L’Afrique, nouvelle frontière du djihad? Paris, La Découverte, pp. 20–21; translations for this extract by Chatham House staff.

Note: The boundaries and names shown and designations used on the map do not imply endorsement or acceptance by the author or Chatham House.

It has also resulted in the pursuit of ineffective and often counterproductive policy by international actors, which risks building resentment among Sahelian governments and citizens alike, and which over time may undermine the political will to maintain costly military cooperation at all. Undoubtedly, insurgencies in the region are a pressing issue. The ‘terrorist’ threat is the main driver of foreign support in the Sahel. Yet it might not be as global a threat as it is perceived to be, and its existence does not justify why other unstable African countries receive less attention. Moreover, international support always risks providing a security net that deters the military and the ruling class from reforming governance. In Mali, for instance, strong international support did not prevent a coup in 2020 or the expansion of so-called jihadi groups since 2013. Reframing policy away from hard-edged counterterrorism towards a more inclusive view of human security, and an emphasis on tackling the underlying challenges of governance, impunity and development, may offer a route out of the acute policy dilemma faced by those seeking peace in the Sahel.

07 Conclusion: the end of military cooperation?

In the context of complex and protracted conflicts, it is time to rethink the role of the international community and acknowledge its limits. Today, success depends first and foremost on the willingness (much more than on the capacity) of corrupt leaders to reform and renew their social contract with citizens, especially in rural areas. International efforts will fail as long as impunity prevails and local armies can kill civilians and topple governments without consequence. Prospects for peace in the Sahel should not exclude any option in this regard, from negotiating with jihadists to ‘naming and shaming’ those responsible for abuses perpetrated by national armies or their proxies, strengthening aid conditionality, or even considering the possibility of disengagement.

A change in international community policy in the Sahel is inevitable. France’s intervention in the Sahel has become increasingly difficult due to resentment that has built up against the former colonial power, particularly in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso with strong anti-imperialist sentiment dating back to the Cold War era. Over time, French troops who were initially seen as liberators have begun to be perceived as an occupying force, amid suspicions that France is trying to gain control of resources and markets: this view is echoed by some external observers. In 2013 the French government even blocked the Malian authorities from sending troops to Kidal – to avoid the risk of Malian soldiers massacring civilians in revenge for the killings of Malian soldiers there – by withholding the technical support, security and transport that the Malian military needed in order to carry out its planned operation. This act of obstruction was subsequently publicly denounced by President Keïta in an interview with the daily newspaper Le Monde.

Not only does this damage the all-important goodwill that will be necessary for meaningful reform. There is an additional risk that continued setbacks will undermine political support within France for continuing these international efforts. Operation Barkhane, in particular, seems to have reached a peak in terms of public support in France, given the difficulties experienced by the French army in terms of recruitment, logistics and renewal of equipment. More than 50 soldiers have been killed while deployed to the operation since 2013, and some members of the French parliament have challenged its continuation. Addressing the deep-rooted governance and development challenges that drive violence in the Sahel, and the replacement of a counterterrorism imperative with counter-insurgency approaches that focus on human security, and recognize the importance of winning hearts and minds, may be long overdue.

There are signs that some in the international community are beginning to recognize these imperatives. In a report published in 2015, for instance, members of the French parliament highlighted the contradiction of spending €1 billion a year on Operation Barkhane while cutting development budgets without tackling the root causes of the crisis. Some senators went even further in recognizing that ‘justice and the fight against impunity’ were probably ‘the first demand of the people, before education or economic prosperity’.

Niger might not offer a model that can be replicated in its entirety in Mali, or elsewhere in the Sahel, but it demonstrates that there are possibilities for improvement. Not least through a high voter turnout, the most recent presidential election, which took place over two rounds in December 2020 and February 2021, has so far confirmed the democratic foundations of the country. Though by no means perfect, the experience of Niger shows that it is possible for states in the Sahel to overcome the legacy of a violent and divided past. Sahelian governments and their external partners alike need to learn the lessons of history, both recent and of earlier decades, in order to avoid a repetition of past mistakes.

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Burkina Faso’s secret peace talks and fragile jihadist ceasefire

‘For us not to return to the jihadists, we expect the government to help us and stop killing us.’

Sam Mednick, Freelance journalist covering Africa

New Humanitarian Exclusive, March 11, 2021

https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2021/3/11/Burkina-Faso-secret-peace-talks-and-jihadist-ceasefire

Djibo, Burkina Faso

In early October, Abu Sharawi got a call from his commander to lay down his gun. He had been fighting for more than three years with a jihadist group in Burkina Faso’s northern Sahel region but was told an agreement had been reached with the government to stop the attacks, which have killed thousands of people and driven more than one million from their homes.

“[They said] ‘We decided to stop fighting. It’s time to sit and discuss. Many people have died, and animals and resources were lost. Using guns will not solve the problems’,” recalled 28-year-old Sharawi.

Three men sit on the ground under a shelter, looking up at the camera. The community in Djibo say they are caught in the middle between the security forces, volunteer fighters, and the jihadists. (Sam Mednick/TNH)

Seated in a restaurant in the capital, Ouagadougou, the now-former jihadist said he was instructed to spread word of the ceasefire to fellow fighters in his al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and return home. The New Humanitarian is using Sharawi’s jihadist name to protect his identity in case of government retaliation.

The government of Burkina Faso is publicly opposed to negotiating with “terrorists”, yet a months-long investigation by TNH reveals a series of secret meetings between a handful of high-level officials and jihadists, beginning before November’s presidential elections.

That has resulted in a makeshift ceasefire in parts of the conflict- hit West African nation with some of the extremist groups under the JNIM umbrella, according to diplomats, analysts, jihadists, and aid workers familiar with the discussions.

What remains unknown is what the overall goal of those negotiations are, whether they extend beyond a ceasefire, and whether the dialogue includes the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (ISGS) – the other major transnational extremist group operating in Burkina Faso.

The dialogue has nevertheless coincided with a sharp drop in fighting.

Since 2016, jihadist-linked violence has been roiling Burkina Faso, getting worse by the year. But according to research by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) – made available to TNH – there were nearly five times fewer clashes between jihadists and security forces from November 2020 to January 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier.

Secret talks

In the months leading up to the November 2020 general elections, several rounds of truce talks are believed to have been held in the heart of JNIM’s area of violence, near Djibo town in Soum province. They have been so secretive that even community leaders – normally consulted on such issues – say they’ve been left in the dark.

TNH visited Djibo in February, becoming some of the first journalists to do so in years, as the town is off limits due to the security situation. Local residents said the jihadists, who used to come to the market to kill people, were now coming to trade cattle and buy motorbikes. Government officials and the police, who had fled the town, were also beginning to return.

Since the beginning of October, locals say at least 50 unarmed jihadists have been coming regularly into Djibo from surrounding villages, or from camps in the bush. TNH spoke to two of them, and both said they were ready for peace, as long as the army stopped killing civilians – especially young Fulani men.

Soum province is a predominantly Fulani region. It’s a community JNIM has allegedly drawn the bulk of its recruits from, with the promise of a more equitable society and protection from both the security forces and volunteer groups armed by the government who have targeted Fulani men.

“For us not to return to the jihadists, we expect the government to help us and stop killing us,” said Mohamed Taoufiq, a 27-year-old fighter who told TNH he joined JNIM in late 2018 in revenge for the army’s killing of civilians. Again, TNH is using only his jihadist name to protect his identity.

What remains unclear is why the militants – whose leaders say they are fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state across West Africa – have agreed to the government’s ceasefire offer, and how long-term that peace can be.

Militarily, JNIM has been a particular focus of French-led Operation Barkhane, a counter-insurgency mission aimed at uprooting jihadist fighters across the Sahel. The al-Qaeda-linked group has reportedly sustained significant losses, and there is speculation they may need to reorganise, an analyst – who asked not to be named – told TNH.

Changing positions

News of the fragile ceasefire and peace talks with the jihadists in Burkina Faso does not come entirely out of the blue.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has repeatedly stressed the need for national reconciliation. In January, Prime Minister Christophe Dabiré signalled for the first time he might be open to talks, saying that for the five years of ever-worsening violence to end, the government might have to “engage in discussions with these people”.

Although government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura told TNH no negotiations were underway, he said the government was encouraging religious and community leaders to reach out to jihadist recruits in their areas to urge them to lay down their weapons and help rebuild the country.

Community leaders, though, say they have received no guidance on how to handle any potential local peace agreements – or on the reconciliation and reintegration of defecting fighters. “We haven’t received any information from anyone,” Boukari Belko, the chief of Djibo, told TNH. “We are so confused.”

Until the government gives them the official “go ahead”, residents in the town and nearby villages said they were too afraid to speak with the jihadists – even though many of them are local and known to them. They are worried the army might still accuse them of having links to the extremists, and arrest them.

Human rights groups are also concerned that without a coordinated response from the authorities on how to deal with returning jihadists – and a clear strategy for their reintegration – the frustrated expectations of ex-combatants could reignite large-scale violence.

“Even though there are negotiations today and people are coming back, if they have nothing to do, they’ll return [to the fight],” said Mamoud Diallo, executive secretary for Tabital Pulaaku, an international Fulani rights group.

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