Posts Tagged ‘Äquatorial-Guinea’

Äquatorial-Guinea: Fußballerinnen zu erfolgreich?

Donnerstag, Juli 7th, 2011

“Zwischen Wertschätzung und Stigmatisierung

Fußballerinnen in Äquatorial-Guinea

Von Regina Roschmann und Yvonne Weigelt-Schlesinger

Vom 26. Juni bis 17. Juli 2011 findet in Deutschland die Frauenfußball-Weltmeisterschaft statt. Dabei vertreten die Teams aus Äquatorial-Guinea und aus Nigeria – Letztere sind Afrikameisterinnen – den gesamten Frauenfußball in Afrika. Laut ExpertInnen des Fußballweltverbandes (FIFA) hat dieser eine vielversprechende Entwicklung gemacht und blickt in eine aussichtsreiche Zukunft. Allerdings hat man in den meisten afrikanischen Ländern nicht nur mit enormen infrastrukturellen Problemen, sondern auch nach wie vor mit Vorurteilen gegenüber Fußball spielenden Frauen zu kämpfen. Am Beispiel des kleinen westafrikanischen Landes Äquatorial-Guinea beleuchtet der folgende Beitrag den kontrovers geführten Geschlechterdiskurs.

Der schwere Weg zur WM

In der FIFA-Frauen-Weltrangliste rangiert Äquatorial- Guinea im März 2011 auf Platz 61 und ist damit aktuell die viertstärkste afrikanische Mannschaft hinter Nigeria (Rang 27), Ghana (Rang 49) und Südafrika (Rang 58). Zum Vergleich: Deutschland steht an zweiter Stelle, die Schweiz auf Rang 26 und Österreich auf Position 40. Der nationale Verband von Äquatorial-Guinea, die Federación Ecuatoguineana de Fútbol, wurde 1960 gegründet und ist seit 1986 Mitglied der FIFA. Seit 1996 existiert auch ein organisierter Frauenfußballbetrieb. Bei der Frauenfußball- Weltmeisterschaft in Deutschland hat es Äquatorial-Guinea in der Gruppenphase mit den Mitfavoriten Norwegen und Brasilien sowie mit Australien zu tun. In der Qualifikation zur Weltmeisterschaft ließ Äquatorial-Guinea Länder wie Ghana, Südafrika und Kamerun hinter sich und wurde erst im Finale von Nigeria besiegt. Dennoch kam der Erfolg nicht überraschend. Schon 2008 wurde die Afrikameisterschaft vom äquatorial-guineischen Team gewonnen, und die Mannschaft sorgte schon in der Olympiaqualifikation 2007 zu den Spielen in Beijing mit ihrem Sieg über Favorit Südafrika für Furore. Solche Erfolge eines Landes, das gerade mal 650.000 EinwohnerInnen zählt, lassen offenbar Misstrauen aufkommen und obendrein Spekulationen über das “wahre” Geschlecht von Spielerinnen entstehen. Es regte sich Protest. Anschuldigungen wurden geäußert, in dieser Mannschaft würden Männer spielen. Erklären könnte diese Erfolge aber auch die Tatsache, dass der Frauenfußball erst seit einiger Zeit einen Boom erlebt. Auch andere Länder – vor allem in Afrika – können deshalb derzeit noch nicht auf große personelle Ressourcen zurückgreifen. Die Größe des Landes bzw. die EinwohnerInnenzahl ist also möglicherweise noch kein entscheidendes Kriterium, und auch ein kleines Land kann sich im Wettkampf behaupten.

Wann wird eine Frau als Frau gesehen?

Die Frage nach dem wahren Grund der Erfolge wird sich von Außenstehenden nur schwer beantworten lassen. Dennoch versteckt sich hinter diesem Diskurs eine Problematik, die in letzter Zeit vor allem durch den Fall Caster Semenya für Aufsehen sorgte. Die Südafrikanerin Semenya triumphierte bei der Leichtathletik-WM 2009 in Berlin über die Strecke von 800 m und sah sich anschließend u. a. aufgrund ihrer plötzlichen Leistungssteigerung, ihrer tiefen Stimme und ihrem Aussehen mit dem Vorwurf konfrontiert, sie sei keine Frau. Anschließend musste sie sich einem Geschlechtstest unterziehen, der Aufschluss bringen sollte. Bemerkenswert im Falle der aktuellen Vorwürfe gegenüber Äquatorial-Guinea ist in diesem Zusammenhang eine Aussage, die Nigerias Trainerin Eucharia Uche zugeschrieben wird: “Wie schon 2008 spielen bei ihnen zumindest zwei Männer mit”.– “Zumindest” heißt es in diesem Vorwurf; so eindeutig scheint die Sachlage also nicht zu sein. Und sie ist es auch nicht, denn die übliche Unterscheidung in männlich und weiblich, wie sie in den meisten Kulturen gesellschaftlich konstruiert wird, ist aus biologischer Sicht eben nicht so eindeutig. Es gibt z. B. Menschen, die mit einem Y-Chromosom geboren wurden, aber alle körperlich charakteristischen Merkmale einer Frau entwickelten, ausgenommen der inneren Sexualorgane. Medizinisch wird diese Konstellation als Androgen Insuffizienz Syndrom (AIS) bezeichnet. Diese Frauen haben ein XY-Chromosom, sind aber doch keine Männer, da ihr Körper nicht auf das produzierte Testosteron reagiert.

Geschlechtstests als Lösung?

Geschlechtstests lösen diese Problematik demnach nicht immer. Aber gerade der Sport nutzt auf formeller Ebene die Unterscheidung in männlich/weiblich als Grundlage zur Strukturierung seiner Wettbewerbe. Ein Abweichen von dieser Einteilung, also die Zulassung von Männern und Frauen in denselben Wettbewerben, würde dem Sport ein konstituierendes Charakteristikum entziehen: die Chancengleichheit. Dass der Sport von dieser binären Unterteilung abweicht und Wettkampfklassen weiter differenziert – z. B. Wettkämpfe für Intersexuelle einführt –, ist aufgrund des hohen Aufwands und der stark traditionell geprägten Strukturen unwahrscheinlich. Neben diesen formellen Kriterien beruhen auch heute noch im Sportsystem die traditionellen Geschlechterrollen auf dem komplementären Schema der “männlichen Stärke” und der “weiblichen Schwäche”. Die Ausübung der “Männersportart” Fußball, gepaart mit der Nichtübereinstimmung des gesellschaftlichen Schönheitsideals von Frauen, gilt als “unafrikanisch” und unwürdig und wird teilweise sogar durch Strafen sanktioniert (vgl. Meier, 2010).
Die Leichtathletikerin Caster Semenya hat im Juli 2010 die Startberechtigung für die Frauenwettbewerbe nach einer Hormonbehandlung zurückerhalten. In ihrer Heimat wird sie als große Sportlerin gefeiert. Aber andernorts könnte an jedem weiteren Sieg ein Makel hängen bleiben, nach dem Motto: die hat zwar gewonnen, aber eigentlich ist sie keine Frau.
Das internationale Olympische Komitee (IOK) will, zwölf Jahre nach der Abschaffung der Sextests, wieder Geschlechtskontrollen für Frauen einführen. Der würdige Umgang mit Menschen, die wahrscheinlich selbst nicht genau wissen, in was für einem Körper sie stecken, bleibt dabei auf der Strecke. Auch wenn das IOK verlauten ließ, dass die besagten Fälle dann nicht öffentlich weltweit kommuniziert würden. Man darf gespannt sein, wie sich die Öffentlichkeit im Sommer bei der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft der Frauen gegenüber den Spielerinnen aus Äquatorial- Guinea verhalten wird. Das Ausmaß der Kritik wird sich vermutlich danach messen, wie erfolgreich die Spielerinnen sind und gegen welche Mannschaften sie punkten.

Literaturtipp:
Meier, M.: Banyana Banyana. In: Frauenfussball – Magazin. 1 (3). 4–5 (Aachen, 2010).

Zu den Autorinnen:
Regina Roschmann studierte Sportökonomie in Chemnitz (Deutschland) und Trondheim (Norwegen). Seit 2007 ist sie wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der TU Chemnitz. Ihre Schwerpunkte sind Fußball und Sportmarketing. // » Yvonne Weigelt-Schlesinger studierte Sportwissenschaft in Chemnitz (Deutschland) und promovierte in Tübingen. Seit 2009 ist sie Assistentin am Institut für Sportwissenschaft der Universität Bern. Ihre Schwerpunkte sind Geschlechterforschung, Sportspieldidaktik und Sportbiographien von Frauen mit Migrationshintergrund. “

 

(Quelle: Frauensolidarität.)

Hinweis

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Afghanistan/Irak: Korruptionstreibstoff Krieg

Dienstag, Mai 10th, 2011

“World Corruption Special Report

By David Smith

World Corruption Special Report

“We Will Pursue Fighting Corruption”
Credit:Thruthout

Iraq and Afghanistan sit near the top of a list of the world’s most corrupt nations despite years of occupation by Anglo-American forces and more than $1 trillion of US taxpayers’ money having been spent on the two nations since 2001.

Not withstanding the killing of Osama, we are entitled to ask the question: was this money well spent?

The 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from the Berlin-based watchdog rated Somalia, with a score of 1.1 out of 10, as the world’s most corrupt nation, closely followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar with scores of 1.4, and Iraq on 1.5. The least corrupt were New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark, on 9.3 (See table attached). 

“Unstable governments with a history of conflict dominate the bottom rungs of the list,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.   

Dr Jon Moran, a reader in security in Leicester University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, said we should not be surprised that war-torn states dominate the list. The recent histories of both Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate the link between war and corruption. 

“In Iraq, sanctions after the first Gulf War, combined with the existing corruption of Saddam Hussein’s regime created a siege economy in which corruption became endemic,” Moran said.

“Smuggling and black markets became important for everyone from the ordinary citizen to the elites. This is a legacy that is still evident today in the way the Iraqi Government is run.”

The corrupt Government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is prepared to use violence in defence of its interests. One story is enough to illustrate this fact: Iraq judge Radhi al-Radhi, who was investigating corruption as head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, was forced to flee to the US in 2007 after 31 of his investigators were assassinated by al-Maliki’s men. The assassins also tortured 12 members of the investigators’ families by drilling holes into their bodies, before killing them, too.

In becoming more corrupt from top to bottom, Iraq has followed a familiar historical pattern. “There is plenty of evidence to show how war-torn or blockaded states often see increases in corruption as smuggling networks, black markets and extortion become a way of gaining and distributing resources. It was evident in Yugoslavia in the 1990s,” Moran said.

The Second Gulf War, and subsequent occupation of Iraq, made an already bad situation even worse. “To the existing corruption was added the effects of the chaotic and politicized US occupation,” Moran said. “Although US society has a highly developed system of legal and agency regulation of political and economic corruption – stronger than the UK, for example – in the highly charged ideological occupation of Iraq, this was ignored.

“A number of the basic rules of good governance, which the West often urges developing countries to adopt, such as controls on the disbursement of funds and strong auditing regimes, were missing. The journalist Patrick Cockburn has argued Iraq is the site of some of history’s biggest frauds.”

A third reason for corruption in Iraq is the poor security situation, said Moran. “The lack of basic security after 2003 fuelled violent crime. Basic services disappeared and everyone was forced to use contacts, and black markets and other desperate measures to simply get by.”

The origins of corruption in Afghanistan, Moran said, also have their antecedents in former war and occupation.

“Afghanistan already had a serious problem with corruption under the Soviet-backed governments of the 1970s and then after the Soviet invasion in the 1980s the country became a site of opium, arms smuggling and black markets,” he said.

The Taliban eradicated opium crops in 2000-2001, but their attitude to drugs has been inconsistent. “They were also not averse to trading it themselves and now they are using it to fund their insurgency,” said Moran. “Afghanistan has always been a major supplier of opium, but the war has created a surge in opium growth. Lack of security, corrupt local security, and the encouragement by the Taliban of opium-growing have all contributed.”

Ned Conway, a researcher at the Institute for Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) at the University of St Andrews, said the Taliban made money from opium by offering protection to narcotics networks. “The Taliban does not produce opium, but it collects taxes from everyone involved, including farmers, processors, all the way up to the drug barons and kingpins in Pakistan,” he said.

The Anglo-American security forces are too overloaded to fight corruption and prevent opium production.

“The ISAF are relatively thin on the ground and they are expected to do everything from fighting the Taliban, to promoting democracy, to training the police and army and providing local services and eradicating opium,” Moran said.

In his analysis of the corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ned Conway, at the University of St Andrews, focuses on the direct role of Anglo-American money.

“There are two reasons why pouring billions of dollars into Iraq and Afghanistan has made them more corrupt,” he said. “Firstly, if the host government doesn’t have the institutions to make sure the money is accounted for, then people take advantage of the situation. We have members of government who receive bribes in return for contracts and contracting companies which never follow through on projects they were paid to complete.

“The second reason is these countries are incredibly dangerous. If inspectors do not have freedom of movement, so that they aren’t able to check up on a project’s progress in a high conflict area, implementing appropriate anti-corruption safeguards is very difficult.”  

It has become impossible to police the situation so that corruption has become a way of life. “The problem is mainly with the sub-contracting or sub-sub-contracting,” said Conway. “You may think you’re giving your money to company X to complete a project, but often there is a chain of sub-contracts before a shovel hits the earth, and all along the way, each sub-contractor takes a cut.”

Conway, however, has some sympathy with the innocent people caught up in the culture of corruption. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it is to some degree expected. Take the Afghan Border Police officer who makes $130 a month. That is not enough to live on, so the individual is forced to find more ‘creative’ ways to support his family. Is it wrong? If you asked him, he would probably say that President Hamid Karzai is taking a much bigger piece of the pie, so why can’t he? On top of that, he probably won’t be caught. In fact, his boss might even encourage the behaviour.” 

Conway believes the Anglo-American occupation will leave different legacies in Iraq to Afghanistan.

“Iraq is in a much better situation than Afghanistan. Large groups of people have a voice now that was stunted under Saddam Hussein, and that voice for the most part manifests itself in the political arena, not in armed conflict. Iraq has its share of problems, and could fall back into true chaos, but more or less the country is much better off,” he said. 

“Afghanistan is more difficult. Its system of governance is doomed to fail. There is too much power in central government, not enough power in the provinces. There are also no industries that might ‘save’ the country, whereas in Iraq oil will guarantee money coming into the budget. Afghanistan wants to be a transit state for pipelines and for trade, but that is impossible as long as there is violence.”

THE MOST CORRUPT NATIONS:

  1. Somalia – 1.1 
  2. Myanmar – 1.4  
  3. Afghanistan – 1.4  
  4. Iraq – 1.5
  5. Uzbekistan – 1.6
  6. Turkmenistan — 1.6
  7. Sudan – 1.6
  8. Chad – 1.7
  9. Burundi – 1.8
  10. Equatorial Guinea – 1.9
  11. Angola –1.9
  12. Venezuela — 2.0
  13. Kyrgystan — 2.0
  14. Guinea — 2.0
  15. Democratic Republic of Congo — 2.0

 

Find more world corruption index figures and data on our new Corruption Perception Index database.

 

Jan Toporowski, chair of the department of economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, analysed some common characteristics of corrupt countries;

Weak banking systems:                                

“It is difficult to generalise as the countries have different patterns of corruption. But countries at the bottom tend to have weak banking systems involving a lot of informal payments. A combination of weak laws, suspect payments and weak asset markets makes it difficult to do business. In countries like Uzbekistan, and many African countries, the rich elites want to increase their wealth, but the traditional sources of wealth – such as land – are not appreciating much. So these elites – in these resource-rich lands – turn to ‘informal’ ways of holding onto wealth,” he said.

Traditional societies:

“Iraq and Afghanistan may be democracies, but democracy is not the only factor. To avoid corruption, it’s important to have a modern ‘impersonal attitude’ to finance. This is what characterises modernity in terms of finance. It means people don’t get too attached to share certificates, or land. They sell on for a better price, or buy and sell against their assets. In the traditional societies of the Middle East, many people still store their wealth in gold and not many people borrow against their wife’s jewels.”

Developing countries:

“Most developed countries have been through a period of high corruption, before legal frameworks of accountability are put in place. Developing countries have huge inequalities of income, which leads to more corruption because people are envious of other people’s money. With more equal distribution of income, the incentive to make that extra bit of money through corruption is not there.”

Professor Toporowski says the long-term solution is modernisation of financial sectors. The emergence of a commercial middle-class, which uses modern bank accounts and modern systems of payment, would stop ‘informal’ approaches to business. 

“Education changes attitudes. They become educated by studying abroad to the US, or Britain, and taking back ideas which help their countries to modernize. We call them ‘modernising elites’. The education systems in the developing nations are important, too, in bringing about change. In this respect, Somalia is at a disadvantage as literacy is a recent thing there, whereas Myanmar is a relatively urbanised and relatively educated society, so we might expect change to occur more quickly there.”

And check out the Corruption Perception Index, new on the EconomyWatch.com Economic Statistics Database. 

 

(Quelle: EconomyWatch.com)

Global: (Be-)Merkenswerte Gesundheitsstatistik

Mittwoch, Juli 14th, 2010

GLOBAL: Ten eyebrow-raising health stats



Photo: Tugela Ridley/IRIN
Where are the world’s youngest mothers?

DAKAR, 14 July 2010 (IRIN) – Pause for thought: IRIN has trawled the 2010 World Health Statistics report to bring you 10 fascinating facts on global health.

Not the spreadable kind: In 43 low-income countries 40 percent more people had non-communicable diseases – including diabetes, heart disease and stroke – than infectious illnesses in 2004. Non-infectious diseases killed 33 million worldwide in 2004.

Sleepless in Swaziland: No under-five children slept under insecticide-treated bed nets to ward off malarial mosquitoes in Swaziland, whereas in Madagascar 60 percent of children did so, according to the countries’ most recent surveys conducted since 2000.

Midwifery in Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan is the only low-income country in the past decade to boast coverage of nurses and midwives similar to that in high-income countries – 108 nurses and/or midwives per 10,000 residents. Australia (109), Switzerland (110), Luxembourg (104) and Canada’s (100) are comparable.

Oil-rich, but doctor-poor: Equatorial Guinea, which in 2009 had the world’s 64th highest per capita income, and the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank), had the same number of doctors per 10,000 residents (3) as did Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Namibia, Togo, Sudan, Yemen and the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga.

Protected in the Pacific: Fewer than a quarter of women in Africa reported using contraception, while over 80 percent of women in the region WHO classifies as western Pacific used it. Chad had the world’s lowest contraceptive use at 2.8 percent.

Choking on fumes: Of the 20 countries worldwide where more than 95 percent of those surveyed reported using solid fuels (wood, coal, charcoal, crops) for indoor cooking – associated with higher rates of fatal respiratory diseases like pneumonia – six are in West Africa (not counting Benin, Gambia and Chad, which come within points of the highest threshold.)


Photo: Rodrigo A. Nguema/IRIN
Petrol dollars have not made it to parts of Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo (file photo)

Measles: While 76 percent of one-year-olds in Africa on average were immunized against measles in 2008 versus 58 percent in 1990, these rates were 24 and 51 percent, respectively, in Somalia and Equatorial Guinea in 2008.

Slow on sanitation: Thirty percent of people in Africa used “improved sanitation facilities” – including a composting or flushing toilet, piped sewer systems, septic tanks, or latrines with open ventilation or concrete slabs – in 1990. Eighteen years later, the statistical equivalent of less than half an additional person joined them.

Under-weight children: Some four out of 10 under-five children are considered underweight in Niger, India and Yemen.

Youngest mothers: Almost two out of 10 girls aged 15-19 in Niger have given birth, followed by Afghanistan (1.5) and Bangladesh (1.3).

 

(Quelle: IRIN News.)

 

Siehe auch:

GLOBAL: Poll ranks AIDS as top health issue
GLOBAL: Health lessons from four big earthquakes

Angola: Die Lunte brennt schon

Donnerstag, Juni 10th, 2010

“Angola: Reinventing Pasts and Futures

by David Sogge

What’s in a name? For the ruling party of Angola, it seems, quite a lot. In December 2009, that party formally abandoned its original name from 1956, Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola , the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. Henceforth it would be known merely by the old initials: MPLA. Evidently the party thought it best to bury and forget terms like “movement” and “liberation”. Besides, it had long ago dropped the word Popular from new nation’s first name, the People’s Republic of Angola.

Such fiery terms from a burnt-out era no doubt left a lot of people cold. But deleting those tokens of past ideals came at an odd time. For never in its 53-year history had the MPLA’s claims to a popular mandate looked stronger. In high-turnout parliamentary elections in September 2008, it got more than four out of every five votes. Six years earlier, its triumph over warlord-led Unita, and the non-punitive peace deal that followed, met with overwhelming popular relief, even among people on the losing side. True, Angolans express hearty contempt for their political class. Yet popular expectations are rising; most people express optimism about the future. Urbanized and Portuguese-speaking, they see themselves no longer chiefly as members of ethnic blocs, but as citizens of one Angolan nation. The MPLA, more than any other political force, contributed to those outcomes.

No such scenario seemed feasible in 1973. At that time the party was on the ropes, reeling from Portuguese counter-insurgency and from its own self-inflicted wounds. Both Washington and Moscow had written it off. Yet from that near-death experience, the MPLA made an astonishing come-back as a thrusting new African power. With military help from Cuban communists and plenty of petrodollars from Western capitalists, it gained time, space and know-how to recover and get the upper hand. After taking power in 1975 it set about building three key institutions: a disciplined army and security apparatus; a professionally-run state holding company, Sonangol; and a well-oiled system of patronage. Shrewd management of all three led to advances on the fronts of coercive power, state revenues and domestic politics. In short, the MPLA built what Cold War Washington least wanted to see: a black African state with muscle and “attitude.”

From that near-death experience, the MPLA made an astonishing come-back as a thrusting new African power… (building) what Cold War Washington least wanted to see: a black African state with muscle and “attitude.”

For its impudence, Angola paid in blood. Unlike Afghanistan, where American support to Islamic fundamentalists to “roll back” communism brought nasty blowback for the US itself, American support to African anti-communists brought death and wretchedness only for Angolans. From 1975 to 2002 about 1.5 million of them perished, a staggering number for a country of only six million people in 1975. Of these, about 160,000 died in combat — the heaviest battle casualties, in absolute numbers, of any African conflict in the 20th century.

War utterly transfigured Angola. As violence forced nearly half the population to flee their homes, urban shack settlements mushroomed around towns and cities. As the elaborate agro-industrial system collapsed, it took with it a sizable class of small producers and most of the proletariat, proportionately one of Africa’s largest. As the belligerents swept up tens of thousands of young people into their war machines, years of apprenticeship began in trade schools for violence. Many of these veterans are today on payrolls of the army, police and private security companies.

The rest of the war’s uprooted and dispossessed are scraping by in netherworlds of informal work and commerce, the onshore economy’s new centre of gravity. As elsewhere in global capitalism, that free market is only for losers. The economic winners, being politically well-connected, get rich pickings such as control over lucrative import monopolies. Import streams they control supply most of the markets where the povo , the common people, do the work, take the risks and pay off the Economic Police and other shakedown artists to leave them in peace. Such is life under capitalismo selvagen , jungle capitalism.

In contrast to the rest of Africa, Angola’s elites never allowed the IMF to supervise economic policy directly. Yet by 1990 they had nonetheless embraced key tenets of the Washington Consensus: liberalization of external flows, austerity for public services and privatization of public assets. In so doing, they quashed any remaining hopes of a social contract — “satisfaction of the people’s needs”, in the discourse of the MPLA anno 1975. The policies ushered in a bonanza for the political class and their corporate allies abroad.

Angola’s elites never allowed the IMF to supervise economic policy directly. Yet by 1990 they had nonetheless embraced key tenets of the Washington Consensus… (quashing) any remaining hopes of a social contract.

With the introduction of “market friendly” policies, capital flight took wing. A recent study indicates that in the 1990s illicit outflows averaged $542 million a year, roughly 6 percent of GDP; in the period 2000-2008 they averaged $2.7 billion a year, roughly 14 percent of GDP.1 Angola’s “peace dividend” has meant, literally, big dividends for interests abroad.

Judicial activists like the French magistrate, Eva Joly, and research activists groups like Global Witness have revealed much about these shadowy systems. But just where Angola’s siphoned-off wealth is stashed and who owns it, are largely guesswork. All outflows are murky and circuitous, coursing through multiple secrecy jurisdictions from London and Lichtenstein to Delaware to end up mainly on Wall Street. That is the most likely destination identified by a team of economists of the US Federal Reserve, after sifting a lot of data in the opaque world of petrodollars.2 “Market friendly” policies have meant exactly that: friendly to The Markets.

In addition, legally-earned monies get special handling in Angola itself. Foreign corporations face low taxes and streamlined repatriation of profits — a fact attentively noted in a US government review of Angola’s investment climate and in scorecards of “economic freedom” by influential think tanks in Washington DC.

Domestic businesses, on the other hand, face different rules. They cannot accumulate at will; indeed any Angolan seeking to make serious profits has first to cut a deal with an appropriate politician. For the MPLA, any effort to accumulate beyond its supervision is a matter of zero tolerance, for that could lead to autonomous bases of power. Hence there are no Angolans making money on a substantial scale outside the purview and participation of the political class.

MPLA statecraft includes control over media and the flow of ideas. But its main levers work through the distribution of money, status and official positions. The MPLA has used these levers, backed by brute coercion, to forge informal pacts among elites, to co-opt and neutralise adversaries and keep the wayward on board. Despite rumours of mutual distrust — stories of VIPs at dinner parties who refuse to drink from bottles not opened before their own eyes or to eat anything not tasted first by their flunkeys — the political class is holding together rather well. Pacts and patronage have been stabilising in Angola’s case.

MPLA statecraft includes control over media and the flow of ideas. But its main levers work through the distribution of money, status and official positions.

Indeed the party’s centrally-managed patronage system has thus far proven a reliable way to manage politics where centrifugal forces are strong and a lot of lootable wealth is at stake. That system enabled recruitment of former “outsider” ethnicities into the military’s top brass. It works through revenue sharing (as in oil-rich Zaire and Cabinda, and diamond-rich Lundas) and the allocation of official positions from which rents can be extracted. Its domesticating effects are now apparent; with the exception of a renegade militia in Cabinda, which mortified the government in January by shooting up a busload of Togolese football players, Angola is at peace. The argument that resources breed political chaos doesn’t hold for Angola; mere plunder and oppression to the neglect of statecraft has never been the MPLA approach.

The party has for example worked shrewdly to contain independent ideas and citizen activism. In the early post-independence years it tried to colonize civil spaces with Soviet-type monopoly organisations for women, workers, peasants and youth. But with the exception of the women’s organisation these never achieved any real legitimacy.

Today in civil society the MPLA employs both sticks and carrots. Repressive measures include containment (independent media confined mainly to Luanda, for example), secret police infiltration and strong-arm action such as against low-income residents of prime urban land in Luanda and Lubango. Positive incentives include the dispensing of charity by its own NGOs, notably the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation. Patronage and perks offered through the party’s Specialty Committees have kept many urban professionals away from political activism. Progressive parties and vibrant periodicals (digital and printed) are alive and kicking in Luanda, but faced with MPLA cunning they have yet to form a critical mass in political life.

Citizens might mount stronger counter-pressures if there were effective court systems and other channels for public complaint and transparent regulation. And indeed cases sometimes get hearings in real courts of law, with occasional advances in real justice. These episodes may help explain why a small majority of Angolans polled by the BBC in 2008 claimed to trust the country’s legal system. In March 2010, a provincial court convicted seven policemen of the unlawful killing of eight youth in a Luanda neighbourhood, although the court was at pains to exclude higher-ups from any culpability. Indeed it appears that most of those at upper levels enjoy effective immunity from justice. Also in March, the government promulgated a Public Probity Law that would penalise corruption and oblige top public officials to declare their personal wealth at home and abroad. It allows anyone to denounce abuses by public figures, but severely penalizes anyone making accusations deemed to be false.

Will this and other impressive laws actually promote transparency, honesty and respect for human rights? The leadership has in any case shown no haste in beefing up the Prosecutor’s Office (responsible for enforcing the new Public Probity Law) or in expanding a responsive judiciary. It prefers instead to foist law-enforcement-lite agencies onto the public. The Judicial Ombudsman’s office, provincial human rights commissions and mediation centres may provide occasions for citizens to ventilate complaints, but none has a mandate to enforce laws or impose legally binding outcomes. They help alert the authorities to problems without requiring them to find solutions. Yet because they reflect, however dimly, the principle that citizens may express grievances, those bodies can’t be dismissed out of hand. They might someday provide sites for the powerless to gain a little leverage over, or at least embarrass, the powerful.

Privatization of public services is advancing… (they) are never portrayed as citizen entitlements, but rather as commodities you have to pay for, or beneficence you have to show gratitude for.

But how much of the public realm will survive? Privatization of public services is advancing, and it largely precludes the making of claims. Private providers, for-profit or not-for-profit, face almost no obligations publically to account for what they do or fail to do. In any case public services are never portrayed as citizen entitlements, but rather as commodities you have to pay for, or beneficence you have to show gratitude for. Neoliberal norms blanket the land, crowding out anything smacking of an equitable social contract. Indeed, Angolans are captive to a curious fusion of neoliberal formulas and a coercive state.

Nevertheless, a few groups in the emancipatory wing of civil society keep probing for progressive openings. They have engaged with public service providers and local level governments to press for public consultation and innovation in government services, such as
schooling for children and range management for livestock. Whether such scattered efforts can hold the line against further commodification, vigorously backed by Angolan elites and most foreign donors, remains to be seen.

Angola’s elites call most of the shots domestically. They do so with increasing self-assurance — some domestic critics call
it arrogance — thanks to the state’s huge spending powers. With oil output now surpassing that of Nigeria and oil prices still buoyant, the pressures for conspicuous consumption have been intense. That has left its mark in traffic gridlock, port congestion, tiny apartments renting for 15 thousand dollars per month. Demand has provoked supply through conspicuous investment: superhighways, shopping malls and gated housing estates.

State corporations have now taken up an old Angolan practice, shopping abroad. Angola’s main state holding company Sonangol has recently become a major if not dominant shareholder of Portuguese energy, banking and media firms. Maximizing financial returns is not necessarily the point here; some observers see instead Angolan elites gaining satisfaction in lording it over the former colonizer in Lisbon. Portuguese officials in their turn never fail to express gratitude for the Angolan patronage and custom. Angola has become, after Spain, Germany and France, the fourth most important customer for Portuguese exports. Meanwhile Angolan corporate interests are also spreading their wings in the D.R. Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and elsewhere in the Gulf of Guinea.

Banks have worked overtime in Angola to sell loans and commodity credits. The Chinese have been hugely successful in this. Pressures to borrow are intense, yet don’t always get satisfied. Government hopes to raise $4 billion on the European bond market — billed as the largest ever bond issue by a sub-Saharan African state — have been shelved for want of an international credit rating. Perhaps for this reason in 2009 the IMF finally got its foot in the door with a $1.4 billion loan to shore up government reserves and cushion a fiscal shortfall.

Foreign borrowings and services are destined to keep building a classically high modernist, outwardly-oriented model of development. The government’s Anti-Poverty Strategy may be studded with terms like social equity and even redistribution; but today that earnest policy paper, stillborn in 2005, has been quietly forgotten. Recently several leading Angolan development specialists — Fernando Pacheco, Cesaltina Abreu and Carlos Figuereido — dismissed notions that Angola might achieve by 2015 even one of its eight millennium development goals — despite their all being achievable, as Figueriedo observed, given Angola’s financial capacities. The outlook is even more pessimistic, he concluded, considering the (political) weight of the forces and policies that prioritize those anti-poverty goals.3

Today’s political economy resembles the colonial order of yesterday in a number of ways. A narrow state-based elite manages the economy … to promote a development model that redistributes wealth upward and outward.

In sum, today’s political economy resembles the colonial order of yesterday in a number of ways. A narrow state-based elite manages the economy in collaboration with foreign corporations to promote a development model that redistributes wealth upward and outward. The elite uses foreign-equipped coercive methods and a modicum of public services and charity to keep the lid on popular discontent. At the same time, activists in the emancipatory camp of civil society, in Angola and abroad, keep probing the connections, embarrassing the rulers with their revelations and animating social and intellectual responses.

Yet today’s situation looks different in two fundamental ways: first, governing elites are African and hold territorial powers legitimized by elections; second, national economic life is now far more dependent on consumers and producers in richer countries. Hence today’s paradox: Angolans have formal standing as citizens with votes as well as informal claims on their rulers, but they don’t count for much as consumers and producers; indeed the development model has no place for mostof them. Elites’ confusion of economic growth with development is, in the words of Fernando Pacheco, “painful and extremely penalizing for Angolans.”4

But what of the future? Some foresee a developmental state comparable to the Asian tigers. For the cautious mainstream economist Paul Collier, “Angola, with its oil and its Atlantic coastline, could well prove to be another Malaysia.” Others merely continue expressing breathless enthusiasm — “leaping from strength to strength”, “on the cusp of a real economic take-off” — without conjuring up specific scenarios.

Hence a giddy optimism persists, spurred by up-ticks in oil markets. In contemporary capitalism, after all, only the short term really matters. Yet specialists focused on the long term have begun telling different story, one about falling oil revenues. “As its main oil fields reach maturity,” a London business newsletter wrote recently, “production is likely to peak sometime around 2015, at which point its current and fiscal account surpluses are all but certain to disappear.”5 In short, Angola’s glittering coach may soon to turn into a pumpkin.

When a fiscal and debt crisis hits Angola, a political crisis will not be far behind. Among the urban salaried strata, especially those on civilian and military state payrolls, lifestyle and career expectations have kept on rising. So too have expectations among more peripheral members of the political class and their hangers-on at the receiving ends of patronage flows. Cutbacks to these flows would bring on an unpleasant downshift in expectations. Some would take harder hits than others. The basis of elite pacts could then become quite fragile.

When a fiscal and debt crisis hits Angola, a political crisis will not be far behind… some politicians might renounce their wilful amnesia and revisit the progressive political project the MPLA once talked about.

Should those pacts come unglued and discontent gel into organised pressure, some politicians might renounce their wilful amnesia and revisit the progressive political project the MPLA once talked about. The wish of the new Angolan bourgeoisie to prettify their biographies has already been satirized in the 2004 novel The Seller of Pasts .6 Today, members of Angola’s bruised but resilient progressive camp, and its allies abroad, face the challenge of reinventing that political project.

Notes

1. Global Financial Integrity, Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Hidden Resource for Development (Washington DC: GFI, 2010), http://www.gfip.org. GDP data from http://unstats.un.org.

2. M. Higgins and others, “Recycling Petrodollars,” Current Issues in Economics and Finance
(New York: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, December 2006).

3. “Angola fica a meio do caminho,” Correio do Patriota (15 October 2009), http://www.correiodopatriota.com.

4. “Ligações perigosas,” Correio do Patriota (25 January 2009).

5. “Angola’s Bond Issue: Prospects and Problems,” Newsletter (London: Business Monitor International, 14 December 2009).

6. By the Angolan novelist José Eduardo Agualusa. Original title: O Vendedor de Passados .

Selected Bibliography

“L’Angola dans la paix. Autoritarisme et reconversions.” Special Issue ofPolitique Africaine 110 (2008).

BBC World Service Trust. Elections Study Angola 2008 . London: BBC World Service Trust, 2008.

Birmingham, David. Frontline Nationalism in Angola and Mozambique. London: James Currey, 1992.

Chabal, Patrick, and Nuno Vidal, eds. Angola: The Weight of History . New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI). Various papers on Angola. Bergen, Norway. http://www.cmi.no/research/country/?angola.

Oliveira, Ricardo Soares de.Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea . New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Shaxson, Nicholas. Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Sogge, David. Angola: “Failed” yet “Successful”. Working Paper 81. Madrid: FRIDE, 2009.

Vidal, Nuno with Patrick Chabal (eds.) Southern Africa: Civil Society, Politics and Donor Strategies. Angola and its Neighbours . Luanda and Lisbon: Media XXI & Firmamento with University of Coimbra, Catholic University of Angola and Wageningen University.”

(Quelle: At Issue Ezine.)