|Africa News Digest
Jeffrey Sachs' New Book on Ending Poverty Is A Fraud
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been acting as debt collectors and have been imposing damaging structural adjustment plans on developing countries, says Jeffrey Sachs in his new book, The End of Poverty, published March 15. No reason to be shockedSachs is not serious, and here's why:
* He does not consider the World Bank and IMF among the causes of the failure of countries to develop; in his Chapter 3, titled "Why Some Countries Fail To Thrive," instead "the demographic trap" is among those causes.
* Sachs insists that "sustainable development" is crucial: in other words, tooth brushes, hoes, and the Internet, without real development.
* The hybridization of grains for higher yieldsa good thing in itselfis promoted implicitly as a substitute for the mechanization of agriculture, which is not mentioned (because it changes the culture).
We should "rescue the World Bank and IMF," says Sachs (as the global financial implosion approaches!). They should represent all 182 member nations as "champions of economic justice and enlightened globalization."
The book provides a variation, for the developing sector, of his deadly policies for the former USSR.
Sachs is Special Adviser to Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. The New York Times Magazine has called him "probably the most important economist in the world." The Irish rock star Bono, who wrote the foreword to the book, calls him "my professor."
Blair Issues Love Letter to Africa
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his year-old Commission for Africa issued a 464-page report in London March 11, at which time, Blair declared, "There can be no excuse, no defense, no justification for the plight of millions of our fellow beings in Africa today. There should be nothing that stands in our way of changing it.... [I]t is an obscenity that should haunt our daily thoughts that four million children in Africa will die this year before their fifth birthday." But the report is an obscenity, whose unstated purpose is probably to improve the accessibility of Africa's precious metals and other hard commodities in the context of the coming financial crash.
Blair has made his Africa program a priority for Britain's presidencies of the G-8 and the EU this year.
The report calls for the developed world to provide an added $25 billion in aid to Africa by 2010, and another $25 billion by 2015, the dropping of tariff barriers to the importation of Africa's agricultural produce, and 100% debt write-off for the poorest countries, among other nostrums.
Despite its title, "Our Common Interest," the report represents no paradigm shift toward the universal interest of mankind. Dropping barriers for the importation of African agricultural produce means cheapening the price of food in Europe and North America at the expense of the farmers of the importing countriesa looting proposition. Writing off debts that are already a dead letter is a cheap shot. "More aid for Africa" won't mean much if the paradigm for development is a false one.
Among the 17 Commission for Africa members are:
* Michel Camdessus, former Chairman, Executive Board, IMF.
* Tidjane Thiam, Group Strategy and Development Director for the largest U.K. insurance company, Aviva, the world's 7th largest.
* Gordon Brown, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer.
* Ralph Goodale, Canadian Finance Minister.
* Sir Bob Geldof, former lead singer, Boomtown Rats; founded Band-Aid project for African famine victims.
Also included are the South African Finance Minister, the governor of the Bank of Botswana, the President of Tanzania, and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Blair is the Chairman.
The report is at www.commissionforafrica.org; but hurrythe dustbin of history is on its way.
Blair's Letter Gets Cool Reception in Africa
"This whole effort is a slap in the face of Africa," said Pete Ondeng, CEO of the unofficial NEPAD Kenya Secretariat in Nairobi, responding to Blair's Commission for Africa and its report. Some critics were diplomatic. Kenyan Planning and National Development Minister Peter Anyang Nyong'o said, after praising the report, "Let us not be too pessimistic about what the commission is likely to achieve." Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, one of 16 African journalists invited to London for the report's release, said, "It is an effort most likely to produce very little." Manenga Ndulo, economics professor at the University of Zambia, said, "We have had so many plans which have not been fulfilled."
South African President Thabo Mbeki told the press, "Everybody is very keen to achieve actual, measurable progress.... I do hope that it will indeed serve the purpose for which it was intended."
The press does not report any critics calling for a change in paradigm, of which there is only one on the tablethe LaRouche paradigm based on the intention to develop the physical economy.
African Commission for Britain Preempts Blair's Commission for Africa
The Britain-based aid agency, ActionAid International, preempted Blair's fat report on Feb. 23, by launching an African Commission for Britain, composed entirely of Africans. The commission says that Britain should start by doing no harm. It says, for example, that "Over 2 million Ghanaians lack access to clean, piped water. Yet the UK ... supported the World Bank when it made water privatization in Ghana a condition of aid." Good, but not yet a paradigm shift.
U.S. State Department Opposes Blair's Plan as Too Expensive
While Blair's plan for Africa is supposed to head the agenda at the G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in July, the State Department is unfriendly to major aspects of it. State Department spokesman Lou Fintor rejected the Blair government's proposed International Finance Facility for dealing with debt relief as too expensive. He also "did suggest that the U.S. has no intention of meeting the Commission's aid targets," according to IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) March 12.
ActionAid coordinator Wole Olaleye said that, even if the G-8 and EU are not interested, Britain could still act alone and donate 0.7 of its GNP in aid, a target it agreed to in 1970, but has yet to honor.
Darfur Rebels Demand 'Justice Before Peace'
The two main insurrectionary movements in Darfurthe Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movementissued a joint statement March 10 at a press conference in Asmara, Eritrea, saying, "The two movements view the issue of the trial of the perpetrators (of war crimes and crimes against humanity) as the foremost priority in resolving the conflict in Darfur.... The proceedings for their trial must commence before resumption of any negotiations (justice before peace)."
It may be unprecedented for one of the parties to an armed conflict to make prosecution of its adversary for war crimes a precondition for peace negotiations. The UN Security Council is, however, implicated. In September 2004, it required the creation of an International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur and called on it to identify perpetrators. In late January, the Commission provided the Secretary General with a sealed list of 51 war crimes suspects on both sides that it said included "senior Government officials and military commanders." The prosecutions thus may have the asymmetric effect of bringing the government downthe chief objective of the Anglo-American sponsors of the Darfur rebels.
Two members of the UN Security Council, China and Algeria, oppose such prosecutions by a non-Sudanese court.
Sacked Zimbabwe Info Minister To Challenge Mugabe in 2008
A network of candidates, led by dismissed Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, will stand for election to Parliament this month, with the objective of then forming a party to defeat Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in the 2008 elections. Moyo was a critic of Mugabe until 2000, when he joined the government, became close to Mugabe, and served as campaign manager for the ruling party Zanu-PF in the general election. When a Moyo ally was passed over for the Vice Presidency in February 2005, Moyo registered as an independent candidate and was immediately dismissed as Information Minister. He began organizing his own candidates. Moyo is supported by Jabulani Sibande, chairman of the powerful War Veterans Association.
Moyo's group is almost entirely made up of politicians from the Ndebele people, who comprise 15% of Zimbabweans; Mugabe's government is almost entirely Shona, a much larger population.
The Moyo group claims, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph March 6, "that it will prove a more palatable opposition alternative for other African leaders who no longer wish to support Mr. Mugabe, but have proved unwilling to back the Movement for Democratic Change, which enjoys influential Western backing. [Spokesman Sikhumbuzo] Ndiweni claimed that those leaders might include [South African President] Thabo Mbeki... 'Mbeki can't leave Zanu for the MDC,' Mr. Ndiweni said. 'He's looking for a party that is an alternative to Zanu from a pan-African liberation perspective, not European-centric like the MDC."