Colors: Blue Color

It is 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland. And it is an anniversary that is seen in different ways by differing people following the historic decision to divide up the island of Ireland.

Marking the occasion in history, UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson is planning a series of events including a special postmark, the planting of tree and a centenary concert. But the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill has said that there is nothing to celebrate.

As a divided nation, the Catholic community do not want Northern Ireland to be governed as part of the UK – rather seeing the island of Ireland return to being all one country which governs itself. Contrary to that, the unionist Protestant community want Northern Ireland to maintain a British identity and remain as part of the UK.

Following centuries of division on the island of Ireland, it was from 1969 that 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland known as 'The Troubles' saw more than three thousand people die in ongoing conflicts until a peace agreement, known as the Good Friday Agreement, was signed in 1998 which largely brought an end to the violence. Many Unionists are unhappy that the Brexit deal, however, has created different trade rules for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, saying it undermines their British identify.

The UK government is to spend £3m on events marking the centenary of Northern Ireland with images of 1972 Olympic gold medal winner Lady Mary Peters and 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Seamus Heaney to feature in branding for Our Story in the Making: NI Beyond 100. The government has also announced the creation of a Shared History Fund, making £1m available to support events connected to the centenary run by community, heritage, voluntary and other non-profit organisations.

After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this week to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. The United States and other countries announced ambitious new climate targets ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees C within reach. Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit, which was the largest virtual gathering of world leaders, convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters) and included the leaders of other countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts or charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. President Biden was joined at the Summit by Vice President Harris, members of the President’s Cabinet, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, as well as senior representatives of other countries and leaders from business and civil society. The full agenda and list of participants is available at:

With the science telling us that the world needs to significantly increase the scale and speed of climate action, President Biden considered it vital to host this Summit within his first 100 days in office to make clear that it is a top U.S. priority to combat the climate crisis at home and abroad.

Vice President Harris opened the Summit by emphasizing the intertwined imperatives of addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and protecting the most vulnerable communities. Her remarks set the stage for the launch of the Summit’s five sessions, which were live-streamed: [].

President Biden began Session 1 (“Raising Our Climate Ambition”) by framing enhanced climate action as necessary both to address the crisis and to promote economic opportunity, including the creation of good-paying, union jobs. He told Summit participants that the United States will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade, noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of a clean energy future. To enshrine this commitment, the United States submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030. Secretary of State Blinken conveyed a strong sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis, noting that this is a critical year and a decisive decade to take action. He noted the U.S. resolve to work with other countries to engage in all avenues of cooperation to “save our planet.” 

Participants noted the need to work rapidly over the course of this decade to accelerate decarbonization efforts and are taking a range of actions to that end. Announcements during this Session included, among others:                                                                                       

·         Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal.

·         Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

·         India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.

·         Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.

·         The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.

·         The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.

·         The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.

·         China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.

·         Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement.

·         South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025.

·         Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

Session 2 (“Investing in Climate Solutions”) addressed the urgent need to scale up climate finance, including both efforts to increase public finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and efforts to catalyse trillions of dollars of private investment to support the transition to net zero emissions no later than 2050. President Biden stressed the importance of developed countries meeting the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year in public and private finance to support developing countries. He also announced that the Administration intends to seek funding to double, by 2024, annual U.S. public climate finance to developing countries, compared to the average level of the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). This would include tripling public finance for adaptation by 2024. President Biden also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and announced that his Administration will undertake a series of steps to promote the measurement, disclosure, and mitigation of material climate risks to the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Yellen highlighted the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the transition. She also said that the Treasury Department will use all its tools and expertise to help support climate action. Special Envoy Kerry moderated a discussion among leaders from government, international organizations, and multilateral and private financial institutions. These leaders noted the importance of concessional finance to leverage much larger sums of private capital, as well as to provide finance to technologies, activities, and geographies where private capital is not flowing. They noted the urgent need to increase finance for adaptation and resilience in developing countries. The participants also recognized the need for governments to embrace key policies, including meaningful carbon pricing, enhanced disclosure of climate-related risks, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Several of the private financial institutions expressed their support for coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Net Zero Banking Alliance. They also referred to recent commitments by U.S. banks to invest $4.16 trillion in climate solutions over the next ten years.

Session 3 elevated four specific topics for more focused consideration by government officials and, in some cases, a broader range of stakeholders. 

·         The discussion on climate action at all levels, hosted by U.S. EPA Administrator Regan and including participation from a wide range of governors, mayors, and indigenous leaders from around the world, illustrated the importance of marshalling a multi-level “all-of-society” approach to climate action. The Session showcased States, cities, and indigenous groups that are committed to an equitable vision for advancing bold climate ambition and building resilience on the ground. Participants discussed the critical importance of building just and inclusive societies and economies as they accelerate efforts to transform their communities in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Participants discussed not only the importance of leadership at all levels of society and government, but also the importance of collaboration between national and subnational governments to catalyse additional ambition.

·         The discussion on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, focused on innovative ways in which countries from a wide variety of regions are responding to climate change in the areas of water and coastal management, food security, and human impacts. On the theme of coastal and water management, panellists offered up innovative solutions to prepare for water-related climate challenges, such as locally-owned disaster insurance instruments, relocation, and the use of green and blue bonds to finance nature-based solutions. Focusing on food security and climate, participants highlighted the need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape as well as the importance of supporting small-scale farmers. On human health and security, the discussion centred on scaling up locally-led solutions to climate vulnerability, emphasizing that economic opportunities are key to keeping communities healthy and stable. The session emphasized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. 

·         The discussion on nature-based solutions, hosted by Interior Secretary Haaland, addressed how achieving net zero by 2050 is not possible without natural climate solutions, such as stopping deforestation and the loss of wetlands and restoring marine and terrestrial ecosystems. She announced U.S. support of a proposal to protect the Southern Ocean through the three marine protected area proposals under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). All participants highlighted their support for protecting and conserving land and marine areas to sequester carbon and build climate resilience, and several made announcements. Seychelles is dedicating a chapter of its enhanced NDC to ocean-based solutions and is committing to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with support. Canada, for its part, is committing $4 billion in its new federal budget for land and ocean protection. In addition, Costa Rica underlined its co-leadership of the High-Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the intention to have 30% of its ocean under protection by 2022; Peru highlighted that more than a fifth of its NDC measures are associated with nature-based solutions; Indonesia discussed its Presidential decree to permanently freeze new license for logging and peatland utilization, as well as its mangrove rehabilitation program; and Gabon noted that its intact and logged forests absorb four times more CO2 annually than its total emissions across all sectors. Representatives of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and of the Kharia Tribe of India highlighted the need to recognize the contributions and traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities in ecosystem protection.

·         The discussion on climate security was hosted by Defence Secretary Austin. His remarks were followed by remarks from both Director of National Intelligence Haines and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas-Greenfield, who then moderated a panel discussion. Speakers included NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, defence officials from Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and the UK, as well as the Philippines’ finance minister. A common theme throughout the discussion was how climate impacts exacerbate security concerns and, as a result, affect military capabilities, heighten geopolitical competition, undermine stability, and provoke regional conflicts. Participants further emphasized that their nations and regions are vulnerable to extreme weather events, including sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons, drought, and increasing temperatures. All of these intensify underlying political, social, and economic conditions, which in turn can lead to food insecurity and water scarcity, violent extremism, and mass population movement, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations, especially women. Defence officials noted that their ministries are increasingly called upon to respond to disasters, which taxes their resources, thus elevating the need for enhanced disaster preparedness and response. In looking at their own operations and readiness, they showcased current efforts to decrease their militaries’ emissions, emphasizing how incorporating climate considerations into their operational planning can increase the agility of their forces. Additionally, they described the benefits of collaboration between defence ministries on shared climate risks. Participants highlighted the NATO climate security action plan and called on countries to incorporate climate considerations more broadly into multilateral fora, including UN peacekeeping missions. Perhaps most noteworthy, this was the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Defence convening of Secretaries of Defence focused on climate change.                                                                                                                                                                          Session 4 (“Unleashing Climate Innovation”) explored the critical innovations needed to speed net-zero transitions around the world and highlighted the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in bringing new and improved technologies to market. Energy Secretary Granholm and Commerce Secretary Raimondo emphasized the economic rewards from investing in innovation as multi-trillion dollar markets for clean technologies emerge in the coming decades and announced reinvigorated U.S. international leadership on innovation. The discussion underscored the urgent need for innovation: 45% of the emissions reductions needed for a swift net-zero transition must come from technologies that are not commercially available, according to the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Bill Gates urged investment to drive down “green premium” prices of most zero-carbon technologies compared with fossil fuel alternatives. Several leading countries — Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Norway, and Singapore — described their approaches to investing in mitigation and adaptation technologies. These included clean fuels such as hydrogen, renewables such as offshore wind and geothermal energy, energy storage, clean desalination, carbon capture, advanced mobility, sustainable urban design, and monitoring technologies to verify emissions and stop deforestation. Leaders from the private sector, including from GE Renewables, Vattenfall, and X, as well as from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, focused on training the diverse innovators of the future and investing in technologies for digitalized, electrified, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. Special Envoy Kerry closed by emphasizing that raising our innovation ambition enables us to raise the world’s climate ambition.                                                                                                                                                                                      Several speakers made announcements during this Session: Denmark announced a technology mission under Mission Innovation to decarbonize the global shipping sector, in collaboration with the United States, and that it will build the world’s first energy islands to produce clean fuels and supply power to Europe. The United Arab Emirates launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in partnership with the United States, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. Bill Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive public, private, and philanthropic capital to scale up critical emerging technologies. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems to decarbonize urban systems. GE Renewable Energy announced that the GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to increase the diversity of the next generation of engineers. And X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, announced a Moonshot for the electric grid.                                                                                                                                                                                        President Biden began Session 5 (“The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action”) by recognizing the opportunity that ambitious climate action presents to countries around the world to create good, high quality jobs. He noted that countries that prioritize policies that promote renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle manufacturing, methane abatement, and building retrofits, among other actions, would likely reap the rewards of job growth and economic prosperity in the years ahead. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Tai, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and National Climate Advisor McCarthy underscored that the climate agenda could be a race to the top for countries that are pursuing the most ambitious methods to tackle the crisis, noting the American Jobs Plan that President Biden has proposed.                                                                                                                                                                         Participants echoed this vision and elaborated their own projects and programs to maximize the economic benefits of their climate actions. Leaders of countries recognized that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for countries to build back better and invest in the industries of the future. Community, tribal, private sector, and labour leaders also weighed in on the opportunities that decarbonization provided. Panellists noted that climate action presents economic opportunities to all parts of society, from energy workers to vehicle manufacturers, from large businesses to small. In particular, there was general alignment among both country representatives and other participants that governments should promote equitable opportunities for workers and that labour unions can play a key role in promoting high quality employment opportunities for people around the world. To that end, Poland announced that they had just concluded negotiations with coal mine labour unions to ensure a just transition of workers as part of their coal-fired power phasedown. In response to the discussion, President Biden closed by emphasizing that climate action might represent the largest economic opportunity of this century and urging leaders to stay focused.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In between the five Sessions, several other speakers provided important perspectives. Youth speaker Xiye Bastida, declaring that climate justice is social justice, underlined that youth need to be a part of decision-making processes and called for a stop to fossil fuel subsidies and extraction. Current and future Conference of Parties Presidents Minister Carolina Schmidt (Chile) and MP Alok Sharma (UK) discussed the urgency of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Minister Schmidt noted that COP25 included, for the first time, a mandate to address the ocean-climate nexus, while MP Sharma noted that we must put the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through long-term targets and aligned NDCs, as well as immediate action, such as phasing out coal. Pope Francis, who has been a climate leader for many years, underlined the need to “care for nature so that nature may care for us.” Chair Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and introduced Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; she underlined the need to build back better to lift up the communities struggling with climate impacts and environmental injustice. Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, noted the key role of cities and businesses in tackling the climate crisis.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Alongside the Summit, Special Envoy Kerry hosted two Ministerial Roundtables to provide a broader group of countries an opportunity to contribute to the discussions. He heard from representatives of more than 60 countries from all over the world, reflecting a wide range of regions, geographic features, and national circumstances, and summarized their input for leaders on the second day of the Summit. Many Roundtable participants expressed concern about the inadequacy of global climate action to date and/or shared the unprecedented climate impacts they are experiencing. At the same time, participants enthusiastically reported on the significant, exciting efforts they are undertaking to confront the climate crisis, even while facing the global pandemic. Beyond many commitments to net zero emissions, enhanced NDCs, and innovative adaptation efforts, participants included a carbon-negative country, countries that have successfully decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions, leaders in carbon storage, countries with extensive forest cover, issuers of green bonds, and countries focusing on gender-responsive approaches and the participation of indigenous communities. It was notable that many of those passionately embracing climate solutions contribute far less than 1% of global emissions. The Roundtables contributed to the Summit’s sense of urgency as countries rally around increased ambition on the road to Glasgow.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Roundtable participants represented: Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia. A list of new climate-related initiatives announced by the United States at or around the Summit can be found in this Fact Sheet.

Prime Minister has announced new trade and investment deals with India worth £1bn.

It includes more than £533m of new investment from India into the UK, which is expected to create about 6,000 jobs. Downing Street said the new partnership will "pave the way" for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement.

The PM said: "The economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer." The deal, announced ahead of a virtual meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, includes a £240m investment by the Serum Institute of India, which will support clinical trials, research and possibly the manufacturing of vaccines.

Serum has already started phase one trials in the UK of a one-dose nasal vaccine for coronavirus, in partnership with Codagenix. Indian investment deals will create 1,000 new UK jobs each at health and tech firms Infosys, HCL Technologies and Mphasis.

Some 667 UK jobs will be created at Q-Rich Creations, 500 jobs at Wipro and 465 at 12 Agro. "Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs we have announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies," Mr Johnson said.

Meanwhile, British businesses have secured export deals with India worth more than £446m, which are expected to create more than 400 British jobs. They include a £200m deal involving CMR Surgical, which will create 100 new UK jobs.

The company's next-generation 'Versius' surgical robotic system - which helps surgeons perform minimal access surgery - will be rolled out to hospitals in India.

Trade between the UK and India is already worth around £23bn a year, supporting more than half a million jobs, according to the government.

Johnson said: "In the decade ahead, with the help of new partnership signed today and a comprehensive free trade agreement, we will double the value of our trading partnership with India and take the relationship between our two countries to new highs." He had been forced to cancel a planned visit to Delhi as it battles with a brutal second wave of coronavirus cases.

The visit was designed to foster closer ties between the two countries and had first been scheduled for January. It was delayed after the UK's higher wave of Covid infections over winter.

A four-day trip was scheduled for April before being cut back to just one day in Delhi, before being postponed indefinitely last month, with India subsequently added to the UK's travel ‘red list’. Authorities in Delhi recently called for help from the army. The government wants it to run Covid care facilities and intensive care units.

Across India, case numbers since the start of the outbreak are closing in on 20 million. In response to India's coronavirus surge, the British Asian Trust has raised more than £1.6m in the last week through its emergency appeal.

Bill and Melinda Gates say they are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage, with the pair writing on Twitter: "We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple.

"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage." The two met in the late 1980s, when Melinda joined Bill's Microsoft firm, and they have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation organisation which has spent billions fighting causes such as infectious diseases and encouraging vaccinations in children.

The Gates' - along with investor Warren Buffett - are behind the Giving Pledge, which calls on billionaires to commit to giving away the majority of their wealth to good causes. Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes, and is worth $124 billion.

He made his money through the firm he co-founded in the 1970s, Microsoft, the world's biggest software company. The pair both posted the statement announcing their divorce on Twitter.

"Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," it read. "We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.

"We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."

Covid cases and deaths in India are spiking across the country with only about 26 million people having been fully vaccinated out of a population of 1.4 billion. And, about 124 million have received a single dose.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has cancelled exports, reneging on international commitments. Worse, vaccine stocks in the country have nearly dried up, and no-one is sure when more will arrive.

Just as millions of Indians were trying to register online for a Covid jab - the vaccine portal and its accompanying apps have crashed. From May 1, India is opening up vaccination for roughly 600 million more people, to cover 18-44 year olds. But CoWin, as the platform is known, couldn't handle it.

Experts say the government should have finished vaccinating people above 45 before opening it up further, especially when supply was low. In fact, this appeared to be the plan until as recently as 6 April, when the health ministry said the drive could not simply be accelerated and that it was not yet considering expanding it to all adults.

It's likely the rapid, unrelenting surge in cases and reports that younger people were increasingly being admitted to hospital with severe symptoms led to the decision.

Economist Partha Mukhopadhyay said: "They should have held their nerve and focused on the vulnerable. Now the 45 and above have to compete with 600 million new demanders."

Those who have received no doses or a single dose so far have been queuing up at centres before supply runs out, raising the risk of infection. But that's not the only factor that has thrown India's vaccine drive into chaos.

Until now, India's federal government had been the sole purchaser of the two approved vaccines - Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University and manufactured by SII (Serum Institute of India); and Covaxin, made by a local firm Bharat Biotech. But it's now thrown open the market to not just 28 state governments, but also private hospitals, all of whom can directly negotiate and buy from the two vaccine makers. And they have to pay far more.

The federal government still gets 50% of stocks for 150 rupees ($2; £1.40) per dose, but states have to pay double that, and private hospitals eight times as much - all while competing for the remaining half. The different prices are concerning, says Srinath Reddy, a public health expert who advises federal and state governments on tackling Covid-19.

"All vaccination should be free, it's for public good," he says. "And why should states pay a higher price? They are also using tax payer money."

He fears that it's now a seller's market, where the poorest Indians are likely to be last in line.

Germany has agreed to return priceless artefacts to Nigeria that were stolen during the colonisation of Africa. British troops looted thousands of artworks known as the Benin Bronzes from the Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, in 1897.

Following auctions, some of the bronzes ended up in museums and private collections across Europe. They hold deep cultural significance, and there is growing international pressure to give them back.

Berlin's Ethnologisches Museum holds more than 500 artefacts from the Kingdom of Benin, most of them bronzes. "We want to contribute to understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of those whose cultural treasures were stolen during colonisation," German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said, adding that the first returns were expected to take place in 2022.

Scotland's University of Aberdeen said last month it would repatriate a Benin bronze whose acquisition in 1957 at an auction it called extremely immoral. Last year, France approved the restitution of its collection of pillaged Benin Bronzes.

Hundreds of pieces are still held in the British Museum and several museums in the United States. There are plans to house the returned artefacts in the forthcoming Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA).

The project is a joint effort between the Nigeria-based Legacy Restoration Trust, the British Museum and architecture firm Adjaye Associates. The Benin Bronzes - thousands of brass, bronze and ivory sculptures and carvings - have become highly charged symbols of colonialism and .

More than 900 of these artefacts are housed in the British Museum, which has come under increasing pressure to return them in the wake of last year's Black Lives Matter protests. The British Museum has said that it is committed to facilitating a permanent display of Benin material in Edo, but has not specified how many items would be returned, adding that the selection of objects will be determined through discussion with our Nigerian colleagues.

Historians say Benin City, formerly known as Edo, boasted earthen walls longer than the Great Wall of China. It was also said to be one of the first cities with a form of street lighting.

British troops razed the whole city to the ground in 1897 to avenge the killing of an earlier force.

People in the Indian state of West Bengal are voting in the final phase of elections despite soaring Covid cases.

Long queues were seen outside polling booths, raising concerns about further spread of the virus amidst a deadly second wave. Experts fear West Bengal could be the next epicentre as cases recently rose by 17,000 - a state record.

In total, India reported 379,257 new infections, the world's highest single-day total. The country also reported 3,645 deaths from coronavirus - another unwanted record, in this case the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

West Bengal has already seen seven phases of voting. The state is one of the few where Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not have a majority of parliamentary seats.

There has been a lot of criticism that he continued to hold large rallies there even as the virus began overwhelming the country. Some of the biggest rallies, including those attended by Modi, saw throngs of people not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed, oxygen is in critically low supply and crematoriums are operating non-stop. The overall death toll officially surpassed 200,000, though experts believe the actual number could be much higher.

The government had said that all adults will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations from 1 May, with online registration opening from April 28. But people on social media complained that they were not able to get slots because the website crashed soon after it opened.

So far, India has been vaccinating health workers, front line workers and adults over the age of 45. But less than 10% of the population has received an initial jab and there are concerns about meeting demand.

Although India is one of the world's biggest producers of vaccines, it does not yet have the stocks for the roughly 600 million people who will be eligible from today (May 1). The White House says the United States is redirecting its own order of AstraZeneca manufacturing supplies to India, allowing it to make more than 20 million doses of the vaccine.

Epidemiologist Bhramar Mukherjee says India must combine the immunisation drive with a widespread lockdown to slow the spread of the virus. Several parts of the country are under lockdown and curfew, including in the capital Delhi.

The government of Maharashtra, which is home to the financial capital Mumbai, is considering extending its lockdown until mid-May. There is no lockdown or curfew in West Bengal state though.

India has reached the devastating figure of 200,000 coronavirus deaths, with the pressure on many hospitals showing no sign of abating amid a surging second wave. The real number of fatalities is thought to be far greater, with many not being officially recorded.

Oxygen supplies remain critically low across the country, with the black market the only option for some people. Crematoriums are operating non-stop, with makeshift pyres in car parks.

There have been at least 300,000 new infections every day in the past week, with more than 360,000 new cases in the past 24 hours on Wednesday. Overall, more than 17.9 million cases have been registered.

Foreign aid has started to arrive from the UK and Singapore. Russia, New Zealand and France have pledged to send emergency medical equipment, and even regional rivals Pakistan and China have put aside their differences and promised to help.

However, experts say the aid will only have a limited effect in a nation that has a population of 1.3 billion. A government website where Indians can register for a vaccination programme crashed soon after it launched, as tens of thousands of people tried to access it.

In the state of Assam, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake damaged hospitals which were already under intense strain. People ran from their homes and other buildings in panic.

Mortality data in India is poor and deaths at home often go unregistered, especially in rural areas.

There are reports of journalists counting bodies at morgues themselves, to try to get a more accurate number. In Uttar Pradesh, health officials said 68 people had died on one day earlier this month across the state.

But a Hindi newspaper pointed out that officials also said there were 98 Covid funerals in the capital, Lucknow, alone. One man in Uttar Pradesh was investigated for spreading a rumour with an intent to cause fear or alarm by asking for help to find oxygen for his sick grandfather on Twitter. It caused widespread anger, and the man could face jail.

Crematoriums continue to work throughout the night to keep up with the number of bodies arriving, and many families are facing long waits before their loved ones can receive funeral rites. Some say they were asked to help speed up the process by piling the wood themselves.

In the southern city of Bengaluru, one doctor said people were panicking. It is one of the worst-hit cities in India, with some estimates saying there are about 300 active Covid cases per square kilometre. A senior consultant at a government said: "We were not prepared for this second surge.

“For the first surge it was well organised - as soon as we came to know [of the virus] everything was streamlined and we were much better prepared. This time there are more cases, it was more sudden, and the situation was not prepared for."

With most hospitals overwhelmed, families are having to find ways to treat loved ones at home. Many have turned to the black market, where prices of drugs such as remdesivir and tocilizumab, and oxygen cylinders, have soared.

"I know a family that cobbled together money to buy the first three doses of remdesivir from the black market, but couldn't afford to get the remaining three as prices shot up further," our correspondent says. "The patient continues to be critical." Some private jet companies have reported a spike in business, as people try to fly their sick relatives to other hospitals in India.

"It's basically families of patients who are looking to get into a hospital and are trying to see if there are any beds in other parts of the country," Ashish Wastrad, head of Air Charter Service's Mumbai office, says. However, he said the company's planes were not properly equipped to carry Covid-positive patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in its weekly epidemiological update that there were nearly 5.7 million new cases reported globally last week - and India accounts for 38% of them. It also said that the B.1.617 variant of the virus detected in India has a higher growth rate than other variants in the country, suggesting increased transmissibility.

India is carrying out the world's biggest vaccination drive, but less than 10% of the population has so far received an initial jab, and as infections continue to surge, there are concerns about meeting the demand. The US is helping India with the raw materials it needs for vaccine production, after India's biggest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India, complained of shortages of specialised imports from the US.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the first batch of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine is set to arrive in India on May 1. It has not yet been revealed how many doses will be delivered.

The Focus on Disability Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for creating and providing new life and hope for people living with disability, has scored another high in its efforts of looking after people with disability as it unveiled a new accommodation for the disabled and disadvantaged of diverse nature in Nigeria.

The multi-roomed bungalow with modern and recreational facilities, which is situated in Odogbolu, in the government State of Ogun, was commissioned in the presence of dignitaries from across the length and breadth of the State, who took turns to inspect the facility, and applaud the visionary, and founder of the Focus on Disability Foundation, Mr. Abiodun Enilari Paseda.

The image highlights the events that took place when Mr Paseda was in town, and hosted various dignitaries during an inspection tour of the facility.

Paseda, who is based in the United Kingdom, is known for his passion to uplift the standard of living of people living with disabilities across the globe, especially in Nigeria, Ghana and England where his impact has been greatly felt so far.

Speaking on the impact of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in India, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “On behalf of the whole Commonwealth family, I want to express our deep concern and solidarity with the people and the Government of India as your national agencies mobilise to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and as the latest wave of infection continues to spread so distressingly in your country.

“We are immensely grateful for the support provided by the Government of India to small and vulnerable member countries of the Commonwealth earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an immensely generous and practical response to this global emergency.

“And as your country so compassionately acted to support others in their time of need your fellow Commonwealth nations and the institutions which serve them would wish to do all we can to reciprocate in that same spirit of mutual support.

"As such we stand ready to assist in any way that we can and have called a Commonwealth Secretariat rapid response meeting to consider what practical support the Commonwealth Secretariat and our member countries might offer together to be able to help you with your heavy burden.

“As a family of nations, we value our brothers and sisters in India and we, along with the wider Indian diaspora, all of whom have family and friends affected, share your anguish at the impact of this devastating and terrible disease and commit to supporting the Government and people of India in any way possible.”

International efforts are under way to help India as the country suffers critical oxygen shortages amid a devastating surge in Covid cases.

The UK has begun sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices. EU members are also due to send aid. The US is lifting a ban on sending raw materials abroad, enabling India to make more of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

India's capital Delhi has extended its lockdown as overcrowded hospitals continue to turn patients away. The government has approved plans for more than 500 oxygen generation plants across the country to boost supplies.

Meanwhile neighbouring Bangladesh has announced that it will close its border with India from Monday to prevent the spread of the virus. India reported 349,691 more cases in the 24 hours to Sunday morning and another 2,767 deaths, however the true figures are thought to be much higher.

The first consignment of aid has left the UK and is due to arrive in India on Tuesday. Further shipments will take place later in the week. The aid includes 495 oxygen concentrators - which can extract oxygen from the air when hospital oxygen systems have run out - as well as 120 non-invasive ventilators and 20 manual ventilators.

In a statement UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against Covid-19.” The spike in infection has led to the cancellation of a planned visit by Mr Johnson to India and to a travel ban.

Other nations, including the UAE, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands have also banned flights from India. The White House says it will immediately provide raw materials for vaccines to Indian vaccine manufacturers.

"Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," said President Joe Biden. It follows calls by Indian officials and the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the US to lift export controls on raw materials for vaccines that were put in place in February.

Washington has also been criticised for delaying a decision on sending surplus vaccine doses abroad. The US will also provide medical equipment and protective gear. France meanwhile says it will provide oxygen.

In Brussels, the European Commission said it planned to send oxygen and medicine too. Its head Ursula von der Leyen said the organisation was "pooling resources to respond rapidly to India's request for assistance". India's neighbour Pakistan - which has tense relations with Delhi amid territorial disputes - offered medical equipment and supplies and its Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted prayers for a "speedy recovery".

The country's Edhi foundation has also offered to send a fleet of 50 ambulances to India.

A landmark set of measures to support international efforts in tackling corruption has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are designed to help governments and public sector organisations assess laws, procedures and actions against international good practice and make improvements if needed. United Nations figures indicate that corruption costs the global economy $3.6 trillion each year. Global proceeds from criminal activities are estimated at between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion per year.

The amount of money lost globally through corruption is equal to the total amount needed to successfully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In development since 2018, the new benchmarks offer a comprehensive roadmap to reduce corruption across 25 areas of public and commercial life.

Among the wide range of topics covered are corruption offences, investigation and prosecution, the court system, parliament, political elections and funding, public officials, procurement, management controls, and transparency to the public. The benchmarks also include mechanisms for engaging and mobilising the public and private sectors in educating, reporting and providing independent support and oversight.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, said: “Throughout the world, including in member countries of the Commonwealth, corruption continues to undermine social and economic development and have immensely damaging consequences, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable of people and communities.

“Our Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks are a robust set of recommendations and good practices brought together as an interlocking identification, prevention and reporting system designed significantly to reduce the risk of corruption in the public and private sectors.

“The Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Benchmarks package is a landmark initiative, unrivalled in scope and ambition, which I firmly believe provides a basis for transformational action in the Commonwealth and more widely towards ending the destructive scourge of corruption in all its forms.” Designed to be achievable, practical and auditable, this set of measures provides a holistic system that aims to reduce and deal with the risk of corruption.

The benchmarks promote honesty, impartiality, accountability, and transparency and provide for specific anti-corruption measures. In cases where there may be no recognised international good practice, the benchmarks propose  good practice measures.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform has worked in partnership with the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to develop the benchmarks. There has also been wide consultation with the African Union, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Commonwealth law ministries, anti-corruption agencies and Commonwealth partner organisations.

Neill Stansbury, Director of GIACC, and one of the authors of the benchmarks, said: “Corruption causes enormous damage in developed and developing countries, and primarily impacts on the poor.

“While preventive action must be taken by both the public and private sectors, it is incumbent on governments and the public sector to provide the legal, regulatory and enforcement environment which ​enables and ensures a corruption-free society. The benchmarks are designed to assist governments and the public sector achieve this​ objective.”   

Christopher Alder, Global Director of Regulation at RICS, said: “These benchmarks represent a step-change in the co-ordination and integration of anti-corruption mechanisms - mechanisms which connect public, commercial, professional and legal enforcement expertise.

“Taken together the mechanisms provide a framework for these ‘communities’ to co-ordinate their activities to support proactive and, if necessary, punitive action. Creating a framework through which these communities, their interests and responsibilities integrate leverages their collective power to transform the way that international and Commonwealth countries fight corruption.

“Ultimately, this collective power can protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies whilst building a future free of corruption.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) have urged African countries not to destroy Covid-19 vaccines that have expired.

The call comes after Malawi and South Sudan said they would discard more than 70,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab that were out of date

"Our advice would be that countries should ensure that they store the vaccines safely as we continue to study and try to get definitive advise on whether the vaccines can be used for longer," the WHO's Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti said.

The Africa CDC says it has spoken to the manufacturer, Serum Institute of India (SII), and has been reassured that the vaccines are still safe.

"The vaccine landscape is extremely challenging and the advise we got from SII is that the vaccines can still be used even after nine months," John Nkegasong, the head of Africa CDC said.

Many vaccines can be used up to 36 months after manufacture, but because Covid-19 jabs are so new, there is not enough data to prove their effectiveness over longer periods.

Whatever the guidance, the final decision rests with national drug regulators.

However, the issue will further increase the challenges around persuading people on the continent to get vaccinated.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa has been slow, partly because of supply issues and scepticism about the jab.

Out of 55 African countries, 41 have benefitted from the delivery of vaccines via the global-sharing scheme Covax. Seven are yet to receive their first batch.

A US federal investigation has been launched into policing practices in the city of Minneapolis, a day after one of its former officers was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. The justice department will look at whether there has been a pattern "of unconstitutional or unlawful policing", Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

It follows national outrage over the killing of Mr Floyd by Derek Chauvin. The former officer was convicted of all charges against him on Tuesday.

Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in May 2020. Mr Floyd, an unarmed African American, was pronounced dead an hour later. His death sparked protests across the US and worldwide, and calls for police reform.

Tuesday's verdict has been widely welcomed in a country where police are rarely convicted - if they are charged at all - over deaths which occur in custody. But Mr Garland told reporters that he knew the verdict would not "address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis".

The attorney general said the investigation would "include a comprehensive review of the Minneapolis Police Department's policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations." It will also examine "whether its treatment of those with behavioural health disabilities is unlawful", while looking at the "effectiveness of current systems of accountability and whether other mechanisms are needed to ensure constitutional and lawful policing."

Mr Garland said both the community and law enforcement would have to take part if the investigation were to be a success, and he had already started reaching out to both. If unlawful patterns or practices were found, he promised to issue a public report and bring a civil lawsuit.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is an ANC NEC member. She delivered this speech at the Chris Hani Memorial Lecture, to the Young Communist League of the University of Witwatersrand, on Saturday. The event was held under the theme ’Saving the soul of the ANC from the claws of factionalism and neo-liberal policies’.

We wish to thank the Young Communist League’s Shimi Matlala Branch for the invitation to address this Chris Hani Memorial Lecture. We also thank you for tackling such a challenging topic, it shows you care deeply about the movement and the future of this country. I am sure that comrade Chris Hani would be proud! Daunting as it is, we shall attempt to address the topic of “saving the soul of the ANC from the claws of factionalism and neo liberal policies” by utilising the canvas and essence of our movement, as well as comrade Chris Thembisile Hani and other revolutionaries.

We also thank you for the warm reception we have received from the student body and teaching staff. We have been struck by the vibrancy, diversity and the leadership this campus has provided to the discourse in our country. More especially, as it relates to the question of access to education and equality, which we shall return to in this talk.

We were also pleasantly struck by our sight of the plaque in honour of Dr Mary Malahlela Xakana, the first black female medical doctor who qualified here at Wits in 1947.

That our past, present and future are coincided by Dr Malahlela Xakana, Chris Hani and Comrade Shimi is not a mere coincidence because these heroes are authentic products of our revolution. What is most outstanding is that they were all products of the Struggle, shaped by their environment and driven by a deep sense of love for the people.

It was Che Guevara who once said “at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality”.

Comrade Chris was first and foremost guided by love. Every single soldier and worker in the camps, and wherever he worked or resided, was well-known to comrade Chris, he would even remember where each of them came from and would inquire on the health of their family members, mentioning their names.

Born and raised in the rural village of Sabalele in Cofimvaba, son of a migrant worker and hawker, his reality shaped his revolutionary spirit. Thus taking up the Struggle for the downtrodden and workers was not a mere coincidence, but a result of his lived experience.

Commenting on his family structure to Dr Lilli Callinicos in 1993, in one of his last interviews, he says: “A family was lucky to have the whole offspring surviving. If 50% survived, that was an achievement, so out of six, three of us survived … ”

Thus there also lies another feature we can emulate from comrade Chris – the love for family. Often times, when we theorise about revolutionaries and societal transformation, we overlook the role of the family. Yet this is the most basic unit of society, by which both the suffering masses and thriving capitalists survive.

Capitalism, in its essence, also survives on individualism and the progress of the self. Comrades, it therefore holds to logic that the pursuit of social justice and, dare we say, socialism ought to be about transforming societal relations by strengthening that basic unit. In so doing, we must also transform the ownership patterns of the economy and the means of production.

To quote comrade Chris: “As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist”.

He goes on to say: “Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market … ”

Indeed, despite the gains recorded by the developmental democratic state, the tyranny of the market has gained gravitas. This fact was also noted by the outcomes of our 54th conference, which noted that: “Despite the economic advances of the past 23 years of freedom and democracy, the legacy of colonialism and apartheid is still deeply entrenched in our society, and in the structure of the South African economy”.

The conference went on to note that “this legacy expresses itself in racialised patterns of poverty, inequality and unemployment, in land and spatial disparities, in infrastructure and service backlogs, in concentrated structures of ownership and control and in the weaknesses of the SMME and cooperatives sector.”

The striking feature of our economy today, as expressed by the Forbes top ten list, tells us:

  • First, 9 of the 10 are white
  • Second, none of them are women
  • Third, the 10 individuals account for 7,1% of our wealth, and
  • Finally, according to Oxfam, the wealthiest 1% of South Africans own 70% of our wealth, whereas the bottom 60% only control 7% of the country’s assets.

Comrades, we should not be comfortable with this glaring failure of the economic system. It is also important to recall that our revolution is based on the strategic mission to liberate our country and continent from the systems of apartheid and colonialism.

It is because of this strategic objective, that the ANC and the broader liberation forces, the alliance – including the Communist Party, as well as the women’s movement and other organisations – achieved the historic breakthrough of 1994, through its high and lows. Despite these highs and lows our movement consistently ensured that it was never deterred from this objective and it never succumbed to the challenges it faced from time to time – whether as a result of the conditions beyond its control, actions of the regime or its own internal weaknesses.

Despite the difficulties, the movement – because of its commitment to principle and to uniting the people in action, to finding sustainable solutions – was able to renew itself, its tactics, its policies, and its leadership and cadreship.

Part of the problem we are facing is the factionalism that tears us apart and defocuses us. As a result, we run the risk of losing our revolutionary discipline and political consciousness. We must not allow this factionalism to prevail.

Comrades, the call for unity by our 54th conference should not be interpreted as a mere call, but a revolutionary act. It is a firm belief that only a united ANC and alliance can fulfil the dreams and aspirations of our people, towards democratic and developmental outcomes. We ought to pause and introspect whether we remain on course? If not, we must go back to Lenin and answer the big question of “what is to be done”.

Indeed comrades, as alluded by the title of this event, the demon of factionalism has slowly been creeping and destroying the essence of the ANC.

The ANC has never made decisions based on the views of a particular group (faction), democratic centralism is about respecting the views of others in a debate. We have always made decisions based on the interests of the motive forces, the interests of women, youth, workers, etc.

So much so that the 54th conference noted that factionalism has resulted in “a loss of confidence in the ANC … social distance, corruption, nepotism, arrogance, elitism, manipulating organisational processes … [and] abusing state power … ”

Dare we unmask the source of this factionalism? And, as we do so, let us once again recall the words comrade Mark Shope, would say after a political lecture: “I am teaching you politics today, comrades, so that you can use it against me one day when I deviate from the policies of the ANC.”

In our view, factionalism is a gross deviation from ANC policies and is rooted in the promotion of self-interest and careerism above the interest of the people. It is also a self-preservation agenda that sees self above all. That agenda is contradictory to Marxist philosophy, which dictates that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

It is also driven by counter-revolutionary tendencies, which are rooted in maintaining the status quo at the least or returning to the old ways at best. Indeed, comrade Chris’ nightmare has come to fruition wherein he had said: “What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists, who drive around in Mercedes-Benzes and use the resources of this country … to live in palaces and to gather riches”.

Thus, we must ask what is our relationship with our people, are our cadres still embedded amongst the people? Are they living the values of our movement? We shall leave these questions to the discussion segment.

But we must say that these factional tendencies are also supported by a counter-revolutionary intelligentsia, which is the opposite of the intelligentsia anticipated by comrade Chris who once called for “an intelligentsia which is selfless, which is not just concerned about making money, creating a comfortable situation for themselves, but an intelligentsia which has lots of time for the Struggle of the oppressed people”.

You, as young people, must also never allow yourselves to be used for any factional reasons.

Comrades, to recall comrade OR Tambo’s final speech at the 47th congress as President of the ANC, when he said: “Before I sit down, I wish to make a few observations: we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all, we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general. Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom. We have never been in doubt that the people’s cause shall triumph.”

Indeed, as comrade OR said, we have faced difficult times but we made sure that we put the interest of the people first, in order to advance and ultimately win the struggle for freedom. Such a time we now face again.

Let us also recall that, in 1991, when comrade OR handed over our movement, we began to navigate our existence in a different and complex environment. We went from operating underground, in exile and within the mass democratic movement since, to becoming a mass legal organisation, opening up our membership in 1990.

In the changing terrain of the early 1990s, we had to rebuild the ANC as a mass legal organisation, engage in negotiations, prepare for governance and elections, and defend the people against third forces and state violence. Although there were challenges, the movement navigated this difficult terrain through focused, serving, disciplined and principled leadership.

We had to maintain commitment, disciplined and an active cadreship from different generations, whilst balancing that with a culture of engagement, democracy and robust debate, premised on a strategy and tactics directed at unity in action. Consequently, the democratic breakthrough of 1994, though a negotiated settlement with compromises, provided a beachhead to advance our strategic objective of this era, which ultimately defined as the creation of a National Democratic Society.

Comrades, It is impossible to build this society without a united and renewed organisation. Thus the renewal of our organisation occupies a mantlepiece of our total liberation. Thus we must pay attention to political education, campaigns, community work and cadre development which necessitates a skills revolution, as well as discipline. In the words of comrade Mark Shope: “A soldier without politics is a mercenary.”

Is it not time to ask ourselves, what is an ANC cadre without politics, and how do we address this situation?

I think this is especially important to note because, even as leaders, we can go wrong from time to time. However, it is our political understanding that gives us the ability to self-correct. That is why cadre development is a core of our activities. It must be undertaken on a continuous basis for all comrades, in all structures, from branch level all the way up to the most senior levels.

According to our cadre policy, ANC cadres are required to:

  • have revolutionary consciousness and discipline,
  • commitment to serve and love for the people,
  • be dedicated and humble,
  • committed to self-improvement, their understanding of their tasks,
  • of our struggle, the motive forces,
  • as well as national and gender consciousness.
  • Moreover, ANC cadres must be committed to democracy, and collective processes.

On the occasion of the centenary celebration of the ANC in 2012, we declared the Decade of the Cadre, and committed to revitalise all aspects of our Cadre Policy – recruitment, cadre development, deployment and accountability, as well as cadre preservation.

We thus said, that in addition to the above attributes, we must build, develop and retain, ANC cadres who are ideologically rooted and schooled in ANC and progressive politics. However these comrades also have the responsibility to skill themselves and be competent to undertake assigned tasks with discipline, and high ethics. They must be conscientious and committed to continuous self-improvement.

Comrades, our cadre policy and our strategic objective also requires from the ANC to be rooted amongst the motive forces, to organise and participate in their issues, and to act in the interest of the motive forces.

This, therefore, includes continually sharpening our understanding of the motive forces, the objective and subjective changes within the motive forces, and the impact of our policies and actions on these forces.

We must ask the question whether our characterisation of the motive forces remains relevant and whether they still see the ANC as the vehicle that will transform their lives for the better? The majority are women and youth. Have we sufficiently addressed the plight of women and the challenges that are faced by young people, including their socialisation as citizens of a non-racial, non-sexist democracy, committed to shared prosperity?

What is our relationship with our people, are our cadres still embedded amongst the people, while living the values of our movement? What is causing a rift and waning influence of the ANC among our people?

Comrades, part of the attributes of a cadre, is the ability to find your bearings independently, to be conscious of the tasks of the moment and in your sector in order to advance transformation. You must be hard-working. This requires the tools to assess the balance of forces and how to shift it, in order to respond to the needs of the people.

At the time of the transition, it was clear that the balance of forces were not entirely in our favour. As a result, we had to work on consolidating and fostering cohesion and unity in society in order to safeguard our hard-earned freedom.

The ANC, from its inception, has never been an organisation that has opted for violence and loss of life of its people. It was only when the apartheid government banned all our organisations and consistently responded with violence towards our people that we had no option but to turn to armed Struggle.

In President Tambo’s words “Operating within the logic of the armed struggle – armed and political – and supported by the international community, we managed to push the enemy into a crisis which could not be resolved within the confines of the old order. For the first time, possibilities to end apartheid and national oppression through negotiations were created. As a result of Struggle, the closed door that our late President, Chief AJ Luthuli, knocked on for many decades was finally opened. It is our responsibility and destiny to seize this opportunity.”

We did well comrades, in order to bring back dignity to our people and to bring about the will of the people and the right to self-determination. We also successfully navigated out of the transitional phase and established a non-racial and non-sexist government to further our revolution. We knew then that our Struggle was not over and that we would need to ensure that we build on our gains and transform our institutions and the economy. As a result of the negotiated settlement, we needed to consolidate our political power in order to utilise it to begin the radical transformation of our society.

In the 2004, national elections the ANC managed to consolidate a decisive victory of 69.7% of the vote and was able to garner a two third majority in Parliament. In retrospect, we must admit that we did not reflect deeply enough on the balance of forces . This lack of appreciation of the balance of forces meant that we equally did not shift gears from fostering political stability to advancing socio-economic transformation of our country.

In 2004, the political climate and the economic environment, the balance of forces had shifted in our favour. We needed to have used our political hegemony and influence to really transform the economy and our society.

We dare not continue to allow crippling fiscal austerity, export oriented production and privatisation of public sector services and succumbing to the pressure and influence of neoliberal forces that bombarded us with threats of disinvestments, rating agencies and the decline of the rand, and pushed us to limit our mission of transforming our economy. They used their institutions to scare us into pursuing policy directions that will ensure that, by and large, the economic status quo remains the same.

Comrades, Twenty-seven years later, we find ourselves facing very serious difficulties.

* Our National Democratic Revolution is threatened and, as a movement, we are at a low point. Our electoral performance is on the decline, with our support in the 2016 Local elections declining to below 55%,

* The economic situation is not favourable – unemployment, poverty and inequality remain unacceptably high, we have had pedestrian growth for a number of years now and, increasingly, our people are becoming disillusioned at our ability to deliver the National Democratic Society.

* Since the dawn of our democracy, we have had groups splitting from the organisation. There was UDM, COPE and then the EFF. If you look at each of these cases, at the core of the problem has been ill-discipline.

* As the ANC, we are not producing and maintaining the quality of cadre that is expected by a progressive revolutionary movement, and it is evident in the rampant ill-discipline that has been creeping up, which has now become pervasive.

* The challenges include not only the ANC, but the alliance as a whole, as well as other structures of the MDM.

* The fracturing and disunity of our movement creates a vacuum, which is being filled by opportunistic elements in our society. Ill-discipline, factionalism and divisions are, therefore, tearing us apart and we need to focus categorically on cadre development and utilising the confidence our people show in us through the ballot to advance our revolution.

Comrades, consequently, the activist of today has the added responsibility to contribute to the radical transformation of our economy. During a lecture similar to this in 2003, comrade Pallo Jordan pointed out that: “No one, not even the most optimistic among the early communists, did not appreciate that these revolutions would be bourgeois democratic in character … there has been an unfortunate tendency among some in our movement to counter-pose the national democratic and the socialist revolution. From its inception, Marxism, as understood by its founders, has regarded these two as parts of a continuum, at times anticipating that the democratic revolution would grow into the socialist revolution, at others, that the political revolution would evolve into a social revolution.”

Thus, the young communist and aspirant socialist has an even greater responsibility.

As argued by Marx and Engels, they have a special role “ ... on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions and the ultimate general result of the proletarian movement.”

We must, therefore, be inspired by the words of comrade Chris, who explained his affinity towards socialism by saying: “Given my background, I was attracted by ideas and the philosophy which had a bias towards the working class; which had as its stated objective the upliftment of the people on the ground.“

He continues to say: “I didn't get involved with the workers' Struggle out of theory alone. It was a combination of theory and my own class background. I never faltered in my belief in socialism, despite all the problems currently. For me, that belief is strong because that is still the life of the majority of the people with whom I share a common background.”

Here, comrade Chris lays the line of march anticipated by Marx and Engels. In the words of Che Patria o Muerte (homeland or death). Thus, according to comrade Chris, that line of march is whatever it is we do we must do in the service of the people. For him “the homeland is humanity!!” as said Jose Marti. Consequently, Che concludes that the revolutionary has the “task of educating and feeding youngsters ... educating the army … distributing the lands … without receiving its benefits”.

This can only be achieved through an integrated, developmental and community-based approach, thus our added emphasis on cooperatives. In this regard, Che concludes that: “The peasant must always be helped technically, economically, morally, and culturally. The guerrilla fighter will be a sort of guiding angel who has fallen into the zone, helping the poor always and bothering the rich as little as possible in the first phases of the war.”

Thus, the SACP’s Discussion Document titled “building cooperatives as a concrete expression of building people’s power in the economy”, is instructive. The paper also notes that “cooperatives, existing by themselves within capitalist economies and isolated from the tactical and strategic framework of progressive forces, are doomed to either degenerate or collapse.”

It further asserts that “However, this does not mean that cooperatives are not viable and cannot be a part of a wider strategic response to transcending capitalism.” Indeed this is in line with the thinking of comrade Chris and Che.

For Hani: “What is important is the continuation of the Struggle and we must accept that the Struggle is always continuing under different conditions, whether within Parliament or outside Parliament. We shall begin to tackle the real problems of the country … for social upliftment of the working masses of our people”.

Similarly, Che observes that “isolated individual endeavour, for all its purity of ideals, is of no use, and the desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone, solitarily, in some corner … fighting against adverse governments and social conditions which prevent progress. To create a revolution, one must undertake the mobilisation of a whole people, who must learn … the value of unity.”

So what must be done? We must, therefore, de-concentrate economic and work opportunities away from the state, at least at local level. For so long as the rural child, in Winnie Madikizela Mandela Municipality in the Eastern Cape, only sees the municipal manager or the mayor as the most successful person in the area, then service of self will thrive. We must create economic opportunities, where the people live as anticipated by the RDP. To facilitate for this and also inculcate the culture of long-term planning, we are currently implementing the District Development Model.

Through the model, we intend to facilitate for Local Economic Development, whilst solving the coordination conundrum which has been defined by vertical and horizontal silo mentality. This mentality has, amongst others, resulted in substandard implementation. To solve this, we are implementing the District Development Model. The model employs joint planning, implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation. The district is seen as the landing strip, around which capacity and investment can be “crowded in” to support local economic development and the full array of services including health.

We must also drive our transformation agenda and embark on a selective industrialisation process, which prioritises:

(1) The infrastructure sector. By building our social and economic infrastructure, which in the transport sector must prioritise the building of buses, trains, rural roads and maritime transportation. We ought to have a fast rail network to link our cities with the continent. This will also require that we fix our parastatals such as Eskom, whilst also facilitating for wall-to-wall energy and ICT infrastructure. We must also build and maintain our water and sanitation. We can direct where investment should go, whilst at the same time providing jobs and skills for our people.

(2) It is inconceivable that, in the near future, humans will be able to live without food. Thus, agriculture will remain cardinal in our economy, we must just ensure that we fully explore that value chain up to Agro-processing and beyond the logistics that support it. This will require that we grow our own food, meat and capture the entire value chain of agriculture. We will need to employ innovation through vertical agriculture.

(3) Closely related to this is the Blue Oceans Economy, which strategically favours South Africa, with two oceans and vast experience. We must develop all the relevant skills, which include oceanographers, marine biologists and all the areas of the maritime economy, which spreads from logistics to humanities, including floating and coastal tourism.

(4) South Africa is favoured by some of the most diverse flora and fauna, which can work to our advantage, so long as we invest in the labour intensive tourism sector.

(5) South Africa has the most developed manufacturing sector on the continent, which sector can facilitate for the development of the four sectors we have highlighted above.

(6) All of these will require financing, thus, the importance of transforming our financial sector. There is no reason why, in localising economic development, we cannot think of cooperative banks and well as municipal banks. The type of budgets and complexity of programmes, run by major cities like Johannesburg and eThekwini, justify for such a bank.

(7) In accelerating our development, we will also need sustainable energy generation, as well as the employ of creativity and innovation. Thus, the broad creative sector is an important and supportive growth point.

To successfully deliver on this path, we will require a capacitated public service and a patriotic private sector. We will also require that we locate the appropriate skills throughout the bureaucracy and in the localities we intend developing. Thus, the backbone of our model is the skills revolution, as we will require appropriately motivated and orientated professionals in the various fields of need, including engineers, oceanographers, cultural workers, film producers and so on.

Comrades, thus we support the call for a decolonised and accessible education. First, because we believe education to be a right and not a privilege. However, you must remember that with every right comes a responsibility. Thus, as we extend that right, you must remember your obligations to the service of humanity and country. Thus our education system must transform and align to the aspiration of the “Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened” in the Freedom Charter.

This clause anticipated four interrelated fundamentals, amongst others, that:

1. “The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life;

2. The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;

3. Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; and

4. Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.”

Therefore, we should, in fact, not be having any debate on free education and its decolonisation, but rather on what the progressive steps towards it will be, given our limited resources. After all, it was Chris Hani who attested to the fact that education was the single most important thing that conscientised him and opened the world to him the “world of knowing how to write the alphabet, how to count…”

Indeed, the world over is in abundance of research that proves education as the most important equaliser by which we can break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, inequality and want.

Comrades, this generation sits at the crossroads in the life of our once glorious movement. You sit on the foothill of what could be an era when our country reaches its full potential. This phase of our revolution is perhaps most testing, as the enemy is now unseen and operates amongst us, persuading some to abandon the revolutionary spirit of the congress movement. However, as you enter into battle, remember what comrade Che said: “The revolution is made by man [or woman], but man [or woman] must forge his [or her] revolutionary spirit from day to day”. Above all, remain brave, for comrade Chris was one of the bravest amongst all of us.

For those in the Young Communist League, remember Engels’ letter to Adophe Sorge, the day after Marx’s death, wherein he says: “The Struggle of the proletariat continues. That victory is certain. Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for? And we have not lost courage yet.” Comrade Chris was courageous, this next phase of our revolution requires brave and courageous women and men.


Aluta Continua!

With the royals set to comply with COVID regulations - like other families across Britain - limiting numbers at St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle, HM Queen Elizabeth II will say goodbye to her husband of 73 years Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, during a service with just 30 close family members, with Prince William and Prince Harry to be among those walking behind their grandfather's coffin.

However, they will be separated by cousin Peter Phillips as the Queen moves to supress simmering tensions between the following the bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview. Breaking a centuries old royal tradition, the family will be dressed in morning suits, rather than military uniform. Prince Andrew had reportedly demanded to wear an Admirals uniform, despite having stepped back from public duties before being promoted to the rank, while Prince Harry was set to be the only one in civilian dress having quit royal duties.

There will also be a military procession as people turn on their television to watch the service. The funeral service itself will begin at 15.00GMT.

A Buckingham Palace statement said: "Ahead of the funeral service, the coffin, covered with His Royal Highness's Personal Standard and surmounted with his Sword, Naval Cap and a wreath of flowers, will be moved privately from its present location in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle to the Inner Hall of Windsor Castle.

"After prayers are said by the Dean of Windsor in the Inner Hall, the Coffin will be
carried to the State Entrance by a Bearer Party found by The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

"The Bearer Party will then place His Royal Highness's Coffin on a purpose-built Land Rover.

"The Queen will depart from the Sovereign's Entrance in the State Bentley and join the rear of the Procession in the Quadrangle. At 1445hrs the procession steps off to St George's Chapel, flanked by military Pall Bearers."

Prince Philip died aged 99, just two months before his 100th birthday, following a prolonged period in hospital. He was treated for an infection and also underwent heart surgery in March but was discharged, giving him a few precious weeks at home with his wife – Queen Elizabeth - before he passed away.

The Buckingham Palace statement said: "Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family are grateful for all the messages of condolence from around the world and have been touched to see and hear so many people sharing fond memories of The Duke of Edinburgh.

"Although plans for the Funeral have been modified to take into account public health guidelines, the ceremonial aspects of the day and the Funeral Service itself are in line with

The Duke's wishes and will reflect His Royal Highness's personal and military affiliations."