Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Alter Rules on Zimbabwe Gems?

Why alter rules on Zim gems?

Zimbabwe Herald

ZIMBABWE has done everything possible to sell its diamonds with the full co-operation of the international community as represented by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. But goal posts are being changed all the time to meet political ends.

A Joint Work Plan was drawn and agreed upon by the KP and the Zimbabwean Government at Swakopmund, Namibia, last year.

This was at a plenary session of the KP and this work plan can only be amended at another plenary session set for the end of this year.

It was, therefore mischievous for the KP to try to amend the work plan at the intercessional meeting in Tel Aviv last week.

All this smacks of desperation by the western powers that fear Zimbabwe could emerge out of the economic quagmire it is in once it starts selling its diamonds.

They can see the sting being taken out of their sanctions; instead of screaming, the Zimbabwean economy will soon be laughing.

Zimbabwe has done well by following the process set out by the KP to the letter and spirit. The process of designating a monitor took four months as the West tried to impose a monitor who would serve their agenda whilst Zimbabwe insisted on a monitor from the Sadc region. Zimbabwe waited patiently for an agreement to be reached. The two parties finally agreed on Mr Abbey Chikane, a South African whose reputation is solid.

Mr Chikane cannot be justifiably accused of being soft on Zimbabwe as his first report raised serious weaknesses in Zimbabwe’s system and demanded that they be correctly.

He came for the second time and worked meticulously to ensure that the KP standards were met. Zimbabwe was clever enough to get assistance from Namibian diamond experts in the implementation of the Joint Work Plan and was able to meet and exceed the minimum requirements of the KP.

It was for this reason that the majority of the members of the KP meeting in Tel Aviv had no problems accepting that Zimbabwe had done all that is necessary to be allowed to export its diamonds.

Those opposing the exports, notably the United States, Canada, Australia and the coterie of non-governmental organisations that they sponsor, could not find anything in the Joint Work Plan against Zimbabwe.

What was raised is clearly outside the Joint Work Plan and should be rejected. The pre-conditions set such as the release of Farai Maguwu, the replacement of Mr Chikane by a proxy of the West and the demand that one percent from the sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds be allocated to civil society have no merit at all.

Rule of law demands that once a matter is before the courts it should be exhausted there. This is what happened with the Roy Bennett case, where again, the West was demanding that the case be thrown away.

As for the demand that a certain percentage of the sales should go to the civil society, that is a completely ridiculous demand. Had they demanded that the percentage go straight to the people of Marange we would have understood. But not to the so-called civil society! Who do they represent?

Were they elected by anyone? How can they claim to represent the people of Zimbabwe when everyone knows they were created by the western powers to pursue their regime change agenda?

Now that the due process has been followed Zimbabwe should justifiably proceed and sell its gems. In doing so, it should remain committed to the KP standards and continue to work with the KP monitor in shooting for even higher standards.

What makes Zimbabwe’s case easy to appreciate is that there are several countries exporting diamonds under the KP whose standards are nowhere near what Zimbabwe has achieved. Everyone in the KP is aware of this.

Joshua Nkomo, Father of Zimbabwe Nationalism, Remembered

Umdala Wethu remembered

By Tendai Hildegarde Manzvanzvike
Zimbabwe Herald

It is that time of year when we sit back and reflect on the life and timeless contributions by late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo — a man who left an indelible mark on Zimbabwe’s nationalist history and pan-Africanism in general.

The sum total of his commitment, dedication and contributions to Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonial bondage earned him the term of endearment — Father Zimbabwe. A timeless honour, indeed.

Father Zimbabwe or father of the nation is the personification of a man whose stature was larger than life, and who "surrendered" parenthood of his nucleus family — his wife, heroine Johanna (Mama MaFuyana), and their three children.

Instead, all these luxuries were exchanged for detention camps; life in exile; continual harassment and unlawful arrests. But they did not give up. They fought on to the bitter end.

During the early years of the nationalist struggle, he also had the nickname Chibwechitedza (slippery rock, implying a shrewd and wily personality).

With time, he became Umdala Wethu (our dearly beloved old man). The "wethu" (our) once again encapsulated the notion of Father Zimbabwe. For as a leader, he belonged to all, irrespective of race, colour, creed, gender, age or ethnicity.

When he died, he was passionately described as "qawe lamaqawe" or "gamba remagamba" (hero among heroes).

A speech delivered by Cde Mugabe on Chitepo Day, March 18 1979, was aptly titled, "Victory is the only tribute to a hero".

Eleven years on, we also say that victory is the only tribute for heroes like Dr Nkomo. Victory is the only tribute fit for countless men, women, boys and girls who sacrificed for Zimbabwe’s liberation.

Today, Zimbabweans are also paying tribute to one of the chief architects of not just modern-day Zimbabwe, but a man whose persona embodied the values and principles it stands for.

For it was through his leadership and that of other nationalists that Zimbabweans were able to wage a bitter and protracted liberation struggle that dislodged the British colonial system.

Like his biblical namesake Joshua, Dr Nkomo remained focused and did not betray the beliefs that could have made him abandon the comfort zone of a formal job and a normal family life.

His vision about this nation was larger than life. He lived that vision until July 1, 1999 when at the age of 82 he passed on, after a long battle with prostrate cancer. He was buried on July 5, 1999 at the National Heroes Acre before a capacity crowd of mourners estimated at 100 000.

According to an official source: "Indeed, Zimbabweans were united for five days in recognition of a man who knew no cultural boundaries. In mourning, people across the country experienced and lived together Joshua Nkomo’s ideals of peace and harmony regardless of tribe, race or creed.

"Record crowds felt obliged to bid farewell to this great son in Barbourfields Stadium and at his home in Bulawayo and at Stodart Hall in Mbare. Joshua Nkomo, the man with ‘a common touch’, exhibited his capacity for talking to all types of people in a language they can understand."

Dr Nkomo was born on June 7, 1917 in the Kezi District of Matabeleland. His father, Thomas Nyongolo Letswana Nkomo, was a prominent community leader and lay preacher of the London Missionary Society.

Despite his father’s polygamous marriage, his autobiography "The Story of My Life", gives recollections about his close relationship with his mother: "I could not keep up with other children, and kept running back to my mother. I adored her; I was a mother’s boy. My weakness made me backward in our games and the sport of stick-fighting."

He says that this had an effect on his confidence and self-esteem, although it also worked in his favour: "Even when I went to school and found myself coming first in all my classes . . . I felt the other boys were better than me.

"In later life, that lack of confidence has been both my strength and weakness. In my dealings with people, I have acted trustingly, and have found out too late when I have been betrayed. My comfort has been to trust in and be trusted by the masses."

When the masses turned out in thousands for his funeral wake and burial, it was a sign of approval that his instincts had hit the right chords

He initially trained as a carpenter, after completing Standard Six, but his eagerness to improve his carpentry qualifications saw him moving to Adam’s College in South Africa.

In 1942, he met the man who was later to become independent Zimbabwe’s first black Supreme Court judge, Justice Enoch Dumbutshena.

Instead of studying carpentry, he turned to an academic career and in 1949, he obtained a BA degree in Economics and Social Science. While studying in South Africa, he became friends with former South African president and leader of the ANC, Nelson Mandela.

During the same year, he returned to Zimbabwe where he married Johanna Fuyana. He also joined the Rhodesia Railways as a social welfare officer based in Bulawayo. The post exposed him to the huge salary discrepancies between black and white employees.

Then started the long journey to freedom. He joined the trade union movement to fight against the exploitative conditions. In 1951, he was appointed secretary of the Railway Workers’ Association, and by 1955, he had become president of the Federation of Africa Workers’ Union and was naturally propelled into national politics.

In 1952, he was elected president of the African National Congress of Southern Rhodesia. In this capacity together with nationalists in the region — Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Dr Hastings Banda of Malawi, they fought for freedom.

After resigning from Rhodesia Railways, he went into private business as an auctioneer.

The birth of the Federation weakened the ANC, and Dr Nkomo set out to rejuvenate the party by incorporating into the ANC, the more radical National Youth League led by George Nyandoro, James Chikerema, Henry Hamadziripi, Edson Sithole and others. In 1960, the National Democratic Party was formed, and he was elected president.

The NDP was banned in December 1961 and on September 20, 1962 the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) was formed, with him as the leader.

When the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), led by Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, was formed in August 1963, it was eventually Zapu and Zanu under the banner of the Patriotic Front that resolved that the only way to majority rule was through an armed struggle, which they fought from outside Zimbabwe, with assistance from the Zambian, Mozambican, Tanzanian, Botswana and other regional governments.

Zapu’s guerilla movement was the Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra), while the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) came under Zanu-PF.

The governments of China, the former Soviet bloc and other progressive forces rendered immeasurable assistance to the liberation movements, until 1979, when the British and the Smith regime held talks with the Patriotic Front led by both Dr Nkomo and President Mugabe.

The leaders of the Patriotic Front made it quite clear to the British that the central issue to independence was land.

At independence in 1980, Dr Nkomo became Zimbabwe’s first Home Affairs Minister. However, the dissident insurrection that started in 1981 in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands province strained relationships between Zanu-PF and PF- Zapu.

After talks brokered by then President Reverend Canaan Banana, the leaders of the two parties buried their differences, signed a peace agreement — the Unity Accord of 1987 — where the parties became one — Zanu-PF.

After the signing of the Unity Accord, Dr Nkomo joined Dr Simon Muzenda as co-Vice President of Zimbabwe, a position he held until his death.

This year’s commemorations of our liberation heroes and heroines is unique in that in 2010, Zimbabwe celebrated 30 years of independence.

It is also a Zimbabwe that marked 30 years of independence when the rest of Africa is politically free, 125 years after the "scramble for Africa" under the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. However, there are still a number of challenges being faced by the African continent, especially on the economic front, where poverty, disease, internal conflicts and dependence on donor funding from former colonial masters persist.

In the February issue of New African, Osei Boateng wrote that in 2010, "nine African countries will celebrate 50 years of independence . . ." At the time of writing, President Mugabe had left for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s golden jubilee. This vast expanse of African land, which is not only rich in mineral resources, but also among the first countries to produce true pan-Africanists like Patrice Lumumba was at one time under Belgian King Leopold’s "ownership".

This means that Zimbabwe commemorates Umdala Wethu’s 11th anniversary, a day after DR Congo’s golden jubilee.

Last week, Mozambique, which played a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence, commemorated 35 years of independence. It was also a time for African liberation movements to remember their fallen heroes like Eduardo Mondlane and Samora Moises Machel, and chart the way forward, a task they started when they met a few months ago in Arusha, Tanzania.

We also mark this special day when the Fifa 2010 World Cup is being hosted by South Africa — the first to be played on African soil since its inception.

Since Africa’s freedom was not handed down on a silver platter, but needed visionaries and resilient fighters like Dr Nkomo, it is worthwhile mentioning that 17 African countries are celebrating 50 years of independence in 2010.

However, a majority of the countries are former French colonies, an issue that needs interrogation on why Britain in particular could only let go of some of its former colonies like Kenya and Zimbabwe after guerrilla warfare — bitterly fought.

Zimbabwe also commemorates the life of Father Zimbabwe when the outreach programme for the writing of the new constitution is underway. A people-driven constitution was one of the issues close to Dr Nkomo’s heart.

Today, Copac and the people should take note of how he felt even in the fifties. According to an Evening Standard report of March 8 1961, as leader of NDP, Cde Nkomo said: ". . . No constitution is worth the paper it is written on if it goes against the will of the people. The mere solidarity of the people can block any constitution, which is imposed. There is no need for a stick to be raised or a stone to be thrown. There is not even need for ‘passive resistance’."

Despite a number of issues that still need to be attended to, it is important to say that two of Dr Nkomo’s dreams have been realised: unity and land
to the people.

However, even after the Unity Accord, threats aimed at derailing the process have resurfaced through the formation of Western-sponsored political organisations and the imposition of illegal economic sanctions. But it seems as though Zimbabweans are bent on being masters of their destiny.

The formation of an inclusive Government in February 2009 is a demonstration by Zimbabweans that they are capable of utilising the natural resources for the benefit of all. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is one of the major legal instruments to ensure Zimbabwe’s total sovereignty.

However, it remains a problem when the international community especially the former colonial masters (using NGOs) still think that they have a right to dictate to Zimbabwe how it should run its internal affairs.

Thus this 11th anniversary is also being commemorated under the shadow of these machinations by the West, with the sale of the Marange diamonds taking centre stage.

Last week’s meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, proved once more that the Anglo-Saxon world was opposed to the sale, since this would render their illegal sanctions useless.

Next month’s meeting will be held in Russia, home to a majority of the Zipra cadres.

The best that Zimbabwe could do was, as reported yesterday, that Cabinet had unanimously agreed that July 1 be set aside a special day to commemorate Dr Nkomo’s life. We should borrow a leaf or two from the ideas on how President Mandela’s heroism is being managed both in South Africa and at the United Nations. For these are our generational pace setters.

It is, however, disturbing to see which Zimbabwean is writing our history. Visit any bookshops in Harare, and you will find nothing but imported texts, most of them irrelevant to Zimbabwe’s needs. Why is the writing of our history not being taken seriously? As our nationalist depart from our midst one by one, who will do it?

Why should writers rely on one-sided and non-authoritative sources? The Internet has today become one big source peddling unsubstantiated facts.

East African Nations Firm on Nile River Deal

Monday, June 28, 2010
15:04 Mecca time, 12:04 GMT

E African nations firm on Nile deal

The original Nile pact gives Egypt the lion's share of the river's total flow of 84 billion cbm

Five East African countries have announced their refusal to go back on a deal they signed last month to share the waters of the Nile, despite fierce criticism from Egypt and Sudan.

The stand was adopted as the latest meeting of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, ended with open disagreements on Sunday.

After more than a decade of talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed the agreement in May without their northern neighbours.

"The signed [agreement] can't be unsigned," Asfaw Dingamo, the Ethiopian minister for water resources, said, referring to the pact signed in May.

"But we hope to reach a consensus and I hope to do it very soon."

The five signatories have given the other Nile Basin countries - Egypt, Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - one year to join the pact.

The new deal would need at least six signatories to come into force.

Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not signed the deal yet and have so far been tight-lipped about whether they plan to or not.

Sudan's reaction

Responding to the developments, Kamal Ali Mohamed, Sudan's water minister, said his country would now stop co-operating with the NBI because the agreement raised legal issues.

"We are freezing activities regarding the NBI until these issues, these legal implications, are resolved," he said.

Mohamed's statement drew expected criticism from Asfaw, who said the Sudanese had not revealed their intention to freeze co-operation during the two-day meeting.

Separately, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam, Egypt's water resources and irrigation minister, told the Reuters news agency that a meeting to discuss the Nile agreement would be held in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, some time between September and November.

"The deal can not be forced upon us. It will only be an obligation for those countries, not Egypt's," he said.

"Ask the Egyptians to leave their culture and go and live in the desert because [you] need to take this water and to add it to other countries? No.

"Egypt has no source of water other than that coming from upstream countries. The upstream countries have many sources and aren't managing our Nile properly. That's what we are asking for."

Vital water source

Mena, the official Egyptian news agency, said on Monday that other states had said they "understood Egypt and Sudan's position ... and based on this an exceptional ministerial ... will be held to decide how to move forward in a matter that serves all Nile Basin states".

Stretching more than 6,600km from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, the Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows.

Egypt is almost totally dependent on the Nile and already threatened by climate change, is closely watching hydroelectric dam construction in East Africa.

Under the original pact Egypt, which faces possible water shortages by 2017, is entitled to 55.5 billion cubic metres a year - the lion's share of the Nile's total flow of around 84 billion cubic metres.

Around 85 per cent of the Nile's waters originate from Ethiopia and the Lake Basin is estimated to harbour more than half of Kenya's surface water resources.

Source: Agencies

Nepal's Prime Minister Resigns to End Political Deadlock

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
17:31 Mecca time, 14:31 GMT

Nepal's PM resigns to end deadlock

Nepal's Maoists have been agitating for a return to power after their government fell last year

Nepal's prime minister has resigned his post on live television, saying he hoped that quitting would help break the politicial deadlock gripping the Himalayan state.

Madhav Kumar Nepal had faced weeks of pressure from the opposition Maoists to step down and pave the way for a power-sharing government to be formed.

"I have decided to resign from the post of prime minister so that the peace process can be completed, a new constitution drafted and the current political deadlock resolved," he said.

"I had frequently urged the political parties including the Maoists to find an appropriate way out of the present deadlock and forge a consensus," he went on.

"As it would be inappropriate to further prolong the situation of confusion and indecision, I decided to resign from the post of prime minister to help accomplish the tasks of constitution drafting and the peace process."

Political impasse

The three main parties in the country agreed last month to form a power-sharing government, but have been unable to hammer out details of what form it should take.

Rather than working together, each of the parties has been jostling for positions of power, creating a climate of political uncertainty and instability in the troubled country.

The prime minister, who took office in May 2009 after the Maoist-led government collapsed in a row over the failure to integrate the party's former rebel fighters into Nepal's armed forces, had the support of 22 political parties in parliament and more than half of the 601 members in the assembly.

But he was unable to draw support from the Maoists, who have the largest number of seats in the assembly.

They had staged protests demanding that the government was disbanded, bringing Nepal to a complete standstill for a week in May when they organised a general strike.

The protests also set back the timetable for the writing of a new constitution, which was supposed to have been completed in May. The deadline was extended by a year when it became apparent that there was no sign of the stalemate being broken.

Prime Minister Nepal is expected to stay in the job in a caretaker capacity while his successor is chosen.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

South Africa's Eskom Says Firm Can't Meet Union Demands

S. Africa's Eskom says can't meet union demands

Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:25pm GMT

Eskom says cannot afford union demands

NUM issues strike notice

Eskom says strike illegal, sees arbitration as next step

By James Macharia

JOHANNESBURG, June 30 (Reuters) - South African power utility Eskom said on Friday it cannot afford demands sought by unions, adding to fears of a strike that could disrupt power supply during the soccer World Cup.

The company's biggest union said it had issued a strike notice to the
firm, and a second union said on Wednesday it would join the strike
after its members rejected a new pay offer from the firm.

"We cannot afford that as a company," Chief Executive Officer Brian
Dames of state-owned Eskom said of the union demands. "The offer we have put on the table is fair and it is reasonable."

He added that a strike could disrupt supply if it lasts for more than
a few days, and Eskom would take disciplinary measures against anyone who participates in strikes it considers illegal.

A spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, Lesiba Seshoka, said the union which represents half the firm's 32,000 employees had issued Eskom with notice of its planned strike.

"We have issued a notice to Eskom, giving them more than the 48 hours required by law," Seshoka told Reuters. "We cannot as yet disclose the date of the strike, which will be next week, but we will inform the public as soon as we finish planning the logistics for the work stoppage."

Sources close to the talks said informal negotiations were still under
way, however.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said its
members had also rejected Eskom's latest offer and would join the NUM in the planned strike. "Members have rejected the offer, and there will be mass action next week. We are going to strike together with the other union," Castro Ngobese, Numsa's spokesman, told Reuters.

A third union at Eskom, Solidarity, said its members had also rejected an improved offer from the firm, but it wanted the utility to revise its offer by Monday before it would take a decision on whether to join any strike.


Any power disruption could harm manufacturing and mining companies in the world's top platinum and fourth-largest gold producer possibly forcing them to curtail operations and pushing up precious metals prices.

It could also embarrass the country and anger fans during the World
Cup, which ends on July 11. Stadiums are equipped with their own power generators but millions of fans watching from home on TV could potentially be affected.

"The unions are prepared to fight it out. I do think that management
will fold. Management will be under enormous pressure from the
government and elsewhere," said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.

Seshoka said Eskom had offered an 8.5 percent pay rise and 1,000 rand per month housing allowance, which was turned down by the NUM's members. The NUM has been seeking a 9 percent wage raise and an allowance of 2,500 rand.

Eskom's human resources managing director, Bhabhalazi Bulunga, said it was unlikely the union would strike.

"The next process is to go to arbitration, there is no room for
industrial action because this is an essential service and the parties
are not far from each other," he told Reuters.

"It will be an illegal strike. We also have a court interdict in force
to prevent such action," he said in reference to a court order
obtained by Eskom in May preventing a similar strike threatened by the NUM.

Union leaders have said arbitration is not an option. (Additional
reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Shapi Shacinda; Editing by Peter

Nigeria Rescued Bank Profits Underlying Economic Weakness

Nigeria rescued bank profits mask underlying weakness

An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's
commercial capital of Lagos

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS (Reuters) - Most of the Nigerian banks rescued in a $4 billion
bailout last year may show they have returned to profit in the first
quarter but the figures are illusory as they have not had any
underlying growth, analysts said.

Afribank, Finbank, Oceanic Bank, Spring Bank, Union Bank and Wema Bank are among the banks to have swung back to profit months after deep losses and huge writedowns.

The central bank wants new investors to recapitalise the nine
institutions it rescued and Governor Lamido Sanusi told Reuters this
month that a number of foreign banks and private equity investors were still interested.

However, the underlying business of Nigeria's banks has improved
little since the bailout. Growth in bank credit to the private sector
was still stuck at 0.35 percent in the first quarter compared to 25
percent growth in the same period of 2008.

Analysts have said the rescued banks' first-quarter profits are due to
last year's high levels of provisioning rather than growth in lending,
which has been reflected in the fact the results have failed to lift
stock prices in the banking sector.

"I don't think what we've seen from the first quarter is a result of
their direct intermediation or improvement in their core business. The
results represent some recoveries and provisions no longer required," said Anthony Orororo, head of research at Lagos-based Future View Financial Services.

"The results have failed to lift market sentiment. I don't see any of
these rescued banks delivering 10 to 15 percent upside (returns)
between now and the third quarter," he said.

The nine rescued banks made provisions for loan losses totalling more than 2.2 trillion naira after the bailout last August and October,
wiping out their shareholders' funds and throwing them deep into the

Two senior bankers, who asked not to be named, said the profits could be explained by the "big bath" accounting technique, in which firms write off massive amounts of certain assets from their balance sheets in a single year and show increased future net income.

"The rescued banks were forced to provide massively for every loan
they had and the ones they were not sure of... This is the big bath
technique, you take a big hit last year and this year any loan
recovery is a profit," one of the bankers said.


Concerns over the slow pace at which the underlying health of
Nigeria's financial sector is improving has caused a rally on the
stock market to falter.

Banks account for 60 percent of market capitalisation and the index
has retreated to three-month lows in the wake of the banks' first
quarter results, although it is still up more than 20 percent since
the start of the year.

Analysts had predicted a 40 percent rally over the year as a whole,
driven by the quick resolution of banking reforms.

But progress has been slower than anticipated.

The creation of an asset management company (AMCON) to soak up
non-performing loans and get banks lending again has taken longer than hoped. Parliament has passed a bill to form AMCON has been passed by parliament but is still awaiting presidential approval.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said on Monday Nigeria's banking
system remained "very high risk", with banks in the single B category,
and there was "still a long way to go" with regulatory reforms.

The central bank said on Monday it was granting a three-month
extension to a recapitalisation deadline for two banks, Unity and
Wema, because of delays to the formation of AMCON.

Central bank auditors last year determined Unity Bank had insufficient capital but it was not one of the nine banks to receive a capital injection because it was deemed to have a healthy liquidity position.

2010-06-30 14:23:34

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Imperialist States Seek to Block Zimbabwe Diamond Trade Amid New Sanctions Bid by the U.S.

Imperialist States Seek to Block Zimbabwe Diamond Trade Amid New Sanctions Bid by the U.S.

African governments support nation’s ability to market gems on its own terms

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Western imperialist states are continuing their efforts to undermine the sovereignty of the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe. The most egregious campaign recently has been the attempts to block the country from marketing its diamonds on the international market.

Utilizing the so-called Kimberley Process (KP), the controllers of the international diamond trade claim that they are seeking to prevent the trafficking in gems by rebel armies, criminal elements and rogue states. Yet the criteria utilized to determine whose diamonds are given the stamp of approval for international marketing is heavily influenced by the ruling class interests in Europe and the United States.

Several Western governments are opposing Zimbabwe while the corporate media is stoking the flames of suspicion around the intentions of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party. Even though Mugabe and ZANU-PF—who fought for and won the national liberation of the country—have entered into a coalition with the Western-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), the destabilization campaign against the leadership of the national democratic revolution continues unabated.

A recent article in Newsweek magazine reported that “The Kimberley Process, a body that tries to ensure diamonds do not fund war or human rights abuses, is meeting in Israel this week to decide whether Zimbabwe’s diamonds should be allowed to trade on the world market.” (Newsweek, June 22) The New York Times wrote on June 24 that “Zimbabwe’s military has been accused of violently seizing control of the Marange fields in the eastern part of the country where the diamonds were mined and organizing smuggling operations there, prompting intense debate over giving it an international stamp of approval.” (New York Times, June 24)

These corporate media reports ignore the right of Zimbabwe to control the mineral wealth of its national territory. With a history of attacks on the independence of the Zimbabwean state over a decade or more, it is not surprising that the military is guarding the diamond mines considering the vast deposits of gems found in the area.

The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail reported on June 27 that “An astonishing revelation has emerged from Israel: Zimbabwe has the potential to become a producer of 25 percent of the global diamonds supply in terms of value within just a few years. In practical terms, this means one in every four diamonds under the sun will come from Zimbabwe. “(Sunday Mail, June 27)

According to Israeli gemstone consultant Mr. Chaim Even-Zohar during the intercessory conference on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Tel Aviv during the week of June 21, Zimbabwe is becoming a very significant source for the supply of diamonds on the global market. Newsweek described the sheer enormity of the diamond deposits, citing the New York Times, as “a freak of nature.” (Newsweek, June 22)

The debate over the control and distribution of the Zimbabwe diamonds has split largely along the lines of the international division of economic power with the African states and their allies in China, Russia and India supporting the right of the country to determine the utilization of its resources on the one hand and the Western imperialist states on the other, maintaining that outside bodies should control the supply.

Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mail pointed out that “Virtually all the members of the Kimberley Process—except Australia, Canada, the United States and the European Union—are agreed that Zimbabwe has a right to sell its diamonds.” (Sunday Mail, June 27)

This article continues that “Owing to the discredited imperialist intentions harbored by these four spoilers, there was no consensus at the Tel Aviv meeting. Discussions ended Thursday (June 24) in a stalemate over the Zimbabwe ban, despite all-night talks that broke at 5:30am and then continued for several hours later in the afternoon.”

Even the New York Times was forced to admit that “’Every time the African countries and others spoke in favor of letting Zimbabwe export, there was resounding applause,’ said one participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations were confidential. ‘When the United States, Canada, Australia and the NGOs spoke, there was dead silence.’” (New York Times, June 24)

The Sunday Mail notes that “The people of Zimbabwe are outraged. How can this injustice continue? The same Western governments that have imposed racist sanctions on Zimbabwe are once again ganging up against our nation after discovering that the valuable stones of Marange are going to be Zimbabwe’s economic salvation.”

Zimbabwe is considering marketing its diamonds through other trading networks outside the Kimberley Process which has been thoroughly infiltrated by the imperialist states and their corporate backers. The opposition by the Western states has been supported by several non-governmental organizations that have a long history of working to undermine the sovereignty of Zimbabwe.

These groups include Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada along with Amnesty International of the UK and the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. Zimbabwe has accused the West and its cheerleaders in the NGO circuit of working towards regime-change despite the tremendous work it has done in building a unity government with the opposition.

The Kimberley Process Monitor to Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, has submitted a report that endorses the country’s right to market its diamonds internationally. The report was put to a vote with 69 Kimberley Process delegates voting in favor of Zimbabwe while only four imperialist states and regional groupings: Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the European Union taking a position against the Southern African country.

However, when the imperialists realized that they had been defeated in a majority vote, the rules were suddenly changed. The Chair of the Kimberley Process, Boaz Hirsch, then declared that there had to be total consensus on the question of Zimbabwe.

The Sunday Mail argues that “In view of the fact that the KP-appointed monitor has given Zimbabwe full marks, we have to ask the question: on what basis are the governments of Australia, Canada and the U.S. conniving to allege that Zimbabwe has ‘blood diamonds’? What objective facts are they advancing in labeling these stones ‘blood diamonds.’”

This same article continues by declaring that “No country has the power to stop Zimbabwe from selling its diamonds. As a nation, we have voluntarily subjected ourselves to KP procedures. We can, by the same token, voluntarily withdraw from the cartel.”

U.S. Pushes Legislation to Maintain Sanctions

Inside the halls of the U.S. Congress fresh efforts are underway to renew existing sanctions against Zimbabwe. The so-called Zimbabwe Renewal Act of 2010 sets out to amend the already operating Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act that created the devastating sanctions regime against a sovereign African state.

In a press release during the week of June 21, the U.S. Information Center in Zimbabwe indicated that the new legislation advances what it calls “targeted sanctions.” The bill will provide ongoing financial assistance to the MDC-T politicians and continue efforts to force the party of President Mugabe, ZANU-PF, out of the government of national unity.

The bill states that “some members of ZANU-PF” are hampering the democratic process and at the same time singles out Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC-T for special praise. The press release stated that the bill “reflects strenuous debate in both the Democratic and Republican parties, influenced by the Congressional Black Caucus.” (Zimbabwe Herald, June 22)

In response to the new round of threats against Zimbabwe in the arena of the international diamond industry and the most recent legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress, the military leadership of the country has encouraged the national army to safeguard the independence of the state. Brigadier-General Chancellor Diye told the military police at a ceremony honoring the thirtieth anniversary of national independence that “As members of the defense forces and custodians of the defense of our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we should remain focused and resolute.” (Zimbabwe Herald, June 22)

Cops Riot Against G8/20 Demonstrations in Toronto While Africa is Marginalized From Discussions

Cops Riot Against G8/20 Demonstrations in Toronto While Africa Is Marginalized From Discussions

Hundreds arrested in police sweeps amid refusal of imperialist states to discuss plight of developing countries

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Over 600 people were arrested in the streets of downtown Toronto on June 26-27 while demonstrating against the capitalist economic policies of the imperialist states who met under the banner of the G8 and G20. The G8 Summit was held on Muskoka Island in Huntsville, Ontario near Toronto. The G20 Summit was held in the city and was cordoned off with a large security fence along with 20,000 Canadian police from various agencies throughout the region.

Police attacked the tens of thousands of protestors with teargas, rubber bullets and batons on June 26 while they marched peacefully through the streets in opposition to the worsening crisis impacting workers in the industrialized states and the so-called Third World. In response to the police violence, hundreds of activists broke away from the main marches and struck out against symbols of capitalist exploitation by breaking windows and setting at least two police cars alight.

The city of Toronto spent nearly $1 billion on security measures aimed at keeping protesters well away from the location of the G20 proceedings at the downtown convention center. Nonetheless, this did not prevent mass demonstrations and damage to large-scale corporate outlets.

On June 26, tens of thousands of demonstrators representing a myriad of social movements fighting against environmental destruction, rights for Native people, solidarity with Palestine, workers’ rights and for an end to police misconduct marched down University Ave. from Queen’s Park under the theme: “put people before banks.” After moving west on Queen St., the marchers headed back north on Spadina Ave. when they were met by a large police corridor preventing them from moving forward despite the fact that this was the announced route of the demonstration.

When the demonstrators refused to back down, police began to push against the crowd using teargas and rubber bullets. Hundreds of demonstrators then began to smash windows of major capitalist corporations as well as police cruisers.

One demonstrator, Sid Ryan, from the Ontario Federation of Labour, said that “It wasn’t the workers of the world that caused the financial crisis. We don’t want to see a transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector.” (AFP, June 26)

Chants of “the people united, will never be defeated,” echoed throughout the crowd from the steelworkers who had a large contingent in the march. Banners were in evidence that read “Long Live Socialism” and Scrap the summits.”

The demonstrations were reinforced all day Saturday by delegations of trade unionists and students. About 30 busloads of workers from across the province of Ontario arrived at the scene including representatives from Oxfam, Greenpeace and the Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians.

Jeff Atkinson, a spokesman for the Canadian Labour Congress told the AFP that “We don’t want G20 countries to cut stimulus spending until jobs recover.” Kumi Naidoo, who is the International Director of Greenpeace said that if the G20 countries could spend billions on bailing out the banks then why could money not be allocated to support the unemployed in the industrial states. (AFP, June 26)

Liana Salvador, a student activist, said that she was $50,000 in debt from expenses incurred from pursuing her education. “I’m an ordinary student whose parents taught me that knowledge is power, but whose government says education is just expensive. Do only the rich deserve to learn?”

Salvador continued by chanting out “One billion for education, not fortification.” Ontario Federation of Labour leader Sid Ryan said that “Let’s come together and unite the labour movement, the environmental movement, the women’s movement…and we can move mountains.”

Although the police denied using rubber bullets, they did admit to using other weapons including tear gas. A police spokeswoman said that officers had fired “muzzle blasts—or individual applications of tear gas—that are used typically against people at close range.

On Sunday demonstrations continued in the downtown area. Police surrounded and detained over 500 people who had gathered to engage in a demonstration and speak out. Many within the crowd were targeted and arrested.

Also the police invaded the University of Toronto and arrested 70 students on suspicion of plotting to foment disorder. Jesse Rosenfeld, a freelance reporter who has written for the British Guardian newspaper, was hit by the police and arrested. The incident was witnessed by Canadian Television journalists.

Toronto police and Canadian governmental officials blamed the violence on the demonstrators claiming that many were bent on causing trouble. Police Chief Bill Blair told a press conference that “We have never seen that level of wanton criminality, vandalism and destruction on our streets. There are limits to free speech, and these limits really end when it infringes on the rights and safety of others.” (Guardian, UK, June 27)

However, one demonstrator responded by pointing out that “This isn’t violence. This is vandalism against violent corporations. We did not hurt anybody. The corporations are the ones hurting people.” (Toronto Star, June 27)

By early Sunday, June 27, public outrage at the use of excessive force by the police was mounting. In scenes broadcast live over Canadian television, a riot police officer was shown viciously beating an unarmed demonstrator.

Stephan Christoff, a Montreal journalist, said he was beaten by riot police with a plastic-coated metal baton. Steve Paikin, who works for TV Ontario, witnessed the assault on the Guardian journalist saying that “As I was escorted away from the demonstration, I saw two officers hold a journalist. A third punched him in the stomach. The man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.” (Guardian, UK, June 27)

According to Nathalie Des Rosiers, the general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “Civil liberties are in rough shape today. We will have to have some accountability for what is going on.” (New York Times, June 28)

As a result of the disturbances, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team were sent away to play their scheduled game because of the police blockade of downtown. Public criticism grew as police were allowed to stop and search anyone walking in the vicinity of the security fence surrounding the convention center area. Civil rights lawyers have said that the regulations imposed during the demonstrations may violate the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms, which does provide for freedom of assembly.

On June 28 police officials said that they would seek to prosecute at least 400 people the authorities claim were responsible for the destruction of property and attacks on police vehicles. The security fence which kept protestors at bay began to be dismantled as public transportation schedules were resumed at the conclusion of the G20 Summit.

Africa Marginalized at G8 and G20 Summits

Although seven African states were invited to the G8 Summit on Muskoka Island, their influence was negligible. Leaders from Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Malawi, Ethiopia, Egypt and Algeria were present along with others from Colombia, Jamaica and Haiti.

Leaders of the imperialist states only wanted to discuss issues such as efforts to curb drug trafficking and totally neglected the need to eliminate poverty in the developing world. Five years ago in Scotland, the G20 Summit promised to provide $50 billion to assist Africa with debt relief. However, these promises have not been fulfilled amid growing poverty resulting from the world economic crisis and its impact on the Continent.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan was reported to have returned home after he was apparently disinvited to the G20. Jonathan, who attended the gathering of the G8 in Huntsville, had thought he was scheduled to participate in the G20 proceeding in Toronto.

A report in the Nigeria Punch newspaper indicates that Jonathan thought he would be allowed to participate in the G20 meeting, but was only slated to appear in the sideline talks at the G8, whose membership is restricted to the North American, European and Japanese imperialists and Russia. The G20 has only one official African member and that is the Republic of South Africa. All other participants are merely observers.

According to Punch, “Although Nigeria is regarded as one of the emerging economic power houses, Jonathan returned to Abuja (the political capital) on Friday, on the eve of the summit. (Nigeria Punch, June 27)

In an interview with the Canadian Globe & Mail newspaper, Jonathan made his case for African involvement in the G20. “Africa should be well represented in the G20 because we are talking about the global village. What affects one nation invariably affects the others. If Africans nations have challenges, the West also pays for it.” (Globe & Mail, June 26)

Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, who attended the G20 Summit representing the only African state that has full membership in the body, said in a speech that “Sub-Saharan Africa has remained resilient despite the financial crisis. Most countries in the region were able to protect pro-poor and pro-growth public spending.” (South African Government Document, June 28)

Zuma also stated that “However, more than a third of countries in Sub-Sahara Africa remain on the periphery of international capital markets and thus dependent on official forms of external financing from the IMF and multilateral banks. That is why we call for this forum to take the voice of the developing world seriously in the development and implementation of new financial standards and rules.”

Maoists Suspected in Indian Police Patrol Ambush

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
00:10 Mecca time, 21:10 GMT

Maoists ambush Indian police patrol

The ambush and the subsequent clash lasted for three hours and left 26 dead and many injured

Suspected Maoist rebels, also known as Naxals, have killed at least 26 police officers during an ambush in central India, police sources said.

The attack on a 50-strong patrol by the Central Reserve Police Force in a densely wooded area in the Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh state on Tuesday was the latest of a series of deadly assault against security forces.

The targeted patrol was returning from a road-opening ceremony when they were attacked by a large number of heavily armed fighters, Ram Niwas, the head of anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, said.

"At least 26 security forces were killed and several injured," he said, adding that some of the wounded were evacuated by helicopter.

Sunder Raj, a senior local police official, said that 10 security people had been wounded.

The officers were surrounded in the ambush, which took place in Dhodai, 300km south of the state capital Raipur, and they fought back in a gun battle that lasted three hours, Niwas said.

The Maoists, who killed 76 policemen in a similar assault in Chhattisgarh in April, numbered as many as 100 and opened fire with automatic weapons from a hilltop.

Major offensive

The government launched a major offensive last year to tackle the worsening uprising.

Maoist rebel groups have fought for decades throughout east and central India against state and government rule, drawing support from landless tribal groups and farmers left behind by the country's economic development.

Last month, 146 people were killed when a Mumbai-bound passenger train from Kolkata was derailed by suspected Moaists in a remote part of West Bengal state.

In another attack, a bus hit a landmine in Chhattisgarh killing 24 civilians and 11 police personnel, while 25 officers were when Maoists overran a security camp in West Bengal state in February.

The scale of recent rebel strikes has highlighted the government's struggle to find an effective strategy against the Maoists, with ministers coming under severe pressure to clamp down on the violence.

As the attacks have worsened, calls have grown for the army and air force to be drafted in.

But until now, the government has insisted that paramilitary and state police forces were capable of tackling the Maoists in their jungle bases.

Clash of views

Analysts say the government is hamstrung by internal disagreement, with some urging a more aggressive policy and others favouring a long-term strategy to addresses the plight of impoverished tribesmen and farmers.

"There is a conflict between the so-called hawks who want to crush the rebels and the so-called doves who call for development in Maoist-dominated areas to wean away their support," Ajai Sahani, a counter-terrorism expert, told the AFP news agency.

Military chiefs have made it clear that they are opposed to involving the armed forces in any direct combat operations.

Little is known about the Maoists' structure, but their current strength is estimated at between 10,000-20,000 fighters, who operate out of jungle camps where they are believed to undergo weapons and ideological training.

Source: Agencies

Clashes Break Out at Greek Demonstrations

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
16:17 Mecca time, 13:17 GMT

Clashes break out at Greek protest

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Athens, the Greek capital

Clashes have broken out between demonstrators and police at a protest against government spending cuts in Athens, the Greek capital.

Riot police fired tear gas at activists chanting "burn parliament" on Tuesday, just hours before politicians were to begin debating a pension reform to tackle the nation's debt crisis.

Dozens of masked youths threw chunks of marble and petrol bombs, and set rubbish bins on fire, while running clashes continued along a major avenue lined with shuttered shops and banks.

About 10,000 people took part in marches across the city as a nationwide strike hit public transport and services.

"We have again taken to the streets. We are striking, we are resisting the slaughtering of our rights," Ilias Vrettakos, a vice president of the main public sector union, said.

'Dramatic scenes'

Earlier, authorities tried to prevent hundreds of Communist-affiliated strikers stopping tourists boarding ships bound for the Greek islands.

The recurring labour unrest has cost Greece booking many cancellations and millions of euros in damages at a time when the debt-hit nation is struggling to maximise its revenues and revive its economy.

"Greek islanders are counting on the next month for funds," Manolis Galanakis, deputy chairman of Greek coastal shipping associations, told Mega television.

Barnaby Phillips, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Athens, said tear gas had been used on the crowds at the port.

"There were some quite dramatic scenes this morning with tear gas being fired by the police, dispersing trade unions, many tourists running away very frightened," he said.

"Precisely not the kind of images Greece needs as it tries to get the tourist industry reinvigorated, after it got off to a slow start after all the trouble throughout the spring."

Local media, schools, banks and municipal offices have been shut down during the strike - the fifth walkout by major public and private sector unions this year.

Hospitals operated with emergency staff and public offices were mostly closed.

About 60 domestic flights were also cancelled but international flights were unaffected.

'Deeper recession'

Many Greeks do not believe the government's financial measures will yield a positive outcome.

"These measures will not help. They will only lead to deeper recession and poverty," Despina Spanou, board member of the public sector union ADEDY, said.

"Workers will clearly answer the government and this reform which abolishes social security."

However, the government insists the spending cuts are vital.

"We deeply believe what we are doing is in the interests of the Greek people," George Petalotis, a government spokesman, said.

The southern European country avoided bankruptcy last month after receiving the first instalment payment of a $136bn emergency loan package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

In return, Athens has passed severe austerity measures, including cutting pensions and salaries and raising consumer taxes.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Israeli War Crimes and Piracy: From the USS Liberty to the Freedom Flotilla

Israeli war crimes and piracy

By James Petras
Friday, 06.25.2010, 01:08am

On June 8, 1967, two squadrons of Israeli warplanes bombed, napalmed and machine-gunned the U.S. intelligence-gathering ship, USS Liberty, in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and wounding another 172. The assault took place on a sunny afternoon, with the U.S. flag and identifying markers clearly visible. The Israelis targeted the antennae to prevent the crew from broadcasting for help and shot up the lifeboats to ensure no survivors. There were, however, survivors who rigged up an antenna and radioed their distress, a call for help that reached Washington D.C.

In an unprecedented act of betrayal, President Johnson, in close liaison with powerful American Jewish Zionist political backers, covered up the mass murder on the high seas by issuing orders first to recall Mediterranean-based warplanes from rushing to assist their besieged comrades, then threatening to court-martial the survivors who might expose the deliberate nature of the Israeli assault and finally by repeating the Israeli line that the attack was a matter of mistaken identity, a lie which numerous military leaders later rejected.

Almost to the day, 43 years later, on May 31, 2010, Israeli warships, helicopter gun ships and commandos assaulted a convoy of humanitarian ships carrying ten thousand tons of aid to Gaza in international waters. Prior to the aid mission Turkish authorities had examined the passengers and the ship to ensure no weapons were on board. The Israelis never the less came on board shooting and clubbing the unarmed passengers, killing up to 19 and wounding dozens.

Despite subsequent Israeli and Zionist claims to the contrary, no weapons were found, apart from sticks used by some of the victims attempting to fend off the murderous premeditated assault planned, directed and defended by top Israeli leaders and the entire leadership of the major Zionist organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere. The invading Israeli storm troopers systematically destroyed all cameras, videos and tape recorders that had documented their savage assault, in order to subsequently spread their brazen lies about their being subject to armed resistance.

The world response

Within hours of Israel's bloody act of piracy, nations, political leaders, human rights organizations and the vast majority of the international community condemned the Israeli state for its violation of international law. Turkey, Spain, Greece, Denmark and Austria summoned their Israeli ambassadors to protest the deadly assault. The Financial Times, (June 1, 2010) referred to the Israeli assault as a "brazen act of piracy … hurtling into lawlessness" rooted in its "illegal blockage of Gaza." Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Erdogan called the Israeli assault an act of "state terrorism" which would have "serious consequences." Israel's attacks on ships flying Turkish, Greek and Irish flags on the high seas were described by legal experts as an "act of war."

The UN Security Council, NATO and the Secretary General of the UN demanded Israel cease its aggression, while tens of thousands of demonstrators worldwide marched denouncing Israel's blatant act of state murder and wounding of pacifists, humanitarians and protesters from 60 countries. UN experts demanded that Israeli leaders "must be held criminally responsible." Only the Obama administration refused to condemn the Israeli act of state terror, merely expressing "concern and regret." The Israeli state defended its murderous assault, promised more in the future and insisted on maintaining its blockade of Gaza, even after the U.S. suggested it might be loosened.

The Israeli defense of piracy and state terror

As news of the Israeli massacre slipped out and the international community reacted with horror and anger, the Israeli government "sought to flood the airwaves with their versions of events … more importantly, the authorities ensured that their narrative gained early dominance by largely silencing the hundreds of activists who were on board during the attack." (Financial Times, June 2, 2010, p2.). The Jewish state held all the prisoners alive, wounded and dead incommunicado, seized their mobile phones and prohibited any interviews, barring all journalists. Like most terrorist states, the Jewish state wanted to monopolize the propaganda media. The Israeli propaganda machine via its state sponsored journalists and news media employed several ploys typical of totalitarian administrations.

First, Israeli storm troopers invading the ship were turned into victims and the humanitarian pacifists were turned into aggressors. "Israeli Soldiers Met by Well-Planned Lynch Mob," (Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2010); "Israeli Soldiers Attacked," (IDF, March 31, 2010).

Secondly, Israel's act of piracy in international waters was declared legal by a Professor Sabel of the Hebrew University.

Thirdly, the humanitarian organizers were accused of having ties to terrorists according to Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, though no evidence was presented (Ha'aretz, May 30, 2010). The organizers including the Turkish human rights group accused by Ayalon were cleared by the Turkish intelligence agency, the military and the Erdogan government, a member of NATO and for many years (in the past) a collaborator with the Israeli Mossad. The other 600 plus human rights volunteers included pacifists, parliamentarians, former diplomats, and current members of the Israeli parliament.

Fourthly, while dozens of human rights people were shot, killed and maimed, Israeli propagandists doctored video releases portraying one of the Israeli assailants on the deck, cutting out the preceding sequence of attack, (Financial Times, June 2, 2010, p. 2).

Also, the Israeli sea and airborne assailants were described as the victims of a "Brutal Ambush at Sea," (Ynet News, June 1, 2010).

And finally, the terrorized human rights workers were accused of being a "lynch mob," attacking the Jewish commandos who were firing automatic rifles wildly across the deck and at cornered victims. The few courageous individuals who fought back to stop the murderous attack were slandered by the Zion-ist propaganda, which itself is as monstrous as the crimes the Zionists perpetrated.

Once the Israeli propaganda machine started spewing out its gutter lies, the entire leadership of the Zionist Fifth Column swung into action … first and foremost in the United States .

The U.S. Zionist power configuration: In defense of the massacre

Just as the entire leadership of the 51 principal American Jewish organizations defended every Israeli war crime in the past, from the bombing of the USS Liberty, to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, so too did these most honorable apologists repeat verbatim the lies of the Israeli state regarding the assault of the humanitarian flotilla.

The Daily Alert (May 31 – June 2, 2010), the official public propaganda organ of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, published every scurrilous Israeli state lie, about the Israeli commandos being "lynched," "attacked" and the human rights victims being responsible for the death of their comrades … which were actually at the hands of Israeli commandos. Not a single deviation, not a single word of criticism. Not a single mention of even the superficial Israeli critics who faulted the execution, the use of deadly weapons, the assault in international waters, and the public relations fiasco. The vast majority of Israeli Jews and organized Zionists in the U.S. supported the bloody massacre and were opposed by a small minority who has no access to the mass media. Zionist control over the mass media was once again demonstrated by the reporting through "Israel 's eyes," (FAIR, June 1, 2010). Essentially The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, CBS and NBC presented the Israeli commandos attacking the humanitarian boat as being … "assaulted and beaten," (Washington Post, June 1, 2010). The New York Times gave credence to the Israeli claim that its act of piracy on the high seas was legal (NY Times, June 1, 2010). For the U.S. mass media the problem is not Israeli state terror, but how to manipulate and disarm the outrage of the international community. To that end the entire Zionist power configuration has a reliable ally in the Zionized Obama White House and U.S. Congress.

The Obama response to Israeli state terror

There is only one basic reason why Israel repeatedly commits crimes against humanity, including the latest assault on the humanitarian flotilla: because it knows that the Zionist power configuration, embedded in the U.S. power structure, will ensure government support, in this case the Obama White House.

In the face of the world-wide condemnation of Israel's crime on the high seas, and calls from the international community for legal action, the Obama administration absolutely refused to criticize Israel. A White House spokesman said "The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding the tragedy," (AFP May 31, 2010). An act of state terrorism does not evoke "regrets" – it normally provokes condemnation and punishment. The power which caused "loss of life and injuries" has a name – Israel; the persons who suffered death and injuries during the Israeli assault – have a name – humanitarian volunteers. It was not simply a "loss of life" but a well planned premeditated murder which is openly defended by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his entire Cabinet. The "circumstances" of the murders are clear: Israel assaulted an unarmed ship in international waters, opening fire as they boarded the ship.

The Obama administration's obscene political cover-up of a deliberate criminal act in violation of international law is evident in his description of a serial homicide as a "tragedy." Premeditated state terror has no resemblance to a tragic noble ruler forced by circumstances into a criminal act against their closest allies.

Washington, pressed to participate at a UN Security Council meeting, spent 10 hours eliminating all references to Israel's illegal criminal act, ending in a resolution which merely calls for an "impartial" investigation, with Washington pushing for an Israeli investigatory committee. To the world at large, including the Turkish government, the Obama administration and the U.S. government, by refusing to condemn Israel, are "accomplices to a mass murder."

The Zionist power configuration

To understand why the Obama administration brought shame and infamy to itself in the eyes of the world, one need look at the Zionist composition of the Obama White House and, equally important, the direct power and access that the principal Jewish-Zionist organizations have over the U.S. political system. In the week preceding Israel's announced assault on the humanitarian flotilla, (pro-Israel) Jewish leaders met with over a third of U.S. senators to pressure them to pass harsher sanctions on Iran by June. Among the key operatives attending were the Jewish Federation of North America, AIPAC and the rest of the Israeli Fifth Column (Jewish Telegraph Agency, May 26, 2010). The following day a squadron of leaders from the Jewish Federation flew into Washington to meet with top Obama administration officials, to ensure that the White House and Congress did not in any way or form publicly express any criticism of Israel's settlement policy. No doubt the Zionist apologists for Israeli war crimes extended their agenda to include no public criticism of the Israeli assault on the flotilla. Rahm Emmanuel, top U.S. presidential aide, was in Tel Aviv as a guest of top officials of the Israel Defense Forces a few days before the IDF launched the assault, no doubt having filled Rahm in on the details. The Israeli-American aide to Obama no doubt assured the war criminals of Washington's unconditional political and military support for Israel's acts of aggression.

From within and without the Obama administration, the aggressive pressure from the 51 principal organizations of the American Zionists have guaranteed Israeli war criminals immunity from any War Crimes Tribunal, or even serious political condemnation by the UN Security Council. The Zionized White House's tactic is to deflect attention from immediate consequential condemnation, let alone sanctions, hoping that over time, aided by the blanket mass media apologists in the U.S., the mass indignation and protest overseas will gradually wither away. Obama and his Zionist cohort are already in a belly crawl mode with Israel. Part of Rahm's mission to Israel was to hand Netanyahu an invitation to the White House, during the week of the slaughter at sea. The only reason Netanyahu did not come to Washington was because he rushed back to Israel to buttress the Foreign Office's defense of the slaughter in the face of world-wide outrage. But in a phone conversation, Obama promised Netanyahu a prompt new invitation – assuring the Jewish statesman that violating international laws and bloodying dozens of humanitarian activists is of no consequence, especially since it insures continued financial support by Obama's Zionist backers.

Like Lyndon Johnson with the cover-up of the USS Liberty, Obama's apology of Israel's war crimes, is the price for ensuring the backing of billionaire Zionist financiers and media moguls, the tens of thousands of pro-Israel Jews and the 51 President of the Major American Jewish Organizations.

The BDS campaign

In the face of Washington's complicity with Israeli war crimes, the only road to justice is to intensify the world-wide boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign against all Israeli products, cultural activities and professional exchanges. Hopefully, the Muslim-led mass protests will find echo in the wider anti-Zionist Christian and Jewish communities – especially when Israeli apologists for state terror make public appearances. Even more important, each and every Israeli involved in the mass assault should be subject to criminal prosecution wherever they visit. Only by making the Israelis understand that they will pay a high price for their serial homicides and violations of international law will reason possibly enter their political narrative. Only by moving beyond symbolic protests, like recalling diplomats, and taking substantive actions, like breaking relations, will the international community isolate the perpetrator of state terrorism. All Americans should send loud and clear to President Obama –NEVER AGAIN. Otherwise, with the Zionist power configuration active 24/7, the Obama administration, true to the Zionist agenda, will once again focus attention on attacking Iran. Israel's action today with U.S. complicity is a prelude of the kind of deadly force it has in store for sabotaging the recent Turkey-Brazil-Iran diplomatic agreement.

This article is dedicated to the brave Turkish martyrs on the Mavi Marmara, May 31, 2010, and to the 34 murdered American sailors on the USS Liberty, June 8, 1967 – all victims of an unrepentant criminal state — Israel.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

South African Communist Party to Oppose the Parole Application of Convicted Assassin of Chris Hani

SACP to oppose the parole application of Clive Derby – Lewis

22 June 2010

The General Secretary of the SACP will lead an SACP delegation to oppose the parole application of Mr Clive Derby-Lewis tomorrow, Wednesday 23 June 2010, at 11H00 in Pretoria. Messrs Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus committed a heinous crime on 10 April 1993 when they assassinated the rising star of South Africa’s liberation movement, a dedicated communist, Cde Martin Thembisile “Chris” Hani.

At the time of his assassination Cde Chris was the General Secretary of the SACP and a very influential figure in the SACP, ANC and COSATU alliance. His family was robbed of a loving father by these assassins whose intention to wreak havoc and throw our country into political disarray failed.

Notwithstanding the findings of the court that heard the trial and the TRC outcomes, Mr Derby-Lewis has been involved in side shows to manoeuvre our legal framework to get his parole. Last year he staged an attempt to twist the High Court to hear his parole and the case was thrown out and referred back to the parole board to allow the family of the victim as described by law to be heard. What the two assassins must understand is that Cde Chris belonged to a bigger family, the family of the SACP, ANC, COSATU and the broader Mass Democratic Movement.

This broad movement remains inspired by the words of our icon Nelson Mandela who said the following when addressing the funeral ceremony of Cde Chris:

“Chris Hani`s murder was no aberration. It was consistent with the patterns of the past. Scores of assassinations remain "unsolved". Rick Turner, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, David Webster, Ruth First, and Dulcie September are but a few. Their killers remain unnamed because the criminals investigate themselves.

“By killing Chris Hani the murderers made a fatal error, for he will not become just another statistic.

“The regime has announced the arrest of a leading member of the Conservative Party, Clive Derby Lewis, in connection with this murder. We insist he be brought before the courts without delay. We demand to know what he did, who he worked with, and above all we demand justice. We do not want to see a situation where those arrested for such heinous crimes simply go free once the hue and cry dies down, as has happened in the past”

We will sweat and soldier on till the riddle around the assassination of Cde Chris Hani is solved. We will remain true and committed to Madiba’s commitment to the nation that the assassination of Cde Chris will not be just another statistic.

Chris lived so that we could be free and his life was taken for our freedom to be achieved. We dare not betray what Chris stood for now that we are free. We dare not allow this right wing butchers to abuse our constitution and legal framework in the name of justice. Messrs Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus deserve nothing but to rot in jail.

Issued by the SACP


Malesela Maleka
SACP Spokesperson – 082 226 1802

South African President Jacob Zuma Speaks Before the G20 in Toronto

Address by President Jacob Zuma at the G20 Summit in Toronto

Africa is open for business! It is open for trade and investment!

The world is finally beginning to move beyond the myths about Africa. For that reason, it is important for the political and business leadership of the continent and the world to interact regularly, to prevent misconceptions.

Africa offers a huge market of one billion people and provides enormous economic potential. Sub-Saharan Africa is the third fastest growing region in the world, after China and India. There is every expectation that Africa's current pace of growth will remain at a high level, at around six percent per year.

As Africa we bring to the G8 and G20 Summit the key message that we must, together as the developing and developed worlds, promote stronger and more effective international partnerships for growth and development. If we are serious about this challenge we need to ensure that sufficient time and attention is given to Africa.

We are emphasising that Africa is open to meaningful partnerships and engagement towards ensuring sustainable development, and to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG). We underscore as well that our markets are open for trade and investments. Africa must now not be viewed as only a destination for development aid.

The world is recovering from the global economic crisis which caused devastation in many national economies. Africa surprised many as it fared better than most regions and registered growth. The average growth last year for the advanced economies was about minus two-and-a-half percent, while that of Africa was two percent. Low-income countries in Africa grew at over three percent.

In South Africa, we are fortunate that we have been able to counteract the economic slowdown and its adverse effects. This is thanks to good policies and regulations, business rescue programmes, job retention schemes and huge infrastructure programmes. Our economy registered five percent growth in the first quarter of the year. Like Canada, South Africa's banks were protected against the financial crisis by good regulation and good practice by policy makers and our private sector.

There are many reasons why Africa was not as devastated.

At the political level, there is no doubt that accountability and political freedom have improved enormously in the continent since the end of the Cold War.

There have been significant improvements in the four African Union Peer Review Mechanism pillars: democracy and political governance, economic management, corporate governance, and socio-economic development.

The index of political freedom prepared by the think-tank Freedom House, shows that while less than a third of African countries were classified as free or partly free in 1990, today about two thirds of African countries are considered free or partly free.

The Kennedy School Index of Good Governance shows that governance in 38 African countries has improved since 2000.
There is also marked improvement in peace and security in the continent.

The African Union has declared 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security. Progress has been made with regards to the Peace and Security Council, an African Standby Force, and a Panel of the Wise responsible for mediation and preventive diplomacy. The G8 Africa Action Plan of 2002, which makes certain commitments to supporting peace and security in Africa, needs to be pursued vigorously. This includes support for African efforts to resolve the principal armed conflicts on the continent.

The G8 countries had also committed to assist with disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. They undertook to provide technical and financial assistance to support peacekeeping operations. Economically, Africa performed better because of improved economic policies, good prices for commodities and rising domestic consumption.

At the London G20 summit, world leaders made provision for special measures to assist developing countries. International Monetary Fund (IMF) funds were topped up, the regional development banks were recapitalised, and the World Bank made emergency trade credits available. No doubt these measures also helped.

What we have achieved is a real African rebirth in the true sense of the word. This should make African markets attractive to development partners in the North and the emerging South, including the international private sector. The environment is being created for economic growth and development.

There is much more to do in terms of economic reform, and the development of infrastructure and social services in Africa and I doubt that many will disagree, though, that we know better and agree more than before on what we still have to do in Africa. This understanding is what informs the New Partnership for Africa's Development - NEPAD - which provides a practical programme for the economic development of the continent. It envisages Africans working together to advance our common economic progress.

The biggest development in Africa's economic relationships in recent times has been the increasing role of countries of the South in our trade and investment links. Nevertheless, the advanced economies of the North remain very important to the continent. They provide us with mature markets, helpful networks, innovative technologies, and an important source of foreign direct investment. However, the African continent also calls for fair trade.

Our movement forward will be greatly enhanced by the speeding up of economic reforms to enable more inclusive and faster growth. It is our strong view that the United Nations and its member states must play a role in the ongoing international discussion on reforming and strengthening the international financial and economic system.

We also support the move to a more open, transparent and merit-based approach to choose the heads of the World Bank and the IMF. The developing world has an equal right to direct the work of these institutions.

We need to prioritise the completion of the Doha Development Round. This will ensure that the developing countries have favourable access to markets in the developed world without restrictive conditions. Africa has strong potential on raw commodities and this will be the mainstay of our economies in the foreseeable future and for many years to come.

It is crucial that we harness and optimise these resources in a global community where there are limited trade barriers and protectionist policies. These are some of the measures we will keep pushing for. It is imperative that we achieve a just international financial and economic order.

We will continue to do our bit as a continent to formulate policies that will create the right investment environment, and we will continue to improve on good governance.

The African Union is unambiguous on the need to achieve these goals. Other goals include our ambitious strategic infrastructure programmes which link countries in the regions, and the creation of functional Regional Economic Communities in the continent.

Our continent will also benefit from adequately developed human resources. It is vital that the North makes favourable contributions towards improved Human Development Indicators in this continent. In this regard, work towards achieving the MDGs cannot be over-emphasised.

South Africa is in the grip of a massive football fever. There have been ongoing street parties since the launch of the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament on the 11th of June.

We are happy that everything has gone so well since the start of the tournament. Football has proven once again its power to unite people and to unite the world.

Africa can host events of this magnitude and we are proving Afro-pessimists wrong.

We are truly proud to be hosting the tournament on behalf of Africa. South Africa has invested a lot in the World Cup tournament and this is yielding economic benefits.

Preparations for the World Cup in recent years have boosted the level of our GDP already. Additional spending by World Cup visitors and residents should boost economic growth this year alone by at least zero point three-percentage points. The marketing benefits, including tourism spin offs, will no doubt be felt for many years to come.

The benefits in terms of building unity and social cohesion in the country cannot be quantified. South Africa will never be the same again. We have to build on the gains and ensure that we do not lose the momentum. Most importantly, we succeeded in laying out and improving the necessary infrastructure, such as stadia, airports and roads, and the necessary services, on time.

We are confident that this massive infrastructure investment will prove to be a good pull factor for you as you consider your next investment destination in Africa.

More than the infrastructure that our future generations will inherit, we remain hopeful that the various skills that our people acquired since we started working on this FIFA World Cup project, will prove useful going forward.

In addition to the economic benefits, we want to see the lasting legacy of education for the African continent. South Africa is hosting a high level Education Summit to promote the 1 Goal Education for All Campaign. World leaders will be asked to dedicate themselves to ensuring that every child is in school by the next FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil in 2014. This is one of the most important legacies of the World Cup in Africa.

We do not expect a slowdown in the aftermath of the World Cup. There is so much still to do. There are houses to build, schools and hospitals to improve. We will also continue to focus on our top priorities such as creating decent jobs, improving education, health care and rural development, as well as the fight against crime.

Canada has long been a good friend to democracy and growth in Africa. We celebrate this relationship with the wish that it will proceed to greater heights. As Africans we are ready as always to work with development partners from other regions, to build a better Africa and a better world.

I thank you.

A New World, A Better America at the USSF in Detroit

The Arab American News

A new world, a better America

By Nick Meyer
Friday, 06.25.2010, 01:27am

The 2010 U.S. Social Forum brought activists together from across the country in Detroit on June 22 for a boisterous, cheerful, and peaceful protest march in support of various humanitarian causes including the fight to end the Israeli occupation and siege of Palestine.

DETROIT — Uniting under the motto "Another World is Possble," an estimated 20,000 people from across the country gathered in downtown Detroit this week for the landmark 2010 U.S. Social Forum (USSF).

The event grew from the blueprint of the World Social Forum which is based in Brazil and came on the heels of the first incarnation of the USSF in Atlanta in 2007.

Thousands of people marched Woodward Avenue as part of the event's opening festivities on Tuesday, June 22 to Cobo Hall, the epicenter of the various workshops and events organized at the USSF.

Grassroots activists representing causes ranging from the fight for clean air and water to workers' rights to anti-war demonstrators all made their presence felt during the march.

Various issues relating to Arabs and Muslims were also featured both during the march and over the course of the USSF’s weeklong series of events.

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, a professor of ethnic studies relating to Arab and Muslim issues at the San Francisco State University in California and former University of Michigan-Dearborn director of Arab American Studies, marched while wearing a keffiyeh in support of Palestine along with friends carrying Palestinian flags.

Abdulhadi talked about the importance of solidarity between activists fighting against injustice along several different lines.

"We're all under the same umbrella of justice and our struggles should not be separate," she said.

"Being a part of others' movements is a much better choice than trying to do it all on our own."

Julio Lopez, a member of the Southwest Workers Union who traveled to the forum from San Antonio, provided an example of activists working together.

Lopez grabbed a bullhorn during the march and began chanting "Viva, Viva, Palestina!" as members of his group and other nearby marchers joined in.

"All of us here are connected to the same struggle, it's the fight against corporate power that's been going on for a long time," he said.

Abdulhadi also emphasized the importance of educating others on a person-to-person basis and highlighting similarities.

"Many people don't know about the details of things like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, Gaza, the occupation and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in the media," she said.

"We need to do what needs to be done and educate each other about our struggles."

Organizers also constructed a Palestine tent in the USSF's tent city area and tables were set up to pass out literature and educate fellow activists about the struggle.

A full slate of workshops at the USSF were also planned through Sunday, June 27, and with so many choices, many forum attendees were forced to make difficult decisions.

On Tuesday, June 23, a workshop entitled "Building Arab and Black Solidarity" was held at the TWW & Associates, Inc. education center in Detroit.

Speakers including Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) staff attorney Lena Masri, organizer Nada Khader, and Nisrin Elamin, a curriculum development specialist for the Global Kids education center in New York City, talked about the importance of building solidarity between African Americans and Arab Americans in the face of injustice and oppression. They also discussed strategies for better education on the two cultures.

"What I've found is that the best way to engage the youth and to get them to see different perspectives is during afterschool programs, since our schools are always about increasing test scores," Alamin said.

Shaun Pierce, an activist from the south side of Chicago, said that the goal for the two cultures should be to get past the dialogue stage and move into actions that will enable them to organize with each other for common goals.

Linda Najjar of Ann Arbor said she's worked with numerous young Detroiters and agreed that education was especially important.

"I work with black youths and educate them about Arab issues such as the Palestine conflict and in most cases they didn't know, but they truly want to help once they find out."

The issue of increasing safety for Arab American business owners in inner city communities was also brought up, and Dearborn resident and activst Rhana Natour relayed a strategy that local Arab American and Detroit police leaders have touted in the past.

"We need to encourage more community building efforts for small businesses to get to know each other and their customers, that's the first step," she said.

The forum was also a golden opportunity for event organizers to educate fellow activists about the challenges facing the Muslim community in metro Detroit and beyond, and the Thaqalayn Muslim Association (TMA) of UM-Dearborn hosted an event entitled "The Media Hijacked my Religion" at Wayne State University's Student Center on Wednesday, June 23.

CAIR-MI head Dawud Walid was the featured speaker, highlighting important issues such as what he called media bias regarding the FBI killing of Detroit Imam Luqman Abdullah and the preponderance of fear-mongering and "passive propagation" of Islamophobia.

Walid showed local news coverage from WXYZ-TV about the Abdullah event and took issue with the way it was reported on.

He said that Abdullah was never charged with incitement, terrorism, or treason but that media outlets ran with the story that Abdullah wanted to wage a "jihad" against the U.S. Government.

Walid also took issue with the misuse of the word "jihad," which means "personal struggle," and the use of the word "ummah" to designate an alleged radical group despite the fact that the word means the entire global community of Muslims.

"This type of misreporting and misuse of Arab terminology is promoting Islamophobia," Walid said.

He also slammed reports of 10th Precinct police in Detroit being told to be on high alert "because it was in a Muslim neighborhood" according to the WXYZ clip.

Walid also cited FBI statistics from the website showing that 6% of terrorist attacks committed in the United States were by Muslims and compared the stat with the media coverage various events have received.

"You'd think that it was 94% of Muslims committing attacks with the way they are covered," he said.

While the workshops served as an excellent way for various activists to get to know each other, a great deal of strategizing was also done on the side through conversation.

Non-profit worker Robbie Samuels of Boston came to Detroit with a plan to help create focused, topically relevant dialogue between USSF attendees.

Samuels passed out stickers that read "Ask Me About..." or "I'm Looking For..." on them for USSF attendees to publicize their issues and areas of expertise.

Samuels believes that organization and cooperation are the keys to making things happen in the fight for social justice in America.

"My goal is to get people engaged and to create welcoming community spaces across issues and across identities based on shared values," he said.

"We need to get people engaged so we can take action."