Drums of Change is a free quarterly publication providing a platform for all those interested in promoting peace and development in Southern Africa and the continent more broadly. The newsletter invites written contributions from individuals, partners and leading thinkers on current issues of relevance to our networks, and includes perspectives, challenges and developments coming from our global partners and networks. We seek to deliver a balanced view of development happening in our global community.
Malawi: The Kayelekera Uranium Mine: A project without standards
Liberia and Uganda: Reflecting on Natural Resource Policy and Legislation developments in Africa
Mali: Coups: A sad culture of African Politics
Mozambique: A special visit: Building and sustaining a regional culture of people to people solidarity
Swaziland: The crisis in Swaziland - Where to from here?
Somalia: The Good of Conflict
South Africa: IANRA Week of Action 2012
Guatemala: Thoughts on peace from an ACTION For Conflict Transformation Network Partner

Colleagues and friends,

A warm welcome to the premier online version of Drums of Change!

For those of you familiar with the publication, we are excited to once again provide a platform in which to share peace and development news concerning Southern Africa and the continent more broadly. We hope the online version will enhance people’s access and encourage greater communication with one another.

To our first time readers, this publication is an initiative of the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. ASC is the regional and continental hub for organisations working in the areas of conflict and development. As part of ASC’s Peace and Development strategy, we produce Drums of Change with the intention of engaging with you around issues presented in the thematic quarterly publications, which speak to the challenges and successes in peace and development in Africa.

This volume of Drums explores the many issues surrounding Natural Resources on the continent. A diverse range of articles and contributions have been included from organisations and individuals based in Malawi, South Africa, Somalia, Uganda, Liberia and Mozambique.
Citizens for Justice in Malawi highlight the impacts of the Paladin mining company’s practice on the community in which they are working. Insight into legislation and policy developments in Liberia and Uganda, with reference to international practice, identifies where progress has been made and where there is still yet much work to be done in protecting natural resources in Africa.

A submission from the Secretariat at International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA) addresses the successes and challenges of the IANRA Week of Action held this past March and General Assembly held in May. The ACTION Support Centre has been a friend of IANRA since inception and it is always wonderful to get back in contact with old friends, but more importantly to share and listen to the experiences of the partners that are working so hard on the ground to bring issues related to natural resource management and extraction to the fore. If you are interested or would like to know more, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the relevant parties.



The Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Malawi: a project without standards

By Reinford Mwangonde

Malawi, with a population of approximately 14 million people, is a low-income country with poverty as its major challenge. According to the Welfare Monitoring Survey of 2009, 39% of the population in Malawi live below the poverty line and 15% of the people are ultra-poor.

Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking in the top 18 poorest countries in the world with a Human Development Index ranked 160 (2009 Human Development Report). Malawi has a population of around 13 million, with about one third of the population—51% being women—living in poverty 2008 Welfare Monitoring survey). According to the World of Development Report, 90.4% of the population lived below $US2 per day between the year 2000 and 2007. In the same year (2007) life expectancy at birth for women was 53.4% and that of men 51.3%. It is estimated that 32.6% of Malawians will not survive to the age of 40. Women continue to be less literate with an Adult illiteracy Rate of 64.6%, 14.6% less than that for men.

The economy in Malawi is agro-based with agriculture accounting for over 35% of GDP, employing about 85% of the labour force and accounting for the majority of foreign exchange earnings. Agriculture has been characterized by a dual structure consisting of commercial estates that produce cash crops and a large smallholder sector that is mainly engaged in mixed subsistence farming. Government development plans in the mid-2000s emphasized the need to diversify the economy and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) established the goal of increasing the mineral sector’s contribution to GDP to at least 10% annually.

As a country, Malawi is endowed with a variety of mineral resources, such as bauxite, coal and uranium, but until 2009 mining contributed only 2% to the country’s GDP. This is because the sector was focused on small-scale mining involving quarry stone, gemstones, pottery-ceramics, salt aggregate, limestone, sand and clay (pottery and brick moulding). Recently, however, the Malawi government has shifted towards large-scale mining in order to boost its GDP. The recent commissioning of Kayelekera’s uranium mining, Shayona’s and Lafarge’s cement production and other ventures have increased the sector’s contribution to GDP to about 6%. Furthermore, the niobium project in Kanyika (yet to be licensed) has the possibility of contributing $184 million to the country’s economy. With all this and other prospects, the World Bank estimates that the mineral sector will generate $500 million in the medium term.

Currently, mining in Malawi is guided by such laws as the Environmental Management Act of 1996, the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 1983 and the Explosives Act, 1968. Although there is a new mining policy, the existing legislation is out-dated and does not conform to international best practice, opening a can of worms as to why Malawi allowed for the yellow cake to be mined before proper policy and legal frameworks were put in place. Furthermore, there is no policy instrument to facilitate the harmonization of mining and guide resource revenue collection, usage and auditing. It is for this reason that multinational mining corporations from Canada and Australia are making Malawi their fertile grounds to loot and plunder.

The most advanced uranium mine project is the one run by Paladin called Kayelekera in the Northern part of Malawi. This uranium mining project is the first of its kind and it is setting the precedent of how the industry is expected to operate in Malawi. There are issues of un-resolved concerns with Paladin, which the general public ought to be aware of.

Firstly, the contents of the agreement between the Government of the Republic of Malawi and Paladin are still under the rug and that is not in compliance with section 37 of the Constitution which, subject to any Act of Parliament, gives every person the right of access to all information held by the State or any of its organs at any level of Government so far as such information is required for the exercise of his rights; and the contents of the said agreement must be the subject of public debate and comments which should be taken into account before any development agreement is can be concluded.

Secondly, the principle process of extracting uranium at Kayekela from acid leached liquor was changed from a counter-current process to a basket resin in pulp process. There was no evidence that this change to the project design was fully subjected to public scrutiny via Malawi’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. This can be a problem considering that it could contravene the primary legal document of the land as per EIA guidelines and cause problems down the road. Often in professional cases, this was supposed to be reviewed by the general public but it never happened in Malawi.

Thirdly, there is a uranium legislation which allows the company to dispose of hazardous effluents into the river systems and the environment, following which the company then reports such disposal to the government. Such hazardous effluents contain un-treated water which would pollute the river systems and the environment. This cannot be allowed anywhere in Australia and we believe that the industry is getting away with in this in line of what the Managing Director of Paladin John Borshoff said in 2006, "Australia and Canada have become overly sophisticated ... There's been an over-compensation in terms of thinking about environmental issues and social issues”, forcing companies like Paladin into Africa” (Melbourne Sun Herald, April 3rd, 2006). We find this statement quite sad for a company which claims to import Australian standards to Malawi. As Malawians, we are owed elucidations of such statements rest we think its environmental racism.

Lastly, there are issues of radiation safety. One cannot deny the fact that Kayeleketa will produce stochastic effects (long term exposure to radiation that is hazardous to people) to local communities and workers at KAYELEKERA URANIUM MINE. Paladin ought to come up with a comprehensive plan of how to protect communities around or outside Kayelekera from stochastic and non-stochastic effects. The Government ought to provide clear records that the monitoring team comprised of officials from Department of Mines, Environmental Affairs and Ministry of Labour have been undertaking their monitoring obligations or else we are tempted to think that Paladin is being allowed to be the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner.

As Citizens for Justice (CFJ), we strongly believe that decent conditions for workers at the KAYELEKERA URANIUM MINE and community members in villages near the uranium mine is an important step in increasing human dignity, economic equity and social justice. We raise this in light of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Articles 3 and 25 on liberty and security of person, and on standards of living adequate for the health and well-being of each individual and his family. These Articles provide that states party to the Declaration shall take all appropriate measures to improve health and safety in working conditions for mine workers as well as individuals in communities near uranium mines. We would like to get an assurance that Paladin is providing for this and that the government has teeth to bite on such issues in case of non-compliance.

Exploitative conditions such as low wages, firing willy-nilly, serious health hazards for workers leading to cancer through uranium dust carried into homes or drinking water contaminated by uranium, and forced relocation of local people (often without adequate compensation) contribute to poverty. It is therefore compulsory that the government should enforce policies that improve conditions and promote living wages of mine workers, and that protect the health and natural environments of community members who live near uranium or any other mines. Uranium mineworkers and any other mine’s representative leaders require an equal voice and a seat at the table to negotiate safer and better working conditions. We advocate for fair and open negotiations between Paladin and its workers who have outstanding and valid concerns to resolve matters amicably other than the company firing workers at will. In addition, we are gravely concerned that the government entered into a special labour agreement with Paladin which may infringe on the constitutional rights of many Malawians who are employed at the mine as it allows the company to take certain industrial actions which violate the Employment Act in Malawi.

We were of the view that Paladin Energy would export Australia’s best practices in light of Australia’s federal government’s inquiry into uranium mining called the Fox Inquiry in the 70s in which a number of Australian states chose to ban uranium mining. In other cases, the allowance to mine Uranium required an independent funded agency to separately monitor the environmental and human health impacts of the mine, and produce public reports on the findings. As far as Malawi, there are no binding public conditions on the operation of the Kayalekera Uranium Mine regarding measures to protect human or environmental health. This would be unheard of in Australia. For example one of the conditions calls that all best available techniques are applied to ensure that:

(i) The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years;
(ii) Any contaminants arising from the tailings will not result in any detrimental environmental impacts for at least 10,000 years;

This is not the case for Malawi, and Paladin had refused to bury the tailings beyond the water table as they argued that it would be very costly. To every Jim and Jack, this means that the tailings dam is above the water table and any filtration of hazardous/polluted water will find its way into boreholes and streams and later be consumed by living things.

Also, sad for Malawi, the agreement between Paladin and the government also prevents the government from making improvements in the environmental laws that apply to Paladin strengthening the environmental requirements without compensating the company. This is a stabilization clause and is subject to major criticisms across Africa. In contrast, the conditions for the Ranger Uranium mine in Australia clearly state that the operation will be subject to whatever legislation to protect the environment or public safety as is put in place from time to time and there is no requirement to compensate the company for the cost of measures to ensure that Australian public is protected from the impacts of the operation. It’s only fair that such practice be exercised in Malawi as any attempt to do the opposite may raise eye-brows of double standards.

As CFJ Friends of the Earth, Malawi we call for corporate accountability through due-diligence. It’s time the industry is stopped from being allowed to get away with environmental crimes and we demand that the Malawi and other African governments put in place legal frameworks that safeguard the environment and people’s lives.

Reinford Mwangonde
Executive Director, Citizens for Justice-(CFJ), Friends of the Earth Malawi.



Reflecting on Natural Resource Policy and Legislation Developments in Africa and Globally

By Kate Gardner

Accountability and transparency are the order of the day when it comes it natural resource-rich African countries and their constant battle with ineffective and inefficient governance. Whilst some policy reforms have been taking place in the international arena, a lot still need to happen on the continent if African people are to start reaping the benefits of their countries’ resource wealth. The required change can only be put in place through policy amendments that allow populations to track the spending habits of their governments and ultimately hold them accountable for mismanaged funds. This article takes a brief look at the recent international policy reforms, an example of national natural-resource policy reforms and a case of badly needed yet still unrealised policy reform.

International Policy
In 2010 the United States Congress passed the long awaited Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This piece of legislation is best known for regulating the United States financial market but part of the Act also addresses issues of corporate accountability outside of the US. This is of particular interest to resource-rich African states that conduct business with American companies concerned with resource extraction. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been mandated to produce the new regulations following the enactment1. Section 1504 of the Act requires oil, gas and mining companies registered with the SEC to publicly report how much they pay governments for access to natural resources. This allows for investors to properly assess risk and for citizens to access information on the value placed on their natural resources. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act requires all companies listed with the SEC to report whether they are sourcing tungsten, tin, tantalum or gold from conflict-rife areas within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Companies will be required to investigate whether their products contain any conflict minerals and then to report this information to the SEC as part of the public record.2 This Section aims to prevent the sale of conflict minerals by armed militias to corporations manufacturing consumer goods for sale in the US and thus funding the ongoing war within the DRC. In light of these new global standards of transparency and accountability for the extractive industry established by the US, several other countries have expressed an interest in establishing similar provisions. These include the United Kingdom, Norway and South Korea.

National Policy Amendments: Uganda
Following the discovery of petroleum deposits in the Lake Albert Basin in 2006 expectations are high that oil revenues will lead to improved standards of living in Uganda. However, due to the fact that oil extraction is new in Uganda, insufficient capacity exists amongst key players to adequately manage the oil extraction industry or the forthcoming oil revenues. A strong legal framework is needed if oil wealth is going to be transformed into meaningful long-term development. In line with the provisions of the Oil and Gas Policy of 2008 the Ugandan parliament is finally reviewing three pieces of legislation that could have a major impact on the management of the Ugandan oil sector. These Bills aim to update the oil laws that Uganda has been operating under for 20 years. These include the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012; Part VII of the Public Finance Bill, 2012 which explains the procedures for petroleum revenue management and protects revenues from being used as collateral on public debt; and the Petroleum (Refining, Gas Processing and Conversion, Transportation and Storage) Bill, 2012.3 The road to responsible management and an equitable distribution of resource wealth is a long one however the people of Uganda seem determined not to repeat the mistakes of so many resource rich states and instead are poised and ready for the challenge of finalising the bills needed to provide the necessary frameworks for success.

Countries in Need of Legislative Reform: Liberia
Failures of petroleum sector governance can have far-reaching implications for the economy as well as the social and political stability of any oil-rich state. Good governance of this field requires a long term vision for the role of oil and gas in national development. Many African countries have yet to develop this long term vision; in part due to the very recent discovery of oil reserves. This vision can be achieved through strategic natural-resource focused legislative reform. A number of countries requiring such reform include Ghana, given its recent commercial oil prospect in the deep water Tano Basin; South Sudan since its liberation from Sudan in July 2011; and post-Gaddafi Libya that is faced with rectifying the previous regimes precedent of mismanaged oil revenues and the murky practices of Libya’s state-owned National Oil Company (NOC). However this article will focus on unpacking the need for legislative reform in Liberia.

Liberia has been generating a lot of international attention since commercial oil was discovered off its coastline in February 2012. This discovery represents an opportunity for growth that could benefit all Liberian citizens but also a challenge to overcome long-standing difficulties such as out-dated laws, limited capacity and a history of mismanagement and corruption in the oil sector. Liberia’s legal infrastructure in place to manage its oil sector is made up of five laws and a Model Production Sharing Contract. These laws include The Petroleum Law of 2000, The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) Act of 2000, The Amendment and Restatement of the Public Procurement Concessions Act of 2005, The Environment Protection and Management Law of 2002 and The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) Act of 2009.4 However, this framework is still considered lacking in accountability and falls short of international best practice. Agencies responsible for the oil sector lack capacity and there is considerable evidence of widespread mismanagement within NOCAL.5 If the country does not introduce much needed reforms to the functioning of the oil sector it is risking going down the all too familiar path of corruption, cronyism, unstable resource management and undermining the post-war reconstruction and governance.6 In light of this concern, recent pledges by the Liberian Government to take measures to enhance transparency and the involvement of civil society in its oil sector come as a much needed improvement. The development of the National Energy Policy contains some forward thinking ideas on how the oil sector could be restructured. In February 2012 NOCAL announced that it was committed to transparency and would share all information surrounding any operations it was involved in and how money generated by these operations is going to be managed. We look forward to monitoring these policy developments and hopefully seeing a shift towards accountability and transparency that will allow for above-board management of Liberia’s emerging oil sector.

There are clearly great steps still needing to be taken on the continent of Africa and globally when it comes to effective and responsible natural resource management; however the examples above do point to an active interest in updating policy and legislation for the benefit of local populations and we look to future developments with hopefulness.

  1. Lee, R., (2012), “Angola: Oil Firms Must Disclose Payments” in Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. Accessed at http://allafrica.com/stories/201203271098.html
  2. Wilson, A., (2011), “Congo-Kinshasa: Conflict Minerals Law Hold-Up Threatens Lives” in IPS. Accessed at http://allafrica.com/stories/201201050292.html
  3. Heller, P., (23 March 2012), “Recommendations for Uganda’s Petroleum Bills” in Revenue Watch. Accessed at http://www.revenuewatch.org/news/recommendations-ugandas-petroleum-bills
  4. “Curse or Cure? How oil can boost or break Liberia’s post-war recovery”. Found at http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/curse%20or%20cure%20to%20print%20vlr_0.pdf
  5. “Curse or Cure? How oil can boost or break Liberia’s post-war recovery”. Found at http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/curse%20or%20cure%20to%20print%20vlr_0.pdf \
  6. “Curse or Cure? How oil can boost or break Liberia’s post-war recovery”. Found at http://www.globalwitness.org/library/curse-or-cure-how-oil-can-boost-or-break-liberia%E2%80%99s-post-war-recovery


Mali: Coups: A sad culture of African Politics

By Philani Ndebele

Recent coup events in Mali and Guinea-Bissau offer a compelling case for reflection and analysis of African politics, and African leadership in particular. The debate on coups in Africa is a complex and tedious one where much can be said. However, the purpose of this contribution is not to delve into its graphic details but rather seeks to provide information and comments sufficient to generate a constructive debate.

Coups expose the limits of transformative leadership in Africa and reflect the broader issue of a leadership vacuum that the continent has ignored for too many years. Statistically, there has been a retreat of incidences of coups in recent years but it would be a huge political mistake to view the events in Mali and Guinea as insignificant. The drama of a singular event can supersede years of promising progress towards democratisation in African countries. Admittedly, when coups occur they increase political instability, retard economic growth, and reverse Africa’s democratisation agenda. Thus, Africa must be cautious when arguing that periods of terrible conflict are over and that regional states are now handling their differences through the ballot box, with militaries retreating back to their barracks.

Furthermore, it is disheartening to see stable and thriving democracies existing alongside authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, which continue to haunt Africa. Take for example South Africa and Botswana when juxtaposed with Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The Arab Spring is yet to prove that democracy is indeed a contagious phenomenon.

Apart from the above reflections, the Mali and Guinea Bissau cases offer insights into the challenges bedeviling African politics. These insights are related to Africa’s approach to the question of leadership and state-people relationship. Since the defeat of colonialism, Africa has witnessed a growing wave of gentocracy. The so called ‘former liberation movements’ are struggling to transform themselves, and make themselves relevant to the new generation of politics; especially reforms that includes abandoning guerrilla politics in favour of putting the needs of the people first. Cleverly, these movements have established parties, structures and processes that enable them to adapt to the concept of elections without democracy once in five years. This has seen the mushrooming of pseudo democracies in Africa and the entrenchment of kleptocracy and politics of clientelism.

Equally worrying, is the growing phenomenon of ‘guardian coups’. Africa witnessed one in March of 2008 during the Zimbabwe elections when the military prevented the triumph of mass mobilisation and cut short victory celebrations of the opposition in the parliamentary and presidential elections respectively. This is likely to be the case in the upcoming Zimbabwe elections given the continuous military interference in the politics of Zimbabwe.

Coups, counter coups and coup attempts are a phenomenon that has ravaged Africa for a long period of time. Despite the commonly held belief that increased democratic practices should eradicate coups, Africa still has a lot of work to do. Greed and a crisis of expectations, over militarisation of states, and a leadership vacuum continue to create a conducive environment for coups to persist.

Records have it that the first coup took place in Egypt in 1952; more than 100 successful coups have taken place since then, while the most recent one is that of Guinea Bissau. Surprisingly, between 1952 and 1999 Africa recorded 86 coups which occurred in 34 of the continent’s 53 states and this does not include attempted coups and those which were denied by the government. West Africa is notorious for coups as most of the 86 coups have occurred in this region.

Indeed, very few African countries have escaped illegal intervention by men in camouflage. Therefore, it is fair to argue that military intervention has been an integral part of African politics post independence.

However, there lie glimpses of hope. The political determination by some African states not to reward military governments or those that have arisen from extra-constitutional arrangements is a move in the right direction. The reaction of Western African leaders to the army power seizure in Mali could point to the beginning of a new era where coups and military juntas are over in Africa. That said, the declaration of independence by the Tuaregs is probably worse that a coup its. AU must step in immediately.

There is general consensus in democracy theory and practice that civilian control of a military is necessary to establish accountable political systems in which citizens determine who governs. A stable democratic process is not possible when the military presents lingering threats to overthrow elections or overthrow civilian leaders. Thus, in order for democracy to survive, the men in uniform must take an apolitical role and leave issues of regime transformation to the electorate.
Hope and solutions can be offered in various forms but what is clear is the overwhelming need to rethink African politics and the need to approach the challenge of coups in a more strategic way. The need for a new approach to African politics is both clear and evident.

The new approach calls for transformative leadership, which is prepared to implement far reaching and fundamental policy reforms. Several options have been put forward to address the challenges of coups. These are, but not restricted to the following; targeted economic sanctions, education and re-education of the military, reducing the size of the army, reducing budget allocation, constitutional provisions, total dismantling of the army (persuasive but very controversial), deploying peace keepers where threats of coups are evident, decentralisation of the army, and lastly an AU counter military force though unpopular. Perhaps countries such as Costa Rica and others should share notes on how they are managing without standing armies.

As Africans we have a moral obligation to rebuild the continent’s image and create environments where democracies can thrive.



A special visit to Mozambique: Building and sustaining a regional culture of people to people solidarity.

By Philani Ndebele

On the 24th of March 2012 the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) was part of a civil society delegation that visited the family of the late Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave in Vuca village about 60km from Homoine near Inhambane, in rural Mozambique. Nhamuave was burnt to death in the xenophobic violence of May 2008 in the Ramaphosa settlement in Reiger Park east of Johannesburg.

The special solidarity visit included a presentation of a two bedroomed house to Hortencia Massango, widow of Enersto Nhamuave and her three children, Alfabeto, Junereio and Gina. The remote village was however disadvantaged of R 1 million in aid as a result of government bureaucratic dithering. The aid included food, clothes, and shoes, toiletries for women, blankets, and house furniture for Ernesto’s family. After toing and froing between authorities to no avail, the pantechnicon aid returned and was donated to people in Mbombela in the Mpumalanga province.

ASC plays a significant role in initiatives of this nature as part of a long-term response and commitment to addressing xenophobia in South Africa. This contribution seeks to build and strengthen communities of peace, where diversity in South Africa is celebrated through activities that promote people to people solidarity and Ubuntu.

Using a conflict transformation approach ASC works with communities and schools around South Africa affected by xenophobia in an effort to find more effective ways of analysing and understanding the dynamics of xenophobia. ASC’s approach seeks to develop strategies that harness the negative energy of xenophobic violence and conflict more generally, and use it as a positive force in transforming communities.

Engagement with communities affected by xenophobia reveals that this form of conflict is inextricably linked to the underlying systems and structures often rooted in a historical context. Xenophobia and many other forms of conflict are not in and of themselves the problem. Often, efforts to prevent or contain the dynamics this form of conflict generates are more likely to result in delayed or compounded forces that are both destructive in nature and more difficult to recover from. A collective approach to this challenge can serve to move communities towards sustainable peace and development.

Through our engagement with a myriad of communities and our delivery of holistic diversity programmes, ASC have learnt that legitimate levels of anger and frustration can be channeled into positive forms of organisation and social mobilisation. Stakeholders can be engaged in problem solving dialogue which encourages discovery of innovative and nonviolent forms of advocacy that draw attention to the needs of communities, and begin to promote solutions that are structural, systemic, and institutional and promote peace and understanding.

This visit was part of the many practical people to people solidarity initiatives that ASC implements.

Forward to communities of peace and appreciation of diversity in South Africa and Africa at large!



Where to from here?

By Wandile Dludlu

We the assembly of the oppressed people of Swaziland, under the auspices of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, engaged in a protracted and relentless struggle for democracy in our mother land, do from time to time have to reflect on the direction, pace and character of our struggle for a new and better country to be truly owned and run by Swazis themselves. Drawing lessons from the recent past and making an overall assessment of where the struggle is now and what ought to be done to take it to its full logical conclusion as per the dictates of the immediate challenges and concrete tasks for this epoch. We simply intend to run through a simple analogy of our case in this small input.

The genesis of our problem stems from the fact that for the past 39 odd years, we as a nation are governed by an aristocratic feudal system. Tinkhundla in ordinary terms refers to local centres where masses should convene to engage on socio-economic issues affecting their immediate communities. However in political terms this system seeks to entrench royal supremacy and domination of the nation in literal terms. This has culminated into a pervasive yet corrosive power of the institution of the monarchy to usurp all state powers as per the words of the 12 April 1973 Kings decree. The character of this system of misrule is a hybrid in that, while it depicts semi-feudal modes of social relation, it is fundamentally neo colonial in nature.

We thus have waged a struggle for democracy since those days until today under such concrete conditions. The crux of our political case has been that of dislodging the Tinkhundla system with the view of installing multi-party democratic order. Our struggle has come of age because we believe that the three critical stages of any struggle have been or are at an advanced stage of exhaustion, as articulated by Comrade Calvin Woodward in his book titled Contemporal Studies of Revolutions:

The first stage is where masses acknowledge that there is a fundamental problem in their social setting, which is the oasis of their overall challenges, but at this stage they hold themselves individually and collectively responsible for those crises or failures.

The second stage is where masses are convinced that something is very wrong in society, which informs their plight, but the challenge is that they are unsure who or what fundamentally causes them those sufferings and a strategy to solve such core socio-economic and political ills remains unclear.

The Third stage is the time when masses correctly locate their real enemy which has caused those sufferings over years. This may be the time characterized by incisive and decisive blows directed to the power that is responsible for malfunctioning of that particular state. Masses at this stage are quite clear who or what causes their plight.

One can authoritatively declare that the political consciousness of the ordinary Swazi has moved satisfactorily away from the attitude of denialism and that at the heart of our national question lies a feudal oligarch masquerading as the holiest of all. Community and national protests have been the latest defining character of sporadic spills and periodic activities in relative terms to the mood and mild tempo of the Swazi Struggle. We can argue that many Swazis have lost confidence in the Tinkhundla system and are facing a reality of a gloomy future characterised by despair, abject grinding poverty and militarized state as an arrogant blunt defence of status quo. The intensified hostile political environment has informed an all-round economic and social crisis perpetually grounding this country to a complete dead end.

The situation which we now find ourselves in is one which points at the fact that we now must collectively present a convincing alternative system to the nation and the world at large. Our struggle has won the legitimacy and justification for support internally and internationally. The brutal response of this royal maniac intertwined with ruthless exploitation of the working class continues to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the future of Swaziland cannot lie with this feudal grotesque. However, crises all over, in and of themselves, do not guarantee that the balance of forces internally and internationally will immediately tilt towards the pro-democracy forces in our country. We admit that our central and immediate task now is one: hatching a popular and even much clearer program which will help to correctly direct the energies of all motive forces as well as unite to rally decisively all Swazis in their struggle for change.

Amandla Ngawethu, Power to the people and victory is certain!!!



The Good of Conflict

By Mustafa Awad

Back in 2006, I worked in a village called Geerissa located in Somaliland’s westernmost belt – a place with its huge presence of the Issa clan I’ve come to affectionately call the Issa Frontier. Geerissa is surrounded by tough, desolate terrain that is hospitable only to the most resilient and resourceful – a development anomaly too where, although vastly characterized by abject poverty, many families in the area lack access to most basic social amenities, but manage to own large herds of sheep and goats. My job was to manage a UN-funded livestock project in Geerissa, along with three other very similar villages.

Whether interpersonal or inter-intra-clan, conflict is a constant feature of life in the area as the two major clans – i.e. the Garadursi and the Issa – are hugely divided on many fronts. Among the most common, interrelated fault-lines in this community include: intense competition over increasingly dwindling natural resources; power relations in the region’s socio-political organisation; and the distribution of development assistance.

Despite the fact, or perhaps precisely because of the sheer number of complex issues, there is little meaningful social interaction between the two clans. Abstention has become a deep-seated, methodical approach adopted by this community as a seemingly effective approach to peaceful coexistence. There seems to be a gentlemen’s agreement to not only remain fragmented, but to also fight as little as possible. As a result, even in its sporadic occurrence, confrontation rarely leads to the horrific, violent consequences that normally typify conflict in the Horn of Africa. However, in an environment careered by such impenetrable dynamics, development work is extremely difficult; especially projects, like the one I was managing there, that aim to assist specific sections of the community.

The inception period of the project, which focused on restocking recent returnees from Djiboutian refugee camps with sheep and goats, took 40 days longer than originally planned. On the one hand, the target population refused to be referred to as “returnees” because the title itself meant having to relinquish their historical claims to the region. Conversely, the “host community” found the rationale of the project entirely to their disadvantage and contrary to arbitrarily established agreements with their counterparts to split all incoming assistance in half.

After 40 days of complete standoff during which neither side was willing to compromise, something needed to happen to shift the dynamics. That something turned-up on the 41st day in the form of violence when an Issa youngster struck a titled Gadabursi elder on the head with his cane. Although modernity has little presence in this area, news still travels very quickly. After catching wind of the incident, children and women from the conflicting sides started to hurl rocks at each other. A grid of soaring stones suddenly upended the peaceful, cloudless blue skies. Fearing for my life and my job, I was reassured by our driver this was the breakthrough we had been praying for. He was confident both clans would now be willing to talk.

The military, which has a base there and which had until the incident refused to arbitrate, quickly intervened and asked us to leave immediately. As we were preparing to leave, a group of elders from the Issa clan started to approach our camp. Almost instantaneously, a group of elders from the Gadabursi followed suit. To my shock, for the first time in years, the two sides agreed on something: this was an opportunity too good to lose.

Although at first the army’s top officials resisted the move, especially since a few of their soldiers had sustained injuries during the quick intervention, they were compelled to consent to the determination of a community that has rarely had a common front.

Conventional wisdom on violent conflict points to one thing and one thing only – it is to be feared and averted as it often leads to the loss of human life and property. However, what this incident taught me is that mitigating and coping with conflict by abstaining from meaningful interaction is far more destructive. This is of particular significance in multi-clan settings where the various groups are bound to have different interests around the same issues and resources. It is essential that conflict in such a context is confronted and managed through timely dialogue and through interventions that aim to maximize the positive outcomes of conflict.

Geerissa is still a socioeconomically stagnant and deeply divided community, but, I always hope that the outcome of that frightful day, which challenged my life philosophy of averting conflict, has had an equally profound impact on someone in that community who is, as a result, attempting to mend fences.



IANRA Week of Action 2012

Summary Report

The 2012 IANRA Week of Action was held from 25th to 30th March under the theme: Without Just and Effective Laws leave our Resources Alone! During the week, IANRA members carried out various activities ranging from conferences with press releases to pickets. The stress was on advocacy for policy change in natural resource management and justice so that all people including local communities that often suffer the adverse effects of natural resource extraction benefit from natural resource extraction. The calls were made firstly to governments asking them to improve on domestic legislative and policy framework to regulate extractive work. Secondly to extractive companies to implore them to adhere to internationally agreed policies and legal instruments that regulate extractive work across the globe.

The theme was thus well chosen for this year’s week of action since IANRA values and stresses the protection and enhancement of human dignity, human rights, equity and justice. The Alliance also believes that the root cause of extractive related problems to local communities stems from weak laws or the non-existence of legal and policy frameworks and also impunity of extractive companies who deliberately choose to ignore internationally legal instruments to maximise profit returns on their investments.

A summary of some of NGs Activities conducted is given in the table below:

Angola Highlight on Land Grabs as a result of expanding extractive work
DRC Media programmes on TV to highlight challenges in extractives in the country
Kenya Conferences on impact of extractive work in Kenya with wide media coverage
Mozambique Conference with policy makers especially from the Ministry of Mining and Energy on challenges of extractive work in the country
South Africa Pickets protests were held around mining companies in Northern Cape Province campaign to raise awareness about communities affected by asbestos; in the Gauteng Province picket protests of communities affected by gold and uranium mining; in the Limpopo Province – picket protests of communities affected by platinum mining; in the North West Province – picket protests of communities affected by platinum (Rustenburg) and uranium mining (town: Klerksdorp/Dominionville); in the Free State Province – picket protests of communities affected by gold mining; in the Eastern Cape Province – pickets of ex-mine workers affected by lung diseases as ex-gold mine workers and in the Mpumalanga Province – picket protests of communities affected by coal mining.
A statement was also made to the Department of Mineral Resources on challenges being faced by local communities in the mining areas.
Tanzania Advocacy on EU legislative framework on extractive work for EU firms operating in Tanzania supported by media coverage on mining activities in the country. A CSO position paper was also issued published in print media and also aired on most local radio stations.
Zambia Awareness raising workshops held in Mufulira, Luanshya and Chingola Districts of the Copper Belt and also in the Mopani Copper Mines and BP Zambia; plans were also developed on possible litigation for pollution of the environment in the same area; follow up meetings with parliamentarians and local councillors for advocacy on action points were also lined up. Land issues especially land pollution and land grabs were also highlighted with stress on how communities are affected by these acts. This was also meant to bring to the attention of the government the need to have laws and policies that ensures there is transparency in the natural resource extraction and utilization in the country
Zimbabwe ZELA held the Learning Route with partners from Latin America, Southern and Eastern Africa with media coverage and interaction with policy makers- Also highlighted issues of the Great Dyke Area which is becoming another mining site in the country. In the programme what was stressed most was how local people are being affected by the behaviour of extractive companies in the country while the companies are claiming to be acting responsibly in terms of respect to environment and human rights and corporate social responsibility.

Impact of the 2012 Week of Action Activities

  1. Highlighted IANRA as a national and continental network advocating for justice in natural resource extraction thereby making IANRA known at all levels
  2. Helped to strengthen IANRA NGs at the country level by bringing together NGOs and CSO, FBO working on extractive work especially in countries where such networks were non-existent
  3. Gave comfort and hope to local communities who felt alone in the fight for justice and respect for human rights when and where violations were happening
  4. Empowered the local media to begin to report on extractive work especially in countries where natural resource justice campaigns were just beginning

Recommendations for Future Activities and Campaigns:

The 2012 Week of Action was not without challenges. Some of the common challenges experienced included ad-hoc planning and subsequent implementation of activities mostly because some NG did not budget for the week. In some NGs, coordination and cooperation during the week was a challenge as a result the impact was not that formidable. In other countries, financing was not adequate compared to what should have been implemented. Timing was also a challenge; some NGs felt that their activities could have made more impact and sense if they had coincided with some government functions like Mining Indaba.

For the future campaigns and initiatives the following need to be considered and taken into consideration;

  1. Timing: More time needs to be dedicated in the planning of the Week of Action at the country level to enable the NGs make more impact since it is only well planned and coordinated campaigns that could produce desired impact.
  2. Budgeting: Since the Week of Action is an annual event; there is need that NGs should have a proper budget for the week. The week acts as market campaign also for IANRA and also an important policy advocacy campaign time; hence needs adequate funding.
  3. Media Strategy-Use of the media and other accompanying activities: It should be noted that sometimes for a campaign to have wider coverage; it needs to be accompanied by public dialogue in print and electronic media; preparation of IEC materials such as flyers, banners, T-shirts and leaflets that people can take as reference material after the campaign day.
  4. Proper location of the campaign and targeting: The campaign sometimes need to be organized around places where people have been affected most as opposed to general places


Guatemala: Thoughts on peace from an ACTION For Conflict Transformation Network Partner

By Dávila Illescas

“Every day we do things,
we are things that have to do with peace.
If we are aware of our life..., our way of looking at things,
we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.”
--Thick Nhat Hanh--

Peace is not a state of calmness or emptiness, as most people think it is. Peace is an act of creation. I think peace is like riding a bike: at the beginning you will find it hard to do, maybe you will fall many times, but with constant practice will help you to ride your peace bicycle. To choose to build peace has to be a complete act of awareness and commitment, and you have to keep pedalling and pedalling.

Recently I was asked to do a workshop reflecting about a book on the events of the Vel’ d’Hiv Rundup in France, 1942[1]. I saw the faces of the 180 participating on the workshop reflecting and getting to a level of awareness about the past. The workshop’s goal was to create awareness on the choices that we do every day.

Many questions were raised: Why did people allow this to happen? Why did the victims not resist? Why did the son of a victim not want to talk about it? It was a complex topic but the fact that it was far from us really helped to raise many questions about acts of genocide and killing.

However, when the conversation came to our reality, the genocide in Guatemala, the level of complexity was higher because I asked the same questions applied to our own context. It is so hard to see and to know your own pain. It is so hard to face the past because you might get hurt. However, if you do not know your past you will be doomed to repeat it. Moreover, if you do not reflect on your present you will not take actions now to build the future that you dream of.

I cannot tell people that there is only one truth of our war or that by magic all the wounds that we have from the past will heal. However, what I can do every day is to do things that have to do with peace. I can encourage some others to get on the bicycle of peace and to pedal together towards another world. To read more from this article please select the link: http://www.centropazci.org/el-centro-en-acci%C3%B3n.php

About the Author:
Delia María “DD” Dávila Illescas is a peacebuilder from Guatemala. She’s a trained architect and she works integrating architecture and peacebuilding into a new field that now has being called“Peace Architecture". She has a Masters degree in Applied Conflict Transformation Studies –ACTS- by the Paññasastra University of Cambodia and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies –CPCS- Cambodia. Winston Fellow of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute 2011 of the Center for Justice and Peace of the Eastern Mennonite University, Virgina, USA. She’s founder of the Center for Peace and Action for Conflict Transformation –PAZci- in Guatemala and the Hub of the Global Network ACTION for Conflict Transformation