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[The following Paper was presented by Cde Mwandawiro Mghanga while facilitating the theme discussion on Peace and Security at the Pan - Africanist Regional Conference for Eastern Africa that was held in Nairobi, August 10 - 12, 2015]

 

1.   Introduction: The reality of insecurity in the Region

Insecurity is a big problem within the countries of Eastern Africa and Great Lakes Region. It is also a regional problem that must be addressed as such. It is therefore an appropriate agenda of the conference.

Peace and security are necessary conditions for development because lack of sustainable peace and development constrains the development of the countries of the region. Democracy, human rights, development and social progress cannot take place in a situation of conflicts and violence. However, at the same time lack of sustainable development is itself root cause of insecurity and lack of peace. This underlines the need to put the agenda of peace and security as a key agenda of Pan - Africanists from the people’ perspectives of development.

Although it differs in history and degree from country to country, insecurity is a big problem in all countries of the region. After the creation of the Republic of South Sudan, war has not only remained but also escalated. As I write, the country is involved in the most senseless, reactionary and vicious wars in its painful history. The brutal war which regional leaders have not addressed adequately continues to cause thousands of deaths, injuries, gross violations of human rights, refugees, internal displaced persons, hunger, poverty and suffering. The war has stopped all the optimism and development activities that had started since the establishment of the youngest nation in Africa.

There is also perpetual war in its sister nation, Sudan, including that of the Darfur region that has taken many decades. Allegations of gross violations of human rights by the state and other warring parties are more often than not reported causing concern to African Union and the international community. War in Sudan also constrains development in the country.

The war in Somalia also continues despite the establishment of the government in Mogadishu with the assistance of regional governments. Deaths, gross violations of human rights, hunger, poverty, destruction, piracy and suffering are words that are associated with Somalia almost on a day to day basis. Insecurity in Somalia also causes direct and indirect insecurity in the region not only through terrorism - Al Shabaab - but also the problem of small-arms and light-weapons in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia and throughout the region. Contraband trade and its negative economic implications to the development of the countries is also a consequence of the instability in Somalia. In fact, it is for these reasons that Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Ethiopia are involved militarily inside Somalia through the African Union.

War in DRC Congo with violations of human rights including rape and crimes against humanity, destruction of the lives of entire ethnic groups, creations of internal displaced persons, etc. has persisted for so long that it is now almost taken for granted and thus abandoning the victims of the war. The people of the richest country in terms of natural resources have suffered so much as a result of colonialism, neo-colonialism and war that the country is used as an example of how abundant availability of natural resources could be a curse and not a blessing!

Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia too are also engaged in internal wars to a lesser extent, wars that often spill over to neighbouring countries. Dictatorship and violations of human rights are often reported in the countries that claim to adhere to multiparty democracy.

At the same time the sister countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia apart from their internal conflicts are still also at state of war with one another. The state of war constrains development and poverty eradication in the countries and is also responsible for causing thousands of their citizens to migrate abroad where many of them perish in Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in the process.

War has broken again in Burundi creating thousands of refugees in neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania. In fact, if the present conflict in Burundi is not addressed with the urgency and seriousness it deserves it may end up to be a genocidal war. Then the history of hundreds of thousands of deaths, refugees, internal displaced persons and what was all wrong in the past will repeat itself and the region will act when it is too late.

Kenya is not only at war with Al Shabaab terrorists inside Somalia and within the country, but it is also dealing with conflicts concerning the most underdeveloped and marginalised areas of northern Kenya and semi - arid lands of the pastoralists and nomads that make the areas almost ungovernable. At the same time, the country carries the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC Congo and Eritrea, not to speak of the internal displaced persons of the country’s 2008 post - election inter-ethnic violence and also of Tana River, Pokot, Baringo, Turkana and areas prone to cattle rustlings and inter-ethnic conflicts.  

Tanzania that is relatively the most stable country in the region in relation to absence of violence and war, still had to deal with political conflicts in Pemba and Zanzibar. And as the country prepares to conduct national elections that will be the most contested in its history it needs to be careful to avoid the situation of the 2008 post - election violence in neighbouring Kenya. Tanzania too faces the threat of the escalating terrorism in the region.

 

2.   Definition of peace and security

Peace and security is not only the absence of conflicts, violence and war. Peace and security is in fact the absence of the root causes of peace and insecurity. Without eradicating the root causes of peace and insecurity it is impossible to have sustainable peace and security. In other words, peace and security should be defined in the context of human security. The problem of conflicts, war and insecurity in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region are failures of the states and also the people to create the necessary conditions for the development of human security. Violence, conflicts and wars that are notorious in our region is failure/refusal of the states and ruling classes to address the basic issue of human security and to create the necessary conditions for providing all the people of their countries with human security which is their right as citizens and as human beings.

 

3.   Definition of human security

Human security are conditions in which human beings exercise their human rights and are therefore able to live in peace, dignity, freedom and without fear. In order to have human security people must realise or access the following:

(a)   Basic needs: food, shelter, clothes, access to water and a clean and healthy environment. One cannot have peace when he/she lacks basic needs for a hungry and destitute person, for example, cannot be said to be peaceful even in the absence of war.  That is why, for example, conflicts and violence are part and parcel of life in the slums and remote rural areas especially in semi - arid areas where pastoralists and nomads live and eke a living. Violence and crime too find fertile ground in poverty. That is why poverty and underdevelopment are major root causes of insecurity and lack of peace.

(b)   Access to social services: education, health and others services are also necessary for human security. Implementation of programs of taking care of the needs of persons with disabilities, elderly persons, retired persons, the sick, children and the marginalised in society also enhance human security.

(c)  Democracy and human rights: There cannot be peace and security without democracy and human rights. In fact, one of the key root causes of conflicts, violence and wars in the region is dictatorship, authoritarian rule and violations of constitutions and human rights of citizens by leaders, states and individuals. In order to have genuine and sustainable peace people must live in freedom, democracy and participate in making decisions that govern their lives and that of their nation. They must have political liberty, i.e., they must be free to form, join and organise a political parties of their choice and to elect leaders of their choice. They must live without fear of the state or other individuals. For this reason, it is primitive and reactionary for any country to have political prisoners. Major conflicts in the region including those of Sudan, South Sudan and Burundi are consequences of the violations of democracy and human rights. There is no development that can happen or allowed to happen at the expense of democracy and human rights for the ultimate objective of development is to satisfy and realise human rights.

(d)   Equity and equality: Without equity and equality there cannot be peace and security in society or nation. For wherever there are classes there will inevitably be class struggles. And class struggles are conflicts. Greed, corruption and primitive accumulation by political, civil service, religious, professional and other leaders and their classes have made the East African and Horn of Africa region one of the most unequal societies in the world. That is why conflicts over land and property are not only part and parcel of life but also a necessary historical development. Implementation of neoliberal economic policies that escalate poverty among the majority of citizens and increase the gap between the few rich and the majority poor is a major root causes of conflicts and insecurity.

There cannot be peace and security when local communities are denied the right to accrue direct and indirect benefits from their natural resources. That is why conflicts over natural resources that also involve neo-colonialism and imperialism are dominant causes of violence and insecurity in the region.

(e) National cohesion/inclusivity: Tribalism, nepotism, national and social exclusion (including class divisions and discrimination), gender inequality and discrimination of persons with disability and marginalised communities do not help to build national cohesion and therefore also not peace and security. To have sustainable peace all the citizens of the country of all ethnic communities, groups and minorities must be included equally in the development process and feel that they are included.

(f)    Regional integration from the perspectives of the citizens of Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region: opening of borders, free movement of labour and capital, cultural exchanges etc. The people should exercise the right to move, live and own property in any country of the region. Hostilities between Sudan and Republic of South Sudan and between Ethiopia and Eritrea, for example, do not help the integration process. Neither does construction of the wall by Kenya at the boundary with Somalia purportedly to curb terrorism from Al Shabaab.

(g)  The question of leadership must be addressed: no to dictators, tribalists, tyrants, thieves, egoist, greedy and corrupt leaders, whether benevolent or not.

(h)  Impunity and justice: Crime, including that of corruption, violation of human rights and robbery of public property by leaders and individuals must be punished and seen to be punished. Nobody should be allowed to violate constitutions and laws with impunity. Citizens must exercise the right to remove governments, states and individuals who misuse power using all means possible, including violence. For conditions may be created where people are forced to use violence and war in order to create conditions for peace and security.

 

4.   Terrorism

Terrorism is a real threat to peace and security in the Eastern Africa and Great Lakes region and must of necessity be addressed by all the states and people of the region. Again, as necessary as it is, militaristic approach alone has not and will not work. Political approach that addresses the root causes of terrorism many of which are related to lack of human security should be used for the sustainable solution to the problem of terrorism. Why, for example, is ‘radicalisation’ targeting the poor, the unemployed youth mostly in the slums of urban areas but also now including the confused, frustrated and disgruntled youth in colleges and universities?

Fighting terrorism without comprehending and dealing with the root causes, including the problem of increasing superstition among the people, neoliberalism and imperialism ideology and praxis in the region will not bring about sustainable solution. The following poem that I wrote sometimes this year is about the basis of terrorism and its ideology. This should be taken seriously by all involved in the war against terrorism, i.e., the leaders, states and also all citizens:

The Origin of Terrorism[1]

Capitalist contradictions

Imperialist hegemony

Oppression of person by person

Poverty amidst richness

Widening gap

Between the few rich

And the majority poor

Within society and nations

And between nations of the world

Unemployment

And problems and suffering of all sorts

Especially among the youth;

War, foreign domination and discrimination

Growth of slums in urban areas

And its life full to the brim

With a myriad of problems;

The development of science and technology

The creates enormous wealth to a few

While pushing the majority to the fringes;

Corruption and greed and egoism

And the erosion of humane morals

It squeezes out goodness from many

To leave empty shells of a people -

People who do not value the life of other people

People who hate even their own lives

People who despise freedom and culture;

Also there is the lack of hope

Of life of peace and happiness on earth

For the exploited and oppressed;

The result of all this

Is crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, empty rebellion

And hatred, jealousy, anger and revenge;

But instead of the ideology of liberation

Revolutionary struggle

The truth based on historical materialism

Of possibility of heaven here on earth

That will be brought about by just struggles

Socialist revolution -

Instead of this

It is the reactionary ideology of superstition

Religions

Of false promises

But enticing lies

About the existence

Of life after death

And the pleasures there in heaven

Promise of happiness that entice then poor

Who have lost hope on earth

And who smoke the opium of superstition

To despise life!

The consequence of all this

Is also

The root cause

Of terrorism:

Unjust wars

Sadistic and brutal murders

Violence terror and war

Rebellion against human civilization

Fear and desperation

Dictatorship and madness

And all in the name of God!

Terrorism:

Big

Sensitive

Persisting

Problem

In the country

Africa

And the world

Today.

Mwandawiro Mghanga

Nairobi, Ijumaa, Mei 22, 2015

 

5.   Foreign military bases in Eastern Africa and Great Lakes region

Imperialist military presence in the region is for imperialist interests and not that of the African people. They are part and parcel of insecurity in the continent. Therefore they must not be allowed in independent Africa. It is betrayal by leaders and states to collaborate with imperialist’s security forces and agents in the region against the African people. Are African military and security forces allowed to operate in the USA and Europe? How can foreign secret police and other security forces be allowed to arrest, interrogate, torture and abduct to their country or foreign countries African citizens from their own countries with the connivance of the national security forces of African countries? Who will trust their security on such states? Are not these also conditions for terrorism and insecurity?

African militaries should intervene in other African countries only to stop genocide and gross violations of human rights but not to loot their resources or help dictators survive at the expense of their people. Citizens of the countries should be allowed to exercise their right to use all means possible including violence - to win for their democratic, constitutional and human rights and national sovereignty.

Mwandawiro Mghanga, Nairobi, Sunday, 09 August 2015

Chimbuko cha  Ugaidi

Makinzano ya ubepari

Na ubabe wa mabeberu:

Udhalimu wa mtu kwa mtu,

Ufukara ndani ya utajiri,

Pengo linalozidi kupanuka

Kati ya matajiri wachache

Na mafukara wengi

Katika jamii na mataifa

Na kati ya mataifa ulimwenguni;

Ukosefu wa ajira

Na dhiki za kila aina

Hasa miongoni mwa vijana;

Vita, uvamizi na ubaguzi,

Kukua kwa mitaa ya mabanda

Na maisha yake yaliyojaa pomoni

Mambo magumu tilatila;

Kukua kwa sayansi na tekinolojia

Kunakowatajirisha wachache

Na kuwasukuma wengi pembeni;

Ufisadi na ulafi na ubinafsi

Na mmomonyoko wa maadili ya kiutu

Hukamua wema miongoni mwa wengi

Na kubakisha vifuvu vitupu vya watu -

Watu wasiyojali maisha ya wengine

Watu wanaochukia hata maisha yao

Watu wanaodharau uhuru na utamaduni;

Kisha kuna ukosefu wa matumaini

Ya maisha ya furaha na amani duniani

Kwa wanaonyonywa na kugandamizwa;

Matokeo ni uhalifu, mihadharati, ulevi, ukaidi

Na chuki, wivu, hasira na visasi;

Lakini badala ya itikadi ya ukombozi -

Harakati za kimapindizi

Ukweli halisi wa uyakinifu

Wa uwezekano wa pepo

Hukuhuku duniani

Itakayoletwa na mapambano ya haki

Mapinduzi ya kisoshalisti -

Badala yake

Ni itikadi za ushirikina:

Dini

Zenye ahadi za uwongo

Lakini uwongo mtamu

Kuhusu kuwepo

Kwa maisha baada ya kifo

Na starehe zake huko peponi

Zishawishizo mafukara

Waliyopoteza matumaini duniani

Na wavutao kasumba ya dini

Kuyapuuza maisha!

Matokeo ya hayo yote

Pia ni chimbuko

Cha ugaidi:

Vita haramu

Mauaji ya kiholela

Ghasia na tandabelua

Ukatili usiyo na kifani

Uasi wa unganwa na ustarabu

Hofu na wasiwasi

Imla ya wendawazimu,

Yote kwa jina la Mungu!

Ugaidi:

Tatizo kubwa

Nyeti

Na sugu

Nchini

Na ulimwenguni

Leo.

Mwandawiro Mghanga, Nairobi,

Ijumaa, Mei 22, 2015

 



[1] The original poem in Kiswahili can be read at the end of these notes.

 

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