Tijani Bande (R) takes over from Togo Ambassador (Photo: NAN)
Nigeria has replaced the Republic of Togo as chairman of the 15-nation sub-regional group, Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS), at the United Nations.
The Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Amb. Tijjani Bande, took over from his Togolese counterpart, Amb. FrancK Kpayedo at the sub-regional group’s meeting in New York.
Bande said Nigeria had always worked with other member-states of the group as brothers, including agreements on candidatures at the UN without conflicts.
He noted that on July 28 at Lome, President Muhammadu Buhari was elected chairman of ECOWAS, recalling Buhari was very thankful to his colleagues who urged him to take the lead for this year.
“Nigeria wants to make sure that we continue to work for the stability and general wellbeing of the sub-region and the region, and as much as possible, we should speak with one voice.
“We should also speak with one voice outside the continent because West Africa works collaboratively with all other sub-regions on the continent.
“Nigeria will do the best it can to strengthen the bonds of friendship within the region and do the work we are here to do at this very important platform in a better way and with more assured results for the benefit of all.
“The West African sub-region has seen better coordination than most sub-regions that operate here at the UN.
“We have dealt, like at the ECOWAS Commission back home, with matters, particularly to do with stability of the region to the satisfaction of all, even for difficult situations.”
Bande pledged that Nigeria would continue to do all it could to help coordinate the Group’s work adding, throughout its tenure, the country would provide leadership on all issues.
Speaking with NAN, the Nigerian envoy said it was a standard practice that ambassadors at the UN would chair the Group just as their heads of state.
According to him, since Buhari is chairing the ECOWAS heads of state, it follows that Nigeria at the UN should chair the group also.
“The basic issue is simply to consult with our colleagues from the sub-region to see how the agenda of ECOWAS can be brought and made alive at the UN.
“Our issues are peace and security, development, technology, agriculture, and speaking also in line with African region because ECOWAS coordinates what we do but we also work very well with the African Group here.
“President Buhari’s discussion when he took over in Lome, was the same thing we have been discussing, whether as it relates to Guinea or whatever country.
“As soon as there is an understanding within ECOWAS, we take it here at the UN as part of what we should also push forward; we have a very strong group of ambassadors here.
“They (ECOWAS ambassadors) are very clear and they are also very strong within the UN’s various platforms, pushing our issues in terms of our priorities; this is what we intend to do as Buhari is also doing at the level of heads of state.”
The ambassador of Togo, Kpayedo, thanked his colleagues for their support during his one-year tenure, and pledged support to Bande to succeed.
The ECOWAS Permanent Observer to the UN, Mr Kone Tanou, congratulated Kpayedo on a successful tenure and commended the ambassadors for their trust in Nigeria’s envoy to lead the Group.
“In few years of service in New York, you have shown great interest on multilateral diplomacy by investing yourself in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and mediation,” Tanou said of Bande.
Amb. Mariame Fofana, Deputy Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the UN, commended Togo for its coordination of the group, and congratulated Nigeria for assuming the Group’s head, pledging her country’s support.
The representative of the Permanent Mission of Ghana, Solomon Korbieh, said “Nigeria is the pre-eminent power house in the sub-region”, adding in chairing the Group, “Nigeria will make us proud and also carry Africa’s light forward”. (NAN)
COVID-19 4th Wave: Can Africa Stand Alone?
African Union(Image: AU) Written By: Nchimunya Muvwende
We had just landed in that country after a 10 hour flight from the beautiful continent of Africa. As the air hostess made the final disembarking announcements, there seemed to be one persistent statement she kept repeating. She announced that those that came from an African country that had Ebola should be first to disembark so that they can be severely screened.
Since only a few blacks were on that flight, all eyes were on us and people wondered why we sat still. The lady went on to call out the names of the passengers and they moved from their seats as though taking a walk of shame. With my colleagues, we took advantage of this time to disembark from the plane before it was congested and join in solidarity with our fellow Africans.
The discovery of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in Africa and the reaction of the western countries that
rushed to ban only African countries out of all countries having the new variant worldwide from traveling to certain countries made me wonder whether African cannot stand on their own. In the words of Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, co-chairperson of the Africa Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance she argued that had the first Covid-19 virus, the one first identified in China in 2019 originated in Africa, it is clear the world would have locked us away and thrown away the key. If the world was so quick to react in a harsh and negative manner, what guarantee can
Africa have that their interest will be prioritized at the world scene?
Despite the many educated Africans and the traditional medicine experts, why is it that so far, no vaccine or cure has come from Africa, 2 years after the emergence of the pandemic? This therefore calls for an introspection and ask whether solutions cannot originate from Africa.
Before civilization and the coming of pharmaceutical medicines, Africans had ways of identifying medicines they could use to deal with various illnesses. When a new disease was discovered, the people vested with knowledge in the African society could rise to the occasion and attempt to find a solution.
But why is it that in the 21 st century, Africans now find it easy to simply wait for solutions from the western countries and possibly want it donated to them? Where are the old men and women who used local resources to find remedies to deal with diseases that affect their people? Does it mean that nothing good can come from Africa and there is always a need for approval in everything?
These are but challenging questions that Africans should beginning addressing. There is nothing wrong with working together as a globe to solve world problems but when it seems our survival is at the mercy of others hence making us vulnerable, there is need to rethink our usefulness. Since not even one vaccine has so far been manufactured in Africa, what will happen if we can no longer access the produced vaccines?
There is no doubt that Africans, working individually and collectively are capable of being part of the solution. Let us not sideline the local experts, solutions and resources in anticipation that help will come from only the developed countries.
Local economic activities
The pandemic disrupted global supply chains and this affected the production capacities of many companies and many people lost their source of livelihoods. Many African countries are heavily import dependent and rely what they import for trade and consumption. However, with the closure of borders to Africans, for how long will Africans survive if the closures are prolonged?
It is like Africa has gone back to the pre-independence days where most products where either foreign owned or had to be imported. It is time to reconsider the import substitute policies where nations began to produce goods that were similar to that which they had for so long imported. Through these, industries were created, employed increased and trade improved. Perhaps the selective closure reminds countries of the need to learn to be self-reliant in certain things.
Lessons can be picked from the development of China in the 1970s when they looked for inward solutions by using their own people, resources and expertise to develop and the results are there for all to see. Let us promote intra-Africa trade, production and expertise so that we change the narrative of going to the negotiating table as beggars. Let not the outside world be prioritized at the expense of African nations because it is this division that reduces our bargaining potential.
Impact on tourism
Africa happens to offer one of the best tourism services because of the abundance of natural and wild resources it is blessed with and with this, employment and incomes can generated to benefit many. The industry contributed to 7.1 percent of the African GDP in 2019 and anticipated to bring in billions in revenues in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic almost collapsed the industry when international tourists could not travel. The industry has a heavy reliance on international tourist arrivals and its growth is then premised on the activities on these tourists.
The question that begs an answer is, when God placed the various wild animals, natural resources, water bodies and the beautiful tourist attracting features in Africa, did he envisage that these should depend on foreigners for Africans to benefit? It is time to promote local tourists and ensure that intra Africa tourism is boosted. It is common to find that many citizens within countries have never visited local sites but this narrative needs to change. Create packages that locals can afford, increase advertisement within countries and put policies that will help industry players to survive. The international tourists should not be prioritized alone but the local people need to be incentivized.
Can Africa stand alone is not a question of ability but a choice to explore our potential. Africa has always had the potential to become a force to reckon with, however, the challenge has mainly been the belief that to develop, it needs to follow the path laid down by the advanced countries. Collaboration with the rest of the world should continue and be strengthened, but this not sideline inward looking approaches for development.
Church Economics: will this develop Africa?
Church Planting (Image: Africa Inland Mission, Europe)
Africa is a continent that is blessed with an abundance of the world’s natural resources compared to other continents and with these, one is at pains to explain why Africa is not the most prosperous developed continent but instead, it houses poverty, unemployment and diverse underdevelopment. Africa happens to be one of the most religious continents with its people believing that God is the giver of all things. For Christians, the bible contains many verses that speak to how the people should prosper but one wonders why Africa continues to lag behind in various development aspects and the people living in misery. The question that begs an answer is, are church principles of success failing?
Prayer alone is not enough
Prayer is no substitute for hard work. It seems most of the African population has been made to believe that attaining success can be acquired miraculously through prayer and church dedication other than mixing that with hard work. It is against this background that Africans can buy a business building, break it down in order to build a church and spend most of their time praying for jobs. While it is good to have faith that when one prays, their requests could be accepted, the same bible says “faith without works is dead” which implies that one ought to put efforts beyond faith.
The bible does not support laziness and this can be seen from Proverb 6 vs 6-8, where the bible asks one to learn from the Ant to be wise and hard working. It reads “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!, It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” The verse illustrates that an Ant will prepare for the winter while it is still summer in order to ensure that, when times are tough and work is not possible, they have enough to eat. The bible further tells Christians to work for 6 days and rest on the seventh day but it seems that hard work has been replaced by only prayer with people spending most of the time praying than working.
The bible also says in 1 Timothy 5:8 that ‘But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. This verse tells us that even the bible does not favour poverty. In the actual sense, Christians are supposed to be the richest people in the world, to show the world how rich their God is but instead it is the other way round. We see a lot of people going to churches to pray for success and wealth which they don’t work hard for but want it to come on a silver plate. It is important to run to God for wealth and all, but also, people ought to pray for wisdom on how to work hard and see opportunities because prayer alone will not bring food on the table, it will not give clothes to wear or other things that need finances. If Jesus worked as a carpenter, Paul worked as tent marker and other Christians of old, why should abandon work, education, commitment and believe in miracles only?
Church as solution provider
A church is a gathering of people with similar religious beliefs who meet in a common place to worship. As the people gather, each one comes with their own problems that they hope to present before their God in prayer with a hope that it gets answered. The bible has several references where God worked through other people to address the needs of his people. In these days, however, when one presents their challenge before fellow congregants, the most common responses would be ‘God bless you’, ‘it shall be well’ or ‘we shall pray for you’ with no practical help given. Sadly, some solutions could be with the fellow church members.
The church houses so many unemployed people and many employers, it houses the rich and the poor, it houses the skilled and the unskilled. Financial challenges could be addressed by members sharing their income, unemployment could be provided by those that have opportunities to offer and other solutions could be within and do not necessary depend on prayer alone. If church members put resources to start businesses, to create employment, provide school fees, brainstorm solutions to national problems among other things, the improvement in the lives of the people would be so great that the nation would benefit. However, the status quo rarely considers the needs of their people but rather focus on lessons that may not even be applicable and relevant to meet the needs of the people.
Actually, the bible has in several instances referred to the fact that religious people neglect the needs of their people. It would be important that solutions that need prayer alone are separated from the solutions that can come from among the people. Other than just preaching the gospels, identifying the needs of the people and finding solutions would help people be solution providers for others also.
It is sad that some religious leaders have taken advantage of their members by swindling them of their hard earned income in the name that they would pray for them if only they brought money. If religion is to work for Africa, it would be important to get all the principles of success, apply them correctly and work to ensure that they work for the people. We cannot pray ourselves out of poverty, unemployment or under development. Now is the time to think beyond church economics but rather pick the principles and apply them correctly for our prosperity.
By: Nchimunya Muvwende An Economist
Transitional Justice: Evaluating the Importance of Reparation, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation- A South African Perspective
Image source: Days Of The Year website
According to Benyera, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence and injustice during this time could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Further to this the perpetrators of violence would give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.
The TRC hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast. The TRC played a crucial role in the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally regarded as very successful.
The mandate that the TRC was given was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation. The TRC had several members which included; Archbishop Desmond Tutu (chairperson), Dr Alex Boraine (Deputy Chairperson), Mary Burton, Advocate Chris de Jager, Bongani Finca, Sisi Khampepe, Richard Lyster, Wynand Malan, Reverend Khoza Mgojo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Dumisa Ntsebeza (head of the Investigative Unit), Wendy Orr, Advocate Denzil Potgieter, Mapule Ramashala, Dr Faizel Randera, Yasmin Sooka and Glenda Wildschut.
TRC AND RECONCILIATION ACT
TRC was set up by an Act of Parliament, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act. This Act gives effect to the aim of TRC which is to:
- make proposals for measures that will give reparation to victims of human rights violations; and
- rehabilitate and give back the human and civil dignity of people who suffered human rights violations.
Further to this the Act also says that the Committee on Reparation and Rehabilitation must endorse and provide recommendation to the President in terms of ways of assisting victims. It is the President and Parliament, and not this Committee, who will decide what to do and how to do it. The recommendations from the Committee will be in the Final Report sent to the President after the Commission has completed its work.
Therefore the role of the Committee is to make recommendations which deal with interim reparation which is for those that require immediate assistance because of the gross human rights violations they suffered.
The Act requires the President and the Ministers of Justice and Finance to establish a President’s Fund. Victims who qualify for assistance will be paid from this Fund.
The importance of reparation, reconciliation and rehabilitation can be described as what can be done to assist victims overcome the damage that they suffered and to make sure that these human rights violations or abuses never happen again. Although this could include money, a financial payment is not the only form of reparation and rehabilitation that the Committee recommends. The Committee looked at individuals, communities and the nation as a whole when making recommendations to achieve reparation and rehabilitation.
In terms of Compensation section 1 of the Promotion of National Unity Act 34 of 1995 defines reparation as any kind compensation, ex gratia payment (payment in favour of), restitution, rehabilitation or recognition which would mean that government is responsible for the payment of reparations. The (TRC report vol. 5, 1998. Ch. 5) stipulates the following five elements of the reparation and rehabilitation policy:
1. Urgent interim reparation: These reparations are more focused on individuals with urgent financial or services need and there was a small budget to facilitate it. The urgent interim reparation was the first form of monetary reparations and it was meant for approximately 17 000 victims who were in dire need of help (Daly 2003: 378).
2. Individual reparation grants: These kinds of grants were those paid to Individual victims of human rights violations for a period of six years would receive monetary reparations. These reparation grants needed to promote three goals, namely,
According to Daly 2003, it was of paramount importance to recognise the victims’ suffering and restore the victims’ individual dignity, facilitate service delivery and subsidise daily living costs.
MECHANISMS FOR RECONCILIATION
According to the Justice site, the committee on TRC had come up with guiding principles which then aided with proposals that prompt and promote reconciliation these included the following;
Development centred: A development-centred approach means that individuals and communities are helped to take control back. To take control of their own lives through the dissemination of information and the use of knowledge particularly with regard to available resources and to help them use these resources in the way that benefits them most.
Simple, Efficient and Fair: All the available resources were used in a way that would give the most benefit to the people who receive them.
Culturally Appropriate: The process of rehabilitation needed to be sensitive to the religious and cultural beliefs of the community.
Community-based: Community-based services and delivery should be strengthened and expanded. For the people by the people.
Capacity Development: Local capacity building as well as the delivery of services were addressed as part of addressing the imbalances of the past.
Promoting Healing and Reconciliation: The aim of TRC was to bring people together and to promote understanding and reconciliation.
The TRC land reform programme consisted of three components that were adopted: According to an article by Diale the components were as follows; first, the restitution of land to those that were dispossessed of land after 1913; second, redistribution to rectify the racially skewed distribution of land which was resultant of colonial and apartheid policies, and; third, tenure reform for those whose tenure was insecure because of past discriminatory laws and practices.
The Restitution of Land Rights Act, No 22 of 1994, geared the Chief Land Claims Commissioner which would oversee the Regional Land Claims Commissions, which subsequently investigate cases and take them to the Land Claims Court for settlement. Because of the slow initial rate of delivery, the Restitution Act was amended in 1999 to provide for administrative settlements of claims: the Land Claims Court which would be used only in those cases where agreement could not be reached – as in the Dukuduku land claim.
Dukuduku Land Claim case
The Dukuduku forest in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is subject to one such claim to land restitution, which remains unsettled for over 10 years. The Dukuduku forest was supposed to be incorporated into the wetland park as an World Heritage Site. The forest houses many subsistence farmers, of which some form part of the group of land claimants. There is an interplay of community and authority and in so doing setting the pace of where claims for historical redress materialises both in processes of land restitution and in the acquisition of land through ‘illegal squatting’.
Knut G, suggests that Dukuduku forest encompasses and explores the strongly desired and well deserved restoration of lost rights to land and resources and the formalisation of these rights which then draws on both our past and the present to form a caveat with its intricately woven complexity it defies such straightforward processes. The land claim process feeds into existing struggles and creates new ones, and in this way, the larger cause of the land claimants – to obtain recognition of property claims and land belonging – is infused by conflicts external and internal to the community of claimants.
In closing, redressing the imbalances and injustices of the past require countries to find ways of emerging from conflict and repression by addressing human rights violations. Transitional justice is entrenched in accountability and redress for victims. Ignoring massive abuses is an easy way out but it destroys the values on which any decent society can be built. Therefore the toughest balancing act must be engaged by finding a balance between the law and politics of the past and in doing so putting victims and their dignity first, it signals the way forward for a renewed commitment to make sure ordinary citizens are safe in their own countries – safe from the abuses of their own authorities and effectively protected from violations by others.
Written by: Dr. Kim Lamont-Mbawuli
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