"Part of the reason why poverty still persists in our continent is governments inability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the opposition to confront the many problems facing us as a continent. In almost all the advanced democracies a government in power works or listens to the opposition in matters of national importance such as education, defence, energy and the economy. However in Africa such matters are always hijacked by the ruling government to the detriment of the nation and its people". Lord Aikins Adusei


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Friday, May 29, 2009

IMF, World Bank & Lending Institutions: Agents Promoting Poverty or Development?

According to The World Bank, it is, “a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. We are not a bank in the common sense. We are made up of two unique development institutions owned by 184 member countries—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). Each institution plays a different but supportive role in our mission of global poverty reduction and the improvement of living standards. The IBRD focuses on middle income and creditworthy poor countries, while IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. Together we provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes."

The above statement of claim taken from the World Bank website contains half truth. Yes it is true that in theory the World Bank would like to reduce global poverty but in practice it is the opposite. The fact still remains that both the Bank and the IMF have done very little to help the world´s poor rather their condition has been worsened by the past and present behaviour of the Banks. There is little evidence to back the claim of both institutions that they are a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries. The World Bank may be a vital source of financial assistance to the corrupt regimes in these poor countries and not to the poor. There is no evidence to suggest that the poor people from third world countries have benefited from loans given to their governments. At best what the Bank and IMF have helped the poor countries to do is to build up massive debts that they may never be able to pay.

Third World countries including the whole of Africa have incurred trillions of dollars in debts through loans contracted from the Bank, IMF and Western governments which the people who now wallow in utter poverty, never benefited. Most of these conditional loans were either stolen or used to service debts already owned by these poor countries. Part of the loans were also used to pay foreign expatriates supplied to the poor countries by IMF, World Bank as ´technical experts´ but whose contribution is the result of poverty seen in the third world. Again the loans were used to prop up corrupt regimes who diverted the funds to their private bank accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and Austria among others.

In 2006 for example, developing countries owed $3.7-trillion in odious debt, servicing more than $570-billion per annum. An analysis by economist James Henry revealed that more than $1-trillion worth of loans "disappeared into corruption-ridden projects or was simply stolen outright". Out of this debt Africa owes $200 billion and uses $14 billion annually to service it, money that could be used to provide education, healthcare other basic needs for  the people. The over $200 billion that African countries owe to foreign creditors represents a crippling load that undermines economic and social progress. The all Africa Churches Conference says this debt and its servicing represent "a new form of slavery, as vicious as the slave trade".

The servicing of such massive debts has brought untold and worsening economic hardships to the poor as third world governments have been forced to freeze investments in education, health, transport, agriculture, housing, sanitation and other vital infrastructures. Evidence of this hardship are chronic poverty, malnutrition, diseases, starvation, hunger, decaying and inadequate infrastructures and economic failures seen everywhere in the developing world. The sad aspect of these debts servicing is that the current generation who are paying for it never requested it nor benefited from it in anyway. The debts were incurred at a time when these countries did not even need loans yet World Bank, IMF and Western governments encouraged them to go for it.

Africa Action a Not for Profit Organisation says, "The albatross of illegitimate debt diverts money directly from spending on health care, education and other important needs. While most people in Africa live on less than $2 per day, African countries are forced to spend almost $14 billion each year servicing old, illegitimate debts to rich country governments and their institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Over the past two decades, African countries have paid out more in debt service to foreign creditors than they have received in development assistance or in new loans. Much of Africa's foreign debt is illegitimate in nature, having been incurred by unrepresentative and despotic regimes, mainly during the era of Cold War patronage. Loans were made to corrupt leaders who used the money for their own personal gain, often with the full knowledge and support of lenders. These loans did not benefit Africa's people. More generally, many Africans question the notion of an African "debt" to the U.S. and European countries after centuries of exploitation. They ask, "Who really owes whom?"Yet, despite the social and economic costs of this massive outflow of resources from the world's poorest region, the wealthy creditors of Africa's debts continue to insist these debts be repaid." Source www.africaaction.org /campaign_new /debt.php

Joseph Hanlon of Jubilee Research UK gives details to what happened to monies loaned to Mobutu of former Zaire now DR.Congo. He says: "Much of poor country debt is related to the Cold War, when both sides pushed money at their supporters. Zaire's ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, was one of the world's most corrupt leaders and it was for his government that the word kleptocracy was first coined. Mobutu became one of the world's richest men, with a personal fortune estimated at more than $10 billion owning palaces in Europe and Zaire. But the West saw Mobutu as a loyal ally in the Cold War (in part for his support of the US, in its backing for UNITA in Angola). In 1978 the IMF appointed their own man, Edwin Blumenthal, to a key post in Zaire´s central bank. He resigned two years later, complaining of "sordid and pernicious corruption" that was so serious that "there is no chance, I repeat no chance, that Zaire's numerous creditors will ever recover their loans." And look what happened after this report.

Shortly after Blumenthal's report to the IMF, it gave Zaire the largest ever loan given to an African country. When Blumenthal wrote his report, Zaire's debt was $5 billion; by the time Mobutu was overthrown and died in 1998, the debt was over $13 billion. In the six years after Blumenthal's report, the IMF lent Zaire $600 million and the World Bank $650 million. In those six years Western governments lent Mobutu nearly $3 billion.

About 50% of the $13-billion was stolen and deposited in Western Banks notably Switzerland and France while the rest was wasted on white elephant projects that never solved the poverty problem in the country. Today majority of Congolese live on less than a dollar a day while hundreds of millions of dollars are paid to the IMF and World Bank every year as fees for loans taken and stolen by Mobutu.

In another classic example, the World Bank lent Indonesia a total of US$30 billion in the course of General Suharto's three decades of rule. In 1998, World Bank resident staff in Indonesia estimated that: "at least 20-30 per cent of GOI [Government of Indonesia] development budget funds are diverted through informal payments to GOI staff and politicians, and there is no basis to claim a smaller 'leakage' for Bank projects as our controls have little practical effect on the methods generally used". That means by the Bank's own account that up to US$9 billion of World Bank loans to Indonesia were wasted through corruption and that World Bank staff knew it. And they did absolutely nothing to stop the corruption. Today the poor people of Indonesia are still paying for the billions of dollars wasted before the eyes of IMF.

In Philippines during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Bank and IMF were absolutely aware of the fact that most loans to Philippines were transferred into the bank accounts of Ferdinand Marcos and his generals; nevertheless they considered it as a necessary bribe for paying the political staff in power in order to ensure the acceleration of the neoliberal counter reform. As a result World Bank lent Marcos $400m in 1980; $251m in 1982 and $600m in 1983 and Marcos deposited the money in his accounts in Switzerland. So far the Philipinos are still paying for the policies of the Bank and IMF.

Dr. Susan Hawley author of  Exporting Corruption has written extensively about how loans taken and diverted into private banks by Ferdinand Marcos have gruesomely affected Philippines´ development and her quest to reduce poverty. She says: "The US company, Westinghouse won a contract in the early 1970s to build the Bataan nuclear plant in the Philippines. It was alleged that Westinghouse gave President Ferdinand Marcos US$80 million in kickbacks. The plant cost $2.3 billion three times the price of a comparable plant built by the same company in Korea. Filipino taxpayers have spent $1.2 billion servicing the plant's debts even though the plant has never produced a single watt of electricity because it was built at the foot of a volcano near several earthquake faultlines. The Philippine government is still paying $170,000 a day in interest on the loans taken out to finance the nuclear plant and will continue to do so up to the year 2018. A Philippino Treasurer Leonor Briones recently commented on the loans: "It is a terrible burden which never fails to elicit feelings of rage, anger and frustration in me. We're talking of money that should have gone to basic services like schools and hospitals". Source: Dr. Susan Hawley.

Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, in her book Odious Debts estimates the Philippino dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, and his wife Imelda, pocketed literally one-third of the Philippines' entire borrowing – much of it in the form of kickbacks and commissions on aid and loan-funded projects. His personal wealth when he was overthrown was $10 billion. Source: Jubileeresearch.org.

The behaviour of the two Banks and other lending institutions to prop up corrupt regimes explains why after 50 years of loans there has not been any appreciable reduction in poverty levels world wide and especially in Africa. As I said the best the two Bretton Woods institutions have done is to help the poor countries to build massive debts and increase poverty. Today majority of the 945 million Africans (70%) live on less than two dollars a day meanwhile hundreds of billions of dollars have been loaned to their corrupt leaders and there is nothing to show for it.

James Wolfensohn, Ex-World Bank President seems to disagree and says: "As a public institution we are accountable for helping our borrowers to see that the money allocated under Bank-financed operations is being spent on what it should be spent on and that our borrowers are getting good value for what is being spent". But how does Wolfensohn reconcile his statement with reports regarding loans to dictators in Africa, Asia and South America that produced nothing but poverty? The question is has the billions of loans and aid to third world countries change anything for the poor people in those countries? Can Wolfensohn say with empirical evidence that countries that have borrowed money from the Bank got value for the money? I do not think so. There is no evidence to suggest that IMF and World Bank even made the effort to ensure the people benefited from the loans and there is no evidence to prove that both institutions made effort to recover the money from Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, or the Banks in Switzerland after it became obvious the dictators had stashed the money in foreign Banks. The two mega banks did not make any effort because they knew future generations cannot afford to refuse to pay as that will be a stain on their credit worthiness. But how fair is it to ask people to pay for things they or their country never benefited?

Instead of being agents of growth, development and helping to fight poverty, what the two institutions and their western political masters have done so far is to entrench poverty, diseases, hunger, starvation and malnutrition in these poor voiceless countries. The pressure on the poor countries to meet their debt obligations has forced many of them to use scarce resources to service these debts to the detriment of their economies and their peoples. If indeed the Bank and the IMF are committed to reducing poverty why would they loan money to corrupt regimes or refuse to take responsibility for the failures of their own policies and actions? Why would they help poor countries to build massive debts only to wash their hands off the debt? And why should poor Africans, Asians and Latinos be made to pay the odious and illegitimate loans that they never benefited? Why should poor African and third world countries be made to take responsibility for the failures of IMF and the Bank´s ill conceived policies that have brought misery and untold hardships to the poor? Who should take responsibility for these odious and illegitimate debts is it the Bank who loaned out of negligence and without due diligence or the people who never benefited?

To ask these poor countries to continue to pay these debts is not only unfair but morally not justified. Poor countries should stop paying these odious and illegitimate debs unless the IMF and the World Bank can prove that the people benefited from it. World Bank and IMF were wilful accomplices to the loot, corruption and mismanagement that took place during Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, Lansana Conte regimes and which are being repeated by the corrupt regimes of Obiang Nguema, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, Omar Bongo, Obiang Nguema and Blaise Campore. If lending institutions fail to demand proper accountability from these corrupt rulers then it would be unlawful and improper to ask future generations to pay for the sins of their rulers.

 When consultants Morgan Grenfell urged against the sale of the Uganda Commercial Bank, the World Bank and IMF insisted the sale go ahead. Sold to a Malaysian engineering consortium linked to the brother of the Ugandan president, the bank had to be re-nationalised in 1998 "after running into trouble giving out millions of dollars worth of dubious loans". According to the head of Uganda's privatisation unit, "When [the sale of Uganda Commercial Bank] went bad", the World Bank "disappeared off the radar screen" and refused to take any responsibility for it. Source: greenleft.org.au

Apart from their support for corrupt regimes, the Bank and IMF prescriptive policies have also played a huge role in entrenching poverty in the third world. Worth mentioning are the structural adjustment programme and trade liberalisation which were sold to the poor countries by these financial institutions and supported by the western economic saboteurs. The fact is that the SAP and trade liberalisation among others were ill formulated, implemented and monitored with the results that countries that embraced them have all lived to regret.

The SAP forced onto poor third world countries by the Bank and the IMF forced their governments to abandon their support for the public sector with serious devastating consequences to the health, education and agric sectors. The withdrawal of farm subsidies in particular made it difficult for farmers to produce to support local consumption or compete with their rich Western counterparts who receive billions of dollars of government subsidies every year. The unrests and disturbances over food shortages and high food prices that occurred in Egypt, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mauritania, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia and Sierra Leone in 2008 were the direct result of the Bank and IMF bitter pills prescribed to these poor countries.

Trade liberalisation required the poor countries to privatise or close down certain companies, opening up the economy to foreign goods, reforming economic policy, liberalising labour market, eliminating subsidies, and environmental regulations, eliminating set prices for producers and consumers, increasing exports, cutting government expenditures and giving foreign multinationals free hands to do as they wish often to the detriment of the countries concerned. The cost of trade liberalisation to third world countries is estimated to be $300-billion.

The sad aspect of this exercise is that almost all the companies that were sold went to foreigners and cronies of corrupt government officials and the proceeds stolen or used to service debts already owned by these poor nations. This policy also led to closure of a number of factories, and decline in agriculture output that were sources of livelihoods to hundreds of millions of families. The mention of this retrenchment exercise always brings painful memories to millions who lost their jobs and had to live a life of squalor without any help or whatsoever from their governments.

Also the Bank and the IMF tax and trade policies towards these poor countries always put them at a disadvantage positions when dealing with multinational corporations. Many poor countries are forced to grant tax concessions to multinational corporations as a favour for investing in the third world economies. These concessions include instituting secrete memorandums of agreement, subsidies to foreign corporations and massive tax concessions (such as income tax, usage fees, property tax) which are the primary source of revenue for export-oriented developing countries.

How do you fight poverty when rich companies are made to pay close to nothing for raping countries of their natural resources? Why wouldn´t poverty increase and people die of starvation, hunger and diseases when money meant for development are used to service debts for which the people never benefited?

In an article by Khadija Sharife entitled Capital Flight: Gingerbread Havens, Cannibalised Economies she wrote: "The IMF and World Bank tax policies towards the developing world is very lethal especially where the poor are now caught in tax brackets, courtesy of the IMF and World Bank´s structural adjustment programmes (SAP), instituting policies ranging from tax holidays to the privatisation of state services, carving out huge slices of natural capital at corporate auctions. Africa has collectively lost more than $600-billion in capital flight, excluding other mechanisms of flight such as ecological debt (globally estimated at a potential $1.8-trillion per annum). Thus with the support and collusion of IMF and the Bank, poor countries are loosing billions of dollars in revenue to rich multinational corporations.

The unflinching support that the Bank and the IMF give to multinational corporations against the wishes of third world governments is another reason why poverty is still rampant in Africa and elsewhere. For example, in 1998 the Pakistani anti-corruption agency investigated over 20 Western companies for paying kickbacks to Benazir Bhutto's government for public contracts to provide electricity. Six of the companies later confessed to offering bribes. Instead of receiving support from Britain, France, the US, IMF, World Bank and other Western governments they were told to quash the investigation on the grounds that investors would shy away from Pakistan. The IMF even made a package of loans conditional on the government dropping the charges against the companies involved. Source: www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51975. In the end Pakistan had no choice but to stop the investigations.

It is on record that about 45% of all World Bank project contracts go to multinationals in the US, Germany and Britain why? Why not companies in these poor countries where the projects take place and who finally end up paying for the projects?

But it is not surprising that these multinational financial institutions behave the way they did. Both institutions only acknowledged in 1996 the role corruption plays in entrenching poverty after more than 50 years in existence. Why did they continue to loan to the dictators after mounting evidence that they were looting the loans? Why did it take World Bank 50 years to recognise the devastating impact corruption was having on the world´s poor? Could it be that both institutions are corrupt themselves?

Dr. Jeffrey Winters of Northwestern University says, "The World Bank has participated mostly passively in the corruption of roughly $100 billion of its loan funds intended for development." Other experts estimate that between 5 percent and 25 percent of the $525 billion that the World Bank has lent since 1946 has been misused. This is equivalent to between $26 billion and $130 billion. Even if corruption is at the low end of estimates, millions of people living in poverty have lost opportunities to improve their health, education, and economic condition".

And Sen. Richard G. Lugar speaking about corruption in the World Bank and its impact in fighting poverty said, "Corruption thwarts development efforts in many ways. Bribes can influence important World Bank decisions on projects and on contractors. Misuse of funds can inflate project costs; deny needed assistance to the poor, and cause projects to fail. Stolen money may prop up dictatorships and finance human rights abuses. Moreover, when developing countries lose development bank funds through corruption, the taxpayers in those poor countries are still obligated to repay the development banks. So, not only are the impoverished cheated out of development benefits, they are left to repay the resulting debts to the banks."

In fact, allegations of corruption at the Bretton Woods institutions are as old as the institutions themselves. In 1994, marking the 50th anniversary of its creation at Bretton Woods, South End Press released "50 Years is Enough: The Case Against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," edited by Kevin Danaher. The book details official Bank and IMF reports that reveal the same kind of corruption and embezzlement back then. In addition, it revealed different types of corruption, for instance, "Beyond the wasted money and the environmental devastation, there was an even more sinister side to the Bank during the McNamara years: the World Bank's predilection for increasing support to military regimes that tortured and murdered their subjects, sometimes immediately after the violent overthrow of more democratic governments.

In 1979, Senator James Abourezk (D-South Dakota) denounced the bank on the Senate floor, noting that the Bank was increasing 'loans to four newly repressive governments [Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and the Philippines] twice as fast as all others.' He noted that 15 of the world's most repressive governments would receive a third of all World Bank loan commitments in 1979, and that Congress and the Carter administration had cut off bilateral aid to four of the 15 --Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Ethiopia -- for flagrant human rights violations. He blasted the Bank's 'excessive secretiveness' and reminded his colleagues that 'we vote the money, yet we do not know where it goes." There is no doubt the money was stolen by the corrupt government officials and dictators who received the money. But the sad thing is that the Bank and IMF have failed to take responsibility for their actions pushing the blame on the poor countries and their poor people who never benefited from it.

Fifty years of loans to the world´s poor and fifty years of extreme poverty and odious debt among the world´s poor. It is as if the World Bank has guided these countries into poverty rather than fight poverty. Can we say these mega financial institutions are truly there to help the world´s poor fight poverty or they serve a higher authority whose aim is to keep the world´s poor in debt and in poverty as Jenkins pointed out is his book 'The Confessions of Economic Hit Man'? That is in reality do the Bank and IMF promote poverty or development?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The Author is a political activist and anti-corruption campaigner.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Britain to send Team of Diplomats to Harare

Harare - The British government is planning to send a team of diplomats to Zimbabwe, following ice-breaking talks in Pretoria at the weekend between a British minister and Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, reports said here Monday. 

Zimbabwe's state-controlled daily Herald newspaper said British junior foreign minister Mark Malloch-Brown held discussions with Tsvangirai and the new coalition government's foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, on the sidelines of South African president Jacob Zuma's inauguration the same day in Pretoria. It was the first high level political meeting between the two governments since the inauguration in mid-February of Zimbabwe's power sharing government between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU(PF) party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. 

Observers said the meeting marked a significant rapprochement between London and Harare. A statement from the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria said that the ministers had held "a frank exchange of views" and had "committed themselves to continue dialogue in an effort to normalise relations between Zimbabwe and the UK." 

The Herald quoted Mumbengegwi as saying that Malloch-Brown "indicated that a team of British officials would soon fly to Harare to find ways of continuing the dialogue." Confirmation from the British embassy was not immediately available.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated dramatically since 2000 after Mugabe launched a campaign of violent suppression of the MDC and deployed thousands of party militants to drive thousands of white farmers and their workers from their farms, a move that sparked the collapse of the country's once thriving economy. 

The weekend's talks, however, produced no apparent significant change in Britain's position on Zimbabwe. The Herald quoted Malloch-Brown as saying that he "welcomed areas of progress" following the establishment of the coalition government, but added: "I also underline he need for further reform," and that "progress is needed ... before the UK and the international community as a whole can engage more fully." Britain and most other Western governments have been providing humanitarian aid to Harare, but are demanding that major human rights and political reforms need to be undertaken before they will provide direct government aid.

Source:The Zimbabwe Observer

Zuma Vows to bridge the gab between Blacks and Whites

South Africa's ruling ANC party held its final election campaign rally before elections on Wednesday. ANC's current leader, Jacob Zuma, alongside founder Nelson Mandela, pressed for racial unity as they addressed crowds near Johannesburg. 

South Africa's likely next president Jacob Zuma said Sunday that the country belonged to both blacks and whites as he stressed racial unity ahead of the fourth democratic elections.

"We reaffirm that South Africa belongs to all of us, black and white," the ruling ANC party leader said at a final campaign rally ahead of Wednesday's elections.

"Working together we will ensure that no South African ever feels they are less valued than others because of their race, culture or religion."

Over 100,000 supporters of the African National Congress gathered in the Ellis Park stadium in the historic Soweto township outside Johannesburg as the party proclaimed victory three days before the election.

Zuma attempted to unite the country after several months of divisive politics and infighting within his party over his leadership, assuring supporters the party was as popular as ever.

"The 2009 election is indeed a defining moment for the ANC and the country. Only a few months ago pessimistic predictions were made about the ANC..." he said, sharing a stage with ANC veterans including Nelson Mandela, fondly referred to by his clan name Madiba.

"We have seen excitement about the ANC that we have not witnessed since the release of our icon Madiba and the 1994 elections." 

The ANC has suffered a loss of support as a dissident group of leaders broke away to form the Congress of the People, seen as the first significant opposition threat to the former liberation movement.

However the party is still expected to win with around 60 percent of the vote.

Why Are We Still Poor?

Look at the woman in the above photograph and her surrounding carefully.

Does she look like someone who has been given help by Aid Agencies like United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, World Vision, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and JICA? 

Does she look like someone whose government has received billions of dollars in loans and grants from the World Bank or the IMF? Does she look like someone who has received financial or material help from US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France or Italy? Does she look like someone whose government receives billions of dollars in revenue from gold, oil, gas, coltan, diamond, timber, cocoa, cotton, tea, coffee, bauxite and uranium every year? Does she look like someone whose country has political and economic sovereignty or independence? And finally does she look like someone who has been liberated from colonialism?

What has happened to all the aid money or the IMF and World Bank loans or aid and grants from US, Japan, European Union and the revenue from the natural resources? In short why are the people so poor when Aid Agencies are helping them every day; when the World Bank and IMF give them loans every day; and US, Japan, Britain, Germany and others give aid and grants to the people every year? Who has benefited from all these monies? Could it be the donors and aid agencies themselves or the politicians who sometimes receive the money on behalf of the people? Could it be that nothing at all is received?

Why are we still poor? This is a troubling question. I cannot understand why after so many years of aid and big loans Africa still sits at the bottom of the world's progressive continents. 

The World Bank and IMF claim to provide vital financial support to poor countries to help them alleviate poverty but more than fifty years of loans to these poor countries, poverty is still decimating them. So what happened to all the billions of dollars that the World Bank and IMF have provided to the world's poor? Could it be that the Bank and IMF give the loans and then turn round to force these poor countries to use it to service old and illegitimate debts? 

Could it be that the Bank and IMF give the loans to corrupt regimes who then deposit the money in their private banks in Europe and then ask the poor people who never benefited from the loans to use the little resources they have to service the odious debts? Could it be that the policies and solutions often prescribed by the Bank and IMF are toxic to the economies of these poor countries? Could it be that the loans are used to pay the so called technical experts that the Bank and IMF often send to the poor countries as advisers?

Could it be that the loans are given with conditions that benefit the creditors and not the countries who borrow the money? Can the World Bank and IMF explain to the World why so many poor countries remain poor after they had received tens of billions of dollars from them?

How do multinational corporations doing business in Africa pay for the resources that they exploit? Do they pay the governments with arms and military machines for use to oppress the people? Shell has been sued in the US for complicity in the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other environmentalist in Nigeria. Could it be that such complicities by multinational corporations, IMF, World Bank and Western governments are the result of the chronic poverty in the resource rich countries of Africa?

Who has received the money the multinational corporations pay? Or they don´t pay anything at all because they often pay bribes to politicians to look elsewhere why they plunder the resources, destroy and pollute the environment, rivers, wells, creeks, soil, lakes and fish stocks which are the livelihoods of most communities in mining and oil exploitation areas? Could it be that the destruction of their livelihoods by the multinationals are the result f the poverty and malnutrition we see in the continent?

Do multinational corporations declare all the profits they make in the African countries where they operate or they declare just pay a little and then hide the rest in their save haven accounts in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jersey and Caymans Island and the rest? And what role have they played to reduce poverty in the areas that they operate? 

How much of the billions of dollars of profits that Shell, BP, Chevron, Total and the mining companies make in Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, Cameroon, DR. Congo, Ghana, South Africa, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Niger, and Equatorial Guinea is used to correct the lasting environmental damage done to the communities where the resources are extracted from? Is there anything called corporate social responsibility and how has the poor in Africa benefited from such responsibility? 

Every year African leaders receive tens of billions of dollars from the sale of oil, gas, diamond, gold, bauxite, coltan, timber, cocoa, tea, coffee, cotton and many others. What has happen to all the money? Could it be that the money has been wasted on white elephant projects? Could it be that the money is stolen out right by corrupt politicians, the business elite and their cronies? If so could it be that Switzerland, France, Britain may be having a clue as to what has happened to all the money?

I have mentioned Switzerland and Britain because their banks have had direct links with all the corrupt regimes that Africa has ever produced from Mobutu, Sani Abacha, Lansana Conte, Eduardo dos Santos, Bakili Muluzi, Paul Biya and Blaise Campore to Ibrahim Babangida. Switzerland has so far returned $1.6-billions dollars to the poor countries where it was stolen, could it be that Switzerland and Britain are still hiding billions of dollars that could be used to improve the lives of Africans? 

I mentioned France because Omar Bongo of Gabon and his family are known to have 70 banks accounts plus 59 luxury properties and 8 luxury cars in France alone and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo and his family also have 122 bank accounts, 24 luxury properties and a number of luxury cars in France alone not to mention those in Switzerland and other save haven centres. Could it be that the money meant for the development of the people like the woman in the above photograph is sitting in these 200 bank accounts in France? It is only God who knows how much money is contained in 70 and 122 accounts.

There are so many Aid and Humanitarian Agencies in Africa claiming to be helping the people to alleviate poverty but fifty years on majority Africans still wallow in object poverty with millions of children being left orphans due to diseases such HIV/AIDS and Ebola. Why? 

Could it be that the Aid Agencies are not doing any work and claim to be working? Could it be that the Aid Agencies only cry for attention without necessarily doing anything to help the poor? Or could it be that they use the plight of the people to raise money and then use the money to pay fat salaries and bonuses to their staff and hold big parties without necessarily using the money to help the poor?

Every year United States, Japan, the European Union, Germany, Britain, France and Italy claim to give millions of dollars to the poor countries in the form of loans, grants and what have you. But we still have not seen poverty going down or stabilising. What has been happening to the aid money that US, Japan and Europe claim to have been given to third world countries? Who receives those monies and what do they use the money for? How has the ordinary people benefited from the grants and aid? If so much has been received then so much should have been done to reduce poverty isn't it? Why are we still poor despite years of development assistance? 

If indeed the Aid Agencies, World Bank, IMF, US, Japan, European Union, Britain, Germany, France have given so much then why are we poor? Is it lack of luck or what? I really don't know can someone please help me?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kuffour of Ghana returns from Malawi

Kufuor returns home from Malawi 
John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has returned home from Lilongwe, Malawi, where he led a ten-man team from the Commonwealth to observe the presidential and parliamentary elections of that country.  

Mr. Kufuor described the elections won by incumbent President Bingu wa Mutharika as free and fair and commended Malawians for their orderly conduct which ensured the smooth run of the polls.  

In the run up to the Malawian elections, the African union requested former President Kufuor to lead a delegation to that country to study the political situation there because of heightening tension between the parties.   

Mr. Kufuor said the election was satisfactory.  

The African Union, the European Union, the Southern African Development Community among others also sent observer missions

Prayer Conference held to commemorate AU Day

Prayer Conference held to commemorate AU Day 
Mrs. Bamford-Addo
The Speaker of Parliament, Mrs. Joyce Bamford-Addo says women in Africa have made impressive strides in the arena of politics in spite of the fact that colonial and post-independent policies of their  have not been favourable to them.  She said in sub-Saharan Africa, women in politics have contributed immensely to society by adding issues such as HIV and AIDS, gender equality and property rights to policy agenda on the continent. 

Mrs. Justice Bamford-Addo made the point in a speech read on her behalf in Accra at the Sixth Mission African National Prayer Conference to commemorate African Union Day.  The prayer conference which is a Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and Parliament of Ghana initiative, focused on continental anointing for innovation, scientific inventions and job creation in Africa.  

Mrs. Justice Bamford-Addo said there is the need to analyze the political scene for gender imbalances, and identity problems that hinder the active participation of women in politics. This will ensure that appropriate solutions are worked out.  She paid glowing tribute to emerging African Women leaders, such as the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sir-leaf, the Chief Justice of Ghana and herself as the first female Speaker of Parliament in Ghana among other examples across the Continent.  

This she said is testimony of women’s involvement in decision making process in Africa.  Mrs. Bamford Addo, challenged African women to make more strides in meeting new challenges and defend the hard-won gains made so far.  She encouraged women not only to step-up their representations in politics, but also ensure that the increasing numbers translate into positive impact in legislations that would be beneficial to the continent.

Zim the most aid dependent

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe is the most food aid dependent country in the world, aid agencies said on Tuesday.

Also, nearly 55% of children who died of cholera in the southern African country were malnourished.

This is according to a report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, quoting numbers from the World Food Programme.

"Per capita, Zimbabwe is now the most food aid dependent country in the world. The World Food Programme believes that seven million people are in need of food assistance - somewhere between 65 and 80% of the population," the report states.

"The UN believes that 54% of all children who have died from cholera were malnourished, with 47% of the country's population undernourished."

The food crisis was caused by several factors including hyperinflation which disenfranchised many agriculture farmers, the report states.

Substandard seed

"Zimbabwe's fields are sown with substandard seed, scavenged often from granaries or from the side of the road. It is extraordinarily unlikely that the 2009 harvest will significantly surpass 2008 - the worst in the country's history," says the report.

The country's woes started escalating in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe's government lost a referendum to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and sanctioned an aggressive land reform programme in which the majority of white farmers lost their land to war veterans.

This resulted in a food crisis, exacerbated by drought and later by hyper-inflation.

The country was plunged into socio-economic turmoil, political violence and eventually a collapse of infrastructure, alongside a deadly cholera epidemic last year that killed more than 4 000 people.

Mugabe late last year finally agreed to form a government of national unity with opposition leaders.


President Jacob Zuma's New Cabinet PART ONE

Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa: Kgalema Motlanthe.

Kgalema Motlanthe, 59, was appointed caretaker president in September 2008 after former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the ANC. A thoughtful intellectual and former trade unionist, Motlanthe quickly earned public respect in his new role for smoothing over the tumultuous transition period, and for his sometimes independent streak.

The latter trait led to some conflict within the party, with the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) accusing Motlanthe of usurping the role of ANC President Jacob Zuma.

The criticism had seemingly little effect on Zuma, who persuaded Mothlanthe to stay on as deputy president in the new cabinet, despite his reported intention of leaving government. In the six months he was president Mothlanthe made no major policy changes or decisions but earned plaudits for making key changes to Mbeki’s existing cabinet, particularly the celebrated appointment of Barbara Hogan as health minister, replacing the controversial Manto “Dr Beetroot” Tshabalala-Msimang.

He came under media criticism for axing prosecutions chief Vusi Pikoli and for refusing to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal during his term in office.

There has been uncertainty over what Motlanthe will earn as pension from his previous post. All ex-presidents are entitled to a taxable pension amounting to 100% of their salary - R2.1m a year for life. While the pension applies to retired presidents, there is no clarity on what "retirement" means, and whether Motlanthe would still qualify for his ex-president's pension as deputy president.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Tina Joemat-Pettersson

New to the Cabinet, Joemat-Pettersson, 45, previously served as the MEC for Agriculture and Land Reform in the Northern Cape. She was born in Kimberley in 1963, the second youngest of six children, and in 1991 obtained an Honours Degree in English. A former teacher, Joemat-Pettersson served in the ANC since the 80s and has been primarily based in the Northern Cape, previously acting as education MEC (1994), ANC provincial treasurer and chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in the Northern Cape.

She was rated the best agricultural MEC in 2006 by a leading South African agricultural magazine. She scored eight out of ten in an informal survey to determine how efficient agricultural MECs were at handling their respective provinces. The National African Farmers Union of South Africa said in a newsletter that “Prominent farmers, agriculturalists and other industry role players agree that this remarkable woman is highly regarded in the Northern Cape agricultural sector.

“There is great appreciation for her understanding of agriculture in the province, her effective communication skills, her hands-on approach when dealing with problems and the fact that she is always available.”

In 2004 the party absorbed the Conservative Party, the Afrikaner Eenheids Beweging and the Federale Alliansie to become the FF+.

In the past he has argued for a separate homeland for Afrikaners, Afrikaans as a medium of instruction for Afrikaans scholars and students, and was at the forefront of the court battle to allow all South Africans abroad to vote.

The appointment came as a surprise to many within the FF+. DA leader Helen Zille criticised the appointment, saying is was part of the ANC's broader strategy to weaken the opposition. It is seen as an appeal by Zuma to Afrikaners, many of whom feel marginalised 15 years after the end of white minority rule. 

Minister of Arts and Culture: Lulu Xingwana

Moved from her former portfolio of agriculture and land affairs, there has been some consternation over the appointment of Lulu Xingwana, 53, given her poor performance in the past.

Previously she held the position of deputy minister of minerals and energy from 2004 to 2006 and was minister of agriculture and land affairs from 2006 to 2009. Under her tenure South Africa went from a net food exporter to a net food importer and the Land Bank, a once prominent agricultural finance house, was plunged into scandal forcing then president Thabo Mbeki to hand administrative powers of the bank to Finance Minister Trevor Manuel in mid-2008. The Mail and Guardian gave her a D+ in their 2008 Cabinet report card while political commentator Justice Malala lamented her continued presence in the Cabinet, calling her last tenure an “abject failure”. In Minerals and Energy she earned a reputation as a firebrand for lashing De Beers, Anglo American and Sasol for "looting" SA's minerals, for being "lily white", and for dragging their feet on employment equity.

With an academic background in science as well as rural development, the ANC has been criticised for appointing someone ill-fitted for the role. Xingwana holds a BSc (Wits); a post-graduate diploma in rural development and leadership studies (Zimbabwe, Harare) and a post-graduate diploma in economic principles from the University of London.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Dr Pieter Mulder

In one of the biggest surprises of the new Cabinet, Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder, 57, was appointed as deputy minister of the newly named department of agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The son of former cabinet minister Connie Mulder, Mulder worked as a lecturer and represented the town of Potchefstroom in Parliament since 1988. He co-founded the rightwing Afrikaans party, Freedom Front, with former head of the South African Defence Force, General Constand Viljoen. The party won nine seats in the National Assembly in 1994, and held on to four in all subsequent elections. Viljoen retired from politics in 2001, leaving Mulder in charge.

In 2004 the party absorbed the Conservative Party, the Afrikaner Eenheids Beweging and the Federale Alliansie to become the FF+.

In the past he has argued for a separate homeland for Afrikaners, Afrikaans as a medium of instruction for Afrikaans scholars and students, and was at the forefront of the court battle to allow all South Africans abroad to vote.

The appointment came as a surprise to many within the FF+. DA leader Helen Zille criticised the appointment, saying is was part of the ANC's broader strategy to weaken the opposition. It is seen as an appeal by Zuma to Afrikaners, many of whom feel marginalised 15 years after the end of white minority rule. 

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture: Paul Mashatile Paul Mashatile, 47, replaced Mbhazima Shilowa on October 7 2008 as Gauteng premier, after Shilowa resigned following the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki. Despite the ANCYL’s lobbying to keep Mashatile in his position after the election, he was replaced as Premier by Nomvula Mokonyane on May 6 2009 in what was perceived by critics as a gender equality appointment. He previously served as the Gauteng MEC for Finance and Economic Affairs. 

Minister of Basic Education: Angie Motshekga

With the important education portfolio taken away from Naledi Pandor and split in two, all eyes are on former Gauteng MEC for Education Angie Motshekga as she takes over schools. A faithful Zuma ally, she was appointed President of the ANC Women’s League in July 2008. She causes a small media controversy when she labelled ANC members defecting to break-away party Cope as “dogs”, refusing to apologise when called on to do so.

A former member of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), Motshekga, 53, was called the best person for the job by the organisation, who said she knew the system from the bottom up.

Motshekga was also embroiled in a conflict of interest scandal in 2004, when the Mail and Guardian found evidence that Motshekga and her husband, former Premier of Gauteng Dr Mathole Motshekga, may have benefited financially from the trust that she helped to land a stake in a lucrative provincial pension payout contract. A probe later found she had not benefitted financially or act dishonestly but her conduct as MEC was, however, found to be unacceptable.

Angelina Motshekga was born in Soweto, where she first became active in the struggle against apartheid. She holds a BA Education, B Ed from the University of the North and a Masters Degree in Education from Wits University. She has published and conducted research in education, women's development and language studies, and has worked as a teacher and lecturer.

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Sicelo Shiceka

The former department of provincial and local government has been renamed the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, as part of many structural changes to government. Shiceka stays on in the department after he was appointed in September to replace Sydney Mufamadi, who resigned following Mbeki’s recall. The South African Local Government Association (Salga) welcomed the appointment, calling Shiceka a “hard-working, passionate, visionary and consultative leader since joining the ministry last year”. Traditional leaders have also welcomed his appointment over the newly formed Traditional Affairs portfolio, which has been in the works since Mbeki’s administration.

Described as a “jovial Gautenger” by Beeld, he was MEC for local government in Gauteng in 1994. In 2004 he was appointed as the permanent Gauteng representative to the National Council of Provinces and served as the chairperson of Parliament's collective committee on local government and administration.

While he owes his rise to his Zuma loyalties, the Mail and Guardian noted in December that he is likely to find his portfolio a poisoned chalice. Neither of his predecessors, Sydney Mufamadi and Valli Moosa, succeeded in turning the inefficient and graft-ridden third tier of government into the service-providing powerhouse envisaged by the ANC.

Minister of Correctional Services: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

While Mapisa-Nqakula was expected not to survive politically as a close associate of Mbeki, she has been handed a department left in a dire state by outgoing minister, Ngconde Balfour. While her former portfolio of Home Affairs has shown gradual improvements recently, critics still believe her to be an underperforming minister. She will have to work hard to turn around prisons. Overcrowding has risen to 40%, from 158 000 inmates in 2006 to 161 000 in 2007, and of the eight new prisons mentioned by Mbeki in his State of the Nation speeches since 2004, construction had started on just one by the end of last year.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans: Lindiwe Sisulu

Sisula, 55, moves from housing, where she proved herself a largely capable minister, running into trouble mostly with the fraught N2 gateway project. She scored a B in the Mail and Guardian’s cabinet report card for 2008, won a Presidential housing award in 2004 and another in 2005 from the International Association for Housing Science Award. But she inherits a defence portfolio still wrecked by the excesses of the arms deal. The department is one of the worst performing since the 2001/2002 financial year and has received qualified audit opinions since 2002-03.

Something of struggle royalty, Sisulu was born to ANC leaders Walter and Albertina Sisulu. She was detained from 1975 to 1976 for her anti-apartheid activities. During her exile from 1977 to 1979 she joined the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, specialising in intelligence, and working as a personal assistant for then head of intelligence, Zuma. She was deputy minister of the department of home affairs from 1996 to 2001, when she became minister of intelligence. In 2004 she was appointed as minister of housing. She has an MA in History and an M Phil from the Centre for Southern African Studies at the University of York. 

Minister of Economic Development: Ebrahim Patel

Former secretary general of The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu), Patel, 47, takes over the new portfolio of economic development in what seems to be a careful balancing act on Zuma’s part. The appointment will keep the trade unionists who brought Zuma to power happy, after former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was retained in the Cabinet against their wishes.

He has been highly involved in the battle to save SA's clothing textiles industry from cheap imports and is a delegate at the World Trade Organisation's ministerial conferences, I-Net Bridge reported. Prior to his appointment he was national labour convenor of the National Economics Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) in SA and has been involved as a delegate in bilateral trade negotiations with Zimbabwe. Patel has been active in the trade union movement for more than two decades, according to Sactwu, and played an active role in the formation of Cosatu.

It is unclear how much interaction Patel will have with the new National Planning Commission headed by Trevor Manuel, or with Finance. He is described as a skilled negotiator and an experienced unionist.

Deputy Minister of Economic Development: Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde

Mahlangu-Nkabinde lost her position as Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa which she received in the Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of Mbeki’s call at the end of 2008. She has been awarded with the position of deputy minister, unlike her predecessor in Parliament, Baleka Mbete, who refused to settle for a lesser position and has since been relegated to Luthuli House. Mahlangu-Nkabinde served as Deputy Speaker from 2004 till 2008. Following the April 2009 election she was replaced as Speaker by Max Sisulu.

The Times reported her chairing of the National Assembly has always been fraught with difficulties. She battled to call MPs to order as she often got emotional herself — to the extent that she has been known to forget to check the rule book readily available through assistants, before ruling on a point of order.

She is former chairperson of the environmental affairs and tourism portfolio committee.

Minister of Energy: Dipuo Peters

The newly created energy portfolio has been split from the Department of Minerals and Energy, a move hailed by industry analysts as the sector outgrows mining and nuclear energy is expanded. But Peters is a newcomer facing a host of serious challenges.

A former Northern Cape premier with a background in social work, Peters’ appointment is seen as a political one with analysts slamming her lack of experience. "Her qualification is in social work and now she will head the energy ministry. It appears this is South Africa's tradition to appoint a minister who has no technical qualifications whatsoever," Andrew Kenny, an independent energy analyst, told Mineweb.

She will possibly share oversight of Eskom with more experienced Public Enterprise Minister Barbara Hogan.

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan.

One of the most lauded new appointment, Gordhan headed the South African Revenue Service (Sars) since 1999, serving under Manuel, and has been praised for turning the tax authority into one of government’s most efficient body that has repeatedly collected revenue over target, Reuters reported.

Gordhan, of south Indian descent, was born in Durban in April 1949 and has a degree in pharmacy from the University of Durban Westville. He was involved in politics as a student and became a member of parliament between 1994 and 1998 for the ANC. He was also involved in drafting the present Constitution.

In July 2006, he completed his term as Chairperson of the World Customs Organisation -- a position he held for an unprecedented five terms.

Close to Trevor Manuel, Gordhan’s appointment is a sign of policy continuity in a move that is likely to please the markets. But many of the department’s previous default powers will now be limited as the new National Planning Commission headed by Trevor Manuel assumes more planning power. Gordhan is likely to focus on budget and the management of state finances. 

Deputy Minister of Finance: Nhlanhla Nene

Nene, 50, was once touted as a possible replacement for Manuel, but has retained the job of second-in-command instead, after being promoted to the position by Motlanthe last year when Jabu Moleketi resigned over Mbeki’s recall.

He is well qualified, serving previously as the chairperson of the Finance Portfolio Committee. He became an internet viral hit when a clip of a chair breaking beneath him during an interview was posted on YouTube.

Minister of Health: Dr Aaron Motsoaledi

All eyes are on the relatively unknown Limpopo doctor as he takes over this critical portfolio from favourite, Barbara Hogan. The department is one of the most challenging posts after Hogan’s predecessor, Tshabalala-Msimang’s disastrous legacy characterised by Aids denialism. While a surprise appointment, Motsoaledi, 50, is qualified with a degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Natal. He is a former acting premier in the Limpopo province and moves from being education MEC in the same province, Sapa reported.

Many in the health sector have argued that Hogan should have been retained after she moved quickly to turn around the department in her six months at the helm. But Hogan finance background makes her a better fit at Public Enterprises. Health-e news found a positive report from many who have worked with Motsoaledi in the past, including from opposition parties. The DA’s Michael Holford battled to produce much criticism of the man he worked with in the Limpopo legislature for the past couple of years, describing him as a "big talker", but "fairly effective, an approachable and likeable chap".

Holford said Motsoaledi would not be afraid to shift incompetent people: "He likes people who can do the job.

Minister of Higher Education and Training: Dr Blade Nzimande

The general-secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP) was named Minister of Higher Education and Training. A Zuma ally who helped him rise to the top, he may demand payback in the form of more government spending on the poor, Reuters reported.

He has served as Secretary-General of the SACP since 1998 and holds a doctorate degree in philosophy specialising in sociology. He takes over one half of the newly split education portfolio. Nzimande has emerged victiorious from a long battle with Mbeki - The Times reported the former president was accused of forcing Nelson Mandela to reverse his decision of making Nzimande deputy education minister in the 1994 cabinet - to become one of the country’s most powerful politicians and possibly Zuma’s most trusted ally.

Writer Mark Gevisser famously opened his 1995 Mail & Guardian profile piece on Nzimande thus: “You respect Blade Nzimande the way you do a Jack Russell terrier: both are compact, tenacious, intelligent, scrappy when provoked. .. and intensely loyal to those they trust.” 

Minister of Home Affairs: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

An Mbeki ally and long-time friend who happens to also be Zuma’s ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma has retained her place in cabinet despite backing the wrong horse at Polokwane.

A medical doctor by profession, she was Health Minister in Nelson Mandela's cabinet and one of Mbeki’s most trusted ministers at Foreign Affairs. She was offered the Deputy Presidency of South Africa by Thabo Mbeki after he fired Jacob Zuma, but declined it. She has been a controversial foreign affairs minister, particularly when SA held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. Critics accused Dlamini-Zuma of embarrassing South Africa by backing governments with dubious human rights records.

Business Report noted her new appointment was a poisoned chalice. The department of home affairs is renowned for endemic corruption and incompetence. A recent US government report slammed the department ability to counter terrorism, finding that poor administration and corruption has resulted in thousands of fraudulent passports, identity documents and work permits being issued.

The department has however shown improvements over the past year with Director General Mavuso Msimang at the helm, the Mail & Guardian reported. He is a turnaround specialist who has introduced efficiencies into this department, winning an ICT service delivery award from the United Nations this month. 

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs: Malusi Gigaba

A former ANCYL president for three terms in a row, Gigaba, 37, remains in his position despite previous controversy over the apparent misappropriation of public funds. Gigaba allegedly sent flowers to his wife at the department's expense in 2007, costing R1020. He was been reported to Parliament earlier this year for failing to co-operate with investigators from the Public Protector’s office probing the allegations.

He has also been accused of setting up a private organisation known as The Malusi Gigaba Institute of Leadership, which was run from his office.

Further claims were that Gigaba's department paid for flight tickets and car rental of individuals associated with that organisation.

He earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Durban-Westville (now part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) in 1991, and a master's degree in social policy in 1994.

Minister of Human Settlements: Tokyo Sexwale.

Politician turned businessman, Sexwale returned to active politics in 2007. He quickly built up a business empire spanning diamonds to banking, becoming one of the richest men in the country through Mvelaphanda Holdings, where he was chairperson for several years.

Frozen out of politics by Mbeki, he has made a return to take over the formerly named department of housing from fellow minister, Lindiwe Sisulu. Questions were raised about a possible conflict of interests given his business dealing. However he announced his resignation from the board of Mvelaphanda Holdings.

A popular figure, analysts are hoping he can put his business skills into practice and transform housing delivery.

Sexwale is a former Gauteng premier and also had a stint as South Africa’s version of American entrepreneur Donald Trump, when he had the job of hiring and firing competitors in the local adaptation of reality show The Apprentice.

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

A relative unknown with no department experience and a low profile in the party, Nkoana-Mashabane appointment to this powerful post has raised many questions.

An activist in the United Democratic Front during apartheid, Nkoana-Mashabane went on to be appointed South African High Commissioner to India and Malaysia.

On her return to South Africa she became Limpopo’s local government and housing MEC, apparently dedicated to rooting out corruption in low-cost housing programmes.

Her late husband, Ambassador to Indonesia Norman Mashabane, made headlines when he was recalled after being charged with a series of sexual harassment incidents from 2001. He was labeled a "sex pest" in the media but was redeployed in government. He died in a car accident in 2007. Nkoana-Mashabane defended him throughout.

While Zuma has defended her appointment, analysts see it as a sign that he will focus on domestic issues in a departure from Mbeki's controversial emphasis and role in foreign affairs.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development: Jeff Radebe

A staunch Zuma supporter, Radebe has effectively been promoted from his previous role as minister of transport (2004 – 2009) to this heavyweight portfolio. He is a longtime minister who has served in every cabinet since 1994: minister of public works under Nelson Mandela from 1994 to 1999 and minister of public enterprises from 1999 to 2004.

He is somewhat better qualified for his new role however, with a law degree from the University of Zululand, and an LLM in International Law at the Karl Marx University, Leipzig in 1981

·Keep an eye out for the second half of Zuma's cabinet mini biographies. 


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