Pambazuka News 307: Ethiopia: Democracy still in jail
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.
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Featured this week
FEATURE: Mammo Muchie writes on the imprisonment of the 2005 election winners, and of democracy itself, in Ethiopia
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Priscilla Nyokabi assesses the Kenyan freedom of information bill
- Ochieng Khairallah on the criminalisation of the poor in Kenya
- Everlyne Nairesiae of GROOTS reflects on the use of mobile phones for social justice
- Samson Eyassu responds to Mandisi Majavu's article on the Wretched of the Earth
BLOGGING AFRICA: Reviews West African blogs
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Ethiopian forum calls for unity; the challenges facing a United States of Africa
WOMEN AND GENDER: Egyptian women strike for better pay
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Satellite cameras monitor Darfur villages
HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty International releases 2007 report
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Violence against Chad’s unions escalates
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: 90,000 return to Mogadishu
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Algerian reshuffle divides politicians
CORRUPTION: African appointed to head TI
DEVELOPMENT: G8: Declare vulture fund profiteering
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Swazi campaign supports HIV+ truckers
EDUCATION: Concerns over Tanzania’s school dropout rate
ENVIRONMENT: Technology to save Malawi’s rainforests
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Emirates’ royals threaten Tanzania’s indigenous people
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Plans for Africa media freedom debate
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Europe looks to encourage Diaspora investment
ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNS: Cuba Cycle Challenge
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: IT a catalyst for African development
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops, Jobs, and Books and Publications
*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://del.icio.us/pambazuka_news
Democracy still in jail
Two years on, the winners of the 2005 Ethiopian elections remain in prison. Mammo Muchie challenges the international community to stop using double standards, and demands that it privileges and prioritises values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law over narrow national interests.
The review of African blogs has been running in Pambazuka News for almost two years. I believe the reviews form an important part of Pambazuka News as they provide readers with a 'third voice' within the mediascape. From time to time, I would like to open up the weekly reviews to other African bloggers either on the continent or in the diaspora to contribute as guest reviewers. If you are interested in being a guest reviewer please contact me by email:
[email protected] with BLOG REVIEW in the subject line.
Sokari Ekine - online editor.
Submitting articles to Pambazuka News
We continue to receive excellent articles for publication in Pambazuka News. If you wish to submit articles for consideration, please make sure that you place the word 'SUBMISSION' in the subject line and send the article to [email protected]. This will help us make sure that your submissions don't get lost in the thousands of other mails that comes to that address.
Freedom of information in Kenya
Priscilla Nyokabi Kanyua
The right to information underpins and is the cornerstone of all other human rights. Priscilla Nyokabi assesses the newly proposed Freedom of Information Act of Kenya.
Global woes: poverty or un-bridled capitalism
Ochieng M. Khairallah
Ochieng M. Khairallah argues that the trend in Kenya and elsewhere to criminalise the poor will lead to the systematic eradication of the poor, if the causes of poverty are not addressed.
Mobile activism and community development
Everlyne Nairesiae of GROOTS Kenya reviews the recent three-day workshop of pan-African mobile phone activists, held in Nairobi. She explains how GROOTS has applied mobile phone technology in their work on property rights for rural Kenyan women.
Global: Computer Aid International Cuba Cycle Challenge
Cycle 350km across one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the world, whilst helping Computer Aid International deliver vital IT education to communities in need.
The passing of Nkrumah's widow
The widow of Kwame Nkrumah, Madam Fatiha, passed away last week in Cairo, her home town, where she had been living for most of the years since Nkrumah’s over throw in February 1966. As to be expected all kinds of tributes have been pouring out from all kinds of corners including people and institutions who have never really cared what became of her and her three children (Gamal, Sekou and Samia) since Nkrumah died. Many of these conspicuous mourners did not even realize that Madam Fatiha was still alive all these years.
Kwame Nkrumah's widow died in Cairo
After a prolonged illness, Fathia Nkrumah, widow of Kwame Nkrumah, died in hospital in Cairo, Egypt
UK: Orange prize for literature
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wins the Orange Prize for Fiction with her novel on Biafra, Half Yellow of a Sun.
The Wretched of the Earth: Critical psychology in the colonial context
I have read Mandisi Majavu's essay with interest http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/41566). I found it different and less engaging than the articles he wrote before. What I missed from his article this time being - his own voice. In this essay he has drowned it in a cacophony of quotes from secondary sources.
I expected the title to give a panoramic view of the essay and to be followed by an introductory paragraph which leads us into the hinterland of the essay. The title is not doing its job. I do not see it demarcating the purview of the topic he means to treat. Though, it is not clear where psychology stops and other sciences begin. Especially, its critical version. This has made the essay unwieldy.
Then comes the two blocks of paragraphs entirely made of quotes. I do not know. I fear academy is cramping his style. There is a whole lot of talk on quoting, on acknowledging the originator of the idea…the sentence. Maybe that is the culprit.
His rebuttal that decolonisation should not be violent, as Fanon takes it to be, is cogent. This is the best part of the essay. Still, I see something lacking - real world examples. Why not motivate it by bringing the experience of South Africa, India and also Zimbabwe among others? Why not introduce his own voice, when there is a big room for that? We miss Mandisi there.
He went past overruling violence as a solution and tried to prove that being subjected to colonialism does not result in inferiority complex and self hatred. Then, what is the effect of colonialism on the subject people? I am not questioning whether it is a disease that can be treated by violence or not. Violence can utmost be surface therapeutic. But, what comes to explain away the evil effects of colonialism though we may not find them a common name- is typical gooblydygook. The worst part of the essay.
Here is also another point I would like to comment on in this essay: 'To write in African language, or quote only African writers, does not necessarily translate into originality.' What is at stake here is not ‘originality’, it is ‘allegiance’. Proponents of national culture do not hold that one's capacity to produce something ‘original’ will betray you the moment you strayed into a foreign culture. But mourn the loss of your brainpower spent on producing an original work that enriches foreign culture rather than yours. Why not pull Ngugi’s Decolonizing the Mind into the picture? I think it is relevant and would have helped him to ground and flesh out his argument.
Mandisi's absence is conspicuous in the conclusion than in any other part of the essay. We never get a chance to hear him even in the conclusion. Besides, why present a premise in a conclusion? Another minor contention: why a yawn-inducing borrowed from economics jargon - growth-oriented attitude about one’s ideas. This is an obvious fact that can be put in a simple language. Everybody outgrows his ideas. It is a one way street. It begins at romanticism and goes to the direction of realism. We are all in that continuum. Let me finish by giving free rein to my quibbling. Somewhere in the essay he has written the ‘arrogance of colonial power’. It is so harsh a reality to be called by a light word such as ‘arrogance’. Arrogance is the attribute some ascribe to President Thabo Mbeki. I think ‘intransigence’ may be better, though not a perfect fit.
Review of West African blogs
Continuing with regional reviews - this week West African blogs.
Radical community radio in Soweto
Molefi Ndlovu from the Center for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa speaks to Pambazuka News about the radical community radio project RASA FM in Soweto.
25 May Ethiopia public forum calls for a union of peoples
Afroflag Youth Vision, a network of youth organisations, and Oxfam GB recently held discussions at the Axum hotel in Addis Ababa on the African Union’s proposal to establish continental government. 150 participants from mainly local NGOs, universities, international organisations, and embassies, and national and international media attended the event.
Three presentations clarified the implications of the AU proposal. Desire Assogbavi, Oxfam GB, pan-Africa senior policy analyst provided a brief analysis 'AU Study on the Continental Government towards the United States of Africa'.
Dr Tim Murithi, senior researcher, Direct Conflict Prevention Programme, Institute of Security Studies (ISS), presented a paper 'From Pan Africanism to the Union of Africa'. Derese Getachew, lecturer in sociology and social anthropology, Addis Ababa university, presented a paper 'African Citizenhood and Challenge to realize the United States of Africa'.
Participants expressed concerns about the timing, feasibility and lack of citizens’ involvement in the process of establishing a union government. For most of the participants, this was the first time they had heard of the proposal. They felt that integration and/or unity of the continent should start from the bottom - the people, not from the top - with heads of states. A true African citizen must identify with and be able to move freely within the continent. African Union member states must also establish common standards of democracy and human rights, before establishing a union government.
Further, conflicts within and across national borders continue to plague the continent. The current AU must demonstrate a greater capacity to resolve ongoing conflicts on the continent. Though participants did not reject the idea of establishing a union government, they were concerned that the timeframes for achieving the proposal were too ambitious. However, a first step towards achieving unity would be to rationalise existing Regional Economic Communities.
More importantly, there needs to be more media involvement and coverage, especially in local languages, to promote greater awareness and involvement of the public in the process of establishing union government.
An African Union government: Towards a United States of Africa
The seminar, co-hosted by the Institute for Security Studies and the Southern African Trust, brought together about 30 participants from civil society, research and academic institutions, government and diplomatic missions.
Cheryl Hendricks opened the seminar by underlining the significance of Africa Day, which commemorates the formation of the Organisation of the African Union and which celebrates Africa’s achievements. She observed that in many respects, this year we will be reliving the grand debate of the early 1960s with pan-Africanists calling for political and economic integration, and moderates calling for a more gradualist approach that gave birth to the OAU.
She outlined the stated rationale for a continental government pointing out that any union must be of African people, and not merely states. Integration is said to hold the key to resolving Africa’s problems.
However there are obviously many challenges that pose doubt on the readiness of Africa to embark on this institutional arrangement. Hence the current debate with arguments on the one side noting that we should first concentrate on strengthening current AU structures, and those on the other, noting that we should increase the pace of integration as in our current modus operandi, conditions will never be ripe.
This debate is, however, largely taking place amongst African heads of state, yet, it is African citizens who need to be deliberating, for it is they who stand to gain or lose the most. It is a debate ostensibly carried out for the purpose of facilitating the integration of Africa’s people.
George Mukundi gave an historical overview of the pan-African debate, underscoring the motivation for shared historical and cultural values, collective self-reliance, self-sufficiency and political freedom. He observed that Africa has continued to remain poor and divided.
The establishment of the African Union in 2002 was meant to accelerate the continent’s integration process and to strengthen its shared values and common purpose. But the challenges to continental integration have remained, especially with AU member states still holding onto the issue of sovereignty. The contradiction is that it is these leaders who are leading the debate on the formation of a ‘United States of Africa’. He noted the challenges to continental unity including; mistrust, economic inequalities, racism and questions of ethnicity. He also pointed out that political leaders are at the moment pursuing the question of integration without involving the general public.
As a way forward he pointed out the need for AU to take tough and courageous decisions and determination to enforce them, to consult and involve all Africans, to strengthen and rationalise the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building blocks to achieve a Union government, address the recurrent financial constraint on the union and adopt measured steps that take into account complementarity of political and economic structures.
Prince Mashele made a presentation 'African Union government: Between dreams and reality'. He observed that the debate on a ‘United States of Africa’ picked up momentum from the 7th African Union Summit in Banjul Gambia in July 2006.
At this summit, a study report on the ‘United States of Africa’ was presented outlining concrete steps to be taken. Mashele critiqued the proposed road map arguing that there was no way the pan-African parliament (PAP) would start legislating by 2009. He also questioned the possible contradictions between the powers bestowed on the PAP to legislate and the assembly as the highest decision making body, adding that without political will, nothing would work.
He pointed out the divergence in suggestions over the structure of the union with some suggesting a federal government while others proposing the strengthening of the current structures of the African Union. In conclusion, Mashele observed that in the face of the myriad of problems facing the continent, the current debates on continental integration will neither lead to a ‘United States of Africa’ nor continental government. He termed it misplaced optimism and mere sensation.
Ozias Tungwarara picked up from Prince Mashele’s conclusion, arguing that as a Zimbabwean, he was attracted to the optimism of continental integration. He observed that the idea of a United States of Africa was good, although there was still work to be done, especially in making it resonate with the general public.
He observed that while the proposal for a continental government would have profound implications on the majority of African people, the African Union has not involved them. Civil society too, he observed, have not been effective in mobilsing people to participate in the debates. The debate has remained elitist rather than people centred. Civil society’s participation has largely been constrained, partly by the lack of cross-border networking to pressurise governments on issues of continental interest. The question, he posed is what should civil society do in the current scenario? Do they take the ‘United States of Africa’ debate back to the people for discussion before the Accra Summit or remain in reactionary mode?
He also pointed out that the debates on continental integration seem driven by neoliberal economics. He urged for the Accra summit to be withheld until ‘people’s’ voices have been heard and that civil societies should come up with new options relating to people’s engagement and coordinate efforts between civil societies focusing on development and those on politics.
The discussant, John Tesha, observed it is apparent that the continental landscape has been changing, as evidenced in the occurrence of regular elections and presidents leaving offices peacefully. He pointed out that the discourse on continental integration embodied the message of African solutions to African problems. He agreed with the need for an inclusive process, although he observed that the civil societies do have a platform at the African Union (ECOSOC). He urged the civil society to make use of available mechanisms and avoid being reactive. He conceded that that 2015 may be too close for political integration, and called for gradual and realistic time frames. He also called for advocates of ‘structured and inclusive’ processes to make concrete propositions about how that should be done. One critical question, he felt, needs to pursued is the financial implication of an African Union government.
During the plenary a number of issues were raised. These included the possible immigration challenges that could arise from political integration, a concern with abstract debates that are never implemented, the question of what makes the integration debate necessary at this moment, and the argument that presenters were offering an ‘all or nothing solution’.
It was suggested that some countries, which are more eager, would probably proceed with the political integration and others join them along the way. Other questions related to differences between North Africans and the rest of the continent, the effect of Alpha Konare’s possible resignation from the AU leadership, whether the continental integration process has borrowed from other models, such as the Asian model, and the argument that civil society could too be considered elitist.
In response, Prince Mashele observed that the current continental integration discourses are motivated by political not economic integration, pointing out the challenges of infrastructure. He observed that the question of timeframes should not be a concern given that the EU has been driven by the desire for concrete measures and not timeframes.
Mashele also pointed out the disconnection between the North and the rest of Africa, as amplified in the NEPAD process and peacekeeping missions on the continent. He underscored the need for a functional or sectoral integration e.g. regionally and across certain sectors such as infrastructure.
George Mukundi contested the notion that political integration would create migration problems, citing examples in West and East Africa, which currently allow free movement. He observed that Kadhafi’s pronouncements provided impetus for the debate on the United States of Africa, and it appears other leaders have bought into it. He observed that there was no problem with countries borrowing models which work elsewhere, provided these models are domesticated and made relevant to their new contexts.
Ozias Tungwarara argued that the debate should not be attributed to an individual, but rather be seen in the pan-African paradigm where Africa seeks to address its development challenges. He observed that from the research he has done, it is apparent that there has been little consultation on the proposed African Union government. The ECOSOC platform, he further observed, has been in interim mode all along. He urged for civil societies to create independent spaces for participation in the African Union. He emphasised the need for critical contributions from all the constituencies.
John Tesha answered the question of ‘why now’ with a rhetorical one ‘why not now?’ He observed that there is no need to question when some countries decide to lead, arguing that it is quite normal everywhere in the world. On the question of civil society participation, he said, he saw no obstacles, and observed that it all depended on initiative.
Cheryl Hendricks recapped the debate touching on the main running themes. She said the question on timing should be rephrased to 'why only now' since the raison d’etre of the OAU and AU were supposed precisely to lead along this path. She concluded by underscoring the need for the debate to be taken beyond the ‘blue chip’ NGOs to the masses.
Call for the return of information for the database on CSO activities at the African Union Summit
The Institute for Democratic Governance is the secretariat of the Ghana CSO coalition – AU Summit July 2007.
To facilitate coordination, collaboration and networking among CSOs that wish to organise or participate in pre-summit activities in Accra, Ghana, the secretariat is creating a database on CSO/NGO pre-summit activities in the months of June and early July 2007.
The database will be accessible to all the registered CSOs and will enable visiting CSO actors to also interact with the secretariat. Registered CSOs will also be updated periodically on pre-summit activities and events in Ghana.
If you with to participate in this exercise, please download the form at www.pambazuka.org/aumonitor and return it to au at ideg.org.
Nigeria: Group cautions on Africa Union government formation
Various civil society groups in Nigeria have raised the need to look critically at available infrastructure in the African continent before a consensus is reached on the formation of an African Union Government or a United States of Africa.
This was raised at a recent one-day round table organized by ActionAid, Nigeria in Abuja.
Nigerian CSOs propose performance assessment before an AU government
Civil society groups in Nigeria raised the need to look critically at the performance of existing institutions, before a consensus is reached on the formation of an African Union government or a United States of Africa, during a one-day roundtable organised by ActionAid in Abuja, Nigeria on May 25, 2007.
The roundtable attracted 32 representatives from civil society organisations, media, ministries of foreign affairs, the labour movement, academia, ECOWAS, private sector and other stakeholders. The meeting noted that a United States of Africa is a desirable vision, but raised some challenges including common political and cultural values, identity, citizenship integration and state power.
Speakers at the roundtable also raised concern over what was described as 'lack of democratic credentials and credibility of the African leaders, inadequate infrastructure, violation of human rights of citizens across the continent, restricted movement of Africans within the continent, context of sovereignty, political instability, travels within the continent and language barriers, immigration, setting up policy standards and adhering to them'.
Participants at the roundtable observed further that African governments need to popularise the proposal for the continental government amongst their people through sensitisation meetings, the media, academic discourse, and research into past experiences and achievements, such as OAU and AU.
In a communiqué produced by the roundtable, participants recommended the need to analyse the achievement of the African Union, and use the lessons learnt to discuss the formation of a United States of Africa.
The assessment of AU performance should be based on the implementation of existing decisions and performance of relevant institutions. This should involve all relevant institutions, governments, CSOs, media, businesses in the process leading to the formation of the United States of Africa.
Civil society must ensure that there is no disconnect between leaders and the peoples of Africa toward implementation of the proposed United States of Africa.
As a next step, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be hosting another public forum to discuss the proposal, and civil society has requested to work in conjunction with the ministry to organise these discussions.
For further information contact:
Tel: +234 (9) 290 7867/8
tunde.aremu at actionaid.org
Africa: African Media Project receives grant
The International Women’s Media Foundation will launch a new project to enhance coverage of agriculture, rural development and women in African media with a $2.5 million grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The goals of the project are to increase and enhance reporting on agriculture and rural development, incorporate women’s roles in the coverage of agriculture and rural economics into reporting on those topics, and create more gender equality in newsrooms.
Egypt: Women strike for better pay
For over a month now, workers have been staging a sit-in at a textile factory in rural Egypt, according to a report form Al Jazeera. The majority of them are female. They're sleeping on the factory floors, leaving behind families and children, in their demands for better pay. Why? Because the average wages for these women is a lowly 30 dollars a month, not enough to feed and clothe their families. And since 1999, they haven't even been paid the bonuses and grants to which they're entitled.
Global: G-8 faces lesson on school girls in battle zones
When the world's wealthiest nations meet at the G-8 summit in Germany this week, aid workers plan to remind them that education pledges they made to children--the majority of them girls--are not being met in the world's worst conflict zones.
Sudan: Female journalists covering Sudan with passionate purpose
In daily newspapers across the world, stories are filed from foreign correspondents on assignment in war-torn Darfur in Western Sudan while London or New York analysts propose solutions to a conflict they'll never see. But on the ground, from Khartoum to Kordufan to the center of Darfur in El Fasher, local female journalists are telling the story to their own people.
West Africa: University of Ghana forges gender advocacy agenda
The University of Ghana is forging a gender advocacy trail in West Africa by setting up a sex-assault crisis center, forming a policy on harassment and improving the campus culture for women.
Global: Amnesty International 2007 report
In an inter-dependent world, global challenges, whether of poverty or security, of migration or marginalization, demand responses based on global values of human rights that bring people together and promote our collective well-being. Human rights provide the basis for a sustainable future. But protecting the security of states rather than the sustainability of people’s lives and livelihoods appears to be the order of the day, says the Amnesty International 2007 report.
Global: Nearly a quarter of world’s workforce clocking ‘excessive’ hours – UN report
A new study by the United Nations labour agency finds that more than one in five workers around the world – over 600 million people – are working “excessively” long hours. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 22 per cent of the global workforce are still working more than 48 hours a week, “often merely to make ends meet.”
Global: Press Release on anti-trafficking law
The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition is delighted by the passage of a strong anti-trafficking law in New York. The Human Trafficking Law, signed into force by Governor Spitzer, is the strongest state anti-trafficking legislation in the country. The Coalition, an alliance of over 80 state-wide organizations, strongly endorses this anti-trafficking law, which has all the elements considered essential to a strong law.
Sierra Leone: New website to track Charles Taylor trial
A new website, has been launched to provide news and expert analysis—¬updated daily—on the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor. The website will feature daily updates from the courtroom, as well as analysis, background information, the trial calendar and other resources. The site is a joint project of the Open Society Institute, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and the International Senior Lawyers Project.
Sudan: UN war crimes prosecutor calls for arrest of first Darfur suspects
Briefing the Security Council, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for the arrest of the two suspects wanted to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s conflict-wracked Darfur region.
DRC: UN official urges protection for civilians caught in conflict
At a conference of religious leaders in the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a United Nations humanitarian official has said dialogue among parties is a cornerstone for the protection of civilians caught in the conflict.
Sierra Leone: More than 100,000 Liberians repatriated
The number of UNHCR-assisted returns to Liberia passed the 100,000 mark on Tuesday with the arrival of a convoy carrying scores of returnees from neighbouring Sierra Leone. The landmark convoy bearing more than 250 returning refugees entered Liberia at the Bo Waterside border crossing. Government officials, UNHCR representatives and humanitarian workers attended a welcoming ceremony at the nearby Sinje transit centre.
Somalia: An estimated 90,000 people return to Mogadishu
The UN refugee agency estimates that up to 90,000 people may have returned to Mogadishu in recent weeks, or almost a quarter of those who fled fierce fighting earlier this year in the Somali capital.The figure is based on monitoring of population movements inside Somalia by UNHCR and a network of partners.
Somalia: Returnees find supplies short in Mogadishu
Residents of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, are flocking back to the city but many have found their homes destroyed, while food and medical care are in short supply, local sources said. "Our estimate is that since the end of major combat, [late April-early May], 16,000 to 17,000 families have returned to the city," said a civil society source involved in assisting the returnees.
Sudan: Wave of refugees swells Darfur's camps
Insecurity, tension and attacks on aid convoys have this year added another 140 000 people to an estimated two million people displaced by civil war in Sudan's western Darfur region, the United Nations said on Wednesday. Many of the camps set up for the homeless are full, and more than half a million people are completely out of reach of aid agencies, the UN mission in Khartoum added in a report.
Chad: Violence against unions "escalates"
Trade unions are expressing their concerns over what they call an "escalating violence" by security officers against their representatives all over Chad. The country has been paralysed by an unpopular general strike for over one month. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has denounced what it called "the recent escalation in anti-union repression in Chad," where a public sector strike launched a month ago by the Inter-Union Group continues.
Nigeria: Militants announce suspension of attacks on foreign oil workers
One of the main militant groups operating in the Niger Delta says it will suspend hostilities for one month to allow the government of new President Umaru Yar'Adua to create a plan for peace in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The group has also released six foreign hostages. But as Sarah Simpson reports from Lagos four more foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in the oil-rich region.
South Africa: Strikers planning 'complete shutdown'
Striking public servants will completely shut down all government services in the Western Cape by Friday 8 June, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said. Provincial secretary Suraya Jawoodeen said Nehawu would intensify its strike action and re-mobilise all members to ensure a complete shut-down of services by Friday.
Zimbabwe: WOZA members arrested in Bulawayo
Approximately 20 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) were arrested in Bulawayo. Amongst those arrested are Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who handed themselves in at Bulawayo Central in solidarity with a group that had been arrested earlier.
Zimbabwe: WOZA/MOZA's view - ten steps to a new Zimbabwe
WOZA has been reading and hearing about 'the talks' and wish to express our views about these. Firstly, we would like to know exactly what South African President Thabo Mbeki, Tanzanian President Kikwete and our SADC brothers and sisters want to achieve by their mediation.
Algeria: Contention over amendment to electoral law
A proposed amendment to Algeria’s electoral law, expected this June, will set limits on the existence of non-representative or small parties, with the official intention of preventing the fragmentation of Algerian politics. The amendment is also expected to place stricter conditions on prospective candidates.
Algeria: Reshuffle divides politicians
President Bouteflika's decision to reappoint nearly the entire previous government has come as a great disappointment to some Algerians who had been hoping for a change. Although most citizens were firm in their opposition to the decision, Algerian politicians were divided, Magharebia news reports.
Comoros: Anjouan polls delayed after violence
Comoros has delayed an election due on Sunday on the mutinous island of Anjouan for one week after police there shot three civilians during political unrest, national radio said late on Thursday. The coup-prone Indian Ocean archipelago was due to elect local presidents for its three main islands. The authorities said polls would go ahead as planned this weekend on Grande Comore and Moheli, but Anjouan's would be postponed to June 17.
Ethiopia: 55 goverment opponents charged with rebellion
Ethiopia has charged 55 opposition members with trying to launch a rebellion, a government prosecutor told said on Wednesday. More than one hundred opposition figures are already on trial, accused of plotting a coup after disputed 2005 elections.
Africa: African appointed to head TI
South African Cobus de Swardt, 44, Director of Global Programmes at Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption, has been appointed Managing Director of TI’s Berlin-based Secretariat. De Swardt has served as Global Programmes Director since May 2004, leading the work on TI's global priorities, and heads the International Group of four regional departments. Since 30 April 2007, he has also served as Acting Managing Director.
Ethiopia: 50 officials arrested over graft
Ethiopia said on Thursday it had detained 50 government and company officials for graft in one of the East African nation's largest crackdowns. Ethiopia has a relatively clean image by the continent's standards, managing to avoid the sort of major public corruption scandals plaguing neighbour Kenya, for example
Kenya: A rare gem from parliament on corruption
Since 1963, corruption has begat corruption in the successive governments of Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki, as a silent majority watched hoping against hope that they would not be affected. Pastor Martin Niemöller described this phenomenon - the assumption of the ostrich position by collectively burying our heads in the sand as the fruit of inaction ripens.
Nigerian Oil Workers protest takeover of refinaries.
Nigerian oil workers threaten to physically prevent the takeover of Kaduna Port Harcourt refineries by their new owner, Blue Star Oil, a Nigerian consortium.
Zambia: UK court freezes Chiluba's assets
A London high court has frozen the assets of Zambia's former president Frederick Chiluba after he was convicted last month of stealing $46-million in state funds, according to court documents obtained by AFP on Tuesday. The Zambian government obtained an injunction to freeze Chiluba's assets in London in order to prevent the ailing Chiluba and 18 of his cohorts from disposing of their properties, according to the court order.
Africa: Debt write-offs boost closer trade ties with Russia
Long seen as funding the continent's wars and doing little other than seeking out petroleum and mineral resources, Russia is now looking to kick-start better trade relations with Africa, and has made its first move by writing off the majority of the continent's debt.
Africa: U.S. mistakes make dictators happy
According to William Gumede, competing nations are exploiting increasing anti-American sentiment in Africa to muscle out U.S. companies for lucrative business deals, especially in energy and minerals. Unless U.S. policies change, it appears that negative sentiment in Africa will result in more loss of business and political clout.
Global: Poverty reduction and climate change inextricably lnked - activists
Activists have underscored the need for progress with both climate change and poverty alleviation - key items on the meeting's agenda - for there to be real improvement in Africa's living conditions.
Global: G8: Declare Vulture Fund Profiteering
On the opening day of the G-8 summit, leading international debt cancellation advocacy groups declared that the debt deal G-8 leaders negotiated 2 years ago has not solved the debt crisis and issued a strong call to the G-8 to stop the activities of so-called "vulture funds".
Global: G8: Protesting for/against whom?
One thing about the Rostock demonstrations is the predictability of it all. Yes, globalisation is simply marginalisation of the poor. Yes, the rich countries – including Germany – have reneged on their promise (renewed two years ago in Gleneagles) to give more aid to poor nations. But will this violence against police and blockading of roads necessarily change the plight of people in poor countries? asks Richard Kavuma for Panos.
Malawi: Malawi struggles with too much food
Malawian farmers have had a good year, enjoying their best maize harvest in 12 years or more. So why, in a year of "historic plenty", is Malawi yet again on the receiving end of food aid, asks Alex Renton in Britain's Observer newspaper. Malawi suffered food crises in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Last year it produced a 250,000-tonne surplus of maize, yet still received over 40,000 tonnes of food aid from the United States.
West Africa: Vital West African bridge opens
A vital bridge linking Sierra Leone with Liberia - both recovering from civil wars - has officially re-opened. Relations between the countries have been strained as Liberia's ex-President Charles Taylor was accused of fuelling Sierra Leone's brutal conflict. It is hoped the Mano River bridge will increase trade and unite families living on the two sides of the border.
Kenya: Link between malaria and low childhood mortality studied
Placental and infant malaria protect HIV-infected infants against early childhood deaths, according to the findings of a longitudinal study published in the July 1st edition of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. But the study found that infant anaemia was a significant risk factor for postneonatal infant mortality (PNIM) in HIV-negative children of HIV-positive women.
South Africa: Thousands of babies are still being infected with HIV by mothers
South Africa has had a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) programme since 2003, yet it is only reaching an estimated one-sixth of pregnant, HIV positive women. This means that thousands of babies are being infected each year as at least one in three pregnant women nationally was HIV positive by 2005 and around a third of HIV positive mothers transmit HIV to their babies.
South Africa: Sexual behaviour a worrying factor
Sexual behaviour is not changing in South Africa despite the massive energy and expertise that goes into research. This was the sobering message from Olive Shisana, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council at the 3rd South African Aids Conference at Durban's International Convention Centre on Tuesday June 5.
Swaziland: Campaign supports HIV-positive truckers
Swaziland's truck drivers, who are twice as likely to be infected with HIV than the general population, are finally getting the programmes required to provide them with treatment and support, a conference was told this week.
West Africa: Viral load decline in pregnant women: faster in West Africans and those on nevirapine
Women who begin potent anti-HIV therapy during pregnancy achieve undetectable viral loads more quickly with nevirapine-based compared to nelfinavir-based regimens, according to findings from the European Collaborative Study. Results published in the June 15th issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases also showed that women of western African origin achieved viral suppression more quickly than non-African women.
Kenya: Learning at the flick of a switch
The role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in improving education throughout Africa has been in the spotlight over recent days at the e-Learning Africa Conference. An annual event, the gathering was held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi this year (May 28-30), bringing together participants from across the globe.
South Africa: Provincial border dispute threatens school for challenged children
The protracted provincial border dispute between the government and residents of Khutsong, a township outside the mining town of Carletonville, has blocked the funding of a care centre for mentally and physically challenged children.
Tanzania: Concern over school drop-out rate
Authorities in Tanzania have expressed concern over the large numbers of pupils, mostly girls, who drop out of school because of pregnancy, teenage marriage, child labour or truancy. President Jakaya Kikwete said the number of primary school drop-outs rose to 44,742 in 2006 from 32,469 the previous year.
Uganda: Being truly educated goes beyond writing your name
Uganda is one of the ‘highly indebted countries’ that had its debts cancelled after the Gleneagles G8 summit of 2005. It recently stepped up school spending - introducing free secondary education – but the future is looking doubtful, contends Collins Vumiria, for Panos.
Africa: Oxfam warns G8 on cost of inaction on climate change
International agency Oxfam today warned that failure among G8 countries to provide a clear steer on climate change would leave confusion in its wake and cause an unacceptable delay as poor countries bore the biggest burden of global warming. According to this year's IPCC report, Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change.
Burundi: Urban waste becomes urban fuel
Several months ago, residents of the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, were struggling with disposal of household waste. Fast forward to June 2007, and matters have taken a turn for the better -- thanks to a waste management process imported from neighbouring Rwanda, and put into effect by the recently-created Association for Development and the Fight Against Poverty (Association pour le développement et la lutte contre la pauvreté, ADLP).
Malawi: Technology to save forests
Malawi's utilisation of energy resources is heavily dominated by firewood, which provides 93 percent of all energy needs. Current annual household consumption of firewood and charcoal are at 7.5 million tons, exceeding sustainable supply by 3.7 million tons. Poverty and population growth in the country are placing escalating pressures on Malawi's indigenous forests which, the ministry of environment says, translates into an annual destruction of approximately 50,000 to 70,000 hectares of forest.
Rwanda: Environment minister talks about climate change
Rwanda is a small sub-Saharan African nation that is learning to adjust to global warming and the effects of climate change. Decreasing water levels have contributed to loss of agricultural productivity and an energy crisis due to loss of power generated by hydropower stations.I n this Development Gateway interview, Patricia Hajabakiga, Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Lands and Environment, talks about how Rwanda is adjusting to, among other things, unpredictable climate patterns.
Tanzania: Timber looted by criminals
Millions of dollars worth of timber revenue is being lost each year in Tanzania because of poor governance and rampant corruption in the forestry sector, according to a new report by TRAFFIC International.
Tanzania: Emirates royals threaten indigenous people
The Hadzabe indigenous people of northern Tanzania are facing "a direct and serious threat to the survival" as their hunting and gathering grounds are falling prey to powerful safari organisers. Royals from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and their UAE Safari Ltd count on Tanzanian government support to drive out the Hadzabe, also called "Bushmen".
Africa: Plans for Africa media-freedom debate
African presidents and editors are to debate the thorny issue of media freedom on the continent at next month's African Union summit in Accra, Ghana. This was announced by chairperson of The African Editors' Forum (TAEF) Mathatha Tsedu.
Gambia: Journalist convicted
A Gambian journalist of the sealed bi-weekly newspaper, 'The Independent', was convicted by a regional court to either pay US $2, 000 or in default serve a year in prison. His attorney, Lamin Camara, vows to appeal against the conviction at the High Court.
Global: Censorship 'changes face of net'
Amnesty International has warned that the internet "could change beyond all recognition" unless action is taken against the erosion of online freedoms. The warning comes ahead of a conference organised by Amnesty, where victims of repression will outline their plights. The "virus of internet repression" has spread from a handful of countries to dozens of governments, said the group. Amnesty accused companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo of being complicit in the problem.
Somalia: Media shutdown silences community voices
The closure of several leading radio stations by the Somali government has silenced important community voices in the war-ravaged country, a media watchdog has said. The stations, HornAfrik radio and television, Shabelle Media Network and Radio Voice of Holy Koran, were shut down on 6 June, for alleged support of anti-government elements.
South Africa: Broadcaster agrees to screen controversial documentary
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) welcomes the fact that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has decided to schedule the controversial documentary on President Thabo Mbeki for screening on Sunday 10 June at 9 pm on SABC 3. In marches, pickets and demonstrations held outside various SABC offices since last November, the FXI has repeatedly called for the screening of the documentary, and the Institute is pleased that this is finally going to take place.
Tunisia: Independent media threatened
Between 30 and 60 plain-clothed policemen have over the past two weeks surrounded the offices of 'Kalima', an online newspaper that is the only independent media based in Tunisia. 'Kalima' journalists have thus been prevented from working and updating their news site, which for years has been inaccessible for Tunisian readers.
Africa: Europe looks to encourage diaspora investment
Africa's robust diaspora in Europe will soon have an investment facility to help people make direct investments to better develop their home countries thanks to a new study by the Brussels-based Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Business Climate (BizClim) facility.
Congo: rebels burn weapons
Former "Ninja" rebels led by a renegade pastor in Congo Republic burned their weapons late on Thursday in a ceremony meant to underline their commitment to peace in the central African country. The rebels, named after ancient Japanese warriors, fought an insurgency against Congo's government in the late 1990s and although a peace deal was signed in 2003 sporadic violence has plagued the Pool region where they are based ever since.
Kenya: Bloody gang violence raises alarm
Severed heads displayed on poles, savagely mutilated bodies and dozens of deaths have sparked alarm in Kenya as a secret criminal society goes on the rampage and police launch bloody retaliation. With presidential elections little more than six months away, the crisis has sparked a fierce row between government and the judiciary, set politicians at each others' throats and brought calls for emergency rule in affected areas.
Somalia: Bomber targets Ethiopian army base
Ethiopian soldiers fired at a would-be suicide bomber who was speeding towards their base in the Somali capital blowing up the car and killing the bomber and a civilian who was standing nearby, officials have told Al Jazeera. Monday's attack came one day after a suicide car bomber drove through a roadblock guarding the compound of the Mogadishu home of Ali Mohamed Gedi, the interim prime minister, and rammed the vehicle into a wall, killing seven people but missing Gedi.
Sudan: Eyes on Darfur
Amnesty International is using satellite cameras to monitor highly vulnerable villages in war-torn Darfur, Sudan. The human rights organization is inviting ordinary people worldwide to monitor 12 villages by visiting the Eyes on Darfur project website and put the Sudanese Government on notice that these and other areas in the region are being watched around the clock.
Sudan: Plans ready for UN Darfur force but not deployment
The United Nations and the African Union were close to a deal on Wednesday on fielding 23,000 peacekeepers in Sudan's violent Darfur region, but full deployment is not expected until next year at the earliest. The so-called "hybrid" U.N.-A.U. force is the culmination of two earlier stages allowing the United Nations to bolster 7,000 beleaguered African Union troops.
Africa: ICT is a catalyst for African development - Forum
Regulators and industry players in the ICT sector have identified the development of sound Information and Communication Technology (ICT) regulation as key to Africa's development agenda and said that ICT development should be regarded as catalysts for overall development. Arising from a two-day forum on telecommunications/ICT Regulation in Africa (FTRA-2007), which opened Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya, participants agreed that ICT stands the chance of leapfrogging the continent on its developmental strategies.
Africa: Affordable computers for small-scale entrepreneurs
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Microsoft have announced a joint initiative to help bridge the gap between corporations disposing of their used computers and small and medium enterpreneurs (SMEs) in Africa that can use these PCs to help grow their operations.
Africa: UN takes a byte to save Africa from e-waste
The United Nations has called for policies to protect African nations from unregulated imports of electronic wastes (e-waste) that release heavy metals and chemicals. This call comes after the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced that over 50 million metric tonnes of electronic e-waste are produced globally, much of which finds its way to the African continent as charitable donations.
Africa: UNIDO and Microsoft partner on investment monitoring and governance platform
Information is a public good that provides accurate signals for investors, enhances the public private partnerships needed to move an economy toward greater prosperity and brings transparency to the dialogue between civil society concerns and private sector motives. It is a public good that, in the context of Africa is unfortunately insufficient.
Burkina Faso: The economic benefits of second-hand cell phones
Two years ago, the association Yam Pukri began to sell second-hand cellular telephones as part of its policy of disseminating ICT in Burkina Faso. Yam Pukri buys the phones in Switzerland through its partner, the NGO Terre des Hommes Suisse (Geneva branch), and resells them in Burkina Faso at very low prices (from 7,500 to 45,000 CFA francs).
Africa/Global: Third World Organization for Women in Science Fellowships
The Third World Organization for Women in Science (TWOWS) with funds generously provided by the Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC) of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), has instituted a fellowship programme for female students from Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who wish to pursue postgraduate training leading to a Ph.D., at centres of excellence in the South (developing countries), outside their own country. Deadline: 31 July 2007
Global: International Foundation for Science: Special joint calls for applications
International Foundation for Science occasionally issues calls for applications together with other partner or donor organizations. Currently IFS has open special calls for research project proposals on: Use of Water as a Scarce Commodity in Biological Production; Sustainable Sanitation in developing countries; and Water Research in OIC Countries. The deadline for all calls are June 30, 2007.
Libya: The African Brain Drain - Managing the Drain: Working with the Diaspora
The Conference of Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP) is an assembly of the chief executive officers of member institutions or their representatives. The theme for the Conference is: "The African Brain Drain - Managing the Drain: Working with the Diaspora". The conference will take place from 21-25th of October, 2007. The deadline for registration is June 30, 2007.
Mazonde and Thomas (eds): Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Intellectual Property in the 21st Century
New titles from CODESRIA
This volume discusses the contested nature of intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in the context of southern Africa, including the protection of folklore, IKS in a digital era, the valuation and safeguard of heritage sites, the need for appropriate IKS legislation, community-based control of natural resources, and the role played by traditional music in the maintenance of community.
This empirical grounded collection of papers is a unique and distinctive contribution to the literature on IKS. The specific IKS-related issues raised and dealt with in this volume are generic in the sense that the very same issues are being contested in different parts of the world.
ISBN: 978-2-86978-194-8, 138pp, publ. 2007
Africa: 20.00 USD; CFA 10,000; elsewhere: US$24.95/GBP16.95
Africa - www.codesria.org
North America - www.msupress.msu.edu
Elsewhere - www.africanbookscollective.com
Nigeria: Author Adichie wins Orange Prize
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. She beat five other contenders for the £30,000 women-only award, including Kiran Desai, shortlisted for her Booker Prize winner The Inheritance of Loss. Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, is her second work and set during the Biafran War of the 1960s.
Zeleza (ed.): The Study of Africa. Vol. 2, Global and Transnational Engagements
New titles from CODESRIA
This is the second of a two-volume work taking stock of the study of Africa in the 21st century: its status, research agenda and approaches, and place. The volume is divided into two parts, the first entitled Globalisation Studies and African Studies, and the second, African Studies in Regional Contexts.
Topics considered include: African and area studies in France, the US, the UK, Australia, Germany and Sweden; anti-colonialism and Russian/soviet African studies; African studies in the Caribbean in historical perspective; the teaching of African history and the history of Africa in Brazil; African studies in India; African studies and historiography in China in the 21st century; and African studies and contemporary scholarship in Japan.
'This two-volume collection…establishes entirely new parameters for Africanist scholarship…[it is] interested in answering the question: What is Africa's place in the world today'– Ato Quayson, professor of English and director, Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto, Canada.
ISBN: 978-2-86978-198-6, 416pp., publ. 2007
Africa: 35.00 USD; CFA 17,000; elsewhere: US$49.95/GBP39.95
Africa - www.codesria.org
North America - www.msupress.msu.edu
Elsewhere - www.africanbookscollective.com
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