Third World Report (Africa)

South Africa: Capital's Dangerous Gimmick

With climate change posing one of the gravest threats to capital accumulation - not to mention humankind and our environment - it is little wonder that economists such as Sir Nicholas Stern, establishment politicians like Gordon Brown and Al Gore, and financiers at the World Bank and the City of London have begun warning the public. They are all pushing for more market solutions as the way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

This was the key theory motivating capitalist states' support for the Kyoto Protocol. And since February 2005, when the protocol was ratified by Russia and formally came into effect, a great deal more money and propaganda has been invested in the carbon market, including at a major Nairobi climate conference last month.

Foreign Intervention: France - Wishing You Weren't Here

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France is intervening in two African countries, using troops and fighter aircraft to defend the regimes in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) from rebel forces. The interventions come without any debate in the French parliament.

There are about 1,300 French troops in Chad, following a conflict with Libya in the 1980s. They are now being used to assist the Chadian army, providing it with aerial reconnaissance, and transporting troops, medicine and weapons.

In the CAR, Mirage fighter planes were used last month to destroy rebel positions. The same planes were used in April last year to stop rebels entering Chad's capital, N'Djamena.

Mali: On-Screen Platform for the Voiceless

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Sometimes it seems that the Western powers, the multinationals and the banks get away with murder, confident that no one can challenge them. Anti-capitalists rage that the impoverishment of Africa is a crime and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be put on trial. I spoke to director Abderrahmane Sissako whose forthcoming film, Bamako, literally puts them in the dock.

In a surreal contrast, a formal trial - with robes, lawyers, witnesses and cross examination - takes place in a domestic courtyard in Bamako, the capital of Mali in West Africa, while everyday life continues all around. Women fetch water from the standpipe. Someone is close to death with no money for medical care; a couple marry; another relationship breaks down as the husband can't find work. A workshop of fabric dyers toil in the background.

Sudan: A Young Imperialist's Guide to Darfur

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The crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan is once more in the news. George Clooney and US ambassador to the United Nations (UN) John Bolton formed a bizarre alliance to call for Western intervention into the crisis recently.

Reebok has sponsored a video game about it. US liberal intellectuals are certain that this would be the occasion for a truly "good" war, but despite the acreage of coverage you would be doing well to understand what is happening in Darfur.

DR Congo: Elections for the West, Not the People

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The presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were the first national vote in the country for more than four decades.

The first round of the election saw the sitting president, Joseph Kabila, take a 45 percent share. As Kabila did not win an absolute majority he now faces a run-off in a second round on 29 October with Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Some of the striking images from the election were of people queuing to vote for the first time in their lives. Sadly the elections offer little in the way of a real alternative for most Congolese - rather the run-up to the elections has seen a further phase of plunder.

South Africa: "We Guard Billions, but are Paid Peanuts"

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Brian Mfisa starts work at 6 am for the international security firm Chubb. He guards a large house in the wealthy suburb of Melrose in Johannesburg.

Brian sits in a small wooden box, a "guard hut" that is dwarfed by the parameter walls of the house. He works 12 hour shifts and is paid R1600 (US$220) per month. Last month he was shot through the arm by a man attempting to break into the house. The next day he was back at work. Brian is still refused permission to go to the toilet while on duty and is forced to use a plastic bucket in the hut.

South Africa: Communists and ANC to Split?

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This is not the first time South African newspapers have announced a serious rift between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (CP) and the trade union federation Cosatu. What's fresh this time around is that the union and Communist leaders are no longer denying it.

In the past they might have accused journalists of sensationalising "healthy debate" among alliance partners. On 18 May this year, about 20,000 workers gathered in Johannesburg during a one day national strike for jobs. They heard Zweli Vavi, the general secretary of Cosatu, say that the gulf between the people of South Africa and the cabinet of President Thabo Mbeki is the gulf between rich and poor. Now both the CP and Cosatu are discussing various futures, which include fielding independent Communist candidates in future elections.

Corruption: Who is to Blame for Bad Governance?

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Africa is normally seen negatively, particularly from the West, which often sees itself as the saviour of a dark continent marred by problems. Hunger, war, disease, refugees and debt are the issues that typically dominate the news stories in the Western media. Lately talk of bad governance has been added to the list.

Associated with it is the question of corruption. The rulers of the world, and their institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, set "anti-corruption measures" as a pre-condition for getting assistance.

Western Sahara: Caught in the European Union's Net

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Last month the European Union (EU) voted through an agreement which allows European ships to fish off the coast of Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco for the past 30 years.

This vote highlights once more the plight of the people of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, who find that the leaders of world's democracies are largely uninterested in the theft of their right to sovereignty. Christian Hogsbjerg spoke to Sidi Omar, the London based representative of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Mali: The Farmer with the Guitar has Retired

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"Mali is first and foremost a library of the history of African music," said Ali Farka Toure.

On 6 March Ali Farka Toure, Mali's most well-known musician, died in his sleep at his home in Niafunke. After the Malian minister of culture made the announcement the country's radio stations suspended normal programming to play Toure's music.

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