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The East African : Aug 25th 2014
16 The EastAfrican OPINION AUGUST 23-29,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Igad fiddles as South Sudan bu≥ns REPORTS THAT some countries in the region are facilitating the transportation of arms to warring factions in South Sudan are a major setback to hopes for finding a lasting solution to the crisis in the near future. Amnesty International reports that Kenya has allowed consignments of arms from China to Juba to pass through its territory, while Sudan is accused of arming both sides. This, if true, is indeed unfortunate. Kenya and Sudan should be part of the solution to the crisis. It also does not help matters that the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development appears to have lost control over the warring parties, who continue to show intransigence and do not believe that the Addis Ababa talks will come up with a lasting solution. Igad continues to give leeway to the warring parties even after missing the deadline to form a transitional government of national unity by August 10, and as the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement is violated with abandon. Igad must come up with a clear road map and corresponding sanctions during the Heads of State Special Summit on Sunday. The countries in the region must be aware that the United Nations Security Council will not wait too long for regional countries to come up with a solution first before taking matters into its own hands. Already, it appears that Security Council and the Troika — United States, United Kingdom and Norway — have lost faith in Igad. A US diplomat, David Dunn, encapsulated the thinking of the Western donors on the Igad peace mediation when he commented that they are just hoping that President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar will reach a settlement on their own, but are not confident it will happen. It is now becoming apparent that the vested in- terests of various countries in the region are prolonging the crisis. While Kenya perceives South Sudan as a source of business, Sudan — despite having denied supporting either of the factions — is yet to accept the loss of 75 per cent of its oil wells and apparently will stop at nothing if there is a chance of regaining control of some of them. On the other hand, Uganda’s support for Presi- dent Salva Kiir has given the impression that Igad, of which Uganda is a member, is not neutral enough to provide a lasting solution to the crisis. It is alarming that besides committing crimes against humanity, the two warring sides have now started using child soldiers, as was witnessed in the recent fighting in Bentiu, Unity State. Admittedly, it has been difficult for Igad me- diators to deal with protagonists who are not interested in genuine talks leading to peace in the first place. It is now upon Igad member states to bite the bullet and impose sanctions against the spoilers irrespective of vested interests and existing friendships. We are seeing the return of the state into previously privatised economies.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo U gandans on social media went hysterical with mirth during the week when presidential adviser on military matters General Salim Saleh, who also happens to be President Yoweri Museveni’s brother, revealed that from this year the army will take over the Miss Uganda Beauty Pageant. The Uganda army will thus become the first in the world to organise the The economic liberalisation that started in the late 1980s, didn’t happen because of a deep pro-market philosophical shift national beauty contest. It may sound funny, but it is a complicated story. Recently, President Museveni dis- banded the corruption-infested National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme. NAADS was supposed to lead the modernisation of agriculture, but nearly succeeded in killing it instead. He then reconstituted it and gave it to the army to manage. The Uganda People’s Defence Force has run down every enterprise ever Why beauty contests won’t make the a≥my look good handed to it to run over the past 28 years, but there is a certain seduction to the idea because it has populist guerrilla roots; so it is understandable why one could be deluded into think- ing they may succeed this time. Anyhow, Saleh explained that the army-run NAADS will push to attract young people to farming, saying linking beauty to the farm was a way of sexing up agriculture. However, the military takeover of NAADS and now the Miss Uganda beauty contest, tell a bigger story. It is not so much the continuing militarisation of the state, but what seems to be the return of the state into previously privatised economies. In countries where the military was already a big player in the economy, such as Ethiopia and Egypt, we are seeing its tentacles spreading even farther. Egypt’s $4 billion expansion of the Suez Canal, for example, is to be done by the boys in uniform. The reason the trends in Uganda are important, is because they are driven by factors present elsewhere on the continent. First, it is becoming clearer that in most of Africa, the withdrawal of the state from business and the economic liberalisation that started in the late 1980s, didn’t all happen because of a deep pro-market philosophical shift. Many African state-run economies were a shambles and up to their necks Fea≥, loathing and g≥eed in Somalia and Kenya and aid agencies conspired to create a failed state in Somalia. The story of Somalia, of Kenya’s complicity with what continues to transpire in Somalia and Kenya’s treatment of both Kenyan Somalis and Somali refugees. Especially given what she saw as the one-sided media coverage of Kenya’s military offensive into Somalia by Kenya’s own “embedded” journalists. And given the blowback from that offensive: The attack on Westgate Mall and the GoK’s ongoing Usalama Watch — originally titled “Operation Sanitise Eastleigh.” At last week’s book launch, co-host- I ed by Amnesty International and the Rift Valley Institute, she focused on her motivations for writing the book — and then read a portion of the book focused on the corruption that she sees as lying at the heart of the world’s complicity in Somalia. Ali Hersi of the Society for Interna- A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: email@example.com © Nation Media Group tional Development responded with what struck him about the book. The fact that, in her telling, everybody’s responsible — with the possible exception of five year olds, given that those as young as ten may have become combatants for one militia or another. The centrality of corruption n her new book Wa≥ C≥imes, journalist Rasna Warah attempts to tell how warlords, politicians, foreign governments and how transactional all life becomes in a conflict situation. The deliberate blindness of the humanitarian industry to the pay-offs to militias to ensure at least some distribution of needed relief occurs. Then there is the two-sided na- ture of the clan — on the one hand, a source of social capital in the absence of a functioning or effective state, providing far more than official development assistance. And, on the other hand, an ever increasing tool of political instrumentalisation. The impact of the KDF’s incursion into Somalia The conflict resolution model Amisom is pursuing is no different to that imposed from Afghanistan to Iraq on already-present discrimination against Kenyan Somalis and Somali refugees in Kenya. The disorienting effect of Westgate — Somalis as attackers, Somalis as leading the security and rescue response. And then Nurrudin Farah, re- nowned Somali novelist, responded. Unlike Hersi, he challenged the credence given by Warah to the notion of the clan, reminding all present of its colonial origins. And the progressive nationalist rejection of this notion in debt. Governments thus took flight, and dumped their problems in the lap of the free market. But there is now a natural resource boom, and countries that have struck oil like Uganda seem to think that they will soon have the revenues to pour into state-run economic entities and parastatals run by soldiers and party apparatchik. At the doctrinal level, this return to yesterday seems to be supported by the great wealth that China has accumulated under state capitalism. Also, what is often forgotten is that nearly all those Chinese companies that are building all kinds of stuff all over the continent, are doing it with taxpayers’ cash. In the late 1980s, socialism had col- lapsed, and the Soviet Union was in tatters. At the time, there was virtually no example of a successful command economy. Of course, a big part of the Chinese economic “miracle” is due to a massive influx of foreign private capital, but right now those nuances aren’t interesting. They will be after African armies have had a couple of failed harvests and botched beauty contests. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:@cobbo3 In Warah’s telling, everybody’s responsible for Somalia’s plight.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki by the Somali Youth Movement, dating as far back to 1931. He challenged too the idea of anybody purporting to represent “the” voice of Somalis — whether in Kenya or elsewhere — because there always are multiple voices, always in contestation and that contestation should, in his view, be understood in ideological and political terms. Where the three panellists agreed was on Warah’s fundamental point. That the future of Somalia, the shape of its state, is something that only Somalis can decide. The conflict resolution model Amisom is pursuing is no different, in the end, to that imposed from Afghanistan to Iraq. It is an “African solution to African problems” that poses no conceptual challenge to the model — and is, in effect, an outsourcing of it. If her book at least opens up that debate — here in Kenya — that is a good thing. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
Sep 1st 2014
Aug 18th 2014