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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 241: International Criminal Court: A Ray of Hope for the Women of Darfur?

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

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CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Books & arts, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Racism & xenophobia, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Media & freedom of expression, 21. News from the diaspora, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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Action alerts

Featured this week


EDITORIAL: Femnet’s Christine Butegwa analyses what hope the ICC will bring for Darfur’s women
- Can protocols and legislation really be an effective weapon against gender discrimination? Asks Janah Ncube about SADC gender policy
- Thabo Mbeki gets a poor report from Mohau Pheko and Lebohang Pheko for his state of the nation address
- John Christensen writes about how Africa’s resources are looted through capital flight and tax avoidance
- Mona Prince, an Egyptian woman writer, flies to the US and experiences “homeland security” first hand
- Zimbabwe: Voice of the People staff and directors arrested
LETTERS: Readers discuss whether trade in the era of globalization can be just
BLOGGING AFRICA: African blogs present their perspectives on the third term debate
CONFLICTS AND EMERGENCIES: Cartoon crisis protests spread to Africa
HUMAN RIGHTS: ICC to hear first Africa cases
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Forty days later: Remembering the victims of the Cairo refugee massacre
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: DRC hurtles towards April poll with 300 parties and 40 presidential candidates
WOMEN AND GENDER: Women’s empowerment crucial for representation in leadership
DEVELOPMENT: Corporate influence over WTO talks exposed in new report/ ‘Bamako Appeal’ promotes struggle against market-driven society
CORRUPTION: Groups question World Bank's role in troubled DRC mine
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: Malian killed in Russian street attack
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Nigerian bird flu outbreak
EDUCATION: Free primary education in Kenya having negative impact on early childhood development
ENVIRONMENT: GM debate fought on cotton fields of South Africa
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Newspaper group sorry for offending Muslims
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Haiti votes by candlelight
PLUS…Advocacy and Campaigns; Internet and Technology; Advocacy and Campaigns; Courses, Fundraising, Jobs and Books and Arts…

* Can trade in the era of globalisation be 'just'? Read last week’s issue at

* French speaking? French friends?

Subscribe to Pambazuka News in French by sending a message to [email protected] with 'subscribe French edition' in the subject line or send an email to your French friends telling them to subscribe.


The International Criminal Court: A Ray of Hope for the Women of Darfur?

Christine Butegwa


If you’re a woman in Darfur and you want to lay a charge of rape, the chances are that the charge will be changed to one of assault. Even if you want to persist in your charge of rape, you’ll need four male witnesses to support your charge. As a result, sexual and gender based violence is one of the biggest violations of women’s rights in Darfur, writes Christine Butegwa from Femnet. Hopes are high that the International Criminal Court will be able to change the situation.

Comment & analysis

Fast tracking to equality: The SADC gender journey

Janah Ncube


Can protocols and legislation really be an effective weapon against gender discrimination? Janah Ncube examines the Southern African Development Community and contends that while law may not change a moral belief, it can stop a husband from beating his wife to pulp, penalize unfair employment practices, and punish rape. “Legislation has proved that with the state upholding it, social norms eventually conform to it if it is beneficial to all peoples.”

Letter to Thabo Mbeki from African women

Mohau Pheko and Liepollo Lebohang Pheko


South African leader Thabo Mbeki, in his state of the nation address at the opening of parliament in Cape Town last Friday, focused on plans to support government’s accelerated and shared growth initiative (Asgi), aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. But Mohau Pheko and Lebohang Pheko, from the Gender & Trade Network in Africa, take Mbeki to task for failing to adequately consider the country’s women in his latest plans to fast-track growth.

Tax Justice for Africa: A new development struggle

John Christensen


John Christensen comments on the issue of capital flight and tax avoidance, a massive drain on African’s resources. In the face of a reluctance by international organisations to address the issue, and the weakness of national efforts in the face of global capital, civil society will have a vital role to play in pushing for change.

Witness to an erosion of soul: An Egyptian woman travels to the US

Mona Prince


Mona Prince, an Egyptian woman writer, traveled to America full of hope and excitement. But what she found forced her to stand up for her rights and “resist the silences”. Before returning home she had a chance to hear the voices “against the war, against the erosion of what is great in the American system, against homeland security as a pretext for silencing ‘other’ voices.

Zimbabwe: Media faces renewed crackdown

Pambazuka News Editors


This Friday in Harare, six trustees of Voice of the People (VOP), a privately-owned radio station, are due to appear in court on criminal charges, according to a Human Rights Watch press release. On January 24, the authorities brought charges of broadcasting without a license against six of the station’s trustees. VOP was one of the few alternatives to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the only broadcaster with a license to operate legally in the country.

Advocacy & campaigns

Global: Amnesty International campaign - Make Some Noise


In Amnesty International's biggest campaign ever, high-profile international artists sing covers of classic Lennon tracks to raise funds for the organisation. This is Make Some Noise - a mix of music, celebration and action in support of human rights. Tracks can be bought and downloaded from the site, where supporters can also sign-up for updates to keep in touch throughout the 12-month timeline.

Global: Global Campaign for Education


In 2006, GCE will continue to build on the amazing campaigning success of previous years, maintaining and increasing pressure on rich and poor countries alike to take urgent action towards achieving Education for All. The theme for the week, April 24-30, is: Every child needs a teacher. Right now, over 100 million children wake up every day without the hope that education offers.

Global: Mama Cash and Campaign 88 Days


Campaign 88 Days is an effort to raise awareness, take action and mobilise resources for women's rights worldwide. In the 88 days between December 10, 2005, International Human Rights Day and March 8 2006, International Women’s Day, you can help keep women safe from domestic and sexual violence, guarantee them equal treatment in the work force, push governments to do what’s right for women, and support groundbreaking initiatives. Together with your support we can change the world in 88 days. Because women’s rights are human rights…

Books & arts

Cameroonian artists in the limelight


An exhibition of works of some 13 Cameroonian artists is underway in Cairo. On the sidelines of the 25th African Cup of Nations, an exhibition of Cameroonian contemporary plastic arts is underway in Cairo. Some 27 works by 13 artists are in display in the exhibition at Saad Zaghloul hall, Cairo. It is organized by the Cameroon cultural delegation in Egypt. Last Sunday (February 5) evening, the head of the delegation, Minister Philippe Mbarga Mboa, launched the exhibition in the presence of authorities of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and a host of Egyptians. It was an occasion to inform the Egyptian press on the raison-d'etre of the exhibition - expose the rich cultural potential of Cameroon.

Realizing Hope, by Michael Albert


Realizing Hope is about envisioning and winning a better world. Noam Chomsky from the U.S. says about Realizing Hope: “In many earlier studies, Michael Albert has carried out careful in-depth inquiries into systems of participatory economics (parecon), analyzing in detail how they can function justly, equitably, and efficiently, and how they can overcome many of the criminal features of current social and economic arrangements. This new and very ambitious study casts the net far more widely, extending to just about every major domain of human concern and mode of human interaction, and investigating with care and insight how, in these domains, parecon-like principles could lead to a far more desirable society than anything that exists, and also how these goals can be constructively approached. It is another very valuable and provocative contribution to the quest for a world of much greater freedom and justice."

Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe

Doreen Baingana


This lush and intimate book explores the coming-of-age of three sisters in post Idi Amin Uganda. Each chapter in this collection of linked short stories develops the theme of exploration and discovery as the sisters mature and their interior and exterior lives expand. We meet Christine, the youngest sister, as a girl learning of the bittersweet dynamics of her parents' marriage through exploring her mother's jewellery drawer. She later learns her own lessons about relationships, including her relationship with herself, which becomes more complex when she moves to the United States. Christine's quiet, uptight sister Patti suffers humiliation at boarding school and finds her peace in religion, while her oldest sister, Rosa, is an adventurous and sexually precocious teenager with a feisty personality. In the final story, Christine returns home to Uganda, in a journey that has come full circle, but not with all the ends tied up. This is a subtle, powerful book about growing up as an African woman and it heralds the arrival of a remarkably gifted writer.

Letters & Opinions

Can trade in an era of globalisation be just?

Doreen Lwanga


I read with keen interest Charles Aburge's article on debt, aid and trade which appeared in Pambazuka News 240.

I enjoyed his strategic counselling and "scolding" of civil society in Africa for mindful engagement with African regional bodies in areas of debt and trade with Africa. I especially enjoyed reading his recognition that sometimes we in civil society unconsciously contribute to the erosion of sovereignty and the loss of self-worth in Africa. We are sometimes quick to demand or endorse "governance conditionality" where aid and debt relief is made conditional to progress in these areas.

This reminded me of the on-going row between the Government of Chad and The World Bank regarding the "Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline", where Chadian civil society activists are encouraging The World Bank to withold financial support from Chad.

Surely, who suffers? Should the role of civil society be to support global institutions at the expense of national programs? I am mindful of the governing record of the government of President Derby. However, to seemingly support a project which from its inception was de-cried for its erosion of the supremacy of Chadian Constitution in the interests of corporate law is worrisome.

The key element of contestation by the Chadian government is the off-shore account where oil revenues are kept for future generations. Wouldn't it be in the interests of Chadian civil society that in fact these funds are made available to the current generations from whom oil is extracted? Wouldn't a better role of Chadian civil society then be to monitor proper government use of these funds for education, health, environmental management and security of the nation? Surely, sometimes civil society in Africa must work for national and/or even regional prosperity, not against it.

Can trade in an era of globalisation be just? (2)

Barbara Murray


Please can you publish some exposure and analysis of the current lethal exploitation of African countries' resources by China. Statistics, if any? If accessible?

The articles in the first of the special issues on trade justice are excellent, but as we necessarily focus on Europe, USA and multi national corporations, China is undercutting, with alarming speed, what were advances in African manufacturing.

Talking to friends from many African countries, it seems that each country on the continent is undergoing massive invasion by China, but we all tend to think it is only in our own country and therefore miss the larger, frightening picture.

It is very important to stop this takeover by China, particularly as their trade system at home (and international advantage) is based on such exploitative labour conditions and they, no doubt, care far less about labour conditions in Africa.

Thank you for all your work!

EDITORS reply: We have schedule to publish material on China and Africa shortly. Watch this space!

Can trade in an era of globalisation be just? (3)

Beatrice Parwatikar


Here in the US white people can talk about all the atrocities that happened in the past and atrocities that happen in the present, but you cannot get them to admit to slavery in the US as an inhuman act against African slaves.

When you bring up the effects of slavery on African descendants and how it robs the US of the total participation of all its' people, sometimes things are said like "when are you people going to forget slavery".

Whites are unable to understand that the wealth of the US was built on the genocide of its native people for free land and the enslavement of African people.

The other great damage of slavery is to internalize the self hatred of many African descendant people against themselves and other African descendant people.

Contributing to Pambazuka News

Cleo Fychan


We are interested in contributing to your website, particularly on matters relating to Women and Gender or Advocacy and Campaigns. Please send us details on where to send information or articles.

Pambazuka News Replies: We welcome contributions from organisations and individuals. Please send your contributions to [email protected]

Blogging Africa

The third term debate in the blogosphere

Sokari Ekine


Yebo Gogo - Yebo Gogo ( comments on Thabo Mbeki’s decision not to run for a third term.

“I think history will view Thabo Mbeki kindly. South Africa's president had had to fill seemingly unfillable shoes when he took over from Nelson Mandela, but he's turning out to be as good - and in many cases, better - as Mandela”

Unfortunately Mbeki stands alone amongst African leaders on this issue. Chippla - Chppla ( writes that unlike Mbeki, President Obasanjo has been conspicuous by his refusal to deny claims that he intends to run for a third term despite overwhelming public opposition.

“The option of a third term for the president has been dropped down as one of the key issues to be discussed over an amendment to the Nigerian constitution. This move was taken by the Parliamentary committee charged with overseeing the review of the constitution. Without a doubt, strong public opposition must have had a hand in this. Mr. Obasanjo, who is undoubtedly out of touch with the reality on the ground in Nigeria, must have been very surprised by the legions of people who strongly opposed an amendment to the Nigerian constitution to allow him to stay in office a day longer than that allowed for by the constitution.”

He concludes that Mbeki could do Nigerians a favour by teaching him how to answer questions.

Zimbabwean Pundit - Zimpundit ( also has an Mbeki story. This time it concerns the bi-lateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe. In an interview Mbeki admitted “that he failed to normalise relations between Zimbabwe’s feuding political parties”. Zimpundit also questions the timing of the admission.

“The timing of Mbeki's admission of failure comes at a rather curious juncture given that rumors are rife that South Africa's government has ordered an immediate embargo on fuel and electricity exports to Zimbabwe.”

Africa Unchained - Africa Unchained ( comments on an article by Wilf Mbanga “The African Union: Whats in a name?”

“Africans are angered by the continued unwillingness of African rulers to deal with human rights issues. The fact that they held the latest summit in Sudan in the first place shows their disdain for human rights," said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly. "The fact that they are passing the African Union chairmanship to a coup leader in Congo makes them laughable. Where do Africans turn now?”

The Moor Next Door - Moor Next Door ( comments on the riots and destruction taking place in Lebanon over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons that has developed into anti-Christian violence.

“What is very troubling is that the protestors did not even stop at destroying the Danish embassy, they stoned the St. Maron Maronite church and destroyed property in a Christian neighborhood. It seems just to be mindless violence, overtaking any reasonable thought or condition. The violence against the Christian church and neighborhood likely stems from the longstanding inter-communal tension in Lebanon, and the "cartoon crisis" has probably not done much to alleviate these.”

Sub-ZeroBlue - Sub-Zero Blue ( also comments on the violence which he writes is continuing despite calls by Imams and religious leaders to stop.

“I too would like to strongly condemn these attacks and say that they are totally unacceptable. Violence is never a solution to anything. It just complicates things more and adds fuel to the fire.
This is not the way Islam, our religion of peace, tells us to respond! These violent reactions harm our religion more than the cartoons or any disrespect the west could show! This has to stop!”

Black Looks - Black Looks ( reports on the campaign by Cameroon tabloids to out prominent people who they claim are homosexual. Already some 50 people have been named in the witchhunt.

“The campaign, by what can only be described as ‘gutter press’, amounts to a witch hunt, a violation of human rights and an invasion of privacy. The suffering of LGBT people is occurring all over Africa. Everyone who is a defender of human rights needs to join together with the LGBT community in a show of progressive African solidarity.”

* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks,

* Please send comments to [email protected]

African Union Monitor

Africa: The AU - what’s in a name?


"Africans are angered by the continued unwillingness of African rulers to deal with human rights issues. The fact that they held the latest summit in Sudan in the first place shows their disdain for human rights", said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly. "The fact that they are passing the African Union chairmanship to a coup leader in Congo makes them laughable. Where do Africans turn now?" The pessimism of dashed hopes has an especially bitter taste. In July 2002 the reinvention of the African Union (AU) amid the ashes of the discredited forty-year-old Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was hailed internationally as a triumph. It was seen as a vital leap forward into the 21st century for the "dark continent" – with its tragic millions of poverty-stricken, starving, diseased peoples, and its elite coterie of portly, bemedalled, ageing dictators.

Comoros: AU pre-election mission reports back


As the Comoros prepare for upcoming elections that will test their new power-sharing arrangement, South Africa is gearing up to do its part in ensuring the April elections are free and fair. Following a one-week fact-finding mission to assess the archipelago's readiness and requirements for the elections, a South African technical delegation presented their findings to the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Committee.

Zimbabwe: NGOs disappointed at AU's lack of response


Zimbabwean NGOs said they were ‘disappointed’ that the African Union (AU) had failed to acknowledge a resolution passed by its rights body, criticising the Harare regime. The AU summit in Khartoum, Sudan, which concluded this week, declined to take up the resolution tabled by its African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), saying the Zimbabwe government had not had time to react. ‘We understand that the government has to be given time to respond, but at least the summit should have noted the report,’ said Tor-Hugne Olsen, international office coordinator of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, a coalition of 17 Zimbabwean NGOs.

Women & gender

Global: Reform of social institutions needed for enhancing gender equality


This policy brief explores the reform needed of social institutions and cultural practices to enhance qender equality. The paper argues that gender equality is good for growth, economic development and poverty reduction, and identifies the following reasons for the persistence of gender discriminating cultural practises and social norms: the “legitimacy” of reform is often contested.

Global: Rethinking masculinity and the demand side of trafficking


This practical guide outlines the challenges faced in changing male perceptions of paid sex with women. The document provides details of a three day course run by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women which aimed to provide young men with a critical understanding of violence against women, particularly prostitution, and move towards a change of attitude and treatment of women. The guide also focuses on the production of teaching materials and options available for resourcing the education aspect of a programme.

Global: The world's women 2005 - progress in statistics


This report presents national sex disaggregated statistics in such areas as demographics, health, education, work, violence against women, poverty, human rights and decision-making. The report reviews and analyses the current availability of data and assesses progress made in the provision of national statistics, as opposed to internationally prepared estimates, relevant to gender concerns during the past 30 years. It proposes a set of strategies to strengthen national capacity to collect and report statistics and also for improved mainstreaming of gender concerns.

Global: Women in an insecure world


This book brings together a comprehensive list of the facts and figures regarding violence against women in daily life, during war and conflict and in post-conflict situations. The authors map the pervasiveness of violence against women, analyse strategies to prevent and punish that violence and highlight the key role that women play in initiatives to counter violence. The document argues that violence against women must be recognised as a key issue in its own right, as one of the significant causes of death on our planet - comparable in importance only to war, hunger and disease.

Kenya: Women's empowerment critical for representation in leadership


With the general elections in sight at the end of 2007, the feeling of de ja vu is difficult to shake off, considering that the country has been in political campaigns mode for nearly two years. “Women are not well represented at all levels of leadership positions and their representation especially at the local authorities' level is wanting,” explains Deborah Okumu, a Senior Programmes Officer at the Kenya Women's Political Caucus (KWPC). She notes that the absence of formal mechanisms of both accountability and participation within the political systems restricts access for women.

Malawi: Abuse of women and girls a national shame


A recent study and several well-publicised cases of gender violence have raised concern in Malawi, with the president and aid agencies calling for urgent action to address the problem.A survey commissioned by the NGO, ActionAid, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and humanitarian partners, covering over a thousand school-age girls, found that more than half had experienced some form of sexual abuse in schools in Malawi. Urgent measures to curb violence against girls both at home and in schools were recommended.

South Africa: Women in dialogue


South African Women in Dialogue is taking the initiative of "bringing the ideas of African presidents" to the people as part of the African Union's Peer Review Mechanism, a self assessment process now underway in South Africa. The president of the Pan African Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, has asked First Lady, Zanele Mbeki, if she would assist in launching a formation similar to SAWID in other African countries.

Human rights

Africa: ICC poised to hear first cases


Following a referral by the UN Security Council in June 2005, the ICC Prosecutor launched an investigation into crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan. His report to the Security Council showed significant evidence of grave crimes. In October 2005, the ICC issued its first arrest warrants for five leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army – Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen – charging them with war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda, including rape and sexual enslavement. In November 2005, the Prosecutor announced that despite major challenges of logistics and security in the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), investigations have advanced and arrest warrants are expected in the near future. However, further progress is now threatened by the failure of the governments of Sudan, Uganda and DRC, and of the African Union, to ensure full cooperation with the ICC, says Amnesty International.

Cameroon: Row over 'gay' witchhunt


Cameroon's political and business elites have been rocked by a campaign by tabloid newspapers to "out" top personalities they say are homosexual. The newspaper editors say they are exposing people who engage in "deviant behaviour". Some 50 people have been named and the papers have sold out. Homosexual acts are banned in Cameroon, with up to five years in jail. But the campaign has been condemned by the state communication council for invading people's private lives. The council also challenged anyone who felt they had been libelled to take legal action. So far, none of those named has gone to the courts.

Ethiopia: Meles rejects abuse accusations


Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Wednesday (February 1) said rights groups' allegations of widespread abuse of political opponents had no basis in fact and were the result of "sloppy" reporting. London-based Amnesty International said earlier in the day that Ethiopia had arrested thousands of students from the Oromo ethnic group in a crackdown following anti-government demonstrations since November over a disputed election. The whereabouts of many of the detainees were not known, the group said. "Some detainees have been released, but others are being held in locations where torture has frequently been reported," Amnesty added in an urgent appeal. But Meles, in an interview with Reuters, scoffed at the Amnesty report as based on second-hand, biased information.

Global: Local government and human rights


In 2002 the International Council on Human Rights Policy published a short report, 'Local Rule: Decentralisation and Human Rights', which mapped some of the potential human rights implications of decentralisation reforms. On one hand, reforms can enhance political participation, increase local autonomy, empower disadvantaged groups and lead to more accountable government. On the other, it can entrench the powers of local elites; weaken national institutions; exacerbate social division and provoke violence; deepen inequality; and cause regression of social and economic rights because of corruption, shortfalls in resources or discrimination and loss of economies of scale.

Global: Signs of hope, but more work to do


UNICEF today (February 6) applauded the women and men who are working together to end the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and to respect the right of girls to grow to womanhood without harm to their bodies. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in Egypt and Sudan a social movement is unfolding to end FGM/C, one of the most persistent, pervasive and silently endured human rights violations. Over the last six years, thousands of villages in West Africa have joined together in public pledging ceremonies to abandon FGM/C, bringing greater hopes of ending the practice globally within a single generation. “We stand at a pivotal moment in history as we work toward a truly positive collective change,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Monday, the fourth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation.

Global: UN calls for standards in new 45-nation rights body


Proposals for a long-awaited U.N. Human Rights Council call for 45 members and beefed up standards for any nation wanting a seat on the new body, according to a draft resolution circulated on Thursday (February 2). World leaders agreed at a U.N. summit in September to create a new body to replace the 53-member Geneva-based Human Rights Commission, known for giving seats to countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe and blocking criticism of rights abusers. The aim of the 191-member General Assembly is to approve the document by February 15 so that the new council, which will also sit in Geneva, is ready to take over from the commission that is to have its final session, beginning in mid-March, according to Reuters.

Global: United Nations Treaty on rights of disabled nears finish line


UN delegates drafting a treaty to protect the rights of the world's 600 million disabled have resolved many of their differences and are on track to complete the document in August, the diplomat leading the negotiations has said. ''It should be possible to conclude drafting at our next meeting in August,'' New Zealand Ambassador Don MacKay told a news conference after a three-week drafting session. ''We have made real progress and there are relatively few unresolved issues,'' he said. ''But it is more than just dotting the i's and crossing the t's.'' A UN committee that includes all 191 UN member-nations has been working since 2001 on a treaty to promote and protect the rights of the disabled.

Rwanda: Rwanda wins Congo Case in World Court


The International Court of Justice has ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to try Rwanda over human rights abuses, alleged plunder and illegal invasion of the DR Congo. Congo brought the charges against Rwanda in 2002. It accused Rwanda of armed aggression, mass slaughter, rape, arbitrary detentions, systematic looting and assassinations. The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, said as Rwanda had not accepted UN conventions against such crimes as torture and degrading behaviour, on which Congo based its case, it could not make a ruling.

South Africa: Eskom and the men with guns


Just days after Johannesburg mayor and ANC candidate - Amos Masondo - arrived in Pimville, Soweto, to ask residents for their votes, ESKOM, the state's corporatised electricity provider, returned to show the community exactly what they would be voting for. This time it was Trevor Ngwane's turn. Trevor, a well know campaigner against ANC neoliberal policies, lives in Pimville where, thanks to an illegal connection, he has enjoyed decommodified electricity for the last five years. In Trevor's words "when they cut us off we just reconnect ourselves". With less than a month to go before the election, ESKOM officials, accompanied by police visited Trevor. Prepped to cut his electricity, they began digging up the earth in front of his house, searching for the offending cable. The community would however have their say as well, and twice the ESKOM brigades were forced to flee and return with reinforcements.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: African transit migration through Libya to Europe


This report, by the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies Centre at the American University in Cairo, seeks to shed light on the experiences of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants temporarily residing in and passing through Libya en route to the EU. It also analyses the notion of protection for refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya both from a legal perspective and as understood by refugees and asylum-seekers themselves.

Central African Republic: Thousands of civilians flee as army fights bandits


At least 2,000 villagers in two provinces in the northwest of the Central African Republic are hiding in the bush without food while an equal number has fled to neighbouring Chad recently to avoid fighting between the army and bandits, local sources said. At the same time, humanitarian workers said on Friday displaced villagers in the provinces of Ouham and Ouham Pende were in dire need of relief aid as insecurity had prevented humanitarian agencies from providing help.

Egypt: Civil society remembers death of Sudanese, calls for enquiry


Civil society groups and members of the Sudanese community in Egypt held a ceremony on Tuesday commemorating refugees and asylum seekers killed in clashes with local police, following a sit-in protest in December 2005. In Muslim countries such as Egypt, wakes are traditionally held 40 days after a death has occurred. Late last year, Sudanese protesters staged a three-month-long sit-in demonstration in a public park in central Cairo. On the night of 29 December, however, Egyptian police staged a massive security operation to evacuate the site of the protest.

Ethiopia: Life-sustaining water project in Ethiopia will live on after refugees leave


Over the years, Somali refugees in the Kebribeyah Camp area of Ethiopia have gradually returned to their homeland, but a life-sustaining water system originally installed by the UN refugee agency will remain behind to ease the lives of both the last refugees and the local communities.

Sudan: First batch of Sudanese returnees arrive home


The first batch of 10,000 Sudanese refugees who have lived in the Central African Republic (CAR) for 16 years arrived home this week following a recent agreement between the two governments and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To ensure their successful reintegration into society on their return, NGOs are operating health programmes to treat endemic illnesses such guinea worm, leprosy and river blindness - all concerns among these communities as they return home. UNHCR, IOM and other organizations have implemented programmes that would provide assistance with water, health, education, food security and income generation.

Sudan: In Darfur, tiny steps toward policing a lawless land


At Kalma, the largest camp of displaced people in the area with a population pushing 100,000, local police officers are not allowed inside. After violent clashes broke out last year between camp dwellers and local government officials, the police moved their substation out of the camp to a patch of sand nearby. Resources are thinner for the Sudanese police force. Even those officers committed to policing frequently find it hard to do their jobs. Some police posts lack vehicles, while victims must sometimes provide their own pen and paper to fill out a report.

Sudan: The refugee voices of women in Kalma Camp, Darfur


Located 17 kilometers outside of Nyala, Kalma camp is also one of Darfur’s largest, with nearly 90,000 inhabitants. Most have lived there for nearly two years, fleeing the fighting between rebel groups and government-sponsored Janjaweed militias. There is no Sudanese government presence or police in Kalma camp. After the government police attempted to arrest one of the sheikhs, the angry population chased the police and the government camp managers out, burning down their offices. In retaliation, the Sudanese government has cracked down hard on Kalma, blocking all commercial trade to the camp for months. Recently, the African Union set up a police station inside the camp, bringing some modicum of security.

Elections & governance

DRC: Political parties brace for polls


At least five candidates have registered to contest the presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in elections set for April while about 300 political parties are expected to participate in the polls. As preparations for DRC's first democratic elections in over 40 years swing into gear, the country's interior ministry announced that it has so far registered some 300 political parties keen on taking part in the polls.

Nigeria: Assembly drops 3rd term option


The National Assembly Joint Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution succumbed yesterday (February 1) to massive public pressure and stepped down the controversial report recommending a third term for the President and governors. Moments before the committee’s resolution, the Northern Members Forum in the National Assembly had declared that it remained undaunted in its opposition to the plan, in spite of its endorsement by state governors at their Abuja meeting on Monday. After a charged meeting, the enlarged Mantu Committee resolved to adopt the 1999 Constitution as the working document during the proposed public hearing on the new Constitution.

Nigeria: United Nations and burden of reform


Nigeria deserves to become a permanent member of the Security Council, partly because of its outstanding record of contributing to international peacekeeping and also since it is "the largest black democracy in the world, which respects the tenets and principles of human rights of her citizens," Emmanuel Onwubiko, a commissioner on Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission, writes in the Daily Independent.

South Africa: Mbeki rules out third term


South African President Thabo Mbeki has ruled out staying in his post beyond the end of his second term in 2009. He said the governing ANC would not use its two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the constitution to allow a third presidential term. Formerly deputy president, Mr Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and was re-elected in 2004. Some ANC supporters have called for a debate on a constitutional change, promoting speculation over a third term. But in an interview with South African television, Mr Mbeki moved to crush such speculation.

Swaziland: No democracy allowed


"King Mswati's time is up," headlined South Africa's Sunday Times last month after arrests and reports of torture of banned opposition party members in Swaziland. But with inauguration of a new constitution entrenching the powers of the monarchy, the prospects for democracy in this small country neighboring South Africa do not seem promising. Despite popular discontent with the country's poverty, and the contrast with its ruler's lavish lifestyle, Swazis are reported to be afraid to speak out as well as preoccupied with immediate issues such as AIDS. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Amnesty International have condemned the stepped up repression, but there has been no public concern expressed by the South African government.

Tanzania: Kikwete rejects pay hike for MPs


The new administration in Tanzania has weathered its major political test after the Government declined to heed MPs' demand for higher salaries. The MPs were demanding salaries and other perks that would bring them at par with their counterparts' in other East African countries. Western envoys in Tanzania were reportedly relieved when the Government made its position on MPs' salaries public.

Uganda: Judge quits treason trial


The judge due to hear the treason trial of Uganda's opposition leader has withdrawn from the case, saying there was a perception he would be biased. Judge John Bosco Katutsi described the view as "absolute rubbish" but said a judge should be above suspicion. He said he had had sleepless nights and his health had suffered. He is the second judge to withdraw from a case concerning Kizza Besigye - expected to be the strongest challenger in elections due on 23 February.

Uganda: Two million have no voters' cards


At least two million registered voters are expected to turn up at polling stations without voters' cards, Daily Monitor has learnt. The Electoral Commission announced last week (February 2) that, due to delays in cleaning up the national voters' register, registered voters will be allowed to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections even if they do not have cards, as long as they can identify themselves. "People who registered in the recent update do not have cards and they are about two million," the EC Database Manager, Mr Pontius Namugera said in an interview. Namugera said the number is likely to be higher because the Commission has not distributed all the 8.5 million voters' cards it ordered.


Chad: Government and World Bank struggle to save face in oil row


The rhetoric may be flying, with outbursts over "a fool's agreement" and "neo-colonialist and imperialist behaviour," but most observers believe the oil row between the Chadian government and the World Bank will end in a face-saving compromise. The stand-off began in December when Chad's parliament passed an amendment to the law governing how oil revenues can be spent, prompting the World Bank to suspend $124 million in loans and cut the flow of petrodollars to the landlocked, impoverished country.

DRC: Groups question World Bank's role in troubled mine


World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who has sought to cast himself as a champion of transparency, is facing accusations that his office is suppressing a report on a Bank-backed mining project in Africa that allegedly contributed to the deaths of dozens of people. Watchdog groups say that violence has marred the Dikulushi Copper-Silver Mining Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the bank's guarantee arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), provided 13.3 million dollars of political risk insurance to the Australian company, Anvil Mining, running the mine.

Global: Wolfowitz 'to target corruption'


World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has sworn to crack down on corruption by governments and officials in developing world nations where the bank operates. He has also promised to examine any irregularities within the bank itself, vowing to tackle "difficult issues". Speaking to employees worldwide, Mr Wolfowitz said the bank had to move "more decisively and energetically".

Kenya: Law Society to sue key graft suspects


The Law Society of Kenya plans to sue those adversely mentioned in the Anglo Leasing and Goldenberg scandals. The Society's chairman said the organisation would start private proceedings against suspects in the two scandals once it has gathered enough evidence. In 1994, LSK sued individuals it believed had participated in the Goldenberg scandal.

Kenya: Mystery of mace sent to London for Sh2m polishing


The mace, the symbol of the Kenyan Parliament's authority, has been flown to London to be polished at a cost of about Ksh. 2 million (about $28,500), a local daily in Kenya has learnt. And the Criminal Investigations Department is now investigating the manner in which the mace left Parliament. An official who did not want to be named, said polishing the mace in London would cost the National Assembly Ksh. 2 million yet the same work could be done by a local goldsmith for about Ksh. 20,000 (about $285). The Parliamentary Service Commission, which authorises expenditure of more than Ksh. 1million was not aware of the development.

Senegal: Former prime minister freed after seven months behind bars


Former Senegalese prime minister, Idrissa Seck, was released from prison on Tuesday after more than seven months in detention on charges of corruption and threatening state security. An investigating panel of the Senegalese high court ordered the release after examining charges against the 46-year-old one-time top ally of President Abdoulaye Wade.

Tanzania: US gives Tanzania $11 million anti-corruption grant


Tanzania is to receive more than $11 million from the US for a multifaceted anti-corruption programme. The grant is part of a US aid initiative intended to reward and encourage economic, social and governance reforms in developing countries. The two-year, $11.1 million package is being awarded to Tanzania in response to the country's own proposals for fighting corruption.


East Africa: Treaty faces fresh hurdles


One year after the implementation of the East African Customs Union, its top decision making body has met only once. This has left an array of problems plaguing the economic bloc unresolved. The Council of Ministers has not met since June 2005 after it met in December 2004. The Customs Union came into effect on January 1, 2005.

Global: An aid institutions paradox?


Does foreign aid help develop public institutions and state capacity in developing countries? In this Working Paper, the authors suggest that despite recent calls for increased aid to poor countries by the international community, there may be an aid-institutions paradox. While donor intentions may be sincere, the authors conclude that it is possible that aid could undermine long-term institutional development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. By reviewing the evidence of the potentially negative effects of aid dependence on state institutions, the authors provide a thorough analysis of the institutional effects of aid.

Global: Corporate influence over WTO talks exposed in new report


Multinational companies have an undue influence over the making of global trade rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Big business lobbyists have privileged access to government policymakers and use it to push trade agreements that undermine the fight against poverty. This Action Aid report highlights many examples of privileged corporate access to, and excessive influence over, the WTO policy-making process. It argues that governments must take urgent action to curb corporate influence in the WTO and put the rights of poor people before the profits of multinationals in the current round of global trade talks.

Global: Meeting global water and sanitation goals


Globally, the lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities results in the deaths of 3,900 children daily. The importance of water and sanitation is recognised in the Millennium Development Goals. What will it take to expand water supply and sanitation coverage to the extent necessary to achieve them? How can water use be optimised to achieve the rest of the Goals? The Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation was created to advise on how Target 10 of the MDGs – halving the number of people without access to sustainable safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 – can be achieved.

Global: New white paper on international development


Building on the first two White Papers this new White Paper on International Development will set out what the UK government will do - in developing countries, in the UK and internationally to translate the promises of 2005 into better lives for poor people in poor countries. The new White Paper will focus on three central themes: what can we do to reduce poverty and deliver development more quickly; what policies are needed in the UK and internationally to create the conditions necessary for reducing poverty; how can the international development system be reformed so that it delivers better results for development, and be more responsive to the needs of poor people.

Mali: ‘Bamako Appeal’ promotes struggle against market-driven society


Globalization intellectuals and political activists, including Marxist economists and organizers, came together to meet on Jan. 18-19 in Bamako, Mali, just before the polycentric World Social Forum opened in this city. The gathering, which was not an official WSF activity but whose invitees also participated in many WSF discussions, issued a statement at the end of the meeting: the Bamako Appeal. The appeal involves promoting discussion and action on a series of points outlining major problems for humanity. These include the need to build a workers' united front and to struggle against imperialist domination and U.S. military hegemony; the problems of peasant societies under threat of destruction from subsidized competition; democratic management of media and cultural diversity; and the struggle against neoliberal and market-driven policies.

* To read the rest of this article visit

* To read the Bamako appeal, click on the link below.

Tanzania: General budget support speeds up national reform


Donors and recipient governments are increasingly preferring General Budget Support to other forms of aid: development aid delivered directly into national budgets. This now accounts for 20 to 40 percent of government aid in many African countries. The results for development and poverty reduction have been mixed.

Tanzania: UK gives $542m for poverty reduction


Britain will grant the Tanzanian government £310 million ($542.5 million) over the next three years for its poverty reduction programme. The grant will make Tanzania one of the biggest UK aid recipients in the world. Unlike in neighbouring East African countries, the money is direct government- to-government support and is meant to be spent on water, health and education projects. The new money follows an agreement between the Tanzanian government and donors on January 14 when the Partnership Framework Agreement was signed.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Urgent call for US initiative on health workforce in AIDS-impacted countries


The critical shortage of health care workers and weak health systems is the key bottleneck to scaling up access to AIDS treatment. While the needs of individual countries must be determined locally, experts estimate that sub-Saharan Africa needs at least 1 million new health workers to meet essential health needs. Sustained commitment and creative action are necessary to develop and support the health workforce needed to secure the right to health and achieve universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010, as well as other international health goals.

Chad: Worries about AIDS funding crunch after World Bank spat


Chad's fight against AIDS is set to be one of the main victims if a standoff between the government and the World Bank drags on, senior UN officials have warned. The World Bank recently suspended all its loans to the impoverished landlocked country because of a decision by President Idriss Deby to tamper with an agreement governing how revenues from its fledgling oil project can be spent.

Global: Access to sexual and reproductive health services key to MDGs


This fact sheet looks at the relationship between access to sexual and reproductive health services and five of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The authors argue that poor reproductive health is hindering countries' efforts to achieve the MDGs and that access to reproductive health services influences global security by helping to hasten the demographic transition.

Nigeria: First African case of bird flu in Northern Nigeria


An outbreak of the deadly avian flu has been confirmed in Nigeria, wiping out in one fell swoop over 46,000 poultry at a farm at Jaji, Kaduna, reports the Vanguard newspaper. The bird flu is caused by avian influenza viruses, which occur naturally among birds. The virus in humans results in serious illness that spreads easily  from person to person. Apart from the Sambawa Farms, some farms in Kano and Plateau States have also been quarantined by government for pathological tests in  search of a possible infection.

South Africa: Blood policy using race as a risk factor, says study


A South African policy that was in effect from 1999 to 2005 that used race as a donor-selection factor for donated blood significantly reduced levels of HIV-tainted blood in the national supply, according to a study published Feb. 1 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the AP/Washington Post reports.

Sudan: Hundreds in need of help as diarrhoea kills 12 in Yei


At least 12 people, two of them children, have died from an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea in the southern Sudanese town of Yei, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said. The outbreak, UNICEF said in a statement, was first reported on 4 February when three deaths occurred and 48 patients were admitted to local health facilities. The disease has left hundreds of people needing medical attention - about half of them children.

Sudan: Hundreds in need of help as diarrhoea kills 12 in Yei


At least 12 people, two of them children, have died from an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea in the southern Sudanese town of Yei, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said. The outbreak, UNICEF said in a statement on Monday, was first reported on 4 February when three deaths occurred and 48 patients were admitted to local health facilities.

Uganda now goes for Coartem as first line of Malaria treatment


Uganda's ministry of Health will in the first quarter of this year launch Coartem, a new drug for the treatment of malaria. The ministry realised that the efficacy of the current drugs in use was below the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The government has obtained financial assistance of $64 million for the next two years from the Global Fund for HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis to purchase the drug following failure in the current treatment regimes.

Uganda: A palliative care model for Africa


In Uganda a palliative care service has been successfully implemented in three districts with outreach to other parts of the country. The key to its success is that service is centered on the patient and focused on the quality of care rather than quantity. Hospice Africa Uganda's (HAU) palliative care service started in Kampala in 1993 with funds for a team of three over three months. The Government also allowed the importation of low cost powdered oral morphine.

Uganda: New committment needed in Aids fight


Uganda must make greater strides toward stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, AIDS Commission Director General David Kihumuro Apuuli said Monday when releasing Uganda's 2005 HIV/AIDS status survey, Uganda's New Vision reports. Apuuli, speaking at the fourth Annual Partnership Forum outside the capital city of Kampala, said the report shows that transmission rates are shifting from the youth to Ugandan adults ages 30 to 40, with current prevalence rates in that age group at 6.4%.


Africa: Boost for chemistry as new federation forms


An organisation promoting collaboration between African chemists will be launched on 23 February in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The Federation of African Societies of Chemistry will create a network of African chemists to encourage cooperation and help disseminate research results. It also aims to improve chemistry teaching, and raise public understanding of chemistry and its role in economic development. The federation's activities will include publishing a newsletter and organising workshops and scientific meetings, reports

Africa: Consortium for monitoring the quality of education


The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring the Quality of Education (SACMEQ) started ten years ago as an experimental research project of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). Today, it has grown into a respected inter-governmental agency that designs and implements research and training programmes across 14 counties reports the latest edition of IIEP's newsletter.

Egypt: Offer to host 500 African undergraduates


Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has unveiled plans to provide 500 university scholarships for students from other African nations over the next ten years. Foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit made the announcement on Mubarak's behalf at last week's African Union (AU) summit in Sudan. "The development of African societies should be based on an advanced and strong infrastructure of education, culture and scientific research systems in order to bridge the digital and scientific gaps [that are] steadily increasing between developing and developed countries," said the statement.

Eritrea: Teachers to get interactive pedagogy training


UNESCO is supporting an innovative teacher training initiative that is expected to improve the quality of instruction and learning in schools across Eritrea by training teachers on learner-centred interactive pedagogy. Teachers will learn new methodologies and how to apply them in classroom settings, even where class sizes are large.

Global: Education for nomadic and pastoralist girls and boys


This paper illustrates the challenges involved in providing good-quality gender-equitable education for children of nomadic and pastoralist households who are beyond the reach of mainstream, formal education. Some of the key issues highlighted in the paper include the limited, and failed, provision of static schooling, or projects which have focused on getting nomadic boys and girls to adapt to the formal system.

Kenya: Free primary education having negative impact on early childhood development


Free Primary Education was introduced in Kenya in 2003, enabling 1.3 million poor children to obtain schooling for the first time. However, a UNESCO/OECD Early Childhood Policy Review Mission noted that the policy had a negative impact on early childhood development centres serving poor children. The main reason for this phenomenon is that poor parents are now keeping their children at home until they reach the age of primary school. They refuse to pay for early childhood education on the grounds that this, like primary education, should also be free.

South Africa: Crisis at the University of KwaZulu Natal


“In most countries, university communities can be viewed as social barometers: academics and students can respond more freely and idealistically to external events than can people in the outside world whose lives are more constrained. Thus, during the apartheid years, universities were in the vanguard of change, being centres of political protest and seeking ways of throwing off the yoke of oppression,” says this commentary about the current staff crisis at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “The fact is,” the commentary goes on to say, “that at the University of KwaZulu-Natal at least, academic freedom appears to be shrinking rather than growing, and oppression is believed to have returned with a vengeance - the grim irony being that this now appears to be coming, not from outside, but from within the institution itself.”

South Africa: School fees costing many an education


South African families say school fees often are unaffordable and are robbing their children of an education, even though national laws there expressly guarantee free schooling for impoverished youths. UNICEF, the World Bank and other rights groups are encouraging officials there and in other African countries to provide universal free education, denied most frequently to girls.

Tanzania: Zanzibar parliament endorses new education policy


Members of the House of Representatives of the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar have endorsed a new education policy intended to make major reforms, including allowing students who fall pregnant to resume their studies after giving birth. For more than 20 years, pregnant Zanzibari girls were forced to leave school permanently. Until the repeal of a law in 2005, they could even be imprisoned.

Racism & xenophobia

Russia: African killed in street attack


A man from Mali was stabbed to death early Sunday (February 5), the head of an organization for Africans in the city said. Aliu Tunkara, president of African Unity in St. Petersburg, said the victim had graduated from a medical school in St. Petersburg nine years ago but was jobless and had been living on the street. Tunkara said police told him the man was found dead, but the RIA-Novosti news agency, also citing police, said he died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. St. Petersburg has seen numerous racially motivated attacks in recent months. A student from Cameroon was stabbed to death in St. Petersburg in December, and a Congolese student was killed in the city in September.


Africa: 'Biopiracy' debate heats up


The debate is intensifying over how local communities should share the benefits of research based on Africa's biodiversity while protecting the intellectual property rights of the researchers involved. As the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meets in Spain this week (February 2) for international negotiations on this and other issues, some environmental groups say it should declare a moratorium on foreign researchers using biological resources until it can sort out rules on how benefits can be shared fairly, according to SciDev.

Africa: SADC hopeful to obtain hydropower plant


Several countries in the Southern African region, have jointly initiated a massive hydropower plant, that will have the capacity and potential to generate power for the entire African continent, with the possible exportation of the surplus to Europe. The Inga project estimated to cost $7bn is aimed at addressing the looming energy shortages in the region, but it will also bring huge socio-economic benefits, to the five countries involved.

Ghana: World Bank unit OKs mine investment


The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private-sector lending arm, on Tuesday (January 31) approved $125 million in loans for gold major Newmont Mining Corp.'s Ahafo project in Ghana, but not all countries on the IFC's 24-member board agreed it was a good move, reports Reuters. Board officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said three countries abstained and one objected during discussions on the project, amid concerns about the environmental impact and resettlement of families that were living on the mine's site.

Kenya: New report warns of water catastrophe


Kenya's Ministry of Water and Irrigation has warned of a severe water shortage in the region unless the existing sources are protected. In a report entitled "The Draft National Water Resources Management Strategy, 2005-2007," the ministry gives a damning indictment of the management of Kenya's natural environment and its accompanying water resources over the past 30 years.

South Africa: Damned from the start


Different arms of the government are at one another's throats over a proposed 21-storey dam on a major river that passes through the Kruger National Park and feeds Mozambique. South African National Parks (SANParks) has threatened legal action against its principal, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, according to the Mail and Guardian.

South Africa: GM debate fought on cotton fields of KZN


Taking a break from spraying his neat, one-hectare plot of young cotton plants with herbicide, Moses Mabika surveys the land that has been supporting his family for 45 years. He may not realise it, but he is standing at the epicenter of a heated debate about growing genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa. Mabika is among more than 2,000 smallholder farmers in this semi-arid area of northeastern KwaZulu-Natal province known as Makhathini Flats, who began growing GM cotton in 1999.

Tanzania: Drought leaves country short on juice


Tanzania has been forced to introduce daytime power cuts because a drought has severely reduced the amount of electricity being supplied to the national grid, the country's energy minister said on Thursday (February 2). The water level at the Mtera dam has fallen so low that hydroelectric power can no longer be generated there, the Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Ibrahim Msabah, announced. Other power stations are producing well below capacity. "From this situation we have been obliged to start limited load sharing in the whole of the country for at least eight hours," Msabah said.

Tanzania: Move to save forests angers loggers


Some 26 logging firms in East Africa say they stand to lose more than $ 4.6 million as well as their markets in Europe, Asia and America, following the Tanzania government's decision to ban exports of logs and sandalwood. It is estimated that the country loses between 130,000 hectares and 500,000 hectares of forest a year. Of that, 91,000 hectares are illegally felled. Human activities, population growth and poverty also reduce forest coverage by hundreds of thousands of hectares every year.

Uganda: Drought-hit Lake Victoria takes toll on fish


Five years ago when Lake Victoria water levels started to fall, nobody thought it would turn out into a national crisis. Even as the fishermen, whose livelihood is wholly dependent on the water, raised an alarm, few expected the current outcry on power outages, rationed water supply and international environmental crisis threatening the livelihoods of over 30 million people.

Land & land rights

South Africa: Government to speed up farmland purchase


South Africa is to press ahead with the compulsory purchase of land from white farmers, a senior official has said. The move is intended to speed up the restoration of ancestral property to those who lost it under apartheid. The government previously bought land at market rates for redistribution, but has been criticised for being too slow in its efforts to redistribute land. Compulsory purchase will now come into effect in cases where the government and the seller cannot agree on a price.

Media & freedom of expression

DRC: Newspaper director incarcerated for 10 days in Kinshasa


Jean-Louis Ngalamulume, editor-in-chief of the Kinshasa-based newspaper "L'Eclaireur", has been imprisoned at the capital city's Penitentiary and Reeducation Centre (Centre pénitentiaire et de rééducation de Kinshasa, CPRK) since 31 January 2006. The journalist stands accused of "public injury" towards Denis Kisalambote, a land holder in Mount Amba (located on the east side of the city). The journalist was stopped on 27 January at approximately 2:00 p.m. (local time) by M. Kinuani, an officer of the judicial police force, who then drove him to the Kin-Mazière police station. In a verbal hearing, Ngalamulume was questioned regarding an article that appeared in the 11 January edition of his newspaper (issue 56), within which M. Kisalambote was described as being "incompetent" and "tribalist".

Global: Citizen journalism tends to be shallow and middle-class


Johncom’s new website — — highlights the potential and limitations of the new craze for citizen journalism, begins this column posted on and written by journalism professor Anton Harber. "Think of the potential problems. How do you verify stories e-mailed into you? How do you prevent commercial interests from placing their public relations material? Or planting stories for fun or to harm their competition?"

Sierra Leone: Prosecutor won't pursue manslaughter charge in journalist's death


Sierra Leone's attorney general has confirmed that he will not pursue charges of manslaughter against a member of parliament and two others accused of assaulting journalist Harry Yansaneh in May 2005. At the time, Yansaneh was acting editor of the private newspaper For Di People. A judicial inquest found that the attack contributed to Yansaneh's death from kidney failure more than two months later.

South Africa: Newspaper group apologises for causing offence to Muslims


Independent Newspapers has offered to publish an apology for any offence a weekend article might have caused to Muslims, already in an uproar about a Danish-penned cartoon lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, according to a report on and as reported on Chris Whitfield, editor of the Cape Times and a member of an Independent Group newspaper delegation, said: "(The) decision to apologise by Cape Argus was an acknowledgement of an error in judgement." The delegation met the Muslim Judicial Council on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe: Taxi tunes


Produced by Radio Dialogue, Taxi Tunes is a series of radio cassettes aimed at educating the people of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on various issues that affect them, including health, sexuality, environmental responsibility, and governance issues. Through distribution to drivers of kombis (taxis), Taxi Tunes are designed to prompt changes in attitudes among Zimbabweans, particularly young people.

News from the diaspora

Haiti: People defy fears, chaos in vote for democracy


Haitians put aside fears of violence and voted by candlelight into the night on Tuesday (February 7) in the first presidential election since Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled two years ago. Three people died, including a policeman lynched by a mob, and voting began more than three hours late in many areas, infuriating poor supporters of former President Rene Preval, a one-time Aristide ally favored to win. But with U.N. peacekeepers keeping watch, polling stations stayed open several hours after the official 4 p.m. (2100 GMT) closing time so everyone still in line could vote.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: McNamara, arms sales must end


Halting arms sales to Africa would help address the continent's poverty more than charity or debt relief, said Dennis McNamara, special United Nations adviser on internal displacement. Gun imports from the West facilitate African conflicts that foster homelessness and expose Africans to war crimes, hunger, disease and rape, McNamara said.

Côte d'Ivoire: UN SC authorizes transfer of UN troops from Liberia


Expressing “serious concern” at the volatile situation in Côte d’Ivoire, where United Nations offices were looted and destroyed last month, the Security Council today (February 6) authorised extra troops to boost the strength of the UN peacekeeping mission in the West African nation. Reacting to Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s calls last week for more military personnel, the Council unanimously agreed to a temporary redeployment of troops from the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL), but the numbers fell short of Mr. Annan’s request for an infantry battalion and a police unit.

Darfur: US faces moment of truth


The Bush Administration will face a unique opportunity in February to end the genocide in Darfur when the United States takes over the presidency of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. With this responsibility comes a chance to take an action that can save hundreds of thousands of lives and restore security to western Sudan. As the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, the US leadership at the UN next month can achieve protection for the people of Darfur and affirm a commitment to stopping this first genocide of the 21st century.

East Africa: Millions facing critical food shortages


An estimated 11 million people in East and the Horn of Africa continue to face critical food shortages brought on by drought and non-natural factors, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has said. "African agriculture appears to be in crisis, and the compounding effect of years of wars, uprising or coups, and civil strife are responsible for causing more hunger than the range of natural problems alone," according to the agency's latest bulletin.
Related Link:
* Africa's food crisis - a systemic crisis

Global: Cartoon crisis - sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind


Last week, the growing turbulence in the Middle East came to a head as protests erupted over the publication of some cartoons picturing a caricature of the prophet Mohammed. The protests soon spread around the world. "It would be tempting to look for an explanation to these events in a single issue, in this case the publication of a drawing showing Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb or portraying him holding a sword, his eyes covered by a black rectangle. We should note, however, that the riots erupted five months after the actual publication in a Danish right wing newspaper which printed twelve caricatures of Mohammed back in September last year," notes this commentary posted on the website of the Centre for Civil Society at the university of KwaZulu-Natal.
Related Links
* Niger: Thousands protest caricature of Prophet Muhammad
* Somalia: Violent protests against Prophet Muhammad cartoons

Kenya: Drought 'worsens conflict'


The drought in northern Kenya is increasing conflict between the area's nomadic groups, as they travel further to find scarce pasture, according to a development organization. "It's not just the food crisis that is claiming lives," said Oxfam Kenya head Gezahegn Kebede, warning of further deadly clashes unless more aid arrives. The nomadic groups of northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia, parts of Sudan and Somalia have a history of fighting over livestock and pasture but Oxfam says the drought is increasing tensions.

Sierra Leone: Special court prosecutor welcomes decison to try Taylor


Special Court Prosecutor Desmond de Silva QC has welcomed a resolution adopted unanimously by Sierra Leone’s Parliament on Wednesday urging the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Sudan: New attacks in Chad documented


Militias based in Darfur are launching cross-border raids on villages in Chad on an almost daily basis, killing civilians, burning villages, and stealing cattle in a pattern of attacks that show signs of ethnic bias, according to Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch researchers documented numerous cross-border attacks on Chadian villages along the border between Adré, Adé, and Modoyna in eastern Chad since early December 2005. Most of the attacks were by Sudanese and Chadian militiamen from Darfur, some with apparent Sudanese government backing, including helicopter gunship support.

Sudan: The decades-long scramble for Southern Sudan's oil riches


Exploration and development of oil resources in Sudan has all along been controversial. International human rights organisations have accused the Sudanese government of financing human rights abuses with oil revenues, including the mass displacement of civilians near the oil fields. Oil exploration in Sudan began in the late 1950s and was originally concentrated on the Red Sea continental shelf.

Internet & technology

Africa: Google picks Shuttleworth's Ubuntu


Software developed by a company founded by South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth has been installed by Google, the world's most-used search engine. Despite such a prominent endorsement, Shuttleworth will not be making any money: the software is free to use. Since selling his internet company to Verisign for US$575m in 2000, Shuttleworth has become a champion of open source, the free-to-use, free-to-alter software that challenges costly brand-name products.

Africa: Wireless networks for Africa


Wireless networking holds huge potential for developing nations to overcome their communication infrastructure challenges. But, without access to good information, building reliable wireless networks in often hostile conditions and without resources can be all but impossible. Now a new, free manual focused on assisting developing-nation wireless practitioners hopes to overcome some of these challenges and limitations.

West Africa: Sonatel and Gamtel heading towards 'Triple-play implementation'


Faced with impending competition, both Senegal and Gambia's incumbents are preparing the ground for "triple-play" (voice, Internet and "television") services. The sceptics will wonder whether "triple-play" in Gambia is not simply some far-fetched strategic "pipe-dream". But it has a stronger logic than might at first appear to be the case.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Global: CRIN launches new website


The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) has launched its new website. The website has been redesigned to offer more features and interactive tools, with easy navigation, highlighting latest information added to the site, and using new technology, such as RSS feeds. You can subscribe to our email lists or CRINMAIL on the website and browse for past issues here:

Global: International Aid Report


International Aid Report will become your first port of call when you need a comprehensive analysis of trends and key developments in this sector. Articles on a wide range of themes will give you an informal, critical and challenging perspective on the key issues affecting donors, implementers and recipients of aid. Bilateral / Multilateral donors and private foundations will use it to help set priorities and guidelines for their funding decisions. NGO's will stay aware of where donors are spending their money and any shifts in spending patterns. This will help to not only secure funding but also to understand the changing priorities of donor funding.

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: Capacity building for the forum for agricultural research in Africa (FARA)


This project is designed to support the growth of an organisation that uses communication and advocacy approaches to act as a liaison between international agricultural research organisations, such as the Global Forum for Agricultural Research, and African national and sub-regional organisations. FARA, that is, plays a role as a catalyst in bringing together the various stakeholders (research institutions, research systems, non-governmental organisations, donors, farmers, and private firms) and encouraging them to negotiate and cooperate on agricultural research issues of mutual interest.

East Africa: Fellowship Announcement and Call for Proposals - 2nd Round of G&D-Rockefeller Fellowships


The CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program (G&D) is pleased to invite applications from qualified women scientists in East Africa for a two-year fellowship. With generous support from The Rockefeller Foundation, these fellowships are open to women scientists from national agricultural research institutes (NARIs) and universities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania working in crop sciences. The overall goal is to increase women's skills, visibility and contributions to science and development.

Global: Cutting edge packs on gender issues


Written and produced in collaboration with partners, Cutting Edge Packs from Bridge provide accessible overviews of the latest thinking on a gender theme and summaries of the most useful resources. Each pack includes an Overview Report, a Supporting Resources Collection and a copy of Gender and Development In Brief.

Global: Fellowship – Special Youth Program



UNFPA is currently receiving applications for its Special Youth Programme for 2006. This programme seeks to recruit young people aged 20-24 from developing countries with some programme experience in development issues to join UNFPA for a 9-month remunerated fellowship.

Global: Funders Network on Trade and Globalization


The mission of the Funders Network on Trade and Globalization is to support foundations and other members of the funding community in their efforts to promote global relations, policies and institutions that foster environmentally sustainable, human-centered and just economic development in the US and around the world. FNTG is for grantmakers who care about human rights, democracy, peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

Global: Toolkit for researchers and practitioners who wish to communicate to policymakers


The tools in this kit are specifically geared towards the needs of researchers and practitioners in civil society organisations (CSOs), including development NGOs, research institutes, think tanks, universities and networks. The toolkit addresses the questions of how researchers and CSOs can best communicate evidence in order to inform or influence policy, to achieve their own stated development objectives, or simply to make their own knowledge accessible and understandable to a wider audience.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Senegal: Codesria democratic governance institute

Call for Applications for the 2006 Session


The CODESRIA Democratic Governance Institute is an interdisciplinary forum which brings together African scholars working on topics related to the broad theme of governance. The aim of the Institute is to promote research and debates on issues connected to the conduct of public affairs and the management of the general development process in Africa. The Institute was launched in 1992 and has been held every year since then in broad collaboration with the Cheikh Anta DiopUniversity, Dakar, Senegal.

Senegal: Codesria institute on health, politics and society

Call for Applications for the 2006 Session


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) was established in 1973 as an initiative of African scholars for the promotion of multidisciplinary research that extends the frontiers of knowledge production in and about Africa, and also responds to the challenges of African development. Within the broad framework of the mandate defined for the Council in its Charter, various research and training programmes have been developed over the years for the purpose both of mobilising the African research community and responding to its needs. The Council also has a robust publications programme which has earned it a reputation as one of the leading scholarly publishers in Africa.

Sudan: Media and building diversity and democratic culture


The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) is organising a training workshop, entitled "Media and Building Diversity and Democratic Culture in Sudan." The training will be held in Khartoum in the period from 5th to 11th of February 2006. It is organized in cooperation with the Sudanese Radio and Television Association and supported by the European Commission, with the participation of approximately 35 journalists working in the Sudanese Radio and television. A group of media and Human Rights experts from Sudan, Egypt and Canada will participate in the workshop.

UK: Oxford hosts media lawyers training seminar


Lawyers who advocate on free expression and media freedom issues anywhere in the world are encouraged to apply for the 5th Media Law Advocates Training Programme, an intensive three-week seminar which aims to build skills and knowledge in litigation and advocacy. Taking place from 9-28 July 2006, the programme is hosted by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University, in collaboration with the Open Society Justice Initiative and other organisations. Email: [email protected]


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