Posts Tagged ‘Simbabwe’

Österreich: Let’s ban the bombs!

Donnerstag, Dezember 11th, 2014

“Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons

Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons
Humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons must initiate treaty process in 2015

December 9, 2014

After 44 states called for a prohibition on nuclear weapons at a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

“All states committed to nuclear disarmament must join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons”, said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, Fihn added.

States that expressed support for a ban treaty at the Vienna Conference include: Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

These announcements were given at a two-day international conference convened in Vienna to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental.

Survivors of the nuclear bombings in Japan and of nuclear testing in Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States, gave powerful testimonies of the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. Their evidence complemented other presentations presenting data and research.

“The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting”, said Akira Kawasaki, from Japanese NGO Peaceboat. “The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now,” Kawasaki added.

For decades, discussions on nuclear weapons have been dominated by the few nuclear-armed states – states that continue to stockpile and maintain over 16,000 warheads. The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has prompted a fundamental change in this conversation, with non-nuclear armed states leading the way in a discussion on the actual effects of the weapons.

Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological – nuclear weapons are not yet prohibited by an international legal treaty. Discussions in Vienna illustrated that the international community is determined to address this. In a statement to the conference, Pope Francis called for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”.

The host of the previous conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Mexico, called for the commencement of a diplomatic process, and South Africa said it was considering its role in future meetings.

“Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start”, said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.”

 

(Quelle: ICAN.)

Simbabwe: Vieles anders

Montag, Juli 2nd, 2012

“Alles Mythen?

Das Negativ-Bild der Agrarreform in Simbabwe bröckelt

Die Agrarreform in Simbabwe wurde in den vergangenen Jahren als das Negativbeispiel schlechthin gebrandmarkt. Das Land versinke im Chaos, die Landwirtschaft breche zusammen und die neuen LandbesitzerInnen seien Günstlinge des Regimes und hätten kein Interesse an Landwirtschaft – so oder so ähnlich der Tenor von EntwicklungsexpertInnen.

Progressivere Akteure vermieden das Thema, um nicht in eine ideologische Ecke gestellt zu werden. Nun zeigt sich, dass genauso viel Ideologie auf der anderen Seite im Spiel ist. In der Tat wurde die negative Berichterstattung nicht hinterfragt und die Mythen verfestigten sich. Eine Langzeitstudie fechtet diese Mythen durch umfassende Feld-Daten an. Sie zeigt erstmals, dass es auch viel Positives zu berichten gibt.

Viel Land verteilt – gerade an arme Bevölkerungsgruppen

Etwa 20 Prozent der gesamten Landesfläche wurden seit dem Jahr 2000 umverteilt. 4.500 Farmen wurden an über 160.000 neue Farmer-Familien verteilt, der Großteil für den Betrieb einer kleinbäuerlichen Produktion. Damit ist erst einmal rein quantitativ das erreicht, was man in den Nachbarländern Südafrika und Namibia der armen ländlichen Bevölkerung versprochen hatte. Dass man dort großzügige Hilfe der Gebergemeinschaft genießt, wirft Fragen auf.

Die neuen Daten zeigen zudem, dass nur sehr wenig Land an die Eliten des Regimes verteilt wurde. Dreiviertel der neuen LandbesitzerInnen sind arme ländliche Familien (50 Prozent), arme städtische Familien (18 Prozent) oder ehemalige LohnarbeiterInnen der Großfarmen (sieben Prozent). Nur etwa 3,7 Prozent sind Sicherheitskräfte, also jene, die durch die internationale Presse als die großen Profiteure dargestellt wurden.

Produktion brach zusammen – aber vor allem der Export

Umverteiltes Land ist ein wichtiger, aber kein ausreichender Indikator für die Frage, ob eine Agrarreform die Reduzierung von Armut und Hunger bewirkt. Daher wiegt das Argument schwer, dass “Felder brach liegen und kaum noch etwas produziert wird” (Wikipedia zu Simbabwe). Auch hier differenziert die Studie und betont, dass typisch für jeden Transformationsprozess – es Bereiche gibt, die verlieren und andere, die gewinnen. Obwohl der Exportsektor (Rindfleisch, Kaffee, Tee, Weizen) stark geschrumpft ist, boomt der Anbau traditioneller Grundnahrungsmittel. Die Hirseproduktion ist seit den 1990er Jahren um 163 Prozent angestiegen, der Bohnenanbau hat sich mit 283 Prozent fast verdreifacht. Die Maisproduktion auf den neuen Farmen ist seit 2002 stark angestiegen. Auf vielen Farmen werden Überschüsse für den Markt produziert.

Belebte ländliche Räume

Ein bemerkenswertes Resultat der Agrarreform: Riesige Gebiete, die fast unbewohnt waren nur von einem Landbesitzer und einer Handvoll LandarbeiterInnen bewirtschaftet – wurden durch die Landvergabe regelrecht besiedelt. Es scheint sich eine ländliche Sozial- und Wirtschaftsstruktur zu entwickeln, die komplex, lebhaft und für viel arme Menschen perspektivisch ist und künftig sein kann.

Insgesamt dürfen – und das wird auch in der Studie betont – die Probleme der aktuellen Hungersituation und der Agrarreform nicht verharmlost werden. Es ist jedoch erstaunlich, wie sich über viele Jahre hinweg ein Blick auf die Landreform in Simbabwe aufbauen konnte, der der Realität teilweise diametral gegenübersteht. Es scheint ganz so, als wollte man die vielschichtigen Ergebnisse der Agrarreform in Simbabwe nicht sehen.

Buchtipp zum Weiterlesen:
Ian Scoones et al. (2011), Zimbabwe’s Land Reform.
Myths and Realities,
ISBN:9781770099852″

 

(Quelle: FoodFirst.)

Anmerkung

Die aktuelle Ausgabe der Zeitschrift “FoodFirst”, aus der dieser Aufsatz stammt, kann in unserer Bücherei entliehen werden.

Simbabwe: Droht ein Militär-Putsch?

Montag, Juni 11th, 2012

“Fears of military coup mount in Zimbabwe

Harare: Fears are mounting that Zimbabwe’s military will seize power in the event of President Robert Mugabe’s death or electoral defeat. A top army general on Wednesday said they would not allow anyone who does not share the ideals of the veteran ruler’s Zanu PF party to lead the country.
“As the military, we do not only believe, but act in defence of these values and we will not respect any leader who does not respect the revolution,” Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) chief of staff Major General Trust Mugoba said.

“We will not even allow them to go into office because they do not represent the ideology we fought for. As the military establishment, we have an ideology that is represented in the mission of Zanu PF.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai believes that such statements are aimed at him and is worried about a repeat of the violence that marred the 2008 elections.

President Mugabe who turned 88 in February and is rumoured to be battling ill health wants elections this year.

The army was blamed for the deadly violence that marred the previous elections where over a hundred supporters of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were killed.

On Tuesday the former trade unionist told civil society that the army had lowered its recruitment requirements to recruit Zanu PF aligned militias ahead of the elections.

He threatened to pull out of the elections if the generals did not stop interfering in politics. “We know why this is being done. It is being done to undermine free and fair elections.

“It’s not an election, it’s a war and we will not be part of that war. They will go it alone,” Mr Tsvangirai said. “They (generals) are serving members and we would hope their fundamental principle is to uphold the constitution and serve the people of Zimbabwe.” ”

(Quelle: SAFPI.)

Simbabwe: Die Kuh ist ein Wüsten-Killer

Dienstag, Januar 17th, 2012

Brown Revolution Brings New Hope

By Busani Bafana

VICTORIA FALLS, Jan 10, 2012 (IPS) Picking spots for cattle to graze could reverse desertification and even do its bit to retard climate change, new experiments in Zimbabwe have shown. It’s what is coming to be called the Brown Revolution.

Planned grazing of livestock is helping restore formally degraded lands close to Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls world heritage site. It is a miracle that ecologist Allan Savory of the Savory Institute calls the brown revolution – and at the least it could reverse the declining fortunes of agriculture in Zimbabwe.

The U.S.-based Savory Institute and its partner organisation, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM), have regenerated land, wildlife and water on land that was turning into a desert after livestock numbers increased by 400 percent on their 2,900-hectare ranch in the Dimbangombe area, 36 km from the town of Victoria Falls. The land healing miracle is thanks to a practice known as holistic management.

Holistic management, a result of more than 50 years of research and development spanning four continents, has increased land productivity and water availability and improved livelihoods of communities in Zimbabwe through planned livestock grazing.

“Livestock are the one of the best tools available to science to address desertification on a large scale,” Savory told IPS. “If you do not address desertification, you cannot address climate change.”

With a wide understanding of the holistic approach and a quick response from government, Zimbabwe can devise a land and agriculture policy settling millions of people on restored land and ensuring the country’s return to its former agricultural fortunes.

“Holistic management is more than just the holistic planned grazing it involves a framework for such things as complex policy formation,” Savory said.

“Agriculture is causing climate change as much as or possibly more than coal, oil and gas, and unless we address agriculture we cannot address climate change. We can say without any fear of informed contradiction that without using the holistic framework we cannot address some of the most significant parts of the climate change problem,” he added.

Savory admitted that he never liked cattle. He said he used to be a “fanatical environmentalist” demanding that farmers get rid of cattle, based on his university training and prevailing beliefs. But decades later, he recognises that livestock are the only tool that, if managed properly, can change the direction of desertification, biodiversity loss and climate change globally.

“By using livestock to mimic the vast herds that used to roam our planet, before humans began replacing them and their role with fire, we are healing the soils and allowing them once more to capture and store vast amounts of both water and carbon – leading to reduced droughts and floods and beginning to seriously address climate change,” said Savory, a former wildlife biologist and founder of the ACHM.

Savory blames desertification not on the proverbial scapegoat overstocking of cattle, sheep and goats but on the way they are managed. Under holistic planned grazing, livestock are grazed in an area for a maximum of three days and not returned to the same piece of land for at least nine months.

In the process, they use their hooves to break up the hard ground and increase soil cover with dung and trampled litter, allowing for better rainfall absorption and carbon retention in the soil. The temporary compaction also facilitates seed to soil contact for better seed germination.

With adequate animal numbers, holistic planned grazing also eliminates the need for grassland burning, because annually dying grass parts do not turn grey and stale, necessitating the use of fire to ensure new growth. Fires throughout Africa’s grasslands are contributing more to climate change than the use of fossil fuels in some countries.

“The miracle of this approach is that for the first time in history we are dealing with both the cause of the available rainfall becoming less effective (desertification) and with our inability to deal with social, environmental and economic complexity in normal decision-making,” Savory said.

While it is fashionable to plant trees to address desertification and climate change, Savory warns that trees cannot store excess carbon from soil destruction, fires and fossil fuels but the world’s largely ignored vast grassland soils can do so, safely. This is because every season that grass plants are grazed, they leave dead roots in the soil, adding to soil organic matter.

Savory points to the miracle of holistic management in Zimbabwe on the land within the pilot site at the ACHM.

“Because we have greatly increased livestock properly managed to mimic nature, we now have waist-high grasses where we used to stand on bare ground. We have brought the river back to life, and it is now home to water lilies, fish and more.”

As a result of the practice there has been an improved water flow, spanning a wider distance than before, he said. “There is a permanent, year-round higher amount of water than we have known to exist in the past.”

The miracle, Savory says, was achieved at negligible cost – “where billions of dollars spent on technological interventions and reducing livestock have failed repeatedly and always will.”

Today holistic management is practiced by tens of thousands of people in many countries and contexts. Up to 12 million hectares of land are under the practice globally.

Savory said some people have started taking notice finally, simply because obvious success in the end prevails over criticism of the idea. He said naysayers, some of whom published countless papers and books ‘proving’ that the approach does not work, were now returning to holistic management.

This acceptance by academics has drawn international recognition for ACHM.

The Savory Institute has teamed with the Capital Institute, creating a division called Grasslands, which invests in deteriorating land within the U.S. to begin restoring large areas using properly managed livestock for a high return to investors.

The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided 4.8 million dollars for ACHM and the Savory Institute to scale up education and training programmes in the southern Africa region.

The work of ACHM and SI has interested NGOs and pastoralists throughout Africa. There are ongoing successful operations in Namibia, Botswana and Kenya.

The Savory Institute is collaborating with Kenyans to establish a learning site similar to ACHM to serve the Horn of Africa.

Researcher and livestock specialist Prof. Ntombizakhe Mpofu told IPS that the holistic management approach is enabling farmers to manage their livestock to increase productivity while healing the land. And she explained that through the teaching at ACHM, villagers are now increasing crop yields by as much as five times using livestock properly managed for field preparation in place of ploughing and fertilising.

Dr. Mike Peel, a rangeland ecologist with the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa, is monitoring and gathering data on land under holistic management over a fiveyear period to convince academics that its results are verifiable and not anecdotal.

OFDA has agreed to fund the research because of the need for additional data to convince governments of the need for change. The Zimbabwe government has formed a permanent committee of the heads of appropriate government departments to work with ACHM to promote holistic management in the country.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2008 publication “Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment” cited the erosion of agricultural land and deforestation among the most serious of Zimbabwe’s environmental problems. Savory points out that short-term answers lead only to decreasing livestock, cultural genocide for pastoral people and tree planting, while desertification increases.

Developed as a result of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is a unique instrument that has brought global attention to land degradation. The Convention is now working closely with the Savory Institute to see if new thinking on land restoration can be introduced at the Rio + 20 conference to be held in June in Brazil.

“Our most significant non-renewable geo-resource is fertile land and soil,” UNCCD executive secretary Luc Gnacadja told the UNCCD COP 10 in Changwon, South Korea in October 2011. (END)”

 

(Quelle: IPS News.)

Siehe auch:

Die Kuh ist kein Klima-Killer

Global: Söldner-Firmen manipulieren Wikipedia

Mittwoch, Juli 13th, 2011

“Erinys International: Spinning for the private military

By Steven Harkins and David Miller

 

soeldner

With billions of dollars of government and corporate contracts to be won in conflict hotspots such as Iraq and the Congo, today’s private military companies work hard to distance themselves from scandal and the age-old ‘dogs of war’ and ‘mercenary’ tags. Spinwatch examines how one leading firm, Erinys International, has even taken its PR drive onto Wikipedia.

 

The Erinys is an ‘avenging deity’ from Greek and Roman mythology sometimes used to represent ‘conscience personified’.[1] Alternatively spelt as Erinyes, the creature can also take the form of ‘hideous snake-haired monsters (usually three in number) who pursued unpunished criminals’.[2] The private military contractor Erinys International is likely to have chosen the name because of its association with the concept of justice. This mythology is explained as such on the firm’s Wikipedia entry:

    ‘The word ’Erinys’ refers to the avenging deities in Greek religion, who lived at the entrance to the Underworld. Their first duty was to see to the punishment of those who had committed some crime in the world above, but had arrived at Hades without obtaining absolution from the gods. Sometimes this duty extended to the world of men, where the Erinys (also called Dirae, Furiae, Eumenides or Semnae) would pursue criminals, at the behest of Nemesis, permitting the fugitive no rest’.[3]

This description of the Erinys mythology more than likely captures the company’s thinking because it was added to Wikipedia by Erinys business and legal advisor Peter W Roberts.[4]

Under the username ‘Peterwroberts’, Roberts made 11 edits to Erinys’ Wikipedia entry between 9 May 2008 and 6 March 2009 out of a total 38 edits by other users since its creation in December 2006. He summarised his edits as: ‘Update Iraq contract detail’, ‘Update details on J Garatt and A Morrison’, ‘Update Group company functions’, ‘Update of Greek Mythology’, ‘Updated and corrected references and allegations’, and ‘Correcting errors and completing information on Ministry of Oil contract. Erinys Iraq did not have a contract with KBR’.[5] These were his only edits across Wikipedia with that username.

‘Deleting’ the scandals

Roberts’ summary descriptions cover the information he added to the Wikipedia page yet neglect to mention what he removed. This included an entire section entitled ‘Scandals’. Roberts also removed references, including an Observer article stating how many staff Erinys had in Iraq, and describing photographs of ‘two employees of Erinys restraining [a] 16-year-old Iraqi with six car tyres around his body. The photographs, taken last May, show the boy frozen with fear in a room where the wall appeared to be marked by bullet holes’. [6]

Erinys admitted the photographs were genuine but argued they acted at the behest of the boy’s father and that:

    This process lasted for approximately three minutes, when the youth broke down in tears, at which point the tyres were immediately removed and the individual released into the custody of his father. [7]

A Guardian article removed by Roberts from the deleted ‘scandals’ section outlined a lawsuit brought against Erinys by the family of a US soldier killed in a collision with an Erinys vehicle in 2005.[8]

Roberts also removed reference to a Pacific News Service report alleging Erinys had employed former South African security personnel Francois Strydom and Deon Gouws.[9] Strydom was killed in a bombing incident in Baghdad on 28 January 2004. The article alleged Strydom was a former member of Koevoet, the South African apartheid-era paramilitary police unit notorious for acts of violence, torture, and murder, which had also waged a dirty war against Namibian rebels. Gouws, who was injured in the bombing that killed Strydom, was a former member of the South African Security Branch and the notorious Vlakplaas death squad. In 1996 he had received an amnesty from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission after admitting to acts of petrol bombings, arson, car bombings and murder. These included:

    between 40 to 60 petrol bombings of the homes of political activists; a car bombing in 1986 that killed an ANC activist; an arson attack on the home of a doctor who was later assassinated by a Security Branch death squad; the deaths of at least nine recruits to the military wing of the ANC who were shot and their bodies burned; and the extra-judicial murder of five would-be bank robbers who were lured into a trap by the Vlakplaas.[10]

Gouws was also involved in the 1986 murder of regional minister and opposition leader Piet Ntuli.[11] The two men were not directly employed by Erinys but were hired via a subcontractor named SASI.[12] Erinys issued a statement after a War on Want report highlighting the allegations, distancing themselves from Stryom, Gouws and SASI:

    Erinys carries out detailed background checks of its prospective employees and has never employed `former apartheid-era paramilitary police and mercenaries from South Africa’. The War on Want reference is to an incident in January 2004, when a subcontractor to Erinys in Iraq was found to have employed such people after failing to carry out background checks: Erinys terminated that subcontract shortly afterwards. WoW would have known this by reference to articles in the Pretoria News of 29 January 2004, which stated that the individuals were employed by a sub-contractor. [13]

From the scandals section, Roberts also removed an article claiming that traces of Polonium 210 were found at their London offices after they had received a visit from Alexander Litvinenko.[14] A report by Global Security.org into the Erinys subcontract arrangement with private military contractor Airscan was also removed. This report said:

    The contract for aerial surveillance granted in December 2003 was awarded to Erinys Iraq, which awarded a subcontract to Florida-based AirScan Inc for aerial surveillance of the pipelines in support of Erinys. AirScan provides night air surveillance of the pipeline and oil infrastructure, using low-light television cameras.[15]

Conflict of interest editing?

Although some of the removed Wikipedia material may have contained inaccuracies, it is also clear that much undisputed information was removed too. In one example, accurate coverage of the Iraq lawsuit even contained the caveat ‘It was a very tragic accident for which Erinys and its employees have been thoroughly exonerated’.[16] The wholesale deletion of these paragraphs and references may well breach Wikipedia’s ‘Conflict of Interest’ rules, which it describes as ‘an incompatibility between the aim of Wikipedia, which is to produce a neutral, reliably sourced encyclopedia, and the aims of an individual editor’.[17] It also raises questions over Erinys International’s public relations activities and why the material was removed. On the Alexander Litvinenko case it was widely reported that Litvinenko had visited Erinys’ offices, not just in the article Roberts removed from Wikipedia.[18] [19]Roberts argues however it was inaccurate because Erinys International has never had offices in the UK:

    Erinys International does not have, and never has had, offices in the UK. The confusion may be because Erinys UK Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Erinys International) subleased part of its offices at 25 Grosvenor Street to Titon International – a company set up by John Holmes and in which Erinys International was a shareholder. I believe that Titon International had used the services of Litvinenko in some way (although I have no details) and I am aware that Tim Reilly of Erinys UK Ltd had met Litvinenko on at least one of his visits to the Grosvenor Street office.[20]

However in 2009, Erinys International headed notepaper in fact listed its ‘Europe’ office as being located at 25 Grosvenor St.[21] While there may have been inaccuracies in the article, Roberts also removed material that was true.

The Southern Africa connection

The removal of the article about the South African SASI employees is more interesting. Several Erinys group founders have worked in the private military industry in Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. Some have served in the military or intelligence services of southern African States. For example, former non-executive chairman of Erinys International[22] Sean Cleary has a military intelligence background and co-founder of Erinys International Fraser Brown left the British military to sign up with the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) where he served for four years in the Para Commandos between 1975 and 1979.[23] At that time the Rhodesian regime was engaged in a bitter guerrilla war with the liberation movements whose demands included ending the racist system of government, which denied black people the vote. The RLI remained one of only two ’all-white‘ units in the armed forces until the war ended in 1979-80.[24] Some accounts describe the culture of the all white RLI as deeply racist and at least some of the regiment as engaging in torture. One memoir recounts the experiences of ‘K’, a veteran of the RLI:

    This is painful listening. Starkly, Fuller relates K’s confessions, particularly the torture of a young African woman. The veterans’ conversations are saturated with racial slang and expletives, echoing the violence of their acts. He and his friends, said K, were not animals – they were ‘worse than animals’.[25]

Erinys is often reported to be ‘full of former South African special forces soldiers’.[26] A team of bodyguards assigned to Tom O’Donnell, the man in charge of policing the Iraqi oil pipeline, were all South African nationals.[27] In 2005 a PBS journalist went on patrol with an Erinys team and observed that ‘Most of them are South Africans, with thick accents.'[28] Peter Roberts plays down the significance of the South African contingent of Erinys employees arguing that:

    ‘The maximum number of expatriates employed by Erinys Iraq (under the OPF, USACE and other contracts) was probably about 400. They were not exclusively British and South Africa[n] and in 2005 I noted 21 different nationalities in the expatriate workforce’.[29]

However the 2002 appointment of Sean Cleary as a non-executive chairman of Erinys also connected the company to Apartheid-era intelligence and propaganda networks, albeit that his activities with such groups came before his time with Erinys. Cleary was a South African military intelligence operative in the 1960s and later became a South African diplomat based, among other places, in the US.[30] After leaving the diplomatic service in the 1980s Cleary set up a series of companies in London and elsewhere. Some were reportedly lobbying and propaganda fronts for the Apartheid regime. Cleary also acted as spokesperson for Jonas Savimbi of UNITA, the US and Apartheid proxy engaged in subverting the Angolan government.[31]

One company set up by Cleary in the 1980s, Strategy Network International, was described by Africa News as a key part of ‘an extensive network of right-wing organizations linked to the South African government’. According to the Africa News investigation, ’Cleary’s group spearheaded the 1989 election campaign in Namibia for pro-South African politicians running against the Namibian independence movement, SWAPO.[32] The Independent reported that Strategy Network International was specifically created to lobby against economic sanctions and as propagandist for Unita, the Angolan opposition group, and for the so-called ‘transitional government’ of Namibia set up in defiance of UN resolution 435 on Namibian independence.[33] The company was also involved in trying to convince Margaret Thatcher’s government to continue to oppose sanctions on South Africa, in this capacity they facilitated a 1989 visit to apartheid-era South Africa for current Prime Minister David Cameron.[34]

Cleary resigned from his position with Erinys in October 2003 because, according to managing director Jonathan Garratt, they had ‘gone beyond his operational experience’.[35] Cleary argued that he left because ‘once I understood that Erinys would be acting in Iraq in a role that might cross the line and take it into that grey zone of international law that you delineate’.[36]

In 2010 the spotlight turned on Erinys’ activities in Iraq again with the Wikileaks publication of the Iraq war logs. It was reported that Erinys had been involved in a high number of ‘escalation of force’[37] incidents.[38] Erinys issued a statement arguing they had always acted ‘in accordance with the terms of RUF (Rules for Use of Force) and, in all cases where Erinys staff fired a weapon during the term of the USACE contract, a serious incident report was completed and sent to USACE, who had the option of mounting an investigation if they considered it appropriate’. [39]

This rebuttal is one of several sent to more than 10 media outlets and non-governmental organizations by Erinys International in an attempt to manage their public profile.[40] It was against this backdrop that the Erinys Wikipedia entry was amended. Although it is clear that some of this spin operation corrected errors or mistakes it also appears to have removed from Wikipedia and the web legitimate materials that Erinys perceived might cast their activities in a negative light.


Notes

[1] Erinys Definition, Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co, Freedictionary.com, Accessed 09-May-2011
[2] Erinyes Definition, The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Accessed 09-May-2011
[3] Erinys International, Wikipedia, Accessed 09-May-2011
[4] Peterwroberts, Revision as of 15:49, 9-May-2008 (Update of Greek Mythology), Wikipedia, , Accessed -9-May-2011
[5] Peterwroberts, User contributions, Wikipedia, Accessed 09-May-2011
[6] Anthony Barnett and Patrick Smith, ‘British guard firm ‘abused scared Iraqi shepherd boy’, The Guardian, 14-November-2004, Accessed 09-May-2011
[7] Anthony Barnett and Patrick Smith, ‘British guard firm ‘abused scared Iraqi shepherd boy’, The Guardian, 14-November-2004, Accessed 09-May-2011
[8] Suzanne Goldenberg, US soldier’s family brings legal action against British private security firm, The Guardian, 30-October-2007, Accessed 9-May-2011
[9] Louis Nevaer, Hired Guns in Iraq May Have War Crimes Pasts, Pacific News Service, New America Media, 3-May-2004,  Accessed 09-May-2011
[10] Mark Perlman, Apartheid Enforcers Guard Iraq For the U.S., Jewish Daily Forward, 20-February-2004, Accessed 05-October-2009
[11] Truth & Reconciliation Commission, Human Rights Violations, Truth & Reconciliation Commission, 4-December-1996, Accessed 09-May-2011
[12] Erinys International, Response to allegations made by War on Want against Erinys, Erinys International, Accessed 09-May-2011
[13] Erinys International, Response to allegations made by War on Want against Erinys, Erinys International, Accessed 09-May-2011
[14] Robin Stringer, London Police say Polonium Found at Two More Premises, Bloomberg, 28-November-2006, Accessed 09-May-2011
[15] Intelligence Facility Protection Service (FPS) Facilities Protection Forces, Globalsecurity.org, Accessed 9-May-2011
[16] Erinys International, Revision as of 18:15, 27-April-2008, Wikipedia, 27-April-2008, Accessed 09-May-2011
[17] Conflict of Interest Rules, WP:Conflict, Wikipedia, Accessed 09-May-2011
[18] Duncan Gardham, Bodyguard with friends in high places The accused, The Daily Telegraph, 23-May-2007
[19] Suzanne Goldenberg, US soldier’s family brings legal action against British private security firm, The Guardian, 30-October-2007, Accessed 9-May-2011
[20] Peter Roberts, RE: Erinys Profile, 8-October-2009, E-mail to editor@spinprofiles.com
[21] See Screengrab of Erinys response to War on Want showing the company’s London address, created 20 December 2009, Powerbase,
[22] Sean Cleary, E-Mail to David Isenberg, 25-December-2004
[23] Erinys International, Company Overview – Management Profiles, Erinys International, Accessed 12 April 2008
[24] Kevin Douglas Stringer, Military organizations for homeland defense and smaller-scale contingencies: A comparative approach, New York: Praeger, 2007. Google Books, , Accessed 09-May-2011
[25] Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier Alexandra Fuller. 2004. Read by Lisette Lecat. 7 tapes. 9.5 hrs. Recorded Books. 1-4025-8277-3, Accessed 09-May-2011
[26] Jim Krane, ‘U.S. employs private armies: Missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world use freelance fighters’, St. John’s Telegram (Newfoundland) November 2, 2003 Sunday Final Edition, SOURCE: The Associated Press, The Big Picture; Pg. A11
[27] Chuck Yarborough, Plain Dealer Reporter ‘Struggling with security’, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio),February 15, 2004 Sunday, Sports Final / All, Correction Appended, NATIONAL; Pg. A1
[28] Marcela Gaviria, Private Warriors: Frontline, PBS, 21-June-2005, Accessed 09-May-2011
[29] Peter Roberts ‘Comments on Article and Reasons for Amendment’, modified 9 September 10:26, attached to Peter Roberts ‘Re: Application for User Status’, email to editor@spinprofiles, 9 September 2009, 11:28
[30] Sean Cleary, Speakers: World Knowledge Forum 2002, World Knowledge Program, Accessed 10-September-2009
[31] Elaine Windrich, Angola’s War Economy: The Role of Oil and Diamonds, HNet Book Reviews, 11-September-2009, Accessed 11-September-2009
[32] Victoria Brittain, ANGOLAN WAR SPAWNS COMPLEX WEB OF PROFITEERS Fierce, deadly conflict continues, Insight Guardian News Service, 5-April-1993
[33] Patricia Wynn Davies, Richard Dowen and John Carlin, The Attack on Sleaze: How apartheid regime set out to woo Tories: Patricia Wynn Davies tells the story of the firm which gave MPs a South African perspective, The Independent, 26-October-1994, Accessed 11-September-2009
[34] Jane Merrick & James Hanning, Cameron’s freebie to apartheid South Africa, The Independent, 26-April-2009, Accessed 09-May-2011
[35] Jonathan Garratt, Letter to David Isenberg, Asia Times, 04-November-2004, Accessed 09-May-2011
[36] Sean Cleary, E-Mail to David Isenberg, 25-December-2004
[37] According to the Guardian ‘escalation of force’, is ‘military parlance for a series of actions that begins with nonlethal measures (such as visual signals with flags, spotlights or flares), but may graduate to potentially lethal force, with warning shots, disabling shots (to vehicle tyres) or, if all other measures have failed, deadly shots, depending on the perceived level of threat’.
[38] Pratap Chatterjee, Iraq war logs: military privatisation run amok, The Guardian, 23-October-2010, , Accessed 09-May-2011
[39] Pratap Chatterjee, Iraq war logs: military privatisation run amok, The Guardian, 23-October-2010, Accessed 09-May-2011
[40] A list of known examples is compiled at ‘Managing Erinys’ public profile’: ‘Erinys’, Powerbase ”

(Quelle: Spinwatch.)

Afrika: Die Strategie der Weltbank

Freitag, Juni 24th, 2011

The World Bank’s Africa Strategy

Neoliberalism, Poverty and Ecological Destruction

By PATRICK BOND

A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s ten-year Strategy document, “Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Support to It”. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report, and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are $2-4/day).

Drunk on their own neoliberal rhetoric, the multilateral establishment swoons over the continent’s allegedly excellent growth and export prospects, in the process downplaying underlying structural oppressions in which they are complicit: corrupt power relations, economic vulnerability, worsening Resource Curses, land grabs and threats of environmental chaos and disease.

These are merely mentioned in passing in the Bank’s Africa Strategy – the most comprehensive of these neoliberal-revival tracts – but a frank, honest accounting of the author’s role is inconceivable, even after an internal Independent Evaluation Group report scathing of mistakes the last time around. That effort, the 2005 Africa Action Plan (AAP), was associated with the G-8’s big-promise little-delivery Summit in Gleneagles.

The Bank admits the AAP was a “top-down exercise, prepared in a short time with little consultations with clients and stakeholders”, and that the “performance of the Bank’s portfolio in the Region” was lacking. Tellingly, the Bank confesses, “People who had to implement the plan did not have much engagement with, and in some cases were not even aware of, the AAP.”

Tyrants and democrats

Though in 2021 the same will probably be said of this Strategy, the Bank claims its antidote is “face-to-face discussions with over 1,000 people in 36 countries.” However, as quotes from attendees prove, the Bank could regurgitate only the most banal pablum.

Nor does the Strategy propose grand new alliances (e.g. with the Gates Foundation). There is just a quick nod to two civilized-society partners, the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (Harare) and African Economic Research Consortium (Nairobi) which together have educated 3000 local neoliberals, the Bank proudly remarks.

Embarrassingly, the Bank hurriedly stoops to endorse three continental institutions: the African Union (AU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (founded by former SA president Thabo Mbeki in 2001) and African Peer Review Mechanism (2003). The latter two are usually described as outright failures.

As for the former, there were once high hopes that the AU would respond to Africa’s socio-political and economic aspirations, but not only did Muammar Gaddafi exercise a strong grip as AU president and source of no small patronage.

Horace Campbell pointed out other leadership contradictions in Pambazuka News in March: “That the current leaders of Africa could support the elevation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema to be the chairperson of this organisation pointed to the fact that most of these leaders such as Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan , Paul Biya of Cameroon, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ali Bongo of Gabon, King Mswati III of Swaziland, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia are not serious about translating the letters of the Constitutive Act into reality.”

These sorts of rulers are the logical implementers of the Bank Strategy. No amount of bogus consultations with civilized society can disguise the piling up of Odious Debts on African societies courtesy of the Bank, IMF and their allied strongmen borrowers.

Yet these men are nowhere near as strong as the Bank assumes, when reproducing a consultancy’s map of countries considered to have “low” levels of “state fragility”, notably including Tunisia and Libya – just as the former tyranny fell and the latter experienced revolt.

In contrast, the Africa Strategy makes no mention whatsoever of those pesky, uncivil-society democrats who are opposed to Bank partner-dictators. Remarks Pambazuka editor Firoze Manji, “Their anger is being manifested in the new awakenings that we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Djibouti, Botswana, Uganda, Swaziland, and South Africa. These awakenings are just one phase in the long struggle of the people of Africa to reassert control over our own destinies, to reassert dignity, and to struggle for self-determination and emancipation.”

Unsound African architecture

The Bank will continue standing in their way by funding oppressors, leaving the Africa Strategy with a structurally-unsound, corny architectural metaphor: “The strategy has two pillars – competitiveness and employment, and vulnerability and resilience – and a foundation – governance and public-sector capacity.”

Setting aside hypocritical governance rhetoric, the first pillar typically collapses because greater competitiveness often requires importing machines to replace workers (hence South Africa’s unemployment rate doubled through post-apartheid economic restructuring). And Bank advice to all African countries to do the same thing – export! – exacerbates mineral or cash crop gluts, such as were experienced from 1973 until the commodity boom of 2002-08.

The Bank Strategy also faces “three main risks: the possibility that the global economy will experience greater volatility; conflict and political violence; and resources available to implement the strategy may be inadequate.”

These are not just risks but certainties, given that world economic managers left unresolved all the problems causing the 2008-09 meltdown; that resource-based conflicts will increase as shortages emerge (oil especially as the Gulf of Guinea shows); and that donors will be chopping aid budgets for years to come. Still, while the Bank retains “some confidence that these risks can be mitigated”, in each case its Strategy actually amplifies them.

It is self-interested – but not strategic for Africa – for the Bank to promote further exports from African countries already suffering extreme primary commodity dependency. Economically, the Strategy is untenable, what with European countries cracking up and defaulting, Japan stagnant, the US probably entering a double-dip recession, and China and India madly competing with Western mining houses and bio-engineering firms for African resources and land grabs. Nowhere can be found any genuine intent of assisting Africa to industrialise in a balanced way.

The Bank’s bland counterclaim: “While Africa, being a relatively small part of the world economy, can do little to avoid such a contingency, the present strategy is designed to help African economies weather these circumstances better than before.” But these are not “circumstances” and “contingencies”: they are core features of North-South political economy from which Africa should be seeking protection.

Neoliberalism, poverty and ecological destruction

A poignant example is the Bank’s warm endorsement of Kenyan cut-flower trade in spite of worsening water stress, commodity price volatility and inclement carbon-tax constraints. Nevertheless, “Between 1995 and 2002, Kenya’s cut flower exports grew by 300 percent” – while nearby peasant agriculture suffered crippling water shortages, a problem not worth mentioning in Bank propaganda.

Where will water storage and power come from? Bank promotion of megadams (such as Bujagali in Uganda or Inga in the DRC) ignores the inability of poor people to pay for hydropower, not to mention worsening climate-related evaporation, siltation or tropical methane emissions.

Other silences are revealing, such as in this Bank confession of prior multilateral silo-mentality: “Focusing on health led to a neglect of other factors such as water and sanitation that determine child survival.” The reason water was underfunded following Jeffrey Sachs’ famous 2001 World Health Organisation macroeconomic report was partly that his analysts didn’t accurately assess why $130 billion in borehole and piping investments failed during the 1980s-90s: insufficient subsidies to cover operating and maintenance deficits.

Lack of subsidies for basic infrastructure is an ongoing problem, in part because “the G-8 promise of doubling aid to Africa has fallen about $20 billion short.” So as a result, “the present strategy emphasizes partnerships – with African governments, the private sector and other development partners,” even though Public-Private Partnerships rarely work. Most African privatized water systems have fallen apart.

South Africa has had many such failed experiments, in every sector. The latest Bank loan to Pretoria, for $3.75 billion (its largest-ever project loan) is itself a screaming rebuttal to the Strategy’s claim that “the Bank’s program in Africa will emphasize sustainable infrastructure. The approach goes beyond simply complying with environmental safeguards. It seeks to help countries develop clean energy strategies that choose the appropriate product mix, technologies and location to promote both infrastructure and the environment.”

That loan also caused extreme electricity pricing inequity and legitimation of corrupt African National Congress construction tenders. This generated condemnation of the government by its own investigators and of the Bank by even Johannesburg’s Business Day newspaper, normally a reliable ally.

South African workers would also take issue with a Bank assumption: “The regulation of labor (in South Africa, for instance) often constrains businesses… In some countries, such as South Africa (where the unemployment rate is 25 percent), more flexibility in the labor market will increase employment.”

This view, expressed occasionally by the Bank’s aggressively neoliberal Africa chief economist, Shanta Devarajan, is refuted not only by 1.3 million lost jobs in 2009-10 but by the September 2010 International Monetary Fund Article IV consultation analysis, which puts SA near the top of world labour flexibility rankings, trailing only the US, Britain and Canada.

There are other neoliberal dogmas, e.g., “Microfinance, while growing, has huge, untapped potential in Africa.” The Bank apparently missed the world microfinance crisis symbolized by the firing of Muhammad Yunus as Grameen executive (just as the Strategy was released), the many controversies over usurious interest rates, or the 200,000 small farmer suicides in Andra Pradesh, India in recent years due to unbearable microdebt loads.

The Bank also endorses cellphones, allegedly “becoming the most valuable asset of the poor. The widespread adoption of this technology – largely due to the sound regulatory environment and entrepreneurship – opens the possibility that it could serve as a vehicle for transforming the lives of the poor.” The Bank forgets vast problems experienced in domestic cellphone markets, including foreign corporate ownership and control.

And as for what is indeed “the biggest threat to Africa because of its potential impact, climate change could also be an opportunity. Adaptation will have to address sustainable water management, including immediate and future needs for storage, while improving irrigation practices as well as developing better seeds.” Dangers to the peasantry and to urban managers of the likely 7 degree rise and worsened flooding/droughts are underplayed, and opportunities for wider vision for a post-carbon Africa are ignored, such as the importance of the North (including the World Bank itself) paying its vast climate debt to Africa.

“An African Consensus”?

Compared to Bank funding for insane mega-projects such as the $3.75 billion lent to South Africa to build the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power plant last April, not much is at stake in the Strategy’s portfolio: $2.5 billion/year over the decade-long plan.

Nevertheless, the Africa Strategy hubris is dangerous not only for diverging from reality so obviously, but for seeking a route from Bank Strategy to “an African consensus.” The Bank commits to “work closely with the AU, G-20 and other fora to support the formulation of Africa’s policy response to global issues, such as international financial regulations and climate change, because speaking with one voice is more likely to have impact.”

Does Africa need a sole neoliberal voice claiming “consensus”, speaking from shaky pillars atop crumbling foundations based on false premises and corrupted processes, piloting untenable projects, allied with incurable tyrants, impervious to demands for democracy and social justice? If so, the Bank has a Strategy already unfolding.

And if all goes well with the status quo, the Strategy’s predictions for 2021 include a decline in the poverty rate by 12 percent and at least five countries entering the ranks of middle-income economies (candidates are Ghana, Mauritania, Comoros, Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia).

More likely, though, is worsening uneven development and growing Bank irrelevance as Africans continue courageously protesting neoliberalism and dictatorship, in search of both free politics and socio-economic liberation.

Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society in Durban: http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za

 

(Quelle: CounterPunch.)