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Article Information, PDF download for The Concept of Working People& #x; · Open epub for The Concept of Working. Issa Shivzi is Professor of Law,University of Dar es SalaamDar es Salaam some or the other form of developmentalist rhetoric (see, generally, Shivji ). Issa Gulamhussein Shivji (born ) is a Tanzanian author and academic, and one of Africa's leading experts on law and development issues. He has taught.
Biography[ edit ] Born in Kilosa , Tanzania in , Shivji was for 36 years a distinguished professor in constitutional law in the University of Dar es Salaam 's Faculty of Law. He is a professor of international renown, having built his reputation through the publication of over 18 books, numerous articles and book chapters. Shivji has served as advocate of the high court and the Court of Appeal of Tanzania since and advocate of the high court in Zanzibar since He has received several national and international distinguished scholar awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of East London , UK and one from Rhodes University, South Africa. Shivji has devoted most of his life to addressing issues on the exploitation of Tanzanians through both the national and the international economic and legal orders.
Rather it presents itself as a moral paradigm, distinguishing between the good, the bad and the evil.
Rather, it is, at best, a propagandist tool easily manipulatable by whoever happens to wield power. And this is exactly how it has been deployed in the dominant, neo-liberal discourse. This has become a flexible tool in the hands of global hegemonies to undermine the sovereignty of African nations and the struggle for democracy of the African people. In Tanzania, we have first a ministry, headed by a full-fledged minister, of good governance.
Then, through donor pressure, the Government was obliged to establish a Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance with aid from the Danish government. Among the first things was to build a gargantuan structure to house the Commission and establish the infrastructure at a cost of over 1. The people of Tanzania would never know the exact amount nor the conditions of the contract.
It is secret from them. Then another bureaucratic structure of civil servants headed by seven commissioners is set up drawing usual salaries and numerous allowances.
Presumably, he made a report to the President or the World Bank, who knows? How this consultancy represents the struggle of the people of Tanzania to construct a democratic state and polity, I cannot tell. After all they were never consulted on the appointment of the advisor to their president! This is precisely the kind of work supposed to be done by the mainstream judiciary and the former Permanent Commission of Inquiry. The Permanent Commission was set up in the middle sixties modelled on Scandinavian Ombudsman to inquire into abuse of power by state officials and report to the President.
True, both the judiciary and the Permanent Commission had a lot of flaws. People have had lots of criticisms and grievances against these institutions and expressed them, whenever they got an opportunity, or, whenever, they could snatch such opportunities.
Both institutions cried out for reforms. Both required the political vision, will and resources for reform based on the grievances of the people. If the reforms were internally generated and grounded in the struggle and demands of the people, they would have almost certainly taken a very different trajectory.
For example, the judiciary, in particular the lower judiciary, could be improved significantly by directing resources to train judicial personnel, providing reasonable benefits to the staff, such as housing, transport etc.
Structures parallel to existing ones are put up as a result of donor-pressure. The desirability and viability of such structures is hardly assessed within the countries concerned. One of the effects of setting up such structures is to undermine time-tested traditional state structures. Worse, reforms from the top instigated by donor conditionalities undermine the right of the people themselves to struggle for and conceive their own institutional reforms and set their own priorities.
Furthermore, needless to mention, such top-down reforms conceived, prioritised and financed by the erstwhile IFIs and donors undermine the very basis of democratic governance, that is, accountability to the people. Where is then the so-called democracy, trumpeted so much, and in whose name, political power seeks legitimacy?
No wonder, in my own country, which perhaps is not the worst example in Africa of utter submission to hegemonic powers, the President cites the acclamation he receives from IFIs not his own people as an example of the success of his policies.
One cannot help being cynical about the whole good governance project. This is not to say that Tanzania, like many other African and non-African countries, including some in the North, do not require reform of their governance structure.
But the point is what kind of reforms, in whose interest and conceived and implemented by whom. Democratic reforms, let it be said for the umpteenth time, is the prerogative of the people. It is the exercise of their sovereignty and their right to self-determination. That is what the struggle for independence and liberation was all about. It was the struggle of the African people to reclaim their humanity and dignity and the right to think for themselves and to chart their destiny.
This was, and is, precisely the essence of anti-imperialist struggles. It follows, therefore, that economic and political conditionalities, including those on good governance, are an expression of the reassertion of imperial domination, however it may be labelled. Alternative to Good Governance What I have presented so far may sound conspiratorial and one-sided.
I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, it remains a historical and contemporary truism that global hegemonic power, or, imperialism, is an anti-thesis of democracy.
Together with local reactionary classes and groups, imperial powers have played a major role in suppressing democratic struggles of the people Shivji a. Neo-liberal politics, thrust down the throats of African people, is a corollary of the economic policies of the Structural Adjustment Programmes based on the Washington Consensus, mindlessly propagated and imposed by the World Bank and IMF. SAPs have wreaked havoc in the third world, particularly African economies.
Serious studies testify to this. I need not cite any suspect sources in support. Suffice to quote the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz: The application of mistaken economic theories would not be such a problem if the end of first colonialism and then communism had not given the IMF and the World Bank the opportunity to greatly expand their respective original mandates, to vastly extend their reach.
Today these institutions have become dominant players in the world economy. The result for many people has been poverty and for many countries social and political chaos. The IMF has made mistakes in all the areas it has been involved in: development, crisis management, and in countries making the transition from communism to capitalism. Structural adjustment programs did not bring sustained growth even to those, like Bolivia, that adhered to its strictures; in many countries excessive austerity stifled growth; I should perhaps also clarify another point.
In spite of what looks like the omnipresent and omnipotent global power, neither the neo-liberal discourse nor the imperial domination have been accepted without intellectual and practical resistance of the people.
While it is true that we are generally in the trough of the revolution, and democratic and national liberation struggles have been aborted and pre-empted, African intellectuals have continued to pose alternative discourses based on bottom-up struggles and aspirations of their people. The second demand implies equitable not equal distribution of resources.
The three critical elements of new democracy are popular livelihoods, popular power and popular participation. The term popular is meant to convey three meanings. First, popular is used in the sense of being anti-imperialist. It is meant to highlight the limits of the first national independence which took the form of anti-colonialism. The second meaning in which popular is used refers to the social basis of the project.
The social core of the new consensus has to be popular classes, i. The third meaning that I attach to popular is in the sense of popular perceptions, custom, culture and consciousness. Custom and culture, not in the vulgar sense of atrophied or unchanging tradition but rather in the sense of a living terrain of struggles where the old and the new, the progressive and the reactionary, jostle and struggle to attain hegemony. Needless to say that culture and traditions constitute one of the most important ideological fronts albeit neglected in our social science discourses.
This is where, in the words of Raymond Williams, the dominant culture either tries to harmonize or demonize the cultures of resistance. See also Wamba Such alternative discourses and struggles of the people have no doubt been aborted and pre-empted by the neo-liberal rhetoric.
This is only a passing phenomenon, though. So long as neo-liberal politics and economics are incapable of addressing the real life-conditions of the African people, they have little legitimacy.
The Intellectual Tasks Ahead It is now time to conclude. In this, rather long-winded presentation, I have tried to argue that the great democratic struggles of the African people expressed in their independence and national liberation movements remain incomplete. The so-called democracy constructed on ahistorical and asocial paradigms of neo-liberalism are an expression of renewed imperial onslaught, which is profoundly anti-democratic. Long live democracy. The post-cold war renewal of imperialism is even more ferocious than classical colonialism.
It is led by a dangerous and unrestrained super-power undermining the very basis of democracy, the right of the peoples to self-determination, that is, their right to think for themselves. It is playing god by deciding for the rest of the world, what is good and what is evil, who is a friend and who is a foe, who are people and who are non-people. The Guardian, 29th July, Here is an imposed friendship!
The current African leaders dare not even whisper so. But no people can accept to live under bondage for ever. Empires have come and gone. This too will go. Thirty years ago, Mwalimu Nyerere, talking about apartheid South Africa said, and this remains a fitting reply to all arrogant super powers: Humanity has already passed through many phases since man began his evolutionary journey.
And nature shows us that not all life evolves in the same way. The chimpanzees — to whom once we were very near — got on to the wrong evolutionary path and they got stuck. And there were other species which became extinct; their teeth were so big, or their bodies so heavy, that they could not adapt to changing circumstances and they died out.
I am convinced that, in the history of the human race, imperialists and racialists will also become extinct. They are now very powerful. But they are a very primitive animal. The only difference between them and these other extinct creatures is that their teeth and claws are more elaborate and cause much greater harm — we can see this even now in the terrible use of napalm in Vietnam.
But failure to co-operate together is a mark of bestiality; it is not a characteristic of humanity. Imperialists and racialists will go. Vorster, and all like him, will come to an end. Every racialist in the world is an animal of some kind or the other, and all are kinds that have no future. Eventually they will become extinct. They seek simultaneously to retrieve public recognition and also to make claims to material security through the process of remembering work.
One worker in Tanzania was so mortified by his penury at retirement that he left the small town where he had served as stationmaster for several years to move to back to a smaller village in the countryside where his decline in status would be unnoticed.
See also Straker , and Schmidt For this railway was not only a post-colonial state-led development project. It was also a socialist project, carried out by workers from three nations at a specific historical moment of ideological commitment to national construction. One way of creating a New Man, I believed, was to change the environment. By changing the environment, we could change the mentality of the people. Collectively, these industrial workers could then be mobilized to build new nations.
Evelyn Mwansa was one of two Zambian women who became locomotive drivers; she was trained in by Chinese instructors in Dar es Salaam. Yet this exception proved the rule: Ms.
Mwansa was widely known because of the uniqueness of her experience. She went on to spend several years driving trains in Zambia where she has now retired. The men who were mobilized as nation-builders in their youth thus matured into a post-colonial context that held both the expectations and promise of male provision for family security and social promotion.
Working on the railway was recalled not only as a time of building a train but also building families, as young men matured, married and educated their children. This message was imparted to them publicly through the use of slogans, worker meetings, official ceremonies and other performances.
It was experienced in practice, through the work process itself and especially in the railway training schools and workshops. At the moment of construction, they were participants in a nation-building state development project in which they played a central role; indeed it was their own refashioning as workers that was expected to lead to industrial progress and modernization.
At the same time, as a cohort of railway workers they developed their own form of historical consciousness through their collective use of memory as a social resource over time.
They have deployed this resource in direct engagement with state-level discourses at specific historical moments: both in collective contexts such as labor disputes, as well as in individual grievances such as pension payment. Over the ensuing decades, as they have lived through post-socialist processes of liberalization, these workers have developed powerful narratives of nostalgia about this youthful experience that both match and contest those of the nation.
Ironically, TAZARA workers seem to have felt most profoundly neglected and forgotten at precisely that moment when government officials have begun to deploy their memory in celebration of the enduring friendship between China and Africa.
Remembering the railway, especially the sacrifices that were made by the railway workers, has become a customary gesture in China-Africa diplomatic relations. The first is the period of railway construction, lasting roughly from to The second is the period of economic reform in both Africa and China starting in the mids, when institutional restructuring led to worker layoffs at TAZARA. Construction: Building a Railway, Making History 24 These are the official construction dates; in fact some construction-related activities began earli Although precise figures are not known, it is estimated that some , Chinese railway workers were joined by about twice that number of African workers during construction.
At the height of the project in , there were 38, African workers and 13, Chinese at work. Teams of workers were sent out from the base camps in smaller sub-teams, directed by African foremen and Chinese field assistants. The work gangs varied in size; at one base camp in there were 64 labor gangs involving some 5, workers. Work took place in isolated conditions, as the gangs could be spread out two to three miles apart during the workday.
In some critical sections work continued around the clock in 8-hour shifts, with diesel generators providing electric light. The next section, a kilometer climb over the steep escarpment of the Udzungwa Mountains, took a full second year because of the engineering challenges of the steep terrain.
It was in this section that the majority of the tunnels, bridges and culverts were constructed. Once the plateau highlands of Mbeya had been reached in and the rails were laid across the border into Zambia, the remainder of the construction work progressed quickly.
In the first years of the project, African workers carried out the bulk of the unskilled manual labor while the Chinese workers took on more technical responsibilities. From the beginning, however, the project emphasized training of the African workers so that they would be able to take over and manage the railway after its completion. Worker training was therefore put forward as the key to self-reliance for the African workers and their newly independent countries.
After we complete this railway, if they [Tanzanians and Zambians] themselves do not know how to manage it, they will not know how to operate the railway.
They will then invite foreign countries, which means the west. Inviting foreigners to operate the railway is equivalent to having westerners hold this railway, specifically, the railway would be held by imperialists as in the past. Under these circumstances, we decided that the Chinese government should let us cultivate their own people. In other words, the management has to be localized, which means that we will help Tanzania and Zambia to cultivate their own talent to manage this railway.
Therefore, we will not only build this railway for them but we will make them feel that they are managing the railway themselves. The bulk of this training would take place at the work sites rather than in formal training institutions. While the rank and file workers were trained on the job, a carefully selected group of educated African workers was sent to China for a two-year course of study at Beijing Jiaotong [Communications] University. If it was digging they were there, if you were supposed to dig a foundation for a certain building they were also involved in that.
So because of that, the Zambians were happy. They said, these guys they can even do this kind of work, and there was no difference [among different levels of workers].
They recall specific details of their work practice that highlight the challenging parts of railway work, for example building the tunnels and bridges from Mlimba to Makambako. One retired worker remembered a Chinese demonstration of work practice in this way: 36 Interview in Chimala.
The Chinese were teaching us using actions, to the extent that, for example, if we had just arrived there at the workplace, [the Chinese worker] began to work [at first] all by himself.
The most significant difference among workers was probably that between Tanzanian and Zambian recruits. In both countries there was an emphasis on recruitment of youth workers who could then be molded into trained technicians and disciplined citizens. Retired Zambian workers, however, are more ambivalent than Tanzanians about the roles played by modernization strategies and technology transfer during their lives working on TAZARA.
Like many of their Zambian contemporaries, they recall the s and s as a time of industrialization and technological advancement, when those with secondary school and vocational educations hoped to find a secure and well-remunerated place within the Zambian mining-industrial economy. Those who were sent to China for higher education sometimes described China in similar terms, as representing a backward step in their own modernizing and capitalist progress. He compared his working conditions unfavorably to those of his high school classmates who he felt had better opportunities: 40 Interview with John Mulenga, Kapiri Mposhi, summer Like going to cinema clubs, going to watch football on the weekend and all other amenities which were found in the urban areas, they were not there, you have to forget them.
Then the issue… the issue also of the railway salary came in, the railway salary [meaning that it was low]. And then those fellow colleagues that you know in school they went on to colleges and universities, but we just continued working [at TAZARA] hoping that after construction we will be happy.
And according to their own accounts, the costs for them of staying with TAZARA rather than moving into the mining and industrial sectors in Zambia could be high. Still, retiring Zambian workers feel that they learned valuable skills that could not be easily measured against classroom learning.
John Mulenga looked back on his own experience and concluded, 41 Interview with John Mulenga, Kapiri Mposhi, summer So I learned a lot of skills from the Chinese without having gone to college or university. And most of the Zambians who learned skills from the Chinese perform better than those who come from colleges or universities. Even today those Zambians who participated in the construction are better than those from the universities, they are better in terms of actual performance.
Be it in engineering, be it in accountancy, be it in revenue collection whatever … they are better. They were recruited from throughout the country through the offices of the TANU party, many of them through the National Service. The greatest percentage of the Tanzanian workers came from the districts along the line of rail in southern Tanzania, particularly from the Southern Highlands. They were more likely than Zambians to spend several years in the company and tutelage of Chinese mentors, from whom they learned Chinese and a diverse array of skills.
Those who were later recruited for higher education in China, as well as for more advanced training in workshops in Tanzania and Zambia, were most often workers who had several years of experience on TAZARA and familiarity with multiple sectors of railway construction and operations. I carried out almost all types of work, especially during the period of constructing the TAZARA railway, because when you do work with the Chinese you are transferred from one kind of work to another.
And this was done because they wanted us to have knowledge of many different types of work, and this was a form of assistance to us individually and for the nation as a whole. Those who worked for long periods of time, learned Chinese, and had a close interpersonal relationship with a Chinese mentor were most likely to view their technical education and skill levels favorably.
Chinese retired workers also emphasized this aspect of training and education, especially the education that took place in the workplace. Reform and Retrenchment: the s 40At the time of handing over TAZARA to the Tanzanian and Zambian governments in , selected African workers were given salaried positions as railway workers and managers.
The remaining workers were let go, to return to their former lives or to build new ones. The Chinese instituted a careful selection process for determining which workers would stay on to become salaried, according to worker memories.
They recommended workers who showed qualities of good character, hard work and discipline. One worker from the bridge team recalled that 44 Interview with Paschal Kihanza, Iringa, Interview by Frank Edwards.
If you were very arrogant, well then they would just look at you and keep quiet. Now when it came time to reduce the labor force, they would begin to choose those who had discipline. Those who were respectful were the ones who were selected to work [as salaried workers]. They were first given an examination that tested them on their railway skills and basic education. As Paschal Kihanza remembers, each worker also had to undergo an interview: 45 Interview with Paschal Kihanza, Iringa, He had an interview, and if he had been educated he would be employed He was given an examination.
There was a conductor. There was a driver among those who were driving. There was that other person who looks after the wagons, the train guard. Aaah, it was necessary to have had an education. They had been trained by Chinese railway experts, most of them by this time not only on the job but also in training schools or workshops.