Greetings from Johannesburg.
Zambia is a country that is not often in the news. But it should be. It is a major source of copper for the world. Indeed, its copper is sluiced out by major multinational corporations based in Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and China. What is extraordinary is that the children that grow up on the land above the copper mines suffer from an illiteracy rate of 60%. That is shameful. There needs to be scrutiny on these multinational corporations that have made it their business to drain the wealth out of Africa while sanctimoniously offering their small donations towards the acute suffering of the hungry and illiterate Zambian people.
Please see my report on the situation not only in Zambia but in other parts of the continent at Alternet. You can read it here. I hope we can talk more about the multinational firms that continue to pillage this great continent. Reporting this story reminded me of Walter Rodney's How Europe Underdeveloped Africa- a book that taught me about the continent's history.
The picture above is by Chellah Tukuta Rancen, the Zambian photographer who won the Lens Awards' Photographer of the Year in Nigeria. Please see his fine work here.
Focus should be on the people of Zambia and on the crises that beset the country, but it is not. Instead, the government has decided to attack the fledgling Socialist Party of the country. I wrote a brief - 500 word - note on this attack on the Socialist Party, perhaps the only political force in the country that is raising the issues of popular discontent in meetings across Zambia. This report can be read here.
The story above - on the Socialist Party of Zambia - can be read at Newsclick, the fine Indian news site which has done a superb job covering the struggles of the Indian people over the course of the past decade. I am happy to let you know that every Friday I will write a short - 500 word - note on a place that I have visited or a political event that might be useful to untangle.
The story on Zambia is the second Radical Journey - the name of the column. The first was on the almost certain removal of Lula, leader of the Workers' Party, from the next presidential election in Brazil. It seemed to me that the media coverage on the court case facing Lula is extraordinarily misleading if not maliciously wrong. Here are my 500 words on the issue.
At Frontline my series on Trumpland continues. Today Trump released the Nunes memo. It merely shows that Trump and his team seem to be outmanoeuvring the Democrats. Trump's state of the union address might have been aesthetically unpalatable - but his approval rating has risen by 10%. This man seems immune. It is likely that he might even get re-elected. My report this week in the magazine is on the 2nd Women's March. You can read it here.
Our friends in Susiya, a Palestinian village in the South Hebron hills of the Occupied West Bank, have asked for international support against the Israeli attempt to destroy the village.
Palestinian Villagers' Last Ditch Plea as Israeli Bulldozers Prepare to Move in
Despite outrage from British MPs and renowned international academics, the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank is bracing itself for the bulldozers, after Israel's High Court gave an initial green light to the government (1st February 2018).
Israel wants to demolish 20 buildings, equal to one-fifth of the entire village, including a health clinic funded by the Italian government which cares for around 500 people from Susiya and surrounding communities. The High Court has just announced that demolition can proceed without delay for 7 of the buildings housing 42 residents, half of them children.
The villagers' lawyers, Haqel, welcomed what they see as a tentative push-back against the demolition process but point out that 'the terror of demolition' looms large over the village, with the remaining 13 scheduled buildings still under threat.
Nasser Nawajaa from the Village Council said the timing of the demolition - in the middle of winter - could not be more devastating. Those made homeless are expected to face freezing rains and harsh winds in the coming weeks.
In 2012, Susiya villagers commissioned a master plan in the hope of putting their lives on a more stable footing. Israeli authorities, however, rejected the plan, effectively blocking any new construction of houses or essential infrastructure, including running water and electricity. As a result, adults, children and the elderly house themselves as best they can, often in tents, forbidden from making substantial repairs to their ailing homes -- homes located, as Nawajaa stressed, on land that belongs to the Palestinians.
Activists point out that the plan to demolish Susiya is a part of an extensive campaign across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 2016 saw the largest number of demolitions in over a decade. Although living under occupation officially means Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are protected by international law, the demolition programme has consistently ignored these rights.
The Village Council insists that demolishing Susiya will be a war crime and that Palestinians must have the right to build on their own land. As Stephen Kinnock MP said in a recent debate, 'This is not an issue of Arab, Muslim or Jewish people. It is about upholding our basic values of justice and human rights, and it is about holding to account those states, Governments and duty bearers that violate those principles and laws.'
In a last-ditch attempt to save their homes, the villagers are calling on the international community to take emergency action.
Susiya Village Council
Join their thunderclap action here. It means a great deal to this beleaguered village in Palestine.
Just left an event in Johannesburg hosted by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) on the revolutionary developments in North Africa (see above). These are the leaders from Morocco's Democratic Way and from Tunisia's Workers Party. Fascinating discussion about their long, brave history, their role in the Arab Uprising and on the future of the Left in the Maghreb. Onward.