Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Is the Media So Obsessed With Horrifying Images of African-American Mothers?

Why Is the Media So Obsessed With Horrifying Images of African-American Mothers?

By Melissa Harris-Lacewell, The Nation
November 30, 2009

Bad black mothers are everywhere these days.

With Michelle Obama in the White House, consciously and conspicuously serving as mom-in-chief, I expected (even somewhat dreaded) a resurgence of Claire Huxtable images of black motherhood: effortless glamor, professional success, measured wit, firm guidance, loving partnership, and the calm reassurance that American women can, in fact, have it all.

Instead the news is currently dominated by horrifying images of African American mothers.

Most ubiquitous is the near universally celebrated performance of Mo'Nique in the new film Precious. Critically and popularly acclaimed Precious is the film adaption of the novel Push. It is the story of an illiterate, obese, dark-skinned, teenager who is pregnant, for the second time, with her rapist father's child. (Think The Color Purple in a 1980s inner-city rather than 1930s rural Georgia)

At the core of the film is Precious' unimaginably brutal mother. She is an unredeemed monster who brutalizes her daughter verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually. This mother pimps both her daughter and the government. Stealing her daughter's childhood and her welfare payments.

Just as Precious was opening to national audiences a real-life corollary emerged in the news cycle, when 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was found dead along a roadside in North Carolina. Her mother, a 25-year-old woman with a history of drug abuse, has been arrested on charges of child trafficking. The charges allege that this mother offered her 5-year-old daughter for sex with adult men.

Yet another black mother made headlines in the past week, when U.S. soldier, Alexis Hutchinson, refused to report for deployment to Afghanistan. Hutchinson is a single mother of an infant, and was unable to find suitable care for her son before she was deployed. She had initially turned to her own mother who found it impossible to care for the child because of prior caregiver commitments. Stuck without reasonable accommodations, Hutchinson chose not to deploy. Hutchinson's son was temporally placed in foster care. She faces charges and possible jail time.

These stories are a reminder, that for African American women, reproduction has never been an entirely private matter.

Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison, chose the stories of enslaved black mothers to depict the most horrifying effects of American slavery. In her novel, Beloved, Morrison reveals the unimaginable pain some black mothers experienced because their children were profitable for their enslavers. Enslaved black women did not birth children; they produced units for sale, measurable in labor contributions. Despite the patrilineal norm that governed free society, enslaved mothers were forced to pass along their enslaved status to their infants; ensuring intergenerational chattel bondage was the first inheritance black mothers gave to black children in America.

As free citizens black women's reproduction was no longer directly tied to profits. In this new context, black mothers became the object of fierce eugenics efforts. Black women, depicted as sexually insatiable breeders, are adaptive for a slave holding society but not for the new context of freedom. Black women's assumed lasciviousness and rampant reproduction became threatening. In Killing the Black Body, law professor, Dorothy Roberts, explains how the state employed involuntary sterilization, pressure to submit to long-term birth control, and restriction of state benefits for large families as a means to control black women's reproduction.

At the turn of the century many public reformers held African American women particularly accountable for the "degenerative conditions" of the race. Black women were blamed for being insufficient housekeepers, inattentive mothers, and poor educators of their children. Because women were supposed to maintain society's moral order, any claim about rampant disorder was a burden laid specifically at women's feet.

In a 1904 pamphlet "Experiences of the Race problem. By a Southern White Woman" the author claims of black women, "They are the greatest menace possible to the moral life of any community where they live. And they are evidently the chief instruments of the degradation of the men of their own race. When a man's mother, wife, and daughters are all immoral women, there is no room in his fallen nature for the aspirations of honor and virtue…I cannot imagine such a creation as a virtuous black woman."

Decades later, Daniel Patrick Moynihan's 1965 report "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action" designated black mothers as the principal cause of a culture of pathology, which kept black people from achieving equality. Moynihan's research predated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but instead of identifying the structural barriers facing African American communities, he reported the assumed deviance of Negro families.

This deviance was clear and obvious, he opined, because black families were led by women who seemed to have the primary decision making roles in households. Moynihan's conclusions granted permission to two generations of conservative policy makers to imagine poor, black women as domineering household managers whose unfeminine insistence on control both emasculated their potential male partners and destroyed their children's future opportunities. The Moynihan report encouraged the state not to view black mother as women doing the best they could in tough circumstances, but instead to blame them as unrelenting cheats who unfairly demand assistance from the system.

Black mothers were again blamed as the central cause of social and economic decline in the early 1990s, when news stories and popular films about "crack babies" became dominant. Crack babies were the living, squealing, suffering evidence of pathological black motherhood and American citizens were going to have to pay the bill for the children of these bad mothers.

Susan Douglass and Meredith Michaels, authors of The Mommy Myth explain that media created the "crack baby" phenomenon as a part of a broader history that understands black motherhood as inherently pathological. They write: "It turned out there was no convincing evidence that use of crack actually causes abnormal babies, even though the media insisted this was so…media coverage of crack babies serves as a powerful cautionary tale about the inherent fitness of poor or lower class African American women to be mothers at all."

This ugly history and its policy ramifications are the backdrop against which these three contemporary black mother stories must be viewed.

Undoubtedly Mo'Nique has given an amazing performance in Precious. But the critical and popular embrace of this depiction of a monstrous black mother has potentially important, and troubling, political meaning. In a country with tens of thousands of missing and exploited children, it is not accidental that the abuse and murder of Shaniya Davis captured the American media cycle just as Precious opened. The sickening acts of Shaniya's mother become the story that underlines and makes tangible, believable, and credible the jaw-dropping horror of Mo'Nique's character.

And here too is Alexis Hutchinson. As a volunteer soldier in wartime, she ought to embody the very core of American citizen sacrifice. Instead she is a bad black mother. Implied in the her story is the damning idea that Hutchinson has committed the very worse infraction against her child and her country. Hutchinson has failed to marry a responsible, present, bread-winning man who would free her of the need to labor outside the home. Hutchinson does not stay on the home front clutching her weeping young child as her man goes off to war. Instead, she struggles to find a safe place for him while she heads off to battle. Her motherhood is not idyllic, it is problematic. Like so many other black mothers her parenting is presented as disruptive to her duties as a citizen.

It is worth noting that Sarah Palin's big public comeback is situated right in the middle of this news cycle full of "bad black mothers." Palin's own eye-brow raising reproductive choices and parenting outcomes have been deemed off-limits after her skirmish with late night TV comedians. Embodied in Palin, white motherhood still represents a renewal of the American dream; black motherhood represents its downfall.

Each of these stories, situated in a long tradition of pathologizing black motherhood, serves a purpose. Each encourages Americans to see black motherhood as a distortion of true motherhood ideals. Its effect is troublesome for all mothers of all races who must navigate complex personal, familial, social, and political circumstances.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell, an associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, is completing her latest book, Sister Citizen: A Text for Colored Girls Who've Considered Politics When Being Strong Isn't Enough.

2009 The Nation All rights reserved.
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Saving Africa's Precious Written Heritage

Saving Africa's precious written heritage

By Andrew Harding
BBC News, Timbuktu

A drizzle of dust and sand falls over Ahmed Saloum Boularaf's fingers as he gently lifts the ancient, camel-skin bound manuscripts from a wooden box and puts them on a desk in his makeshift library in a mud-brick house close to the centre of Timbuktu.

"Termites, rain and mice," he said in an accusing voice, brushing a few flecks of 15th Century parchment from his jacket.

"This was my grandfather's collection. It covers topics from science to medicine, history, theology, grammar, geography - a little of everything."


Across Timbuktu, in cupboards, rusting chests, private collections and libraries, tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of manuscripts bear witness to this legendary city's remarkable intellectual history, and by extension, to Africa's much overlooked pre-colonial heritage.

"This is the proof," said Mr Boularaf.

"Africa was not wild before the white man came. In fact, if you will excuse the expression, it was the colonising that was wild."

But this unique literary evidence is under threat, as time, the elements, and a simple lack of resources take their toll in northern Mali.

"We are losing manuscripts every day. We lack the financial means to catalogue and protect them," said Mr Boularaf, who recently rescued his collection from the rubble of a mud building next door that collapsed after a rainstorm.

Now a giant, new, state of the art library has landed - rather like a spaceship - in the dilapidated centre of Timbuktu, offering the best hope of preserving and analysing the town's literary treasures.

After several years of building and delays, the doors are finally about to open at the Ahmed Baba Institute's new home - a 200 million rand (£16,428,265) project paid for by the South African government.

"It's a dream come true," said South African curator Alexio Motsi, exploring the underground, climate-controlled storage rooms that will soon house some 30,000 manuscripts.

On the ground floor, behind elegant colonnades and fountains, rows of empty desks are ready for newly trained workers to begin repairing and digitizing the documents.

'African renaissance'

"I feel proud… and nervous," Mr Motsi said as his team prepared to hand over the keys of the institute to the Malian authorities.

The struggle to save Timbuktu's manuscripts has been gaining momentum for many years.

When South Africa's former President, Thabo Mbeki, visited the town in 2001 he declared the documents to be among the continent's "most important cultural treasures", and promised to help conserve them as part of his vision of an "African renaissance".

Most of the manuscripts are in Arabic script, but contain many local languages.

They provide unique insights into Timbuktu's emergence as a trading post, and by the 1500s as a famous university town, full of students and scribes.

They also help refute the notion that sub-Saharan Africa produced only oral histories, with little or no written records.

Some of the documents discuss social and political problems, usually in an Islamic context, while others offer medicinal advice, including one 13th Century herbal remedy to help treat women in labour.

"I think pre-colonial Africa had its own civilisation going on, which matches what was going on in the west," said Mr Motsi.

"There's a lot to be uncovered here. It's time we started relooking at the history we were taught in school about Africa."

The new institute plans to hold exhibitions, and open a souvenir and coffee shop in order to translate interest in the manuscripts into tourist revenue for one of the world's poorest countries.

But those ambitions will not have been helped by new travel advisories issued by the UK and US governments, which are warning tourists to steer clear of the town altogether because of the threat of kidnapping by militants with links to al-Qaeda, who are now using the Sahara as a hiding place.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/30 16:35:51 GMT

UK Boat Crew Held By Iranian Navy

UK boat crew held by Iranian navy

Five Britons have been detained by the Iranian navy while sailing a racing yacht from Bahrain to Dubai, the Foreign Office (FCO) has said.

They were on a Volvo 60 yacht belonging to Sail Bahrain stopped on 25 November.

The FCO said the crew - Luke Porter, Oliver Smith, David Bloomer, Oliver Young and Sam Usher - may have "strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters".

Organisers of the Muscat Offshore race said the crew may have been "drifting" after experiencing propeller problems.

Louay Habib, from the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, told the BBC the shore crew for the crew's boat the Kingdom of Bahrain had said "there was no wind at the time, and they told us that they were organising for a tow to come and get them".

He added: "It's purely speculation but they would have probably been drifting... in 10 hours they could well have strayed into Iranian waters."

Nuclear row

The five, who are still in Iran, are understood to be safe and well and their families have been told.

Mr Smith, 31, an engineer, from Southampton. His teammate Mr Bloomer is said to work as a sports broadcaster in Bahrain.

“ Either Tehran can decide to play the incident down and let the sailors go, or it could turn this into a full blown diplomatic crisis. ”

It is not known where the sailors are being held nor which club they had come from, but the FCO did confirm they were on their way to take part in the Dubai-Muscat race.

The British Embassy in Tehran is demanding the immediate release of the five but has so far only had indirect contact with the crew members.

It is thought the Eid holiday could have delayed proceedings in Iran.

FCO officials have spoken with Iran's ministry of foreign affairs and the Iranian embassy in the UK, while Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he hoped the issue would be resolved "soon" and has asked for a phone conversation with his opposite number in Tehran.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said the FCO had wanted to keep the matter "private" in order to increase the chance of a resolution.

But after five days the details emerged and they had no option but to confirm the story.

Our correspondent said the timing was awkward, coming after the UK condemned Iran's plan to extend its nuclear programme.

The government feared Iran might see the detention as an opportunity for "extra leverage" in relation to the nuclear dispute, she added.

Mr Miliband said: "FCO officials immediately contacted the Iranian authorities in London and in Tehran on the evening of 25 November, both to seek clarification and to try and resolve the matter swiftly.

"Our ambassador in Tehran has raised the issue with the Iranian foreign ministry and we have discussed the matter with the Iranian embassy in London," he said.


The 360-nautical mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race began on 26 November and ended two days later in the Omani capital's Bandar Al-Rawdah marina.

Sail Bahrain was recently launched by yachting company Team Pindar.

In a statement, the firm confirmed Kingdom of Bahrain was stopped by Iranian navy vessels, as it headed to the start of the race.

It added: "The boat may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters. The five crew members, all British nationals, are still in Iran."

Mr Smith took a degree in Ocean Science and Marine Navigation at the University of Plymouth.

He sailed on the university's 1st Team was later part of a team which came third in the Racing Division of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers).

In March 2007 there was a prolonged stand-off between the UK and Iran after a 15-strong Royal Navy crew was detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The Iranians accused the crew of straying into its waters, but the British said they were in Iraqi territory.

They were pardoned and released nearly two weeks later by President Ahmadinejad.

In 2004, eight British servicemen were held in Iran after being seized in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where they were training the Iraqi river patrol service.

In both instances, the crews were paraded on television by the Iranian authorities and Bridget Kendall said British diplomats are worried it might happen again in the latest case.

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Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/30 23:49:57 GMT

UN Security Council Mandates Action Against Somali Pirates For Another Year

Somalia: Security Council mandates action against pirates for another year

30 November 2009 –The Security Council today renewed for another 12 months the authorization for States and regional organizations fighting piracy off the Somali coast to enter the strife-torn country’s territorial waters and “undertake all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” provided they have the transitional government’s consent.

In a resolution adopted unanimously under Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizing the use of force, the 15-member body also noted with concern that escalating ransom payments and the lack of enforcement of the arms embargo imposed by the Council in 1992 are fuelling the growth of piracy.

It called on all States to fully cooperate with the monitoring group on the embargo and reiterated its appeal to countries and regional organizations with the capacity to do so to deploy naval vessels, arms and military aircraft in the fight again a scourge that has over the years frequently disrupted the delivery of UN humanitarian aid as well as routine shipping. This year the pirates have been operating ever further out to sea, sometimes hundreds of miles away from the coast.

Noting the “crisis situation in Somalia,” which has been without a functioning central government and plagued by factional conflict since 1991, “and the limited capacity of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)” to interdict or prosecute pirates, the Council renewed earlier calls to those States fighting piracy off the Somali coast to help plug the vacuum.

They should do so by concluding arrangements whereby countries willing to take custody of pirates, particularly those in the region, would station law enforcement officials on the patrol ships to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of persons detained as a result of the international operations, provided the TFG consents.

The Council called on Member States at the request of the TFG “to strengthen capacity in Somalia, including regional authorities, to bring to justice those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”

Earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that piracy would not be defeated by military means alone. “We will find a solution only by addressing the broader political and security situation,” he said in a message to the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), stressing the need to support the “fragile” TFG.

He noted that since the start of the international naval escort system two years ago, not a single ship heading to Somalia with UN World Food Programme (WFP) aid has been attacked. “WFP has been able to scale up its operations, providing much-needed food assistance to nearly 3 million people,” he pointed out.

Namibia Opposition Parties Mull Legal Action As Results Trickle In

Namibia opposition parties mull legal action as results trickle in

Mon Nov 30, 3:30 PM

WINDHOEK (AFP) - Opposition parties threatened legal action Monday over alleged irregularities in Namibia's general election in which early returns gave the ruling party a comfortable lead.

"Two ballot books disappeared at a primary school in northern Namibia, but we got no comment form the Electoral Commission of Namibia," said Henk Mudge, president of the Republican Party and spokesman for the six aggrieved opposition parties.

"A government vehicle was seen dropping ballot boxes at a school in the capital Windhoek without Police escort in the night from Sunday to Monday," he added.

"The list of irregularities is much longer like the indelible ink washing off from a voter's thumb after voting, creating an opportunity to vote more then once, but we will hand a detailed list of all these to our legal advisors for advice and then consider curt action."

However international observers said the polls held last week were "free and fair".

"I declare that the presidential and National Assembly elections were transparent, credible, peaceful, free and fair," said Francisco Madeira, who headed the observer mission for the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The 15-nation bloc deployed 120 observers across Namibia for the presidential and parliamentary elections held Friday and Saturday.

The ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), in power since independence in 1990, faced a challenge from the breakaway Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), but took a lead in the first small batch of returns.

With just under 50,000 votes counted, President Hifikepunye Pohamba took 63.4 percent, against under 12 percent for his nearest rival, RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya in the presidential vote. The results showed a similar pattern in the parliamentary race.

The SADC observers did recommend that electoral authorities improve their communication, and called for earlier release of the voter roll to "minimize future discrepancies".

The first results were only announced Monday morning, some 36 hours after polls closed on Saturday night.

Meanwhile the RDP has complained that parties were not given enough information about the vote counting process, with new verification centres blamed for holding up the release of results.

Though no major incidents of violence had been reported so far, safety and security minister Nickey Iyambo warned Monday that the police would act swiftly should outbreaks.

"Police will not take it lightly if violence broke out when parties or individuals celebrate their election victories," he said.

"We deal with whoever is found guilty of political violence in the aftermath of the elections, the public should refrain form acts of violence and expressions that might harm or offend political opponents."

Somali Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker

Somali pirates hijack oil tanker

Updated: 07:05, Tuesday December 1, 2009

Somali pirates seized a tanker carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the US in the increasingly dangers waters off East Africa, an official said.

The Greek-owned Maran Centaurus was hijacked on Sunday about 1,300 kilometres off the coast of Somalia, said Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force. Harbour said there were 28 crew members on board the 300,000-tonne ship.

Pirates have increased attacks on vessels off East Africa for the millions of dollars of ransom that can be had. Though pirates have successfully hijacked dozens of vessels the last several years, Sunday's attack appears to be only the second ever on an oil tanker.

In November 2008, pirates hijacked the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, which held 2 million barrels of oil valued at about $US100 million ($A109.24 million). The tanker was released last January for a reported $US3 million ($A3.28 million) ransom after a two-month drama that helped galvanise international efforts to fight piracy off Africa's coast.

Somalia's lawless 3,000-kilometre coastline provides a perfect haven for pirates to prey on ships heading for the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping routes.

The impoverished Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government for a generation and the weak UN-backed administration is too busy fighting an Islamist insurgency to arrest pirates.

Pirates now hold about a dozen vessels hostage and more than 200 crew members. The Maran Centaurus had 28 crew aboard - 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and one Romanian.

Piracy has increased despite an increased presence by international navies patrolling the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. The US this autumn began flying sophisticated drones over East African waters as part of the fight against piracy.

Three Spaniards Kidnapped in Mauritania

Published on France 24 (

Three Spaniards kidnapped in Mauritania

By admin
Created 30/11/2009 - 05:01

Three Spanish humanitarian workers were kidnapped in northwestern Mauritania on the road linking the capital Nouakchott to the city of Nouadhibou, officials and aid workers said.

The three Spanish nationals, "two men and a woman, were travelling in a car, the last vehicle of a convoy that was heading from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott" when they were attacked on Sunday afternoon, a Spanish diplomat said.

The convoy had earlier delivered aid to Nouadhibou and was transporting donations that they intended to drop off in various towns along the route, the diplomat added.

A Mauritanian security source confirmed the kidnapping, adding the kidnappers fired several shots to force the vehicle to stop and then took the Spaniards away in a 4x4 vehicle.

A spokesman for the Spanish humanitarian group Barcelona-Accio Solidaria confirmed the three were members of their association and named them as Albert Vilalta, Alicia Gamez and Roque Pascual.

"The found all the supplies only the people were gone," said the spokesman, adding "we don't know anything more, if they were bandits or had any political motives."

A Spanish humanitarian worker based in Mauritania, Montse Bosch, was able to speak by telephone with some of the other members of the aid convoy following the kidnapping.

"A group of armed men stopped and then took them, leaving their vehicle in place and without touching any of the supplies, luggage or money contained in the car," she said.

Bosch said Barcelona-Accio Solidaria is part of the Caravana Solidaria, or Solidarity Caravan, which distributes aid in Mauritania and other African countries in the region.

The attack took place near the town of Chelkhett Legtouta, 170 kilometres (106 miles) north of Nouakchott, according to the Mauritanian security source.

Mauritanian army units in the area were searching for the kidnappers, the source added, and reinforcements had been sent to the area.

Mauritania, a vast country of three million people, has been hit by a number of attacks since 2007 claimed by the north African branch of Al-Qaeda.

The incident came days after a French citizen was kidnapped in the northeast of neighbouring Mali, which according to a Malian security source are being held by Al-Qaeda militants.

Several Westerners have been kidnapped in recent months in Africa's Sahel region and transported to northern Mali before being freed.

In June, however, the Al-Qaeda militants announced on a website that they had beheaded Briton Edwin Dyer because London would not meet their demands. It was believed to be the first time the group had killed a Western hostage.

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Equatorial Guinea Elections Set to Extend Rule of Obiang Nguema; Mann Makes Claims on Coup Attempt

Obiang Nguema set to extend rule


MALABO. Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema looked to extend his 30-year rule over the Central African oil nation yesterday in a poll widely criticised for falling short of democratic standards.

Obiang himself was quoted before the election as boasting he would better his 2002 score of 97,1 percent.

He is seen pursuing his goal of transforming the tiny country of 650 000 into an energy major despite mounting human rights concerns.

"In recent weeks it (the government) has stifled and harassed the country’s beleaguered political opposition . . . (and) imposed serious constraints on international observers," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

"There is no credible opposition to speak of," IHS Global Insight analyst Kissy Agyeman-Togobo said of the lack of serious rivals to Obiang’s ruling PDGE party in the election. First results were due yesterday.

"Obiang is assured victory, perhaps even increasing upon his 2002 win," Agyeman-Togobo added in a commentary. An eyewitness in the capital Malabo said turnout appeared weak. Soldiers guarded polling stations, some of which had not seen any voters by late morning. Many streets were empty after a temporary ban on car travel was imposed this week.

In Malabo, a source close to the international observation mission noted that few if any foreign media had been allowed into the country to cover the election.

Obiang came to power in a 1979 palace coup and has faced growing criticism that the country’s vast oil wealth has not improved the lot of its citizens.

The country was ranked 12th from bottom in this year’s survey of perceptions of corruption in 180 countries published by Berlin-based Transparency International.

While oil production has slipped from peaks of over 350 000 barrels per day as some fields mature, Obiang’s drive to turn Equatorial Guinea into a major energy player has met some degree of success.

US firms such as Exxon Mobil have dominated the sector, but it has caught the eye of European energy firms such as Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas and Spain’s Union Fenosa with plans to double natural gas exports in five years.

Despite his firm grip of the country, Obiang has faced several threats from abroad, including a 2004 coup attempt by mercenaries led by former British special forces officer Simon Mann. Earlier this year seaborne gunmen attacked his palace. — Reuters.

Mann says South Africa backed coup plot


LONDON. Simon Mann, a British mercenary jailed for plotting against the government of Equatorial Guinea, has said South Africa tacitly supported a failed 2004 coup in the oil-rich African nation.

Mann, who was released from prison earlier this month, told the BBC he believed that the operation had the unwritten consent of South African intelligence.

"South Africa wanted to be in," he said, according to extracts of an interview to be broadcast tomorrow. "In fact, I was told: ‘Get on with it.’"

"Because, if they are very good friends of the new government, it would be of great benefit to South Africa because they know perfectly well that billions of dollars are at stake," 57-year-old Mann said.

Educated at Eton, Britain’s top private school, the ex-special forces officer was arrested in Zimbabwe along with 70 other mercenaries en route to Equatorial Guinea aboard a plane.

Extradited to Equatorial Guinea, he was sentenced in July 2008 for conspiring to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. He was pardoned on health grounds, having served just over one year of a 34-year sentence.

During his trial, Mann portrayed himself as a pawn of international businessmen he said were trying to seize power and named the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as being involved — an allegation Mark Thatcher has denied.

In the BBC interview, Mann said he got on well with Mark Thatcher, at one point his neighbour in South Africa, describing how Margaret Thatcher would come and stay in a cottage in the garden of her son’s house.

"I always sat next to her at dinner parties," he said.

"She liked me. We even went on holiday together."

Mann, who said that from his point of view the purpose of the coup was to make money from the oil-rich country, said he wanted Mark Thatcher as an investor in the plot, and that he had told him precisely what the operation was.

Discussing some of his early plans for the coup, Mann said he had also considered an assassination and a guerrilla war, but these options had been discarded.

He said had been unhappy with aspects of the final plan but was under pressure from unnamed backers to get the coup over.

"I thought there was quite a good chance I was going to die, because I knew that far too many people knew about the operation," he said, adding that he should have had the courage to halt the plans but failed to. — Reuters.

Obama to Announce Major Troop Deployment to Escalate Afghanistan War

November 30, 2009

Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan to Envision Exit

New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to lay out a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war in Afghanistan when he announces his decision this week to send more forces, senior administration officials said Sunday.

Although the speech was still in draft form, the officials said the president wanted to use the address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday night not only to announce the immediate order to deploy roughly 30,000 more troops, but also to convey how he intends to turn the fight over to the Kabul government.

“It’s accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion,” said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. “He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down.”

The officials would not disclose the time frame. But they said it would not be tied to particular conditions on the ground nor would it be as firm as the current schedule for withdrawing troops in Iraq, where Mr. Obama has committed to withdrawing most combat units by August and all forces by the end of 2011.

Officials of one allied nation who have been extensively briefed on the president’s plan said, however, that Mr. Obama would describe how the American presence would be ratcheted back after the buildup, while making clear that a significant American presence in Afghanistan would remain for a long while. That is designed in part to signal to Pakistan that the United States will not abandon the region and to allay Pakistani fears that India will fill the vacuum created as America pulls back.

Some leading members of Congress talked publicly Sunday about their hope that the president would explain an endgame for American involvement in the eight-year war that includes how Afghans will assume more of their security needs.

But more hawkish Republicans cautioned that setting a deadline for withdrawal could signal a lack of resolve to allies, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Talk of an exit strategy is exactly the wrong way to go,” said Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican. “I certainly hope the president doesn’t do that, because all that does is signal to the enemies and also to our allies, to the folks in Pakistan as well as the Afghanis, that we’re not there to stay until the mission is accomplished.” He spoke on “Fox News Sunday.”

Senior lawmakers also warned the White House on Sunday that its expected troop buildup in Afghanistan would fail unless the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan did more to combat militants attacking American forces, a concern that administration officials concede is a major vulnerability in President Obama’s new war strategy.

“The key here is an Afghan surge, not an American surge,” Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And if the president lays out the case for why our combat forces that are going particularly to the south will increase the speed-up of the Afghan Army, it seems to me that that would be very, very important.”

With the cost of the war rising, some Democrats have even talked of a surtax. And a Republican senator, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, asked: “If we were talking about several years of time, how many more years beyond that? What is the capacity of our country to finance this particular type of situation as opposed to other ways of fighting Al Qaeda and the war against terror?”

At West Point, Mr. Obama was expected to describe commitments from Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, and specific benchmarks his government must meet: to crack down on corruption, deploy well-trained Afghan troops and police officers, and focus on development in one of the world’s poorest nations. Mr. Obama was expected to be far less specific about Pakistan, where Taliban leaders are commanding operations across the border against American forces, and where Al Qaeda’s central leadership still lives.

“We agree that no matter how many troops you send, if the safe haven in Pakistan isn’t cracked, the whole mission is compromised,” said one official who has participated in the debate over the strategy. “But if you make too many demands on the Pakistanis in public, it can backfire.”

The problems in Afghanistan have only been compounded by the fragility of Mr. Obama’s partner in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is so weak that his government seems near collapse. On Friday, Mr. Zardari relinquished his position in Pakistan’s nuclear command structure, turning it over to the prime minister, in what appeared to be an effort to avoid impeachment or prosecution, and retain at least a figurehead post.

On Sunday, one of the Obama administration’s staunchest allies, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, joined in the campaign to press Pakistan to step up attacks on Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas and other militant groups there. “People are going to ask why, eight years after 2001, Osama bin Laden has never been near to being caught,” Mr. Brown told Sky News, “and what can the Pakistan authorities do that is far more effective.”

White House officials have said relatively little about the Pakistan side of the administration’s evolving war strategy, in part because they have so few options and so little leverage. They cannot send troops into Pakistan, and they cannot talk publicly about one of their most effective measures, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Predator drone strikes in the country.

“Everyone understands this is a complex, nuanced, critical relationship,” said a senior American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Mr. Obama’s review had not been announced. “Everyone has their eyes open, and there are genuine concerns. But one focus now is on trying to expand cooperation. The Pakistanis are doing some positive things in the tribal areas. That presents opportunities on which to build.”

Mr. Obama’s advisers previously signaled that the president wanted to outline, as he had before, expectations for the Afghan government. This time, they said, the goals would be more explicit and demanding, aimed at improving governance and curbing corruption.

But the advisers have been debating whether to put deadlines on those benchmarks, like the pace of training Afghan security forces to defend their country.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top NATO and American commander in Afghanistan, is expected to testify about Mr. Obama’s new strategy on Dec. 8 to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees in Washington, the official said. His appearance is expected to follow Congressional testimony later this week by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The administration has sought to build consensus among crucial allies to reach this point. In the last two weeks, Mr. Obama dispatched two top aides to Pakistan to deliver the same message: Keep the pressure on.

In separate visits to Islamabad, the capital, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, and the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, told Pakistani officials that no matter how many more troops the president sent to Afghanistan, the effort would fail unless Pakistan increased strikes against Al Qaeda’s leadership and Mullah Muhammad Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban in the southern Pakistani city of Quetta, and the Haqqani network, militants operating out of North Waziristan who have attacked Afghan and NATO targets in eastern Afghanistan and Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting from Washington, and Sabrina Tavernise from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Sunday, November 29, 2009
17:51 Mecca time, 14:51 GMT

Deaths in Afghan air raid

The US and Nato currently have more than 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan

More than two dozen suspected Taliban fighters have been killed in a Nato-led air attack in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, police say.

"The Taliban attacked one of our posts last night [Saturday]. Police launched a counter-attack backed with coalition air support," Sher Ahmad Kochi, a border police official in Khost, said.

The privately owned Tolo TV station said 26 fighters were killed, including one fighter from Chechnya.

A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in the Afghan capital of Kabul confirmed an air raid was carried out by foreign troops in Khost.

"Afghan forces came under attack and asked for assistance and we provided it in the form of air support," the spokesman said, declining to give any details of casualties.

The US and Nato have more than 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama, the US president, is due to announce on Tuesday his decision on requests from his senior commanders for up to 40,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, has identified Khost province, the power base of fighters loyal to the Haqqani family, as a battlefront, along with the neighbouring provinces of Paktia and Paktika.

Source: Agencies

Kigali Restores Diplomatic Relations With Paris

Kigali Restores Diplomatic Relations With Paris

Rwanda’s foreign minister said Kigali has restored relations with Paris after President Paul Kagame and French President Nicholas Sarkozy agreed to end years of diplomatic spat.

Rwanda’s foreign minister said Kigali has restored relations with Paris after President Paul Kagame and French President Nicholas Sarkozy agreed to end years of diplomatic spat.

Rosemary Museminali said the agreement puts the formally testy relations between Rwanda and France on a normal footing.

“The meeting which they had with our president culminated into Rwanda together with France deciding that we reopen the process of normalizing relations, which will include among other things reopening our embassies both in Paris and in Kigali,” she said.

Museminali said the reopening of embassies will be beneficial for both countries.

“Basically what we can say is that what remains is logistical. Today, the agreement was that we moved forward and we normalized our relation. But as you know the process of reopening embassies involves looking and reopening buildings that have been so long without being inhabited. It means that ambassadors will be nominated and presented to capitals and agreed upon,” Museminali said.

Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with France in 2006 after a French judge accused President Kagame and several government officials of involvement in the assassination of former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Habyarimana’s assassinations is blamed for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which hundreds of mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed over a 100-day period.

Rwanda has often accused French soldiers of complicity in the genocide -- a charge France denies.

Museminali said Rwanda will cooperate with France in pursuing the perpetrators of the genocide.

“I really want to emphasize that the agreement to restart our normalization process does not mean the end of all these issues of contention. Rather, it creates a framework to be able to look at these more credibly, to look at them together and we believe that this framework is going to help in moving this process forward,” Museminali said.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Afghans Detail Detention in 'Black Jail' at US Military Base

November 29, 2009

Afghans Detail Detention in ‘Black Jail’ at U.S. Base

New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates, sometimes for weeks at a time, without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

The site, known to detainees as the black jail, consists of individual windowless concrete cells, each illuminated by a single light bulb glowing 24 hours a day. In interviews, former detainees said that their only human contact was at twice-daily interrogation sessions.

“The black jail was the most dangerous and fearful place,” said Hamidullah, a spare-parts dealer in Kandahar who said he was detained there in June. “They don’t let the I.C.R.C. officials or any other civilians see or communicate with the people they keep there. Because I did not know what time it was, I did not know when to pray.”

The jail’s operation highlights a tension between President Obama’s goal to improve detention conditions that had drawn condemnation under the Bush administration and his stated desire to give military commanders leeway to operate. While Mr. Obama signed an order to eliminate so-called black sites run by the Central Intelligence Agency in January, it did not also close this jail, which is run by military Special Operations forces.

Military officials said as recently as this summer that the Afghanistan jail and another like it at the Balad Air Base in Iraq were being used to interrogate high-value detainees. And officials said recently that there were no plans to close the jails.

In August, the administration restricted the time that detainees could be held at the military jails to two weeks, changing previous Pentagon policy. In the past, the military could obtain extensions.

The interviewed detainees had been held longer, but before the new policy went into effect. Mr. Hamidullah, who, like some Afghans, uses only one name, was released in October after five and half months in detention, five to six weeks of it in the black jail, he said.

Although his and other detainees’ accounts could not be independently corroborated, each was interviewed separately and described similar conditions. Their descriptions also matched those obtained by two human rights workers who had interviewed other former detainees at the site.

While two of the detainees were captured before the Obama administration took office, one was captured in June of this year.

All three detainees were later released without charges. None said they had been tortured, though they said they heard sounds of abuse going on and certainly felt humiliated and roughly used. “They beat up other people in the black jail, but not me,” Hamidullah said. “But the problem was that they didn’t let me sleep. There was shouting noise so you couldn’t sleep."

Others, however, have given accounts of abuse at the site, including two Afghan teenagers who told The Washington Post that they had been subjected to beatings and humiliation by American guards.

A Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said Saturday that the military routinely sought to verify allegations of detainee abuse, and that it was looking into whether the two Afghan teenagers who spoke to The Post had been detained.

Without commenting specifically on the site at Bagram, which is still considered classified, Mr. Whitman said that the Pentagon’s policy required that all detainees in American custody in Afghanistan be treated humanely and according to United States and international law.

All three former detainees interviewed by The New York Times complained of being held for months after the intensive interrogations were over without being told why. One detainee said he remained at the Bagram prison complex for two years and four months; another was held for 10 months total.

Human rights officials said the existence of a jail where prisoners were denied contact with the Red Cross or their families contradicted the Obama administration’s drive to improve detention conditions.

“Holding people in what appears to be incommunicado detention runs against the grain of the administration’s commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and respect for the dignity of Afghans,” said Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights researcher with the Open Society Institute.

Mr. Horowitz said he understood that “the necessities of war requires the U.S. to detain people, but there are limits to how to detain.”

The black jail is separate from the larger Bagram detention center, which now holds about 700 detainees, mostly in cages accommodating about 20 men apiece, and which had become notorious to the Afghan public as a symbol of abuse. That center will be closed by early next year and the detainees moved to a new larger detention site as part of the administration’s effort to improve conditions at Bagram.

The former detainees interviewed by The Times said they were held at the site for 35 to 40 days. All three were sent there upon arriving at Bagram and eventually transferred to the larger detention center on the base, which allows access to the Red Cross. The three were hooded and handcuffed when they were taken for questioning at the black jail so they did not know where they were or anything about other detainees, they said.

Mr. Horowitz said he had heard similar descriptions of the jail from former detainees, as had Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer with Human Rights First, a nonprofit organization that has tracked detention issues in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross does not discuss its findings publicly and would not say whether its officials had visited the black jail. But, in early 2008, military officials acknowledged receiving a confidential complaint from the I.C.R.C. that the military was holding some detainees incommunicado.

In August, the military said that it had begun to give the Red Cross the names of everyone detained, including those held in the Special Operations camps, within two weeks of capture. But it still does not allow the group face-to-face access to the detainees.

All three detainees said the hardest part of their detention was that their families did not know whether they were alive.

“For my whole family it was disastrous,” said Hayatullah, a Kandahar resident who said he was working in his pharmacy when he was arrested. “Because they knew the Americans were sometimes killing people, and they thought they had killed me because for two to three months they didn’t know where I was.”

The three detainees said the military had mistaken them for Taliban fighters.

“They kept saying to me, ‘Are you Qari Idris?’ ” said Gulham Khan, 25, an impoverished, illiterate sheep trader, who mostly delivers sheep and goats for people who buy the animals in the livestock market in Ghazni, the capital of the province of the same name. He was captured in late October 2008 and released in early September this year, he said.

“I said, ‘I’m not Qari Idris.’ But they kept asking me over and over, and I kept saying, ‘I’m Gulham. This is my name, that is my father’s name, you can ask the elders.’ ”

Ten months after his initial detention, American soldiers went to the group cell where he was then being held and told him he had been mistakenly picked up under the wrong name, he said.

“They said, ‘Please accept our apology, and we are sorry that we kept you here for this time.’ And that was it. They kept me for more than 10 months and gave me nothing back.”

In their search for him, Mr. Khan’s family members spent the equivalent of $6,000, a fortune for a sheep dealer, who often makes just a dollar a day. Some of the money was spent on bribes to local Afghan soldiers to get information on where he was being held; they said soldiers took the money and never came back with the information.

In Mr. Hamidullah’s case, interrogators at the black jail insisted that he was a Taliban fighter named Faida Muhammad. “I said, ‘That’s not me,’ ” he recalled.

“They blamed me and said, ‘You are making bombs and are a facilitator of bomb making and helping militants,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘I have a shop. I sell spare parts for vehicles, for trucks and cars.’ ”

Human rights researchers say they worry that the jail remains in the shadows and largely inaccessible both to the Red Cross and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has responsibility for ensuring humane treatment of detainees under the Afghan Constitution. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, said that the site fell into something of a legal limbo but that the Red Cross should still have access to all detainees.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

The Mis-incarceration of Attorney Lynne Stewart

The mis-incarceration of Lynne Stewart

Published Nov 25, 2009 9:24 AM
By Iyanna “Nana Soul” Jones
New York

On Nov. 19, longtime civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart was ordered by Judge John G. Koeltl to turn herself in to begin serving a prison sentence for her 2006 conviction for conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.

Amidst a backdrop of chants of “Free Lynne Stewart!” and “We love you Lynne!” and swarmed by supporters, friends and family members, Stewart issued a statement outside the U.S. District Court in New York before being taken into custody.

On Nov. 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had revoked her bail and ordered her to surrender forthwith, but stayed the order until 5 p.m., allowing Stewart’s attorneys to file an application for a stay. The application was denied. The three-judge panel of the Second Circuit also vacated the original 28-month sentence imposed on Stewart and remanded the case to the original trial court with an order for the trial judge to consider additional factors in Stewart’s case that could lead to the imposition of a much longer sentence.

Upon hearing the news Stewart replied: “Okay, we’re going to prison, folks! I want to remind you all that today was the day that Joe Hill was executed. And you know what he said? Don’t mourn me, organize!”

The trial of Joe Hill—a union organizer and activist executed before a firing squad for the alleged murders of two men—was reportedly fraught with inconsistencies and miscarriages of justice, paralleling the case of modern-day political prisoner and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, whom Stewart also supports.

In attendance at the Stewart rally Nov. 19 were roughly 300 protesters from a variety of organizations including International Action Center, WBAI, Artists and Activists United for Peace and the Bail Out the People Movement. The sendoff was also attended by City Councilmember and longtime supporter of Lynne Stewart, Charles Barron.

“Lynne Stewart would never do anything that would lead to the harm of any human being on this planet,” said Barron. “Lynne Stewart will always be free no matter how much you imprison her because you can jail a revolutionary but you can’t jail the revolution.”

Also in attendance was Attorney Leonard Weinglass, who said: “The Lynne Stewart case is the case that’s going to mark this era as the era of the war on terrorists, which includes the war on lawyers who defend those who are accused of terrorism. To put her behind bars when no one was injured, no one was harmed, when those who produced the torture memos, those who produced the war are going free and even prospering is really the irony of our time.”

While the demonstration resonated with a contagious fighting spirit, a few tears mingled with the farewells. Stewart’s soulmate of several decades, Ralph Poynter, who is also co-founder of the New Abolitionist Movement, kept a positive outlook for those who turned out to say goodbye to the radical “People’s Attorney.” Poynter said: “It’s a sad moment for me and a sad moment for the Black community and the poor and for anyone who needed representation by a lawyer and could not afford it. We are all hurting but we will continue to struggle until Lynne is back to carry that struggle for us.”

Many see Stewart’s incarceration as a boon, particularly for those who are behind bars without adequate legal representation. And though she was disbarred upon her indictment, Stewart will undoubtedly play the role of jailhouse lawyer, acting as a mentor and advocate to those on the inside for whom justice is hard won if at all.

Pam Africa, Minister of Confrontation for MOVE and co-chair of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, both headquartered in Philadelphia, was optimistic. “These people made a huge mistake but it’s a plus for the movement. She will be the voice of the voiceless while she’s in there.”

Others are angry that Stewart, a grandmother, is serving any time at all, due to her recent 70th birthday, her battle with breast cancer and her partner Ralph’s battle with skin cancer. With the upcoming holiday season, it would seem that the decision is somewhat vindictive.

Stewart believes her case is a trumped-up maneuver to warn attorneys with a penchant for social justice away from taking on the government. Says Stewart: “I believe the larger implications are that this is a warning shot for other lawyers. Don’t advocate for your clients in a vigorous, strong way or you will end up like she did. Disbarred and in jail.”

But there is little fear that the plan will work. In fact, the consensus is that it will achieve the opposite effect: inspiring more lawyers to stand up to a fundamentally flawed legal system, fight against racism and classism, partner with grassroots community-based organizations, hold the justice system up to the standards it professes to adhere to, and most importantly, follow in the footsteps of Lynne Stewart.

For many, this is not a goodbye. Rather, it is a new beginning in a continuous struggle for justice against oppression, and, as has been the case for decades, Lynne is at the helm, rendering the bars that seek to contain her voice and influence invisible.

Before she went into the courthouse someone asked whether she had the medicine she needed for her cancer treatment. Lynne replied: “I have the love of you good people and your strength and support. It will be all the medicine I need.”

For more information on Lynne Stewart visit Iyanna Jones can be reached at
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Honduras Set For Presidential Polls

Sunday, November 29, 2009
04:51 Mecca time, 01:51 GMT

Honduras set for presidential polls

Honduran voters are set to cast their ballots to elect a new president five months after a military coup removed Manuel Zelaya from power, plunging the country into a political crisis.

The interim government said it will ensure security for the elections at all costs, saying that the new ballot will end the leadership stand-off.

Sunday's vote will pit polls favourite Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, from the conservative National Party, against Elvin Santos of the Liberal Party and former vice-president under Zelaya.

But Zelaya, who is unable to vote and still inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa where he has been for the past 10 weeks, has been urging supporters to boycott the vote, saying that it will only legitimise the coup.

Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera's Latin America editor, said that about one-third of the voting population are expected to stay away from the polls either to protest Zelaya's ouster or for fear of violence.

She said Hondurans wanted economic reconciliation with the world and are hoping that the international community will recognise Sunday's vote.

She also said the world and especially Latin America was deeply-divided on this issue, between those who say it is unfair to punish the Honduran people for the coup and those who say that recognition would be tantamount to whitewashing the coup and letting the coup members get away with it.

Tensions were high in Honduras as heavily-armed soldiers escorted elections materials to schools and other voting centres on Saturday.

International recognition

Some countries in the region have thrown their support behind Zelaya but the US and more recently Costa Rica have said that they will endorse the result of the elections.

The US State Department said Sunday's election was a critical step toward restoring democracy in Honduras.

The two leading candidates are also hopeful that the elections will be recognised internationally.

Lobo, a conservative candidate who has a clear lead over his closest rival in recent polls, said the elections were legal and constitutional even though they will follow a coup.

"Even though many countries have said no [that they will not recognise the elections], I have personally spoken to them and they have told me 'don't worry, we'll recognize them, just give us some time'," he said.

"This will normalise, because in a democracy, to not recognise an electoral process, would be a bit strange."

His rival Santos said the fate of Zelaya would be determined by the law after following the elections, saying that justice and the coup "will depend on the institutions and the law".

"I'm a candidate, I don't represent the state or the government, I'm a candidate who aspires to govern," he said on the eve of the election.

"I plan to do this as a pact to integrate civil society and define a future that we will build together."

Honduras has been shut out by foreign donors since the June 28 coup, and Brazil, the US and Europe initially pushed hard for Zelaya's reinstatement.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Uruguay Holds Runoff Election

Sunday, November 29, 2009
06:48 Mecca time, 03:48 GMT

Uruguay holds runoff election

Opinion polls place Mujica in front of his rival and former president Luis Lacalle

Uruguayans are to vote in a presidential runoff pitting a former guerilla against the ex-president Luis Lacalle.

About 2.5 million people are eligible to vote in Sunday's polls, triggered when Jose Mujica won about 48 per cent support in October elections.

But Mujica fell short of the majority needed to beat Lacalle, who garnered around 28 per cent.

With polls placing him as the frontrunner, Mujica, 74, is nonetheless viewed with suspicion by some of the country's conservatives because he was a founder of the Marxist Tupamaros guerilla movement.

The ex-inmate said he styles himself along the political lines of Brazil's populist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"My model is Lula because he uses this model that makes permanent negotiation the center of his policy," Mujica told Uruguay's Busqueda weekly.

He was held in prison for 14 years before his release in 1985, when democracy was restored to Uruguay after its 1973-1985 dictatorship.

Colourful candidate

A former agriculture minister between 2005 and 2008, Mujica has cultivated an informal style, largely eschewing suits, and tends to speak in an off-the-cuff manner that delights his supporters.

When centre-right former president Jorge Battle suggested that the Tupamaros movement had links to a recently uncovered weapons cache, Mujica gave a characteristically flamboyant response.

"I'm going to send him a bottle of Viagra so he can amuse himself with more useful things than saying this kind of crap," said Mujica, who also goes by the nickname "Pepe".

Despite his colourful pronouncements and background, Mujica's political platform is far from radical, analysts say.

His running mate is former finance minister Danilo Astori, considered a political pragmatist, and the pair are running on a platform that would maintain the economic policies of Tabare Vazquez, the popular outgoing president.

Vazquez, who is constitutionally prohibited from running for office again, has a 71 per cent approval rating thanks in large part to economic policies that have allowed Uruguay to avoid a recession while keeping unemployment low and even reducing poverty levels from 26 per cent in 2007 to 20.5 per cent in 2008.

Abortion issue

Mujica and Vazquez have traded the most barbs over abortion.

The outgoing president vetoed a law last year that would have decriminalized the procedure, but Mujica has said he would not do the same.

Lacalle, 68, who served as conservative president of Uruguay between 1990 and 1995, is against abortion.

He has also distanced himself from the Vasquez government by pledging to abolish an income tax they imposed.

Despite garnering significantly less of the vote than Mujica in the first round, Lacalle could win over a number of supporters from centre-right candidate Pedro Bordaberry, who was eliminated after garnering just 16 per cent of the October vote.

Lacalle has campaigned in large part on a law and order platform, running advertisements featuring shop surveillance footage from robberies, but his efforts may be in vain, with recent polls showing him at least five points behind Mujica.

Source: Agencies

Newman Chiadzwa Sets the Record Straight on Zimbabwe Diamonds

Newman Chiadzwa sets the record straight

Zimbabwe Herald

THE discovery of diamonds in the Chiadzwa area of Marange resulted in a glut of illegal panners flooding the district. What followed were tales of murder, aggravated assault and rape cases. The community responded by forming Chiadzwa Mineral Resources to try and benefit from the resources while Government sent security forces to deal with the illegal activities. The Herald caught up with Newman "Chief" Chiadzwa, the chairman of the Chiadzwa Mineral Resources to talk more of the find of the decade.

Q. Who is Newman Chiadzwa? Is he a chief as has been reported?

A. No! I have never claimed to be a chief at any stage in my life.

Q. But who are you?

A. Newman Chiadzwa is a son to Headman Chiadzwa and the current chairman of the development committee, Chiadzwa Mineral Resources.

Q. What does the committee do?

A. We promote development in Chiadzwa especially in relation to the discovery of diamonds in the area and what the community expects from such a discovery.

That is how we came up with the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (Chiadzwa Mineral Resources), which I chair.

Q. What are these expectations?

A. Our expectations as a community are that we are also given a stake in the ventures that are being negotiated by Government with some private investors and the exploration of diamonds since we believe that the community deserves a stake in it.

The community also believes that their standard of living should have improved from the time diamonds were discovered in the area.

Q. Did the community know that there were diamonds in the area?

A. Over the years no one knew but we discovered them around 2005/6

Q. But your area still remains one of the least developed areas in the country. How do you expect the area to benefit?

A. Firstly, we would expect Government and private investors to look at the situation of boreholes, roads, clinics and the general infrastructure in the area.

We want companies that are coming into the area to source their manpower from the community.

The community is also looking at getting a substantial stake in the mining ventures.

Q. Some companies have already set up shop. How far have they gone in assisting the community?

A. We are still negotiating with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development (Obert Mpofu) and the companies that have invested in our area. We are still negotiating to see how we can fit in as one family - the Government, the investors and the community.

Q. How did the community relate to the illegal diamond activities that occurred before Government secured the area?

A. When the illegal activities started in Chiadzwa the community was gripped with fear as most of the so-called gwejas (diamond panners) used to move around villages stealing goats and chicken. They used to stay in the mountains, cutting down trees, putting up fires everywhere and this turned out to be bad for the community. Our women were even afraid to go and fetch firewood in the bush because of the gwejas that were all over the area.

Q. What effort did you make as a community to deal with the illegal activities?

A. That is why we formed the development committee, the one that I chair. We had youths trying to screen strangers, trying to establish where they were coming from.

In fact, it is the community that asked for the army and police to move in after failing to contain the illegal activities.

Q. Are you happy that Government moved into the area?

A. We were happy that Government sent in security forces to stop the illegal activities and the eventual arrival of private investors with their own security.

It is now the right time for Government to scale down the presence of security forces from the area.

Q. Is there truth in reports that people were killing each other for diamonds?

A. We have had reports that the illegal panners were killing each other, especially when they went into the fields and they try to share but disagree and fought. Some got injured and some got killed.

Q. Are there mass graves in the diamond fields or did you ever come across unidentified bodies found on the fields?

A. There could have been some bodies in the mountains where the panners stayed because they used to kill each or just buried each other there.

When we heard of any of these deaths we notified the police.

Q. You are one of the people who volunteered evidence to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme review team of alleged abuse at the fields, what exactly happened?

A. I just told the KPCS that there were some diamond panners all over the area but we had pleaded with Government to make sure that the people are moved out of the area.

The review team saw the panners and I don’t know what they discussed with them because I was not part of the exercise.

I only helped by driving them (KPCS review team) into the area but did not give any interview or volunteer evidence to them.

Q. But you recently wrote a letter to Government apologising for not following protocol, what had happened?

A. Actually, when the companies and other people moved in, we discussed this and we responded with emotions because that was not what we expected as a community. In trying to make sure that the community benefited we tended to become emotional. At the same time we were being denied access to the authorities.

You try to make an appointment and they tell you that they are too busy and this is where the frustrations were coming from.

Q. Now, how do you describe your relationship with Government?

A. As you are aware that the Mines Minister invited me to be part of the delegation (ministerial delegation that visited Chiadzwa recently) and we discussed with the people on the ground how they would want to assist in developing the area. We were all there with all Government agents to map a way forward.

Q. From your discussions with Government, what do you think the future holds for the people of Chiadzwa?

A. Government has made an undertaking to give a stake to the community and we are anxiously waiting for this to be fulfilled. We are waiting for Government to deliver.

Q. On a rather personal note, you are facing charges of illegal possession of diamonds. What is your response to that?

A. Unfortunately, it’s a matter before the courts and I cannot comment on that.

Q. Are you a diamond dealer?

A. No! I am not.

Q. So what do you do? What business are you into?

A. I am a curator, with a number of art galleries within and outside the country.

The Bootstrap Theory of Propaganda

The bootstrap theory of propaganda

By Stephen Gowans
Zimbabwe Herald

THE New York Times and US politicians are, through assertion and repetition, attempting to create as common knowledge the idea that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme and that the last presidential election in Iran was fraudulent, even though there is no evidence to back either claim.

In the November 23, 2009 New York Times edition, reporter Alexei Barrionuevo writes that "Brazil’s ambitions to be a more important player on the global diplomatic stage are crashing headlong into the efforts of the United States and other Western powers to rein in Iran’s nuclear arms program" (my emphasis.)

This treats the existence of a nuclear arms program in Iran as an established finding.

Yet, Tehran denies it has a nuclear weapons programme and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says it "‘has no concrete proof’ that Iran ever sought to make nuclear arms…"

The 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate disagrees, in part, claiming that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme in 2003, but says that Iran has since disbanded it. In February, "US officials said that… no new evidence has surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007."

According to the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency has "not seen concrete evidence that Tehran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme . . . But somehow, many people are talking about how Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world… In many ways,

I think the threat has been hyped.

Yes, there’s concern about Iran’s future intentions and Iran needs to be more transparent with the IAEA and the international community . . . But the idea that we’ll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn’t supported by the facts as we have seen them so far."

Barrionuevo isn’t alone in asserting, without evidence, that Iran is building nuclear arms. US Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, told Barrionuevo that "the world is trying to figure out how to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons", assuming, as a given, that Iran is trying to have nuclear weapons.

Engel also says that Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "is illegitimate with his own people," a reference to the disputed presidential election Iran’s opposition claims Ahmadinejad won through fraud.

Barrionuevo points to critics who worry that a visit to Brazil by Ahmadinejad will "legitimise" the Iranian president "just five months after what most of the world sees as his fraudulent re-election."

Yet there is no evidence the election was stolen.

All that backs the allegation is the assertion of the opposition that the election was fraudulent and "what most of the world" believes, this being based on the Western media treating opposition claims as legitimate.

This is a circular process. Most of the world believes the election was fraudulent because that’s what the principal source of information on this matter, the media, led it to believe. Now the New York Times offers the fact that the assertion is widely believed as evidence it is true.

This might be called the bootstrap theory of propaganda: legitimise an assertion by treating it as true, and when most of the world believes it’s true, offer the reality that everyone believes it to be true as evidence it is.

The only relevant evidence that would allow us to determine whether the outcome of the election was crooked or fair is provided by the sole methodologically rigorous poll conducted prior to the election.

It was sponsored by the international arm of the US Republican Party, the International Republican Institute, hardly a booster of Ahmadinejad. Carried out three weeks prior to the election, the poll "showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin – greater than his actual apparent margin of victory".

The pollsters, Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty, concluded that "Ahmadinejad is who Iranians want." The process of creating commonly held beliefs that have no evidentiary basis, and doing so through assertion and repetition, is not new.

To justify an illegal war on Yugoslavia, Western politicians, and the Western media in train, asserted without evidence that genocide was in progress in Kosovo in 1999.

Tens of thousands of corpses were expected to be found littering the "killing fields" of the then-Serb province. But when forensic investigators were dispatched to Kosovo after the war to document the genocide, the bodies never turned up.

By frequently repeating unsubstantiated claims, people were led to believe that systematic killings on a mass scale were being carried out, and that the West had a moral obligation to intervene. The public was duped.

Similarly, Western politicians "sexed up" intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Western media went along; acknowledging only after public support for the war had been engineered by the media’s propagation of US and British government lies, that it had got it wrong. The politicians said they had been misled by the CIA. The CIA said it was pressured by the politicians. All that mattered was that many people believed that Saddam Hussein was hiding banned weapons. When none were found, a new pretext for dominating Iraq militarily was trotted out, and acceptance of the pretext was aided by the repetition of more unsubstantiated assertions.

The bootstrap theory of propaganda is at work again, this time in connection with Iran.

Stephen Gowans is a Canadian writer and political activist resident in Ottawa. This article is produced from

Zimbabwe News Update: Investment Agreement Signed With South Africa

Zim, SA sign investment agreement

By Walter Muchinguri
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe and South Africa yesterday signed the much-awaited Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that is set to unlock investment inflows into both countries.

Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma signed the agreement on behalf of Zimbabwe while South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, signed on behalf of his country.

The agreement, which comes after almost five years of negotiations, will now be presented to the parliaments of both countries for ratification before it comes into force.

There had been some attempts by a group of some South African farmers, who had wanted to secure an order to have the signing deferred on the basis that the agreement should include issues on security of tenure on land.

However, Dr Davies said the issue was settled out of court after it was discovered that there was no basis for applying for such an order and that the benefits of signing the Bippa to most of the South African businesses far outweighed the interest of the minority business grouping.

Speaking soon after the signing ceremony, Minister Mangoma paid tribute to all the people who had worked to ensure that the agreement was signed.

"Although the journey started in 2004, it took us nine months as an inclusive Government to have the agreement signed, the same time that it takes a baby to be born. So this is not a premature baby, it is one that has been carried to full term," the minister said.

Minister Mangoma said the focus was now on increasing trade volumes with South Africa to the levels of 10 years ago as well as looking at new ways of doing business.

He said that although South Africa and Zimbabwe signed the Bippa, the implications of the event were far-reaching and extended beyond the border of the two countries.

"This Bippa is not between us and South Africa only it signals that Zimbabwe is now ready to do business, it is also ready for investment and ready to take its place on the world stage.

"For those who were saying that how can Zimbabwe fail to sign an agreement with South Africa, its neighbour, and when both are in Sadc, this is a demonstration that we are working hard to improve investment inflows into the country," he said.

The minister said all the three political parties within the inclusive Government were committed to staying in Government.

"All that we are saying to each other is that we have an agreement let’s implement all that we have agreed to in that agreement.

"Will there be squabble? Yes, there will be because this is politics and in business that is what you call noise," he said.

Dr Davies said South Africa was committed to seeing the implementation of the Global Political Agreement and that the signing of the Bippa was one of the ways in which his country was working to ensure economic recovery in Zimbabwe as spelt out in the GPA.

"Contrary to the belief that this agreement will benefit South Africa alone, it will facilitate a two-way flow of investment into both countries," he said.

The estimated value of South African businesses operating in Zimbabwe in 2003 was US$619 million while that of Zimbabwean businesses operating in South Africa was US$154 million. He said South Africa was also eager to see Zimbabwe’s economy ticking again as the influx of refugees from the region, including Zimbabwe, was putting pressure in their job market where menial jobs were scarce with South African employers were electing to employ foreigners ahead of locals.

Dr Davies said the signing of the Bippa was important as it provided the security required by investors and that the Industrial Development Corporation and Development Bank of South Africa were ready to come in with money to support various projects in different sectors of the economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the signing of the agreement was a demonstration of 21st century Pan-Africanism rooted in the economy business and entrepreneurship.

"The prosperity and success of South Africa is not possible without the success of Zimbabwe and Sadc," he said.

He called on local companies to strive to go beyond their national outlook and assume a region and international identity by partnering other business within the region and abroad to enhance their businesses.

The DPM also called on local businesses and foreign investors not to wait on the sidelines as opportunities unfold.

"If you wait for the political risk to pass, by the time it passes, the economic benefits will have also passed," he said.

The signing of the Bippa is expected to manifest in various spin-of for both countries chief of which is to enhancing investor confidence by showing that Zimbabwe is a safe and viable investment location as it guarantees the safety of foreign investment.

Since South Africa is also the country’s largest trading partner, the Bippa will enhance economic corporation that will manifest in the increase of the volumes of trade between the two countries.

The signing also paves way for the finalisation of several other agreements between the two countries and other countries that are at different stages.

Fireworks expected at Politburo meeting

Sunday Mail Reporter

A POTENTIALLY explosive Zanu-PF Politburo meeting is scheduled for Wednesday this week with the party’s Manicaland Province claiming that the process to nominate the national chairman of the party was not done procedurally and should be revisited.

The province is claiming that there was a “misconception” in some provinces that the national chairman was supposed to come from Matabeleland and, as a result, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, was nominated by most provinces for the post.

The special Politburo meeting will also finalise the dates of the much-awaited national congress to be held in Harare.

Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa, yesterday confirmed that the Politburo would meet on Wednesday to finalise the congress dates as well as discuss other issues including the nomination of the party’s national chairman.

“I can confirm that the dates had been provisionally set for the 16th to the 20th but the Politburo will meet on Wednesday and make the final decision. Preparations for the congress have gone on well to date and without any hitches.

“Everything is going according to plan. We are all gearing up for the congress, which we hope will be a successful one and will usher in a new Presidium and Central Committee members,” he said.

However, Cde Mutasa revealed that Manicaland Province wanted to engage the Politburo over the nomination process for the party chairmanship.

He said the nomination of party chairman was not done properly because some provinces held the misconception that the party chairman should originate from the Matabeleland Provinces.

“There is no written law in the party which states that the party chairman should come from the Matabeleland Provinces.

Manicaland Province therefore feels that the nomination for the chairmanship was not done properly. On the nomination date, some provinces altered and delayed their nominations and we feel that this was unfair,” he said.

Manicaland Province had nominated Cde Mutasa for the post of national chairman while Mashonaland Central had done the same before backtracking to throw its weight behind Cde Khaya Moyo.

Cde Mutasa said the Politburo would also discuss whether Cde Khaya Moyo would continue in his present role as Ambassador to South Africa in the event that he was confirmed as the party’s national chairman.

“The Politburo will look at whether Cde Khaya Moyo will continue to intertwine his new role with his diplomatic post. The nominated chairman is likely to attend the meeting and that is one of the issues we will discuss,” he said.

Cde Mutasa also explained that the battle for the nominations had not created any disunity but had proven that democracy existed within Zanu-PF.

“There is democracy in Zanu-PF and it is immature to say that the nominations created any divisions. There can be disagreements here and there but it is these disagreements that show that members have the freedom to express their concerns,” he said.

All provinces unanimously endorsed Cde Robert Mugabe as President and First Secretary of the party while Cdes Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo were nominated by the majority of the provinces for the two Vice Presidential posts. Cde Khaya Moyo was nominated by the majority of the provinces to serve as party chairman.

Meanwhile, most provinces have since completed their nominations for Central Committee members.

3 die, 4 injured as Zim plane crashes

Sunday Mail Reporter

THREE crew members died instantly and four others were injured when a Zimbabwean-registered cargo plane crashed as it took off at the main airport in Shanghai, China, yesterday morning.

The plane belongs to Harare-based Avient Aviation and was heading for Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

All the three who died are United States citizens while a Zimbabwean was among the injured.

Reports last night indicated that the Zimbabwean, whose identity is still being withheld, was in stable condition. The other three injured are from Belgium, Indonesia and the US. The cause of the crash was not immediately established.

An official with Avient Aviation yesterday confirmed that the plane, a US-made McDonnell- Douglas MD11 freighter, crashed as it took off from Pudong International Airport in the Chinese commercial capital.

“The accident took place today (yesterday) in the morning and we have not yet established what caused it.

“After the crash, three American crew members were reported dead and there were four people who sustained injuries,” said the official at the company’s headquarters in Borrowdale, Harare.

“Those who were injured are from the United States, Belgium, Indonesia and Zimbabwe,” she added.

“At the moment, we are withholding the name of the Zimbabwean involved but I have been assured that he is now in a stable condition.”

The official said that they were now getting assistance from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to determine what could have caused the accident.

“We have met officials from CAAZ so that they assist us in carrying out investigations on what caused the accident.

“Our senior management is on their way to China to also determine what caused the crash and also to meet with those involved in the crash,” said the official.

She said this was the first time that one of their aircraft had been involved in an accident.

Avient Aviation is based in the country and has been specialising in air cargo services since 1993.

According to a Press statement later published on the company’s website, the accident took place at approximately 00:16 GMT.

“An Avient Aviation-operated aircraft was involved in an accident at approximately 00:16 GMT today while the aircraft, a McDonnell-Douglas MD11 freighter, was operating a charter freight flight from Pudong International Airport in China. The aircraft was carrying a crew of seven.

“At this time, the full resources of Avient’s accident response team have been mobilised and will be devoted to co-operating with all authorities responding to the accident,” reads part of the statement.

Recent crashes in China include two Chinese air force jets that collided in June 2008 in Inner Mongolia, with both pilots parachuting to safety. In June 2006, a Chinese military plane crashed in eastern Anhui province, killing all 40 people on board.

Government committed to gender equality

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Mrs Evelyn Masaiti, says Government is committed to ensuring gender equality in the country.

Officially opening the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN) Annual Stakeholders’ Workshop in Kadoma last week, she said the ratification of the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development was ample evidence of the steps authorities were making in this direction.

She said gender equality was important as studies have shown that initiatives tailor-made to economically empower women lead to higher rates of economic growth.

“Gender budgeting is a tool used to ensure that Government budgets, policies and programmes address the needs and interests of different social groups,” she said.

“The goal of the programme is not only in itself the achievement of gender equality but also for increased economic growth and development. Therefore, as we seek ways of economic rehabilitation and national development, gender responsive budgeting has become more crucial.”

The deputy minister commended efforts by the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and her ministry to respond positively to gender-related issues.

The workshop drew various participants among them, parliamentary representatives.

Why I back indigenisation

By Jonathan Kadzura
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

IN his wisdom, President Mugabe created a ministry to oversee and ensure that the local previously disadvantaged people take advantage of their local economy.

The ministry, in my view, was created to ensure that many youths take advantage of their God-given resources to better their livelihoods.

The ministry, to its credit, crafted what is now law on indigenisation. In their wisdom the ministry registered a number of pressure groups to accelerate economic indigenisation in Zimbabwe.

We now have the Indigenous Business Women Organisation of Zimbabwe, the Indigenous Business Community, and a few other pressure groups.

We also have the Small Miners’ Association that overlooks the local mining interests of the small-scale mining members.

It would appear to me that Government has over the years demonstrated its will and indeed ability to ensure that the previously disadvantaged indigenous people of Zimbabwe are given the opportunity to now rise and shine. But are they?

Let us agree on certain things, President Mugabe can never come and tell me to individually wake up and go out there to enrich myself and my people.

The President can never come and work on my fields, neither can he ever tell me or whisper in my ears about the opportunities arising in our economy. All he can do is to ensure that the economic playing field is level and square to all. This the President has done.

I have a huge doubt about the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment and the various indigenisation pressure groups we have in Zimbabwe.

I have problems with these instruments. Are these instruments for the youth of this country or for those who run and manage them?

I am well over 30 years old, so that by Zanu-PF definition, I am not a youth anymore.

After we are all gone there will still be a Zimbabwe. Are we managing to create the Zimbabwe we need? I should shudder to imagine.

It is late at night, I shudder to sleep because I am afraid to dream of our future if we do not indigenise now.

President Mugabe has fought all his life, to make you and I a better entity, but surely he has been let down. As Zimbabweans, we should be determined to ensure that this vision is achieved sooner rather than later. Politics is about serving the people.

Sadly most of those who have surrounded the President have found it fit to serve themselves first before empowering the people. That is not politics; it is selfishness. Selfishness has the tendency to curl and strike itself.

I have listened enough times to the young people who tell me now and again that they have been chased out of their little shops because rents were hiked or Zesa bills have become unaffordable.

As a result, most shops have now been sub-divided into little holes in order to accommodate more traders who can afford high rentals.

I have not heard a whisper from all these pressure groups or the Ministry of Indigenisation, about suggested solutions to these local hardships.

President Mugabe led the way by putting the Indigenisation Act in place, and now we must also ask him to evict a foreigner from our own building. RUBBISH. In my view, retail business under US$500 million worth of investment must be left to the indigenous people of Zimbabwe.

For all those foreigners, who would like to get involved in retail, in my view, they should be given land to develop. The piece of land will be theirs, the building will be theirs, but at the end of it all, they will have added real value to our economy.

When they choose to go they may, if they wish, sell the property or lease it. The net winner in this case will be Zimbabwe because of the added value on the land.

Surely, we do not need investors who come here to just sell sugar and Mazoe. For clarity, indigenous Zimbabweans must be given the right to all retail business under US$500 million investment.

All those who would like to get involved in retail, in my view, should be given land to develop.

The President has done it all for us, but we need the easy way out. The easy way out is recolonisation. Already that path is set and some of us are already treading on it. Ask me, I will tell you.

In my view, all those elbowed out of their businesses because of high rentals and high electricity bills must, as a matter of urgency, demand a hearing with the ministers responsible.

The President, in my view, is clear about the indigenisation theory, not as a slogan but a reality.

I would like to hear from the ministry and the pressure groups about their response to the ordinary traders who are now forced to the Mupedzanhamos because they cannot afford the town rentals anymore or perhaps forced to trade from a small upstairs shop where there is no passing trade because some foreign person who can afford high rentals has come to take over the passing trade.

As usual, I am just opening a public debate on rentals, nature of investments and the role of the Ministry of Indigenisation and the various pressure organisations we have in Zimbabwe.

Are these instruments proactive or reactive only when something triggers them to be heard? I deserve a reply, and detailed action plan on indigenisation.

I am aware of the ongoing plan to have 51 percent localised investment in all foreign corporates. I support the view, but that will not create new wealth or new employment but simply create a probable new class of Western capital parasites that can tomorrow grow to help recolonisation.

We must be wary of the Ides of March. Already, enough has been witnessed about who is or are there as the indigenous people of this great Zimbabwe.

Whatever methodology finally comes out must favour the poor and not the rich.

Again, it is a Sunday, time for the family. Enjoy yours as I enjoy mine.