ISSUE Vol 10 No.2 2007
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• DOHA WAS NEVER ABOUT DEVELOPMENT A A V .10 N .2 • TWN-Africa & OXFAM PUT EU’S POLITICAL WILL TO TEST FRICAN
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Ghana, a contested model ...........................................................................5
Continental unity and social justice are the legacy of Nkrumah .………....9 Nkrumah’s ambition was the full realisation of the dignity of the African, says daughter…......…………….………..…..............……...11
US $20 million indece celebrations budget sparks controversy ................14
Women side-stepped in anniversary celebrations .....................................17
Doha was never about development …………..................................……20
Poor need more than a declaration ………………………...................….21 Beef up budget allocation to achieve MDGs ……...........................…......23
EPAs must be subjected to electoral test …………………...............……25 Oxfam & TWN-Africa put EU’s political will to test ....…...............……26 Serious threat to producers ………….....................………...............……28
Proposed UN women’s agency gains key ally .....………...............……...29 Women stuck at the small-scale level .....………...............….............…...31
Security Council accused of overstepping bound ..…...............…………33
Privatisation violates right to health, say activists .....……...............…….35
Remember Benjamin Zephaniah ........................…………..............…….37
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page 12 Photo: Nkrumah and Haile Sellasie - pioneers of African Unity
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Editor-in-Chief: Yao Graham Editor: Cornelius Adedze Assistant Editor: Kwesi W. Obeng Circulation: Joyce Ofori-Kwafo Design: David Roy Quashie Printing: Royal Crown Press Ltd, Accra - Ghana Tel: +233 51 506404, 504041, 0244 360686, 0277 404447 E-mail: email@example.com EDITORIAL, SUBSCRIPTIONS AND ADVERTISING: TWN-Africa P.O. Box 19452 Accra-North Ghana, West Africa Tel: (233) 21 511189/503669/500419 Fax: (233) 21 511188 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.twnafrica.org TWN INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT President: Mohammed Iddris Director: Martin Khor 121-S Jalan Utama 10450 Penang Malaysia
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Ghana in African history
he turn out for the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence was a truly pan-African affair. There were official delegations from about 30 African countries. The proximity of the 6th March date to the 200th anniversary of the British abolition of their transatlantic Slave Trade helped swell the numbers of Africans from all over who came to Ghana around the time. Alongside those who came to celebrate Ghana’s place in history were many who proclaim today’s Ghana as a model for the rest of the African continent. These included the disgraced warmonger Paul Wolfowitz, at the time President of the World Bank and British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. There was no mistaking the mood of national celebration among ordinary Ghanaians during the period around March 6th, comparable only to the excitement generated by the Black Stars qualifying for the second round of the last FIFA World Cup. Ghanaians had a lot to celebrate. The country has enjoyed a generation of political stability and economic growth after the 15 years of decline that followed Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966. Despite the persistence of authoritarian reflexes in state culture the political system is fairly open; fifteen years after the start of the 4th Republic the country has seen an alternation of power among parties and the media is not repressed. The anniversary however was not only about the present but also about that historic moment 50 years ago. The majority of the non-Ghanaian African visitors came to connect with the golden jubilee of an event that had so influenced their own struggles and the memory of a man, Kwame Nkrumah, who has had such a profound impact on black history. Sadly, just like a substantial section of the Ghanaian population, they found the official celebrations to be acutely lacking in a sense of history. The protests of Ghanaian women’s groups about the macho bias of what little historical thread that was in the official programme was just one of many such expressions. Some of the visitors from the Caribbean and the USA voiced their disappointment. The anaemic sense of history in the official programme was more design than accident. This was highlighted by President Kufuor’s scandalous failure, during his anniversary speech, to acknowledge the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Nkrumah’s party, as the organisation that led Ghana to independence. It is one of those ironies of history that the 50th anniversary celebrations took place under 4
the rule of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) the prime identity of whose lineage is the negative of being the ‘other’ to the CPP. This political tradition has clung onto a partially fictionalised version of anti-colonial history that has failed to see that Ghana’s independence was substantially more than the CPP defeating their domestic political opponents and was an achievement of profound global import which Africans all over the world see as theirs. The blinkered perspective led to the bathos of the NPP seeing the 50th anniversary as a chance to settle scores by diminishing Nkrumah and the CPP rather than as a moment in world and African history to be truthfully celebrated. The concerted effort to diminish Nkrumah, as well as what was played up by the official programme underlined some of the flaws in the African model that Ghana is today, as did some of the issues that provoked public outrage. What Bush, Wolfowitz, Blair and the Queen toast about today’s Ghana contrast sharply with why Africans idolise Nkrumah. The Ghana that Bush and Blair hold forth for Africa is a symbol of the continent’s aid dependence and lapse back into the primary export and imported consumer goods economy. This contrasts with the early post colonial years when Nkrumah and co were concerned with economic transformation and independence. The current extent of Ghana’s import dependence has produced a nationalist backlash that cuts across very broad sectors. That the government chose to order the official anniversary textile from China illustrated the current state of things and provoked considerable outrage. The outrage was not simply about production and income lost to the Ghanaian economy but was also from a feeling that corruption may have been a factor in the decision to import. Just like in most African countries the government in Ghana is perceived by a substantial section of the public as corrupt. The same suspicion of corrupt benefit coloured public criticism of how $20m voted by the government for the celebrations was spent. Quite a number of people felt this was wasted money for a country that has been in the throes of an energy crisis since August 2006, and in which there is an extensive lack of social infrastructure such as potable water, roads and schools. Many citizens were particularly angered by the proportion of the money used to buy luxury cars (Mercedes, Chrysler, Jaguar and BMWs) to ferry VIPs for the celebrations (See page 14). AFRICAN AGENDA
Ghana’s democracy offers many strong points for the rest of Africa. Kufuor’s choice of a guest of honour for the anniversary, Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had tried to extend his rule and was embroiled in a very public spat with his estranged Vice as to which of them was more corrupt hardly counts as a celebration of African excellence. The invitation was widely seen as an act of gratitude for the support that made Kufuor’s 2000 electoral victory possible. The questions the invitation raised about where Kufuor stood between cronyism and principle were answered by his reaction to the fraudulent Nigerian elections that Obasanjo presided over soon after Ghana celebrations. Kufuor was quick to offer his support to the successor Obasanjo has imposed on the Nigerian people. While the Ghana government saw the 50th anniversary as a chance to rewrite history the rest of the continent, in a negation of the NPP’s negation of history, has situated the regime in the frame of historical continuity and treated Kufuor as Nkrumah’s heir, thereby puffing up his place in African history. South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki explicitly referred to Ghana’s 50th anniversary and Nkrumah’s pan-African hero status as a reason for supporting President Kufuor as a compromise chairperson of the African Union (AU) when Sudan was rejected because of the government’s violence against its own people in Darfur. In July Ghana will host the AU at which the main item on the agenda is a grand debate about whether or not and how to speed up the achievement of Nkrumah’s burning drive, African union. President Kufuor’s hosting of the event is laden with many ironies. He has consistently declared Nkrumah’s pan-African vision to be impractical. Furthermore his first taste of government (1969-72) was as deputy foreign minister in a regime that, with parochial Cold War zeal, opposed the wishes of the South African people and the current of African liberation, by seeking friendship with apartheid South Africa. When Kufuor opens the July Summit many gathered will see him under Nkrumah’s halo and he will hear speaker after speaker pay tribute to Nkrumah’s vision and work for African liberation and unity. At the pinnacle of his standing as an African leader Kufuor, despite his desires to the contrary, will be standing in Nkrumah’s shoes and shadow and affirming his pre-eminent place in Ghanaian and African history and thereby symbolising that ‘Nkrumah never dies’.
A contested model L
The 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence has focused attention on the country’s status and role in Africa and the world, writes *Yao Graham.
eaders of states and society from across Africa and the pan-African diaspora turned up in large numbers in Ghana in March to mark the country’s fiftieth independence anniversary. The end of colonial rule in the then Gold Coast was a defining moment with eventual significance well beyond it being the first in sub-Saharan Africa. Kwame Nkrumah, leader of the triumphant Convention People’s Party (CPP), was formed by the anticolonial, anti-racist and panAfrican movement during his years in the USA and Britain. He therefore understood the link between the wider African anticolonial struggle and Ghana’s fortunes and underlined the connection in his speech declaring independence. From 1957 till his overthrow in 1966, in a CIA backed coup, Nkrumah attracted the ire of the West as he placed Ghana in the eye of the anti-imperialist storm and proceeded to whip up the tide of anti-colonial and pan-African struggle across Africa and of Third World nonalignment beyond. At home Nkrumah inherited an economy dominated by smallholder cocoa production and extractive export enclaves of minerals and timber. This confronted him with what became common challenges for all post-colonial Africa. How do you re-structure
Cover period of decline accompanied by political instability (including several coups d’etat). The ups and downs of commodity prices as well as the mismanagement and corruption of the elite combined with the structural limitations of the economy to wreak havoc. Since the mid 1980s a far reaching programme of free market reforms, heavily funded by the IMF and World Bank and bilateral creditors, has delivered steady economic growth. From being a model of attempts at post colonial transformation during the Nkrumah years Ghana today is a model of neo-liberal economic policies.
March 6, 1957, Nkrumah declares independence
an underdeveloped economy, dominated by a small basket of primary mineral or agricultural commodities with unstable prices? How do you transform and raise output in a low productivity small holder based agricultural sector? How do you industrialise a country with a small home market whose foreign trade patterns were heavily locked into those of a few Western economies? How do you generate resources for a steady improvement in the living standards of a people
whose expectations have been greatly fuelled by independence? These questions are as pressing today as they were fifty years ago. In the intervening period Ghana’s economy and politics have run the gamut of the African experience. From the Nkrumah years of state led economic development, with accelerated achievements in the social sectors, import substituting industrialisation and heavy infrastructural investments, the economy went through a long VOL.10 NO.2
The theme for the official celebration of Ghana’s golden independence anniversary is “Championing African Excellence”. If the bland fluffiness of the theme was intended to avoid controversy it has, not surprisingly, failed. What and who in Ghanaian history exemplify “African excellence”? On Ghana’s airwaves and in newspapers the issue has intensified long running debates and disputes and re-opened dormant ones. 5
Evaluation of the first decade of independence and the contribution of the country’s founding leader Kwame Nkrumah have been the primary focus with a secondary dispute about the more recent 18-year rule of Flt Lt. Jerry Rawlings which ended in 2000. Official narratives rarely escape the stamp of those in power and few in the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) have any doubt that the six years of President John Kufuor represent the yardstick against which all else have to be measured. When Kufuor’s term ends in 2008 he would have been the third longest serving Ghanaian leader, after Rawlings and Nkrumah. Among his eight predecessors the eras of the two stand out as the moments of sustained economic policy making, infrastructural development and institution building. Nkrumah was, in the words of Amilcar Cabral, ‘the strategist of genius in the struggle against classic colonialism’. Rawlings’ is the architect of the present phase of Ghanaian history within which Kufuor’s presidency falls. His long rule (1982-2000) restored economic growth and political
stability (while effectively abandoning an objective of structural transformation). Having started off an autocrat Rawlings exited as a twice elected President who handed over power to a bitterly hostile opposition. Nkrumah and Rawlings are however the two Ghanaian leaders that Kufuor and his supporters find most difficult to digest seeing both of them as antithetical to the NPP’s political tradition and beliefs. Many NPP types see Nkrumah and Rawlings as upstarts who in their time disturbed the natural order of power and rule by the social forces represented by the NPP and its political lineage. Kufuor’s party sees itself as the successor to the elite alliance of traditional chiefs, merchants and lawyers who dominated colonial politics and believed in a ‘property owning democracy’, including a constitutional role for traditional rulers. It was they who brought Nkrumah back to the Gold Coast in 1947 to organise the anti-colonial movement around the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) so they could succeed the colonialists.
Nkrumah stole their thunder by leading the formation of a breakaway mass party, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) which trounced his erstwhile benefactors and thrust him into power as Ghana’s founding leader.
So deep is the antipathy to the CPP that even with the world’s eyes on him at the 50th anniversary parade President Kufuor engaged in a shameful bit of mis-representation. Not only did he pointedly fail to mention and acknowledge the CPP as spearheading the attainment of independence but gave the credit to the UGCC! Current revisionism insists that Nkrumah’s ‘socialist policies’ retarded economic growth and also blame him for the political violence unleashed by the successors of the UGCC and deny how the violence contributed to the development of the authoritarian political culture of the Nkrumah years. Rawlings is the Janus figure of Ghanaian politics, the bridge from Nkrumah to Kufuor who briefly served as his
Rawlings and former US president Clinton in Accra in March 1998 AFRICAN AGENDA
Minister of Local Government in 1982. A populist autocrat, he harnessed the hopes and trust of the masses to the execution of a project of elite advancement. His popular appeal and aspects of early years – recognition of the need for structural transformation, social equity and antiimperialist foreign policy harkened back to the days of Nkrumah and engendered destabilisation plots in Washington and allied capitals. The elite were alarmed by his message and terrified by the assault on corruption, while his repressive methods cowed rich and poor alike. However by the time he left office in 2000 the liberalised economy was a pin up model for the Bretton Woods institutions and the Ghanaian elite were enjoying their best economic period since independence within an economic strategy which offered a leading role to foreign capital, public and private. Rawlings’ two convincing electoral victories in 1992 and 1996, the latter over his eventual successor Kufuor, testified to his national appeal. Sadly for Rawlings important sections of the Ghanaian elite refuse to acknowledge his objective role as their best leader since independence. His policies - presiding over the implementation of the harsh economic reforms as well as the restoration of the legitimacy of the State and its institutions have made their present prosperity possible. Those who had financed Ghana’s economic recovery adopted a more pragmatic approach. Both Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth came visiting, to express their gratitude to Rawlings for bringing Ghana back into the orbit of the West. Right till the end of Rawlings’ rule there were elements in his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and wider mass base who never fully accepted the free market policies. This, combined with his unpredictable personality, meant Rawlings remained someone the West appreciated but did not fully trust.
Kufuor and his supporters revel in his status as one of the African rulers regularly held up by the Bush-Blair axis and the G-7 generally as a model of what is good for Africa. They cite his easy access and summoning to the White House and Downing Street as signalling his superior standing compared to Rawlings. For Kufuor, whose presidential style is that of a traditional Ghanaian chief, and many of his supporters the high point of the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations and his presidency was his reception at Buckingham Palace by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. US President George Bush, who has met Kufuor several times, has commended him as “a man of vision and strength and character” who “has done a fantastic job for Ghana”. Kufuor’s ‘fantastic job’ has a number of elements. At a systemic level his succession to Rawlings meant an alternation of power between competing fractions of the elite which strengthened the legitimacy of the constitutional arrangements of the Fourth Republic. In respect of policy, Kufuor has continued and deepened the free market policies initiated by Rawlings while serving as a more predictable political rallying point for the local elite as well as a much more compliant and enthusiastic partner for the West. What gives Bush most satisfaction about Kufuor is the least publicly acknowledged the dramatic expansion of Ghana-US/NATO military and intelligence cooperation since 2001. These developments are driven by the War on Terror and US concern to secure oil supplies from the Gulf of Guinea which are expected to account for 25% of US imports by 2015. The US State Department website describes relations between the two countries as ‘stronger than at any other time in recent memory’. In 2003 most Ghanaians were disgusted when the NPP dominated Parliament approved a Bilateral Non Surrender Agreement with the US in respect of the International Criminal Court on which a Ghanaian sits as vice-
Kufuor visited the British Queen on 50th anniversary
president. The government’s argument was that it was vital to protect military cooperation and $4m of associated aid. There have been regular joint exercises onshore Ghana and on the high seas. In October 2005 for example, more than 1,000 Ghanaian and NATO troops held a joint training exercise in Ghana. The government has denied that the US is building a base in the country but Ghana does serve as a staging point offering some facilities for use by the US military. Ghana hosts a US-European Command funded ‘Exercise Reception Facility’, meant to facilitate troop deployments. When in May 2004 a journalist asked General Joseph Ralston, then Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, why so many senior US military officers were visiting Ghana, he frankly replied: ‘we have a lot of interest. And the basic interest is: security, peace, economic investment and economic development for all of the countries of Africa. Ghana happened to be a center of stability that we wanted to make sure that we could reinforce that, and if there were operations that needed to be conducted in less-stable parts of Africa, at least we had an opportunity to go to Ghana and we could work with the nations.’
Informed Ghanaians express concern about the scope of Ghana-US security cooperation making the country a target for terrorist attacks. Residents of Accra’s upmarket East Cantonments area have expressed anxiety about a huge new US embassy-intelligence facility being constructed in the neighbourhood. Security relations with the US is however unlikely to affect the government’s political fortunes.
The defeat of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2000 elections by Kufuor and the NPP and the subsequent peaceful transition was an important positive development for Ghana’s young 4th Republic. The NDC’s defeat was the product of a number of factors. Internally the party was weakened by strife over the succession to Rawlings. Growing corruption within the regime as well as the persistence of authoritarian practices had alienated growing numbers of the population; the regime had hardly any sympathy in the private media. The decisive factor in the defeat however was the economic crisis of 1999-2000 which inflamed long simmering mass dissatisfaction with the economic deprivations and VOL.10 NO.2
growing inequalities. The crisis highlighted the enduring fragility of the economy, the deep flaws in economy policy, the heavy dependence on aid and the debt crisis it had created. Between 1983-1994 the World Bank alone committed $2.4 bn. By 2000 Ghana external debt had reached more than $6 bn. from over $1bn in 1983. The primary trigger of the crisis was dramatic falls in the prices of gold, cocoa and timber, the main export earners alongside a big jump in the price of oil. The prices of cocoa for example dropped by a third between 1998 and 2000 while the cost of petroleum imports almost doubled from 1999 to 2000. Two decades of trade liberalisation had undermined production for the home market in both agriculture and manufacturing and worsened the country’s historic import dependence. The foreign exchange crunch associated with the 1999-2000 crisis was aggravated by donors withholding substantial amounts of aid in a dispute with the government over policy. Inflation rocket as the value of the cedi collapsed and imports contracted. Many in the NDC continue to believe that aid was deliberately withheld so as to engineer an NPP election victory. 7
Cover The Kufuor regime’s acceptance of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in 2001 was an effective admission that the much lauded free market reforms had bankrupted the country and made it even more vulnerable to donor conditionality. Kufuor’s readiness to deepen and widen neo-liberal policies has produced substantial debt relief under both HIPC and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Aid inflows have recovered since 2001 and remain substantial and the prices of Ghana’s exports have been relatively good. The economy has grown steadily, from 3.2% in 2001 to around 6% in 2006. This together with the funds freed up by debt relief have enabled the government to increase funding to primary education and infrastructural expansion. The Kufuor government has widened access to primary education through a capitation grant but critics point to the failure to provide for adequate numbers of teachers and enabling inputs. At the same time secondary school enrolment is dropping among the poorer sections of the population while the quality of tertiary education is dropping as a result of phenomenal expansion of public and private universities without requisite investment in staff or facilities. The regime has replaced the cash and carry system in health that it inherited, which required up front payment for health services, with a national health insurance scheme. According to 2006 figures from the Ghana Statistical Service numbers of the poor have dropped significantly since 1998/99 but inequality has been growing significantly. The unequal distribution of the benefits of growth, the underlying weaknesses of the economy and the fault lines along which trouble could break out in the future remain tangible. Six years into Kufuor’s announcement of a ‘Golden Age of Business’ indigenous private capital, especially in manufacturing, continue to complain the 8
government is too focused on pleasing foreign capital and that a focus on exports and import trade liberalisation is undermining the development and transformation of the country’s productive capacities. Even then the inflow of foreign direct investment to sectors other than mining has been disappointing. In Accra’s industrial zones increasing numbers of derelict factories are being converted to warehouses for imports or church halls for the increasing numbers of evangelical Christian churches.
Overall the economy, dominated by revived export enclaves of cocoa and minerals and new so-called non-traditional goods is not creating enough jobs and offering few which are well paid. This has generated substantial internal and cross border migration. The most noted exodus, which has attracted some policy response. is of trained professionals, especially medical personnel. It is however arguable that for most families the economically most significant trekking out is that of the tens of thousands of not so highly skilled but educated young Ghanaians who contribute the bulk of the remittances which are keeping many families above the poverty line. Speaking to Parliament on February 8 President Kufuor pointed to the growing remittances as a sign of confidence in the economy. In the main urban areas few of the tens of thousands whose jobs were destroyed by the economic reforms and public sector restructuring have found new jobs. The ranks of these longterm unemployed have been swollen by those fleeing the rural areas to escape the misery of food crop farming ruined by imports or landlessness or from small towns dying from lack of economic opportunities. There is substantial internal migration from the parts of the countryside outside the export enclaves to Accra whose population has not only swelled but also seen a marked jump in the proportion of the poor in its population. While the top end of Accra’s AFRICAN AGENDA
housing market is in the grip of a building frenzy and is littered with empty properties, workers and informal economy actors are required to pay three years rent in advance for unhygienic hovels with the state showing no interest in their fate. Currently over 80% of the labour force is in the informal economy. In all the major cities the local authorities are at their wits end about how to cope with the sprawl of the informal economy. This expresses itself in the armies of petty traders choking streets, artisans setting up shop at unauthorised sites and squatter settlements. By and large what is an economic problem is treated as a problem of law and order.
A 2003 study showed that the numbers of the poorest 20% of the population had increased by a third percentage over six years. The poorest 20 percent enjoyed only 8.4 percent of the national income, whilst the richest 20 percent enjoyed as much as 41.7 percent. In 2002 a survey by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), a policy think tank, found “a frightening picture of mass formal unemployment and underemployment” and a perceived widening of the gap between rich and poor”. Almost two thirds of those interviewed for the report described their economic conditions as bad. The need to create jobs and the reduction of poverty and marginalisation ranked as the highest priorities of respondents in the survey. Three years later the CDD found even more economic insecurity and anxiety about unemployment. In recent times there has been a rash of strikes over incomes and living conditions which have ended without the workers receiving satisfaction. Piece meal responses to the exodus of skills from the country have produced irrationalities and extreme inequalities in public sector pay policy which the Ghana Trades Union Congress has complained about. A special package for doctors has not only failed to stem exodus but provoked demands from other VOL.10 NO.2
health workers as well as other public sector workers such as teachers. On May Day the leaders of Ghana’s unions warned of more industrial unrest. In the rural areas, where the majority of Ghanaians as well as the overwhelming majority of the poor lives, economic insecurity in the country has an important specific dimension: growing landlessness and insecurity of tenure. A 2001 study concluded that: “insecurity of tenure affects a greater proportion of society than is generally recognized and probably the majority. This extends beyond the economic poor and those who hold derivative rights – that is, those who access land held to belong to others: tenants and sharecroppers, youth and women… Those with least status, knowledge or means are least well served”. Loss of rights is widely occurring. Given the centrality of secure access to the social and economic fabric of society, instability threatens and in some parts of the country has already spilled into violence.” To date state policy has failed to respond adequately to the insecurity engendered by land relations. The persistence of the problems faced by ordinary people and a perception of growing official corruption has eroded confidence in the NPP government. In 2002 only 38% of those interviewed by the CDD believed the President and his team to be corrupt. By 2005 this had risen to almost 60%. Kufuor has himself been directly shaken by allegations of corruption, symbolised by a hotel right next to his private residence. The Minister for Transport had to resign in the wake of a scandal. At 50 the openness of Ghana’s political system is something majority of Ghanaians are keen to uphold and advance but with respect to the economy the fundamental issue remains the country’s failure to carve a path to self sustaining growth and socio-economic transformation. * Yao Graham is Editor-inChief of African Agenda
Continental unity and social justice are the legacy of Nkrumah
GAMAL NKRUMAH ON HIS FATHER'S LEGACY On Tuesday, March 6, 2007, the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman talks to Gamal Nkrumah, son of Ghana’s founding father, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and foreign editor of the Egyptian Englishlanguage newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly.
A. G: Kwame Nkrumah helped usher in an era of independence for Africa after centuries of invasion, slavery and colonial rule. But in 1966, while he was away on a state visit to China, Nkrumah was overthrown in a CIA-sponsored coup. He never returned to Ghana and died in exile in Guinea in 1972. Can you begin by talking about the significance of this day? [Ghana’s 50th Independence anniversary!]
G. N: This day is of tremendous significance. It symbolizes the end of colonial rule in Africa, and it ushers in a new era. It was an era full of hope. The aspiration of the people of Africa was about to be realized. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed a few years after that, symbolized again by the 24th of February, 1966 coup d’ etat that overthrew my father’s government. A. G: Before we get to the coup in 1966, the day you also left Ghana, could you trace the freedom struggle of your father, President Kwame Nkrumah, and, before that, the freedom leader? Talk about where he was born, how the independent struggle was formed, and how Ghana became an independent nation.
G. N: My father was born in the Western Region of Ghana, the coastal region near the border with Ivory Coast. He was educated in Ghana and then left the country to study in the United States. And in the United States, he met with many influential PanAfricanists, and he had imbibed the spirit of Pan-Africanism. The likes of Marcus
A. G: Today, mass celebrations are being held in Ghana on the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of Ghana from Britain. Gamal Nkrumah, can you talk about how your father came back to Ghana -- called the Gold Coast then -- and organized, and how he ended up in prison?
Garvey greatly influenced Kwame Nkrumah’s thinking, but also W.E.B. DuBois, whom he invited later to move to Ghana, and he conferred on him Ghanaian citizenship, where he died, of course. And so, it was in the United States and later on in Britain, where he was very active with the Pan-African movement in establishing the fifth Pan-African Congress. So, in a way, my father was the first link between continental Africa and Africans in the diaspora. And that greatly influenced his ideas later on and his vision. After independence, he was convinced that the only way forward for Africa is African continental unity. He was also for social justice at home. So he was a great believer in the free education and free healthcare, which was essential at the time for the people of Ghana, and it was unprecedented on the African continent. Hundreds of schools were built, and hospitals, across the country for the first time in the rural areas, as well as in the urban centers. He laid the foundations for the industrialization of Ghana. He built the Akosombo Dam to generate electricity. He also built the Tema Harbour, which was a deepwater harbour, immediately after independence. So he was laying the foundation for the industrialization of Ghana. However, his dreams, his visions for Ghana were cut short by the 24th of February, 1966 coup. And today, we suffer in Ghana from the consequences of that coup. Over the years, there were successive military regimes -AFRICAN AGENDA
G. N: Well, Nkrumah returned to Ghana after being very active in the Pan-African movement in Britain. He was mobilizing many of the African students who were in Britain at the time. He mobilized their support for a Pan-African organization, and, sure enough, they organized the fifth PanAfrican Congress. After that, he was asked to return to Ghana by the ruling -- the educated elites at the time who had formed a party, and they asked him to be the secretary general of that party, because of his activism in Britain that they had heard about. And, sure enough, he organized. However, he quickly realized that they had a vested interest in not gaining independence from Britain, because as the educated elite, they wanted to retain what little power the colonial administration gave them. It was after that that he formed his own party, the Convention People's Party (CPP), and broke away from the established elitist party, the UGCC. And with the CPP formed, he galvanized the young and the masses of African people in Ghana at the time, and his rallying cry was “Independence now!” And he realized that the people of Ghana wanted independence at that particular moment. After that, the colonial authorities imprisoned him, but he continued leading, even from prison. And the colonial authorities had to organize elections, because the country was in such a state of unrest then. And, sure enough, Kwame Nkrumah was democratically elected as prime minister, but the country still remained under the British Crown. In ’57, however, Ghanaians voted to have independence, and Ghana was the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence from Britain, or from any European colonial power, for that matter. However, on the day of independence fifty years ago, Kwame Nkrumah stressed that the independence of Ghana was meaningless without the total liberation of the continent of Africa. 9
Cover before the coup, when he had declared himself president for life; Preventive Detention Act, which allowed Nkrumah to hold anyone for up to five years without trial; the Trade Union Act, which made strikes illegal. Your comments on these!
(L-R) Nehru of India, Nkrumah, Nasser of Egypt and Sukarno of Indonesia
A. G: What does Pan-Africanism mean to you, Gamal Nkrumah, and what did it mean to your father?
G. N: Much the same thing. I believe in my father's vision of Pan-Africanism. PanAfricanism, as Kwame Nkrumah saw it, was continental African unity. That is, the whole continent would be united into the United States of Africa. And that includes both North Africa and Africa south of the Sahara. It also means that the African diaspora would have the right to return and to have African citizenship, if they so wish. It also means that Africa, as an impoverished continent, as a continent that suffered from 500 years of slavery and colonialism, that it needs to redress these wrongs done its people. And so, the onus would be on social justice, that those who suffered the most, the masses of Africa, would have access to free healthcare and free education. These are essential parts of Nkrumah's Pan-Africanist vision. And this is precisely the Pan-Africanism that I believe in. A. G: Gamal Nkrumah, can you talk about the day of the coup in 1966? Who was behind it? You were six years old at the time? G. N: Yes. This is the only day that perhaps I remember from dawn to dusk. It was a terrible experience for a child of six. My sister was five at the time, and my younger brother was two. My younger brother, Sekou, did not realize what’s going on. My sister was crying. I remember she was crying the whole time, very distressed. My mother was very courageous. And very early on in the morning at dawn, about 4:00 or so, she phoned President Gamal Abdel Nasser, after whom I was named, of Egypt, and told him that there is artillery fire and there is a coup d’etat, what appears to be a coup. And Nasser 10
promised to send an Egyptian plane to come and take us as a family to Egypt. In the meantime, there was fighting between the presidential guard, who were loyal to my father, and the army and police who had plotted the coup with the help of the CIA. And there was much fighting in the grounds of the presidential palace. It was called Flagstaff House. It still stands in Ghana in Accra today. And we vacated the building at about 6:00 in the morning. And we went first to the Egyptian embassy in Accra, and then we went to the police headquarters, where my mother was interrogated. After that, we were taken to the airport, where the Egyptian plane had just landed. At first, the coup plotters did not want to release us children. They wanted my mother to travel alone. And she refused point blank. She said that she has to have her children with her. And we did eventually board the plane. And we arrived in Egypt the following day at dawn. It was a very difficult day. It is perhaps the only day that I remember from dawn ’til dusk.
A. G: How do you know that the CIA was behind the coup in Ghana?
G. N: Well, it is no secret that George Bush, the father, was behind that particular project to topple Kwame Nkrumah. And surely enough, he was rewarded after the coup by being made director of the CIA, and his political career took off after that day. And the papers and documents of the time that were embargoed are now -- anybody can have access to those papers in Washington in the Library of Congress. Any serious student of history who’s interested in this particular episode would find ample evidence in those documents in Washington. It's available for all today.
A. G: Let me ask you about what Kwame Nkrumah was criticized for toward the end, AFRICAN AGENDA
G. N: Well, I think we have to put that in the context of Ghana at the time. The situation was that all the left-leaning presidents in Africa, such as Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt or Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and others were under tremendous pressure. In Egypt, there was the Israeli aggression, the Tripartite aggression in ’56, the Suez Canal crisis. And after that, Israel was always having wars and launching wars on the Arab countries, including Egypt, the largest one. In Ghana the pressures were also there -Ghana was being sanctioned -- and especially after Nkrumah wrote his book, NeoColonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism in 1965. After that, in which -- in this book he exposed the neo-colonial -- in fact, he coined the term. He said that an African country might be independent and have all the trappings of independence -- a government and currency, etc. -- but that in reality its economy is controlled by foreign capital. He explained that in his book, NeoColonialism. And I believe that it was after his publishing that particular book that the CIA decided they have to get rid of him. And so, Ghana was sanctioned, and the economic situation in the country began to be shaky. Of course, Nkrumah's detractors said that his programme of free education and free healthcare led to economic disaster. But that was not the case. The case was that Nkrumah was laying the foundations for Ghana’s industrialization and that what topped the top of his agenda was social justice and social rise. And I think it is important in the context of the Cold War at the time, in the context of underdevelopment, to realize that at the time people -- leaders like Nkrumah and Nasser in Egypt had stressed social rights, as opposed to individual human rights today, not that they underestimated individual human rights, but, to them, social rights, which means social welfare, which means free education and free healthcare, were vitally important. And so, their priorities were a little bit different than some of the democratic democrats today, whether in Africa or elsewhere. And Nkrumah stressed that his people's welfare was of utmost importance. A. G: Gamal Nkrumah, why [did] your father, after the coup, choose to go to Guinea, where he died years later.
G. N: He chose to go to Guinea, because it was the nearest base to Ghana at the time.
Cover He had dreamt of returning to Accra, Ghana and making Ghana the headquarters of a United States of Africa and inviting PanAfricanists from all over the continent and from the United States, the Caribbean and the whole of the African diaspora to come to Ghana and make it their base. And so, he chose Guinea, because it was geographically closest to Ghana, and he had a special friendship with its president, Ahmed Sekou Toure. A. G: In this last minute, your final com-
ments, Gamal Nkrumah, on this fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Ghana, your birthplace, your original home.
G. N: I would appeal to all Pan-Africanists the world over, not just in Africa, to stick to Nkrumah's vision of continental African unity and social justice, the welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society. This was Nkrumah's legacy, and this is the only way forward for the people of Africa. And it is only when Africa stands tall among the nations of the world that peo-
ple of African descent everywhere would also be proud. As long as Africa remains impoverished, as long as it remains divided, susceptible to civil wars, then Africans and people of African descent the world over would never feel fully free or their aspirations fully realized.
* Excerpts from interview by Democracy Now on Tuesday, March 6th, 2007.
The whole interview is available on http://www.democracynow.org/articles
Nkrumahâ€™s ambition was the full realisation of the dignity of the African says daughter
Samia Nkrumah, daughter of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, talks to * Reggie Tagoe, on her father and his life.
Samia: My fatherâ€™s priority was his work. We got to understand this at an early age. And we also understood that his life was in danger on many occasions and this necessitated a different kind of family relationship. A man who has had to endure half a dozen assassination attempts on his life, and some of them with lasting physical damage, must take certain precautions even if these included being separated from his family. Aside from the question of danger, there was very little time at hand. There were many problems confronting Nkrumah the family man early independent Ghana. If you read RT: Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was a great his book, Africa Must Unite, you underpolitician how did he mix his political stand that the newly independent Ghana did duties with family life at home? not have a single industry, no infrastructure AFRICAN AGENDA
whatsoever, no skilled labour, no educated workforce, after years of colonial rule, the country had nothing. Everything had to be constructed from scratch.
RT: Tell me something about the family in your early years as you grew up.
Samia: When I was younger it felt that we, Nkrumahâ€™s immediate family, had to take second place in his life. We did not see much of our father and we did not spend much time with him. But as I grew, I saw that in a sense his presence with us has been constant and powerful and his influence on us has been understandably huge. I have said before that while he left us no material inheritance, he left us a rich consciousness that continues to guide us in our lives. We have a solid understanding that we Africans hold the key to solving our problems. I have no doubt that as he once said, when Africa becomes a strong and united nation, Africans will respect themselves and everyone will respect Africans. When you are serving a big cause, a cause that concerns many people, you do not see a difference between the personal and the public. Personal sacrifices are not regarded as losses but as great gains because your happiness is linked to many others. That is how Nkrumah lived his life up till the very end and that is what he has transmitted to us his children. 11
Nkrumah and Haile Sellasie - pioneers of African unity
RT: Was he in contact with the family whilst in exile and did he mention anything about the coup and the people who ousted him from power?
Samia: Father spoke to us on the phone on very few occasions. We corresponded on a regular, if not frequent, basis. He did not talk to us about his plans and work. Nkrumah, however, detailed all his experiences and thoughts in the various books he wrote after the coup while living in Guinea. Nkrumah wrote some 14 books on various subjects ranging from the African unity project to specific problems in certain African countries at the time, see Challenge of the Congo and Rhodesia. Many of the books were completed while he was in Guinea after 1966. In his book, Dark Days in Ghana, he talks exhaustively about the coup.
RT: In cases about some former African Presidents or Heads of State forced out of power they tried to get back to power through any means, did Dr. Kwame Nkrumah plan to get back to be President of Ghana after the Feb. 24, 1966 coup, was there any desire in him for power in Ghana?
Samia: Nkrumah never lost sight of Ghana and never gave up on his dream and social development. One could not happen without the other. He certainly wanted to get back to 12
Ghana and never lost hope of doing so. If he had returned to Ghana, there would have been fundamental changes. For example, he had said that the coup had made plain that the CPP could not longer follow the old line and it had to develop and reform. At the same time, he was equally concerned with diffusing his ideas on PanAfricanism because he was convinced that they would outlive him anyway.
RT: What do you think were Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s ambitions? Samia: In a nutshell, his only ambition was the full realization of the dignity of the African wherever he or she might be in the world. To realize this, he championed an African solution in the form of the PanAfrican Project and within this project he called for the economic, social and political development of the continent along continental lines. To Nkrumah, the optimum zone of development for Africans is the whole continent. He believed that if the resources and population of African States were pulled together, development planned and executed continentally, Africa would be far ahead. Nkrumah was convinced that only a strong, economically viable African Nation, or a United States of Africa, would address the continent’s problems. He also understood that a stable, peaceful African continent would contribute to AFRICAN AGENDA
world peace and advancement. Ghana was his starting point, however. With the various development plans in place at the time, Ghana was to become a model of economic advancement and freedom and from there able to safeguard its political freedom. RT: He was talking of Nkrumaism when his countrymen and women did not even clearly understand what democracy is all about. What’s your take on that?
Samia: I would urge you to read Nkrumah’s books to get an idea of what he was about. Let’s not forget that a relentless character assassination was carried out against him. He couldn’t have got everything right, I’m sure, but in the 15 years he was in power, 1951-1966, Ghana had made great social and economic leaps. By 1966, there were factories, roads, railways, radio and TV stations, telephone services, the Akosombo Dam. The list is endless. It was important to make accessible the African Unity ideas to the people of Ghana. You cannot rely on economic unification only, you have to understand why the call for unity and back it with political will. To do so, you need people’s acceptance and understanding of the concept of unity. Unity is a culture that must be understood and not imposed on people and therefore it had to be explained.
Cover It is telling that 40 years on, the slogan on the official site of the African Union (AU) is Africa Must Unite, which is one of the titles of Nkrumah’s books and his main thesis. It is interesting that the AU is championing many of the steps that were recommended by Nkrumah in the early sixties. It is also interesting that some great African leaders, like the late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, who at the time were not totally convinced of Nkrumah’s Pan-African project eventually came to understand and agree with it. RT: He imprisoned his political opponents against the backdrop of freedom, justice and independence. What was he aiming to achieve?
Samia: Let me first say that I wish to sincerely apologize to any Ghanaian who was imprisoned in the name of Nkrumah. It saddens me to know that anyone suffered for their political beliefs. I am an advocate of freedom and democracy and human rights. And I am strongly opposed to violence as a way of reacting to any problem. But before answering your question fully, we have to examine the context in which those actions were taken. At a time when the new Ghanaian government was busy laying the foundation for the industrialization of the country, laying plans for education, medical services, utilities, factories, road networks, etc. Nkrumah’s government was subjected to untold economic and political pressure and external interference. Just to give a few examples on the economic level, the cocoa price was forced down, and promptly raised after the 1966 coup. Investment and credit guarantees were cancelled. On the domestic political level, Nkrumah and his colleagues were subjected to violence in the form of assassination attempts on his life and a relentless character assassination campaign. The pressure on Nkrumah professionally and personally was beyond anything you might imagine. Despite this, no one was ever executed for attempting a coup against Nkrumah’s government or for attempting to murder Nkrumah. And this was because Nkrumah was strongly opposed to this. I believe there has been a big campaign to taint Nkrumah’s name and reputation. Nkrumah is not here to defend himself against those accusations. Like you, I am asking questions concerning the curb of freedom: Was he mislead by certain advisors? Did he get distracted and not control what some of those around him were up to? But what I do know is that Nkrumah was not interested in power for its sake. Neither was he a man who amassed personal wealth at the expense of his country. Why do I say all this in connection with
these accusations? Because, most dictators are all those things: corrupt, violent and only interested in securing power. Nkrumah was not any of these. RT: Do you think he rushed Ghana into Independence too early?
Samia: Political independence was not regarded as an end in itself but the means to achieve economic freedom and advancement. After years of colonialism, Ghana had no industries, no skilled work force, and no infrastructure. Only after independence did the full truth Nkrumah about the extent of our economic backwardness became known. A colonized State is developed in a way that serves the colonizer. Colonialism was not only economic, but cultural and social. Why would any one want that for themselves? The struggle for political independence is not putting the whole blame on the colonizer. Slavery and colonialism, like all the present ills of our society, could not have happened without the consent of some of us. Likewise, our most intractable problems would never be solved, and here I’m thinking of long-term solutions and not just quick relief, without an African solution. This is not because we don’t respect people’s advice, but because the best solutions have to be specific to a certain context and born out of real life experience. RT: Do you feel any resentment against the people who overthrew your father from power? Certainly life wasn’t the same isn’t it?
Samia: You are right. Life was never the same. But I strongly believe things happen for a reason, and if you keep an open mind, the reason is always a good one. Being Nkrumah’s daughter has taught me a great deal about humility. We are not talking here about a mere sentiment. I can sincerely say that the pain and confusion have served me very well. I had to wipe the slate clean. I have made an effort to understand what Nkrumah tried to do and that has led me to embrace all Ghanaians and Africans in my thoughts. Understanding his ideas led me to those thoughts and that cancelled all the resentment. I understand clearly that we are an inseparable part of a whole nation. Being Kwame Nkrumah’s daughter means being a AFRICAN AGENDA
and President Tito of Yugoslavia
daughter of Ghana and Africa and having a responsibility to Africans everywhere. We worked hard and tried to make ends meet like most ordinary people and I am very grateful for that. How else could I really understand people who are struggling if I had an easy time myself? I have not found to date any solution that is better articulated and that makes more sense than the Pan-African project as he explains it. At the same time, I fully respect those who might not agree with Nkrumah’s ideas. I do not condone violence in any form but I respect differing opinions.
RT: Do you think Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would have achieved his objectives on Africa if he’d not been overthrown. Africa is a continent with diverse languages, tribes, cultures etc.?
Samia: Nkrumah is quoted as having said, ‘I have often been accused of pursuing the policy of the impossible but I cannot believe in the impossibility of achieving African unity any more than I could ever have believed in the impossibility of attaining African freedom’. Just consider this: By 1963, around 44 years ago, Nkrumah had called for an allAfrican Commission to take steps to set up a common market for Africa, an African monetary zone, an African Central Bank, a Continental Communications System, an African common currency, a Commission for a common citizenship. Today the European Union is implementing these plans. What does that tell us? * Reggie Tagoe is Ghanaian journalist based in Italy.
indece celebrations budget sparks controversy
wash in the national (Pan-African) colours of red, gold and green with the black star and scented air of excitement, the breezy Ghanaian capital of Accra opened its arms to welcome the rest of the world to celebrate the country’s golden jubilee on March 6, 2007. Over 60 official delegations from around the world including two dozen African heads of state and prime ministers – from Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – descended to savour with Ghana’s 20 million population their hard-won freedom. 14
Ghanaians celebrated the country’s golden independence anniversary with pomp and pride. But that was not all. The celebration has touched off controversies of its own reminiscent of the days and months leading to the declaration of independence 50 years ago, writes * Kwesi W. Obeng.
Fifty years ago, on March 6, 1957, the tiny West African nation of Ghana blazed the trail of what heralded the beginning of the end of colonialism in Africa. And in less than a decade large parts of the patchwork of colonial dominions carved up by European powers in 1884 became a constellation of new states. Indeed, within the space of three years following Ghana’s independence, not less than 10 African states had also thrown out the colonialists and the shackles. Ushering in the brave new nation at the beachfront then known as Old Polo Grounds,
Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah, whose mortal remains are buried at the same spot today (and renamed the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum), declared that: the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African continent. A reenactment of that declaration on the eve of independence last March served as a great start to official activities to mark the country’s golden anniversary celebrations.
But the national jubilation VOL.10 NO.2
has not been without controversies. Perhaps most controversial of all is President John Kufuor government’s allocation of US$20 million for the year-long independence celebrations. The US$20 million budget, which trickles down to each of Ghana’s 20-million population contributing a dollar to the celebration expenses, could have been invested in more critical but failing areas of society such as education, health, sanitation and housing, sections of the public including opposition leaders, rights activists and academics argue.
Cover Many opponents of the multi-million dollar budget for the celebrations admit the selfconfidence, liberty, socio-economic and political developments Ghana’s independence unleashed across the continent and much of the black world is cause to celebrate. Their beef is the huge budget and over such trivial ventures as parties for visiting heads of state while ordinary Ghanaians suffer the indignities of poverty, joblessness and lack of basic services as water and electricity. True the country is one of the politically most stable democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa with a fairly strong economy – growing at an average of 5.5 per cent over the last decade – and a decent human rights record. But a third of Ghanaians live below the poverty line. An even higher number do not have access to treated water, sanitation and decent housing. It couldn’t have been worse. The country is currently in throes of an acute energy shortage. The Akosombo Dam, Ghana’s largest power supply complex commissioned in 1966, is one of the most endearing infrastructural legacies of Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana has been rationing power to both homes and industries since August 2006. That is precisely one reason why critics of the government argue that the US$20 million golden anniversary budget could have been put to better use other than partying and buying of luxury cars to drive around visiting heads of state. ‘How do you waste US$20 million on luxury cars and parties and go to the World Bank to give you money to provide water for your own people who don’t have potable water’, a former ally of the President and parliamentary candidate of the ruling party, Kofi Wayo asked. According to Dr. WerekoBrobby, CEO of the Ghana@50 celebrations secretariat, the US$20 million was used for infrastructural development while public donations amounting to about 20 billion cedis
went into organising events to mark the anniversary.
The disbursement of the Ghana@50 budget makes an interesting reading. It includes the acquisition of 241 new vehicles – Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars – for the golden jubilee celebrations. This amounted to US$5 million. These vehicles, officials claim are also meant to be used during seven other international events Ghana will play host to over the next two years such as AU Summit, AGOA meeting and CAN 2008. The President’s term of office ends in December 2008. A further US$5 million of the budget was said to have been used on renovation works of such monuments as the Independence Arch and the Liberation Square. Another sixty (60) billion cedis was reportedly sunk into the preparation of durbar grounds in the regions and construction of public toilets in some parts of the country. In reaction to public outcry about the size of the budget and the potential for its misuse, Parliament summoned the President’s Chief of Staff and head of the Ghana@50 Secretariat to explain how the US$20 million was being spent. “The secretariat will submit its accounts to the Auditor-General for audit at the end of the year as all public organizations do”, the President’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpianim, told Parliament.
Absent at the jubilee celebrations was Ghana’s only living ex-President, Jerry Rawlings. His spouse, Nana Agyemang Rawlings also did not attend any of the functions but leaders of Rawlings’ party, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) did. Prof. John Atta Mills, Rawlings’ Vice President and flagbearer of the NDC in two previous general elections led the opposition party to participate in the celebrations. A stab AFRICAN AGENDA
‘How do you waste US$20 million on luxury cars and parties and go to the World Bank to give you money to provide water for your own people who don’t have potable water.’ in the back of the leader and founder of the NDC some claimed. Others chastised Rawlings on the airwaves for failing to attend the celebrations. Some sympathizers of the ruling party dismissed Rawlings’ absence at the celebrations as ‘good riddance’ explaining off that the exPresident’s presence could have ‘complicated’ matters for the sitting President to handle. By far the fiercest critic of the current government, former president Rawlings who ruled Ghana for nearly 20 of the country’s 50 years, turned down an invitation from President Kufuor to participate in the golden jubilee festivities. ‘My conscience and principles will not permit me to join Kufuor and his government for this anniversary,’ Rawlings said. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and African-American civil rights campaigner, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who were at the celebrations, observed that ‘the independence of Ghana was a landmark event with global impact.’ But Rawlings like many other Ghanaians wondered what VOL.10 NO.2
was being celebrated. ‘Ghana is faced with pervasive corruption at all levels, missed opportunities for genuine progress, nepotism, tribalism and known cases of political torture and killings. There is also decay of our local industry, the breakdown of our educational system, and an empty façade of good governance which earns the applause of those who seek to control us’, Rawlings charged. Rawlings accused the NPP government of seizing every opportunity to criminalize his administration. ‘I cannot share the same platform with the same people who have taken every opportunity to denigrate us for the last seven years and see no good in what we did for this country. And I cannot be part of part of a cover-up for the defilement and violations of the principles of self-respect, pride and hope that underlie 6th March, 1957.’ Rawlings handed over power to then newly elected President Kufuor after serving two four-year terms in 2001. That handing over marked the first peaceful transition of power in Ghana from one elected president to another elected president since the country’s independence.
Although, Rawlings’ party backed his decision to stay out of the celebrations, the NDC issued a statement in which it said it would be foolhardy for the country’s largest opposition and former ruling party to boycott the anniversary. It said the party had to be at the celebrations because it offered ‘a political platform at which the imagery of our national symbols, heroes and consciousness take the centre stage’. Even more, the NDC needed ‘to show up at the parade to signal its patriotic spirit, its avowed intention to keep the independence flame burning, its resolve to resist the oppressors’ rule, its commitment to ensure that multiparty democracy works and its tenacity to hold neo-colonialism in whatever form in check’. 15
Cover Kwesi Pratt Jnr a leading member of the CPP, Nkrumah’s party and publisher of the Weekly Insight newspaper dismissed the NDC hierarchy’s presence at the celebrations after it had publicly supported Rawlings’s stance not to attend the anniversary celebration, as an act of hypocrisy. The Ghana Bar Association (GBA), a strong voice for rights in the post colonial period waded into the controversy and condemned Rawlings for absenting himself from the celebrations. Kwami Tetteh, president of the association told an audience at a lecture co-organised by the GBA and the American Bar Association (ABA) in Accra that ‘we’ll celebrate whether there is division or no division’. For keen followers of Ghanaian politics this is really no surprise. Since Kufuor took over power the bad blood between him and Rawlings has deteriorated. Attempts by both religious and traditional leaders in the past have failed to heal their differences. There’s even an antecedent to Rawlings’ boycott of the national jubilee celebrations in the annals of modern Ghana’s short history. The decade leading to independence and the one following March 6, 1957 were marked by sharp divisions among leading independence politicians with the Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party on one side and the United Gold Coast Convention on the other.
The irony is that fifty years ago, the predecessor political party of the current Ghanaian government, the United Party, boycotted the independence celebration. Leading figures of this elite party (whose mother party UGCC Nkrumah broke away from in 1949 to form the mass following CPP) accused Nkrumah of being in too much haste to set Ghana free from colonial rule. Historically, as Patrick Smith of African Confidential notes, ‘the political divide in Ghana has always been ideological – between left and right’. 16
Accra’s Liberation Square: Celebrating the founding members of African unity
And it would appear that the clash between Rawlings and Kufuor even on the issue of the country’s golden jubilee celebrations is both ideological and personal. Kufuor and his NPP are avowed right of centre while Rawlings prefers to pose as centre of left revolutionary. But it was not only the multi-million dollar anniversary budget and Rawlings’ involvement or non-involvement in the celebrations that proved controversial in the jubilee festivities. A mass protest planned by the Committee of Joint Action (CJA), a group of opposition elements, rights activists and Nkrumaists, through the principal streets of Accra to mark the Independence Day on March 6, ostensibly to draw attention to the plight of ordinary Ghanaians and the failings of the establishment, cropped up as one of the most contentious issues in the month of the country’s golden jubilee. First came police threat to the protesters not to embark on any demonstration because the country was playing host to international guests. An Accra High Court waded in and declared the march illegal. Eventually, however the Minister of Interior, Albert Kan-
Dapaah, and the Inspector General of Police in a lastminute marathon meeting on March 5 prevailed on the CJA leadership to reschedule the procession for another date to allow the Independence Day celebrations to proceed peacefully at the Independence Square. The CJA climb-down rankled their supporters who poured scorn on the leadership of the group in radio phone-in programmes.
So what has what a president wears got to do with independence celebrations? Ghanaians are renowned worldwide for their pride in their traditional fabrics and clothes like the kente, smock, the handwoven striped cloth and batik. A day after the celebrations it was not the colour, pomp and pageantry nor the message the President read that grabbed public attention. Rather, it was what the president wore, better still, what the president failed to President Kufuor wear. appeared at the celebrations in a Western suit. Public outcry was unrelenting and uncompromising prompting the President to jump on air to explain why he VOL.10 NO.2
dumped ubiquitous Ghanaian cloth for a suit. The president’s explanation that he chose suit over a local wear because he had to deal with a large number of guests and had so many programmes lined up was hardly enough to assuage the public’s anger. ‘I accept the president's position on not wearing kente cloth for that epic momentous parade. What I don't accept is that, he seems to think kente wrapper cloth is all there is, as to wearing Ghanaian traditional cloth’, Eric Kwasi Bottah posted on a blog. Kufuor’s predecessors notably Dr. Nkrumah, Dr. Hilla Limann and Rawlings regularly wore the smock for high profile state functions. With the year long celebrations set to climax on December 31, 2007, there can only be more of such controversies even as Ghanaians hoist their national colours on their roof tops, cars, lamp posts and every available space across the country and the nation hots up for general elections in December 2008. * Kwesi W. Obeng is Assistant Editor, African Agenda.
Women side-stepped in anniversary celebrations
March 6, 2007 marked the 50th independence anniversary when Ghana broke free from the chains of British colonization. But the lack of recognition of the pivotal role women played in the independence struggle and after has touched raw nerves, writes *Isabella Gyau Orhin.
ccra was a loud, busy, sweaty and choked but prim city on Monday, March 5, 2007, which was the eve of Ghana’s Independence Day. The tree-lined streets, cars, schools right through to the sprawling markets were all decked in the national colours of read, gold, green and the black star. At the markets in particular, traders, largely women, wore necklaces, wristbands and headgears of the national colours or wrapped the national flag around their waist or neck. Some partially covered their wares with the national flag ostensibly to entice buyers. It is generally believed that women outnumbered their men counterparts who took part in the celebrations at the Independence Square on Independence Day even though fewer women were on the Presidential dais. This is hardly different from what the situation was during the actual independence celebration 50 years ago. Television footage of the event depicts a lot of women cheering along their men and dancing on the night of the declaration of independence. Media reports further indicate that women of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ghana’s first ruling party played a central role in the struggle for independence as they travelled the length and breadth of the new country, spreading the message of "freedom" and educating citizens-tobe for nationhood. But the official year-long
Ready, capable and on the go - women
national 50th anniversary programme for the celebrations hardly reflects the remarkable contribution of women to the emergence of modern Ghana.
By the time this edition of African Agenda comes out Ghana would have installed Justice Georgina Wood, as the country’s first female Chief Justice, fifty years after independence. Is this a mere coincidence given that 2007 marks the country’s golden independence AFRICAN AGENDA
anniversary? Probably not but the failure of the official national anniversary programme for the celebrations to recognize the significant role women played in the struggle for independence and the thereafter has aroused nationwide uproar. It is against this backdrop that women’s rights groups notably Network of Women’s Rights (NETRIGHT), the National Coalition on Domestic Violence and the Women’s Manifesto Coalition questioned the apparent relegation of women in the anniversary celebrations. At several fora they VOL.10 NO.2
organized to celebrate the lives of the many women who played critical roles in the country’s march out of bondage into freedom, they expressed their misgivings. In apparent response to the public outcry against the exclusion of women in the celebrations, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs held an exhibition of photos on the achievements of Ghanaian women and announced the institution of a hall of fame for women who meritoriously served the country, both past and present. 17
Cover But women were largely invisible in the official activities for the celebrations. Some women’s rights groups have also questioned the manner women have been treated throughout the fifty years of Ghana's independence. According to the protesters, women in the country have not been given equal treatment as accorded their male counterparts and that they are always celebrated negatively, if celebrated at all.
At a press conference to highlight the contributions of women over the past 50 years and to outdoor activities to commemorate the golden jubilee independence anniversary, women's rights activists resolved to bring women's participation in the development of Ghana, especially the active contribution of women in the country's independence struggle to the fore. NETRIGHT said that some women's rights groups had sent
‘We would like to note with disappointment that while there is much recollection of the role of certain key figures and various social groups in our independence struggle, women's contributions to the founding of Ghana have not been adequately recognized and honoured.’
proposals to the Ghana @50 Secretariat, the main organisation set up by government to organize and co-ordinate the year-long celebrations, for support in organizing activities to showcase women's participation in the independence struggle but were refused. They expressed discontent at the authority’s apparent sidestepping of the role of women in the liberation struggle and the insignificant inclusion of women in the anniversary celebrations. "We would like to note with disappointment that while there is much recollection of the role of certain key figures and various social groups in our independence struggle, women's contributions to the founding of Ghana have not been adequately recognized and honoured", said Dr. Dzodzi Tsikata, a leading member of the women's group. She said while the contribution of men is always celebrated, those of women are always left out hence the male dominance of the country's history.
Dr. Tsikata said for history to be complete, it should encompass the contributions of both males and females as "partial recollections are harmful in that they distort our future plans and policies." The coalition was of the view that women not only form half of the population of the country but also had a special relationship with the anti-colonial struggle which former President Nkrumah recognized in his autobiography and for which their contribution must be fully acknowledged.
Ruth Botsio, wife of one of Ghana’s founding fathers, Kojo Botsio, remembers how she and other women decided they were going to wear local clothes with pride and style against the wishes of the colonialists and some local elites. Ghana's brilliantly coloured, hand-loom woven kente cloth became a fashion statement. The women attracted significant attention wherever they travelled.
Hoisting the flag of Ghana According to Mrs. Botsio it was important for her and others to let the colonial British administrators – and everyone else – know that Ghana had its own customs, traditions and heritage. Women were largely discriminated against in the political, social and economic structures of the colonial state which had stiff opposition from women with the formation of various women's groups to fight for women's rights at the time. The coalition therefore called on government to honour women, some of who are still alive, for their immense contribution to the anti-colonial struggle and building a post independence Ghana by erecting a monument in their memory. In spite of the numerous
contributions of women in the country, the coalition noted that women are still experiencing livelihood insecurities, harassments and continue to demand for things that were demanded in the colonial era.
They also spoke against the insignificant representation of women in the current parliament and local administration systems, making politics and governance a preserve of men with gender equity not seen as a priority. In real terms there has been a decline in women MPs over the decades. Women constituted nearly a third of the members of the first Republican Parliament. Today, only 25 women are serving as parliamentarians as AFRICAN AGENDA
against 205 men. Studies show that since the inception of the local government system, women’s participation as elected members has been fewer than 10 per cent. Critics say the highest number of women District Chief Executives (DCEs) that the country had between 1998 and 2000 was eleven (11). The period 2001 to December, 2004 had seven (7) women DCEs. In spite of the creation of 28 new districts, the process of nomination and appointment promises only a marginal improvement in the proportions of women as Chief Executives. It is only in 2006 that a female was elected Metropolitan Chief Executive of Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi. VOL.10 NO.2
The women's rights activists therefore called on government to lend support to the demands of women espoused in the Women's Manifesto as the country celebrates its Golden Jubilee Independence anniversary But the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana@50 secretariat Dr. Charles WerekoBrobbey admits that women have played a leading role in the nation’s development. “Ghana’s whole economy and drive is led by its women,” he says “it’s time we celebrate the contributions of women in our lives.” An after thought, perhaps. *Isabella Gyau Orhin writes for Public Agenda in Accra, Ghana. 19
Doha was never about development, says former USTR Barshefsky
Former US trade Representative Barshefsky has admitted that the Doha Round could not have been launched but for the post 9/11 sympathy enjoyed by the US as the Round was never about development, writes * Martin Khor.
he Doha Round was launched on false pretences, including calling it a development round, and the ability of developed countries to make it a development round is "absent", according to former United States Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky. In a recent interview, she also said that the Round would almost certainly not have been launched as there was no enthusiasm for it, but the September 11 incident changed that because countries had to show solidarity with the US. Barshefsky also remarked that the Round's conclusion would be hailed as a victory but the result would be "far less" than it should be if rich countries genuinely pursued a "development round." These are perhaps the most frank comments made by a senior member of the trade establishment of the US on how the Doha talks were launched and how development was used as a "false pretence" to get developing countries on board. The remarks of the former USTR seem to be in line with recent independent analyses of the main proposals on the table, that there is little pro-development content. These include analyses by several academics (including Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, Robert Wade of the London School of Economics, Sandra Polaski of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Kevin Gallagher of Tufts University) and development groups (such as Oxfam, ActionAid and Third World Network).
Many of the analyses also show that in many ways the proposals on agriculture, non-agri20
cultural market access and services, if accepted, would have negative effects on the development prospects of developing countries, as they would have to open their markets through very significant tariff reduction and the local farmers and industries would not be able to compete. Barshefsky was USTR when the Uruguay Round agreeTrickery ment was signed and who represented the US at the first two WTO Ministerial conferences in 1996 and 1998. She is currently senior international partner at WilmerHale, a Washington law firm, and she is also a business leader, sitting on the boards of American Express, Estee Lauder, Intel and Starwood Hotels. She was giving her views at a question-and-answer session in a "business blog" of the International Herald Tribune. The interview took place on 31 January at a blog site entitled "Managing Globalisation" run by Daniel Altman. Barshefsky was asked whether there was hope for the WTO's Doha negotiations. She said that "given the reticence of most of the trade ministers in scoping out the odds of Doha being reinvigorated, and given the fact that several ministers have now become reasonably vocal with respect to movement, I suspect that the round will move forward fairly soon." AFRICAN AGENDA
of the North robs the poor in the South of a livelihood She was then asked if the conclusion of the round will live up to any of the original expectations.
Barshefsky replied: "The round was launched on essentially false pretences, in two respects. "First, it was launched almost immediately in the aftermath of 9/11. I believe that but for 9/11, it almost certainly would not have been launched. As the six-year delay since then shows, but for 9/11 there was almost no enthusiasm for the round. "September 11 changed that. Countries believed that they needed to show solidarity with the United States and make a statement about the global economy and the importance of economic growth. So the round was launched. "Second, the round was called a development round. Again, as the six-year delay VOL.10 NO.2
shows, there may have been the broad "intention" on the part of the wealthy nations to make this a development round, but their ability to execute has always, in important respects, been absent - something clear from the outset, rhetoric aside. "At the end of this process, what will undoubtedly be portrayed as an important victory will, I believe, be far less than what it should have been had the wealthy nations genuinely pursued a development round." Barshefsky added that the US and Europe are "working hard", and that the developing countries are under enormous domestic political pressure not to make further large concessions, particularly in agriculture. "It's understandable that everyone's domestic politics plays perhaps the most critical role in what ends up on the table in negotiations. But this really clashes with the notion that the Doha Round is genuinely a development round."
Asked what she thought about the reported change in the negotiating strategy for Doha, with not so much stress on modalities, Barshefsky said, "It's the only place negotiators had left to go." Discussions of principles resulted in nothing concrete other than good wishes. Discussion of modalities in the abstract is fraught with delay and difficulty, and had been tried already, twice. "The only place left to go is to say, All right, let's simply
take a look at the specific issues on the table and resolve them, one way or another. That's where the negotiators have to turn, because there is no other means at this point to reinvigorate the round." Barshefsky also said that if the Doha Round were not to conclude, "I don't believe there would be any short-term negative effect. Medium-term, I believe there could be more of an effect if countries believe that they have more manoeuvring room to protect domestic
industries than they would have under a more robust international system of rules." Asked about the role of bilateral and regional trade agreements, Barshefsky said their number, now in excess of 200 globally, will, with or without Doha, only increase. Besides economic advantage, these agreements "speak to the building of political alliances. Free trade agreements are a means by which countries solidify their global position and global influence. You see
POOR NEED MORE
THAN A DECLARATION The European Unionâ€™s declaration on its 50th anniversary promising to help the poor remains at best mere words, writes * David Cronin.
he 50th anniversary of the European Union has been marked by a declaration committing the 27-country bloc to "drive back poverty, hunger and disease" throughout the world. But will this statement in the two-page Berlin Declaration, signed by German Chancellor and head of the Union's rotating presidency Angela Merkel, usher in a set of new EU policies that displays a genuine desire to further the interests of the poor? The 1957 Treaty of Rome, which led to the EU's founding, was drawn up at a time when Europe's colonial powers faced a changing relationship with the territories they controlled. Some 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa won independence in 1956-60. Against this backdrop, the treaty contains a pledge to pursue a development policy. Before long, however, it would become apparent that any good which the EU's development aid activities did could be undermined by how some of its other policies were inimical to
this with every major player, except perhaps Japan, which hasn't engaged much in free trade agreement negotiations. You also see this in every region of the world as countries vie with one another not just in an economic sense, but in the projection of power." * Martin Khor is Director of Third World Network (The interview can be read at http://blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/bus iness/globalization/?p=342)
coastal countries and threatening the local fisheries sector on which many communities rely for employment. And EU officials continue to face allegations that they are using aggressive tactics in trade negotiations with a range of developing countries. To address claims that the Union is giving with one hand and stealing from poor countries with the other, the EU's main institutions approved a new
Declarations are not shelter from poverty
poor countries. The lavish subsidies paid out under the Common Agricultural Policy have been blamed for imperiling the livelihoods of farmers in poor coun-
tries by flooding their markets with cheap imports. The fisheries agreements signed between the EU and Africa have been accused of plundering a key source of protein in many VOL.10 NO.2
'consensus for development' in 2005. It undertook to iron out the so-called incoherence between the EU's development policy on one side and its economic policies on the other. 21
Rob van Drimmelen from Aprodev, a network of antipoverty groups linked to Protestant churches, says that the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, deserves credit for putting the coherence question under scrutiny. But he said that the commitment is not being reflected in the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which the Commission is negotiating with 75 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. EU trade officials are using these talks to seek the scrapping of ACP tariffs on a large number of imports, leading to fears that they could reduce the countries' scope for economic development. "The EU can make lofty statements but it is discouraging and disappointing that the Commission is not paying 22
more attention to the development dimension in the EPA talks," van Drimmelen told IPS. The EU Civil Society Contact Group, which bands together environmental, antipoverty, human rights, trade union and public health activists, had urged that the Berlin Declaration should bind the Union to several concrete measures. In particular, it asked that the EU's trade and agriculture policies be reformed by 2009. Ten years ago, the Commission issued a publication boasting that Europe's colonial era is "behind us". Marjorie Lister, a lecturer in European studies in Britain's University of Bradford, regards that statement as misleading. She points out that several European countries still have AFRICAN AGENDA
'dependent' territories outside their own borders. Twenty such territories are covered by the Cotonou Agreement. Signed in Benin, West Africa, in 2000, this accord underpins relations between the EU and the ACP grouping. It replaced the Yaounde and Lome conventions, which, according to many EU officials, kept Europe's relations with Africa to the purely economic. "Links between Europe and the ACP were always postcolonial and political links, despite the convenient fictions often invoked by the European Commission that the conventions were solely economic, neutral or nonpolitical," said Lister. Andrew Mold, an economist with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, says that the effects of colonialism can still be seen from East Timor to Darfur. Although colonialism has hampered economic development in poor countries and created a legacy of failed states and horrific conflicts, "there is no objective reason why the EU as an institution should feel prisoner to the history of its member states," he added. In his new book 'EU Development Policy in a Changing World', Mold notes that the Union has tended to see its links with poor countries as "more enlightened" than the foreign policy of the United States. "One particularly revealing fact is that while the EU spends the equivalent of 20% of its combined defence budgets on development aid, the equivalent figure for the US is only 3.5%," he said. Nonetheless, he warns that this should not give the EU any grounds for complacency. "The damage done through policy coherence in other areas - such as requesting excessively onerous concessions in trade deals or condoning abusive fishing policies of member states - can potentialVOL.10 NO.2
ly far outweigh the benefits accruing from development aid," Mold added. "The first development rule should be 'do no harm'. And, regrettably, on a number of scores, the EU does not currently pass this test." Whereas development was for decades the EU's main policy towards the wider world, the Union's decision-makers have spent much time since the end of the Cold War considering how they can have more farreaching foreign policies, with a strong security dimension. These policies have led to the Union commanding peacekeeping missions in Congo and the Balkans. Yet, they have not yet enabled it to apply effective pressure against mass violators of human rights. Some commentators have noted how a European community formed in response to the carnage that the continent witnessed in the 1940s is today failing to take robust action against the alleged genocide being carried out in Sudan. Although the EU's foreign ministers have expressed concern about events in the west Sudanese province of Darfur more than 50 times since 2004, they have not imposed tough sanctions against the Khartoum government such as an oil embargo or asset freezing. "While the 50th anniversary is surely a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on one of the underlying reasons for the formation of the EU: the commitment of the nations of Europe to the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity," said Lotte Leicht, the EU director with Human Rights Watch. "After the horrific crimes of the Holocaust, the world vowed 'never again'. But that vow seems terribly empty in view of what is happening today in Darfur." * David Cronin writes for the IPS from Brussels.
Beef up budget allocations
to achieve MDGs I
Campaigners have called on African states to put in place sufficient budget allocations and the right policies if the continent is to meet the global and regional health care targets that governments have committed themselves to, writes *Moyiga Nduru.
n 2000, African states, along with most of the world, agreed to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. African heads of state also committed their countries to improving health care across the continent by 2010 at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2001. Of the eight MDGs, three relate directly to health. One calls for reducing child mortality, the other for improving maternal health and the last one is aimed at combating HIV/AIDS and malaria. Campaigners are concerned that the majority of African nations will not achieve these MDGs. Therefore, representatives from 143 member organisations of the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV/AIDS and Allies came together in Johannesburg, South Africa, from April 9-13 to lobby African health ministers who were meeting at the same time to draft the Africa Health Strategy 2007-2015. The coalition urged African governments to allocate 15% of national budgets to health care, as per the Abuja commitment of 2001. It also urged governments to engage civil society and ministries in mobilising resources for tuberculosis (TB).
Member states should work towards closing the TB funding gap of nearly $11 billion over the next decade, the coalition demanded. It organised a demonstration on 11 April. About 1,000 people participated.
Can she keep smiling into adulthood?
''Eight million Africans are dying from HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria every year. We want to stop this,'' Regis Mtutu of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) told IPS in an interview. TAC is a pressure group based in Cape Town, South Africa, which seeks access to drugs for people living with
â€˜We cannot meet the MDGs at this pace. We need to double up our efforts through some extraordinary work, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.â€™ AFRICAN AGENDA
HIV/AIDS. ''We cannot meet the MDGs at this pace. We need to double up our efforts through some extraordinary work, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria,'' said Mtutu. Regarding the commitment to set aside 15% of national budgets for health services, ''only Botswana and The Gambia have met this promise'', Mtutu said. Following the demonstration in Johannesburg, the coalition presented its petition to the African Union (AU) commission for health. ''We hope that they will listen to us. We are not fighting them. We are sending our message robustly,'' Mtutu said. 23
Development The coalition said in a statement that ''the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe deserves special mention as it is also a health crisis for Africa. People living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe cannot obtain the care they need and the climate of violence is perpetuating the epidemics of HIV and TB.'' Civil society groups put the number of Zimbabweans who have fled their country since the crisis began in 2000 to 5 million, with 2.5 million of them believed to be living in South Africa. Others have fled to Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Britain and the United States.
In a new report, ''Paying for People'', published this month, Oxfam estimates that $13.7 billion must be invested every year to appoint an additional 1 million teachers and Making a living on the street: what difference can MDGs make to her life? 2.1 million health care workers urgently needed to break Nairobi. Pharmaceutical plants ''It should be a step-by-step approach. the cycle of poverty in Africa. Part of the African health ministers' dis''Today, in too many of the world's Each country has its own strategy. If you set cussions included a plan to set up pharmaa time frame, it might not work. For exam- poorest countries, health and education ceutical plants for producing life-prolongple, you cannot expect (strife-torn) coun- services are dependent on a handful of ing anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). Mtutu tries like Somalia, Zimbabwe and the workers struggling heroically to do their pointed out that ''the ministers for finance Democratic Republic of Congo to reach the jobs on pitiful wages and in appalling conand industry were not part of the discussion. 15% target. It is not practical,'' she told IPS. ditions. Becoming a doctor, nurse or teacher To succeed, the health ministers need manis like signing a contract with poverty,'' dates from their finance and industry counOxfam's Elizabeth Stuart wrote in the terparts. report. ''If we are to achieve the MDGs, the According to the report, ''Africa has key ministerial clusters need to meet in the 13% of the global population and 25% of next six to 12 months,'' Mtutu said. the global burden of disease but only 1.3% Some campaigners say that meeting the of the global workforce.'' health MDGs cuts across other areas such as The report cites Tanzania as an examcombating poverty, improving sanitation ple. This southern African country produces and infrastructure. Eve Edete, policy officer 640 doctors, nurses and midwives each at Oxfam Kenya office, told IPS that the year. But to reach the World Health 'MDGs' is just a label. It is a brand. Organisation's recommended staffing levels ''HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diswithin 10 years, it would need to produce eases are really the issue. It is about systems 3,500 such health workers each year. to deliver health care. This should be the Another example is Malawi where only starting point to meeting the MDGs,'' said nine percent of health facilities have adeEdete. quate staff to provide basic health care. The Although governments have committed country loses around 100 nurses each year themselves to the MDGs and the Abuja tar''who emigrate in search of a better wage'', get, some prefer to move at their own pace. according to the Oxfam report. Kenya's government, for example, says that it will commit 12% of its national budget to health by 2008, according to Ruth * Moyiga Nduru writes for the IPS from Charo of Kenya's Health Non-governmental Johannesburg. Organizations Network based in the capital
â€˜Today, in too many of the world's poorest countries, health and education services are dependent on a handful of workers struggling heroically to do their jobs on pitiful wages and in appalling conditions. Becoming a doctor, nurse or teacher is like signing a contract with poverty.â€™
EPAs should be subjected to electoral test As the deadline for signing the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific region looms in December, some have called for a referendum on the issue, writes *Nasseem Ackbarally
presently self-sufficient in chicken production. What will happen if EU chicken is imported here? Will it not affect the food security of the island? What will happen if we do not sign the EPAs? We should know," he pointed out. Both Subron and Mangar maintained that Mauritius will be a great loser if the EPA is signed and implemented.
Here is a free trade agreement between rich and poor countries in which the former is trying to impose a reciprocal system of trade on the latter, with major consequences for poor people.” This is the true picture of the economic partnership agreements (EPAs), according to Resistance and Alternative, a small Mauritian political party. The EPAs are currently being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to replace the existing preferential trade agreements. Resistance and Alternative has appealed to parliamentarians to put an end to the negotiations because, as spokesperson Ashok Subron said, "it is for the people to decide such an agreement by way of a referendum.
The people’s verdict on EPAs They will be the first to be affected." Subron believes that the EPAs will be detrimental to economic and social development, peace and security, democracy and regional integration among ACP countries. Explaining the consequences for the population, especially poor people, he said consumption would shift away from local producers to EU imports when the EPAs are fully implemented.
Subron cited research which predicted that local production for the domestic market will fall by 24 percent after the EPA is instituted. This will lead to jobs being cut by 12 percent, particularly in the manufacturing sector, affecting mostly
women. Customs revenue will decrease by 54 percent. Eric Mangar from the Mouvement Autossuffisance Alimentaire (MAA), a non-governmental organisation working with local farmers, agreed with Subron. The EU will benefit mostly from the EPAs, he told IPS. "I have a few questions but I do not know who will reply to them. For example, Mauritius is
However, the Mauritian government does not see the EPAs that way. The government expects the EPA arrangements to support its new economic trajectory and programme of reforms that will put the island on the path to sustainable development and global competitiveness. "Mauritius is committed to the EPA and to economic reforms. But we need to ensure that there is a balance between what is given and what is received," Mauritius foreign and international trade minister Madan Dulloo said. He proposed that adequate flexibilities and safeguard measures be built into the EPA for Mauritius, following the principle of special and differential treatment.
‘I have a few questions but I do not know who will reply to them. For example, Mauritius is presently self-sufficient in chicken production. What will happen if EU chicken is imported here? Will it not affect the food security of the island? What will happen if we do not sign the EPAs? We should know.’ VOL.10 NO.2
Trade Within the World Trade Organisation system, special and differential treatment is applicable to poor states in recognition of their lower developmental status when compared to industrialised states. The island state wants to maintain the ACP-EU sugar protocol which gives it preferential access to the EU market. It is also seeking more flexible rules of origin. Rules of origin in trade agreements determine where product inputs can be sourced from. Sometimes these measures are so restrictive that developing states are unable to utilise preferential access to the EU or US markets. In negotiating the EPA, Mauritius also wants the neces-
sary funding to develop traderelated infrastructure and boost supply capacity. The current non-reciprocal tariff preferences that Mauritius enjoys under the Cotonou agreement will be maintained until December 31 2007. The EPA will kick in at the start of 2008.
The EU is proposing that it phases out the duty and quota regime on sugar from the ACP countries by 2015. Until 2015, volume-based safeguards will be applied to the stronger sugar producing ACP countries. Furthermore, its proposal also includes subjecting ACP sugar access to the EU market to a
protective safeguard after 2015. On this issue, Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam warned that Mauritius will not be able to compete with countries like Swaziland, Sudan and Brazil when the EU cuts sugar prices by the planned 36 percent by 2009. This is the reason why the island state, the biggest exporter of sugar from ACP countries, wants this product to be included on the list of sensitive products. "Lobbying is continuing on this issue," agro-industry minister Arvin Boolell told IPS. But this promises to be a difficult task for Mauritian negotiators after the EU's announcement that the EU-ACP sugar protocol will end in September 2009.
"This shows that there is no acquired right in this world," Ramgoolam commented, adding that Mauritius has failed to design a strategy to face the transition from a protected to an open economy. Earlier this month in Washington, finance minister Rama Sithanen said "besides the fiscal revenue loss, we have also the painful social costs of adjustment". In the textile and clothing industry 30 percent of people have lost their job in recent years, 85 percent of whom are women. Thousands of others are facing the same fate in the sugar industry.
* Nasseem Ackbarally writes for the IPS from Port Louis, Mauritius.
TWN-Africa & Oxfam put EUâ€™s political will to test A joint Third World Network-Africa and Oxfam International report concludes that ACP countries can retain their current market access levels without Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, writes Kwesi W. Obeng*.
EC President Barroso and Germanyâ€™s Merkel
frican, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries do not have to sign Economic Partnership 26
Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union to retain current access levels to the EU market, says a joint Third World AFRICAN AGENDA
Network-Africa (TWN-Africa) and Oxfam International report. These countries could rather adopt the General System of Preference plus (GSP+) to access the European market while EPA negotiations continue even beyond the December 2007 deadline. Launching the report in Accra, Ghana, Mr. Tetteh Hormeku, head of programmes at TWN-Africa, said with some minor tinkering and at an insignificant cost to Europe, the EU could apply GSP+ to continue current levels of market access for all ACP countries. Critically, GSP+ would also prevent disruption in trade. The EU proposed EPAs are essentially free trade agreements that Europe is seeking to sign with the ACP group of countries. Under the deal, ACP countries would be required to VOL.10 NO.2
open their economies even wider for EU imports. Specifically, the EU proposals will remove tariffs on European products imported into ACP markets, allow European companies and investors to enter any sector of local economy and demand to be treated equal, if not better, than domestic enterprises.
The EPAs will also prevent the ACP governments from adopting policies to promote and support domestic investors, businesses and farmers. Over twenty years of unbridled liberalization coupled with tariff reductions in most ACP economies has led to the collapse of sectors such as poultry, textiles, tomatoes, rice, fisheries and cotton.
Trade Contrary to EU/EC claims, the EPAs would deepen this anomaly by eliminating tariffs completely, for most agricultural and industrial goods, key foreign exchange earners of ACP economies. In addition to eliminating tariffs, which constitute a substantial chunk of government revenue, the EPAs will eliminate government discretion in relation to public policy. For example, in the areas of government procurement (which refers to the markets created by public expenditure), the EPA will take away the right of ACP governments to give preference to sourcing local supplies over European suppliers. This effectively will shackle ACP governments from pursuing policies which will promote domestic industry, suppliers and jobs. EPAs by their nature are costly. However, the GSP+ is a cost free alternative as the scheme does not entitle the EU to demand any extra liberalisation of ACP economies. Again, GSP+ is both compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rule and equivalent to current market access preference scheme under Cotonou. According to Mr. Hormeku, who is also co-author of the report, with appropriate adjustments the GSP+ could even provide a long-term alternative to the contentious EPAs.
The EU is threatening the 76-member ACP group, which is made up of some of the poorest countries in the world, to sign up to free trade deals under the EPAs by the end of 2007. These countries, mainly in Africa, risk significantly lower access to the EU market if they fail to sign on to the EPAs. The EU insistence comes against a backdrop of the fact that ACP domestic businesses, workers, farmers and citizens have not been consulted about these major changes underway. Under the pretence of find-
ing a long-term alternative to the imminent expiration of the current market access preferences ACP countries enjoy in the EU market, the Europeans proposed the EPAs. But the EPA in sum is a hardnosed free trade deal that will inevitably leave these poor countries worst off if ever signed in their current form. Indeed, according to the European Commission’s (EC) own Sustainable Impact Assessment of EPAs on ACPs, West Africa for example would lose at least a billion euros in trade. A quarter of Ghana’s exports (240 million euros) for example would face a tariff of 27 per cent against zero per cent (0%). For La Cote d’Ivoire, it rises to about 36 per cent of exports (700 million euros). In Central Africa, about 360 million euros of exports would also be lost. The EC’s assessment also found that EPAs would ‘accelerate the collapse of the modern West Africa manufacturing sector’ and ‘further discourage the development of processing and manufacturing capacity in ACP countries in export-oriented and other industries’.
The TWN-Africa Oxfam report, which examined Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East and Southern Africa (ESA) negotiating blocs and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific bloc said that for these nations GSP+ would offer a level of market access comparable to what they currently enjoy. ACP countries’ current market access preferences to the EU market expire at the end of this year. EU’s adoption of the GSP+ would predictably afford ACP countries in particular a much needed respite to re-organise to negotiate for a better and fairer EPA. But to make the transition, the report suggests EU grants all ACP countries which are not AFRICAN AGENDA
least-developed countries the right to join GSP+ this year. Overall, this would have the effect of ensuring that the majority of current ACP exports would continue to benefit from duty-free access into the European market after Cotonou Preferences expires and in the event that the EU fails to extend current preferences. GSP+ was originally designed to replace the previous preferential scheme (anti-narcotics crops). But the European Commission has however said it would apply standard-GSP to ACP exports if the December 2007 deadline slips by without an agreement on EPAs. The GSP+ or ‘Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance’ scheme provides preferential access that is substantially higher than standard GSP. The standard-GSP is in effect insufficient and would prove counter to the development needs and aspirations of ACP countries.
GSP+ vs standard GSP
Again, the cost of switching to standard GSP tariffs from Cotonou would be costly to ACP countries, the report states. The standard GSP tariffs would also fall on a few but very sensitive export sectors. In Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire more than two-thirds of the costs of trade disruption under the standard GSP would fall on the fish, wood and horticulture sectors. In Kenya, fish and horticulture exporters would be hit almost exclusively. The pattern is hardly any different for the Pacific, where tuna is one of the greatest shared region’s resources. The region’s fledgling canning and processing industry relies on tariff-free access to the EU market. The GSP+ scheme does not however cover sugar and bananas (these are exported under the Commodity Protocols). But for all other current exports from these counVOL.10 NO.2
tries, GSP+ would provide duty-free access to the EU market to a degree that is comparable to Cotonou. Significantly, the key export sectors of horticulture, fisheries and wood which are the sectors of greatest concern to many ACP countries would have duty-free access into the EU market under GSP+. Admission of all ACP countries into the GSP+ in 2007 would thus provide exporters and investors in these vital export sectors the certainty they require to continue exports. This will invariably lighten the huge pressure on EPA negotiators and enable ACP countries to continue negotiations beyond 2007 with negligible interruption of current trade. But GSP+ has some drawbacks, the report admits. Key limitations of GSP+ include a narrower scope of coverage and tighter rules of origin. Some goods such as fresh oranges, the report points out, may face higher tariffs than at present. These weaknesses, Mr. Hormeku said, could be addressed if the EU mustered the political will. As the EU tightens its grip on securing a deal in its favour come December 2007, it remains to be seen how forcefully ACP negotiators would push for the adoption of GSPplus to protect their policy space and populations the EU onslaught. Already, the EU has dismissed a legitimate demand by West African governments, one of the six ACP negotiating blocs, for an extension of negotiations by three years, until 2010, to enable them undertake further studies regarding the likely impact of the EPAs on their economies. The EU insists via a punishing timetable that the first draft of the agreement must be ready in July, and final agreement signed by end of this year. * Kwesi W. Obeng is Assistant Editor, African Agenda. 27
Serious threat to producers
The livelihood of small businesses is at stake as the European Union pressures the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement by end of December 2007 as this story from Cameroun depicts.
nana is a small-scale broiler breeder from Mbankomo, a small locality about 30 km from Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. He has been in this business for 17 years. However, for five years, between 1998 and 2004, his breeding business was no longer profitable and he had to abandon it, thus plunging his family into indescribable poverty. “For all these years, I was unable to feed my family, educate my children, and even often treat them when they fell ill. Besides, I lost one of my daughters as I was unable to pay the amount demanded by doctors for her treatment …”, he recollects, suppressing a tear. For the record, it was the unfair competition from the massive importation of frozen chicken parts from Europe which forced Onana to abandon his breeding business. Cameroon imported yearly 22,154 tonnes of frozen chicken, valued at F CFA 10.5 billion. Because of these imports, more than 111,000 operators in this sector, like Onana, had stopped their business. At that time, frozen chicken was levied 23 % tax and customs duty for entry into Cameroon. For two years now, following the ACDIC campaign, the government has increased taxes and customs duty on frozen chicken imports to 46 % 28
and reduced the volume imported. By so doing, the selling price of a kilogramme of frozen chicken increased from F CFA 900 to F CFA 1,700. Onana has resumed his breeding business and successfully manages four flocks of 1,000 chickens a year. With this business, he has rediscovered an employment that provides him income to feed his family and educate his children. “I am married with seven children; all my children have reached school-going age, but only four are in school, the other three have had their education cut short through poverty which hit us some years ago”. Like him, over 250,000 people have rediscovered employment in the poultry sector in Cameroon.
Onana in danger
The on-going negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CEMAC (Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community) and the European Union (EU) is a real threat to the new-found prosperity of Onana and his family. This is because if the EPAs are signed on 31 December 2007, the government of Cameroon will be compelled to remove the 46 % taxes and customs duty as well as the quota restrictions imposed on frozen chicken AFRICAN AGENDA
imports from Europe. If, with 20 % customs duties, the importation of 22,154 tonnes has destroyed 110,000 jobs, what will the situation be with 0 % customs duty? Certainly it will be more catastrophic! Subsidized products from Europe will kill all production sectors in the country. If such an agreement is signed between CEMAC and the EU, the situation portrayed for Onana and his colleagues in the poultry sector will be the same for all sectors of the country’s economy. This is because the agreement will include all aspects: services, public procurement, agricultural and non-agricultural goods, etc. An EPA impact study on the agricultural sector of CEMAC, undertaken by the Executive Secretariat of CEMAC concluded that: “Whatever the method used to offset the loss of fiscal revenue, … liberalization will lead to a fall in the prices of commodities which will cause a general fall in the price index; an increase in cash crop production (for export) to the detriment of production for the local market; a fall in the production of agro-industries which will not be able to cope with competition from imported food products; an overall fall in household consumption, as the fall in income is greater than the fall in consumer VOL.10 NO.2
prices; worsening of poverty, particularly in rural areas, and worsening of inequalities both in the urban and rural areas”. Yet, despite this unambiguous warning, the Cameroonian Ministers in charge of negotiations (Ministers of Finance and Trade) insist on signing an agreement with the European Union on 31 December 2007. Besides, they are putting pressure on the other countries in the sub-region, who have reservations because of the enormous risks that weigh on the lives of millions of people, to conclude negotiations by the end of this year, with the excuse that if an agreement were not signed by 31 December 2007, there would be a legal vacuum in trade relations with the EU. Should it be understood in this context that, in place of the legal vacuum which could be negotiated before the end of the year, it is preferable to sign an agreement that would generate poverty? … It is like saying that, for the government of Cameroon, only the interests of others matter! * Culled and translated from the April 7, 2007 edition of L’Appel Citoyen published by L’Association Citoyenne de Defense des Interets Collectifs of Cameroun, (www.acdic.net)
Proposed UN women's agency gains key ally
A coalition of over 140 international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and women's groups is gratified that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expressing public support for the creation of a new UN agency for women, writes *Thalif Deen.
We believe [that] the public support of the secretary-general is a very important step in moving closer towards the implementation of this new women's entityâ€?, June Zeitlin, executive director of the New York-based Women's Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) told IPS. She said that the secretary-general called on member states to take up this proposal, as did women from around the world who were in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which concluded a two-week session. The proposal for a new UN women's agency was made last November by a 15member "High-Level Panel on UN System-
Wide Coherence", comprising heads of government, former world political leaders and senior government and UN officials. On International Women's Day, which was commemorated at the United Nations and around the globe, the secretary-general said that such a new body should be able to call on all of the UN system's resources in the work to empower women and realise gender equality worldwide. "I encourage member states to study the possibility of replacing several current structures with one dynamic UN entity."
The proposal for the creation of a new gender architecture includes the consolidaAFRICAN AGENDA
tion of three existing UN entities - the UN Development Fund for Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the UN Division for the Advancement of Women - under a single new UN agency to be headed by an under-secretary-general, the third highest ranking post in the world body. But its implementation will require the blessings of the 192-member General Assembly, which has not given any indication of how it will respond. Asked if she was confident that member states would support the proposal, Zeitlin said that women who spoke to their government representatives here at the United Nations will continue these discussions back at home in their nation's capitals. 29
Women "To date, we have heard of no opposition by member states to strengthening the gender equality architecture," she added. "However, we do understand that countries have questions and want more information on a number of issues, including about how the new entity will operate, particularly at the national level, and where the
new resources will come from." In a letter to the secretary-general, the coalition of over 140 NGOs said: "We call upon UN member states and the secretarygeneral to take swift actions to initiate and support efforts to strengthen the architecture for women's equality in the General Assembly deliberations during its (current) 61st session," which ends in early September. The coalition says that the upgrading of women's equality work within the UN system is long overdue. "It is imperative at this critical juncture that member states and the UN system take bold action - and provide the leadership and resources required - to make these recommendations a reality," the groups said. Support
The 140 NGOs, spanning all of the continents, included Asia Pacific Women's
Watch, Canadian Federation of University Women, Centre for Women's Global Leadership, European Women's Lobby, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, International Federation of Women's Lawyers and the World Federation of UN Associations. Charlotte Bunch of the Centre for
Just give us the space, we are able
Women's Global Leadership said that the letter signed by all of the NGOs was delivered to the secretary-general on International Women's Day. "It is our hope that this will get the process moving again among governments," she told IPS. Bunch pointed out that the coalition was also successful in getting the issue discussed at the General Assembly's special thematic session on gender, and with governments around the CSW session. "While we do not know exactly what will be the next stage in the process, the idea is gaining momentum and has been widely supported by NGOs at the CSW," she added. The letter sent to the secretary-general also calls for a commitment "to significant and sustained funding of the new women's entity and the gender equality and women's rights/empowerment work of the whole UN
"We call upon UN member states and the secretary-general to take swift actions to initiate and support efforts to strengthen the architecture for women's equality in the General Assembly deliberations during its (current) 61st session,"
system, including gender main-streaming within all UN policies and programmes." The coalition also seeks "meaningful and ongoing civil-society participation, particularly of women's groups, in the consideration and implementation of the (HighLevel) Panel's recommendations at the national, regional and global levels."
The letter says that structures and avenues for such participation should be built into the gender equality architecture of the United Nations at all levels to ensure that women's voices, and especially those at the grassroots, are heard and that women's concerns are effectively addressed in sustained ways. Zeitlin said that the three existing women's units have a total budget of about $65 million, compared to $450 million for the UN Population Fund and about $2 billion for the UN children's agency, UNICEF. "These recommendations present the best opportunity to reduce the gap between the rhetoric on gender equality at the United Nations and the reality of women's lives," she added. She also pointed out that the panel had recommended an initial target of some $200 million for the proposed new women's agency. "We understand [that] this number was taken out (of the panel's report) because some panel members believed [that] it was far below what was needed for the United Nations to deliver on gender equality and women's empowerment." * Thalif Deen writes for the IPS from New York.
Women stuck at the small-scale level
Many women run enterprises of their own in Sub-Saharan Africa. All too often, however, they find it difficult to expand their business, generate more income and create additional employment, they are neither given full access to all financial services, nor provided with adequate professional advice, or supported by overall favourable regulatory environments, writes* Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
frican women are not caught in a trap that would not allow them to move into business. According to a study published by the African Development Bank in 2004, the continent's women own and operate many micro, small and medium enterprises. In fact, female ownership of such businesses ranged from a low of 46 per cent in countries like Kenya and Malawi to as much as 84 per cent in Swaziland. So we need not waste time worrying about how to get African women into busi-ness, they are already there. What we, however, need is to help women escape another trap. Businesses run by women tend to be so small that they sim-
Masai women with wares
ply can neither be as successful as they deserve to be, nor have the economic impacts on employment and incomes they should have. We must therefore strengthen women's abilities to run and expand their businesses.
Three distinct elements constitute the trap that keeps women entrepreneurs stuck at the small-scale level. First, there is a lack of access to finance. Second, women need better advice and business services. Third, national and international regulations often stand in the way of growth. The World Bank is right in arguing that "gender equality is AFRICAN AGENDA
smart economics". But Africa must not wait for donors to become active. The onus is on us, and civil society should exert pressure on governments to rise to the challenges. Micro-lending is something that can help. Access to such loans is very important, particularly in rural areas. The work of the Grameen Bank, BRAC and others in Bangladesh is providing wonderful examples for us. However, it is not enough to focus on micro-credit. There is a great number of women whose businesses are too big to have much use for micro loans. In principle, they would be ready to expand and employ more staff, but they cannot do so for lack of funds. 31
Women Risk-adverse behaviour is typical of most African banks, and their stance makes financing investments difficult for most male entrepreneurs too. But for women, the challenge to provide some kind of security, for instance, is particularly daunting. More often than not, land is legally owned by male family members â€“ and that is the kind of collateral most bankers want to see. Surely, there must also be other ways to leverage and guarantee resources to women. In Iran, women use beautiful Persian rugs as collateral. Gold, silver or jewellery in general are other options. Anything that can be given a paper value can, in principle, serve as a security in financial deals. We need to stimulate thought on these issues in Africa, we need innovative approaches. In Nigeria, we have laid the base for a brighter future. We have gone through a process of consolidation in the financial sector. Instead of formerly 89 banks there are now 25. Competition has become tougher. Banks will have to move on from merely trading assets to investing in productive businesses if they want to thrive. In other words, the banks will have to become more innovative, and that should make them more in-terested in doing business with women too. However, we should not confine ourselves to thinking only in terms of credit. There is a need of other mechanisms to open up funds for women as well. It would make sense to establish venture-capital funds for women's businesses. Donors, governments and the private sector should pull together and cooperate on that matter. In a similar sense, it would be worthwhile to have insurances cover relevant business risks. In other words, the entire range of financial services must become available to women entrepreneurs if we want to see them rise to their full potential. However, financial bottlenecks are only one cate-gory of constraints that prevent women's businesses from expanding more dynamically. They need other services as 32
Lady in the market well. Too often, owners of small enterprises lack the capacity to systematically draft a business plan. Too often, they do not know how to do a cash-flow analysis in order to really understand how their busi-ness is doing. Obviously, they need competent advice from professional consultants on such matters.
In particular, it is important that they learn to think in terms of supply chains. It is not enough to consider what women can produce and how they can do that. Marketing matters too, the products must be sold. It is one thing to grow flowers and quite another thing to auction them in Amsterdam. In Uganda, I saw an example where advisers, with very good results, accompany flower growers from the production all the way through to marketing, including assuring quality. That approach could work out well in other sectors too, textiles and clothing, for in-stance. Once a company becomes part of an internation-al supply chain, the chances for it growing steadily and generating more income multiply. But for that to happen, production must meet certain quality standards. Female entrepreneurs need assistance to move up that ladder. Finally, regulations matter. National policy, for instance, may block businesses even if it is well intended. In Nigeria counAFRICAN AGENDA
try, an attempt to protect the textile industry actually ended up harming many women working as fashion designers and producers. Nigeria simply banned the import of' all textiles. Accordingly, some imports that these women needed to produce the clothes they were exporting elsewhere were banned too. These women brought the problem to governmentâ€™s attention, and we had to deal with it. This example shows that national policies matter -but so do international regimes. Today, we are noticing that Chinese companies are copying traditional Niger-ian tiedye designs. Their products are flooding our markets at very low prices, increasingly driving local competition out of business. These designs, however, are not patented. So intellectual property from Nigeria is being used now in a way that is detrimental to our economy, and that is not an acceptable institutional setting â€“ even if the persons who do that kind of work in China happen to be women. * Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D C. Before, she was finance minister and then foreign affairs minister of Nigeria.
This article culled from Third World Network Features (June 2007), also appeared in Development and Cooperation, Vol. 35, 2007.
Security Council accused of overstepping bounds
The 130-member Group of 77, the largest single coalition of developing countries, has lashed out at the Security Council, accusing the UN's most powerful political body of violating the organisation's charter by planning an open debate on energy, security and climate, writes *Thalif Deen.
he Security Council's primary responsibility is for the maintenance of international peace and security as set out in the UN Charter, according to the G77. All other issues, including those relating to economic and social development, are assigned by the Charter to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly. The G77's strong reaction to the upcoming Security Council meeting is
Security Council in session
expected to be reflected in a letter to Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of Britain, current president of the 15-member Council. The decision to send a letter to Parry Jones was taken at a closed-door meeting of the G77. The letter is expected to say that the ever-increasing encroachment by the Security Council on the roles and responsibilities of other principal organs of the United Nations represents a distortion of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, AFRICAN AGENDA
and also infringes on their authority and compromises the rights of the general membership of the United Nations.
Ambassador Munir Akram, current G77 chair and permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, said that some of the G77 members feel that the Security Council has gone beyond its mandate. He said that issues such as nuclear 33
UN Secretary-General Ban
"The concept of the Security Council, as I read the UN Charter, is that the Council comes into action when there are actual threats to peace, and breaches of the peace," Ambassador Akram told IPS. On earlier occasions, the Security Council had also "encroached" into ECOSOC and General Assembly territory by holding meetings on gender rights, HIV/AIDS, terrorism and UN procurement and peacekeeping. Last year, the Group of 77 under the chairmanship of South Africa protested the debate on UN procurement. But US Ambassador John Bolton, then president of the Security Council, refused to remove the item from the agenda and continued with the one-day discussion despite protests from the G77. Akram said that some of these thematic issues are not threats to peace or breaches of the peace. But, of course, it is a matter of interpretation. Terrorism may be a threat to peace, he argued, but the Security Council is not dealing with an actual situation when it is involved in setting norms and creating international laws.
"Law-making powers, according to my interpretation of the charter, are clearly assigned to the General Assembly, not to the 34
Security Council," he added. At a press conference, Parry Jones told reporters that the very fact of holding a meeting on climate change and highlighting it was important. The meeting is to be chaired by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, but there are no plans either to issue a presidential statement or adopt a resolution on climate change, the British envoy said. Meanwhile, the 117-member NonAligned Movement (NAM) has also criticised the British proposal to hold a meeting on climate Ki-Moon change. Ambassador Ileana Nunez Mordoche of Cuba, current NAM chair, has expressed NAM's concerns "regarding the continued and increased encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and other organs through addressing issues which traditionally fall within the competence of the latter organs." China, which is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, is a key member of the Group of 77, along with Ghana, Indonesia, the Republic of Congo, Panama, Peru, Qatar and South Africa - all
â€˜Law-making powers, according to my interpretation of the charter, are clearly assigned to the General Assembly, not to the Security Council.â€™ AFRICAN AGENDA
rotating non-permanent members of the same Council.
Akram said that individual members have the full right to speak in their national capacities. "Some of them have said they will speak at the Security Council meeting while others have said they will not speak because they are challenging the authority of the Council to take up this issue," he told IPS. The issues of energy and climate change, which will be discussed at the meeting, are considered vital for sustainable development. But the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which took place in Johannesburg in September 2002, assigned responsibilities in the field of sustainable development to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
But "no role was envisaged for the Security Council," Akram said. An Asian diplomat, whose country is a member of the G77, told IPS that intuitively, there would seem to be a nexus between environmental degradation brought about by climate change and the advent of conflict. This is clear to anyone who thinks that conflict is often about securing resources, for example, scarce water resources. But, the problem that one has in making an intellectual argument - as to why the Security Council should discuss this - is that one cannot seem to point conclusively to any one conflict as being an example, he said. "Why is it a threat to international peace and security?" he asked. There seems to be no conclusive study that makes the argument based on scientific research or exhaustive data. "This has given rise to the perception that this debate is being held either simply for the sake of having a debate or just to publicize the issue," he added. Otherwise, Britain should have introduced this as a formal agenda item for the Security Council to discuss. The fact that they are not planning follow-up meetings reaffirms this perception, he noted.
* Thalif Deen writes for the IPS from New York.
RIGHT TO HEALTH, SAY ACTIVISTS
Hiring a private firm to manage the drinking water system in Nepal's capital violates the right to health guaranteed in the country's interim constitution, activists are set to argue before the Supreme Court, writes *Marty Logan.
our groups are opposing a plan to break up the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) in the Kathmandu Valley and disperse its work and assets among three new agencies, one of which will hire the British firm Severn Trent to manage water delivery in the Valley's five municipalities for six years. The scheme, which has been approved by Nepal's new legislature, is a condition tied to building the huge Melamchi project that will divert river
Water is life: figthing for his life
water to the capital. It is led by the Asian Development Bank (AsDB). "Health is a fundamental right. When you say health, that includes water," says Gopal Siwakoti 'Chintan', legal advisor at Water and Energy Users' Federation-Nepal WAFED). "What is the guarantee that Severn Trent will continue the supply in a free and affordable manner?" he added in an interview. The organisations that launched the court challenge
also contend that the management contract should have been awarded to a local company and that NWSC should have been given a real chance to reform. AsDB counters that its plan will devolve responsibility for supplying drinking water and managing wastewater to Nepal's municipalities, where it belongs, and that the NWSC is not being privatised because 80% of the shares in the new utility operator will be held by the central and local governments, making Severn VOL.10 NO.2
Trent a "private sector participant". That firm was hired because its expertise is unavailable in Nepal, adds the Bank.
Water supply in the Kathmandu Valley, home to close to two million people, is notoriously poor. Roughly 3040% of people are not connected to the NWSC system, according to Chintan, relying on public water taps, which are unreliable, and springs and other surface water sources. 35
Rights Many homeowners who have connections supplement the piped supply by tapping groundwater, which supplies 60-70% of the Valley's demand during the dry season. In 2004, the NWSC was supplying only 145 million litres a day to meet a demand of 294 million litres, according to the corporation. Nor is the piped water potable in many areas. One-half of households tested in the Valley were receiving water that contained no chlorine, the simplest method for disinfecting water, according to a study done by the government and NGOs in August 2006. One of the first tasks for Severn Trent will be installing water meters where none now exist, says AsDB Senior Urban Development Specialist Keiichi Tamaki. That includes at the more than 1,000 public taps where locals now often collect water for free. NWSC currently charges those with meters 50 rupees ($0.71) for the first 10,000 litres of water and 15 rupees for every 1,000 litres above that. That base rate will remain unchanged until delivery is improved, says AsDB, but the charge for water supplied beyond 10,000 litres needs to increase by 50% to finance operating costs, capital investment and professional management of the new company.
The tariff rose 15% in September 2004 and will "likely" increase once this year and again in 2008, Tamaki said in an interview. "People are already paying much more than expected in the form of tankers (to deliver water), diseases and bottled water. When you add up these 'coping costs', the increase is easily affordable," he added. The Nepal Government says it is too soon to predict if the review board that will be created from splitting the NWSC's Valley business into three - including the utility operator and management board 36
- would approve an increase. "If the operator wants the tariff raised they will have to make a request to the management board, which will make a request to the Tariff Fixation Board, which is independent," said Krishna Prasad Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works. "It's not like AsDB has recommended a 50% raise so it has to go up by 50%. It could be done like that in the past but now you'll have to go step-bystep," Acharya told IPS. What is certain is that those using public taps will have to start paying a monthly tariff, and that they will not benefit from what the bank calls the "generously subsidised" first 10,000 litres of water. Tap users will pay 70% of what homeowners pay for their non-subsidised water, at today's rates 10.5 rupees for each 1,000 litres. By 2008 that would rise to almost 14 rupees, slightly more than a packet of milk in Kathmandu, according to Tamaki's projected rate hike. "In our visits and surveys (to lower income areas) a family is using 15-30 litres a day for drinking and cooking. That's 450-900 litres a month," says Divas B Basnyat at the Melamchi project's Low Income Consumer Support Unit. "They laugh when we tell them how much that will cost because they'd rather pay than get up early in the morning to stand in line for water," he added.
At the same time, the Unit has also found that low-income people now use other water sources, like spring water, for washing and bathing, but would prefer to use piped water. If they were to start doing that, then their monthly bills would rise. The Unit is planning to rehabilitate most of the public taps in the Valley. The work will be free but the community will have to set up a users' group to manage the water. Water in the AFRICAN AGENDA
â€˜What is certain is that those using public taps will have to start paying a monthly tariff, and that they will not benefit from what the bank calls the "generously subsidised" first 10,000 litres of water. Tap users will pay 70% of what homeowners pay for their nonsubsidised water, at today's rates 10.5 rupees for each 1,000 litres.â€™ first year after a meter is installed will be free and it will be piped for half-price in the second year, added Basnyat. 'Chintan' asks why such improvements could not be made by the existing NWSC working with Severn Trent. Alternatively, "Hand the operating system to the municipalities so they own the board, the management and the profit. Then they will have the incentive" to provide quality service, he suggests. "In all legal, political and technical terms, (the plan) is a privatisation," he adds. A public institution will be de-authorised and all its wealth and functions transferred to a Nepali private company and ultimately to Severn Trent." According to Tamaki, "A number of (reform) models were tried by the World Bank from the late 1970s to the early 2000s and failed...in the eyes of the donor community, the NWSC is a non-starter."
Water expert Ajaya Dixit disagrees. "It was never given an opportunity to reform," he told IPS. "Its creation (as a board to usher in a World Bank water supply project) was greatly flawed. It ended up basically becoming a procurement agency. The law said it had to follow central government VOL.10 NO.2
directives and a minister sat on the board." "You can do things when you've been given responsibility but responsibility must be given," added the founder of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation. In an email, a Severn Trent employee told IPS that he could not discuss the management contract now. Media here have highlighted the UK firm's recent overcharging of customers, which led to a probe by utility regulator Owfat. It found, "Severn Trent Water had provided regulatory data that was either deliberately miscalculated or poorly supported". The firm must refund customers 42 million pounds sterling ($82.2 million) by 2009. The investigation into Severn Trent's "customer service performance failures is still continuing", Peter Mandich from Ofwat's press office told IPS via email. The AsDB is unconcerned, says Tamaki. "Disputes between operators and regulators are not uncommon at all...Severn Trent was very cooperative in the first instance - they realised (the miscalculation) themselves and reported it." *Marty Logan writes for the IPS from Kathmandu
REMEMBER BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
t was Sunday and as usual, the crowd at Prodigal Spot was larger than usual.
The bar consisted of a large, blue kiosk, fronted by a wide, leafy neem tree. On Sunday, even people who owned radios preferred to listen to football commentary at the bar where the arguments, jubilation and taunting was loud and festive. Besides, it was the end of the month, when most people had received their pay. Among the gathering were some of the more regular patrons, people who were likely to be found there any day, no matter the hour. There was Two Sure the lottery agent, as usual making calculations on his lottery sheet. There was Veteran, a returnee from the recent conflict in Liberia. Even though that conflict had ended long ago, Veteran had a way of relating stories as if he had returned just the previous day. “Liberia will never know peace,” he used to say with incontestable certainty. Akos the owner of the bar was herself no less loquacious than her patrons. She was an inquisitive woman who involved herself in all the private affairs of her customers. Often, in the course of pouring a drink for a waiting customer, she would suddenly stop, bottle in mid air, staring intently at the speaker until the buyer would remind her of her duty. “Sorry, how much did you say?” she would then ask apologetically. The most conspicuous absence this Sunday was that of Concoction, so-named because of his habit of drinking an impossibly outlandish combination of drinks. For all that, he commanded a lot of respect because working at the National Art Center where he sold artifacts he had a range of foreign contacts and was often visited by foreign tourists who brought a welcome air of novelty to Prodigal Spot. The match had not yet started and a furious argument was raging. It was about the president’s recent award of the Order of the British Empire. The contending factions were divided, almost strictly according to whether they supported the ruling
By Kwao Tordzro
party or belonged to the opposition. “What is so unheard of about an award from the queen?” Two Sure demanded. “Tell me. We have got our own Order of the Volta, don’t we? What’s the difference?” A wiry old specimen, obviously the worse for wear, got up from his chair. “Always against,” he said, pointing a shaking finger at Two Sure. “Always against.” said another man in support. It was Prof. the mason who had more facts than anybody else. He bought newspapers regularly and his information was always fresh. He was fond of big words which raised him in the eyes of the others especially as they did not understand them. “Hit that point again. Tell them.” Invigorated, the thin man said, “This government has received more foreign heads of state than any other government since we attained independence.” He tried to get up but his state of inebriation made him succumb back into his chair. “It’s true,” said another man. It was Tetteh Couple, a policeman. The ‘couple’ in his name was a vulgarization of the word ‘corporal.’ “And it has received more external loans than any other government.” “You mean your party has plunged us into more indebtedness than any other party.” “Even a debtor must eat!” Tetteh Couple shouted. He had shouted so much his voice was now hoarse. “After all we’re going to pay back.” “It is our regular payment of debts that has made it impossible for us to develop,” Two Sure informed him. “You are simply stubborn,” said Prof. What do you say about the Queen herself awarding the president the Order of the British Empire?” “You know what I find so pathetic about the whole of your arguments?” asked Veteran. “First of all, there is no British Empire to even talk about an award in its name. And then all the people who seem to admire your president so much are foreigners. What has he ever done to AFRICAN AGENDA
improve the livelihood of his own people?” “If he never did anything for a people, why should they vote for him another four years?” “Misguided voters!” Two Sure shouted, stretching his neck combatively. “Fools!” he concluded. “The misguided fools seem to be in the majority in this country!” Prof laughed. “With you gracing their ranks, Prof.” He pronounced the ‘Prof’ with a sneering emphasis. Just then, Concoction entered. He was accompanied by a stranger whose arrival gave the gathering a pause. He was a tall, muscular man with a mane of lustrous dreadlocks. “This is my friend Braxton Cudjoe,” said Concoction, from Jamaica.” “May I?” said the new arrival in a deep baritone, indicating an empty chair. “Feel free,” said Veteran. “Here,” said Two Sure, “we’re all prodigals.” “Go deh,” said Braxton Cudjoe. “Rastafari!” shouted Veteran. One thing about Veteran was that he was the local guru on all things Jamaican especially their music and their patois. “Forgive me for asking,” said Akos. ”No sweat,” said the Rastaman. ”Why, if you are from Jamaica, are you called Cudjoe?” Akos asked. Braxton Cudjoe cleared his throat. But before he could speak, Veteran got up. With an open palm he signaled Braxton Cudjoe to hold his peace. “When we talk about the true liberators of Jamaica, we are talking about Kojo, Tachie and Kwao. True or false?” “Hey, man” growled Braxton Cudjoe, “where did you learn that?” “You are in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana.” Veteran informed him. Cudjoe twirled his locks in the air several times. When he finally brought himself under control, he said to Akos, “Madam could you please give us all a bottle of beer each.” 37
Society Soon they were all drinking happily away. Under the instruction of Veteran, Akos had put on reggae music. Two gentlemen walked in. They looked like twins, except that one wore spectacles and was taller than his companion. From their dressing it was clear they were returning from church. The shorter of the two who did not wear spectacles, had a clean-shaven head. He had a regal bearing. He raised his palm in general greeting to the gathering. Snapping his fingers, he said to Akos, “Two Stars.” Akos served them with deference, seating them in the shadiest corner under the tree. Bald Head lifted one end of his cloth, revealing a pair of baggy shorts. From this he took out a newspaper and handed it to his companion “It’s on page two,” he said. The other settled back comfortably and proceeded to read. Throughout the reading there was a smile of contentment on his face. When Bob Marley’s War started playing, several of the regular customers, led by Veteran, joined in. Until the philosophy which holds one race superior And another inferior Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race Everywhere is war Me say war! The bespectacled man pushed his glasses down his nose, his upper lip curled up in disdain. Crooking his thumb in the direction of the singers, he said in a whisper to his companion, “just look at that, Prince.” Then he put a thumb and forefinger together and put them at the corner of his lips as if to say ‘A bunch of ganja smokers. Veteran saw it all. He signaled Akos to stop the music. The bar became ominously quiet. Veteran stood up. Pointing a finger at the two beer drinkers, he said, “What is it you are reading that gives you the right to cast aspersions on our character?” “Aspersions?” asked the bespectacled one, clearly shaken by the fact that a man like that could use such expressions. “Aspersions,” cried the others who were hearing the word for the first time. “Yes, aspersions! Casting aspersions!” All the while, Prof and his group were 38
gigging superciliously. Finally, a small smile at the corner of his lips, the shorter man said, “I can summarize it for you. This is an article about a speech given by a whole professor. The professor spoke about how the president has won the respect of American and European investors; how he has got the country back into the good books of the IMF, the World Bank and other western financial institutions; how he is the most important African leader today, President of the African Union. Above all he has won the much coveted Order of the British Empire. Braxton rose up to his full height. Gesturing toward the beer drinkers, he asked very politely, “What do you think of that?” “The learned professor knew what he was talking about,” said the shorter man. A professor of economics, no less,” Spectacles concurred. “A shameless Uncle Tom,” Two Sure spat out. “African boot lickers” “A damnable lot!” shouted Veteran. Now Spectacles, turning to face Braxton Cudjoe, said, “What is your own opinion?” Braxton Cudjoe faced the two squarely. He spread his fingers wide. He put them through his locks and pushed the locks back, “Have you two heard about Zephaniah Benjamin?” Veteran allowed them enough time to reveal their ignorance before he said, “The Rastafarian poet?” “Exactly!” Braxton Cudjoe exclaimed in admiration. Veteran beamed in satisfaction. Clearly, the two beer drinkers had been cut down to size. ”I bet his poetry is all about the pleasures of ganja smoking,” Spectacles said, a crooked smile on his face. “The Queen would hardly award him the OBE for that,” said Braxton Cudjoe, looking steadily at him. “She did?” “Yes, she did.” “And how do you rate this man, what do you call him?” “Benjamin Zephaniah.” “A great man indeed!” AFRICAN AGENDA
“So you agree that it is an award given only to great men.” “Benjamin Zephaniah displayed his greatness by rejecting it.’ After he recovered from his shock at this revelation, the shorter man scoffed, “No wonder. A marijuana-smoking revolutionary!” He loaded the word ‘revolutionary’ with as much derision as he could. “I don’t know about that,” said Braxton Cudjoe. Zephaniah’s explanation is instructive and I think “your president would do well to take a leaf out of Zephaniah’s book. You know, he explained that several people have rejected that award without making a public issue of it but he had to go public for a good reason. He is well known for his stand against imperialism view, of which the British crown and the Order of the British Empire are symbols. To accept that award would have been a negation of all that he stands for.” “Yesterday, I saw a very huge billboard prominently saying, ‘Welcome, President, from your historic trip to the UK.” It is enough to make anybody of African descent weep.” The shorter man lost all his self control. “Who are you a foreigner to…to…” “Cast aspersions,’ said Tetteh Couple helpfully.” “What work do you do?” “I’m a professor of African history in Kingston University.” The whole gathering was incredulous. With dreadlocks? They seemed to be wondering. Even his friend Concoction had not known this.
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Fireworks marking Ghanaâ€™s 50th independence anniversary in Accra.