Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!

Fahamu Bulletin Archive

About our Programmes

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.


This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Back Issues

Pambazuka News 243: Uganda - From no party to multi-party

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.

To view online, go to
Want to get off our subscriber list? Write to [email protected] and your address will be removed

CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. African Union Monitor, 10. Women & gender, 11. Human rights, 12. Refugees & forced migration, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. Racism & xenophobia, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Support the struggle for social justice in Africa. Give generously!

Donate at:

Highlights from this issue

Featured this week


EDITORIAL: It’s make or break time for Ugandans as they go to the polls February 23. Charles Onyango-Obbo surveys the landscape
- What impact has Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission had on healing the country? A new report examines the issues
- Richard Kamidza writes about how the poor are excluded from trade agreements like Economic Partnership Agreements
- Black History Month in the US must evolve to consider a broader Pan-African historical context, argues Netfa Freeman
- South African local government elections are due next week
LETTERS: Readers tackle Kenya’s campaign against corruption
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: The Ugandan elections are either the end or the beginning of the end for Yoweri Museveni, writes Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
BLOGGING AFRICA: Bloggers on the Ugandan elections, drought in East Africa and more
BOOKS AND ARTS: Nairobi’s first poetry slam takes off
CONFLICTS AND EMERGENCIES: Latest news on DRC, Sudan, Nigeria
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Remittances dwarf aid and investment in Kenya
WOMEN AND GENDER: New pressure needed to scrap gender-biased laws
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: All the news from Uganda
DEVELOPMENT: Questioning the links between economic growth and poverty reduction
CORRUPTION: Rights body honours 'Whistleblower' Githongo
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: A global campaign for the right to health
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: Citizenship and xenophobia in Southern Africa
ENVIRONMENT: Citizens space for democratic deliberation on GMOs
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Ugandan elections website blocked
ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNS: Stop forced evictions in Angola
PLUS…Internet and technology; e-newsletters; fundraising and useful resources; courses; jobs.

* Can trade in the era of globalisation be 'just'? Read our issue on the subject and send your feedback to [email protected]

* 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.


Come to an exclusive preview of this year’s most critically-acclaimed film, Tsotsi, in the Magdalen College Auditorium (Longwall St entrance) in Oxford at 8.00pm on Friday 10 March, a week before the film goes on general release across the UK on 17 March.

Set amidst the sprawling, crime-ridden streets of Johannesburg - where survival is the primary objective - this award-winning film traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader, who ends up caring for a baby he accidentally kidnaps during a car-jacking. With the baby’s welfare at stake, he is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions, if he ever wishes to find redemption in his life.

Nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two BAFTA Awards, Tsotsi is an epic and uplifting drama about the ultimate triumph of love over rage.

Tsotsi is in cinemas nationwide from 17 March (certificate 15). For more information, go to

In addition to its Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe nominations, Tsotsi has already won numerous awards including: Audience Award, LA Art Film Festival; People’s Choice Award, Toronto International Film Festival; Audience Award, Edinburgh International Film Festival; Audience Award, Denver International Film Festival; Greek Parliament Award, Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Screening takes place on Friday 10th March at 8pm
At Magdalen College Auditorium (Longwall St entrance), Oxford
Entry £5 (£3 concessions)
Proceeds to Fahamu’s programme in South Africa

Email [email protected] with the names of the countries that by 12 February 2006 had ratified the African Union's Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Closing date 6 March at 0900 hrs GMT. The first 10 correct entries picked out of a hat will each receive a free ticket.


From no party to multi-party: Can Yoweri Museveni be beaten?

Charles Onyango-Obbo


It’s make or break time for Ugandans as they go to the polls February 23 following a bitterly fought campaign between long-time president Yoweri Museveni and his rival Kizza Besigye. Onyango Obbo, a columnist with the East African Newspaper, argues that it’s the first time the opposition feel that Museveni can be beaten. These elections, they say, present the last opportunity to choose the democratic option.

Comment & analysis

Searching for truth and reconciliation in Sierra Leone

Report by the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission Working Group


The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission Working Group has released an initial study of the performance and impact of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in that country. The objective of the study is to open up debate that will lead to an independent evaluation of the performance and impact of the TRC in Sierra Leone. Key issues that the report addresses includes the role of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the appointment and role of Commissioners, the issue of local ownership and participation and the role of International NGOs.

Economic Poverty Agreements: How the poor are excluded from trade negotiations

Richard Kamidza


On paper, negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) allow for the involvement of a range of organisations that should to some extent ensure the voice of the poor are heard in the construction of the agreements. Richard Kamidza outlines how in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) the reality is far different. The process of negotiations has deliberately excluded the poorest in Africa though their structure, complexity and a general lack of political will to be inclusive. “Surely poor constituencies cannot dream for a positive EPA when the process totally excludes them,” writes Kamidza.

From Negro History Week to Pan-African Historical Context

Netfa Freeman


Netfa Freeman, director of the Social Action and Leadership School for Activists in Washington, reflects on the annual Black History Month held in the US during February, criticizing how it has become commercialized and arguing for Black History Month to evolve so that it considers a broader Pan-African historical context. “…African people need to develop institutions for coordinating our political activities internationally; to generate faith and unconditional support for these activities; take control of information about our history and current geo-political events.”

South African local elections: Facing up to the pressure from below

Patrick Burnett


Last week, the South African defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota took final delivery of the SAS Amatola, a R1,5-billion, 36 000 ton, 121 metre long warship complete with biological and chemical defense mechanisms, automated damage control and armour protection. The state-of-the-art Amatola is the first of four corvettes to be fully completed and is currently docked at the military harbour in the picturesque naval town of Simon’s Town near Cape Town.

The mountain peaks above Simon’s Town provide the best view of the four warships moored in the harbour below and while this may seem like an odd place to begin a discussion about South Africa’s March 1 local government elections, the ships speak to a number of issues that are relevant to the vote for 9 000 councilors in 284 South African city, town and district councils.

Amidst much criticism that the money could have been better spent on services delivery, the purchase of the corvettes formed part of a multi-billion rand arms deal which also included a shopping list of 30 helicopters, 24 Hawk fighter trainers and 28 Gripen light fighter aircraft. It was with the corvettes that the controversy over the arms deal started, with contractor Richard Young alleging a conflict of interest involving the government's former acquisitions chief, "Chippy" Shaik. Schabir Shaik, brother of “Chippy”, was a shareholder in the Thomson Group and African Defence Systems, which were awarded the contract to provide combat technology for the four corvettes. Schabir Shaik was found guilty in 2005 on two charges of corruption and one of fraud, and sentenced to an effective 15 years' imprisonment. His appeal will be heard later this year. But it was Judge Hilary Squire’s assertion in that case that Shaik had enjoyed a “generally corrupt” relationship with former deputy president Jacob Zuma that rocked politics in South Africa to its foundations.

As a result of the outcome of the Shaik trial, Zuma was fired by president Thabo Mbeki and now faces court later in the year on corruption charges. The charges have been characterized by Zuma’s camp as an attempt to eliminate him from the race for the presidency in 2009 elections. Zuma also faces a March trial in connection with the alleged rape of a 31-year old Aids activist. The events have pitted factions in support of Zuma against those of Mbeki and further strained the relationship between the ANC and its alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

So when you’re looking down on the four corvettes in Simon’s Town harbour its impossible to divorce them from South Africa’s wider political reality. There’s no doubt that the arms deal has been part of a defining period that will resonate far into the future. For this reason, local government elections, taking place in an atmosphere of heightened national political tension, seem far more significant this time around than when they were last held in 2000.

Simon’s Town and the resident corvettes are linked to the rest of South Africa in other ways. The town forms part of a string of coastal villages along the False Bay coast that since 2000 have seen a doubling and in some cases even a trebling of property prices. The coastal enclaves that hug the mountains have become the home of a mix of foreign property owners, old and new money, all attracted by the beauty of the False Bay coast and the massive returns offered by a lucrative property portfolio.

Yet alongside this boom are communities that the wealth windfall has bypassed completely. Just over the hill from Simon’s Town harbour is the shack settlement of Red Hill, where high unemployment rates, poor housing and lack of services are common problems. A few valleys and mountains from Red Hill is Ocean View, where the apartheid government dumped the original inhabitants of places like Simon’s Town under its forced removals policy and where unemployment, gangsterism and drugs are rife. And a few kilometers from Ocean View is Masiphumelele, where unemployment and lack of housing are common problems.

These communities, segregated by high walls, electric fences and an enormous privatized security industry from properties literally next door to them that sell for millions of rands, mirror the broader South African picture that shows a widening gap between rich and poor, a gap already large as a result of apartheid but compounded by market friendly economic policies which have favoured those who are able to access resources.

It’s in communities like Ocean View and Masiphumelele where a new flank has opened up in the South African political story. In May last year, Ocean View erupted in protest over housing shortages and poor services. Protests in Masiphumelele over education led to clashes with the police. These small, localized protests have sprung up in towns across South Africa, peaking across the country in a 2005 “winter of discontent” and simmering ever since. Although the causes of these protests have been diverse and sometimes rooted in local politics, a common characteristic has been that they have all included an element of protest against a lack of government delivery in the area of housing, electricity, water or sanitation.

As the local government elections near, the media has sometimes used these protests as evidence that the ANC is going to be punished at the polls through low voter turn out, even if victory is assured (Only 48% turned out in 2000). This may still turn out to be the case in some areas, but there are also indications that the equation might not be so simple. A recent ACNielsen survey, for example, shows that support for the ANC does not dissipate in correlation with support of protests. Factors such as loyalty to the ANC exists together with support of protest.

This suggests that the protests could oddly assist the ANC, something a recent Markinor poll published by the Sunday Times newspaper pointed out. Protests had raised awareness in some municipalities and would increase voter turn out. In this sense the protests could assist the ANC not only by getting voters to the polls, but by pressurizing councilors to get on with the job of delivering services. This line of argument, however, only holds for so long as the ANC can maintain some kind of control over the protests. Arguably, events of the last week, where Lekota, a senior ANC figure and defence minister, was chased out of the town of Khutsong and prevented from addressing a rally, is not an example that the ANC leadership in Pretoria would want to encourage.

But what these community actions have done is to raise the profile of issues of delivery at the local government level, even though the voices of those protesting seem to have been sidelined from the mainstream political debate, characterized by reports which show the protestors as violent even when the police fired on them first, or by a lack of voices articulating the concerns of communities beyond the initial sound bites in media coverage of protest action.

Why has there been an apparent short out at local government level? The reasons advanced are many. Massive apartheid era backlogs at local government level meant that the process of service delivery started out on the back foot. The ANC top guard, typified by President Thabo Mbeki’s remote style of leadership and centralization of power, has detached itself from the hurly burly of service delivery. Bruising battles within the ANC for control of the organisation have detracted attention from grassroots delivery. Local councilors, faced with massive backlogs and little capacity, have simply buckled under the pressure. Widespread corruption based on power and patronage has permeated the local government level. The Growth Economic and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy, the unilaterally adopted market-focused growth path adopted by the ANC in 1996, limited the amount of money that could be invested in social development projects, boosting the rich to be even richer, but leaving the poor behind.

Which ever or all of those reasons you choose it’s clear that the ANC has an ever-increasing workload if it is to meet its service delivery commitments. As long as this situation is allowed to continue, the pressure from below is likely to increase rather than decrease, no matter what the result of voting next week.

* Patrick Burnett is online news editor, Pambazuka News

* Please send comments to [email protected]

Advocacy & campaigns

Angola: Stop forced evictions!


Since July 2005, hundreds of families have been made homeless after being forcibly evicted from their homes in several neighbourhoods in Luanda, the capital. Their homes were demolished and other property was either destroyed or stolen by the police and municipal fiscal agents that carried out the forced evictions. Most of the forced evictions were carried out violently. Forced evictions - those which are not carried out in accordance with the law – are human rights violations clearly prohibited by international law. They almost invariably affect the poor and most vulnerable members of society; they increase social inequality and poverty and frequently give rise to social conflict. Yet, the Angolan government continues to forcibly evict people from their homes.

Global: Homeless World Cup


By highlighting the positive power of sport, The Homeless World Cup seeks to inspire and address homeless people and people in poverty around the world through in-person sporting events, a website, and mass media coverage. An annual street soccer (football) tournament unites teams of homeless people around the world; the goal is to raise awareness about their experiences, generate a sense of community strength, and foster a new social impact for a marginalised group. The 2006 competition (Sept. 21-30, Cape Town, South Africa) is expected to involve 45 teams with players from 35 countries, at least 50,000 spectators, and global media coverage.

Global: International Mother Language day


The world's nearly 6,000 languages will be celebrated on International Mother Language Day, an event aimed at promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education. Ensuring that these languages can continue in use alongside the major international languages of communication is a genuine challenge to countries worldwide. Today, about half of the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world are under threat. This year's theme will be devoted to the topic of languages and cyberspace, reports UNESCO.

Global: Small Arms Campaign - 100 Day Countdown


The Control Arms campaign is launching the '100 Day Countdown' on 16 March 2006. The 100 Day Countdown is a critical period to increase campaigning activities and heighten media attention in the run-up to the UN Review Conference (RevCon) on small arms. The 100 Day Countdown is a concerted final push of campaigning at the national level before the international culmination of campaigning activities in June/July 2006 at the RevCon in New York when the Million Faces Petition will be delivered. The events taking place around the world during the 100 Days will have some common objectives, and will ultimately highlight the global problem of gun violence. This year, the Global Week of Action Against Small Arms will take place within the 100 Day Countdown.

Pan-African Postcard

Uganda under Museveni: The end or the beginning of the end?


Whatever the outcome of the Ugandan elections, writes Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, Uganda can never be the same again. The era of deepening multiparty democracy beckons and for President Yoweri Museveni it is either the end (if they lose) or the beginning of the end (when they win).

Books & arts

Kenya: Hungry for live poetry - Nairobi’s first poetry slam


The question is so blunt and large, I don't know what to reply. But there's a mic in my face, a TV camera running, a journalist from Citizen TV waiting for my response. We're on the staircase leading up to Nairobi's Club Soundd. Above us, the final open mic poets are sharing their work in a space crammed with 300 people. The air crackles with the electricity of Nairobi's just-concluded first-ever poetry slam.

I say: "We just saw, upstairs, in the last 2 hours, what poetry can do. Poetry lets us see and feel what we numb ourselves against in everyday life. The full spectrum of being human – from ecstatic joy to burning rage to acute grief. Poetry allows us to break silence around what scares us most – whether it's HIV, or poverty, or political repression, or being left by our lover. Poetry moves us from paralysis into action. Poetry connects us to each other, invites us into each other's reality, makes us larger, more alive, in the world."

Club Soundd is one of Nairobi's newer bar/restaurant/nightclub venues, opened six months ago by Luai, charming entrepreneur of Lebanese heritage. His dream is to create a space that nurtures arts and culture, while it draws people in to kick back with a beer in front of the large-screen TVs. He generously hosts the monthly open mic readings of Kwani, Nairobi's explosive literary organization, and hangs the red walls with original work from local artists. On the TV screens tonight, Ivory Coast plays Nigeria in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations. Tough act for poets to compete with.

"Get Ready To Slam", said Kenya's Daily Nation 3 days ago. "Poetry Slam at Club Soundd" trumpeted another article. Journalists love the word "slam". It's short, punchy, visceral, action-packed. Yet of the 300 people who showed up at Club Soundd, perhaps only half-a-dozen had any idea what they were in for. The rest were there because of the buzz, word-of-mouth and media-generated, that something exciting was going to happen tonight.

"What is Slam Poetry?" I was asked in interview after interview. "What is Spoken Word? How is it different from normal poetry?"

"Spoken word and slam poetry are NOT different from ‘regular’ poetry," I insisted. "They simply reclaim poetry as an oral tradition, communicated live, through the voice and the body. Africa is where spoken word, the oral tradition, began. A poetry slam is a game, a device, to get people interested in poetry. Human beings love competitions. Slam began in a bar in Chicago, in the US, and spread like wildfire, regenerating poetry as a vital, explosive, grassroots arts movement that everyone could be a part of. In a slam, poets perform their original work, without props, costumes or accompaniment, to a 3-minute time limit. Judges are selected from the audience, and they score the poets, Olympic-style, from 1-10, based on content and performance. The top-scoring poet at the end of the night is the winner."

When Kwani first invited me to feature at their open mic on my upcoming trip to Nairobi, I threw out the idea of hosting a poetry slam. They leapt on it eagerly, and before I knew it, we were planning Nairobi's First Ever Poetry Slam. I was initially wary about how it would go down – was it an appropriate form for the Nairobi scene? Would the competition intimidate rather than encourage, new voices?

"Your job," I told the poets who'd signed up to compete, "is to have the best time of your life. Don't get hung up on the scores, or the audience response. The moment you get on the stage, you've already won. Just by being there. By showing everyone in the room that they too, can share their creative voice with the world."

At the start of the night, we're worried that we only have three people signed up to slam. And we're concerned about the turnout; my performance at the Carnivore, four days ago, drew a disappointingly small audience. We're hoping the city centre location, low cover charge of Ksh. 50, and press coverage in the last few days, will bring people in tonight.

By 8pm, when we close the slam list, there are 13 poets on it. Several more arrive in the next few minutes, too late to add to the list, but we promise them a place in the open mic reading. People are pouring in; all the seats are taken. They are sitting on the floor, on the edge of the stage, on each other's laps, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the bar at the back. I have never seen this in Kenya before – a space filled with people of every ethnicity, generation, socioeconomic background, hungry for something new, something they can't get from TV, video, surfing the web, something that feeds their souls and imaginations.

If we needed confirmation that we're breaking new ground here, the media presence supplies it. There are two TV crews in the house – from KTN and Citizen TV. Journalists from the Daily Nation, the Kenya Times, BBC Africa. After the slam, when they interview me, almost all of them will tell me that they, too, write poems. A couple will show me their work. Share the secret longing to be heard. Tell me they thought about signing up for the slam, but weren't quite ready. Next time, however…

The slam begins. We hear love poems. Break-up poems. Political poems. A poem that explores the meaning of manhood. A rhythmic tribute to the heroes of Kenya's war of independence. A scathing indictment of poetry as useless – in the form of a poem! One poet comes out as HIV-positive, to a room of 300 strangers, in a poignant letter to his parents, infused with love and regret. Another does a hilarious improvised riff on the Ivory Coast – Nigeria football match, still running on the TV screen in the bar. I am especially happy that over 50% of the poets are women. I've been told by dozens of women in the US that they would love to perform their work, but are intimidated by their male-dominated local slams.

The audience is beside itself. They yell, cheer, clap, howl for their favourite poets, boo the judges when the scores are low. No football crowd, no rock concert crowd, could be more engaged, more enthusiastic.

One of my old friends, who stood in the back all night because the place was so jammed, sends me an SMS that night: "I was amazed and enlightened. I never knew poetry could be like that. To me, ‘poetry’ was what we studied in school."

The word I hear most often afterwards is: Inspired.

"I was so inspired."
"That was so inspiring."
"I want to be in the next slam."
"I want to bring everyone I know to the next slam."

The poet who read about being HIV-positive comes up to take my hand. We both have tears in our eyes, a silent tribute to the power of what happened tonight. Another man tells me he wanted to sign up for the slam, but was afraid:

"I am Ugandan. I was scared to speak in a room full of Kenyans. When I heard your poems about being Indian, I thought: Next time, I will do it."

Kwani sells out of copies of its latest issue. Luai, the Club Soundd owner, says to me: "I am so happy. This crowd is what Kwani has been working for, what they deserve."

It's only the beginning. What can poetry do, right now, in Kenya? Create community. Break open deathly silences. Give people a platform to share their deepest joys and fears. Open a space for dissent, debate, discussion, education, around everything from safe sex to constitutional reform. Make us larger, braver, more joyful, more contentious. Push us to engage with the world around us, capture it in language, work that language to its most beautiful and powerful distillation, pour it out like water for the thirsty. Inspire us to trust our own intelligence and passion, our hunger for art that is real and hard and truthful; messy and complex and bloody. Above all, art that is ours. Trust that our own voices are the thick grain, the juicy greens, we have been hungry for.

* Kenyan poet, Shailja Patel, is a US Lambda Poetry Slam champion, and has competed in two US national Poetry Slam Championships. She is currently developing a one-woman spoken-word theatre show, Migritude, which she looks forward to presenting in Kenya soon. Visit her at

Rwanda: God sleeps in Rwanda


The 1994 Rwandan Genocide left the country nearly 70 percent female, handing Rwanda’s women an extraordinary burden and an unprecedented opportunity. An inspiring story of loss and redemption 'God Sleeps in Rwanda' captures the spirit of five courageous women as they rebuild their lives, redefining women’s roles in Rwandan society and bringing hope to a wounded nation.

Africa: Sithengi reaches out to rest of Africa


Southern African International Film and Television Festival and Market (Sithengi) may have been started in 1996 by a group of Zimbabweans and South Africans, but the initiative is now fanning out to the rest of Africa. During the official opening of 10th Sithengi in November 2005, the board of directors was expanded, bringing in Nigeria and Francophone Africa. Making the announcement, outgoing chairman, Eddie Mbalo, said this was necessary to make Sithengi a truly African continental film organisation. Nigeria is represented by Afolabi Adesanya, the managing director of Nigerian Film Corporation while Mauritanian filmmaker, Abderrhamane Cissako, represents French-speaking Africa. Other members will be drawn from the South African film industry and organisations giving money to Sithengi.

Kenya: Theatre turns street urchins into responsible citizens


African Medical Research Foundation, AMREF, is creating 21st century ‘Black Pinocchios’ from the street urchins of Nairobi. Wanjiru Kinyanjui caught up with one of them and reports on his life. The boys are all stiffly lying on the hard concrete floor. One by one, they ‘wriggle’ out of their comatose positions, stand up, ease up, wave their passports to the audience and announce their names. The 20 young men have been transformed from disobedient wooden puppets into real boys as butterflies metamorphose from caterpillars.

Zimbabwe: Play tackles adultery


A well-received Zimbabwean play has challenged how a woman should react in situations of adultery. Despite a widely-held view in the country that wives should accept that their husbands will stray, expectations are beginning to change. Hot Water Bottle is a one-woman performance featuring Tinopona Katsande, a television soap opera star with a raunchy image. Twenty shows were held over two weeks at Harare's Theatre In The Park, and the content drew strong reactions from those who watched.

Letters & Opinions

Campaign against corruption in Kenya: A convenient smokescreen?

Sibanze Simuchoba


I agree with Onyongo Oloo. The fuss in Kenya is similar to the one in my country, Zambia. Both countries look to the West in the anti-corruption crusade. In Zambia, the fight against corruption is personified by prosecuting former President Chiluba. Curiously, President Mwanawasa expects us to believe that his anti corruption crusade is serious and not a sham! It is shameful that Githongo is fighting corruption in Kenya from Britain. If he is too scared to do it from Nairobi, let him find a base in an African country.

Editor comment: This is rather an unfair, and rather one could suggest even naive, position to take. Githongo has been heroic in challenging corruption. It is naive to believe this can be done without threat to one's own and one's family's safety. We should not equate Githongo's position with the use that the the western media and governments might make use of his revelations.

Campaign Against Corruption In Kenya: A Convenient Smoke Screen? (2)


I write to register my support against all acts that constitute a breach of trust of the peoples will. Corruption in Africa is one of the greatest vices needing a proper inward look.

In as much as it might be true that this attempt by the Kenyan government may just be a convenient smoke screen to thwart the focus of the populace, I have the strong conviction that all of us must lend support to such a bold step taken by the Kenyan Government.

Evidence of widespread corruption abounds throughout Africa. Little has been done to counter its growth and if any authority takes the responsibility to treat it in such an open manner as the Kenyan Government has done then our support is needed. The Kibaki government may just be guilty of the several malpractices which abound in Africa, but certainly we can count the number of leaders, be they good or bad, who have taken such decisions to avail the suspects to justice. It is too early to coin it a smoke screen. This may just be some new wine in old wine skin.

Adieu Dr Beko, the indefatigable fighter for human rights and social justice

Sonny Onyegbula


It was with sadness that I learnt of the death of Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti (See for background information). Beko has died at the time of our national life when we need him more than ever before. His contributions to democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights are unimaginable. We was both a leader and a follower. His passion for fairness, justice and due process were legendary. His love for the ordinary Nigeria was unimaginable. His loss is a national loss and a personal one for me.

Beko will be remembered for his struggles against military dictatorship in Nigeria. These struggles earned him stints in various prisons in Nigeria and constant harassment by bands of security operatives.

Rest in perfect peace Uncle Beko. You paid your dues to your country and all your sacrifices will be etched in our memory until the fullness of time.

Yes to women's leadership

Malkiory Matiya


I'm very pleased by the fact that Liberia has been the first African country to have a female president. Let other African nations try to learn from Liberia in their attempt to empower women to the best of their potential and capacity. I am Tanzanian, currently undertaking my studies in Finland. Special thanks to my President Jakaya Kikwete for nominating women in the top most and prominent ministries of finance, legal and constitution affairs, foreign and international cooperation.

Advocacy and heart


I enjoyed your articles immensely. I thank you for the information that you present because as a women who is disabled I personally have great reservations as to where the world is headed. As a citizen of a country that has many social services in place (though dwindling due to Free Trade Agreements) I feel that I have a very privileged position in relation to the conditions of women in other countries. Yet, I experience many problems relating to issues of inequality, lack of resources etc. I can't imagine what it must be like for women in what we term "Third World" countries.

I am presently a student at University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada and plan to use the information contained in your articles in both a presentation and an essay that I have due. The essay will include details on the IMF and how it affects the most vulnerable of our populations via the mechanism of globalization. If you have done any research in this area please point me to it. I would love to include your view.

Thank you for your advocacy and your heart.

Pambazuka News replies: Thanks for your comments, Deb. We've had a number of articles on the IMF which you can read by browsing through the back issues. In 2004, we had a special issue on the IMF which can be read at

Women's battle for rights and respect


'Moolade' by Ousmane Sembene is an excellent film concerning women's battle for rights and respect, particularly with regard to FGM in the African context. It might be useful for SIHA (see and other organisations.

Blogging Africa

Bloggers comment on the Ugandan elections


The Ugandan elections are in the news and a number of African bloggers provide commentary on the subject.

Ethan of My Heart’s in Accra - - reports on the ongoing pre-election violence and most worrying of all the deployment of 12,000 soldiers by Museveni to “prevent poll violence”.

“…opposition supporters see this as clear intimidation, a sign that Museveni will use the army to retain power even if he’s unsuccessful at the ballot box.”

There is also the situation in war torn Northern Uganda where the Lord’s Resistance Army have been fighting what Ethan describes as a “incomprehensible war” for the past 10 years. There has also been reports that the army has threatened voters in the region that they will pull out if people do not vote for Museveni. Despite all this it seems many Ugandans do not know there is an election on Thursday.

“According to their survey, only 53% of Ugandans polled knew the election was taking place on Thursday. This may reflect an attempt to dampen voter turnout by Museveni, or the complications of advertising an election in a poor nation… but it seems surprising that a pivotal election would be so poorly known about.”

Kenyan Pundit - - posts a speech by Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango who provides some context behind the elections. Kenyan Pundit writes:

“The upcoming elections in Uganda will have implications on the future of democracy in the region as a whole…perhaps the ‘African Big Man’ syndrome is not about to vanish after all.”

Uganda-CAN - - focuses on Northern Uganda and the plight of child soldiers who even when they are rescued and returned to their homes continue to suffer – this time from friends and family.

“Uganda's former child soldiers, haunted by exposure to violence at a young age, often find little solace when reintegrated into their home communities. Abducted as youth into the throes of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), children are forced to commit acts of violence against the country's northern population until they escape or are captured by the Ugandan military. But when they return home, the nightmare continues, as they face stigmatization from their family and peers.”

Ethiopian blog, written by journalist Andrew Havens, Meskel Square - - has been reporting on the drought faced by Ethiopians in the southern Moyale zone of the country.

“Moyale is at the heart of a devastating drought that has left an estimated 737,000 Ethiopians struggling to survive without access to clean water. Beyond Ethiopia, the drought has spread out to affect more than 8.3 million people, including 1.2 million children aged under five, across the Horn of Africa.”

Meskel Square personalises his report by focusing on the driver of the only water truck, Tafesech Sahele, a 45-year-old mother-of two from Addis Ababa, who delivers water after filling up from the only three boreholes in the area.

Kenyan Blogger – Gukira - - discusses the recent Danish cartoons by placing them in an historical context of Euro/America race relations.

“To trace a history of cartoons in Euro-America is to trace a history of race relations…At the turn of the 20th C., Sambo art was in vogue. If one could not own a nigger, one could own a mug, a picture, a doll, an object that featured coal-black skin, bright red lips, and milk-white teeth.”

As the West defends freedom of speech, Gukira writes that people of colour have to ask “freedom for whom” and asks us to remember that lynchings were social occasions.

“Families assembled, complete with their cherubic children. Eager women rushed to take pieces of nigger clothing or skin or hair as souvenirs.”

Black Looks - - comments on a BBC programme called IChallenge which interviews an amazingly progressive Nigerian activist who has set up an organisation called INCREASE. “The organisation seeks to promote sexual health in the traditional Northern Sharia state of Niger.” INCREASE (International Center for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights) is based in Niger State in the North of Nigeria and was started by Dorothy Aken’Ova, who writes:

“I believe in equal rights. I challenge the injustices, the discriminatory practices, all forms of inequalities that exist in Nigerian society, especially those that are fuelled by differences in gender and sexuality and especially sexual orientation.”

In addition to INCREASE, Ms Aken’Ova started a group for young gays, lesbians and transgenders in Abuja called IConnect which provides users with a supportive environment and opportunities to network with each other.

African Union Monitor

Zimbabwe: Mugabe delivers broadside to neighbours


President Robert Mugabe has called on neighbouring countries not to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs, while signalling that constitutional reform was on the cards, possibly to smooth the way for a chosen successor. Speaking in a televised interview to commemorate his 82nd birthday over the weekend, Mugabe said: "We have tolerated some of them because they are our friends. We hope in future they will keep away." He was responding to a question on what he thought of diplomatic interventions by South Africa and Nigeria in Zimbabwe's political crisis. Mugabe sneered at his colleagues in the African Union, suggesting their interest in resolving Zimbabwe's problems was more to do with pressure from western governments deemed hostile to his ruling ZANU-PF.

Women & gender

Africa: Girls formerly associated with fighting forces and their children


In this paper Mckay, Robinson and colleagues successfully outline the considerable challenges facing girl mothers leaving fighting forces who seek to reintegrate into their communities in southern and western Africa. Often stigmatised and rejected by their communities, these girls struggle to find ways to earn a living to support themselves and their children in the face of economic and sexual exploitation. The paper derives from a conference held on girl mothers. It is based on participatory research and papers presented there, and on the ensuing workshop discussions.

Africa: Mainstreaming gender in sports projects


This paper looks at how to mainstream gender equality in sports projects and programmes. It highlights the barriers that women may face in participating in sports, such as a general lack of safe and appropriate sport facilities and lack of skills and resources. Women may be particularly exposed to physical and/or verbal sexual harassment. There is a lack of female role models including women coaches or leaders, and women are under-represented in decision-making bodies of sporting institutions.

Global: Culture, gender and growth


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. The paper recommends that donor interventions should be designed to tackle potential male resistance from the outset and that donors should assist in changing social attitudes vis-a-vis women.

Global: New pressure needed to scrap gender-biased laws


The UN is studying the feasibility of appointing a special rapporteur - a human rights expert - who will focus specifically on national laws that discriminate against women in their home countries. "The goal of eliminating all sex discriminatory laws has so far not been achieved," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan confesses in a new report.

South Africa: Youth, fathers and masculinity


This paper argues that when fatherhood is privileged as a central aspect of masculinity everybody benefits. It discusses new emerging concepts of masculinity which have developed in response to the critique of hegemonic models, and which emphasise tolerance, domestic responsibility and sensitivity. This "new man" model of masculinity has led to a growing acceptance of the importance of families for men, and of men for families. Fathers who are positively engaged in the lives of their children are less likely to be depressed, to commit suicide, or to beat their wives. They are more likely to be involved in community work, to be supportive of their partners, and to be involved in school activities.

Uganda: Launch of the Women's Manifesto


On Friday 3rd February 2006, Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) spearheaded the launch of the Women's Manifesto 2006 at Hotel Africana, Kampala. The document seeks to give women a common platform for addressing crucial concerns of women in Uganda through helping more of them to take up leadership positions in politics, especially Parliament. UWONET's main mission is to promote networking and attain collective vision and action among different actors working towards development and the transformation of the unequal gender relations in society.

Uganda: UNIFEM opens office


UNIFEM's presence in the East and Horn of Africa region has been strengthened with the addition of a new office in Uganda. It was officially opened in February 2006, during a meeting of national partners from government institutions, civil society, academia, the UN system and donor partners. The one-day meeting was organised to seek partners' views on the most effective ways for UNIFEM to carry out its mandate in the Ugandan context, and how best to support the government and civil society partners in meeting commitments to gender equality and women's empowerment.

Zimbabwe: WOZA free at last


After spending over 72 hours in custody, 63 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) women, part of 242 arrested in Harare on Valentine's Day, who had braved deplorable conditions, intimidation, refusal of food and water, appeared before Magistrate Takavadiyi at 3:30pm, Friday 17 February 2006. They were granted free bail but will appear for a further remand hearing on 3rd March. One woman described their treatment by saying "we were treated worse than dogs - you do not make a dog sleep on human waste"! For full coverage of the events, including an interview with Jenni Williams, visit Kubatana.

Human rights

Burkina Faso: The informal economy - from information to mutual protection


How to manage a hairdressing salon or a welding shop? What are the basic rights of a worker in the informal economy? Armed only with their teaching materials, the educators trained by the Programme for the Reinforcement of Trade Union Action in the Informal Economy (PRASEI) have reached a total of over 70,000 workers in Burkina Faso. The fact that in Ouagadougou, Bobo Dioulasso, Koudougou and Tenkodogo, the workers within the informal economy can now take part in May Day celebrations or convene collective action is the result of successful trade union awareness-raising. All this is the fruit of an intensive grassroots campaign carried out in 14 provinces of the country and led by the 554 resource persons trained by PRASEI.

Egypt: Citing irregularities, rights activists appeal for Nour retrial


Human rights activists are appealing to judicial authorities for a retrial of former opposition MP Ayman Nour due to “irregularities” in the initial investigation and trial. “A retrial should be carried out as quickly as possible,” said Bahieddine Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, “in order to address the serious legal breaches made in his first trial”. Nour, a leading opposition figure and head of the nascent Al-Ghad Party, was tried along with six others and convicted in December of having forged signatures on party documents. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Ethiopia: EC commissioner meets jailed opposition activists


Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will allow international observers to attend the trial of detained opposition leaders set to begin in Addis Ababa on Thursday (February 23), a senior European Commission official said. Louis Michel, commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, told reporters on Friday (February 17) after meeting Meles during a two-day visit to Ethiopia, that the decision to allow him access to jailed members of the opposition and journalists was a "significant step in the direction of constructive political dialogue".

Global: Marginalisation of LGBT rights within the United Nations framework


The Association of Women in Development interviews Stephen Barris from the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) - an organisation that was recently denied consultative status at the UN. Barris says the following: "We are well aware that a UN decision in favour of the human rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people is not going to radically change the life of millions of persons in the world. Change needs to happen locally. The ECOSOC decision is important because the UN should be a common house for all - and its Commission on Human Rights should be the biggest institution defending the rights of all in this world. The first speech ever given in the United Nations was given in ILGA's name in 1992 when we still had observer status at the UN. Since we lost it in 1994, ILGA has never ceased to be present at the UN."

Lesotho: Concern for judiciary

Press statement


Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) is deeply alarmed by credible allegations of systematic arbitrary deprivation of liberty taking place in the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. According to the Lesotho Council of NGOs (Lecongo) the situation directly results both from unlawful actions by law enforcement officials and systematic interference in the affairs of the judiciary.

Liberia: Truth Commission inaugurated


Liberia's president inaugurated a truth commission Monday (February 19) to investigate crimes and human rights abuses committed in the war-battered country over the last quarter century. The seven-member Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a mandate to investigate crimes committed from 1979 until 2003, when years of civil war came to an end. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took over last month from a postwar transitional government, said Liberians must be courageous enough "to face up to the past and revile as an affront to all civilized people the despicable acts our people endured during the past 14 years of our civil conflict."

Rwanda: Suicides take toll on genocide tribunals


The ongoing legal effort to assign blame and punishment for atrocities committed during the 1994 Rwanda genocide is being hamstrung by a rash of suicides among the suspects. Sixty-nine suspects killed themselves and 44 others attempted suicide during the last nine months of last year. While family members mourn the suicides, others say the accused should testify about all they know about the genocide and be made to suffer for any crimes they might have committed, according to the Washington Post.

South Africa: Murder of young lesbian sparks homophobia concerns


As gays and lesbians become more visible in South African townships, they are increasingly becoming targets of homophobia, according to rights activists. The organisations were reacting to reports at the weekend of the murder of a young lesbian in a township in Cape Town. "I have recorded 50 rape cases, dating back 10 years, involving black lesbians in townships," said Zanele Muholi, a community relations officer with the NGO, Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW). Muholi, a lesbian, who was also abused growing up in a township, co-founded FEW in 2002, to provide a support network for black gay women.

South Africa: Report on the Justice System


South Africa faces key challenges in meeting international standards of justice as well as those laid out in its own constitution, according to a new report. The report, launched today (February 17) by the Open Society Foundation-South Africa and AfriMAP, a project initiated by the Open Society network of foundations in Africa, provides a comprehensive audit of justice sector performance in post-apartheid South Africa. It also calls on the government to take steps to ensure that South Africa's justice system operates fairly and transparently and follows the rule of law.

Southern Africa: The challenge of albinism


Professor John Makumbe was almost killed at birth by a shocked mid-wife in a mission hospital in rural eastern Zimbabwe. "Looking at how white I was, she assumed that my mother had been misbehaving with one of the white missionaries at the school where she taught," said an amused Makumbe, 57, who for the past 20 years has been a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. It was only after his mother explained to the mid-wife that the child had inherited a genetic disorder that the mid-wife relented. Makumbe went on to form the Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZIMAS) in 1996. Tens of thousand southern Africans living with albinism have faced discrimination and abuse all their lives. They are often regarded as "unnatural" and even "cursed".

Sudan: Urgent Intervention required in Shearia, Southern Darfur

Sudan Organisation Against Torture statement


The situation in Shearia worsened in November 2005 as a result of the town becoming the new front for confrontations between government forces and the rebel opposition in Darfur despite the Ceasefire Agreement and ongoing negotiations in Abuja to secure peace for the region. The government strategy of shifting the war to the town began in early September following an SLA attack in Shearia town during which the rebel forces looted approximately 1,000 camels and reportedly killed 18 civilians.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: Homeless but not stateless, living in limbo


Forced by war or humanitarian disasters to flee their homes but keeping within the borders of their own countries, 12 million so-called "internally displaced persons" (IDPs) face a legal and human tragedy in Africa. Calling it "one of the biggest under-addressed challenges facing Africa", Dennis McNamara, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator and director of the Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division, says urgent attention must be paid to the uprooted civilian population in countries like Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Burundi.

Algeria: Floods show need for Western Sahara solution - Polisario


Floods that uprooted 50,000 refugees are a reminder that the world urgently needs to solve Africa's longest-running territorial dispute, the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement has said. Heavy rains over the past few days washed away the homes of about 50,000 of the 158,000 refugees who have lived in desert camps near the Algerian town of Tindouf for 30 years since fleeing the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Central African Republic: Donor conference begins in Cameroon


A donor conference for the Central African Republic (CAR) began on Monday in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, organised by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)."New dramas emerge regularly," OCHA said. "Following banditry in the country's north since late December, thousands are still homeless, while 45,000 refugees have fled to Chad, 15,000 of whom have left their homes since June 2000." UN agencies and NGOs struggle to get funding to support the internally displaced. OCHA said although most major donor governments have confirmed their attendance at the Yaounde meeting, organisers were not optimistic that pledges or commitments would be made at the event.

East Africa: IGAD States home to 11 million refugees


Members of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have expressed concern over the high number of refugees in the region. A conference heard that the seven member states host 11 million refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and other war victims, which is equal to eight per cent of the region's total population. Of these, more than 50 per cent are in Kenya. The figure, it was noted, represents 66 per cent of Africa's internally displaced population and 30 per cent of the world's displaced people.

Kenya: Registering refugees - A good move by the NARC government

The Refugee Consortium of Kenya statement


The ongoing registration of refugees in Nairobi's Eastleigh area by the Government of Kenya is a milestone in the quest for increased protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. This also marks a departure in state practice from what scholars have described as what the 'eye refuses to see', in reference to refugees who choose to live in urban centres as opposed to settlements and camps in remote areas. The Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) supports this move and urges the Government to uphold the promise not to victimize those who present themselves for registration. Even without the necessary legal framework on refugees, RCK has constantly called upon the Government to respect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and especially in regard to the rights to movement, to identification and to earn livelihoods. In our view the benefit of screening and registering asylum seekers far outweighs ignoring the situation all together.

Kenya: Remittances dwarf aid and investment


Kenyans in the diaspora are contributing an equivalent of 3.8 per cent of national income through remittances. In the year 2004, for instance, Kenyans living and working abroad remitted about Ksh35 billion ($464 million), which overshadows the net foreign direct investment (FDI) of Ksh3.6 billion ($50.4 million), which accounted for 0.41 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. "Migration is an important issue in Kenya, with the country both a significant destination and a source of migrants," said Francis Mwega of the Department of Economics at the University of Nairobi during the launch of the World Bank's 2006 Global Economic Prospects report in Nairobi.

Somalia: Thousands displaced as Mogadishu clashes continue


Thousands of people have fled the northern and northeastern suburbs of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, since clashes between militia groups started over the weekend, a top city official said. An estimated 1,500 families had been displaced by the continuing clashes, Mogadishu Mayor, Ibrahim Omar Shaaweye, told IRIN early this week. Some 25 people had been killed and 150 wounded, he added.

Elections & governance

DRC: New constitution adopted


Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday (February 18) adopted a new constitution aimed at bringing an end to decades of dictatorship, war and chaos in the vast country, and paving the way for elections by mid-2006. Thousands of people, including regional presidents, gathered in the gardens of the presidential palace in the capital Kinshasa, cheering and waving paper replicas of the country's new flag as President Joseph Kabila signed into law the new constitution.

Nigeria: Presidential term debated


Nigeria is beginning public hearings on possible constitution change, including an amendment to allow President Obasanjo to run for a third term. The meetings have been organised by the Nigerian Constitutional Committee and will take place in six cities. Many opposition politicians have condemned the hearings, saying they are simply a political charade. There is intense speculation that the president will try to change the constitution to run for office again.

Uganda: Army trucks ram into Besigye crowd


Seven armoured trucks drove into an opposition crowd in Mukono, injuring several people, two of them critically. The brand new trucks- Humvees- fitted with communication gadgets and machine guns, were heading to Kampala. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was waving to the crowd through his open-roof car, shouted at the soldiers as they forcibly pushed through. As the trucks moved ahead, after injuring several people, the angry crowd, which was heading for Besigye's afternoon rally, shouted at the soldiers. Sensing animosity, the soldiers, strapped with bullet chains, aimed their guns at the crowd sending the people in disarray.

Uganda: Hunting for political support in neglected north


On the campaign trail, Uganda's presidential candidates have ventured where they rarely go, deep into war-ravaged northern Uganda, where the votes of hundreds of thousands of displaced people could make or break their bid for the highest office in the land. As many as 10.4 million voters will go to the polls on 23 February to elect a president and legislators in the first multiparty elections in Uganda in 25 years.
Related Links:
* Uganda: Human Rights Watch letter to Election Observers
* Uganda: Poll violence worries observers

Uganda: Movement will hand over power only if it loses 'fairly'


President Yoweri Museveni has said he is ready to hand over power if he loses the February 23 presidential poll. "I will give out the keys officially when elections are well conducted and I lose. I will even support the winner," Museveni said while appearing on a Radio talk show recently. Museveni was allaying fears raised that he may not gracefully quit if he loses.

Uganda: Official campaigns end two days before polls


Campaigning in Uganda’s first multiparty elections in 25 years ended on a tense note on Tuesday, after weeks of political activity marked by several violent clashes between security personnel and supporters of opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye. Thursday’s elections will be monitored by a host of foreign observers. Officials at the electoral commission have indicated that some results may be available on Saturday.


Africa: The cost of corruption


Corruption costs African countries an estimated 25% of its combined national income, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said - some $148bn a year. The outgoing leader of the African Union called the problem "a preventable loss" and said that industries such as oil, gas and minerals were worst hit. The popular 'paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty' is a daily experience in many African countries rich in oil, gas and minerals, the president said. "The majority of citizens in these countries still lack basic health and educational facilities."

Egypt: Corruption top topic at People's Assembly


The proliferation of corruption and abuse of power dominated the intense debates at the People's Assembly this week. The fireworks began on Sunday, when the assembly met to discuss a preliminary report about the sinking of the Egyptian ferry Al-Salam 98 in the Red Sea two weeks ago. The report, prepared by the assembly's transport committee, called it the most tragic disaster to hit Egypt in its modern history. Committee chairman Hamdi El-Tahan said "carelessness, indifference and corruption [were] the main culprits."

Kenya: Rights body honours 'Whistleblower' Githongo


The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has honoured John Githongo "for his courageous whistle blowing on the Anglo Leasing scandal." "By exposing corruption and cover-up networks within government, Githongo has made an outstanding contribution to the fight against corruption," the organisation said in its citation. It praised the country's former ethics and governance PS, as the "high priest of good governance" for his "boldness, creativity and audacity."

Kenya: Vice President now faces citizens' arrest


Kenya's Vice President now faces the threat of a 'citizens arrest' unless he resigns over corruption allegations. The country's civil society has threatened to move to the High Court to seek a warrant of arrest against Awori, the Head of Civil Service, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General. The group issued the threat at a press conference convened under the umbrella body, Name and Shame Campaign Network.

Nigeria: Home of former Nigerian governor seized in South Africa


The South African authorities have seized a luxury house belonging to a former Nigerian state governor accused of corruption in his own country. Officials confiscated the property - said to be worth more than $1.7m - on the waterfront in Cape Town. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was impeached and removed from his post in the Nigerian oil-producing state of Bayelsa in the Niger Delta last year.

Zambia: Chiluba back in the dock


Zambian former president Frederick Chiluba Thursday went back into the dock on charges of stealing 507,000 dollars (426,000 euros) in state funds in a trial again hit by legal technicalities. Chiluba, who is charged with two other private businessmen, sat in a tiny magistrate's court in the capital while two state witnesses gave evidence in the protracted trial.


Africa: "Marshall Plan" for Great Lakes


The UN secretary general representative in the Great Lakes region, Ibrahima Fall, called on the international community to create `a second Marshall Plan` to salvage countries of the region. Speaking at the opening of the 3rd inter-ministerial regional committee meeting of the Great Lakes region, Fall said his appeal was based on the need to "help countries of the region rediscover the path to stability and development". The four-day meeting, convening at the Central African National Assembly, should offer delegates from the region`s 11 member countries the opportunity to endorse several documents, including 31 projects and 9 protocols to the regional convention on security, stability and development, for adoption by the second summit of the heads of State, slated in June/July 2006.

Africa: EU uses safety standards to lock out Africa exports


The use of technical barriers by Western countries has become the biggest obstacle for developing countries trying to expand their trade. As a result of agreements negotiated at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), traditional trade protection measures such as tariffs and quotas are falling away. But they are being replaced by domestic regulations that permit countries to bar products from entering their markets if the products do not meet certain standards.

Africa: Questioning the links between economic growth and poverty reduction


Global economic growth is an extremely inefficient way of achieving poverty reduction and is becoming even less effective. Between 1990 and 2001, for every $100 worth of growth in the world’s per person income, just $0.60 found its target and contributed to reducing poverty below the $1-a-day line. This paper argues that we need to move decisively away from the inefficiency of relying on global growth for poverty reduction, towards a system in which policies are designed explicitly and directly to achieve our social and environmental objectives, treating growth as a by-product. Its central thesis is that it will be impossible to achieve the objectives of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability if global growth remains the principal economic strategy. The scale of growth this model demands would generate unsupportable environmental costs; and the costs would fall disproportionately, and counter-productively, on the poorest.

Global: Future of NGO participation at UN after World Summit


Jens Martens, Executive Director of Global Policy Forum Europe, regrets that the UN reform process neglects improvements in participation of NGOs. In 2005, governments largely excluded NGOs both from preparatory negotiations and from the Summit. What does this mean for the future participation of NGOs in the UN? Martens makes a number of practical recommendations, including extending NGO accreditation beyond ECOSOC to the General Assembly.

Kenya: Poverty rises despite economic growth


Poverty is on a sharp increase despite the high economic growth recorded last year, says a report. Prepared by Kenya's Ministry of Planning and National Development, the report says runaway poverty rates can only be reduced if the country achieves growth levels of more than seven per cent, same as those of Asian countries. "The economic growth recorded in recent times is not sufficient for reducing poverty and sustaining development," it says. The country's unstable economy has seen poverty increase by from 48 per cent in the early 1980s to 56 per cent last year.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Reporting Hiv/Aids


Southern Africa is home to nearly two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS globally. Despite significant obstacles, a huge response has been mounted by a host of government, private and civil society organisations. There is a general expectation that the media plays an important role in responding to the epidemic. But what exactly is that role? How successfully is it played in individual developing countries? And how could it be improved? A new report from Panos deals with these questions.

Global: A global campaign for the right to health


The People's Health Movement, a global network of civil society groups, researchers, activists and teachers involved in health, proposes the launch of a global campaign on the Right to Health. PHM would like to invite civil society organizations, interested individuals and groups to participate in discussing the possibility of hosting such a campaign in South Africa. It would also contribute to building civil society for the Third People's Health Assembly, planned for 2010 at an African venue (to be determined). This edition of Critical Health Perspectives sketches the background to the campaign and some of the thinking behind it.

Global: Bush proposes cuts to overseas family planning groups


While the White House has long denied funding to overseas groups that help women obtain abortions, U.S. President George W. Bush's new budget proposal looks to reduce funding to international family planning groups the administration previously had lauded as effective in preventing abortions. The proposed 18% cut is drawing the ire of nonprofit groups and Democrats on Capitol Hill. "It's ironic that an administration outwardly committed to reducing the incidence of abortion would take away valuable tools for preventing unwanted pregnancies," one Democratic congresswoman said, reports the New York

Senegal: On the lookout for bird flu in world’s third biggest reserve


As soon as Moussa Diouf saw the bird lying sick on the ground, the young man from a village on the edges of Senegal’s giant Djoudj bird reserve, dropped it in a plastic bag and dashed off post-haste to the main rangers’ office. Diouf was worried the bird might be carrying “the new sickness”. But the head ranger smiled on opening the bag. “It’s a common sparrow which is moulting and has become vulnerable because it can’t fly very far,” said Major Ibrahima Diop, who heads a squad of 43 rangers working in the Djoudj reserve, a national showcase of 16,000 hectares of low-lying mangrove swamp.

Sudan: 59 dead as cholera spreads to Juba


An outbreak of cholera in the southern Sudanese city of Juba has claimed the lives of 59 people since the first case was reported there two weeks ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday. The ICRC said in a statement that it was airlifting 30 tonnes of emergency medical supplies from Kenya to Juba to treat those infected. More than a thousand cases of cholera have been reported in Juba, southern Sudan's capital, since 6 February, the agency said.

Zambia: Government must focus on ARVs


HIV/AIDS advocates and health officials in Zambia say efforts to treat HIV-positive people in the country over the past year should have focused more on the quality of treatment rather than the number of people receiving treatment, South Africa's Independent Online reports. Zambia in 2005 aimed to have 100,000 HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral drugs by the end of the year, but the country was able to reach only about half its target in that time.


Africa: Strong science academies can aid development


African nations would benefit from stronger, more influential science academies, whose expertise could be brought to bear on the continent's pressing issues. Africa's existing academies may be small and limited in expertise, but this editorial in Nature says one of the main reasons they are not more influential is that they lack the skills needed to communicate effectively with policymakers or the media. It cites a ten-year project undertaken by the US National Academy of Sciences to strengthen science academies in Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

Botswana: Botswana hailed as a model for Africa


This article, from the e-zine "At Issue", examines Botswana's progress in the education sector from 1965 (independence from Britain) to 2005. It argues that due to revenue from diamonds, Botswana has been able to invest heavily in its education system, thus making it a model for other African countries. The article states that Botswana is two percent short of achieving universal access to primary school as envisaged by the Millennium Development Goals. This compares favourably with most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which have very low primary completion rates, many less than 50 percent.

Cote D'Ivoire: Exams at last for 90,000 students left in limbo in rebel territory


After waiting more than three years to sit key exams because of Cote d'Ivoire's unrelenting civil war, more than 90,000 school students left in limbo in rebel-held territory could be able to take the tests as soon as this month (February). In a statement issued after a weekly cabinet meeting, the West African country's interim government announced a new plan to restore schooling in the northern half of Cote d'Ivoire, which has been split in two since a failed coup in September 2002.

Global: Ensuring access to Education for All


This paper examines how excluded children are planned for in education. It provides guidelines and concepts for rendering National Education Plans / Education for All (EFA) more inclusive, with the objective of ensuring access and quality education for all learners. The guidelines are intended to provide information and awareness and to be a policy tool for revising and formulating EFA plans.

Global: Worlds of Education


The Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Worlds of Education, Education International’s bi-monthly magazine, is now available. Issue 17 includes articles an on fighting HIV/AIDS and related discrimination in the classroom, a report on the pursuit of the Education For All agenda at the G8 Summit and a report from the International Convention on cultural diversity.

Racism & xenophobia

Southern Africa: Citizenship and xenophobia


This study of xenophobia and how it both exploits and excludes is an incisive commentary on a globalizing world and its consequences for ordinary people's lives. Using the examples of Sub-Saharan Africa's two most economically successful nations, it meticulously documents the fate of immigrants and the new politics of insiders and outsiders. As globalization becomes a palpable reality in the bodies of people in transit, citizenship, sociality and belonging are subjected to stresses to which few societies have devised a civil response beyond yet more controls. The latter in turn are subverted and nullified, so that, as in Botswana and South Africa, a world is developing where conflict and flux underlie a superficial global progress.


Africa: El Nino may affect food supply


Climate change that strengthens the El Nino weather patterns could endanger food supplies for more than 20 million people in Africa, a new study warns. El Nino is a warming of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean that is associated with changes in air pressure and the movement of high-level winds that can affect weather worldwide. In the past, El Ninos have occurred every four to seven years, but many climate experts worry that continuing global warming will lead to stronger and more frequent events. A new analysis of 40 years of African crop and livestock records shows a close association between El Ninos and variations in production of corn, sorghum, millet and groundnuts such as peanuts.

Africa: International 'summit' to determine fate of last great rainforest


Global financial institutions, governments, environmental experts, human rights campaigners and local people will today (February 15) discuss ways to protect the rainforests of the Congo (DRC) in a major conference taking place in Kinshasa. 30 international non-governmental organisations, including the Rainforest Foundation, the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and CARE-International will call on the government of Congo to:
- rigorously respect a moratorium on the issuing of new logging concessions that was approved by Congo's President, Joseph Kabila, in 2005;
- carefully map the country's vast area of forest to show where people are already living and depending on the forest for their survival;
- urgently undertake research into the ways that the forest can be managed in an environmentally sensitive way that brings real development to Congo's many poor people.

Africa: Role of gender research in influencing power sector policy


Access to energy in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) is not only constrained by physical shortages but by unequal power relations between women and men. Policy makers have often failed to recognise gender inequalities with the result that supposedly gender-neutral energy policies discriminate against women (Clancy and Feenstra, 2004). This article summarises a regional AFREPREN/ENERGIA/DFiD study that reviewed energy policy documents and energy policymaking processes in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to assess the gender dimension. The study focused on the overall energy sector and then narrowed down to the power sub-sector. It examined how gender research could best influence power sector policy making in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Mali: Citizens space for democratic deliberation on GMOs


As indicated by its name, this Citizens' Jury is a space to share knowledge, dialogue and inform decisions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in relation to the future of farming in Mali. This event involved farmers - men and women - from all districts of the Sikasso region in Mali. The Citizens' Jury on GMOs took place in Sikasso between 25 and 29 January 2006. Follow the link to access the outcome document, which presents the recommendations of the 45 men and women farmers from all districts of the region of Sikasso who met to cross-examine specialist witnesses and deliberate on the issue of GMOs and farming futures in Mali.

South Africa: Elephant cull plan postponed


The South African government has postponed a controversial proposal to resume culling elephants from Kruger National Park where overcrowding is causing problems, a leading conservation scientist said. The proposal last year from the national parks authority to end a 10-year ban had outraged many conservationists who said it was unnecessary. "They listened to our arguments and have agreed to postpone the cull, but we don't know for how long," said Rudi van Aarde. "We want at least three years for more research." Van Aarde, on a brief lecture tour of Britain, is professor of conservation ecology at the University of Pretoria and a member of a panel of scientists set up to advise the government on the proposed cull.

South Africa: Regulatory system on GM crops takes industry at its word


The Department of Agriculture is failing to adequately implement the existing flawed regulatory system for genetically modified (GM) crops in South Africa. This emerged from Biowatch South Africa’s recent examination of a sample of GM permits and permit applications. The sample (of 134 permits and 108 permit applications and review documents) is part of a larger batch to which the Department of Agriculture has given Biowatch South Africa access. This follows the Pretoria High Court’s order in February 2005 that Biowatch South Africa be granted access to information about how decisions are made in the granting of GM crop permits.

Tanzania: Reliance on sole power source catastrophic


The current power crisis hitting Tanzania can be resolved with the introduction of large-scale farming of plants known as Jetropha for producing bio-diesel to run thermal power stations. Professor Aggrey Nzali of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Systems of the new College of Engineering and Technology at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), explains the usage of plants in power generation.

Uganda: Solar or oil - what is in store for Uganda's dicey energy supply?


It is a whirlwind of desperation for Uganda's energy sector. Pro-longed drought has caused a fall in the level of Lake Victoria; hydro-electricity generation is down by more than 50 percent of installed capacity and power outages has become a daily song. Now some are talking about solar energy. Could it be the last toss of the dice in the current energy crisis? Joseph Olanyo takes a critical look.

Zambia: $1.2 billion to be spent on power upgrades


Zambia has revised upwards planned spending on new power stations and upgrades to meet increasing electricity demand at its vast copper mines, a senior industry official said. State power utility Zesco required $1.2 billion - up from an initial target of $720 million budget last year - and was in talks with Iran's Farab International and China's Sinohydro on construction of the 750 megawatt Kafue Gorge Lower project and the 120 MW Itezhi-Tezhi power project, the official said, reports Reuters.

Land & land rights

Botswana: Privatising common land


Many developing countries have privatised grazing land to encourage the development of a commercial livestock sector. Botswana’s beef export industry is often seen as a successful model to be emulated. However, this success is controversial; policies have favoured a small, commercial elite group whilst neglecting pastoralist populations and traditional rangeland practices. Work by the International Institute of Environment and Development’s ‘Securing the Commons’ programme examines current policies towards pastoralist landownership in Botswana. The Botswana model of rangeland policy has generally been viewed positively, largely because of the success of the livestock export sector. When examined more closely, however, this model has several problems.

South Africa: From landless to landowners - the benefits of land reform


In the late 1990s - still the early days of South Africa's democracy - Joseph Makhadi couldn't afford to continue his studies at a local technical college. He dropped out and lived, unemployed, in a humble dwelling along with 10 members of his extended family. But in 2002, Makhadi and his family were among 700 households given title to a vast piece of rolling bush in South Africa's Limpopo Province, a result of the government's ambitious land reform programme. Now, the 29-year-old manages the poultry farm owned and operated by the beneficiaries, known locally as the Manavhela community. This week, Makhadi toured the buildings that hold some 6,000 chickens and marvelled at how his future had opened up.

Media & freedom of expression

Kenya: Business tycoon moves to court in bid to gag newspaper


Business tycoon Jimmy Wanjigi has moved to court seeking to gag The Standard newspapers from writing stories about him over the unfolding Anglo Leasing scandal. Wanjigi moved to court under a certificate of urgency claiming that The Standard wrote defamatory words concerning him in a story published earlier in the week. The story indicated that Wanjigi had been ordered to surrender his gun and passport as investigations into the Sh7 billion scandal gained tempo.

Niger: Journalist freed after 18 days preventive detention in libel case


The Committee to Protect Journalists has welcomed the release of newspaper director Ibrahim Manzo, who spent 18 days in preventive detention awaiting the outcome of a defamation case. A court in Niamey, capital of Niger, handed Manzo a suspended one-month prison sentence on Monday and ordered his release, local journalists told CPJ.

Uganda: Elections website blocked


The NRM has written to a US-based Internet firm to block access to the website. NRM spokesperson Ofwono Opondo last week said the website was publishing malicious and false information against the party and its presidential candidate. It has also asked local ISPs to block the site. The New Vision received complaints that the site was inaccessible within Uganda. When opening the site, a message pops up saying, “The page cannot be displayed.” The site hosted in the US features information on presidential candidates, security agencies, operatives and their lifestyles. A liner on the site reads, “Radio Katwe: outrageous, amusing, conspiracy theories, not to be taken seriously.”

Zimbabwe: Freelance journalist beaten


Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned a brutal attack against freelance journalist Gift Phiri, former reporter for the weekly "Zimbabwe Independent", who was beaten up by men accusing him of working for media hostile to the government, according to a RSF release as reported on the website. The attack came three weeks after threats were issued against those who contribute to foreign media by the minister in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). "Forced into unemployment, threatened with prison and now beaten up: the fate Robert Mugabe reserves for independent journalists is more and more vicious," said Reporters Without Borders.

News from the diaspora

Haiti: Counting some of the votes


In this article, the Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Brian Concannon, describes how the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) engaged in a comprehensive program to suppress supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ally Rene Preval, comprised mainly of Haiti's urban and rural poor. From voter registration through election day, the IGH - with the help of the US, France and Canada - tried to steal the elections: they prevented prominent politicians from participating by jailing them illegally; discouraged poor voters from registering and voting by putting too few registration centers and voting offices in poor neighborhoods; and finally manipulated the votes by discarding Preval votes or declaring them "null."

Haiti: Return to CARICOM approved


Haiti can return as a member of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) after its elections, says Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Mr. Patterson made the announcement during a press conference in Trinidad following his final chairing of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations, during which Haiti's readmission was discussed. The conference was telecast to journalists assembled at the Office of the Prime Minister's press centre in St. Andrew. With the presence of CARICOM monitors, and other such organisations on the ground, including 9,000 United Nations troops, he said he was satisfied the elections were free and fair.

Conflict & emergencies

Chad: Darfur crisis spilling across border


The crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which has been trickling into Chad for the better part of three years, is now bleeding freely across the border, says a report from Human Rights Watch. A counterinsurgency carried out by the Sudanese government and its militias against rebel groups in Darfur, characterized by war crimes and “ethnic cleansing,” has forcibly displaced almost two million civilians in Darfur and another 220,000 people who have fled across the border into Chad. The same ethnic “Janjaweed” militias that have committed systematic abuses in Darfur have staged cross-border raids into Chad, attacking Darfurian refugees and Chadian villagers alike, seizing their livestock and killing those who resist.

Cote D'Ivoire: The cost of peace


Why has the UN managed to carry out successful elections in Liberia but failed in neighboring Ivory Coast? A diplomat based in Abidjan explains that unlike Liberia - whose state structures had collapsed when the peacekeeping forces stepped in - the rebels and the government in Ivory Coast, who "make money" from the civil war, show little desire to resolve the conflict. The head of the UN mission in Liberia also points out that the UN presence in Ivory Coast is relatively small compared to Liberia and the disarmament program, much weaker.

DRC: End illegal exploitation of natural resources


The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo must act promptly on the recommendations of a Congolese parliamentary investigation that uncovered illegal natural resource exploitation and profiteering from armed conflict, said a leading group of international human rights, environmental and aid organizations this week. In June 2005 the Lutundula Commission, a special National Assembly commission led by parliamentarian Christophe Lutundula, submitted a report on its investigations into mining and other business contracts that rebels and government authorities signed between 1996 and 2003, when Congo was wracked by war. The report found that dozens of contracts are either illegal or of limited value for the development of the country and it recommends their termination or renegotiation.

Eastern Africa: Drought traps African farmers in vicious circle


Millions are victims of the latest drought to hit Africa, reports Reuters Alertnet. As in Niger and southern Africa in 2005, the United Nations is pleading for hundreds of millions of dollars to fight the threat of a major humanitarian catastrophe in eastern Africa. But while some believe higher powers are behind the deadly droughts, agricultural experts and environmentalists say man himself is largely to blame because of years of neglect and mismanagement of land and other resources.

Nigeria: Deadly cartoon protests in north spark reprisals in south


Several people were reported killed in southern Nigeria on Tuesday in revenge attacks following deadly riots last weekend in the north in which Muslims targeted Christians over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. On Tuesday, bands of youths armed with clubs, machetes and petrol cans rampaged through the streets of Onitsha in Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south, attacking Muslims and their properties, killing several people, according to several residents.

Nigeria: ERA condemns Delta raid


Environmental advocacy group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has said last week's bombing of Ijaw communities in Delta State was a crude manifestation of the country's military penchant for excessive use of force as response to agitations in the Niger Delta. The group in an online statement accused the Federal Government of using its military might to suppress certain Niger Delta communities it perceived as being in the vanguard of the campaign for environmental justice.

Somalia: US in new policy as pirates threaten Indian Ocean


Relatives of 10 alleged Somali pirates have said that the suspects were innocent fishermen. The men in question were captured by US naval soldiers who came to rescue MV Safinat Al-Basarat, an Indian boat, which together with its 16 crew members, was allegedly being highjacked by the Somalis. "Our sons and brothers were not hooded men committing sinful acts. They were on a fishing trip in Somalia's territorial waters," claimed a man interviewed by a local FM Radio station.

Somalia: Warlords start peace talks


Local leaders, including traditional elders and the city mayor, met on Tuesday to discuss ceasefire plans. More than 20 people died in the recent clashes, which were the most violent seen in the capital in several years. Violence broke out when some militia leaders formed an alliance to fight supporters of unofficial Islamic Sharia courts that have emerged in Mogadishu.

Uganda: '25,000 die monthly in the North'


Tens of thousands of people die every month in war torn northern Uganda as a result of disease, poor living conditions and war, according to a new report by NGOs working in the region. The report released by Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU), said at least 131 people mostly children die everyday as a result of the violence and poor conditions in hundreds of IDP camps. "There are 918 excess deaths each week. Each month, almost 25,000 people in Uganda die from easily preventable diseases," CSOPNU said. This would translate into 47, 736 deaths in a year. CSOPNU is a coalition of about 40 member organisations advocating lasting peace in the region.

Internet & technology

Africa: A Foss toolkit for policy-makers and practitioners


Over the last few years free/open source software (FOSS) has emerged as an alternative to proprietary software and touted as a solution to Africa's digital divide. The report, "Free/open source software (FOSS) policy in Africa: A toolkit for policy-makers and practitioners" is targeted at governments that are investigating whether and how they can integrate FOSS into their strategies for social and economic development.

Africa: Pan-African regulator could reduce ICT costs


A Pan-African ICT regulatory agency that could deal specifically with ICT issues that have a continental bearing, such as satellite communications, could help reduce the costs of communications to African governments, businesses and individuals. This was the view of Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) when he opened SATCOM 2006 as keynote speaker in Johannesburg on February 21.

Kenya: Free software movement heads for Nairobi


Free software developers and advocates from across the African continent will be heading for Nairobi in Kenya this week as they gather for the second Fossfa African Conference on the Digital Commons. The Idlelo2 conference will run from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 February. Key issues that will be hammered out during the conference include free and open source software in government, health services, education and entrepreneurship.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Global: Discussion forum on health communication


The Communication Initiative is operating a new discussion forum on health communication for the Health Communication Partnership, called 'Why invest in health communication? The forum will focus on the following questions: Do you have an opinion on investment in health communication? Is it enough? Are there discernable trends? How do we measure them? What would you like to see and why? Who should we be lobbying and how?

Global: News You Might Have Missed


A weekly newsletter which draws on more than 100 sources in 37 countries to present articles which the publishers believe have been underreported or overlooked.

Zimbabwe: Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)


Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has announced the launch of its new website. In Zimbabwe where freedom of expression is seriously restricted through repressive legislation and other means and where an unofficial ban exists on lesbian and gay people speaking for themselves using the government-controlled media, the GALZ Information and Communications Department plays an important role in countering state-instigated propaganda.

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: Database of African Theses and Dissertations


The Database of African Theses and Dissertations (DATAD) is a programme to improve management and access to African scholarly work. Theses and dissertations represent a significant proportion of Africa’s research activity. However, access to this research output is not easy, even within the institutions where they are submitted.

Global: Alcan Prize for Sustainability 2006


Any not-for-profit, civil society or non-governmental organisation based anywhere in the world can enter to win this annual US$1 million prize for their contributions to addressing and progressing economic, environmental and/or social sustainability.

Global: Ford Fellowship opportunities for Minorities and Other Marginalised Communities


This programme seeks to build a new generation of social justice leaders worldwide. Ford Foundation International Fellows come from groups and communities that have traditionally lacked access to higher education and are selected on the strength of their academic achievement, leadership skills and social commitment. These include groups such as women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other marginalised classes, the physically disadvantaged and those with other kinds of socio-economic deprivation.

Global: The Tides Foundation


Since 1976, Tides Foundation has worked with donors committed to positive social change, putting resources and people together to strengthen community-based nonprofit organizations and the progressive movement through innovative grantmaking.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Central African Republic: CODESRIA Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops for Social Research in Africa


The 2006 session of the CODESRIA sub-regional methodological workshops will explore the conditions for the employment and validation of qualitative perspectives in African contexts. To this end, the workshops will be open to all the social research disciplines. These disciplines are uniformly confronted with broadly similar difficulties of understanding social reality and the challenges posed by techniques of data collection and analysis, which, on account of their ''qualitative'' nature, are suspected by some to be seriously lacking in scientific rigour.

East Africa: Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI) 2006


Akina Mama wa Afrika will be holding the Eastern Africa sub regional African Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI) from April 24th 5th May 2006, in Uganda. The AWLI aims to strengthen the personal and organisational capacities of young African women to influence policy and decision-making through training and networking. It serves as a networking, training and information dissemination forum for young women aged between 25-40 working on gender issues.

Ethiopia: Conference on violence against girls in Africa


The African Child Policy Forum will hold its 2006 International Policy Conference on the African Child: Violence Against Girls in Africa on May 11 and 12 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Speakers from the African Union, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and members from Pan-African policy makers will join women's-rights and child-rights organisations, as well as child survivors of violence, in this major two-day conference.

Global: Master of arts in gender and peacebuilding


The Upeace Master of Arts in Gender and Peace Building is a ten-month programme that has been designed to support women and men who participate in social, economic and political processes of change and who are interested in key issues of gender and peace building. In addition, the degree responds to the demands and challenges faced by students continuing their education and by mid-career professionals working in governmental, multi-lateral or bi-lateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and private enterprises.

Global: Transforming civil conflicts


"Transforming Civil Conflicts", an online course developed by The Network University in cooperation with Bradford University, is offered from March 6 – 31, 2006. This award-winning four-week course familiarises participants with contemporary theories of conflict and conflict resolution, provides them with a range of relevant information on conflict on the Internet, and practical issues and debates from within the field. There is a limited amount of partial scholarships available for participants from the 'global south'. For more information, please visit our website:, the course demosite:, or send an email to Bart Overbeek: [email protected]

Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

UK: 2nd Floor, 51 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA

SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio, 06 Cromer Road, Muizenberg 7945, Cape Town, South Africa

KENYA: 1st Floor, Shelter Afrique Building, Mamlaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya

[email protected]
[email protected]

Fahamu Trust is registered as a charity in the UK No 1100304
Fahamu Ltd is a UK company limited by guarantee 4241054
Fahamu SA is registered as a trust in South Africa IT 372/01
Fahumu is a Global Support Fund of the Tides Foundation, a duly registered public charity, exempt from Federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Support the struggle for social justice: $2 (one pound) a week can make a real difference Donate online at

Get Pambazuka News Headlines Displayed On Your Site
Would you like Pambazuka News headlines to be displayed on your website?

RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is an easy way for you to keep updated automatically on Pambazuka News. Instead of going to our website to see what's news, you can use RSS to let you know each time there's something new.

Visit: You can choose headlines from any or all of the Pambazuka News categories, and there is also a choice of format and style. Email [email protected] for more information.

Visit for more than 25,000 news items, editorials,letters,reviews, etc that have appeared in Pambazuka News during the last two years.

Editor: Firoze Manji
Online News Editor: Patrick Burnett
East Africa Correspondent, Kenya: Atieno Ndomo
West Africa Correspondent, Senegal: Hawa Ba
Editorial advisor: Rotimi Sankore
Blog reviewer: Sokari Ekine
COL Intern: Karoline Kemp
Online Volunteers:
Rwanda - Elizabeth Onyango
US - Robtel Pailey
Zimbabwe - Tinashe Chimedza
Website technical management: Becky Faith and Mark Rogerson
Website design: Judith Charlton

Pambazuka News currently receives support from Christian Aid, Commonwealth of Learning Fahamu Trust, Ford Foundation, New Field Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Oxfam GB, and TrustAfrica and many indidividual donors.

SUBMITTING NEWS: send to [email protected]

The Newsletter comes out weekly and is delivered to subscribers by e-mail. Subscription is free. To subscribe, send an e-mail to with only the word 'subscribe' in the subject or body. To subscribe online, visit:

This Newsletter is produced under the principles of 'fair use'. We strive to attribute sources by providing direct links to authors and websites. When full text is submitted to us and no website is provided, we make the text available on our website via a "for more information" link. Please contact [email protected] immediately regarding copyright issues.

Pambazuka News includes short snippets from, with corresponding web links to, commercial and other sites in order to bring the attention of our readers to useful information on these sites. We do this on the basis of fair use and on a non-commercial basis and in what we believe to be the public interest. If you object to our inclusion of the snippets from your website and the associated link, please let us know and we will desist from using your website as a source. Please write to [email protected]

The views expressed in this newsletter, including the signed editorials, do not necessarily represent those of Fahamu or the editors of Pambazuka News. While we make every effort to ensure that all facts and figures quoted by authors are accurate, Fahamu and the editors of Pambazuka News cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies contained in any articles. Please contact [email protected] if you believe that errors are contained in any article and we will investigate and provide feedback.

(c) Fahamu 2006

If you wish to stop receiving the newsletter, unsubscribe immediately by sending a message FROM THE ADDRESS YOU WANT REMOVED to [email protected] Please contact [email protected] should you need further assistance subscribing or unsubscribing.

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português

© 2009 Fahamu -