No Good Governance in Southern Africa?

Even though The Mo Ibrahim Foundation decided no former African leader merited its $5 million prize this year; when it ranked African nations on good governance, five of the top 10 were countries monitored by Amnesty International USA’s Southern Africa Co-group: Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Sao Tome y Principe and Lesotho. Zimbabwe was in the bottom five. (I know: shocking.)

Botswana, which you might only be familiar with through The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is often hailed as a shining light of democracy in Africa. Last week, Batswanans went to the polls and elected Ian Khama to a new 5 year term as president. Khama assumed the presidency last year when then President Festus Mogae  stepped aside for his then-Vice President in order to allow him to run as an incumbent this year. Talk about your smooth transitions of power, right? Except this is the second time this has happened and also ensures that the same ruling party remain in power for the past 43 years.

So is Botswana a shining light of democracy? Well, the elections last week were deemed free and fair, the press is considered free even though its dominated by state run media, political parties are allowed to operate without intimidation but have difficulties campaigning on a level playing field because of the media control, human rights are generally recognized even though a recent report accuses the government of dispossessing the few remaining San still living in the Kalahari of their land so the government can access diamonds, the AIDS rate is the 2nd highest in the world so the government clearly isn’t doing all that hot of a job on education or other methods to reduce transmissions, and marginalized groups (women, LGBT, disabled) struggle for recognition of their rights.

Where Botswana excels, however, is its voice in the region. Former President Mogae and now Khama have not flinched from calling out Mugabe’s behavior in Zimbabwe or supporting the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudan’s Bashir. Neither of these are popular views in the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union. Clearly Botswana has areas in need of improvement, but then so does every other nation. (Can we say Gitmo?) But all in all, I would say Botswana is a flickering light of democracy that gets it mostly right within its own borders and isn’t afraid to demand that its neighbor’s work harder on getting it right as well. I also have to give a shout out that their Parliament just elected its first female speaker. Watch out Pelosi-someone else is ready to rock that red power suit!

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29 thoughts on “No Good Governance in Southern Africa?

  1. Dear Sarah Hager,

    Excellent Botswana sketch by you !

    Especially appreciated, your pointing out of the dispossession of the San in the Kalahari.

    Just one big disappointment about your portrait — your hailing of Botswana's backing for the International Criminal Court's indictment of Sudan's Bashir.

    Please recheck & update yourself on this point, my humble suggestion.

    Bashir is highly popular in his land.

    Moves around without the heavy security some of his foreign critics pack.

    Moderate politician.

    Darfur is quiet, its violence ended, its refugees well provided for, getting the aid sent them.

    Sudan's Western critics & the Western corporate media keep harping on re Darfur while maintaining the silence of the grave on Israel, AfPak.

    Darfur's token mention today symptomises that part of the unfocused american mainstream of unconsciousness that doesn't know much of what's really going on.

  2. Dear Sarah Hager,

    Excellent Botswana sketch by you !

    Especially appreciated, your pointing out of the dispossession of the San in the Kalahari.

    Just one big disappointment about your portrait — your hailing of Botswana’s backing for the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudan’s Bashir.

    Please recheck & update yourself on this point, my humble suggestion.

    Bashir is highly popular in his land.

    Moves around without the heavy security some of his foreign critics pack.

    Moderate politician.

    Darfur is quiet, its violence ended, its refugees well provided for, getting the aid sent them.

    Sudan’s Western critics & the Western corporate media keep harping on re Darfur while maintaining the silence of the grave on Israel, AfPak.

    Darfur’s token mention today symptomises that part of the unfocused american mainstream of unconsciousness that doesn’t know much of what’s really going on.

  3. Hello again Mr. Savage-
    thank you for reading and most especially commenting. if you look more closely at what I wrote above, I neither endorse nor criticize the actual indictment of Bashir. I am stating that Khama has been strong enough to take unpopular positions and hold to them. in regards to the indictment, however, just because you contend that violence in Darfur has ended, does not exhonerate someone for past behavior. if you killed your neighbor but never killed again, does that excuse you from punishment for the act you did commit?

    I notice that you didn't have a comment about Khama's stance on Mugabe's policies, also a stance not strongly supported within Africa…are you cherry picking crimes against humanity?

    in regards to Israel, please see our Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories page. http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    Thanks and keep 'em coming! The lawyer in me is always up for a good debate.
    Sarah

  4. Hello again Mr. Savage-
    thank you for reading and most especially commenting. if you look more closely at what I wrote above, I neither endorse nor criticize the actual indictment of Bashir. I am stating that Khama has been strong enough to take unpopular positions and hold to them. in regards to the indictment, however, just because you contend that violence in Darfur has ended, does not exhonerate someone for past behavior. if you killed your neighbor but never killed again, does that excuse you from punishment for the act you did commit?

    I notice that you didn't have a comment about Khama's stance on Mugabe's policies, also a stance not strongly supported within Africa…are you cherry picking crimes against humanity?

    in regards to Israel, please see our Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories page. http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    Thanks and keep 'em coming! The lawyer in me is always up for a good debate.
    Sarah

  5. Hello again Mr. Savage-
    thank you for reading and most especially commenting. if you look more closely at what I wrote above, I neither endorse nor criticize the actual indictment of Bashir. I am stating that Khama has been strong enough to take unpopular positions and hold to them. in regards to the indictment, however, just because you contend that violence in Darfur has ended, does not exhonerate someone for past behavior. if you killed your neighbor but never killed again, does that excuse you from punishment for the act you did commit?

    I notice that you didn't have a comment about Khama's stance on Mugabe's policies, also a stance not strongly supported within Africa…are you cherry picking crimes against humanity?

    in regards to Israel, please see our Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories page. http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    Thanks and keep 'em coming! The lawyer in me is always up for a good debate.
    Sarah

  6. Dear Sarah,

    Refreshing to find a fighting spirit at last !! So many shirk & skirt, think willingness to scrap uncivil, even antisocial !! Why should it, provided you've things worth fighting for ??

    Your blog's refreshing as well — you widen issues by offering pop cultural contexts to connect with general readers, & spice them with personal asides that give a most human & lively, living feel to the sketch ! You experiment to find ways to make distant events relevant, at home.

    Love the way you speak directly in above comments, sharp unsparing, bite to it. i despise the man's courts but love cause lawyers & real lawyer debate !!

    You cite Khama's backing of Bashir's indictment approvingly, but don't qualify it with any distancing from the indictment itself. What do you expect me to think of your view, the only one on display here ? Nothing else implied. Lawyerlike you could anticipate possible reactions.

    You assume too much when presenting views. Unpopular positions like Khama's aren't commendable in themselves, either.In fact lousiest of despots do it all the time, in electoral democracies as well. It's taking worthwhile stands against the tide that makes difference. Khama's views may be unpopular in Africa but they get along swimmingly with the OK Corral of the "Just – us" "international community", you know whom i mean.

    Be back with remaining points you raised.Talking to you a pleasure to prolong.

  7. Hello again Mr. Savage-
    thank you for reading and most especially commenting. if you look more closely at what I wrote above, I neither endorse nor criticize the actual indictment of Bashir. I am stating that Khama has been strong enough to take unpopular positions and hold to them. in regards to the indictment, however, just because you contend that violence in Darfur has ended, does not exhonerate someone for past behavior. if you killed your neighbor but never killed again, does that excuse you from punishment for the act you did commit?

    I notice that you didn’t have a comment about Khama’s stance on Mugabe’s policies, also a stance not strongly supported within Africa…are you cherry picking crimes against humanity?

    in regards to Israel, please see our Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories page. http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/occupied-palestinian-territories/page.do?id=1011175

    Thanks and keep ‘em coming! The lawyer in me is always up for a good debate.
    Sarah

  8. En garde, Mr. Savage.

    As my blog posting focused on southern Africa (my area of expertise) governance in general and Botswana as an illustrative example in the specific, it was not appropriate for me to delve into the morass that is Darfur and the ICC. Further, as you note, many people with a wide degree of knowledge visit Amnesty's web page and blog, and its necessary to not get too technical or you alienate people who can't follow along with the content.

    That being said…let's dance.

    Whether or not the ICC should have issued the indictment against Bashir, or even whether the UN Security Council should have authorized the investigation, are very dense arguments no one can win because in the end they come down to opinion, not fact.

    It is opinion as to whether this indictment will strengthen or weaken international law and the ICC. It is opinion as to whether this indictment will end the conflict for good or prolong it (opinion because despite your view violence has ceased, mass amounts of people are still living in refugee camps and unable to return home so no one can call the conflict over-even if you are the outgoing UNAMID chief). It is opinion as to whether this indictment will serve as a deterrent to future perpetrators because no one can predict the future (even though I still check my horoscope every day). Etc etc etc. You can see why I didn't go there.

    Your point that the courage to take unpopular views is not in and of itself commendable is valid. Well played Sir. And here is where you exposed my bias through my attempt at subtlety; despite awareness of the validity of the cons, despite having many reservations myself regarding aspects of the Court (investigation tactics, personalities, etc), I support the Court itself and I do think that issuing the indictment was correct. Hence, going forth, you may now refer to me as Wyatt Earp.

    Sarah

  9. Dear Sarah,

    Refreshing to find a fighting spirit at last !! So many shirk & skirt, think willingness to scrap uncivil, even antisocial !! Why should it, provided you’ve things worth fighting for ??

    Your blog’s refreshing as well — you widen issues by offering pop cultural contexts to connect with general readers, & spice them with personal asides that give a most human & lively, living feel to the sketch ! You experiment to find ways to make distant events relevant, at home.

    Love the way you speak directly in above comments, sharp unsparing, bite to it. i despise the man’s courts but love cause lawyers & real lawyer debate !!

    You cite Khama’s backing of Bashir’s indictment approvingly, but don’t qualify it with any distancing from the indictment itself. What do you expect me to think of your view, the only one on display here ? Nothing else implied. Lawyerlike you could anticipate possible reactions.

    You assume too much when presenting views. Unpopular positions like Khama’s aren’t commendable in themselves, either.In fact lousiest of despots do it all the time, in electoral democracies as well. It’s taking worthwhile stands against the tide that makes difference. Khama’s views may be unpopular in Africa but they get along swimmingly with the OK Corral of the “Just – us” “international community”, you know whom i mean.

    Be back with remaining points you raised.Talking to you a pleasure to prolong.

  10. En garde, Mr. Savage.

    As my blog posting focused on southern Africa (my area of expertise) governance in general and Botswana as an illustrative example in the specific, it was not appropriate for me to delve into the morass that is Darfur and the ICC. Further, as you note, many people with a wide degree of knowledge visit Amnesty’s web page and blog, and its necessary to not get too technical or you alienate people who can’t follow along with the content.

    That being said…let’s dance.

    Whether or not the ICC should have issued the indictment against Bashir, or even whether the UN Security Council should have authorized the investigation, are very dense arguments no one can win because in the end they come down to opinion, not fact.

    It is opinion as to whether this indictment will strengthen or weaken international law and the ICC. It is opinion as to whether this indictment will end the conflict for good or prolong it (opinion because despite your view violence has ceased, mass amounts of people are still living in refugee camps and unable to return home so no one can call the conflict over-even if you are the outgoing UNAMID chief). It is opinion as to whether this indictment will serve as a deterrent to future perpetrators because no one can predict the future (even though I still check my horoscope every day). Etc etc etc. You can see why I didn’t go there.

    Your point that the courage to take unpopular views is not in and of itself commendable is valid. Well played Sir. And here is where you exposed my bias through my attempt at subtlety; despite awareness of the validity of the cons, despite having many reservations myself regarding aspects of the Court (investigation tactics, personalities, etc), I support the Court itself and I do think that issuing the indictment was correct. Hence, going forth, you may now refer to me as Wyatt Earp.

    Sarah

  11. If i called you Wyatt Earp it'd mean i don't have the respect for you i do, but i get your tongue in cheeky imputation. You're a formidable strategist, & i hugely appreciate YOUR legal & logical point that views on the ICC indictment would be opinion not fact.

    But they'd be opinion & NOT opinion. Your twin fields of expertise — southern Africa , & the law — are in a narrowing & sharpening conflict of "interests" here & everywhere. For the War's been going on for 500 snows now & your courts are very much part of it, like "lofty" Olympus became part of the battleground round Troy though the gods would claim higher prerogative. Your southern Africa specialty will talk to you & tell you you should know anything the ICC or — even more so — today's US suborned UN does is never just a matter of opinion, nor mere "fact" — it's part of concrete, inescapable world historical reality.

    In future, in accordance with today's schizophrenic human condition(ing ), your conflict of interests will likely deepen as the fault lines running through both your fields widen.This conflict isn't an ethical one, for you're a highly ethical person yourself — it's a structural, inbuilt problematic. Nor will the baseline peoples of Africa side with your law, & hear's the widening gap between the law & the oppressed within the context of power, for what "law" is it when it doesn't ( & cannot ) consider & accomodate ground reality & the ACTUAL interests of the real African peoples ( as opposed to elites near & far ) ?

    The law is nothing more in any age than the limits & threshold of power defined by one class of men over a definite dominion ( even when defined despite themselves ). Another lawyer, Maximilien Robespierre, stumbled on this threshold & remarked acutely on its limitations. Rights bodies & workers don't confess to this obstacle, & i see the less frank & forthright among your colleagues sail by such hidden rocks without voicing warning ( or suspicion ).It's a sign of your exceptional power & the utter seriousness of your personal enterprise that you talk about the cons at all .

    Like you, i would confront the obstacles & mark them for others. i loved it when you asked out loud if i was cherrypicking in Mugabe's case. Actually i would never let him get away even if i was lenient with more "reactionary" people , for he represents the real problems within the antiimperialist body, its systemic malaise, that i constantly focus on. i didn't mention his case to you for i often don't mention things i agree with — again, because i focus on the problems, & in your case the problem i came upon was the Bashir indictment. By the way, i am trying to find a copy of the new novel, "The Boy Next Door", which is about the evolution of Zimbabwe to where it is today. i especially wish to look at the expropriation of the white farmers & what that really meant , for i never saw it as a problem, in fact i supported it. i never sympthise with white settlers. If their expropriation was actually a problem for the people of Zimbabwe,as you're in a position to tell me, i would truly want to learn. i remain open on all matters, including Bashir,the law, & international law, to you & your brilliant mind, & to all my other relations.

  12. En garde, she said.

    In vain. With a single flick of her practiced wrist too quick for the eye to follow, she sent Savage's envenomed rapier flying thru the air, leaving him stunned & bemused at the slim mercy of her shining blade !!

    Your words are delight to me as a lover of "logic", undeniable to me as a lover of the "truth". Every single point you advance is accurate. i wouldn't dispute them, at the ICC or anywhere.

    i follow your argument in full agreement — until just at the end, where i stop & step back.

    For here's where we step off the "law" & into a depth right from the edge, a treacherous current belying the surface calm, a snatching undertow just below.

    Something bigger than this issue lurks here.

    If this world weren't different i'd go in with you.

  13. If i called you Wyatt Earp it’d mean i don’t have the respect for you i do, but i get your tongue in cheeky imputation. You’re a formidable strategist, & i hugely appreciate YOUR legal & logical point that views on the ICC indictment would be opinion not fact.

    But they’d be opinion & NOT opinion. Your twin fields of expertise — southern Africa , & the law — are in a narrowing & sharpening conflict of “interests” here & everywhere. For the War’s been going on for 500 snows now & your courts are very much part of it, like “lofty” Olympus became part of the battleground round Troy though the gods would claim higher prerogative. Your southern Africa specialty will talk to you & tell you you should know anything the ICC or — even more so — today’s US suborned UN does is never just a matter of opinion, nor mere “fact” — it’s part of concrete, inescapable world historical reality.

    In future, in accordance with today’s schizophrenic human condition(ing ), your conflict of interests will likely deepen as the fault lines running through both your fields widen.This conflict isn’t an ethical one, for you’re a highly ethical person yourself — it’s a structural, inbuilt problematic. Nor will the baseline peoples of Africa side with your law, & hear’s the widening gap between the law & the oppressed within the context of power, for what “law” is it when it doesn’t ( & cannot ) consider & accomodate ground reality & the ACTUAL interests of the real African peoples ( as opposed to elites near & far ) ?

    The law is nothing more in any age than the limits & threshold of power defined by one class of men over a definite dominion ( even when defined despite themselves ). Another lawyer, Maximilien Robespierre, stumbled on this threshold & remarked acutely on its limitations. Rights bodies & workers don’t confess to this obstacle, & i see the less frank & forthright among your colleagues sail by such hidden rocks without voicing warning ( or suspicion ).It’s a sign of your exceptional power & the utter seriousness of your personal enterprise that you talk about the cons at all .

    Like you, i would confront the obstacles & mark them for others. i loved it when you asked out loud if i was cherrypicking in Mugabe’s case. Actually i would never let him get away even if i was lenient with more “reactionary” people , for he represents the real problems within the antiimperialist body, its systemic malaise, that i constantly focus on. i didn’t mention his case to you for i often don’t mention things i agree with — again, because i focus on the problems, & in your case the problem i came upon was the Bashir indictment. By the way, i am trying to find a copy of the new novel, “The Boy Next Door”, which is about the evolution of Zimbabwe to where it is today. i especially wish to look at the expropriation of the white farmers & what that really meant , for i never saw it as a problem, in fact i supported it. i never sympthise with white settlers. If their expropriation was actually a problem for the people of Zimbabwe,as you’re in a position to tell me, i would truly want to learn. i remain open on all matters, including Bashir,the law, & international law, to you & your brilliant mind, & to all my other relations.

  14. En garde, she said.

    In vain. With a single flick of her practiced wrist too quick for the eye to follow, she sent Savage’s envenomed rapier flying thru the air, leaving him stunned & bemused at the slim mercy of her shining blade !!

    Your words are delight to me as a lover of “logic”, undeniable to me as a lover of the “truth”. Every single point you advance is accurate. i wouldn’t dispute them, at the ICC or anywhere.

    i follow your argument in full agreement — until just at the end, where i stop & step back.

    For here’s where we step off the “law” & into a depth right from the edge, a treacherous current belying the surface calm, a snatching undertow just below.

    Something bigger than this issue lurks here.

    If this world weren’t different i’d go in with you.

  15. Mr. Savage-

    Your comments above reveal a schism that exists in the implementation of international justice models-the view that nothing the West does is moral or valid or right merely because it arises in Western schools or locales or think tanks. Whitey's got alot to answer for, but sometimes we aren't all bad, ya know.

    Law, or rules of conduct, have ordered society since society began. Wherever groups of people congregated and established a social structure, rules to govern behavior followed. Don't steal. Don't kill. Don't beat people up. In general, don't cause harm to others. These basic tenets are the building blocks we see today and at their root, are not designed to oppress or harm others but to protect the greater good.

    However, as in all things, law can be used as a sword that harms as much as protects. A perfect example in the Public Order and Security Act in Zimbabwe, designed to prohibit loitering and other potentially anti-social behaviors and instead is used as a weapon by the government to prohibit freedom of assembly.

    To say that the ICC and all tribunals are Western imperialism is to say that the idea of using law to establish social order, provide justice and reparation for those harmed, punishment for those who caused harm and deterrence for those who contemplate harm is to discredit a vibrant legal and customary law system in Africa which is the oldest in the world; as Africa is the birthplace of humanity. And to say that all Africans do not want access to these systems is to assign yourself an authority to speak for all Africans, even those who have been the victims of mass suffering.

    Has the system been perfect? Not even close. The system is evolving and hopefully for the better. The implementation of the Gacaca courts in Rwanda is an excellent example of learning from the errors of a) not fully exploring the society you are entering prior to establishing the mode of operation, and 2) not fully appreciating the depth of the societal rupture you are facing. By blending customary law and international law, the Rwandan people have been able to move down a path to reconciliation. Merely because the tribunal derived from the UN did not imbue this process with colonialism or elitism or power.

    In regards to the dispossession of land from white farmers in Zimbabwe-Amnesty's view is the recognition of a disparity in land ownership following colonial rule and that it is an internal matter for a State to establish a system that attempts to address this disparity as long as it is done with respect for human rights and follows the rule of law.

    Zimbabwe's land reform program has done neither. The violence against both white land owners and farm laborers has been severe. That alone is enough to merit the concern of being a "problem" for the people of Zimbabwe. The other issue is that of production. Many reputable researchers have noted the large amount of previously productive land lying fallow-for whatever the reason. Additionally, the massive infrastructure collapse has created issues with properly maintained irrigation systems and electricity to power farms and farm equipment. Finally, many of the persons dispossessed of land bought it following independence from Britain via valid title. The SADC Tribunal (an African court, by the way) ruled that many of the dispossessions were illegal on this ground, prompting Zimbabwe to withdraw from the Tribunal. Therefore, on many levels, yes-Zimbabwe's farm repossessions have caused problems for Zimbabwean's.

    Thanks for being a fan. :) I will do my best to continue to provide you ammunition. It keeps me from being complacent.

    Sarah

  16. Mr. Savage-

    Your comments above reveal a schism that exists in the implementation of international justice models-the view that nothing the West does is moral or valid or right merely because it arises in Western schools or locales or think tanks. Whitey’s got alot to answer for, but sometimes we aren’t all bad, ya know.

    Law, or rules of conduct, have ordered society since society began. Wherever groups of people congregated and established a social structure, rules to govern behavior followed. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. Don’t beat people up. In general, don’t cause harm to others. These basic tenets are the building blocks we see today and at their root, are not designed to oppress or harm others but to protect the greater good.

    However, as in all things, law can be used as a sword that harms as much as protects. A perfect example in the Public Order and Security Act in Zimbabwe, designed to prohibit loitering and other potentially anti-social behaviors and instead is used as a weapon by the government to prohibit freedom of assembly.

    To say that the ICC and all tribunals are Western imperialism is to say that the idea of using law to establish social order, provide justice and reparation for those harmed, punishment for those who caused harm and deterrence for those who contemplate harm is to discredit a vibrant legal and customary law system in Africa which is the oldest in the world; as Africa is the birthplace of humanity. And to say that all Africans do not want access to these systems is to assign yourself an authority to speak for all Africans, even those who have been the victims of mass suffering.

    Has the system been perfect? Not even close. The system is evolving and hopefully for the better. The implementation of the Gacaca courts in Rwanda is an excellent example of learning from the errors of a) not fully exploring the society you are entering prior to establishing the mode of operation, and 2) not fully appreciating the depth of the societal rupture you are facing. By blending customary law and international law, the Rwandan people have been able to move down a path to reconciliation. Merely because the tribunal derived from the UN did not imbue this process with colonialism or elitism or power.

    In regards to the dispossession of land from white farmers in Zimbabwe-Amnesty’s view is the recognition of a disparity in land ownership following colonial rule and that it is an internal matter for a State to establish a system that attempts to address this disparity as long as it is done with respect for human rights and follows the rule of law.

    Zimbabwe’s land reform program has done neither. The violence against both white land owners and farm laborers has been severe. That alone is enough to merit the concern of being a “problem” for the people of Zimbabwe. The other issue is that of production. Many reputable researchers have noted the large amount of previously productive land lying fallow-for whatever the reason. Additionally, the massive infrastructure collapse has created issues with properly maintained irrigation systems and electricity to power farms and farm equipment. Finally, many of the persons dispossessed of land bought it following independence from Britain via valid title. The SADC Tribunal (an African court, by the way) ruled that many of the dispossessions were illegal on this ground, prompting Zimbabwe to withdraw from the Tribunal. Therefore, on many levels, yes-Zimbabwe’s farm repossessions have caused problems for Zimbabwean’s.

    Thanks for being a fan. :) I will do my best to continue to provide you ammunition. It keeps me from being complacent.

    Sarah

  17. Dear Sarah,

    how arid, the rights scene !! Juggling & haggling over rights & wrongs on weighing scales & in ledgers !! No wonder people don't want to hear !!

    Heard your colleagues' reactions to viewers' mail, especially the AI men ? Humorless cranky bureaucrats, utterly graceless in facing the smallest criticism or mostly never even acknowledging it, snooty nosed "Olympians" ( the actual Greek Olympians are far more human !! ), won't deign to answer you or don't even know how to !! Boycott the brats , my policy increasingly !! So don't wonder at your popularity with me, you're a rarity !!

    That said, we viewers of your blog aren't always such an adorable crew either, what with our psychotic prejudices & foamflecked zealotry, with so many ghosts in our attics we can't spend a night in peace ! Still, we're as varied a lot as you & your colleagues are .

    For i don't think everything the West does is wrong, for the West is as varied as well !! i'm thoroughly supportive of the Hague listening to Palestinian tragedies, or the Spanish courts chasing Pinochet or Kissinger. i defend the "West" from simplistic lump 'em all attacks by bigots & apartheiders inveighing against the "West" for attacking their respective genocides. And i seek the support of the white people in my causes in exactly the same way i come to defend them when they are themselves under attack . Within every group i work, & as soon as i start to work i start drawing lines & making distinctions.

    It's the same with every issue i study. i would never treat the law the way you just did, by treating it as a single entity since the dawn of time.Right at the start i distinguish between the law in class societies as distinguished from that in classless ones, the law in stable societies & the law in societies facing revolutionary transformations, the law in sovereign societies & those being subverted by settler imperialisms & / or state imperialisms.In short, i'm for case by case reviews, not just in every legal case as you do, but in the case of every legal system as well.So i don't know of anything called "The Law".

    But i'm guilty of assuming too much & speaking to you without qualifying my word, so let me do so forthwith . i don't believe nor have said, dear Sarah, that "all tribunals are Western imperialism", nor forbidden Africans to access legal systems for justice, nor can i , as you correctly say, speak for "all Africans".Only one correction here, my dear — i can't speak, not just for "all Africans", but for anyone at all ! Here on your blog, when i talk at all, i only talk for myself, even when i presume — presume, i say !! — to speak about some wronged entity i actually presume to speak only about it, NOT on its behalf .

    You say the system is evolving, & hopefully for the better , dear Sarah ?? i don't see this happening, & definitely not within the target zones of the settler imperialisms or state imperialisms. But i'm soaking up everything you said in your paragraphs 5 to 7 above, especially about Zimbabwe & the white farmers, & i'm rereading your words to absorb the lessons. i only wonder about one point where you say many of the white farmers bought their lands via valid title, & i wonder if it was anything like the buying up of Indian lands by white settlers across North america from Indian peoples or nations impoverished, demoralised, debased & weakened by settler & state imperialisms.Many of the documents of such sales might be "technically" valid & yet themselves be effected by the white man's corrosive pesence. i noted you said these sales were made after independence, but we know the substitution of flags is no guarantor of sovereignty.

  18. Dear Sarah,

    how arid, the rights scene !! Juggling & haggling over rights & wrongs on weighing scales & in ledgers !! No wonder people don’t want to hear !!

    Heard your colleagues’ reactions to viewers’ mail, especially the AI men ? Humorless cranky bureaucrats, utterly graceless in facing the smallest criticism or mostly never even acknowledging it, snooty nosed “Olympians” ( the actual Greek Olympians are far more human !! ), won’t deign to answer you or don’t even know how to !! Boycott the brats , my policy increasingly !! So don’t wonder at your popularity with me, you’re a rarity !!

    That said, we viewers of your blog aren’t always such an adorable crew either, what with our psychotic prejudices & foamflecked zealotry, with so many ghosts in our attics we can’t spend a night in peace ! Still, we’re as varied a lot as you & your colleagues are .

    For i don’t think everything the West does is wrong, for the West is as varied as well !! i’m thoroughly supportive of the Hague listening to Palestinian tragedies, or the Spanish courts chasing Pinochet or Kissinger. i defend the “West” from simplistic lump ‘em all attacks by bigots & apartheiders inveighing against the “West” for attacking their respective genocides. And i seek the support of the white people in my causes in exactly the same way i come to defend them when they are themselves under attack . Within every group i work, & as soon as i start to work i start drawing lines & making distinctions.

    It’s the same with every issue i study. i would never treat the law the way you just did, by treating it as a single entity since the dawn of time.Right at the start i distinguish between the law in class societies as distinguished from that in classless ones, the law in stable societies & the law in societies facing revolutionary transformations, the law in sovereign societies & those being subverted by settler imperialisms & / or state imperialisms.In short, i’m for case by case reviews, not just in every legal case as you do, but in the case of every legal system as well.So i don’t know of anything called “The Law”.

    But i’m guilty of assuming too much & speaking to you without qualifying my word, so let me do so forthwith . i don’t believe nor have said, dear Sarah, that “all tribunals are Western imperialism”, nor forbidden Africans to access legal systems for justice, nor can i , as you correctly say, speak for “all Africans”.Only one correction here, my dear — i can’t speak, not just for “all Africans”, but for anyone at all ! Here on your blog, when i talk at all, i only talk for myself, even when i presume — presume, i say !! — to speak about some wronged entity i actually presume to speak only about it, NOT on its behalf .

    You say the system is evolving, & hopefully for the better , dear Sarah ?? i don’t see this happening, & definitely not within the target zones of the settler imperialisms or state imperialisms. But i’m soaking up everything you said in your paragraphs 5 to 7 above, especially about Zimbabwe & the white farmers, & i’m rereading your words to absorb the lessons. i only wonder about one point where you say many of the white farmers bought their lands via valid title, & i wonder if it was anything like the buying up of Indian lands by white settlers across North america from Indian peoples or nations impoverished, demoralised, debased & weakened by settler & state imperialisms.Many of the documents of such sales might be “technically” valid & yet themselves be effected by the white man’s corrosive pesence. i noted you said these sales were made after independence, but we know the substitution of flags is no guarantor of sovereignty.

  19. Mr. Savage-
    I think we shall have to agree to disagree about the nature of the law, although I am fairly confident it will resurface as many of my posts have a legal angle. I can't quite beat that side out of myself despite my best efforts.

    In regards to Zimbabwe and the "land sales affected by the white man's corrosive presence": I cannot speak to every instance of a white person owning land in Zimbabwe. At liberation, a disproportionate amount of the most valuable and productive farming acres were owned by white settlers. However, after liberation, persons such as Mike Campbell bought land from the government at a fair market price and paid off their loans to the government. (Note there was no string of beads involved.) It was after the loan was paid that the government began its attempts to repossess the land.

    Was Mr. Campbell in a better financial position to buy the land than the average black Zimbabwean at that time? It seems so as he was able to make the purchase. Does this invalidate the fact that he did pay a fair price for the land, worked it productively for 20 years, employed many people, and contributed to the economic well being of the nation? This is the nexus of the court case that he won at the SADC Tribunal.

    As I stated above, land redistribution is an internal matter for the State to decide in order to correct inequities that were the result of policies established under colonialism that deliberately excluded Africans from land ownership. However, it must be done with respect for the rule of law and human rights.

    Sarah

  20. Dear Sarah,

    i'm listening with pleasure to your words. What a joy to learn from you. Allow me this happiness.

    i want to just listen today.

    Look for my words on Friday.

  21. Mr. Savage-
    I think we shall have to agree to disagree about the nature of the law, although I am fairly confident it will resurface as many of my posts have a legal angle. I can’t quite beat that side out of myself despite my best efforts.

    In regards to Zimbabwe and the “land sales affected by the white man’s corrosive presence”: I cannot speak to every instance of a white person owning land in Zimbabwe. At liberation, a disproportionate amount of the most valuable and productive farming acres were owned by white settlers. However, after liberation, persons such as Mike Campbell bought land from the government at a fair market price and paid off their loans to the government. (Note there was no string of beads involved.) It was after the loan was paid that the government began its attempts to repossess the land.

    Was Mr. Campbell in a better financial position to buy the land than the average black Zimbabwean at that time? It seems so as he was able to make the purchase. Does this invalidate the fact that he did pay a fair price for the land, worked it productively for 20 years, employed many people, and contributed to the economic well being of the nation? This is the nexus of the court case that he won at the SADC Tribunal.

    As I stated above, land redistribution is an internal matter for the State to decide in order to correct inequities that were the result of policies established under colonialism that deliberately excluded Africans from land ownership. However, it must be done with respect for the rule of law and human rights.

    Sarah

  22. Dear Sarah,

    i’m listening with pleasure to your words. What a joy to learn from you. Allow me this happiness.

    i want to just listen today.

    Look for my words on Friday.

  23. Should it have been, dear Sarah,

    so unusual to find the natural voices of people ? You'd expect not — yet it is surprisingly rare to come across a voice that is truly its own, coming through the door its hand has just opened as the owner of the voice comes in , off the track of his own steps on that particular day…

    We live in such congested times the ether's aswarm with viral flows of consciousness ready to be sucked into our mouths the moment we open them, so our own words are not our own. But if your words you funnel & shape into your own small daily cup, then offer that cup impressed with your lips, your essences, to share with a friend — it's the rarest previlege in this world.

    For this cup from your hands is your experience, your very own dream bent beyond moulds by your own especial quirks, your uneven tilts & trembles, Sarah. Whenever you speak, i look for these — your love of the law , & your way of welcoming other voices into your unchosen but Selfgrafted fields of passion — law, rights, southern Africa. If you ever withhold your "legal angles"from me, i'll feel cheated of my share .

    When we go deeper into our "angles" we find they're crookeder than we expected. We find quicksand where we were sure of firm footing, & new paths ending in abrupt dead ends. "The cause" is not what we set out on. That's why Mark Twain says, "Those who respect the law & love sausage should watch neither being made." But we press on, & we find our "way".

    In you i have a marvellous guide to both law & southern Africa, & i want to come back to you repeatedly to know about both — not their promises but their problems. i 'm never interested in the former, only the latter. Towards me be unsparing & your most critical — i learn only that way.

    Re Zimbabwe, from what you described, the situation demanded an immediate land reform by taking away the rich lands of the whites & returning them to the indigenous population. If Mugabe did this, he did his duty. AFTER this, when you speak of Mr Campbell's predicament, i can appreciate your & his immense concerns. His purchase is fair & honest. Did he buy from the government or private sellers ? If the latter, were the circumstances of his original purchase fair to the sellers ? Did they sell out of poverty or any economic / historic discrimination ? If so, & if after 20 years a land reform movement or effort arises, should the circumstances of the purchase be considered & rectified by a postcolonial government, by the land being restored to the deprived population ? The legal problem still exists, & should also be solved, how ? By compensation coupled perhaps with partial or co- ownerships by Mr Campbell ? Or perhaps by land exchanges, where whites are given lands in exchange for the lands taken? Do you think this is fair, Sarah ? You have so far taken the law – uber – alles position, but as a student of the African situation, what would you recommend in the context of the historic land – deprivation & – dispossession of the black peoples ?

    i have no position on this, for i know nothing. Depending on you totally & unconditionally.

    Yours,
    Art

  24. Hi Art-
    My understanding is that Mr. Campbell purchased his land from the government. I do know that he secured his mortgage through the Central Bank and faithfully made his payments until the land was paid off and the debt discharged.

    The other issues with the land reform process is that those who became the new owners of the land were not farmers and did not know or were not interested in working the land. Hence, many acres lay fallow and unproductive so that Zimbabwe is no longer able to meet the food production needs of its people. Further, the farm laborers are who bore the brunt of the violence and the populace who bears the brunt of the harm due to food insecurity.

    I have no good answer as to how the land reallocation should have occurred. I am neither a land owner in Southern Africa nor am I a person historically dispossessed in Southern Africa. I am also not an agricultural or development expert. However, South Africa and other States struggle with this issue-how to fairly compensate all involved, rectify inequities and yet insure that the land remains productive. It will take the wisdom of Solomon to come up with a better plan than I can provide and no matter what, someone will be unhappy with the results. The only thing I can continue to assert is that the violence and lack of respect for rule of law evidenced by the government of Zimbabwe is not a practice that should be replicated.

    Sarah

  25. Should it have been, dear Sarah,

    so unusual to find the natural voices of people ? You’d expect not — yet it is surprisingly rare to come across a voice that is truly its own, coming through the door its hand has just opened as the owner of the voice comes in , off the track of his own steps on that particular day…

    We live in such congested times the ether’s aswarm with viral flows of consciousness ready to be sucked into our mouths the moment we open them, so our own words are not our own. But if your words you funnel & shape into your own small daily cup, then offer that cup impressed with your lips, your essences, to share with a friend — it’s the rarest previlege in this world.

    For this cup from your hands is your experience, your very own dream bent beyond moulds by your own especial quirks, your uneven tilts & trembles, Sarah. Whenever you speak, i look for these — your love of the law , & your way of welcoming other voices into your unchosen but Selfgrafted fields of passion — law, rights, southern Africa. If you ever withhold your “legal angles”from me, i’ll feel cheated of my share .

    When we go deeper into our “angles” we find they’re crookeder than we expected. We find quicksand where we were sure of firm footing, & new paths ending in abrupt dead ends. “The cause” is not what we set out on. That’s why Mark Twain says, “Those who respect the law & love sausage should watch neither being made.” But we press on, & we find our “way”.

    In you i have a marvellous guide to both law & southern Africa, & i want to come back to you repeatedly to know about both — not their promises but their problems. i ‘m never interested in the former, only the latter. Towards me be unsparing & your most critical — i learn only that way.

    Re Zimbabwe, from what you described, the situation demanded an immediate land reform by taking away the rich lands of the whites & returning them to the indigenous population. If Mugabe did this, he did his duty. AFTER this, when you speak of Mr Campbell’s predicament, i can appreciate your & his immense concerns. His purchase is fair & honest. Did he buy from the government or private sellers ? If the latter, were the circumstances of his original purchase fair to the sellers ? Did they sell out of poverty or any economic / historic discrimination ? If so, & if after 20 years a land reform movement or effort arises, should the circumstances of the purchase be considered & rectified by a postcolonial government, by the land being restored to the deprived population ? The legal problem still exists, & should also be solved, how ? By compensation coupled perhaps with partial or co- ownerships by Mr Campbell ? Or perhaps by land exchanges, where whites are given lands in exchange for the lands taken? Do you think this is fair, Sarah ? You have so far taken the law – uber – alles position, but as a student of the African situation, what would you recommend in the context of the historic land – deprivation & – dispossession of the black peoples ?

    i have no position on this, for i know nothing. Depending on you totally & unconditionally.

    Yours,
    Art

  26. Hi Art-
    My understanding is that Mr. Campbell purchased his land from the government. I do know that he secured his mortgage through the Central Bank and faithfully made his payments until the land was paid off and the debt discharged.

    The other issues with the land reform process is that those who became the new owners of the land were not farmers and did not know or were not interested in working the land. Hence, many acres lay fallow and unproductive so that Zimbabwe is no longer able to meet the food production needs of its people. Further, the farm laborers are who bore the brunt of the violence and the populace who bears the brunt of the harm due to food insecurity.

    I have no good answer as to how the land reallocation should have occurred. I am neither a land owner in Southern Africa nor am I a person historically dispossessed in Southern Africa. I am also not an agricultural or development expert. However, South Africa and other States struggle with this issue-how to fairly compensate all involved, rectify inequities and yet insure that the land remains productive. It will take the wisdom of Solomon to come up with a better plan than I can provide and no matter what, someone will be unhappy with the results. The only thing I can continue to assert is that the violence and lack of respect for rule of law evidenced by the government of Zimbabwe is not a practice that should be replicated.

    Sarah

  27. HI THERE, Sarah —

    Your answer is illuminating & crystal clear, to the point, & covers every point of concern i have on the issue of land reform.

    Zimbabwe has clearly descended into some of the worst stagnations of power monopoly & violence, & the bureaucratisation happening to liberation movements which achieve power, sometimes even with lesser power than in Zimbabwe.

    Not only has Campbell been wronged, it seems the land seizures, if the land didn't go to landless or poor farmers who should be the beneficiaries of any such distribution, were red herringed crass populisms of the Third World kind which often hide behind zenophobic antiWesternisms & antimperialistic demagoguery to earn credentials with wellintentioned foreigners til the whole thing crashes & strips itself of its last cover.

    The most stinging point of your text for me is the part where you say it was the farm laborers who took the brunt of the attendant violence, & your previous point that those who got the land weren't farmers at all. It seems to be party cronyism at work here, perhaps ?.

    It was my impression Mugabe's exguerrillas were the shock force of the land seizures — was that the case ? — & i expected those people to exact a form or a kind of social justice from the usual state of bureaucratic inertia. But they're also often the worst kind of people in later years,the violent movement people, who live off their laurels & throw their weight, often very literal around neck & midriff, around. They often end up gangsters.

    You say S Africa & other states continue to struggle with ironing out inequities. i don't think they do much or anything of that kind, Sarah. Apartheid remains after its abolition, & grows new heads. The whites won't let go their actual & unceded powers, & Mandela & his party aren't touching that unfinished business.

    You've kicked up my long continuing desire to dig into S & Southern Africa. i want to get back to you with whatever i can read , & i wish you'd do the same for me. You can tell me what to read too. i keep wanting to find "The Boy Next Door", the novel that covers Mugabe's decline & fall, the land seizures …

    i also wish to CONTINUE my readings on law & legal systems & the legal hearetbreak of peoples. Oh yes i do read a lot that direction. And i want to get back to you on that as well, though the terrain may not be Southern African always !!

    Yours,
    Art

  28. HI THERE, Sarah –

    Your answer is illuminating & crystal clear, to the point, & covers every point of concern i have on the issue of land reform.

    Zimbabwe has clearly descended into some of the worst stagnations of power monopoly & violence, & the bureaucratisation happening to liberation movements which achieve power, sometimes even with lesser power than in Zimbabwe.

    Not only has Campbell been wronged, it seems the land seizures, if the land didn’t go to landless or poor farmers who should be the beneficiaries of any such distribution, were red herringed crass populisms of the Third World kind which often hide behind zenophobic antiWesternisms & antimperialistic demagoguery to earn credentials with wellintentioned foreigners til the whole thing crashes & strips itself of its last cover.

    The most stinging point of your text for me is the part where you say it was the farm laborers who took the brunt of the attendant violence, & your previous point that those who got the land weren’t farmers at all. It seems to be party cronyism at work here, perhaps ?.

    It was my impression Mugabe’s exguerrillas were the shock force of the land seizures — was that the case ? — & i expected those people to exact a form or a kind of social justice from the usual state of bureaucratic inertia. But they’re also often the worst kind of people in later years,the violent movement people, who live off their laurels & throw their weight, often very literal around neck & midriff, around. They often end up gangsters.

    You say S Africa & other states continue to struggle with ironing out inequities. i don’t think they do much or anything of that kind, Sarah. Apartheid remains after its abolition, & grows new heads. The whites won’t let go their actual & unceded powers, & Mandela & his party aren’t touching that unfinished business.

    You’ve kicked up my long continuing desire to dig into S & Southern Africa. i want to get back to you with whatever i can read , & i wish you’d do the same for me. You can tell me what to read too. i keep wanting to find “The Boy Next Door”, the novel that covers Mugabe’s decline & fall, the land seizures …

    i also wish to CONTINUE my readings on law & legal systems & the legal hearetbreak of peoples. Oh yes i do read a lot that direction. And i want to get back to you on that as well, though the terrain may not be Southern African always !!

    Yours,
    Art

  29. Pingback: Southern Africa Year in Review 2009 | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog