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Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

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A weekly electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Books & arts, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Women & gender, 7. Human rights, 8. Refugees & forced migration, 9. Elections & governance, 10. Corruption, 11. Development, 12. Health & HIV/AIDS, 13. Education, 14. Racism & xenophobia, 15. Environment, 16. Land & land rights, 17. Media & freedom of expression, 18. Social welfare, 19. News from the diaspora, 20. Conflict & emergencies, 21. Internet & technology, 22. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 23. Fundraising & useful resources, 24. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 25. Remembering Rwanda

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Highlights from this issue

* Zimbabwe: four years on since the beginning of the plunge
* Debate on ICC and impunity
* Remembering Rwanda: 10th anniversary Remembering Rwanda plans underway
* Conflicts and Emergencies: One million at risk in Darfur, Sudan
* Human Rights: Ugandans want trillions in compensation
* Refugees and Forced Migration: The future of migration
* Development: The Congo and debt
* HIV/AIDS: 3 by 5 plan at risk
* Education: Gender and Education for all
* Media and Freedom of Expression: Call for African free expression monitor
* Books and Arts: Review of ‘We did nothing’ by Linda Polman


Zimbabwe in March 2004: Four years from the beginning of the plunge

Mary Ndlovu


Time is out of joint in Zimbabwe. We have gone through the looking glass and live in a state of schizophrenia. We read one thing in the state media, and experience something quite different on the ground. The new farmers are said to be creating a revolution, but there is no farm produce in the shops, no agricultural goods to export. Our “enemies” who want to sabotage our economy are feeding us, while our own rulers destroy productive capacity, pillage our natural resources, and even make money illegally exporting the food on which the people depend for survival.

Time moves too fast. In a day lives are turned upside down. A government decree quadruples tariffs on virtually every imported good, destroying businesses, crippling industries relying on imported components, wiping out the means of survival for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who have been eking out a living through cross-border trade. In a week the only non-government daily newspaper is off the street, on the street and off the street again. In a month prices double in the shops, and 20,000 Zimbabweans die of AIDS. In a year inflation soars from 220% to 620% and your used car depreciates by doubling its Zimdollar value. And in a year the public mood changes from hope and expectation of relief from the madness to deep, debilitating despair.

On our side of the looking glass, the mounting catastrophe has political, economic, social and cultural components. Most objective observers would trace the economic problems back at least to the late 1980’s. Certainly the introduction of structural adjustment at the beginning of the 90’s can be seen as the process which eroded the living standards of Zimbabweans, and spawned the first broad-based opposition party. It also generated pressure from interest groups such as war veterans and ambitious black businessmen who felt they had waited too long to share in the country’s wealth. The government’s response to these developments sent the country into the downward spiral which today ensnares us. Instead of taking the criticism and the pressure and sitting back to plan a coherent strategy of how to deal with the inter-related issues, ZANU PF panicked, saw their ruling position threatened, and from 1997 on have responded piecemeal, reactively and irrationally, bringing us to the tragedy which unfolds before our eyes.

They gave in to pressures from those groups with which they had racial and historical affinities, that is the “indigenous businessmen” and the war veterans, while viciously attacking those in the political opposition and civil society who dared to demand policies that would serve the needs of the people at large. These were accused of wanting to sabotage the economy, acting as agents of foreign powers, fomenting discord and trying to reverse the gains of the liberation war. Because the government half believed their own fantasies, they became quite incapable of drawing appropriate strategies to handle the economic crisis, and became obsessed with simply retaining political power. Every economic policy became twisted to suit the immediate needs of ZANU PF, while the needs of the consumer, the producer, the employer and employee were disregarded. Basic economic sense was thrown to the winds, commonplace economic imperatives defied. ZANU PF returned to the militarist leadership and rhetoric of the liberation war.

The economic slide was precipitated by the 1997 surrender to the demands of war veterans, but it became a plunge from the beginning of the seizure of land from white commercial farmers in February 2000. Angered by the negative results of the referendum on a new constitution in that month, ZANU PF devised a malicious but brilliant strategy designed to recover domestic support, provide new sources of patronage, fulfill the promises of the liberation struggle and attract international support from traditional allies of the 1970’s. In their panic they rushed headlong to seize agricultural land from white farmers by violent means, afraid to wait for a legal process to unfold. They justified this by the philosophy of armed struggle and the injustices perpetrated by colonizers in the hundred years before Independence. Law was no longer necessary; the end justified any means.

It is exactly four years since the officially sanctioned land invasions began. During that time the economy has shrunk to less than half its previous size, while inflation has risen to 620%. Added to the pre-existing economic crisis, the destruction of a substantial portion of commercial agriculture has brought a sharp decline in foreign exchange earnings, and severe food shortages. Government’s attempts to manipulate prices, interest rates and foreign exchange rates have produced chaos – artificial shortages of price-controlled goods and a booming black market, illegal export of basic goods to neighbouring countries, closure of factories and other businesses, especially those related to agricultural production. The lack of foreign currency reduced ability to import essential consumer and capital goods and the general decline of the economy starved government of revenue. At the same time runaway inflation led to a need to print ever larger amounts of bank notes which government could not afford. The result was the crippling cash shortage in mid 2003. High inflation coupled with low interest rates impoverished pensioners and anyone else dependent on a fixed income, and initiated a flight of savings from banks into foreign currency. What could no longer be obtained in banks by any but the privileged few, was readily available on many street corners in the major cities at up to 8 times the official rate.

Those privileged few were having a heyday, amassing fortunes of gigantic proportions by accessing foreign currency from the banks at official rates and selling it on the black market. A new class of economic parasites was being created. We began to hear of 25 room mansions, stables of Mercedes Benz cars, cupboards full of designer suits. The owners did not hide; they boasted of their wealth in the face of the people whose situation was becoming daily more desperate.

The year 2003 was a dreadful one for most Zimbabweans. While the government tinkered at the edges of the economy and finally brought staple foodstuffs back to the shelves and solved the cash crisis by introducing bearer cheques as temporary legal tender, they failed to bring inflation under control. By the end of the year it had reached 600%. And the economy continues to shrink. The October beginning of the 2003-4 planting season heralded new disasters in the future as agricultural inputs were simply not available to most of those wanting to farm. But the failures on the economic front were compensated for in the political arena. In spite of the ability of the opposition still to win local government elections in most urban areas, ZANU PF could make use of its new draconian security and media legislation, the support of a loyal army and police and national service militia to block out the opposition from rural constituencies. And in the urban councils held by the MDC, ZANU PF has used its control of national resources to interfere and create havoc in local government, dividing and frustrating opposition controlled councils, particularly Harare, and making them lose public support. The mass action threatened by the opposition never got started in the face of government terror, and ZANU PF remains firmly in charge. The political tide running in favour of the opposition seems to have been halted. A combination of severe repression, patronage through allocation of land and positions that give access to public resources, and ever more strident racial and xenophobic rhetoric have kept the forces of opposition off balance and out of step.

Now, in March, 2004, four years on from the beginning of the plunge, where do we stand, and what is the outlook for the next twelve months?

Economically, we are still spiraling downwards. This year agriculture is expected to produce only 1/3 of the nation’s staple maize requirements. Exportable crops such as tobacco and paprika, are down to a small fraction of what was previously produced. Industrial capacity deteriorates and unemployment rises. While donor aid feeds those people in rural areas whose own crops fail through poor rains and lack of inputs, an ever greater percentage of the urban population fail to cope, enter the ranks of the destitute and are in need of food aid themselves even while food sits on the supermarket shelves.

Not only goods, but also services are either not available or unaffordable. Starved of government finance, social welfare has long ago collapsed as a point of last resort for the destitute. Hospitals have no equipment or medicines and few qualified staff. A patient with a fracture is told to bring plaster of paris before his bone can be set. Schools have poorly functioning infrastructure, broken desks and toilets, paint peeling from walls, no laboratory equipment or books. Yet they charge fees that have forced many, in both rural and urban areas to withdraw their children. The mission boarding schools, once the pride of Zimbabwean education and the training ground for the professional classes, are deteriorating rapidly, unable to sustain quality with the fees that the dwindling middle classes are able to afford. Both the major state universities have been crippled by repeated staff and student strikes, and at present neither is holding classes.

While high fee paying private schools manage to maintain reasonable standards, private health care is faltering on the brink of collapse. Doctors’ fees, hospitals and medicines are unaffordable except for the elite and many procedures are no longer provided in the country. Employees on medical aid are not better off as the doctors and medical aid societies quarrel over rates and payment procedures, leaving the patients to pay cash and claim later. When a simple consultation, laboratory test and prescription may cost half a month’s salary, or more, it will be rational for a worker to terminate medical aid subscriptions and it will not be surprising if all the medical aid societies collapse completely before this year is out, leaving health care accessible only to the very rich. Government’s response to the failures of service providers was predictable – punish headmasters who try to keep their schools running by allowing fee increases in line with inflation, criminalize doctors who charge cash. It is hardly surprising that many educational and medical professionals have left the country.

They are not alone. A recent survey showed that 3.4 million Zimbabweans – ¼ of the population – lives outside the country. Professionals have left with their families to find work where there is greater security and they can command a higher standard of living. Young people have left to escape the dejection and boredom of joblessness and to find tertiary education which does not require the completion of a “national service” which brutalizes and indoctrinates. Mothers have left their children behind while they live in squalor and do menial jobs to send home the precious “forex” which buys food, clothing and pays school fees. Pensioners go to do care work because they cannot survive on their pensions. Others have gone to earn the money to buy a house. They leave behind families broken, rudderless, a prey to the immorality which has gripped the country. Led by the orgy of violence and rape characterising the land seizures, national service training, and election “campaigning”, we – especially our younger generation – have lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Might is right; if you can exploit your fellow before he or she exploits you, fine. And then we have the example of our “businessmen” who amass wealth without any skills, any work, by manipulating a corrupt system. Dealing is the name of the game, and he who plays it well prospers. “Cry Beloved Zimbabwe”, was the lament of the WOZA women who were stopped by the police from distributing roses on Valentine’s Day. “Let love overcome hate” was their stifled message that few were allowed to hear.

The New Year produced a surprise as a new monetary policy announced by the Reserve Bank Governor began to take effect. Suddenly we found members of the corrupt elite, even a designer-suit, 25 room mansion ZANU PF M.P., behind bars on allegations of fraud and foreign currency dealing. Government announced a war on corruption. Was this an attempt to win favour among the people, with an eye to the 2005 elections? or simply the public manifestation of a power struggle within ZANU PF as the succession issue hots up, or even a desperate need to raise foreign currency at any cost? The population is sceptical, and waits to see. A real war on corruption would have to bring down far more known crooks and thieves from their high places. At the same time, there has been an attempt to bring some sanity to the foreign currency market by introducing a state-controlled auction. This effectively devalued the currency by 75%, bringing the official exchange rate up and the black market rate down, at least temporarily. But it has negatively affected exporters, importers and consumers and will certainly fuel inflation further. We are set for another round of catastrophic price rises. Where the problems are essentially political piecemeal policies cannot rescue us. A modern economy cannot thrive in the absence of political stability, without smooth linkages to the international players.

On the economic side then, 2004 is likely to bring us only misery. What of the political? It is encouraging that through all the intimidation and violence the opposition MDC has managed to survive, maintain its structures and has held together in spite of a wide internal divergence of ideological positions. It contains some individuals who have worked at great personal risk to bring change. Furthermore, they deserve credit for firmly adhering to principles of non-violence, restraining their youthful hotheads who would prefer to answer violence with violence. It is clear, however, that elections marked by state violence and terror will not bring change unless the electoral ground rules are completely rewritten, and that is certainly not going to occur in the present circumstances. What about the mass action route? Besides the opposition party, MDC, several civil society organisations have raised their voices against government policies. These include the labour federation, ZCTU, the National Constitutional Assembly, some of the churches which have country wide membership organisations, and several other NGO’s. All of them, including the MDC, are divided between the activists who want to take to the streets and the lobbyists, who want to push for some kind of “talks” with government.

Those in favour of street action are in a weak position. 2003 demonstrated that while people were prepared to protest by staying away from work, they were not ready to take to the streets and face the riot police and possibly the army. Activists watched events unfold in the Georgian capital Tbilisi with envy, but have been forced to admit that Zimbabweans are simply not yet willing to take the risk. Small demonstrations organized by the ZCTU, the NCA and WOZA, a group which organizes grassroots women, invariably resulted in arrests or police brutality or both. The masses have shied away from such action, and without the masses, this tactic cannot shift ZANU PF in any way. But the bravery of the few, especially when they are women, keeps the opposition visible and raises sprits and hope.

Dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC has been held out as the solution by neighbouring African countries, particularly South Africa. The purpose of such inter-party talks would be to agree to end human rights abuses, re-establish the rule of law, and rewrite the electoral rules so that a new election could produce a government accepted as legitimate domestically and internationally. Then a start could be made to repair the economic damage. Such talks would have to be brokered by foreign mediators.

For the MDC, talks would be the best solution, but so far they have proved elusive. For obvious reasons ZANU PF is not interested and has deliberately held out the impression to the South Africans that they were committed while doing absolutely nothing. But it is now becoming clear that in the end this is the only way that a solution will be found.

ZANU PF appears to think that they have outwitted the opposition and can hang on to power until 2005, when they will conduct an even more violent and dishonest election which will see them clear for another five years. Even now they are making preparations. A new Presidential decree has introduced the power of detention without bail, on mere suspicion, where there is no evidence of wrong-doing. Youth militia training is being stepped up to provide a reserve of shock troops. The United Nations was asked to provide funding for the election, but the request was quickly withdrawn when they proposed to send a delegation to study the situation on the ground. The MDC, under severe constraint from forces of terror, unconstitutional laws, and a compliant judiciary, and the unwillingness of their members to engage in civil disobedience, is hobbled. It can not do much more than to hold its supporters together, plan policies to implement if they do gain power, and work hard, as they are now doing, to persuade African governments, particularly that of South Africa, to apply the pressure for internationally accepted elections.

Hence the deep despair of the population. Most Zimbabweans face the year with little hope for any early solution. But there are signs that the logic of economic failures may finally bring the whole edifice crashing down. Maybe enough Zimbabweans will decide that “enough is enough” and provide the critical mass in the streets to topple ZANU PF. The “war on corruption” has now exposed the rot at the core and could develop into an uncontrollable internecine struggle. The distortions in the Zimbabwean economy have impacted heavily on the region. President Mbeki, like Obasanjo in December, might finally decide that it is not worth the embarrassment of continuing to support Robert Mugabe, whose galloping paranoia occasionally turns on Mbeki himself. Or, a serious illness or even death of the 80-year-old Mugabe might open an opportunity for a South Africa assisted return to legitimacy, and an end to the madness. “An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped”.

The time for democratic change in Zimbabwe has not yet come. But time does move fast in Zimbabwe. The unexpected occurs on a daily basis. While today we may see little hope, tomorrow or next week will surely be different, for ultimately time is on our side.

* Send comments on this editorial - and other events in Africa - to [email protected]

* Previous editorials from Mary Ndlovu
- Zimbabwe’s March: Pambazuka News 105, 2003
- March, Zimbabwe’s month of destiny: Pambazuka News 55, 2002

* NOTE FOR EDITORS: Please note that this editorial was commissioned from the author for Pambazuka News. While we are pleased that several print publications have used our editorials, we ask editors to note that if they use this article, they do so on the understanding that they are expected to provide the following credit: "This article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa," Editors are also encouraged to make a donation.
Time is out of joint in Zimbabwe. We have gone through the looking glass and live in a state of schizophrenia. We read one thing in the state media, and experience something quite different on the ground. The new farmers are said to be creating a revolution, but there is no farm produce in the shops, no agricultural goods to export. Our “enemies” who want to sabotage our economy are feeding us, while our own rulers destroy productive capacity, pillage our natural resources, and even make money illegally exporting the food on which the people depend for survival.

Comment & analysis

Museveni Needs More than the ICC to Stop Kony Atrocities

Mutuma Ruteere


The recent decision by Uganda's President Museveni's to turn to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigations of atrocities by the Lord's Resistance Army has generated a lot of excitement in international human rights circles. Unfortunately, as the February 21 massacre by Joseph Kony's rebels has demonstrated, international prosecution may not be the inspired choice required to stop the carnage.

Judicialisation of conflict is what states do as a substitute for effective action. As a strategic choice for ending conflict, it is also a guaranteed failure. It proved the wrong prescription to the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In 1993, the United Nations Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ostensibly to stop the violence, but in reality to avoid doing anything about the conflict. Every single diplomat at the Security Council knew that what was required was a military solution or negotiated end to the inter-ethnic slaughter.

Rwanda, even more dramatically, demonstrated the timidity of the world in stopping conflicts. The UN had peace-keeping troops on the ground in Rwanda but when blood started to flow, the world decided to cut and run. General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda then, has stated that he could have stopped the genocide with 5,000 good troops and a muscular UN mandate. Instead, he was ordered to leave. The creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was partly a gesture of contrition by states that had retreated to the safety of their borders and abandoned Rwanda to its fate. In both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, resort to a judicial option was a way of appearing to do something without doing anything.

The lessons of these conflicts for Uganda are unfortunate but clear. The relevance of international law during conflict rests on the training, intentions and gun power of the fighters and their command. The individuals responsible for the February 21 massacres have as much knowledge of the Geneva Conventions as they do of brain surgery. President Museveni's invitation to the International Criminal Court therefore, while an important affirmation of individual criminal accountability for grave violations, it skirts the more immediate concern of stopping the atrocities.

The decision is flawed in both timing and effectiveness. Its timing elevates a downstream process of prosecutions to the upstream stage of regulation and cessation of conflict. Prosecutions are usually an after-the-conflict matter. They come after the fog of war has cleared. Commencing prosecution of 'enemies' during conflict imperils truce negotiations and is a disincentive to those who may be willing to surrender. It is why the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia refrained from indicting former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic before and during the Dayton Peace Process. In any event, it is one thing to draw a list of the rebels alleged to have committed atrocities, but a different reality to attempt to collect evidence amidst the war.

The 18-year-old war in northern Uganda has now turned into the classic African 'stale-mate wars', with neither side able to deliver a decisive victory. What Uganda needs at the moment is a strategy of militarily defeating the rebels or negotiating a ceasefire. Given Kony's modus operandi, a negotiated peace settlement may be elusive in the short run.

If the only viable option is military, President Museveni may have to collectivize the security dilemma facing Uganda. The trail of the military supplies to the Lord's Resistance Army needs to be examined to hold to sanction those complicit in the conflict. The African Union Protocol creating a Peace and Security Council has only recently come into effect. Part of its mandate is to stop the atrocities similar to those perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army. With the new African Union, African Court of Human Rights and the NEPAD mechanisms, African leaders have pledged to generate solutions to Africa's many problems. The African Union has vowed not to repeat the spectacular failures of its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Uganda may be well advised to test this commitment by requesting for assistance in its war against the Kony rebels.

External assistance to Uganda is however bound to be complicated by the country's recent military entanglements in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The five reports by the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have fingered the Ugandan military for its involvement in illegal exploitation of minerals in the DRC and escalation of the conflict in that country. The tense relations between Uganda and Rwanda following the clashes between their forces in the DRC complicates a regional approach to security.

For Kenya and Tanzania, the insecurity in Uganda is a threat to the anticipated economic recovery of economies already battered by terrorist attacks. It is these two countries, more than any other in the region that must work with Uganda for a solution to the Kony insurgency if an integrated East Africa is to become a reality. In the long term, East African security experts need to re-imagine borders as regional rather than national. Security solutions are however determined by the political policies and choices of leaders. An East African security mechanism is only possible in the context of consensus on values by East African leaders. Internally, the three East African countries are yet to clear their decks of key governance issues. Mobilizing national support for regional peace work in the absence of local security and vibrant structures of domestic accountability is an uphill task.

However, the victims of Kony's war in northern Uganda will not wait for democracy to flourish in East Africa or the International Criminal Court to conduct its investigations. They are not victims of a random robbery or murder. Kony's massacres are a full-blown insurgency devoid of any humanitarian pretensions. If amnesty is what it will take to save lives, it is a choice that Uganda may have to explore in spite of obvious moral qualms. A military victory is more likely to deliver judicial justice to Kony's victims. But it requires political will at different levels and possibly more than the Ugandan military to deliver.

* Recent Pambazuka News articles on Uganda:
- Confronting impunity through the ICC: Is Africa ready and waiting?

* Mutuma Ruteere is a Phd candidate in Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA and a researcher on human rights and humanitarian law.

* Send comments on this editorial - and other events in Africa - to [email protected]

* NOTE FOR EDITORS: Please note that this editorial was commissioned from the author for Pambazuka News. While we are pleased that several print publications have used our editorials, we ask editors to note that if they use this article, they do so on the understanding that they are expected to provide the following credit: "This article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa," Editors are also encouraged to make a donation.
The recent decision by Uganda's President Museveni's to turn to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigations of atrocities by the Lord's Resistance Army has generated a lot of excitement in international human rights circles. Unfortunately, as the February 21 massacre by Joseph Kony's rebels has demonstrated, international prosecution may not be the inspired choice required to stop the carnage.

Advocacy & campaigns

Documentaries marking the 10th anniversary


* The BBC film "Kill Thy Neighbour" will be shown at Chatham House on March 31st.
* BBC World Television will be running a Rwanda season during April with the films "Journey Into Darkness" (1994); "Valentinas Story" (1996); "When Good Men Do Nothing" (2000) and "Kill Thy Neighbour" (2003).
* VisionTV will be broadcasting the documentary "Rwanda: In Search of Hope" on April 8 at 10pm ET.
* PBS Frontline is producing a major documentary on "Rwanda, 10 years later”, scheduled to have its premier at the Holocaust Museum in DC on April 1, 2004, then to be shown on PBS stations in the US and may also be shown on BBC Panorama.
* NPR (National Public Radio-USA) is presenting a one-hour news magazine on courageous Hutu who saved Tutsi lives during the genocide, risking their own in the process. To be aired around April 7th.
* Anne Aghion's sequel to her acclaimed 2002 documentary, "Gacaca, Living Together Again In Rwanda?" will be released in late March or early April.

Ibutsa Rwanda

Ibutsa Rwanda at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, Canada: June 25 to June 27, 2004


Ibutsa Rwanda is a weekend of commemoration, reflection and celebration remembering those who died and recognizing the experiences of those who survived the genocide of Rwanda in 1994. Ibutsa Rwanda provides a cultural forum for the communities of Toronto to reflect on the meaning of the genocide, while also celebrating the music, dance, song, poetry, literature, films and art that characterize a vibrant and powerful Rwandan culture thriving today in Canada and in Africa. Ibutsa Rwanda honours survival and life and the responsibility of "those who know and must tell”.

World Water Week call to action


All around the world, communities are planning activities around World Water Week to celebrate Earth's most valuable resource: water. Communities are organising to promote water conservation, watershed restoration and universal access to clean and affordable water in the face of a number of threats such as pollution, privatization of municipal water and sewage systems, water cut-offs to families, groundwater mining and bottled water operations. Read the rest of this email from the Water for All Listserve by clicking on the link below.

Zimbabwe: March to defend rights


If you are in Bulawayo or London, join the Women of Zimbabwe Arise in a solidarity protest march on International Women's Day on March 08. Click on the link below for full details.

Books & arts

'South Africa and Global Apartheid: Continental and International Policies and Politics' by Patrick Bond


This study covers a variety of political and economic aspects of Africa's and South Africa's relationships to the world. The author considers the context of global apartheid, in terms of international stagnation, uneven development and African marginalisation, and evaluates the South African setting as a telling site of worsening inequality. Where then does the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) stand on the largest economic and political problems? South Africa's other proposed global reforms are also discussed. Finally, the author records an emerging ideology based not on commodification via globalisation but on decommodification and deglobalisation, and the strategies, tactics and alliances required for African and international progress.

'The Chameleon Who Could Not Change Her Colour' by Walter Bgoya


Chameleons are small, slow-moving lizards, which are supposed to have an ability to change their colour. But one day, a girl chameleon is born, the youngest in a family of thirty-eight chameleons, the only chameleon who cannot change her colour. Her fellow chameleons are worried for her because she is unable to disguise herself. But when the chameleons are threatened by first a snake, and then a bird-of-prey, this chameleon demonstrates that she has special powers and can use her eyes to deflect them. The messages of the story, which is beautifully illustrated, are that it is sometimes the ones who look as if they do not belong who can save those who think they do; and that gifts are sometimes bestowed upon those who might not look the way we think they ought; or as if they might not deserve them.

'The Political Economy of Social Inequalities: Consequences for Health and Quality of Life' edited by Vicente Navarro


The dramatic increase in social inequalities within and among countries in the last twenty years has had a most negative impact on the health and quality of life of large sectors of the world's populations. In The Political Economy of Social Inequalities, scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries analyze the political and economic causes of these inequalities, their consequences for health, and some proposed solutions.

Art In Uganda


In Uganda when one talks about art it stipulates three things. One may think about the beautiful artefacts like mats, table spreads and baskets whose production occupies a good number of hours of many a housewife. Or better still the numerous utilitarian items like stools, headgear and body accessories made from beads most of which are imported from Kenya. The third and rather obvious evocation is the paintings, sculptures and drawings that are produced as a result of formal and informal training. Among artists and art promoters in Kampala, art refers to the paintings (Kampala artists are of late obsessed with painting; a tendency dictated by the ready market for them) and sculptures produced in conformity with western aesthetics. Read the rest of this article on the African Colours website.

Fito - A new feminist ezine


Fito is a fringe feminist ezine based in South Africa, but open to world places, visions and voices,
Fito aims to:
- Celebrate freedoms and expression beyond patriarchal, hetero-normative and other repressive mindsets;
- Explode the myths about history, culture and identity that leave so many stories untold;
- Stake out e-space for expressing anger about things too long left unsaid;
- Challenge coercive loyalties to creeds, leaders, organisations and other collectivities.

Review: 'We Did Nothing' by Linda Polman

English edition, translated by Rob Bland; London: Penguin Books, 2004

Christina Clark


In We Did Nothing, veteran journalist Linda Polman draws on her experience in war zones of Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia and Somalia to expose the shortcomings of international intervention in these contexts. Her thesis is that United Nations (UN) member states, particularly those on the Security Council (SC), privilege national interests over UN goals. This seriously weakens the UN, which is given ambitious mandates at the same time as it is chronically under-funded and under-resourced. While constrained by member states' interests, the UN is often criticised for its failures, as if it were an independently functioning organisation.

According to Polman, this criticism would be better aimed at UN member states, particularly powerful Western countries that push for peacekeeping operations, but then are noticeably under-represented in terms of personnel on the ground. The book also exposes examples of 'Blue Rinsing', in which powerful SC members intervene unilaterally in conflicts, and then call for UN involvement once more difficult and lengthy stages of reconstruction and democracy-building begin. Polman makes a powerful case against such practice in analysing US involvement in Somalia and Haiti, and French intervention in Rwanda.

In an era of UN-bashing, We Did Nothing is a refreshing re-take on the UN's "failings", showing that they are not organisational, but rather a product of structural power plays in international relations. However, by focusing on self interests as the root of the problems of the international community's reaction to conflict, Polman tends to paint all individuals she encounters in conflict zones with the same brush of egocentricity. International staff members are reduced to national stereotypes, while local populations are portrayed as either passive, helpless victims or unscrupulous profiteers and militia.

This dehumanisation overlooks the extraordinary capacity for resilience, coping and collective action that many people display in conflict. Absent from Polman's often cynical accounts of chaos and confusion are examples of how ordinary people - both local and international - go to extraordinary lengths to help each other eke out a daily, 'normal' existence in the face of adversity. While these examples are less sensational than the US military bullies, the quavering UN officials and the local racketeers portrayed in Polman's book, it is only just, not to mention good journalism, to give equal weight to both sides of the story.

* Reviewed by Christina Clark, Fahamu

Letters & Opinions

Justice and all that...


Elisabeth Nyffenegger


Your recent article “Confronting impunity through the ICC: is Africa ready and waiting?” Has triggered a number of considerations that I wish to submit here.

The issue that troubled me most is the suggestion that amnesty may be a way forward in a situation of peace negotiations! While one may have to accept a certain delay in carrying out justice for purely tactical reasons, such as the perpetrator has still such an enormous nuisance value - as was the case after the fall of both Pinochet and Videla in the case of Chilli and Argentina - that to indict them would lead to the conflict flaring up again. Of course this must be avoided! But does that imply that people such as Taylor and his like should be immune from justice? After the horrendous deeds they perpetrated? If such people are to walk about scot-free, then what is justice all about?

Justice is central to the functioning of all societies! No society condones murder and theft. Justice serves as a frame that tells everyone that not every thing is permitted, it is the limits within which human passions - the destructive ones - are contained. To do away with justice is opening a Pandora box that will require a strong and very wise man to close again, possibly thousands of deaths later!

It doesn't take a great deal of imagination I don't think to put oneself into the shoes of the victim of one of these atrocious conflicts and imagine that one is sitting in one's damaged house considering the devastation of one's life, the loss of one's kin with perhaps no known burial site, one's property stolen or destroyed and one's neighbour - the known perpetrator - going about his business, untroubled, having possibly gained from it all! I suggest that this is a case for taking the law into one's own hands which, all will agree, is conducive neither to peace nor to the rule of law!

Furthermore, the trial of the perpetrators is the time for the community as a whole to learn what has happened and for the victim to receive public recognition for what it endured which opens the way to support and help from the community. The court itself may grant compensation. The trial is also the time when the past is looked into the face no matter how painful it may be, a necessary and unavoidable step if it is ever to be put to rest, to become a thing of the past.

Reconciliation has an agenda and a timetable of its own! But what ever its pace it starts with justice which is to say, the culprit brought to books. Also, literature and psychiatrists alike have described what they call the "moral trauma", suffered by those who committed a terrible deed. Some will say "serves them right!". But this does not improve the society to which the perpetrator belongs and it is desirable that he too be given the chance to start afresh, having had the possibility to "redeem" himself through paying for his crimes. (The master minds and hardened criminals are likely to be immune to moral trauma).

Or course national justice is preferable to international justice whenever possible. In particular it would be best for the victims to have their case heard within their own community. But how often is it possible? The extraordinary undertaking of the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa was "pulled off" by two outstanding fellows, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and president Mandela. How many post conflict situations are there where two such wise men with immense moral credibility could "pull off such a trick"?
The decision of whether justice should be carried out in an international or a national court of justice should be considered carefully on the ground that all too often one finds that the people holding key positions before the conflict and during the conflict are the same again in the post conflict situation.
I dare say that the people who most probably (it is for the court of justice to decide!) carry a heavy responsibility in the unfolding of the devastating events should not be entrusted with the carrying out of justice.

In some instances the judiciary ceased to exist as a result of the conflict, as was the case in Rwanda where the whole legal body had become so perverted that it could not be of any use after the genocide.

One thing seems obvious: kangaroo courts for the sake of exercising justice nationally rather then internationally does not serve the cause of justice nor does it satisfy the innate need for fairness that is common to all humans.
National or international, justice should be the concern of all. If one considers the sometimes huge international effort in bringing food and drugs to the victims of armed conflicts over long period to time, (not all of it useful) perhaps some of that effort could be diverted towards the training of the legal staff, the (re) establishing of a functioning, fair and independent judiciary, endowed with sufficient means to carry out this most important of tasks.

To conclude, I suggest that tactical postponement may have to be tolerated in order to prevent worse evil. But amnesty? NO! Amnesty is a dirty word that should be banned lest we allow a horrible past to intrude into the present and hijack the future! It must always be remembered that the operative word for a peaceful future, for a harmonious world, is Justice.
Your recent article “Confronting impunity through the ICC: is Africa ready and waiting?” Has triggered a number of considerations that I wish to submit here.

Women & gender

Africa/Global: Guide for fighting discrimination available


This guide aims to provide practical information for indigenous peoples and organisations to support their use of rights-based arguments under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The guide covers general information on the CEDAW and its monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and information on other UN human rights bodies and procedures that might be invoked to highlight the concerns of indigenous women within the UN system.

Africa/Global: Older women must be remembered

Press Release

Helpage International


As the world marks the International Women's Day on 8th March, HelpAge International pays tribute to the older woman. The world is ageing today faster than at any other time in the history of mankind. Research has shown that women survive longer than their male counterparts who are more likely than women to suffer from deadly conditions such as lung and prostate cancers, heart disease or strokes. The world is therefore becoming a woman’s world.

Africa/Global: Women\'s Advancement is Key to Reducing Poverty


UN Wire reported that UN officials told the Commission on the Status of Women at a meeting on 2 March 2004 that gender equality was the key to reducing poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). UN Wire documented how participants discussed the issue that despite progress towards gender parity, in many countries women’s rights are still under threat. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) research, between 10 and 69 per cent of women worldwide are subjected to some form of violence in their lives, while 1 600 women die every day due to pregnancy-related complications.

Africa: Men Tour Africa Against Gender Violence


Nelson Banda is a 28-year-old journalist from Zambia. Fifty-eight year old Moses Mbugua is the head of United Way Kenya, a non-profit organisation that provides support for community programs. In November last year, both men took part in the Men's Travelling Conference - a group of more than 100 men from Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa who travelled across eastern and southern Africa to raise awareness and mobilize other men to support gender equality and end gender-based violence (GBV). The Travelling Conference was organised by the Men for Gender Equality Now Network, an initiative by FEMNET, the African Women's Development and Communication Network.

Africa: New strategy promotes partnerships for gender and women's advancement in Africa


Representatives from 26 sub-Saharan African countries meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, launched a four-year strategy to promote partnerships for more equal roles for men and women and support women's advancement and wider participation in development. Despite progress, less than 15 per cent of economic managers in Africa are women, and women account for less than 10 per cent of the parliamentarians and 8 per cent of government ministers.

Tanzania: Gender activist irked by journalists


A gender activist with the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) has criticised local journalists for what it called their “unjust and unfair” portrayal of women. The activist, Echikael Maro, said in most cases journalists have shown bias when covering women stories.

Tanzania: Report says patriarchal society, gender violence contributing to spread of HIV/AIDS


Women, lacking power, resources and education because of Tanzania’s patriarchal society, are bearing the brunt of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the East African country, the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) reported this week. Despite ongoing activities and debates aimed at tackling the spread of HIV/AIDS, the roots causes of the problem are not being properly dealt with, many HIV messages are out of context and current attitudes are not conducive to reversing the spread of the disease, especially among women, says Ananilea Nkya, TAMWA's executive director.

Uganda: Women's Demands to Political Parties and Organisations


The Coalition for Political Accountability to Women (COPAW) is a non-partisan alliance of rights based organisations and individuals committed to political accountability to women and to socio-political transformation in realising good governance in Uganda. COPAW in collaboration with Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) organised a series of meetings last year (2003) to chart out clear and distinct issues to put to political parties and organisations as Uganda transits to pluralism. Some of the issues that prominently featured were (i) Real and Meaningful Democracy; (ii) Integration of the Principle of Affirmative Action; (iii) People-Centred / People-Focused Development; (iv) Commitment to Obligations under International Human Rights Instruments; and (v) Peace and Security. These issues were compiled in a brief memorandum that is now being shared widely for input.

Human rights

Africa: Should Africa host ousted presidents?


When rebels advanced on Haiti's capital city this weekend, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country. His first stop was the Central African Republic, with reports suggesting that his final destination will be South Africa. He is not the only ousted president to take refuge in Africa. Should African countries offer safe havens to such people, many of whom have headed regimes with shocking human rights records? What should be done with ousted heads of state who cannot live safely in their own countries?
Links to articles on Haiti:
* Haiti Inspiration,40,5,373
* Regime change in Haiti

Burundi/Rwanda: Amnesty cautions Bujumbura over executions


Amnesty International has expressed concern over the prospect of renewed judicial executions in Burundi, following a speedy trial of four Rwandan men over a bank robbery that took place on 29 January in the capital, Bujumbura. In a statement, Amnesty said on Monday that the Rwandans were at imminent risk of execution. The men were tried on 23 February over the bank robbery during which one person died and a large amount of money stolen.

Ethiopia: Rights organisation condemns arrests of Oromo students


Ethiopia’s human rights group on Wednesday condemned the mass arrests and physical abuse in January of hundreds of university students in the capital, Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) said federal officers had rounded up 349 students belonging to the Oromo ethnic group before transporting them to a detention centre. The students – members of the country’s largest ethnic group – had then been forced to march barefoot or on their knees along a gravel path for several hours, EHRCO stated.

Kenya: Human Rights Advocates Urge Kenya to Stop Demolishing Shantytowns


Human rights advocates are calling on the Kenyan government to stop demolishing shantytowns in the capital until it has worked out a plan to relocate the inhabitants. This was the week the Kenyan government was to bulldoze homes and businesses in the poorest sections of Nairobi. But President Mwai Kibaki intervened in the last minute and stopped the demolition until the government finds a way to relocate the residents.

South Africa: SA needs a lot of work on human rights


Excessive force by South African security forces and deaths in police custody were serious problems in the country's human rights performance, a global rights review has found. The annual United States State Department's Human Rights Reports, a hefty country-by-country survey comprising almost two million words, found that the government in 2003 generally respected the human rights of its citizens.

Uganda: Museveni Backs Probe


President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it investigates his army's alleged involvement in war crimes. "I am ready to be investigated for war crimes ... and if any of our people were involved in any crimes, we will give him up to be tried by the ICC," Museveni told journalists at Okwang, northeast of Lira, where the Government has set up a forward base to direct the war against the LRA rebels.

Uganda: Ugandans Want $5.5tn From UK Over Colonial Atrocities


A small kingdom in Uganda says it is suing the United Kingdom for alleged atrocities committed by British soldiers during the colonial period, the BBC said in a report on its website this week. Ernest Kizza, a spokesman for the Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom, told the BBC they are seeking $5.5 trillion.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa/Global: The future of migration

Irresistible forces meet immovable ideas


Immigration is an issue that elicits heated views from all sides of the political and economic spectrum. In the 21st century, how might we expect our lives and societies to be affected by changes in immigration? In Part One of a two-part series, economist Lant Pritchett argues that there are five irresistible forces setting the world up for a new wave of mass migration. Topping the list are the huge cross-national inequalities in wages and standards of living. Differences in labour demand across countries comprise another pressure promoting migration.

Africa: Repatriation to begin anew


The international community is facing new repatriation operations to many countries in Africa, and to prepare for this purpose a meeting is scheduled for March 8 to 9 in Geneva. The meeting aims at raising the profile of repatriation and the reintegration of refugees in Africa, thus enhancing the commitment of countries and donor and partner agencies to meet the challenges posed by the exercise.

Chad/Sudan: Forces 'attacking refugees'


Refugees fleeing fighting in Sudan say government forces are attacking them to get information on rebels. Some of the 25,000 refugees who fled the conflict two weeks ago told the BBC that militiamen and government forces drove them from their homes. The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Chad's capital Ndjamena says the testimonies flatly contradict the Sudanese government announcement earlier this month that peace and security had been restored after a year of fighting.

Somalia: Refugees arrive back as agencies seek fresh aid


Hundreds of Somali refugees are returning home from Djibouti with the start of UNHCR repatriation convoys to north-western Somalia. This comes as aid agencies appeal for $111 million to help the war-torn country. Some 220 Somali refugees returned from Djibouti to the self-declared republic of Somaliland in the north-west last Friday with assistance from the UN refugee agency, bringing to more than 430 the number of refugees who have gone back since the middle of February.

Sudan: Visual mission of El Bashir camp


A 21-year civil war in Sudan has displaced more than four million people within the largest country in Africa. About half of the four million internally displaced people (IDPs) have moved from the war-torn south to the capital of Khartoum in the north. Most of them have moved in with family members or set up squatter communities in neighbourhoods or fields around Khartoum. About 270,000 people live in four large camps. This visual mission by Refugees International provides an insight into life in the camps.

Zambia: Rwandan refugees resist repatriation


Commissioner for refugees Jacob Mphepo has expressed concern at the Rwandan refugees’ resistance to being repatriated under the voluntary exercise. Speaking at the official opening of a workshop for refugees protection staff and partners in Lusaka, Mr Mphepo said the refugees’ defiance was a source of concern.

Elections & governance

Africa: Rush to gain Nepad approval


African countries anxious to win more donor cash and foreign investment are rushing to apply to have their record on governance and human rights rated by a new panel, an evaluator said on Wednesday. The panel of seven African "peer reviewers" which will assess governments' records in the key areas has been set up under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an economic rescue plan for the world's poorest continent.

Guinea: Conte sacks economic team in reshuffle


Guinean President Lansana Conte has sacked his prime minister, his powerful interior minister and his entire economic team in a two-stage cabinet reshuffle. The top-level changes follow Conte’s re-election for a further seven-year term in presidential elections on 21 December that were boycotted by all the country’s main opposition parties.

Kenya: Government Has a Month to Meet Wage Demands


Civil servants in Kenya have threatened to go on their first-ever strike at the end of March if government fails to award them a 600 percent pay rise. The Kenya Civil Servants Union, which has been in existence for a year, says it has been negotiating with government on behalf of about 250,000 workers - but that little progress has been made concerning wage increases.

Malawi: Allegations of Media Bias Plague Election Campaign


Accusations of political bias are piling up against Malawi's state broadcaster in the run-up to general elections scheduled for May 18. In the latest salvo to be fired, a group of religious leaders has asked the courts to ensure equal air time for all political parties.

Malawi: Civil society bash Cabinet


Economic, political and civil pundits last Thursday frowned on a new 45-strong Cabinet announced by President Muluzi, saying its attribute was “a pain” and its size was “a rebuff of the aims of a loan the House approved only last week.” “The size of the new Cabinet defeats the purpose of a structural adjustment credit [of US58 million] which the National Assembly approved last week for fiscal reforms,” said Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) spokesman Perks Ligoya.

Namibia: Release and re-arrest deadlocks treason trial


A Namibian High Court will decide on Thursday whether the state can challenge the release of 13 men accused of treason for their alleged role in secessionist violence. The 13 were part of a group of 120 arrested for taking part in an attack by the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) on Katimo Mulilo, the largest town in the northeastern Caprivi region, which left 13 people dead in 1999. The 13, including John Samboma, the alleged commander of the CLA, were released last Monday following an order by Judge Elton Hoff at the High Court in Grootfontein, 500 km from the Namibian capital, Windhoek. Hoff ruled that his court did not have the jurisdiction to try them because the circumstances under which they had been held were "irregular".

South Africa: Mbabane chides Pretoria over ANC manifesto


Swazis are capable of formulating their own system of democratic governance, which does not have to be similar to the South African model, a senior government official told IRIN on Tuesday. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mabili Dlamini was responding to a reference made to governance issues in Swaziland in the election manifesto of the ruling South African party, the African National Congress (ANC). Swaziland was singled out by the ANC as a country where the party intended to help strengthen democracy and assist in "social normalisation and economic reconstruction".

Zambia: We're Not Out to Punish Public Service Workers, says Mwanawasa


President Mwanawasa has maintained that austerity measures effected in this year's Budget are not meant to punish the public service workers. The President said the move was in fact an effort to ensure that Zambia reached the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) completion point.


Angola: Protest over government corruption


An Angolan opposition party on Tuesday said a demonstration to protest alleged government corruption went ahead "successfully" despite police "intimidation". According to the protest organisers, police had allegedly harassed protesters outside the United States embassy in the capital, Luanda, the venue of the protest.

Burkina Faso: Report recommends measures against corruption


A report UNDP issued in Burkina Faso recently calls for ethical conduct by politicians, adequate resources, audits and other preventative measures, and separation of institutional powers to stem corruption. Entitled "Corruption and Human Development," the report calls the fight against corruption crucial to strengthening government integrity and transparency in the west African country, one of the world's poorest.

Kenya: Bribe tapes case rejected


A Kenyan MP has lost his bid to get a court order compelling the government to release video tapes, which allegedly show former top officials being bribed. The High Court ruled that MP Koigi wa Wamwere has no legal capacity to sue the government since he has not stated his interests in the matter. The tapes were seized last week from the home of Kamlesh Pattni, the man at the heart of the Goldenberg affair.

Kenya: Government 'not free of graft'


The Narc Government is yet to root out grand corruption, several key speakers said last week. The launch of the Transparency International Bribery Index 2003 was turned into a Government-bashing forum with participants saying that grand corruption is still a reality in Kenya. They argued that the current administration only fought corruption in the first few months after it came to power.

Nigeria: Judiciary mired in bribery allegations


For the first time in recent years, justices of the Supreme Court are facing a barrage of criticisms related to bribery, according to the latest newsletter of the Independence Advocacy Project. The Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais had to speak out openly in court in Abuja in February on the issue: "We have nothing to hide. Let the police step in and do their job. We are interested in getting to the root of the matter. Let me say and assure all who are here and who would hear of this matter that there is absolutely no truth in the several uncouth and insupportable allegations made against me and my brethren in this court."

South Africa: Home Affairs battles to beat corruption


The department of home affairs will compile a business plan this week to address the widespread corruption in its ranks. Last Tuesday, the department's director-general, Barry Gilder, presented a report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs on the state of the department. Although Gilder confirmed that the current situation at the department was "precarious", he was also confident that measures introduced since he took the reins last year would ensure stability in the future.

Zambia: Chiluba corruption cases adjourned again


Former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba on Monday appeared before two different courts on corruption and theft charges but both cases were adjourned due to disorganisation in the prosecution team. Chiluba, accompanied by his wife, Regina, first appeared before a magistrate's court on charges of stealing $4-million from the nation's Treasury together with his former director of intelligence Xavier Chungu, but the trial once again failed to take off.

Zambia: State Probes Corrupt Civil Servants


Government has extended the probe into corrupt practices to all structures of the public service and warned civil servants with dubiously acquired properties to prepare for questioning. Vice-President Nevers Mumba said in Lusaka that the fight against corruption had been extended to the whole public service and all civil servants owning questionable properties would be called to account.


Africa: African leaders urged to resolve issues of water, agriculture, defence


Presidents from across Africa gathered for an extraordinary summit of the African Union to discuss issues of water, agriculture and defence, deemed crucial to the development of the world's poorest continent. "There cannot be any development unless we have a general environment of peace, security and stability," AU Chairman and Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano told the summit. Alpha Oumar Konare, the former president of Mali who is now chairman of the AU Commission, told delegates the continent needs "an African standby force (ASF) that can be operational and respond rapidly to any crisis."

Africa: UN calls on rich countries to compensate Africa for farm subsidies


The United Nations called on rich countries to compensate African nations for the damage done to them by agricultural subsidies accorded farmers in the developed world. "A mechanism is required at the international level to ensure that countries providing subsidies to their producers compensate African countries for income losses arising from such subsidies, on a pro rata basis," the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a report issued. It said such a mechanism was particularly needed "considering the loss of income to African cotton producers."

DRC: The Democratic Republic of Congo and Debt


In 2003 the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced $10 billion in "debt relief" for the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to their calculations, this would reduce the country's foreign debt by approximately 80 percent. The offer came, however, with a full set of complicated conditions and deadlines. Even if all of the conditions are met, full relief would not be delivered until sometime in 2006. After that, Congo would still owe over $2 billion to foreign creditors. The largest creditors are the Bank and Fund themselves, plus the U.S., France, and Belgium. Yet the Congo, of all countries, has one of the strongest cases for full cancellation of debt and indeed for reparations from the lenders, writes William Minter, a Foreign Policy in Focus analyst and the editor of the AfricaFocus Bulletin, in this Foreign Policy in Focus commentary.

East Africa: Long-Awaited Customs Union is Established


Member states of the East African Community have signed a protocol for establishing a customs union that is expected to boost growth in the region. The agreement was initialled Tuesday in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha by the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It will take effect in July this year. Negotiators had been locked in discussions until the last minute about how goods flowing between the three countries should be taxed - a delicate issue that has derailed previous efforts to establish the union.

Ghana: Military Imports and Sustainable Development

African Security Dialogue & Research


Military expenditure by developing states is usually interpreted within the context of its potential alternative cost-benefits to the state and, often, its links with sustainable development, however, tenuous. In this sense, Ghana is not particularly different from other developing nations. This is in the sense that military expenditure is usually subjected to inter-agency ‘debate’ and cost-benefit analysis of how such expenditure could have been alternatively invested in ‘other’ development projects.

Mali: Government Faces Stiff Challenges in Meeting Water Needs


"Our country has an enormous potential when it comes to water resources. If we develop these resources properly, they should allow us to try and get beyond food self-sufficiency," says Mali’s President, Amadou Toumani Toure. He was speaking at an international water conference that took place in the capital, Bamako, towards the end of last month. But despite this optimism, the difficulties of meeting Mali’s water needs should not be underestimated. Mali has 10 million inhabitants, 65 percent of whom fall under the poverty line threshold.

Southern Africa: US-SACU trade talks takes on centre stage


The fourth round of negotiations between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the United States took place this weekend in Walvis Bay, Namibia. This round of negotiations is meant to create the framework which will allow the US and SACU to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by December this year. The current focus of talks is on industrialised goods, services and agricultural trade, very similar issues to those that stymied negotiators at the World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun, Mexico.

Southern Africa: SADC development plan available


"Regional co-operation and integration in Southern Africa owes its origin to historical, economic, political, social and cultural factors that have created strong bonds of solidarity and unity among the peoples of Southern Africa. These factors have contributed to the formation of a distinct Southern African personality and identity that underpins political and economic co-operation." This is according to the final version of SADC's Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). The document is designed to provide a long-term plan for development in Southern Africa.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: 3 by 5 plan at risk, says Lewis


Stephen Lewis, Canadian UN envoy charged with combating AIDS in Africa, warned the failure of wealthy countries to respond to an appeal for $200 million US could sabotage plans to provide three million HIV-infected people with drugs by the end of 2005. Lewis, the UN secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS on the continent, said the plan offers "the best chance we've had in more than 20 years to turn the pandemic around" but the abysmal donor response means there isn't money to implement it.

Africa: Groups condemn U.S. Global HIV/AIDS Strategy


As U.S. policymakers continue to debate "appropriate" funding levels to fight AIDS in Africa, and just days after the release of the Bush Administration's Global HIV/AIDS Strategy, Africa Action & TransAfrica Forum have released a document entitled "10 Reasons Why the U.S. should commit at least $15 billion to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa NOW." The document calls for a reversal of the current U.S. policy approach, urging an immediate front-end investment to combat HIV/AIDS rather than the incremental scaling up of funding in future years.

Africa: Tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa

Justice Africa-GAIN Submission of Written Evidence to All-Party Parliamentary Group-Africa


This submission is concerned with the constraints on responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, as analysed by Justice Africa, on behalf of the African Civil Society Governance and AIDS Initiative (GAIN). It anticipates likely problems of the next five years, as Africa and its international partners struggle to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It identifies a series of potentially binding constraints on that response: resources, capacity, policy and democracy.

Angola: Health system in tatters after war


A deadly fire in a satellite town of the Angolan capital has shown the woefully inadequate state of hospitals in a country still struggling to get back on its feet two years after the end of a brutal civil war. The accident in late February happened when a truck carrying barrels of petrol caught fire in the town of Viana, killing 15 people immediately and injuring more than 80. The wounded were admitted to nearby Neves Bendinha Hospital, where staff did their best to treat them for third-degree burns in under-equipped facilities. As patients lay screaming in corridors and overcrowded wards, many on plastic mattresses on the floor, and as the stench of burnt flesh filled the building, hospital director Dr. Valdemiro Diogo said resources were desperately over-stretched.

Burundi: 93 cases of cholera in Rumonge


Rumonge District, in Burundi’s southern province of Bururi, has registered 93 cases of cholera resulting in four deaths since January, health services have reported. The director of Rumonge hospital, Dr Innocent Ntamavukiro, told IRIN on Wednesday that 18 people were hospitalised at his facility. The majority of patients are from Kizuka subcounty, about 10 km from Rumonge centre. Other affected areas include Kanyenkoko and Iteba, two suburbs of Rumonge urban centre, with a majority of Muslim residents.

Cameroon: Sexually active Cameroon youths shun condoms-study


Two-thirds of teenagers in the central African country of Cameroon have sex by the age of 16 and more than half of them shun condoms, according to a study by German aid agency GTZ. Officials said the figures, which shed new light on sexual behaviour in a nation where HIV/AIDS adult infection rates have leapt more than 20-fold in just over a decade, were alarming.

CAR: Bouar residents plea for safe water as typhoid increases


Residents in the western town of Bouar, the Central African Republic (CAR), have appealed to the government to help them access safe water in order to contain typhoid, which has been spreading there since December 2003 when the state water utility halted services. State-owned Radio Centrafrique reported on Tuesday that the Bouar residents had asked the government to help them dig wells and equip them with water pumps.

Ethiopia: Botswana and Ethiopia to cooperate in fighting HIV/AIDS


The leaders of two African countries severely hit by HIV/AIDS have agreed to cooperate in combating the pandemic. Botswana President Festus Mogae said the two countries would share experiences in fighting the virus. Botswana has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world - over 35 percent among its 1.6 million people. According to UNAIDS, the epidemic continues to gain ground and, while some successes have been made in a decade-long response, the country has been unable to keep pace. In Ethiopia, according to UNAIDS, the epidemic has progressed to become the 16th-highest prevalence rate globally.

Nigeria: First consignment of ARV drugs arrives


Relief has come the way of persons living with HIV/AIDS as the first consignment of N500 million anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs has arrived the country. However, the drugs will be given to the 10,000 persons already enrolled in the government approved 25 access centres. This was announced by Health Minister Professor Eyitayo Lambo.

Nigeria: Nigerian Committee Confirms Polio Vaccine As Safe


Members of a Nigerian committee tasked with verifying the safety of oral polio vaccine amid suspicion that it causes HIV/AIDS and infertility have deemed the product safe, the Nigerian daily Vanguard reports. Committee members were dispatched early last month to South Africa and India to monitor analyses of the vaccine and to Indonesia to meet with scientists at a vaccine production company. The team found trace amounts of estradiol, a hormone suspected of causing infertility, but said the amounts were minute, "much less than what is found in recycled drinking water in several developed countries."

Nigeria: Online Volunteer in Turkey Helps Build HIV/AIDS Library in Nigeria

Armed with facts, villagers work to halt spread of epidemic


No one is sure just how many people have died due to HIV/AIDS in this town of 15,000 but to the people who live here, the deaths are adding up. The rising death rate here as well as across sub-Saharan Africa, where 29 million people are living with the disease, were enough evidence for 36-year-old Nduka Ozor, a Lagos-based business man and coordinator of the community’s Youth Forum, that people needed to get the facts about the disease.

Nigeria: UNICEF deplores rejection of polio vaccine


Some northern states opposed to the immunisation of children against polio are committing an unforgivable offence against the innocent kids and humanity, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has declared. At the forefront of the opposition to the use of polio vaccine are Bauchi, Niger, Kano and Zamfara states. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Sharia NSCS (NSCS) set the stage for the controversy last year when it alleged that the exercise was a western plot to make women in the North infertile.

South Africa: Aids cause of jump in SA deaths, study finds


South Africa's adult death rate has jumped by almost 50% over the past six years and the Aids epidemic is probably the main cause, researchers have found. "There is a distinct rise in deaths in the younger, sexually-active age groups. It is our view that this is mainly due to Aids," said Ria Laubscher, a statistician at South Africa's independent Medical Research Council (MRC).

South Africa: First Conference on Sexual Health in Africa Opens


According to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on February 26 2004, the First Conference for the Advancement of Sexual Health and Rights in Africa opened in Johannesburg. The range of discussion topics includes issues such as: abortion laws, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

Uganda: Aids Activist Attacks Govt


An HIV/Aids activist has attacked government for failing to provide Ugandans with anti-retroviral drugs. Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/Aids in Uganda said government should not talk about projections it cannot achieve. "It [government] talks about free medication for people with Aids, but where is it?" he asked. "Is it possible?"

Zambia: HIV/AIDS campaign continues in Zambia


A motor bike-donated by the German Embassy; at least 50 people to attend to on a 'good day'; the nearest village being 13km away for house-calls and no anti-retroviral drugs to give some of his patients who desperately need them, is what one medical officer in the remote area of Shiwa'ng'andu (lake of Crocodiles) in the Northern part of Zambia has to contend with on an almost everyday basis. “What can I do really, as I have to almost literally split myself to attend to various health matters in the villages, do sensitization programs, attend to patients at the Shiwa Hospital and of course try and spend time with my family,” says one jovial Joshua Musabaka whom this writer had the pleasure to meet during an HIV/AIDS sensitisation workshop held in Chief Mukwikiles' area recently.

Zimbabwe: Doctors backtrack on cash upfront demands


Zimbabwe's private doctors this week stopped demanding cash payments for services and reverted to accepting valid medical aid cards, easing the difficulties of patients struggling to afford medical attention. Private doctors had been demanding cash upfront since January, citing long delays in the processing of claims by the National Association of Medical Aid Societies (NAMAS). They also hiked their consultation fees from an average of Zim $26,500 (US $6) per visit to Zim $46,500 (US $10).


Africa: Responding to human rights violations in Africa


This paper looks at what the 'right to education' means in theory and practice, and outlines what a rights-based response to education in Africa would entail. It argues that although the concept of rights has become increasingly commonplace in the discourse of international development there is a massive gap between the language and practice of rights. This is starkly apparent in education, where the basic rights of millions of people are routinely violated, and particularly in Africa.

Botswana: Drop in girls' school enrolment highlighted


Despite the fact that the Botswana government prides itself on gender equality in school enrolment, girls struggle against huge disadvantages to obtain an education. "The hardships the girl child had to face in the past are still endured today. It all starts at home in the morning when she wakes up to make sure that the house is swept and prepares food for the whole family [before going to school]," said Boipelo Semere, a member of the Girl Education Movement. According to the Ministry of Education, there has been a dip in the enrolment of girls in primary schools from 50.7 percent in 1993 to 49.4 percent in 2003. Girl enrolment in secondary school has also fallen from 53.5 percent in 1993 to 51.9 percent in 2003.

Equatorial Guinea: $5.2 million investment aims at early achievement of millennium education goal


UNDP and the Government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea will invest US$5.2 million over the next four years to train 2,000 teachers, 36 education advisors, and 45 school inspectors to implement an "Education for All" project. The aim is to have all children in the central African country attend and complete primary school before 2010, five years ahead of the deadline for achieving the second Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education. This will help the population of one million people reach the over-arching goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015, since illiteracy is a major cause of poverty.

Equatorial Guinea: UN launches project to achieve universal primary education


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Equatorial Guinea have launched a scheme to train enough teachers so that every child in the African country can finish primary school by 2010. Over the next four years the UNDP and Equatorial Guinea have promised to spend $5.2 million training 2,000 teachers, 45 school inspectors and 36 education advisers as part of a scheme dubbed “Education for All,” the agency said this week.

Global: Gender and education for all

The leap to Equality


All countries have agreed to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005. In its opening chapter, this second edition of the EFA Global Monitoring Report sets out the powerful human rights case for achieving parity and equality in education. Chapter 2 monitors progress towards the six EFA goals through a gender lens. The next two chapters look at why girls are still held back and highlight policies that can lift barriers and improve learning. Strategies to remove gender gaps in education are part of a much broader reform effort underway in many countries, as Chapter 5 shows. This agenda cannot be met without much bolder international commitments and better co-ordination, which is assessed in Chapter 6. It is in the interests of all states and peoples to remove the gender gap and it should be a top priority in all educational programmes, as the final chapter concludes.

Ivory Coast: Schools slow to reopen in rebel-held north


A month after schools were due to have resumed classes in the rebel-held north of Cote d’Ivoire, the overwhelming majority are still shut, with no teachers and very little in the way of teaching materials, education officials told IRIN. Most schools in the north closed after Cote d’Ivoire plunged into civil war 19 months ago leaving 300,000 pupils idle.

Nigieria: Education can be improved in high population countries, says Unesco


There is room for improvement in early childhood care and education in the world's nine high population countries, according to UNESCO's latest Policy Brief on Early Childhood. Favourable demographic trends means that there are fewer children to serve and if the countries' investment in early childhood remains constant, more can be spent on improving quality, says Soo-Hyang Choi of UNESCO. Early childhood care and education was the topic chosen for the 5th E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting, held in Cairo, Egypt, in December 2003. The Policy Brief represents some highlights of progress achieved in ECCE access in the nine countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Zimbabwe: No Money to Pay Striking UZ Lecturers, Says Murerwa


The Minister of Higher Education Herbert Murerwa says the government has no money to meet the demands of University of Zimbabwe lecturers who have been on strike for some weeks Murerwa told The Standard newspaper that only dialogue between the UZ Council and the University Teachers' Association (UTA) could bring normalcy to the UZ.

Racism & xenophobia

Global/Africa: Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination holds thematic discussion on non-citizens and discrimination


The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held over two days a thematic discussion on the issue of non-citizens and racial discrimination during which Committee Experts exchanged views with representatives of States parties, NGOs and UN agencies. Doudou Diène, the Special Rapporteur on racism of the Commission on Human Rights, stated that discrimination against non-citizens was a new type of discrimination and was connected to discrimination against refugees and immigrants. Non-citizens were extremely vulnerable in terms of exercising their rights and receiving social protection, including the right to health.

South Africa: Tenants slate Sea Point racism


A passionate plea for tolerance and trust is being made by the landlord and tenants of a Sea Point block of flats reputed to be a den of drug dealers and prostitutes. Landlord Shlomo Bitton says pressure from a group of Sea Point homeowners "targeting" the building has brought him close to evicting all his tenants. The tenants, many of whom are refugees from the Congo, say racism and xenophobia are behind a protest last week by homeowners accusing them of selling sex and drugs. "We are surrounded by hostility and hatred. Black people kill us when we try to live with them in townships, and white people do not want us to live with them either," said Roxi Badibanja, a Congolese refugee studying electrical engineering at Cape College in the day and working as a security guard at night.


Africa/Global: Ecotourism takes a toll on wildlife


Ecotourism is taking its toll on wildlife and may be endangering the survival of the very animals people are flocking to see, according to researchers. Biologists and conservationists are worried because polar bears, dolphins, penguins and other creatures are getting stressed and losing weight and some are dying.

Africa/Global: Is our climate nearing the tipping point?


A report that argues global warming is a greater threat to world security than terrorism and predicts a warming future where "disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life," may sound like it came from a radical environmental group - but it didn't. Unless you consider the Pentagon a radical environmental group. The report, submitted last fall, but only recently released to the media, looked specifically at what would happen if the world's climate were to abruptly shift, rather than change at a constant pace, as most people naturally assume it would do.

Africa/Global: Treaty on long-term pollutants gets the go-ahead


A global treaty that bans certain long-term pollutants that have been linked to a range of human health problems is to come into force. The countdown towards implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was triggered on 17 February, when France became the 50th country to ratify the treaty. The first phase of the agreement will ban the use of 12 types of pollutant of limited economic importance. Environmentalists hope to expand the range of pollutants covered by the agreement, but chemical manufacturers are likely to fight constraints on more financially valuable compounds.

Kenya: Environment Plunder is Blamed On Poor Policies


Inadequate policies on land use are to blame for the widespread environmental degradation in Africa, a Cabinet minister has said. Dr Newton Kulundu, of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife, said uncontrolled economic activities and unplanned infrastructure development have continued unabated resulting in the degradation of nature.

South Africa: Information on the Umgano Forest Project


The Umgano Forest Project in South African aims to promote forest as a place of enjoyment and learning. "Our aim is to create a centre for international study, and as a venue for our youth to make friends from multi cultural backgrounds, in an exchange of ideas. The emphasis of our project is for participating research institutions to assist our villages with sustainable development projects, and in turn to allow them to benefit from the research opportunities such programs afford," says their website.

Uganda: Uganda gives cautious approval to GM food


The Ugandan government has announced that genetically modified (GM) foods can be imported into the country - but that they should be used " strictly for consumption", and not for cultivation. In a statement released last month, the government's National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) says that the government "recognises the controversial nature of this subject and has therefore decided to proceed with caution, building consensus at all stages."

Land & land rights

Namibia: Let the land expropriation begin


Government has announced plans to expropriate commercial farms, in an effort to speed up land reform. Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab, making the announcement on NBC radio and television, said farmers who lost their farms would be justly compensated as provided for in the Namibian Constitution. Gurirab said delays in implementing land reform, brought about by the "cumbersome" willing-seller, willing-buyer process left expropriation as the only other way Government would meet the "high public demand for agricultural land".

Nigeria: Presidency and governors defend plan to host white farmers


Despite criticisms in some quarters, the Presidency and state governors has justified the Federal Government's move to accept white Zimbabwean farmers in Nigeria. The government described the proposed investment as "a positive move in the effort to move Nigeria from peasant to mechanised commercial agriculture." The government's position was disclosed after the presidential committee on the proposed investment of Southern African farmers in Nigeria rose from its second meeting in Abuja.

South Africa: It\'s time to face it - Land reform costs money


"There is a moratorium on new land reform projects – you can apply but your project will not be considered for at least two years.” During last year landless people in the Western Cape have had to swallow these words. The lack of funds has meant that land reform has stood still in the Western Cape; only two- to three-year-old projects are proceeding. And Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel’s Budget for this year has brought no respite.

Media & freedom of expression

Africa/Global: A Journalist's Guide to Improved Election Reporting in Emerging Democracies


This guide:
- Points out common abuses of the election process that journalists should watch for;
- Offers a sample checklist of elements that make up a free and fair election, including issues related to the candidates, the voters, and the actual voting process;
- Provides suggestions for establishing and protecting credibility, for individual journalists and news organizations as a whole.

Africa: Conference Calls for Free-Expression Monitor


Africa needs an independent rapporteur to monitor and promote freedom of expression on the continent, said participants at a major conference co-hosted by ARTICLE 19 and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) last week in Pretoria, South Africa. A statement issued at the conference said despite recognition of the right to free expression in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, gross violations continue to occur in many African countries. ARTICLE 19 and MISA worked closely with the African Commission, the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Open Society Institute for Southern African in organising the conference.

Mozambique: Portuguese HIV, Rights Audio CD launched


Community Media for Development and GOAL Mozambique collaborated to develop a radio programme with a group of Street Youth in Maputo, Mozambique. The group recorded songs, skits, and messages about HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse, and children's rights in Portuguese and Shangana. The recordings were then produced into a series suitable for broadcast or educational use, and are being distributed freely to community radio stations across Mozambique. An accompanying Portuguese language activity book was also developed to be used in educational/literacy programmes. The audio may be downloaded from the Internet. For information, contact info@cmfd.

Somalia: Journalist harassed over radio report


The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the detention of Abshir Ali Gabre, news editor at the independent Radio Jawhar, who was recently held overnight on the orders of Somali faction leader Mohamed Omar Habeeb, also known as Mohamed Dere. Dere is chairman of the self-appointed Jawhar administration.

South Africa: FXI welcomes release of Johannesburg Water documents


The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has welcomed a decision by Johannesburg Water (JW) to grant access to three 'confidential' documents, after having refused to do so since April 2003. However, the FXI said it was deeply concerned that JW continues to refuse to release other documents relating to its activities. The Institute will continue with legal action which it has instituted, with researcher Ebrahim Harvey, against Johannesburg Water to secure the release of the remaining documents. Harvey sought the documents to enable him to complete a Master's Degree at the University of the Witwatersrand on the impact of Johannesburg's Igoli 2002 plan on the delivery of water (which led to the formation of JW as a corporate entity). The plan has been controversial as it fuelled the commercialisation of services such as water and electricity, leading to the disconnection of many poor residents when they could not afford the rising costs of these services.

Tanzania: Media policy 'positive', says Article 19


ARTICLE 19 last week published an analysis of the Tanzanian government's Information and Broadcasting Policy. The Policy contains a number of commendable commitments, including to bring Tanzanian law and practice into line with international standards. Other commitments, however, appear to contradict this, as does a recent law on telecommunications. The Tanzanian government adopted a new Information and Broadcasting Policy in October 2003, the culmination of several years' work by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including government representatives, to this end.

Tunisia: Imprisoned journalist on hunger strike


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it is concerned about the health of Abdallah Zouari, a journalist from the suspended Islamist weekly "Al-Fajr" who has been carrying on a hunger strike since 27 January 2004 to protest the worsening of his prison conditions. On their last visit, his family, who had not been allowed to see him for two weeks, found him to be in a seriously weakened physical and mental state.

Zimbabwe: Three journalists from government daily "The Herald" dismissed for moonlighting


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for the reinstatement of three journalists who were recently dismissed from the government daily "The Herald" because they worked with the American public radio station Voice of America (VOA). In a 25 February statement, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) said that Zimbabwean journalists' collaboration with VOA ran contrary to "national interests and security," since the station is "among the media outlets that spread lies about this country, contributing to a deterioration in its image."

Social welfare

Africa/Global: Child rights based monitoring and evaluation

Call for information


Save the Children Denmark is undertaking a review of literature into child rights based monitoring and evaluation, and is calling for information from colleagues who have worked, or thought about working, in these areas, particularly in: i. Activities in child rights based monitoring and evaluation; ii. The conceptual underpinning or framework of this work; iii. Monitoring and evaluation procedures that involve children in active and participatory ways; iv. The development of appropriate and useful indicators for children's rights; v. Tools and methods used, successes and challenges; vi. Ethical and technical challenges faced.

Africa/Global: Ensuring the rights of indigenous children


Around the world, in rural and urban areas alike, indigenous children frequently constitute one of the most disadvantaged groups, and their rights - including those to survival and development, to the highest standards of health, to education that respects their cultural identity, and to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation - are often compromised. At the same time, however, indigenous children possess very special resources: they are the custodians of a multitude of cultures, languages, beliefs and knowledge systems, each of which is a precious element of our collective heritage.

Africa/Global: Group slams use of girl soldiers


Girls have been part of government militia or opposition fighting forces in more than 50 countries over recent years, a Canadian human rights organisation has said in a new report. The organisation, Rights and Democracy, said many of the girls had taken part in armed conflict, were abducted or had to join to survive. The report, called Where are the Girls, focuses on northern Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique.

Angola: Govt to halve child mortality by 2008


The Angolan government on Tuesday pledged to take steps to slash the appalling child mortality rate by half within the next four years. Almost three decades of civil conflict have given Angola the world's third-worst rate of child death, with one in four likely to die before they reach their fifth birthday, according to figures from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

DRC: IRIN interview with social affairs minister Ingele Ifoto


Ingele Ifoto, minister of social affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), spoke with IRIN on Thursday regarding the development of a national strategy for social protection, following a conference on the matter that was held from 20 - 22 February. The DRC, a vast central African country with some 60 million people, is in the midst of major transition: a government of national unity was inaugurated on 30 June 2003, ostensibly bringing an end to nearly five years of war and leading the country to national elections in 2005. According to Ifoto, the war caused at least three million deaths, and at least 1.7 million people remain displaced. Many other segments of the population also continue to suffer the war's effects, including child soldiers, orphans, raped women, war widows, war injured, and the unemployed, among others, he added.

Ethiopia: Focus on street children rehabilitation project


It is an island of tranquillity in an ocean of squalor, poverty and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s largest open-air market. The small garden tucked away in the Merkato market in the capital, Addis Ababa, is a refuge for hundreds of children, many living on the streets or forced into prostitution by poverty. "This is a place where they can escape from it all and just be themselves," said Anania Admasu, who heads the local charity Children Aid Ethiopia (Chad-Et).

Sierra Leone: Teaching, training, treating

Childhelp Sierra Leone News


From January 2000 – December 2003, 12 primary schools were de-wormed with a total of 3600 pupils and 430 adults in the Eastend Part of the city of Freetown.

Zimbabwe: Homeless crackdown condemned


The Combined Harare Residents Association has condemned the arbitrary and authoritarian crackdown on homeless people in Harare last week. "We do not believe that this action was carried out on the instructions of the elected councillors but rather by the de facto mayor of Harare, Town Clerk Chideya. Again we call upon councillors to assert the power given to them by the citizens of Harare and to put the municipal employees to work for the benefit of all of us.”

Zimbabwe: Youth trained to torture


President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned. The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power. Former recruits to the camps have spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme about a horrific training programme that breaks young teenagers down before encouraging them to commit atrocities.

News from the diaspora

African Diaspora websites and arts


* Africana Studies: Resources for African and African American Studies
* Africa: Art of the Continent
* African Art: Aesthetics and Meaning
* African Art and the Internet
Visit the URL provided for a full list of websites.

Bonding online


It is not easy to talk of the African diaspora on the internet: it is a very broad and articulate phenomenon since the ties among Africans living abroad, and between the latter and their respective homelands and communities of origin, are strongly supported by the global network today. An initial analysis, however, allows us to establish at least four topic areas concerning the presence of the African diaspora on the internet: the phenomenon as such (that is, the diaspora as an "object" of interest and study); the diaspora as a political and strategic theme; services for the diaspora; and networking among diaspora members.

Brazil: Afro-Brazilians demand equal access to education


While Brazil maintains the strongest economy in Latin America, access to education for many young people in Brazil is still an obstacle. Brazil's 76 million negros and pardos (blacks and browns) constitute the world's second largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa. Although they are between 45% - 55% of Brazil's population, they comprise merely 2% of the nation's university students. Limited access to education and racial discrimination within Brazil's education system has a significantly negative impact on the lives of Afro-Brazilians.

Films of the African Diaspora Thursdays at 7pm


From February 12 to March 25, every Thursday evening at 7pm, Films from the African Diaspora from the Penn Library's video collection will be shown in the Van Pelt Library's Film Studies Classroom, room 425 (4th Floor). The screenings are sponsored by the Center for Africana Studies, Latino and Latin American Studies, and the University of Pennsylvania Library.

Refugees make good workers


Employers that take on refugees who have been granted permission to stay in the UK are often impressed with the calibre of their work – but frightened to publicise the fact that they employ them, for fear of negative publicity.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: Conflict risk alerts


Hutu rebel group FNL continued sporadic attacks on the Burundian capital Bujumbura and surrounding areas, despite January peace talks and in Uganda fighting continued, with Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels massacring as many as 200 civilians in a northern refugee camp 21 February. These are two updates from the African continent in CrisisWatch, a publication of the International Crisis Group, that summarises briefly developments during the previous month in some 70 situations of current or potential conflict.

Africa: U.S. Military Shows Interest in Africa


Top U.S. generals are touching down across Africa in unusual back-to-back trips, U.S. European Command confirmed Tuesday, part of a change in military planning as U.S. interest grows in African terror links and African oil. Trips by two top European Command generals follow last week's similarly low-profile Africa visit by the U.S. commander in Europe, Marine Gen. James L. Jones.

CAR: Impact of war on the northwest


Cotton farmer Faustin Bagaza, 55, wears the cloak of poverty around him even tighter these days. Despite harvesting his crop for two successive years, he has made no sales. The reason? A rebellion in northwestern Central African Republic (CAR) that has devastated the country's agriculture, health, education and other services.

DRC: High-level delegation pushes for disarmament in Ituri


A delegation comprised of members of the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the ambassadors of France, Norway and Spain, and William Swing, the UN secretary-general's special representative to the country, is currently on mission in the nation's troubled northeastern Ituri District to urge armed groups to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate (DDR), the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, reported on Wednesday.

Eritrea: Foreign minister says Nigeria will mediate in border dispute


Nigeria is ready to mediate in the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, its foreign minister says. Olu Adeneji told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Eritrea's leader had asked Nigeria to intervene. If confirmed, this would mark a new strategy for Eritrea, which has insisted that the dispute was settled by a 2002 international court ruling.

Five sentenced to death over killing of genocide survivor


A Rwandan court sentenced five people to death on Friday over the killing of a genocide survivor who was due to testify in the Gacaca justice system, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. The five were found guilty of killing Charles Rutinduka on 26 November 2003 in Kaduha, in the southern province of Gikongoro.

Ivory Coast: UN sends peacekeepers, but disarmament on hold


The UN Security Council has agreed to send a peacekeeping force of more than 6,000 troops to Cote d'Ivoire to supervise the disarmament of rebel forces and presidential elections due in October 2005. The council voted unanimously in favour of creating the new peacekeeping force on Friday after the United States dropped its earlier opposition to the proposal.

Liberia: Liberia probes reports of fighters grouping


A Liberian government team is due in the northeast of the country this week to investigate reports that hundreds of fighters loyal to exiled president Charles Taylor are undergoing training there. A senior government official said the gunmen, mostly from Liberia and Guinea, were at a camp in Nimba County, the region near Ivory Coast from where Taylor launched a rebellion in 1989 that triggered nearly 14 years of war.

Rwanda asks for minute's silence for genocide


Rwandan officials have asked countries around the world to hold a minute's silence at noon on April 7 to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. "We would like the whole world to hold 10 minutes of silence - one minute for each year since 1994 - but some say that's too long," said Ildephonse Karengera, Rwanda's director of the genocide memorial.

Rwanda To Hold Large 10th Genocide Anniversary


Plans are underway in Rwanda to hold the biggest genocide commemoration event in the country since the 1994 genocide. April 7th, 2004 will be exactly ten years since the start of 100 days of genocide in which an estimated one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Sudan: Government suspends contacts with NDA


The government of Sudan has suspended contact with an umbrella opposition group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), because it has allowed a rebel group from war-torn Darfur to join its ranks. The government spokesman, Sa'id Khatib, told IRIN on Monday that the government had suspended all contacts with the NDA "about four days ago", because the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) was now one of its members. "We have suspended all contacts until the NDA clarifies why it has brought a fighting group on board," he said. "Fighting and dialogue do not go together."

Sudan: One million at risk in Darfur


One million people are "at imminent risk of life and livelihood" in Sudan's western region of Darfur, due to a lack of civil order and the "refusal of local and national authorities to permit unrestricted access for humanitarian workers", according to the US government. A statement released on Tuesday said the US viewed the deepening humanitarian crisis in Darfur with grave concern. Particularly threatening were the actions of the "government-supported militias, known as the Janjawid, who continue to attack and burn undefended villages, murdering and raping the inhabitants and forcing survivors into desperate flight to garrison towns" or neighbouring Chad, it said.

Tribunal Convicts Genocide Suspect


The U.N. tribunal for Rwanda convicted a former senior military officer of genocide Wednesday and acquitted two other suspects, including a former transport minister. Former Lt. Samuel Imanishimwe was sentenced to 27 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity, said tribunal spokesman Roland Amoussouga.

Zimbabwe: "The situation is grim"


"We are the only country in the world not at war whose economy is shrinking at an alarming rate. Inflation is running at 620 percent. Eighty percent of our people live in poverty,” says Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Gibson Sibanda, Deputy President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) adds that 70 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed. "The manufacturing sector has shrunk by 40 percent...The situation is very grim,” he told IPS.

Internet & technology

Africa: Baseline study on the state of media reporting on ICT and information society issues in Africa

UNECA; AISI / African Information Society Initiative (AISI) , 2003


There is lack of critical analysis in ICT reporting and the views of influential spokesmen are almost never challenged by the media. Stories are seldom followed up, the newsrooms seem to wait for the next press release, ministerial announcement, or company cocktail party launching a new product. So the unfolding story of ICT developments in any one country is largely absent. These are some of the key findings of this study which aimed at encouraging journalism and coverage of ICTs and Information Society issues. It reviewed the coverage of ICT issues in the African media, and identified areas of weakness.

Kenya: State advised to formulate ICT policy


The Government has been urged to take a more proactive approach to the development of Information Technology (IT) in order to improve the business environment. Sector players described information and communication technology (ICT) as vital to the growth of any economy and warned that Kenya risked being left behind by its neighbours should the government fail to act promptly.

Nigeria: Nigerian scammers in line of fire


In this third of three reports on e-mail fraud, Go Digital's Tracey Logan meets Nuhu Ribadu, head of Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, who is trying to end so-called 419 e-mail scams.

Somalia: Private Competition Drives Down Telephone and Internet Costs in Somalia

But chaotic situation highlights need for self regulation


Two main features interrupt the dusty horizon of Hargeisa, the windblown desert capital of the self-declared, but as yet unrecognized, Republic of Somaliland. The first has always been there, a set of identical twin mountains, but now there is another - competing satellite towers mounted high on the spiny brown ridges overlooking the town, that also pierce the low-slung skyline and stand testament to the city’s more recent history.

Uganda: Overcoming the urban-rural divide in Uganda


I-Network Uganda provides a platform for sharing knowledge and forming partnerships around the use of ICT for development. In the following case study, the “8 Habits of Highly Effective ICT-Enabled Development Initiatives” of were used as a framework to highlight what the initiative has done well. The Case Study Series on ICT-Enabled Development sets out to illustrate how ICT contributes to development in Africa.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

E-CIVICUS 218: Connecting Civil Society


This issue focuses on the on the link between population and civil society. It includes:
- Secretary general’s message: Working together for a secure world;
- Civil Society News In Brief;
- Population and Civil Society: an introduction;
- HIV/AIDS: Seeking a broad, unified and global approach;
- The population and environment nexus;
- Women and population: an issue of rights rather than fertility control;
- What’s up on the Word Front?
- Classifieds.
To subscribe or unsubscribe please email [email protected]

Gad Exchange newsletter Issue 32 available online


Among the headlines featured in this issue are:
- Engendering peace agreements: A key strategy for successful reconstruction;
- Towards Beijing plus 10: Which way for southern Africa?
- Gender parity in education: countdown to 2005;
- Rumo a Beijing + 10: Que caminho para África Austral?
- Examining gender dimensions in SADC constitutions;
- Searching for alternative development paths;
- News briefs and Calendar of Events.

KaReport newsletter


The overall goal of the Disability Knowledge and Research Programme is better health and quality of life for poor people in developing countries. The first issue of The KaReport, the Programme's newsletter, includes a critical look at why disability matters to the development debate, along with case studies, useful resources and reports from events.

Sokwanele news desk launches


Sokwanele has announced the launch of their website:, that aims to support civic action and promote democracy in Zimbabwe through non-violent means. " aims to fulfil two functions: the first, which is already underway, is to provide our visitors with regularly updated news from local and international media sources, and original news and images from Sokwanele sources."

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: Betty Plewes fund - 2004 award


The purpose of the Fund is to provide a grant to an African non-governmental organisation, engaged in research and policy development on issues of priority to women. The fund is intended to recognise the work of an African organisation, and to provide flexible and reliable support for initiatives that might not otherwise receive funding from other sources.

AISI Media Awards 2004


The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has introduced the AISI Media Award programme to encourage more informed coverage of the information society and ICT for development issues in Africa as part of the its AISI Outreach and Communication Programme. The AISI Media Awards is aimed at individual journalists and media institutions based in Africa that are "promoting journalism which contributes to a better understanding of the information society in Africa". The deadline for submissions is 30 April 2004.

Civicus toolkit on funding proposals


Civicus, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, has published a toolkit on fundraising proposals. The toolkit focuses on planning and researching before writing up the proposal, as well as writing and following up on funding proposals. The toolkit is designed to assist with producing effective fundraising proposals and can be used by project managers and organisations committed to increasing the capacity to plan and raise money effectively.

Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Awards 2004/2005


The Africa-America Institute invites applications for the International Fellowships Program of the Ford Foundation from South African resident citizens and residents. The International Fellowships Program will provide support for up to three years of full-time postgraduate study. The primary objective of the Fellowships Program is to provide opportunities for individuals and communities that lack systematic access to higher education. The Ford International recipients will be expected to use their education to redress historical patterns of injustice.

Post-doctoral fellowships: Centre for civil society, South Africa


The Centre for Civil Society, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is offering two post-doctoral fellowships, as part of our commitment to promote new and innovative research on civil society. The post-doctoral fellowships are for a duration of one year, at R150 000 p.a. The successful applicants are expected to be based at the Centre and to participate in its activities.

Shuttleworth Foundation: Call for proposals


The Shuttleworth Foundation is currently calling for proposals of innovative and pilot educational projects. The call for proposals will focus on the following areas:
- Maths, science, technology and entrepreneurship in the General Education and Training (GET) phase; and
- Numeracy in the Foundation phase.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Organisation and Development Training


Olive (Organisation Development and Training) announces the following publications:
- Learning to Train - While this handbook is intended primarily as a resource for trainers working in the development sector, it will be of value to anyone seeking to work with adult learners in a respectful, facilitative and enabling manner.(R80 excl. P&P). To order call Olive Publications - telephone 031 2061534 or email [email protected]
- Project Planning in a development context - a set of 3 handbooks.
- Ideas for a Change - a series of user-friendly publications with practical ideas and information for people working with people, and with change and development organisations.

Remembering Rwanda



This year is the 10th Anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. An international campaign is underway to mobilise to mark this anniversary - "REMEMBERING RWANDA". As our contribution to this campaign, we will be featuring this special section called Remembering Rwanda. We also plan to publish a special issue on Rwanda in April 2004. Get involved! Organise an event in your institution, town, village or city. Send us information ([email protected]) about what you are doing to commemorate the anniversary and to provide solidarity to the rebuilding of Rwanda.

Coming home


Ten years after the genocide that saw Hutus kill nearly one million Tutsis in just 100 days, Rwanda is still trying to come to terms with its bloody past. Theophile Ntaganda is one of thousands of killers now being released from prison. He killed his mother-in-law and two of his wife's sisters during the genocide. He wants his wife back but she has moved on, forging her documents and marrying again. Filmed over a year, this BBC production is set in a country struggling to come to terms with one of the worst genocides in the twentieth century.

Take part in the Rwanda Commemmoration project


April 7, 2004 marks ten years since the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, when nearly a million people were killed in ninety days while the international community largely stood by. In response, the Centre for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law has launched the Rwanda Commemoration Project: Genocide in Our Time, an international initiative that seeks to raise awareness of this anniversary and the important lessons of the tragic events in Rwanda. Read more by clicking on the link below.


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