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Featured Articles

Debt Relief for Africa in the post-COVID-19 Pandemic in Social Protection Lenses

By Andebo Pax Pascal - Research and Advocacy Officer, JENA

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and worsened the trends of poverty in Africa, which the World Bank had estimated would make the continent home to 87 percent of the world’s extreme poor by 2030 if trends of growth were not translating into poverty and inequality reduction continued. The numbers of Africans living on less than $1.90 a day have been rising prior to the pandemic.

Building Back Better: Promoting Food Sovereignty, Eradicating Poverty and Strengthening Social Justice for post–COVID-19 Recovery in Africa

By Dennis Kyalo and Charlie B. Chilufya, SJ (JENA)

Collaboration and networking for a just society are at the heart of the contemporary mission of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA). One of the areas JENA engages is ‘climate justice and food sovereignty ’ but is working in partnership with other like-minded institutions, both in and outside the Church, to not only support development work but also support advocacy on food justice and food sovereignty and on other issues related to these themes. This is because improved food sovereignty could enhance gender equality, prevent conflict, and build and sustain peace among vulnerable food-poor households and communities in Africa.

Tax and Debt Justice: Why the Catholic Church Must Seek to be involved now.

By Pascal Pax Andebo - JENA, Research and Advocacy Officer

Imagine hearing your Parish Priest, as part of his preaching, telling you to pay taxes to the government as a Christian obligation. Then he proceeds to read a long pastoral letter from the Bishops, which lays emphasis on the need to pay taxes, among other things. Has the historical alliance between Church and State begun again; an alliance, which made a dent in the Church for centuries, was considered part of the reason for Reformation? Yes, you are reading here about a topic, calling for the Catholic Church in Africa, and indeed the whole world, to be actively involved in advocating for increased public resource mobilisation through taxes, but in a better way. Jesus, responding to Pharisees, made the distinction between paying to Caesar and to God (Luke 20:25). The key question is: what would require the Church in Africa to be involved in advocating for increased revenue mobilisation?

A Wicked Impunity

Will the Supreme Court gut the Alien Tort Statute?

Fernando C. Saldivar, SJ - JENA for Commonweal

On December 1, 2020, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe I and Cargill, Inc. v. Doe I. Depending on how the court rules, these cases could mark the end of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as a means of holding corporations accountable in U.S. federal courts for human-rights abuses committed abroad. For victims of such abuses, particularly those in Africa, ATS has, until now, provided an opportunity to seek relief in the only jurisdiction where they can obtain an enforceable judgment, and where such a judgment is most likely to influence the future behavior of the offending corporations and their shareholders. While much of the world’s attention was focused last fall on whether the Supreme Court would find a way to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, human-rights lawyers and activists were paying close and anxious attention to the Nestlé and Cargill cases.

Reimagining the Global Economy: Africa’s Role in the Vatican’s Collaboration with the Council for Inclusive Capitalism

by Fernando C. Saldivar, SJ

On December 8, 2020, the Vatican announced the creation of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, a partnership with some of the world’s largest investment and business leaders to take up Pope Francis’s challenge to radically rethink the foundations of the global financial order and apply moral principles to business and investment practices throughout the world. The Council’s founding members, who will hold annual meetings with the Pope, represent the managers of more than $10.5 trillion in assets and companies with a combined market capitalization of $2 trillion. Among this group are the leaders of Bank of America, BP, Johnson & Johnson, as well as major investment groups, the secretary-general of the OECD, and the UN special envoy for climate finance.

Grappling with reality: The Zambian Debts

By Andebo Pax Pascal 

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has put many African governments in a more straining situation as they were already straining to service their debt obligations. They thus faced the choice of paying their creditors or saving lives. The combined debts of the African countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are estimated to be about US$ 583 billion, the result of continued borrowing by African countries from multiple lenders at high-interest rates, as lenders consider lending to African countries as risky. With the COVID-19, many African countries are now forced to borrow more, some surpassing the 60 percent recommended debt-to-GDP threshold for borrowing, as the health systems are strained and food crisis is looming. More concerning now is the growing debt African countries are accumulating from China and private lenders.

Zambia’s Debt Crisis: More Than Debt Relief is Needed

By Charles B. Chilufya, SJ, JENA

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt globally with severe human costs. But on the social and economic fronts, it has had a worse impact on poorer countries in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. One particular Sub-Saharan African country still reeling from these impacts is Zambia. This disease-induced social and economic shock could not have come at a worse time than now for Africa’s second-largest copper-producing economy awash in increasing poverty, worsening climatic conditions, a widening budget deficit, and facing a debt crisis. Zambia, like other African countries, is faced with plunging revenues and fast increasing borrowing costs as investors seek relative safety. Zambia does not even have the funds to fight the pandemic and shore up its economy.

Diminishing Democracy in Africa: Engaging Youth to Turn its Course

By Pascal Pax Andebo, JENA, for Promotio Iustitiae 2020

The story of democracy in modern African nations begins with colonialism and then independence in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, the 1990s was seen as the “second liberation” in Africa due to the rapid democratisation process, with a series of multi-party elections in many African countries. It was considered a time for sanitising democracy after the one party or military regimes that had emerged in the decades after independence. Before this, only Botswana, Mauritius and Senegal continued holding multiparty elections since independence, and no African leader had ever lost an election or handed-over power (Dowden, 1993).

Integral Ecology and Democracy in the United States: Reflecting on the Road Ahead

Fernando C. Saldivar, SJ, JENA  -  for Promotio Iustitiae 2020

People in the United States tend to think not only that we perfected constitutional democracy, but we also take our institutional stability for granted. No matter how much we disagree with our elected leaders, rail against the inequalities of the market, or continue to divide ourselves into enclaves based on race and class, there remains embedded in the American psyche an almost Pollyannaish trust in the rule of law.

Explainer: What is the Zaire rite—and why is Pope Francis talking about it now?

Ricardo da Silva, S.J. for American Magazine

Mass at the Vatican on the First Sunday of Advent last year, Dec. 1, 2019, was a much different affair than usual. The boys and men of the Sistine Chapel Choir had the day off. In their place, some 30 women dressed in brightly-patterned dresses were ushered in—alongside only a handful of men. Not a note was heard on the pipe organ. The sound of marimbas, electric guitars, hand shakers and African and electronic drums echoed throughout St. Peter’s Basilica.

Jesuits’ Scholarship to Enable Vulnerable Refugees in Kenya Access University Education

By Mercy Maina for ACI Africa

A scholarship opportunity by the international refugee entity of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), aims at providing vulnerable refugees living in Kenya access to university education, the leadership of the agency has said.

“JRS scholarship is about providing access to university education to vulnerable refugees who have a desire for university education but have been denied this opportunity due to a number of factors including their socio-economic status,” the leadership of the agency says in a report shared with ACI Africa Thursday, November 19.