Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chinese in Africa

Strategy Pages discusses China, but the middle part of the podcast discusses China in Africa. Warning: Not politically correct, just blunt about the problems.

Ancient Chinese Secret - 10/28/2010
Jim and Austin discuss why some of the Chinese elders think it’s time for more change.
MP3 Download

African Cultures

I ran across this about the Bushmen in Botswana...don't know if it's accurate (I worked in eastern Zim). But for your perusal:

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my only question is: Why all these white people (the fat white lady I'm watching right now has a US accent) telling us all about these people and how they want to live a hard life so beloved of rich westerners.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Can or should Africa rewrite their own boundaries?

a lot of African countries were invented by European colonizers who didn't know anything about locals.

StrategyPage has a discussion on the up coming plebiscite in Sudan, voting if the south (black, Christian/animist) should secede from the north, (Arab/Muslim)

...Colonial powers drew most of the borders in the 19th and 20th centuries. The borders-drawn-in-parlors often divided tribes and sometimes made very little on-the-ground geographic sense. If South Sudan votes for independence (secession the northerners call it) the thinking goes that this will cause a chain reaction, first in the Grand Sahel (Darfur being another possibility) then throughout the rest of the continent. ...

The article has little to do with Zimbabwe, but it also mentions the problems with the central African wars, where of course Zim troops were fighting.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Charges dropped against Zim blood diamond activist

AFP reports:

HARARE — Prosecutors have dropped charges against Zimbabwean activist Farai Maguwu, who had been accused of endangering national security by exposing rights abuses in diamond fields, his lawyer said Friday.

EU asks Mugabe to scrap evictions

from SWRadio Africa.

Members of the European parliament on Thursday passed a resolution which called on Robert Mugabe to drop the planned evictions of about 20,000 people from Hatcliffe Extension settlement outside Harare. Residents there were being forced to pay exorbitant lease renewal fees, which the resolution said the residents “simply have no means of paying.”

The vote was spearheaded by MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, who heads the European Parliament's campaign for freedom and democratic change in Zimbabwe. The pending evictions were used as an example of continuing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and provided a case against Mugabe’s demands that the EU should remove the targeted sanctions against him and close associates.

The MEPs also focused on the state of the coalition government and concluded that: “Robert Mugabe and his close supporters continue to be a stumbling block in the process of political and economic reconstruction and reconciliation in Zimbabwe, plundering as they do its economic resources for their own benefit.”

they send him a nasty letter, threatening to send him another nasty letter if he keeps throwing people out of their homes and destroying houses.

I'm sure he is worried.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mugabe must rule forever

from News24 an AFP report:

Harare -The women's league of President Robert Mugabe's party want him to run in the next election and rule the country forever, state media reported on Sunday.

"We endorse your candidature. We are saying stand in the next election and rule forever," Oppah Muchinguri, the secretary of Zanu-PF Women's League was quoted as saying by the Sunday Mail.

I'm superstitious enough to think that saying he should rule forever implies he is a god.

Indeed, I suspect a lot of the trouble in the US is because of the excess adulation of Obama before the election, including claiming that his nomination would stop the seas from rising...

Yeah, sure...


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Coca Cola is better than NGO's

I had to laugh at this, because every place I've worked or visited has coke or the equivalent...and since I worked in Africa in the early 1970's that's saying a lot.

there are local entrepeneurs who know how to do this for their own profit, and too many NGO's try to teach locals how to do it there way, and prefer to use those who act and think western. Yet in much of Africa, local entrepeneurs (e.g. women vendors) have the skill that is needed, but they are overlooked because they are women, semi literate, and no connections with big shots.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Foreign aid

Several articles on foreign aid to Africa, not necessarily about Zimbabwe.

Al Jezeerah reports that some UK banks cooperated with Nigerian corruption:

High street banks in the United Kingdom could have helped fuel corruption in Nigeria by accepting millions of dollars in deposits from dubious politicians in the west African nation, an international corruption watchdog said.

In a 40 page report released on Sunday, Global Witness said that five leading banks have failed to adequately investigate the source of tens of millions of dollars taken from two Nigerian governors accused of corruption.

"Banks are quick to penalise ordinary customers for minor infractions but seem to be less concerned about dirty money passing through their accounts," Robert Palmer, a campaigner at Global Witness, wrote on the group's website.

"Large scale corruption is simply not possible without a bank willing to process payments from dodgy sources, or hold accounts for corrupt politicians."

Global Witness acknowledged that in accepting the money, Barclays, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HSBC, as well as Switzerland's UBS, might not have broken the law, but noted that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) must do more to prevent money laundering through British banks.

In a related article in Medical News Today that summarizes several stores:


U.S. Should Purchase Food Aid From Local Farmers In Africa

In a Richmond County Daily Journal opinion piece, Yifat Susskind, the policy and communications director of MADRE: Demanding Rights, Resources and Results for Women Worldwide, argues that "the U.S. should buy food aid crops directly from local farmers in Africa."

no problem, except of course that this disrupts the ordinary food distribution system already in place, and distorts the price of rice for those who aren't in the famine area or refugee camps.

It was, after all, the cause of the Bengali famine during World War II, where the British bought up all local crops (so that if the Japanese invaded they would starve) and as a result the price of food in that area became so high that a quarter million starved.

In the Irish potato famine, a similar exacerbation was caused by local farmers exporting grain (to feed the poor in the UK) while importing only a small amount of maize (which is hard for malnourished intestines to digest) for locals.

They also cite another article that aid should be given in grants rather than loans:

In a Boston Globe opinion piece, Robert Rotberg of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, ...

Rotberg argues that the U.S. government should "stop lending to recipient countries" and "switch its foreign assistance to making grants." According to Rotberg, conditions that allowed "deserving countries to borrow on generous terms to improve their prospects for growth ... added to a poor nation's debt burden." A better approach "would be to make only grants and condition their renewal on accomplishing the goals of the grant."

and of course, grants would allow local politicians to steal the aid easier than if the lending banks were watching them.

An example of the problem can be found in our local Inquirer, where this article discusses a grant of direct aid to poor families.

Even Mr. Aquino’s cousin-in-law has cast doubt on the CCT program.

Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco, wife of Mr. Aquino’s cousin Mark Cojuangco, said that when she was mayor, she found that certain officers of the DSWD had been giving the cash assistance to their relatives and other individuals who were not among the poorest of the poor.

Cojuangco said the families that received the money tended to spend it on alcohol and betting on the illegal numbers racket “jueteng.”

During the deliberations on the DSWD budget, she also said the CCT had been a source of conflict between neighbors, who get jealous of those selected to receive the monthly stipend.

and the Inquirer includes this editorial:

MANILA, Philippines—Several lawmakers continue to cast doubt on the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the Aquino government, with one of them even saying that the end beneficiary of the program’s huge budget would be the jueteng lords.

Pangasinan Representative Kimi Cojuangco said that stringent measures should be in place to guarantee that the money will trickle down to the poorest families in the country.

“Coming from the province of Pangasinan, the first thing the mother will do when she gets the money is to buy shoes and groceries, then the husband will go out and buy some gin, and whatever is left of the money is for betting, he would probably go and play jueteng,” said Cojuangco, former mayor of Sison town in the province.

that is, of course, assuming that the poor families actually get the money after all the politicians take their cut of the pot.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tsvangirai rebukes Mugabe

a long analysis at SWRadioAfrica:

For over a year the MDC leader has diplomatically avoided attacking Mugabe in the hope that the two rival leaders could govern together. Lately Tsvangirai even voiced some praise for Mugabe, a move that shocked many of his faithful. But at a news conference in Harare on Thursday Tsvangirai admitted that he had defended Mugabe at his own cost, politically.

‘What Tsvangirai did yesterday (Thursday) will help him revive his flagging fortunes after months of trying to defend an inclusive government that is hamstrung and not working. He should stick to his guns and not leave it as a statement. The MDC should follow up on the threats and not recognize all the unilateral appointments made by Mugabe,’ Mashiri added.

Monday, October 04, 2010

twentythousand face eviction

from SWRadioAfrica:

Residents of a shanty town outside Harare known as Hatcliffe Extension have been threatened with eviction by government, despite the fact that it is the same authorities who settled the people there after destroying their original homes.

Amnesty International released a statement on Thursday calling on government officials to stop the pending evictions and instead make a plan to settle these displaced people somewhere before evicting them.
Back in June, the officials notified residents that they were to renew the leases for their plots by September 30 or face eviction. Their land would then be given others on a waiting list. But no-one seems to know about this list and residents have been denied access to officials since the June announcement.

The cost to renew a lease is $140, which the government is demanding as one lump sum. With many Zimbabweans not even earning that much per month, it is shocking that that the officials would threaten to evict Hatcliffe Extension residents, who are among the poorest in the country....
According to Amnesty, the excessive lease fees are not restricted to Hatcliffe Extension. Residents of other informal settlements around the country are also under threat of eviction.

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