Tagged: Africa

Nepad in Nairobi 2016 gives hope for African Renaissance 2.0

NEPAD together with Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) are hosting a continental get-together. With the backing of Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and heads of the AU via the continents very own NEPAD agency, the African Union is finally  producing a “brilliant blue-print for African development in conjunction with Japan.

Since I am barely, what one could even consider a Japanophile, and thus only speak a smattering of Nihonji, and read absolutely no Kanji, lest I end up rewriting history, I  will instead post an official message below from Abe, addressing our “African Dream” ,  TICAD IV, (and thus NEPAD, and AU) to be held in Nairobi, later this month.


THE TICAD VI in Nairobi will have historical significance, as it will be the first-ever TICAD to be held on the African soil. TICAD, the most traditional forum with African countries, was launched after the end of the Cold War under the initiative of the government of Japan to promote development in Africa.

TICAD is a process in which Africa draws up a brilliant blueprint for its own development. The African Continent is the biggest frontier of the 21st Century. Having the highest economic growth rate among the major regions of the world, it needs the vitality of the private sector first and foremost to develop even further. Under the principle of “From Aid to Trade and from Debt to Investment,” the Japanese private and public sectors will support the development of Africa, led by Africans themselves.

Currently the “African Dream” is being crystallized in the form of Agenda 2063″. To realise this dream, Japan will contribute to two of the key pillars of the Agenda in particular, which will be addressed in depth at TICAD V1.

First, development of quality infrastructure is imperative. Infrastructure is essential for growth and therefore, it is necessary to have high quality and longevity of infrastructure. Japan will provide the African continent with quality infrastructure according to the needs of each country.

At the same time, Japan will work on establishing healthcare systems to protect people’s lives. Japan played a central role in incorporating the realisation of universal health coverage (UHC) into the SDGs, which was one of the main agenda items at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in July this year. Japan will promote the realisation of UHC in Africa as well.

TICAD is an opportunity for Africa to present its own “African Dream” and work hand-in-hand with Japan to realise it. I sincerely look forward to meeting you in Nairobi on August 27 and 28 to discuss what Africa aims to become in 20 to 30 years from now.

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Links

Harm reduction, here we go

9558702IT’S BEEN 15 years since I started advocating harm reduction. In the face of strong opposition, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has made one of the most progressive statements heard on drug policy, at the plenary session of the ’59th Commission on Narcotic Drugs’.

This follows her statement in a side event: ‘Promoting health, human rights and development through a harm reduction approach’. The plenary statement, made on behalf of the African Union, clearly calls for a human rights approach, embraces harm reduction and fully supports drug user networks as well as appropriate service in police stations, hospital and clinics.

The statement issued by the Deputy Minister states: “In accordance with its Plan of Action on Drug Control, which is due for review next year, the African Union emphasises evidence-based responses to drug control to its Member States in order to curb the health and social consequences that drugs cause. Respect for human rights in dealing with the issue of drugs, has been the departure point for the Ministers in Charge of Drug Control as well.”

“For that reason, drug control is clustered alongside health and population matters in the AU Specialised Technical Committee, which also resonates with the African Union’s theme for this year, namely: 2016 the Year of Human Rights with particular reference to the rights of women.”

An AU action plan appears to have been tabled which if adopted requests member states to have available, “Comprehensive, accessible, evidence-informed, ethical and human rights based drug use prevention, dependence treatment and after-care services”.

The statement could precede decriminalisation of medical marijuana and recreational cannabis use in South Africa, which under harm reduction policies would be seen as a public health issue rather than a target for the justice system.

SEE: Greenlight Districts solution to dagga prohibition? 

Cyril Ramaphosa’s Pink Problem in Iran

Cyril Ramaphosa

Pink Rand not important for Cyril

FOR A DEPUTY-PRESIDENT who likes to claim responsibility for drafting a Secular Constitution and Bill of Rights that includes Gay Rights and other freedoms associated with the LGBT community, a visit to Iran must present a number of awkward problems. Chief of which is the Iranian Penal Code.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Iran face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal. “Homosexuality is a crime punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, or by execution. The punishment for lesbianism (mosahegheh) involving persons who are mature, of sound mind, and consenting, is 50 lashes. If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion” — Iranian Penal Code.

On January 23, 2008, Hamzeh Chavi, 18, and Loghman Hamzehpour, 19, were arrested in Sardasht, in Iranian Azerbaijan for homosexuality. An on-line petition for their release began to circulate around the internet. “They apparently confessed to the authorities that they were in a relationship and in love, prompting a court to charge them with Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) and Lavat (sodomy).” 

At least 146 cases of executions of individuals charged with a “homosexual act” have been documented since 1979A leading Iranian actor was forced to apologise earlier this year, after coming under pressure over a tweet he posted in support of an historic US supreme court ruling on gay marriage.

Bahram Radan, who is known as the ‘Iranian Brad Pitt’, created controversy in the country “when his tweet hailed a verdict, which made same-sex marriage a legal right across the entirety of the USA.” Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since the Civil Union Act came into force on 30 November 2006. This year’s US ruling thus arrived nearly a decade late.

Iranian High Council for Human Rights Secretary-General Mohammad Javad Larijani has slammed homosexuality as a disease. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously said “there were no homosexuals” in Iran in response to a question from a student.

Ramaphosa’s visit comes as secularism remains under threat in his home country, South Africa. If it isn’t the ANC’s Mathole Motshekga disputing the entire scientific theory of evolution, and implicitly endorsing the “super-natural, “creationist” view of our origins”, then it is Halton Cheadle, attacking Progressive Jews for not conforming to the Orthodox version of the Talmud.

Several tracts issued by alliance partners have put paid to the notion that the ANC is on a secular path. The party recently hosted Hamas leader Khalid Misha’al — the leader of an organisation that is involved in an armed struggle to reclaim Jerusalem and the Levant on behalf of an Islamic State.

On June 6 1995, South Africa abolished the death penalty. Capital punishment was rejected by the late Nelson Mandela’s government, as a “cruel and unusual form of punishment”. The twenty-year anniversary of the first constituent assembly which drafted the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of sexual orientation, will be next year.

The party has no plans to celebrate. The Zuma administration considers the Bill of Rights, an embarrassment, since the foundation document accords artists freedom of expression. Ramaphosa’s visit could therefore signal the return of apartheid-era prohibitions. The end of the ruling party’s experiment in personal freedom. A number of left-wing parties, including the EFF are campaigning for the end of individual rights in South Africa.

[Published in Cape Times, Op-ed 10 November 2015]

Fix the economy stupid and provide free education (part 3)

EXACTLY how is the country to going pay for free education? This is the question foremost on people’s minds, as the country sobers up to the events of the past weeks, which saw the unprecedented storming of parliament and storming of the Union Buildings.

Surprisingly, South Africa, ( as previously alluded to in part 2), already has a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ with a massive R1.5 trillion rand invested, and certainly the youth need to be tackling finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and education minister, Blade Nzimande on why they are suffering in the face of so much wealth.

Instead of a Public Investment Corporation (PIC), benefiting one privileged generation who just happened to be in power during the 90s, let’s make the public investment more inclusive of all citizens, and all generations, and let’s call the PIC what it deserves, by the term Publica, since the ruling party appears to have lost the distinction between what is public and what is private —  funding Nkandla, and government pensions for party insiders. Publica should rather be redirected to funding a social wage for all citizens, one which includes education, health insurance and childcare grants. Instead of a party wage, we could have a social wage reducing the worst affects of poverty and mitigating the coercion inherent to the job market, even one that is Internet-enabled, while providing free education.

Publica, unfortunately, like so many self-aggrandising programmes run by the ANC, appears to have evolved and deformed into a strange facet resembling one of the pillars of the previous regime, the apartheid equivalent of cadre deployment.

The Independent Development Corporation (IDC), cooked up by apartheid cronies Anton Rupert, Chris Stals, Nico Diederichs and Owen Horward, was really nothing more than an efficient scheme to create bantustans. Escaping international sanctions by moving state capital into Swiss offshore bank accounts for the exclusive benefit of the politically-connected. In reality, a state-within-a-state, a fund that was part-and-parcel of the covert government which created apartheid and the oligarchs, technocrats and apparatchiks, that existed, hand-in-glove with the state’s volkscapitalisme.

The missing apartheid millions are all documented by news journalist Sylvia Vollenhoven, but her documentary ‘The Spear’ was banned by the SABC, as no doubt any similar investigation of the fiscus under Zuma would also be.

An investigation of the corporation we may now call Publica, i.e the massive state corporation created out of public funds drawn from the public purse over the past two decades, would undoubtedly uncover a lot more than the Nkandla millions. These funds need to be returned to the people.

The youth of today, deserve free education, and they deserve connectivity, to be online. But in saying this, we want a youth who are able to grasp the many opportunities that exist, at the same time as they are cushioned from the worst forms of economic exploitation, inequality and poverty. This can only come about through a social wage that includes free education.

Part Four examines what South Africa would look like with a social wage

Fix the economy stupid and provide free education (part 1)

IN 1994, the ruling party charted an economic course born out of the Interim Constitution and the Codesa negotiation process. Essentially, it involved embracing a ‘mixed economy’ approach, in which a market economy would exist side-by-side with a “dirigiste” economy, that had, as its antecedent, the ‘volkscapitalisme’ of the former National Party.

Thus the country’s industrial base was given new life, with local conglomerates such as South African Breweries emerging into global entities. The once fiercely nationalistic beer cartel, is now a thriving international business called SAB-Miller, which, as it turns out, is in the process of merging with another beer giant, AB inBev. A testimony to South African can-do attitude and the country’s ability to embrace internationalism.*

State industries such as SASOL and ISCOR were privatised, while others like Telkom, Eskom, and Transnet remained in government hands.

SASOL went on to repeat the success of SAB, while ISCOR under Mittel, faired a lot differently.

The ruling party thus presided over a long boom, which lasted approximately 15 years, coming to an abrupt end in 2009. The economy has been running in fits and starts ever since, and it is not simply because the global party of low-interest rates and easy finance has come to an end.

Arguably, more South Africans were pulled out of poverty under the administrations of Mandela and Mbeki, than under several decades of National Party rule, but under Jacob Zuma, the economy has been on the skids.

Now with talk about another credit ratings downgrade, jitters over the Rand, and looming threat of junk status for the nation’s debt, the question needs to be asked: What exactly went wrong?

For starters, the “dirigiste” economy took on a tragic life of its own.

Not only did we witness a massive expansion in state enterprises, but with the exception of Transnet, state enterprises today, operate under the illusion that annual bail-outs from central government are sustainable, that a de facto command economy, is the norm.

The effect on the nation’s fiscus has been dramatic. The public service wage bill under Zuma, (R61Bn and counting), has swelled by 80% and shows no signs of abating.  Coupled with a massive bureaucracy that has produced the largest cabinet and government ministry in the world (64 ministers and 64 deputy ministers), the country has began looking a lot like its former self, under the National Party.

As the slowing down of GDP and growth to 1.4% (2015)**, has shown, growth in the private sector is not enough to accommodate a bulging public sector. Areas of the economy which could have provided benefits, face massive obstacles from central government.

Red-tape and statute inflation (too many laws) has dramatically affected tourism, impacting small-and-medium businesses. The recent opening of the economy to Independent Power Producers, and likewise, the entry of wireless companies into the home fibre and cable market, has come a decade too late, for meaningful economic growth to benefit the class of 2015.

see part two

  • * The SAB part of the equation however, is ironically on the decline, a result of the much diminished Rand.
  • ** With a bit of luck could increase to 2.4% in 2016,  projected by Deloitte.