Sunday, August 25, 2019

Ghana gives forest to China for mining

Ghana’s pact with China for bauxite mining threatens to ravage a biodiverse forest

By Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Ghana, QUARTZ

Ghana’s Atewa forest is one of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes in the country. It is seen as the better of only two Upland Evergreen forests left intact in the country, forming part of the sixdominant vegetation zones of Ghana based on different climates zones.

The Atewa forest is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa which stretch from southern Guinea into eastern Sierra Leone and through Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana into western Togo. Deforestation has massively reduced the size of the forests and the Upper Guinea Forest is now restricted to a number of more or less disconnected reserves and a few national parks acting as man-made refuges for the region’s biodiversity.

The Atewa forest landscape is remote and pristine, providing the habitat for a major collection of Ghana’s biodiversity. It has been named as one of Ghana’s 30 globally significant biodiversity areas.
As a botanist I view the Atewa landscape as a scientific gold mine.

But the forest is under threat. Last year Ghana signed a memorandum with China to explore Ghana’s deposits of bauxite—the primary ore in aluminum. The deposits are found in two locations—Awaso with very high deposits in the moist semi-deciduous forest zone of western region of Ghana, and Atewa, with minimum deposits and located in the Upland Evergreen forests in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

Under the memorandum Ghana will cede 5% of its bauxite resources to the Chinese. In turn, Beijing will finance $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects that include rails, roads and bridge networks. The Ghanaian Parliament has passed the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminum Industry Act which would provide a legal framework to exploit country’s bauxite deposits.

Yet the government says it still has to validate the true worth of the bauxite deposit in the forest.

As a botanist I view the Atewa landscape as a scientific gold mine. A recent impact assessment by the US Forest Service corroborates the concerns of several conservation groups about the potential damage that mining would cause.

I believe strongly that Atewa is not for mining and that it must be preserved. Firstly, it needs to be preserved as a living natural history laboratory. Secondly, it should be protected because it provides a vital resource – water. Thirdly, it is a precious gift whose value cannot be quantified, but which must be lived, felt and appreciated. Finally it is a naturally bequeathed heritage that must be protected for future generations to enjoy.
The forest

An interesting characteristic of the Atewa forest is that the canopies of its trees are not easily visible as they merge with the surrounding clouds creating a beautiful cloud cover line. This is very rare in the Ghanaian landscape. This feature is described in local parlance as the phenomenon in which the trees are in direct communication with the firmament of the heavens and bring good tidings to the ground underneath.

Scientifically, the phenomenon is responsible for the daily condensation of water vapor which falls as precipitation. As a result the mountain top is kept permanently moist. This in turn explains the interesting hydrological networks beneath the soil surface. The water percolates down to create under ground water ways as well as water falls and many streams and tributaries that coalesce or combine to form Ghana’s famous three rivers. These are the Ayensu, Birim and Densu.

The three eventually drain their basins as they meander through the forests and farm fields providing essential water resources to over 5 million inhabitants. They also deposit suspended clay and silt materials as fertile alluvial for crop production during the rainy periods when they burst their banks and overflow.

The Atewa landscape provides rich forest cover for climate regulation, a show piece to illustrate climate adaptation to avoid drought, reduce poverty and enhance sustainable livelihoods and improve human well being in its catchment area.

The landscape has been the subject of research by geologists, hydrologists and geo-morphologists. A geologist studies studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitute the Earth while a geo-morphologist studies the earth’s surface. A hydrologist is a scientist who researches the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of the earth’s underground and surface waters.

Studies of the fauna and flora of the area have brought up new scientific discoveries of species like the critically endangered white-naped mangabey Cercocebus lunulatus. This shows that the knowledge of the faunal and floristic diversity and to a large extent the microbial diversity is still at the exploratory stages.

I would strongly argue that the Atewa landscape is an important species discovery destination, awaiting extensive research and studies. It should, therefore, not be disrupted or destroyed by mining.

Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Ghana

Increasing evidence Africans are being unfairly denied UK visas

There is increasing evidence Africans are being unfairly denied UK visas


Among the many difficulties faced when traveling with an African passport, the most tasking is getting a visa.

With paperwork-intensive applications and unclear requirements during interviews as well as high rates of rejections, visa application processes often feel like playing the lottery for applicants from African countries. It’s a reality many face given only three African countries rank above average on the 2018 index of the world’s strongest passports.

A joint All-Party Parliamentary Group report from British lawmakers has offered more evidence applicants from African countries face far more visa challenges than applicants from other continents. African applicants are more than twice as likely to be refused a United Kingdom (UK) visa than applicants from any other part of the world, the report found.

In compiling the report, the parliamentary group drew evidence and testimonies from a public hearing held in January as well as from meetings with both public and private UK-based organizations which have invited Africans to visit the country for “bonafide activities and events.” The group also received testimonies from African government officials.

Ultimately, the findings appeared to confirm long-held suspicions by Africans as it showed applicants from the continent are denied visas for reasons ranging from discrimination on account of applicants’ income (even in cases where an inviting third party is paying the costs of the trip) to logistical barriers like having to visit another country before applying for a visa. As part of evidence for the report, Mauritania’s embassy noted that all UK visa applications from the country require visiting a visa application center in Morocco. That translates to 4,000-kilometer round trips and an added barrier of first obtaining a Moroccan visa before a Mauritania national can apply for a UK visa.

Visa applications were also found to have been rejected based on inconsistent decision making and “lack of procedural fairness” which often saw different decisions taken in “effectively identical” applications or identical re-applications. The effect, the report notes, is reduced trust in the process and increased frustration for applicants who cannot contest application decisions.

As part of a cache of solutions to prevent applications being “unjustifiably refused,” the report recommended offering clearer information to applicants on visa application processes and requirements as well siting more visa application centers in countries currently without one.

It’s unclear how much progress will be made on these fronts in the coming years as the United Kingdom moves towards a post-Brexit reality. By itself, the campaign to leave the European Union was hinged on strong anti-immigration rhetoric and sentiments with the implied message being that the country’s immigration laws will toughen in the aftermath of its European divorce. Before her tenure concluded however, former prime minister Theresa May presented a post-Brexit immigration regime focused on prioritizing skilled migrants.

The real-life implications of difficult visa processes for Africans range from being unable to visit family members abroad to scuttling higher education plans. But with increasing awareness of these difficulties and the limitations they represent, some organizations are finding workarounds: organizers of the International Conference on Learning Representations, a major summit focused on artificial intelligence which was previously only hosted in Europe and North America has now been moved to Addis Ababa next year with organizers admitting it will prove too difficult for African researchers to obtain foreign visas to attend it elsewhere.

KENYA: Perpetual Debt in the Silicon Savannah

Kenya's poor were among the first to benefit from digital lending apps; now they call it slavery.


Across conversations in Kenya’s pubs and WhatsApp groups, debt is on everyone’s mind. The speed and ease of access to credit through new mobile apps delivers cash to millions of Kenyans in need, but many struggle to repay. Despite their small size, the loans come with a big cost—sometimes as much as 100 percent annualized. As one Nairobian told us, these apps “give you money gently, and then they come for your neck.”

He is not alone in his assessment of “fintech,” the ballooning financial technology industry that provides loans through mobile apps. During our research, we heard these emergent regimes of indebtedness called “catastrophic,” a “crisis,” and a major “social problem.” Newspapers report that mobile lending underlays a wave of domestic disarray, violence, and even suicide. One young man in Meru described it as a “can of worries.” His monthly salary was not enough to cover ordinary expenses such as rent and necessary contributions to extended kin networks—let alone leisure or investments in his own future. So, like millions of others, he turned to phone-based loans, at one point toggling between five different apps. Reeling as the costs added up, he struggled to repay, deleting the apps so he would not be tempted by repeated offers of dangerous debt.

One Kenyan argued the apps are ‘enslaving’ people—from the working poor to the salaried classes—by making claims on their future labor.

Relations of credit and debt are nothing new to Kenya. For ages, friends, family, and colleagues have lent and borrowed from each other, but what differs today is a lack of reciprocity. In peer-to-peer credit, everyone is eventually likely to be a debtor and a creditor; terms can be reworked according to timelines and margins that are subject to negotiation. In contrast, the fintech industry envisions ordinary Kenyans as first and foremost borrowers, leading many Kenyans to describe their predicament as a form of servitude. One Kenyan argued the apps are “enslaving” people—from the working poor to the salaried classes—by making claims on their future labor.

Indeed Kenya’s new experience of debt is worrying. It reveals a novel, digitized form of slow violence that operates not so much through negotiated social relations, nor the threat of state enforcement, as through the accumulation of data, the commodification of reputation, and the instrumentalization of sociality. Kenyans are being driven into circuits of financial capital that are premised not—as the marketing would have it—on empowerment, but on the profitability of perpetual debt. The eruption of over-indebtedness in Kenya marks the intersection of a faith in finance to ameliorate the lives of the poor and a recognition by techno-capitalists that those same populations are the source of runaway profits.

It is perhaps no surprise that this confluence of technology and unregulated lending have emerged with such ferocity in Kenya. Since the early 2000s, Kenya has been touted as a hub of technological innovation from which novel financial infrastructures have emerged. Financialization through digitization is at the center of narratives of “Africa rising,” which have positioned Kenya as Africa’s “Silicon Savannah.” Both the origins and durability of this story can be largely attributed to what is now East Africa’s largest corporation, the telecommunications and financial services provider Safaricom. This corporation first drew international attention with the growth of the wildly successful and widely emulated service M-PESA, a mobile-to-mobile money transfer platform, but it has since grown far beyond this offering. Safaricom’s growth has been enabled by the Kenyan state, which proudly provides a permissive regulatory environment in the service of innovation. M-PESA, for instance, received only a “letter of no objection” from the Central Bank of Kenya that permitted—but did not regulate—the telecommunications firm’s entrance into the financial sector.

Since this entrée into payments, Safaricom has expanded to become a foundational infrastructure for lending. Growth was slow at first, but since 2016 its offerings have grown enormously. Its loan service, M-Shwari, launched with the Commercial Bank of Africa, has been replicated in partnerships with other banks. By mid-2018, M-Shwari alone had dispersed 230 billion Kenyan shillings (KSh) in loans. Its profitability depends, in part, on a discursive gymnastics that defines the 7.5 percent premium on borrowed funds as a “facilitation fee” rather than an interest rate. Were it judged to be the latter, it would be subject to a legal limit well below its current annualized cost of around 100 percent.

The loan service uses discursive gymnastics to dodge the legal interest rate well below its current annualized cost of around 100 percent.

Safaricom offers other loans too. At the start of 2019, Safaricom inaugurated a new overdraft facility, Fuliza, which lends to M-Pesa subscribers who have run out of digital value. Users are alerted of their inability to pay, and Fuliza is proffered as a real time solution, offering subscribers access to small loans to bridge the gap at a premium. In its first month alone, it lent more than KSh 6 billion, with each customer charged an initial one percent fee plus a daily fee of up to KSh 30. Fuliza expands the logic of Okoa Jahazi, an airtime credit service through which around one-third of Safaricom’s airtime is sold at a 10 percent mark-up to Kenyans short of cash. Okoa Jahazi is so popular, one investment banker told us, that were it regulated, it alone would make Safaricom one of the middle-tier banks in the country.

But this lending is not banking as usual. While M-Shwari is offered in conjunction with a regulated bank, huge amounts of debt are now offered in Kenya outside the purview of state regulation. Services such as Fuliza and Okoa Jahazi do not accept customer deposits and are therefore not subject to the same oversight as banks.

Those lending apps in which Safaricom is a partner are the tip of an iceberg. Dozens of other mobile lending companies now operate in Kenya, though loose regulation makes the full extent difficult to know with certainty. Speculation on their provenance and intention abounds among ordinary Kenyans; on a recent visit, we heard rumors that politicians were trying to launder money by launching lending apps, and Russians were seeking willing Kenyan partners to advise them on the contours of this new frontier market in debt. These tales point not merely to the industry’s lack of transparency but also to a sense among Kenyans that the real beneficiaries are distant and unaccountable.

Two of the most prominent fintech apps are Tala and Branch. From their California headquarters, these firms export Silicon Valley’s curious nexus of technology, finance, and developmentalism. Small shops across the country are painted in Branch’s brand of blue, with slogans offering “loans for the way you live.” Quickly downloaded onto Kenya’s proliferating smartphones and utilizing the country’s ubiquitous mobile money transfer system, these apps mine people’s devices and social media accounts for signs of their creditworthiness. While their lending algorithms are closely guarded secrets, industry insiders suggest an ambitious effort to track everyday behavior and social relations. In line with the belief that “all data is credit data,” these firms seek to analyze everything from whether you call your family regularly, go to the same workplace every day, and have an extensive network of contacts. Tala’s CEO reported that “repayment of a loan is more likely by someone whose contacts are listed with both first and second names.” Branch, for its part, relies on a user’s smartphone data, though what among the likes, links, locations, and browsing is noteworthy—let alone whether financiers should have such access—is less discussed. While these firms offer little transparency to the public, they tell investors that money is pouring in: Tala has raised more than 109 million U.S. dollars while Branch has received nearly 260 million U.S. dollars from investors keen to capitalize on poor people’s debt and data.

Crucial to the fintech business model is an endless stream of nudges, exhortations, and incitements to borrow. Unsolicited text messages interrupt people throughout the day, enticing those in need to borrow at extraordinary rates. Many pointed to the high rates of borrowing on weekend nights as evidence that loans are marketed and taken in moments of inebriated revelry.

Those at risk of default receive just as much hectoring (one study found 50 percent of Kenyans repaid a loan late). A University of Nairobi graduate told us how embarrassing it is to be in a meeting—or worse, a job interview—and have repayment reminders pop up on your screen. “It’s so embarrassing! They text all the time. You get stressed.” Another of these apps, Okash, took this logic of stigmatization even further, harvesting users’ contacts and calling bosses, parents, and friends to shame defaulters into repaying.

Crucial to the fintech business model are the endless nudges and incitements to borrow. Unsolicited text messages arrive throughout the day, enticing people to borrow at extraordinary rates.

Beyond the excessive fees and stress, Tala, Branch, and the others are responsible for a crisis of credentialing. In 2010, the Central Bank of Kenya began licensing credit reference bureaus (CRBs). Premised on the idea that credit was poorly priced due to information asymmetries, these databases collect loan histories and share them among financial institutions. The clearest result, however, has been the widespread blacklisting of borrowers. One report found that already 2.7 million Kenyans had been negatively listed by CRBs by 2017 (a year before fintech really took off). One loan officer at an upcountry bank branch was only somewhat exaggerating when she told us 80 percent of would-be customers were listed with CRBs due to fintech loans. Whatever the figures may be, those we spoke to have a widespread sense that easy lending is foreclosing borrowers’ futures. CRB reports are not being used only by loan appraisers; rather, they are being enrolled by a range of institutions, including would-be employers who demand applicants’ CRB report in order to be considered. At more than 20 U.S. dollars for a clearance certificate, such requirements create a financial burden and a create an unfair roadblock for a generation seeking meaningful employment.

All of this bodes poorly in light of Facebook’s newly announced financial service, Libra. Like fintech apps, Facebook draped Libra in socially conscious rhetoric, promising to incorporate “the unbanked” through its blockchain offering. Indeed, Tala’s boss was quick to extol the possibilities of Libra, telling Fortune that “[t]he promise of it is exciting,” allowing her company to “accelerate” their expansion into new populations of borrowers. The global ambitions of Libra promise fintech firms regulatory arbitrage and massive amounts of data, circumventing the paltry protections of national legislators.

This capacity to escape jurisdiction marks a rupture in the business of debt. While traditional banks secure their lending with a combination of customer deposits and pledged collateral, digital lenders such as Safaricom forego these. Instead, through the assembly of a vast archive of user data, the firm claims it can analyze behavior in a predictive fashion, premising loans not on property—whether deposits or collateral—but on quantitative assessments of credit worthiness.

This “reputational collateral,” to use Keith Breckenridge’s term, is strengthened each time a customer engages Safaricom. Since the 2007 launch of M-PESA, Safaricom has broadened the realms from which it accumulates its cache of user data. Information on users’ rates of sending and receiving money, the quantities moving through their accounts, and their reliance on Okoa Jahazi (the short-term loan for emergency airtime) were all mobilized to assess the creditworthiness of potential borrowers when M-Shwari was first launched in 2012. The result is that Safaricom is coming to look more and more like a credit bureau—while avoiding being regulated as such.

Digital lenders forgo the traditional ways that banks secure their loans, instead assembling a vast archive of user data to predict consumers’ behavior.

Safaricom’s use of reputational collateral has proven to be remarkably reliable in the case of M-Shwari, with the company reporting rates of repayment above those of traditional banking institutions. People work hard to repay their loans, if not on the timelines dictated by lenders. Many report taking out loans with one mobile service to repay existing debts when the due dates come up with another lending service. This is a debt treadmill, and it is hard to escape.

It is also a cycle of indebtedness which the lenders have little incentive to break. While borrowers scramble to repay, fintech firms have structured the market to benefit from iterative borrowing. Each time a loan is taken out, more user data is harvested, allowing companies to develop better predictions on the rates of repayment of a given customer. Timely repayment grants a user access to loans of higher values, but the fixed percentage facilitation fee means the profit only proportionally increases. In other words, the greater the use of the service, the higher the returns to the corporations.

Proponents of mobile lending argue that it has solved the knowledge asymmetries in conventional lending that required deposits or collateral to secure consumer loans. New practices of data harvesting and analytics allow lenders to assess consumer credit-worthiness and people’s capacity to repay. People once excluded from credit, the narrative goes, can now access capital to improve their short and long term prospects. This narrative is silent on fintech’s exorbitant premiums. Moreover, reliance on multiple sources of credit at any given time seems to suggest not “financial inclusion,” but new forms of both dependence and exclusion: borrowing from Tala to pay Branch is indicative of a costly dependence; and those borrowers piling up in CRB lists are being excluded from other opportunities, with their poverty marshalled against them.

Expanding access to bank credit has long been a goal of international organizations, government, and industry, united by the goal of “financial inclusion,” or “banking the unbanked.” This agenda valorizes the role of markets to improve people’s lives—an ideology buoyed by the conservative turn in places such as the U.K.’s Department for International Development and the outsized influence of the Gates Foundation.

Our research shows, however, that people targeted by fintech are not simply unbanked: many are regularly broke. More specifically, the profitability of digital debt depends on the routine shortage of cash among Kenyans. While some are using credit to invest in businesses, many consumers of easy credit turn to lenders when unable to pay a bill, make rent, or even afford charcoal to cook an evening meal. Such a predicament is not merely the reserve of the especially poor; the need to buy time with expensive loans unites Kenyans up and down the class ladder. More than a third of digital debtors are using the loans to meet day-to-day household needs—the type of routine expenses that are unlikely to disappear with borrowing.

Across the country, millions of Kenyans work in a condition that Michael Denning has referred to as “wageless life.” Whether hawking mitumba (used clothing) along Kenya’s streets, working in the privatized transport sector, or operating as a mama mboga (vegetable seller) in Kenya’s markets, people in this labor market make money on the day. But their fiscal horizons are unpredictable and subject to volatility. Instead of selling their labor power in exchange for a wage, these men and women toil in what more closely approximates a piece-work regime, making a small margin every time the negotiation for a piece of clothing is finalized, a vehicle is boarded, or a bag of potatoes is sold.

Wageless workers are often unable to accumulate large sums of money because profits made one day are often spent by the next day. Consumer product firms—in part spurred by the promise of a “fortune at the bottom of the pyramid”—have capitalized on these monetary dynamics by resizing their offerings. They have inaugurated what in Kenya is sometimes called the “kadogo economy,” from the Swahili for “small.” Single-use packets of laundry detergent, beef stock, and cooking fat allow those who make money on the day to consume these products which would be out of reach in their more conventional sizes and quantities. Safaricom, too, was a “pioneer” in this regard, allowing customers to purchase low-value airtime scratch cards, costing as little as KSh 10. The irony, however, is that it is expensive to be poor: while accessible due to their small size, products for the kadogo economy cost proportionally more than the conventionally sized goods available to wealthier buyers.

Many Kenyans toil in what closely approximates a piece-work regime of wageless work. Profits made one day are often spent by the next day.

While the development of these products matches the daily financial rhythm of Kenya’s poor, this population is constantly having to hedge their financial futures. A bad day at the market and unexpected expenses—such as an illness—upset this delicate balance. So, too, do more predictable expenses such as school fees and rent, which are premised on other temporal logics, that of the semester and the month. As a result, running out of cash—whether to pay for a bus home at the end of the day or to fuel a car mid-way through the month—is a frequent occurrence.

We think of this in terms of the zero-balance economy. Unlike the kadogo economy, which names the resizing of goods, the zero-balance economy is characterized by the temporal disconnect between available cash and necessary expenditure. Members of the zero-balance economy routinely find themselves lacking liquidity with which to meet costs. While some cash shortfalls are unexpected, many Kenyans think of financial volatility in more patterned ways: pecuniary irregularity is the norm. Within this context, Kenyans have developed repertoires to manage and make sense of routine volatility.

Kenya’s salaried workers too, are part of the zero-balance economy. While a salary surely reduces economic precarity, it is not enough for most employed people. Recent figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that three-quarters of salaried workers (nearly 2 million people) make less than KSh 50,000 a month (roughly 485 U.S. dollars) . People tend to get paid towards the end of the month, and they use much of their salaries to pay their rent by the first of the following month. Furthermore, the whittling away of public services—what one economist we spoke to called “internally-imposed structural adjustment”—means increasing costs for individuals, who spend their hard-earned shillings to, for example, pay water and electricity bills, and school and medical fees. By the middle of the month, bank accounts are dwindling and wallets thin. There is a sort of respiration across the Kenyan economy that reflects the monthly flow of zero balance life: from the crowds at bars waning to the increased reliance on the familiar, inexpensive Kenyan dish sukuma wiki (literally, to push the week). We were routinely directed to look to the roads: by mid-month, Kenyans are less beleaguered by “the jam”—the national shorthand for traffic—because many can no longer afford gas for their cars and commute via bus instead.

If the kadogo economy was a commercial means of capitalizing on the paucity and daily uncertainty of wageless life, digital lenders, armed with user data, are now profiting from the temporalities of the zero-balance economy. Unlike those peddling single-serve products, merchants of debt have a battery of digital data and algorithms at their disposal, not to mention a largely unregulated lending frontier. They offer customers a means to buy time, but at a premium so costly it would be illegal for a Kenyan bank.

So worrying are the trends in Kenya that even proponents of digital lending are calling for caution. The Central Bank of Kenya has demanded borrowers are made aware of the apps’ terms and conditions, but at present a legislative mandate does not exist that would require much more than disclosure by non-bank lenders. Donors, including the groups that have done the most to valorize digital finance, are beginning to advocate similar consumer protections, from transparency requirements to rules around reckless lending. A group of fintech lenders have tried to head off official regulations by signing a voluntary code of conduct and forming a lobbying group. Promising not to lend more than 40 U.S. dollars to first-time borrowers, or to clearly present the terms of a loan, may help around the margins, but commercial self-regulation will not transform the profiteering of globally ambitious venture capitalists.

Kenya’s indebted class is united by its inclusion in the zero-balance economy.

The obstacles to getting relief to Kenyan borrowers go beyond regulatory policy. Regulators, donors, and industry share an underlying assumption that individualsget into trouble with debt because they are confused or imprudent. Financial inclusion advocates and venture capitalists only see people as borrowers or entrepreneurs. Yet, the shared predicaments of so many Kenyans are better understood in terms of the emergence of a new class. Kenya’s indebted class is united by its inclusion in the zero-balance economy: whether working as a hawker who cannot accumulate sufficient stock or an employee whose salary is not enough to last the month, the irregularity and paucity of income in Kenya compels borrowing. With rent coming due, school fees on the horizon, and relatives asking for help with medical costs, digital loans are not taken for lack of information or awareness; rather, Kenyans must borrow to make ends meet. Their constraints on social reproduction cannot be solved by appeals to liberal aspirations for informed consent. Their indebted status is not a sign of empowerment; it is evidence of their subordination to economic arrangements not of their choosing.

UGANDA: Racist Asians have learned nothing from 2007 Mabira protests

<<socio-political discourse in Uganda still sees “Abayindi” as a loathsome and abhorred group of people in Uganda>>

Ugandan, Asians have learned nothing from 2007 Mabira blues


A picture of a man of Asian descent bleeding heavily with a shirt soaked in blood dripping from his head, as he was being helped to safety has not left me ten years on.

So are protestors holding placards reading, “Asians Must Go” and “For Every One Tree Cut, Five Asians Dead.”

I have neither forgotten the gruesome murder of an Asian man who was pulled off his scooter before being bludgeoned to death with stones and thick sticks. All these happened in one day, April 11, 2007.

On this same day, a group of over 40 Asians had to be evacuated from of an Indian temple under heavy security. An angry mob of natives was waiting outside to assault them for their Asian-ness, which had become synonymous with the plan to cut down Mabira forest – for just sugarcane growing.

These incidents were quickly branded racist and condemned. I do not intend to downplay or appear to condone their racist undertones. But I want to extend the ways in which we thought about this “racism” in the aftermaths of violence.

My contention is that violence has often been instructive – as it never happens in a vacuum but builds upon a series of events. First, the poor cannot be racist. Racism is an infrastructure which privileges one group over another – and is often set into motion by the powerful.

Racism has material benefit which is often either denial of access to resources or is a method of stealing labour. It is not merely labelling and name-calling. Second, in moments of exploitation – say, the attempt to cut down a country’s largest natural forest with potential to damage an entire ecosystem – those protesting against exploitation cannot be called racist when they target the exploiter and the entire political-cultural system upon which the exploiter thrives.

One would then ask, why did the Save-Mabira forest protestors target an entire community – Indians/Asians – and not the individual exploiters, that is, Mehta Group/family or SCOUL?

This question can only be answered through the context of Uganda’s colonial history. At the conclusion of colonialism, the slaves of the British – often euphemised as “indentured labour” – who had been ferried into East Africa from India/Bangladesh were actually left privileged at independence.

These yesterday’s slaves had become plantation owners, manufacturers and monopoly traders – to the absolute disadvantage of natives. Left in firm control of Uganda’s economy – controlling 97.5 percent of retail trade in Kampala, and 92 percent countrywide; banking in British banks and selling British-manufactured products, Indians/Asians came to be seen in the same light as the colonisers.

Matters were not helped with their acute racism and absolute bad manners shouting and ridiculing the natives they employed as hands.

Stories of Indians spitting, throwing rocks, and constantly berating their native workers were too common across East Africa. To this end, native Ugandans felt truly independent only after 1972 when Indians had been expelled – a matter even confirmed by the Ugandan-Asian academic, Mahmood Mamdani who has made a career writing and theorising their eviction.

[His major book, Citizen and Subject, is so embarrassingly biographical that, for his lack of ethnic rootedness in the land, he spends copious amounts of time fictionalising that there were no ethnic natives in colonies – and tribes were an invention of colonialists].

The events described above ought to be rudely instructive to our Asian-Indian compatriots (less to native-Ugandans) for they have gambled a lot. By the way, this is not an effort to bundle an entire community into the crimes of a few.

As a Muslim, I know first-hand, how dangerous generalisations and broad-brushes can be. Sadly, however, our Indian compatriots have created all those discriminative and self-group-profiling institutions projecting themselves not only as a singular group, but one that is also distinct, and exotic: the Indian Association in Uganda; Indian Community in Uganda; magazines such as Indi-Vision.

These groupings are nothing but racist self-profiling and self-alienation in the name of uniqueness. To this end, the crimes of one Indian are seen as the crime of the group – already self-identified and defined.

Is it not absurd, that in addition to living in secluded and secretive circles, these Ugandan-Asians still celebrate independence of the Republic of India – yet they seek to relate as integrated citizens.

Ten years on, the socio-political discourse in Uganda still sees “Abayindi” as a loathsome and abhorred group of people in Uganda. As I argued last week, our privileged Indian compatriots continue to project themselves – in overtly racist terms – as special and different.

They forget that privilege and exploitation tend to mean one and the same, and the exploited will often seek for an opportunity to bring them down. I will return with part three on the theft of re-appropriation after expulsion.

The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.


#22 Logan 2019-08-24 18:07
I have read the article and read all the comments thus far.

I am a Ugandan that happens to stay in the US but will never describe myself as American simply because I can trace my roots back to Uganda.

The same doesn't apply to all Ugandans here and I can say they identify as Americans. Ofcourse the Black Americans can never identify as Africans since they cant trace themselves back to anywhere in Africa.

Now I also have lived in India for four years and anyone who has been in india will attest to the fact that Indians are racist to the bone.
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0#23 Logan 2019-08-24 18:08
Have u ever wondered why the majority of Ugandans who got to seek education in India can't speak their language?

The simple answer is there is little or no association.
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0#24 Logan 2019-08-24 18:10
I used to take a fully packed bus to school but was lucky to be among the many got boarded on the first stop so I always found a seat but even wen the bus got full, no Indian would share a seat with me but would rather stand all the way.

On several occasions I could hear them referring to me as BHOOT meaning satan/devil and thats why they wd not share a seat with me. I have seen and experienced similar behavior here in the US.
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0#25 Logan 2019-08-24 18:11
In the neighborhood that comprises several housing units, the white kids play with the black kids but the Indian kids always keep to themselves..Wish I cud post a pic about this.

The indian kids are not allowed to visit friends that are not indian and so the story goes on, My humble question is....How many Indians in Uganda are married to Ugandans and how many employees of these indians know where their homes are or have visited them say on a holiday or weekend?

Why do we have schools like Delhi public school in Naguru that is exclusive to Indians in Uganda? Why was I new to my classmates every single day four the four years I was at school so much so that they had to gather everyday to watch me walk into the school compound?

Why is it that blacks that wanted to buy flats in India always found it impossible to accomplish ? Indians hate blacks thats why they discriminate against even the dark skinned indians.
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0#26 Logan 2019-08-24 18:11
So it okay in my view, for one to defend them but the question is, Would they defend you if you needed them too?

Remember two kenyan or was it Tanzanian female students in India wereseverely beaten and stripped naked in public simply because a suspected black guy had knocked a peedestrian.

The entire black community in India is always hunted down and they are quick to kill, if just one black person makes a mistake that indians feel is punishable by death.

Now to conclude this, my housemate, a kenyan was severely beaten for accepting a ride to school from an Indian gal who wasnt actually so Indian because she was from Seychelles. The rest is for you to judge. God bless you all
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0#27 Stewart 2019-08-24 19:01
Winne, you just sound a desperate lower caste indian with no alternative but to cling to Uganda, I asked you, why did your "holy" Indians murderd a young boy in Lira, you dodged it and called all Ugandans idiots, is murdering the citizens by leeces what should make them adore you?

How many Ugandans have been registered murdering citizens of the coutries they live in?
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0#28 Akao 2019-08-25 00:08
It's because of the current useless government that is letting the useless Indians urinate on poor Ugandans. Indians are racist wherever they are.

Do you think a Ugandan, even the so called privilege Ugandans, who work for the regime and have abundant stolen money can go buy a small meter of land in India?

I had a first hand experience with these people, they have that colonial mentality that anybody more darker skin than they are should be below them.

I pity Ugandans who work for Indians. I can't wait for the second Amin to come get them off our country as they have failed to respect the natives.
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0#29 sula 2019-08-25 12:32
What is most painful about Uganda is : Given that the country was hijacked and now under the occupation of foreigners of all sorts , many of them claiming to be bona fide Ugandans , it is very difficult to have a sober discussion based on Uganda's interests.

In any debate about Uganda, they jump up first and disorganize the discussion.

Hmmm, just look at the Presidential aspirants in the Ugandan Elections : Gen Biraro,Gen. Mugisha Muntu,Gen Tunyefunza,Gen.Kaguta, Gen. Kalekezi, even Tumwiine/Saleh see themselves as a potential candidates ;hey !

Top Iranian official lands at G-7 summit in surprise visit

French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, and President Donald Trump, center right, participate in a G-7 Working Session on the Global Economy, Foreign Policy, and Security Affairs the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. Also pictured is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, second from left, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, third from left, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, center, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, top second from right, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
BIARRITZ, France (Associated Press) — A top Iranian official paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G-7 summit and headed straight to the building where leaders of the world’s major democracies have been debating how to handle the country’s nuclear ambitions.

The surprise arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came just two days after his meeting with France’s president, who is the host of the Group of Seven gathering in Biarritz.

Zarif’s plane left Tehran on Sunday morning and touched down a few hours later at the Biarritz airport, which has been closed since Friday to all incoming traffic unrelated to the official G-7 delegations.

A senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Zarif went directly into a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said Zarif flew to Biarritz at the invitation of the French foreign minister. Mousavi said on Twitter that there would be no meetings or negotiations with American officials during Zarif’s trip.

Zarif, who faces U.S. sanctions, had been scheduled to go to Asia as part of a tour to seek support for Iran amid the American campaign against it since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

He arrived as fissures emerged among G-7 leaders over how to deal with Iran, as well as the threat of a global recession and China.

Macron said the leaders agreed during a dinner the night before that the French president could serve as a G-7 messenger to Iran. Trump denied agreeing to anything, and Macron was forced to play down his role and acknowledge Trump’s status as “the president of the world’s number one power.”

The French official also said that based on Saturday night’s dinner, France considers it important to check in with Zarif to continue to bring positions closer together and ease tensions. The official said the French are not “mediators” but think they can contribute to de-escalation.

Asked whether the White House was aware of Zarif’s visit, the French official said, “We operate on our own terms” but noted that Macron and Trump met for two hours Saturday and discussed Iran at length, as well as at the group dinner.

The official said the Americans in Biarritz will not meet with Zarif, that it is a Franco-Iranian meeting for the moment and that France “is working in full transparency with the U.S. and in full transparency with European partners.”

Macron said he has no formal mandate to speak for the G-7 leaders in delivering a message to Iran, but that he would be able to address the issue in the context of what they agreed to during a dinner.

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. His office said the G-7 leaders agreed he should serve as a go-between with Iran.

“I haven’t discussed that,” Trump said Sunday morning. He described the dinner as “very, very good” and blamed the media for anything that implied otherwise.

But it seemed from other accounts that the previous night’s dinner had been tense, with a clear divide between him and the rest of the G-7.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, greeting Macron for a morning meeting, congratulated the French president and shook his hand.

“You did very well last night. My God that was a difficult one. You did brilliant, you did brilliant,” he said.

The G-7 leaders regrouped Sunday to focus on what they can do to boost growth at a time of heightened uncertainty. Manufacturers around the world are smarting from the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, which has led to new import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of goods. Businesses don’t know where tariffs will be imposed next.

The White House had said putting the economy on the agenda was Trump’s idea, but the G-7 has for over four decades always included a focus on the economy. It was founded as a response to the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s and the recession that followed.

The backdrop is particularly worrying this year, with the U.S. economy slowing and Germany and Italy close to recession.

Meanwhile, Britain is due to leave the EU in October and there is no agreement on how it should happen, raising the possibility of a disorderly exit that could wreak havoc for business in Europe.

Johnson said Britain and Europe needed to prepare for that, saying the prospect of a Brexit deal was “touch and go.”

The G-7 summit includes the heads of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy as well as a representative of the 28-country EU.

In the nearby town of Bayonne, protesters demanded Macron do more to protect French workers and the planet.

A mix of activists, some wearing yellow vests, carried portraits of the French president as they marched Sunday in solidarity with environmental activists who removed official portraits of Macron from town halls around France earlier this year to protest his climate change policies.

Internationally, Macron is a vocal champion of fighting climate change, and has challenged Trump on the issue. At home in France, however, activists accuse him of lagging on promises to wean France from fossil fuels.

Today in History - August 25 -- Library of Congress

Today in History - August 25

Allan Pinkerton (1819-84), founder of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 25, 1819. Continue reading.

Click here to search Today in History for other historic moments.

Read more on Today in History - August 25

NTVUganda has added Museveni advises Christians to appreciate God as Sheldon marks silver jubilee video

Museveni advises Christians to appreciate God as Sheldon marks silver jubilee

President Museveni has urged Ugandans to always appreciate God whenever they achieve their aspirations. The presidents advise was contained in a message read for him by General duties minister Mary Karooro Okurut during celebrations to mark Silver jubilee wedding anniversary of Ankole Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa and his wife Dr. Alice Mwesigwa. #NTVNews Subscribe to Our Channel For more news visit Follow us on Twitter Like our Facebook page

NTVUganda has added Rotarians from across the country take part in the 2019 cancer run video

Rotarians from across the country take part in the 2019 cancer run

Apart from Kampala various towns across the country also participated in the run. This year’s Cancer Run was presided over by Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament. #NTVNews Subscribe to Our Channel For more news visit Follow us on Twitter Like our Facebook page

NTVUganda has added Bugisu leaders rally youth to become politically assertive video

Bugisu leaders rally youth to become politically assertive

Manjiya County MP John-Baptist Nambeshe has rallied young people to become politically and economically assertive if they are to realise a bright future. Nambeshe was speaking in Bukigai Sub County, Bududa district during celebrations to mark belated international youth day. #NTVNews Subscribe to Our Channel For more news visit Follow us on Twitter Like our Facebook page

NTVUganda has added Rotarians brave the early morning rain to raise funds to fight cancer video

Rotarians brave the early morning rain to raise funds to fight cancer

Rotarians from around the region and thousands of Ugandans braved the early morning rain to take part in this year’s Cancer Run at Kololo Independence grounds. Apart from Kampala various towns across the country also participated in the run. This year’s Cancer Run was presided over by Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament. The run organisers are raising money to buy a linear accelerator cancer-treating machines. #NTVNews Subscribe to Our Channel For more news visit Follow us on Twitter Like our Facebook page

Saturday, August 24, 2019

AFRICA: Why Angola is best suited to mediate Museveni - Kagame fall out


CHANGE OF GUARDS - Following the 1959 and early 1960s ugly events in Rwanda, many Banyarwanda Tutsi fled Rwanda to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zaire (now DRC). In exile, the Tutsi embarked on plans to return to Rwanda through an armed struggle. One important weapon that contained their activities was the creation of a regional block called Economic Community of the Great Lakes countries ((CEPGL in French) that was comprised of Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire (DRC). Its core objective was to ensure safety of member states, creation and development of activities of public interest, promotion of cross border trade and movement of people and establishment of close cooperation in political, social and economic fields.

With its headquarters in Goma, CEPGL helped contain any form of potential political and social disharmony. It initiated mega economic projects that successfully benefited the three countries. That is how before Uganda's Museveni came to power in 1986, the three CEPGL member states had no single external political threat. Museveni had made futile attempts to mobilize Congolese Tutsi in Eastern Zaire to help him establish bases there during his manoeuvres for his childhood ambition of becoming president of Uganda. In his appreciation for the strategic role of CEPGL, on the afternoon of 26th January, 1986 after he was sworn in as President, he flew to Goma to meet Zaire's Mobutu and Rwanda's Habyarimana.

In October 1990, the Banyarwanda Tutsi refugees whom Museveni had recruited into his NRA left to attack Rwanda. Courtesy of CEPGL, Zaire's Mobutu militarily came to the aid of Rwanda but the Tutsi government of Burundi played a minimal role in the Tutsi led RPF invasion of Rwanda. However, the Banyarwanda Tutsi from Burundi and Congo stealthy joined hands with the RPF. The 1994 Rwanda Genocide and overthrow of the Hutu government in Rwanda by the RPF saw Hutu flee to Zaire in Millions. From exile, the defeated Hutu reorganised for a forceful return to Rwanda with the help of the host government. They even targeted Congolese Tutsi called Banyamulenge. The RPF government in Rwanda moved very fast to neutralize the threat. A Congolese exiled revolutionary, Laurent Kabila was facilitated to spearhead an armed uprising against the Mobutu government.

The Rwanda backed Laurent Kabila's rebel swiftly overran a number of strategic places in eastern Zaire in 1996. The rebellion registered overwhelming support from the Congolese Banyamulenge. The militant exiled Banyarwanda Hutu in Congo were dispersed by the Kabila led rebel advance. The Burundi Hutu rebel FDD of Peter Nkurunziza bases were overrun and many fled to Tanzania. With some minimal help from Burundi, Angola, Eritrea and Uganda helped the Rwanda backed rebels to topple Mobutu in May 1997. Angola had been host to Zaire's rebel group called Katanga Tigers that had been founded by Moise Tshombe from the former Katanga Gendarmes in the 1960s. They had fled to exile in Angola and even formed the elite corps of Angola's MPLA. They had joined Kabila in his push against the Mobutu regime. Angola's involvement was driven by the urge to neutralize its own UNITA rebels who had been enjoying bases in Zaire under Mobutu. Actually UNITA fought alongside Mubutu against the advancing Kabila rebellion.

The new rebel force under Kabila formed a new government that was heavily backed by Rwanda. The new rebel army in government was comprised of former Congolese soldiers who had crossed from the Mobutu regime, the Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge, the dominant Rwandan army and small contingents from Burundi and Uganda. Rwanda"s army dominantly managed the new security order with its top Generals occupying top positions. Laurent Kabila moved very fast to rename Zaire as DRC before joining it to the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) regional block.

Amidst rumours of a Rwanda backed coup plot, in July 1998, Laurent Kabila ordered Rwandan soldiers to leave DRC and even went ahead to incite anti Banyarwanda sentiments that culminated in the general population targeting Tutsi more especially in Kinshasa and some places in South Kivu region. Rwanda complied with the withdraw but at that time DRC's best elite force of 25,000 soldiers that was based in the eastern region declared a rebellions against Laurent Kabila. Rwanda led a plot by the new rebellion to carry out a commando raid on Kinshasa by airlifting troops to the western region near the border with Angola before advancing on Kinshasa. This suicidal mission was halted by Angola at the last minute. Kabila appealed to SADC for help and that is how in August 1998 Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia sent their troops to his aide courtesy of the SADC's Defence Pact on aggression.

In eastern DRC, the anti Kabila Rwanda backed rebellion registered the support of a number of ex Katangani Tigers who had earlier joined Kabila from exile in Angola. A faction led by Emile Ilunga and Jean Piere Ondekane joined the rebellion in Goma. On his part, Kabila also registered the help of remnants of the Burundan rebel FDD, the Rwandan Hutu rebels, the Ugandan fighters of former President Iddi Amin. The Kabila alliance launched a futile offensive in the east to retake Moba, Kalemie and Kibalo from the rebels. On August 23, 1998, the rebels overran Kisangani and Uganda reinforced it claiming that Khartoum could use it to supply the ADF rebels.
The rebel operation zones under the control of Rwanda ran from Rutshuru southwards to the border with Zambia while the one under Uganda ran from Butembo northwards to Isiro near the border with Sudan and from Businga towards Gbadolite at the border with CAR. During Uganda's advance on Equatorial Province, it fought and defeated the Chadians at Gemena.

In September 1998, a fierce aerial bombardment by Angola and Zimbabwe to retake rebel positions in eastern DRC was halted. However, the Kabila alliance later lost the strategic and mineral rich Kindu but Zimbabwe fiercely halted Rwanda's advance on the most strategic Mbuji Mayi in February 1999. At this stage, Angola faced a resurgence of UNITA rebel activities at home. UNITA had exploited the gap left by the deployment of three brigades in DRC in defence of Kabila. More Angolan soldiers were in Congo Brazzaville having gone there in October 1996 to help Gen. Denis Sassoue Ngweso take power from Pascal Lissuba who had been dealing with rebel UNITA. With its presence in DRC and Congo Brazzaville, Angola now controlled the Atlantic coast of the three countries.

Most worrying was the fact that this time round, UNITA had registered advanced weaponry and combat expertise. Angola suspected that it was Rwanda and Uganda that were helping UNITA. In December 1998 both countries denied working with UNITA but Kinshasha insisted that they had links with UNITA. Another concern for Angola was the presence within rebel ranks of a number of former Mobutu regime Generals who had been close to UNITA. In particular, Uganda backed rebel MLC under Bemba's links to former Mobutu Generals who had supported UNITA was a cause for worry. However, Angola had respect for Emile Ilunga the President of RCD-Goma who had earlier been the head of the exiled Katangans in Angola and he convincingly distanced his group from UNITA.

By October 1998 Uganda and Rwanda were bickering over strategy and control of the rebellion. Rwanda went further by accusing Uganda of plundering DRC resources. The rebel RCD's leadership had split into factions with Prof. Wamba Dia Wamba relocating to Kisangani from Goma thus the birth of the Uganda backed RCD-Kisangani and the Rwanda-backed RCD Goma. In March 1999, Banyamulenge soldiers with the rebel ranks detested the role of Rwanda's army in South Kivu after accusing it of using them as a pretext for intervening in Congo affairs - a factor that isolated them from the rest of the Congolese. Some Banyamulenge soldiers opted to join the Uganda backed faction of the rebellion. Some Ugandan security personnel are alleged to have visited Uvira with a plan of opening up a front in South Kivu.

Kabila and his alliance were accused of helping armed groups fighting Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda on top of allying with Khartoum which was at proxy war with Uganda courtesy of LRA and ADF. Congo Brazzaville accused Kabila and his allies of supporting
armed dissidents under deposed President Pascal Lisuba's former Prime Minister, Kotelas. In return, Congo Brazzaville's Gen. Nguesso is said to have supported former Mobutu Generals to attack DRC from Brazzaville. UNITA amassed troops at the border with Namibia near Rundu threatening to attack if the later did not withdraw from DRC. Angola was also distrustful of the mediation efforts of Zambia's President Chiluba owing to the earlier allegation that Angola had delivered in Zambia its weapon catches acquired from Togo - a factor that accounted for the 1997 alleged Angola backed coup attempt against President Chiluba.

By the time the protagonists in the Second Congo War entered a stalemate stage and eventual gradual withdraw, both Rwanda and Uganda had been courting Angola. Museveni in particular established regular contact with Angola's Does Santos. Then CMI chief, Brig. Mayombo made several trips to Angola before his counterpart from Angola visited Uganda. Col. Kulaige, the then Army Spokesman led him on a tour of Queen Elizabeth National Park and resided at Mweya Lodeg. It is against Angola's role in the Second Congo war that Museveni pushed for the creation of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Headquartered in Bujumbura, ICGLR has a membership of 12 states - Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Angola, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Burundi and CAR. Seven other regional States are coopted - Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

ICGL has a Group of Friends and Special Envoys from the western donor community who provide financial, diplomatic, technical and political support. At its inception, it signed a pacts on security, stability and development. Among the ten pacts signed so far, is the Protocol on None aggression and Mutual Defence in the Great Lakes Region. It is under the ICGLR that Museveni has relied more in tackling the eastern DRC bases ADF rebels. He has pushed for and secured monitoring teams under ICGLR to be stationed inside eastern DRC and Kasese in Uganda. At the resurgence of their most recent fallout, both Kagame and Museveni rushed to Angola because like Uganda, Rwandan dissidents' financial muscles have investments there. But more so, Museveni feared Kagame's current closeness to DRC's Tsekedi if supplemented by Angola's Lorenco would make a dangerous alliance.

Museveni's sole interest in regional blocks is to secure a nonaggression policy. His threat has always been from his western border thus DRC and Rwanda whereby EAC has a minor role to play. He found it fit to engage ICGLR and Angola in particular because the standoff fits into the its mandate while Angola has historically engaged with both Rwanda and Uganda more than any of the EAC member states. Moreover, the current President of Angola was a General in the army and the MPLA Secretary General when Angola was fighting Uganda and Rwanda in DRC over a decade ago. Congo Brazzaville's Gen. Nguesso was a close ally of the Kabila alliance and in particular Angola during the Second Congo War. Save for Burundi and Rwanda who are interested parties in the standoff, non of the rest of the EAC members was directly involved in the Second Congo War from which the ongoing Museveni-Kagame bickering traces its origin (Kisangani fighting).