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Pambazuka News 417: Special Issue: Kenya: One year on

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

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Letters & Opinions, 5. African Writers’ Corner, 6. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 7. Zimbabwe update, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Social movements, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. LGBTI, 19. Racism & xenophobia, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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Highlights from this issue

- Shailja Patel, the guest, editor introduces the issue
- Shailja Patel on how the Kenyan left pulled Kenya back from the brink
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) on glaring holes in the Kriegler Report
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ on impunity after the violence

- An extract from a prison diary by Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser
- Ann Njogu on the violence and women, now and then
- Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) responds to the Waki report
- Mugambi Kiai on the ethnicity, identity and citizenship in Kenya
- George Nyongesa evaluates the coalition government
- Ndung'u Wainaina gives a critical look at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
- A Maina Kiai interview by Kwamchetsi Makhoka in which he looks back on the last year
- Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi criticize the lack of action by the Kenyan Legislature

AFRICAN WRITERS' CORNER: 'Manifesto of Beginnings' - A poem by Shailja Patel marking the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen electionACTION ALERTS: Firestone: Tell NFL to stop its foul play!
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: MDC joins unity government
AU Monitor: AU against Bashir indictment
WOMEN & GENDER: Moroccan women doctors protest
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: UN to support DRC joint military plan
HUMAN RIGHTS: Algeria debates death penalty ban
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenya tasked on Somali refugees
SOCIAL MOVEMEMNTS: Statement on SA Slums Act judgment
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Congo opposition criticizes electoral commission
CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Unpacking Angola's Beijing connection
CORRUPTION: Corruption takes two…
DEVELOPMENT: Burundi wins debt relief
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Needless deaths from preventable diseases
EDUCATION: Swazilnad freed education? Maybe next year
LGBTI: Ethiopia’s gays threatened
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: UN chief urged to fight “Orwellian distortions”
ENVIRONMENT: Pastoralists grapple with climate change
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: New report on land registration in Ethiopia
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Tunisian station blockaded
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit

Action alerts

Global: Firestone: Tell the NFL to stop its foul play!


This year's Super Bowl Halftime show is sponsored by the Bridgestone Firestone tire company. For over 80 years, Firestone has exploited workers and the environment on its rubber plantation in Liberia. After a long campaign for justice, workers on the plantation finally signed their first contract negotiated by an independent and democratically elected union leadership in August 2008, but the company has not implemented many of the important improvements in the new contract.


Kenya: One year on

Shailja Patel


2008 began for Kenyans with the murder of Kenya’s democracy. It ended with the son of a Kenyan migrant winning the US presidential race. In editing this special issue of Pambazuka News, ‘Kenya – one year on’, our guest editor, Shailja Patel, says the questions that arise apply to both these historic events.

How the Kenyan Left pulled Kenya back from the brink

Internal energy and external fire

Shailja Patel


On the strength of her ‘Kenya Bulletin’ delivered at South Africa’s ‘Time of the Writer Festival’in March 2008, Shailja Patel discusses the pivotal influence of the Kenyan Left in pulling Kenya back from the brink. Patel stresses the necessity of telling, recording and perpetuating this narrative as a tale of seemingly insurmountable odds, the triumph of civil society organisation, and the instrumental role of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ).

Unfinished business from Kriegler’s IREC

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


Highlighting the severe limitations of the IREC’s (Independent Review of Election Commission) Kriegler report, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) offers a damning analysis of the commission’s full report on the Kenyan electoral process. Noting the IREC’s inability to corroborate its primary evidence and testimonies, KPTJ argues that the commission effectively did everything possible to avoid getting to the truth. Concluding that the Kriegler report has manifestly failed to provide Kenya with a roadmap for adequately analysing the action of the ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya), KPTJ contends that a key opportunity to restore Kenyans’ faith in the power of the ballot box has been lost.

Ending impunity

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


In this article, Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) look in great detail at the Waki Report. “The setting up of a Special Tribunal to seek accountability from persons bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations relating to the 2007 elections” is the most important call by the report. But also constructively criticising the report, KPTJ argues the Waki report stresses reform over a complete overhaul of some of the governnment agencies responsible for the gross crimes against the Kenyan people.

Comment & analysis

On the frontlines of the struggle

Diary of an imprisoned activist

Patrick Githinji


The following is an extract from the diary of Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser in Kenya with Bunge La Mwananchi. Arrested on 13 November 2008 at a community gathering over the illegal sale of 56 acres of residential land – inhabited by 1,120 households – by the Ministry of Local Government, Githinji was ultimately detained until 27 November. His diary grants us a first-hand view of the prison and his inspirational efforts to improve conditions for fellow inmates.

Battered, bruised, broken, they trudge on

The War on Kenyan Women

Ann Njogu


cc. Angela
Ann Njogu argues that in addition to having their property destroyed and being forced to flee from their homes, women’s "bodies were also used as the war zone - a battlefield for opposing forces that often times included the police." Post-violence has not brought much peace to these women. They are still trying to "reconstruct their lives. Children born out of rape, physical scars, HIV and other dreaded sexually transmitted infections; widowhood, divorce, homelessness and biting poverty." Read on for Ann Njogu’s recommendations...

Addressing sexual and gender-based violence

Responding to the Waki Commission’s inquiry

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
Following the unprecedented focus on sexual and gender-based violence by the Waki Commission, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) reviews the commission’s findings. While supportive of its recommendations, KPTJ emphasises that the commission’s report is lacking in its focus on individual experiences at the expense of investigating patterns of conflicts, violations and violence. For the purpose of ensuring the implementation of these recommendations, KPTJ sets out a series of essential steps for the prevention and response to instances of sexual and gender-based violence, including greatly improved access to health and legal services for victims, and the removal of any form of amnesty for the perpetrators of sexual crimes.

Ethnicity abounds: Kenya’s identity crisis

Mugambi Kiai


cc. Teseum
While all of Kenyan officialdom in political and civil society alike decries the endurance of tribalism, there remains a pervasive unwillingness to address the consequences of a phenomenon still prevalent across the country and with powerful implications for democracy, representation and stability, writes Mugambi Kiai. Though understood at a rudimentary level, the theme of ethnicity, argues Kiai, persists at the heart of the architecture of power in Kenya, the negative effects of which will only begin to be tackled through decisive action to consolidate widespread faith in Kenyan identity and citizenship.

Grassroots activists take on the coalition government

Out of touch with reality

George Nyongesa


cc. Paola Barbaglia
Ordinary Kenyans are suffering from their coalition government’s lack of focus, writes George Nyongesa. High food prices, the attempted stifling of the media and increases in the cost of fuel all conspire to aggravate the hardship felt around much of the country, the author contends, a hardship that is all the more unpalatable in the face of tax exemptions for MPs. From the grassroots perspective, Nyongesa maintains, the coalition government looks decidedly out of touch.

Truths missed and tasks dodged: Kriegler report is a half-baked job

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


cc. Maruko
Reviewing the misguided and inaccurate data informing the Independent Review of Election Commission’s (IREC) Kriegler report, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) offers its conclusions on the statistical inadequacies that have precluded the drawing of a definitive picture of electoral fraud. Without an effective research design to establish where and why vote counting inaccuracies developed, KPTJ argues that the IREC’s inferring of ‘materially defective’ results has failed to add anything meaningful to what Kenyans already know about what went wrong with the election process.

The Truth, Justice And Reconciliation Commission: A flawed law

Ndung’u Wainaina


cc. Maruko
Following the creation of two commissions by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) to address both post-election atrocities and historical human rights violations, Ndung’u Wainaina considers the limitations and weaknesses of an amnesty process likely to disadvantage victims in multiple ways. Signed into law with minimal public consultation, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Wainaina argues, possesses deep flaws that will ultimately block rather than facilitate the accountability and national healing the country so desperately needs.

A strategy for change:

Maina Kiai speaks to Kwamchetsi Makokha

Maina Kiai and Kwamchetsi Makokha


cc. Teseum
Maina Kiai, a former chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, was a driving force behind Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), formed in the aftermath of the 2007 election debacle. In an interview with Kwamchetsi Makokha, he takes stock of the year gone by.

Get the planes ready for The Hague

Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi


cc. Maruko
Criticising the Kenyan parliament’s failure to push through legislation to create a special tribunal to bring those involved in the country’s post-election violence to justice, Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi argue that parliamentary stalling simply reflects politicians covering their backs. Highlighting the political class’s efforts to escape punishment through defensive strategising, Wainaina and Ndubi reiterate that the tribunal was intended for justice for victims rather than allowing perpetrators to merely devise ways to forgive themselves.

Letters & Opinions

Israel's march to madness

Kola Ibrahim


As the attack on Gaza get to its third week, over 800 Palestinians in Gaza have been murdered, including a foreign journalist while more than 3, 000 have been injured, some with live-threatening wounds. More than one third of those either killed or injured are children and women according to media reports. Moreover, tens of buildings and public facilities including a UN agency’s school, where over 40 children and women were killed, have been destroyed by the Israeli (but US produced) munitions...

Stop apologizing for Nyerere

Willie Seth


Ethiopia was never a member of the Casablanca group. And Haile Selassie was not enthusiastic about Nkrumah's call for immediate continental unification. Nyerere offered to delay Tanganyika's independence so that Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika could form an East African federation. That was a Pan-African quest and a realistic approach towards African unity...

The dawn of the Obama era: In memory of the ancestors

Nii Akuetteh


Congratulations, Dr. Zeleza. This impressive essay makes the case for me: You are not just prolific but erudite also. Under the impression that you are an African immigrant in North America, I feel special, additional (but unearned) pride because I am one too. Still, with your indulgence, I must point out a flaw: You were too uncritical of the admirably large number of analysts you quoted. Consider two examples, the first being Archbishop Tutu. I have met the good Archbishop, having chauffeured him during one visit to Washington DC at the height of the US Free South Africa Movement in the late 1980s. And I continue to admire and give moral support to his work. However, his passionate comments on Obama, while understandable, are over the top, in my view...

African Writers’ Corner

Manifesto Of Beginnings

Shailja Patel


‘Manifesto Of Beginnings’ by Shailja Patel was commissioned by the BBC World Service to mark the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen election. The title arose from the questions in the poet's mind, ‘How do we begin to recount all the betrayals and broken promises? And where do we begin when the roots of the post-election violence go all the way back to before Kenya's independence?’ This piece was first broadcast on 27 December 2008 on the BBC World Service on The World Today programme, and is reproduced here as an mp3 file with permission. Visit Shailja at

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

China’s cultural interest in Sino-African cultural exchanges

Maurice Gountin


In the debates about China-Africa relations, the issue of cultural exchanges seems to be of less importance compared to questions about economics, trade, investment, aid, and exploitation of natural resources. Despite this, cultural exchanges have played a significant role in Sino-African relations, especially since the 1950s. As much as African countries have benefited from these exchanges, China has been a major beneficiary in two significant ways: 1) increasing investment and resources in these exchanges, and 2) through the active promotion of newly established Confucius Institutes across the continent. Yet the same cannot be said of the promotion of, African culture in China, which is largely absent.

Unpacking Angola’s Beijing connection

Lucy Corkin


Vanguard’s documentary Chinatown, Africa , which premiered in late 2008 is a well-informed and multi-faceted commentary on China’s growing role in Africa. Given the heightened and often fever-pitch media commentary that reflects on China-Africa relations, it is refreshing to find a documentary that attempts to presents a multidimensional perspective to what has become parochial and controversial mainstream reporting. With Angola as its case study, the production team ambitiously sought to unpack the various elements of Luanda’s relations with Beijing.

China’s reforms at 30 and the “Beijing Consensus”.

Chris Colley


In this essay Chris Colley of China’s Renmin University analyzes the UN’s new China Human Development Report. This report comes out as China celebrates 30 years of reform. Colley then discusses how the global financial crisis will affect China. He concludes by arguing that the “Beijing Consensus” model of development is unique to China and may not be able to be exported.

Liberia signs $2.6 billion mining agreement with Chinese company


The Liberian government has signed a $2.6 billion agreement with a Chinese company, China Union, to excavate for iron ore at the country's western former Bong Mines. The agreement, signed Thursday, is said to be the biggest ever investment in Liberia.

Anniversaries and uncertainties


As China enters the “Year of the Ox”, there is much to reflect on from the past 12 months and even more to speculate about regarding the coming year. 2008 began with devastating snowstorms that paralysed most of central and southern China’s transport system, interrupting lives and causing severe material damage. Then came the riots in Tibet, which caught the government off guard, followed by embarrassing protests over China’s Olympic torch relay in several Western and Asian countries.

China to fully implement promises made at China-Africa Forum


China will fully implement the eight measures for China-Africa practical cooperation agreed at the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation despite the ongoing global financial crisis, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said Thursday.

Nigeria scraps oil exploration deal with Korea


The Nigerian government has abruptly cancelled Korea's concession to explore oil fields off the shore of the African country, the Korea National Oil Corporation said Thursday. The contract for blocks OPL 321 and 323 was signed by former president Roh Moo-hyun and then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo during Roh’s visit there in March 2006.

China may expand Africa zero import tariff policy


China is considering including more African goods in a list of products excluded from import tariffs as a way of further boosting trade with the continent, state media said on Sunday. China already levies no import tariffs on more than 10 types of goods imported from 31 African countries, including textiles, machinery and farm products, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China's expanding peacekeeping role


The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its participation in a broadening array of multilateral security arrangements in recent years. One of the most high-profile aspects of this trend is the dramatic expansion in Chinese peacekeeping deployments (of civilian police, military observers, engineering battalions and medical units) to UN operations: since 2000, when China deployed fewer than 100 peacekeepers, there has been a dramatic 20-fold increase in its contributions.

Chinese keep low profile to cash in on the slump in Zambia


The roulette tables at the Great Wall casino have suddenly fallen silent. A few miles away, Lusaka’s most popular Chinese restaurant is virtually empty, the only guests a handful of wealthy Africans. The ripples from the global economic meltdown have finally washed up on African shores. Nowhere is that more noticeable than in Zambia,

Chinese premier's WEF speech


The ongoing international financial crisis has landed the world economy in the most difficult situation since last century's Great Depression. In the face of the crisis, countries and the international community have taken various measures to address it. These measures have played an important role in boosting confidence, reducing the consequences of the crisis, and forestalling a meltdown of the financial system and a deep global recession.

China’s Route Forward


In an effort to hold back the domestic effects of the global downturn, China is starting to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new highways, railroads and other infrastructure projects. The stimulus plan, one of the world’s largest, promises to carry the modernity of China’s coasts deep into the hinterlands, buying the kind of great leap forward it took the United States decades — and a world war — to build, and priming China for a new level of global competition.

India avails E50bn funding for Africa


The government of India has made available a partnership programme to the value of about E50 billion ($5bn) over a five-year period to African governments. On the other hand, the Exim Bank of India has expressed interest in partnering with local indigenous financial institutions to provide accessible financial resources.

Government moves to ban Chinese trade in clothes


Government has moved to put in place trade laws that will ban Chinese traders from dealing in clothes. The Chinese traders were given 24 months from May last year to rearrange their businesses or face being sent back to China. The government's decision to bar non-citizens - especially the Chinese traders - from dealing in clothing comes at a time when the Chinese traders are found at every corner of the country, selling all types of clothes, mainly fake overseas clothing brands.

Senegal: China pledges multi-million-dollar aid


China on Thursday said it would extend Senegal aid worth 8.9 million euros (11.5 million dollars) for sports, cultural and sanitation projects. "The Chinese government will provide the Senegalese government aid totalling 80 million yuan for cooperation projects," Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye said. This would be used to build or refurbish 11 stadia, a museum, a national theatre in Dakar and a children's hospital, Senegalese Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop said.

AU Commission Chairperson lauds China's role in Africa's infrastructure development


Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping has spoken highly of China's role in Africa's infrastructure development, saying that the Chinese "dragon" has played a fundamental part in the improvement of the infrastructure facilities across African countries. In an exclusive interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency on the eve of 12th AU Summit to be held here from Feb. 1 to3, Ping said China is Africa's key strategic partner and has made significant contributions to the growth of infrastructure in Africa.

China expanding Africa arms sales


Increasing quantities of China-made military equipment have been finding their way to Africa, traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights. Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms. Among the most popular Chinese military exports to Africa are the J-7, K-8 and Y-12 aircraft, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to operate.

Chinese premier embarks on fence-mending tour of Europe


Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will arrive in Europe on Tuesday (27 January) for a visit that Chinese foreign ministry officials have described as a 'Journey of Confidence.' His first stop will be the World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of a number of scheduled meetings with European leaders in a bid to mend fences following the postponing of last month's EU-China summit.

Zimbabwe update

AU endorses SADC recommendation


The African Union will adopt in total the recommendation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aimed at resolving the current political crisis in Zimbabwe, Tanzania's Foreign Affairs minister, Mr. Bernard Membe, said here Thursday, at the start of the African Union Executive Council meeting.

Btswana calls on ZANU-PF, MDC to set up government


Botswana on Wednesday threw its weight behind a regional push for a Zimbabwe unity government by mid-February, saying there was "no need for political games" as Zimbabweans suffered. In a statement, acting foreign minister Ramadeluka Seretse said Botswana supported the resolution that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies be sworn in by February 11 and for the cabinet to follow two days later.

Cholera deathtoll now at 3000


Cholera has killed more than 3,000 Zimbabweans and infected at least 57,000, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, making it the deadliest outbreak in Africa in 15 years. The disease has spread as rival political parties struggle to implement a power-sharing agreement reached in September and seen as a chance to ease the humanitarian crisis and save the faltering economy.

Court remands WOZA leaders


The Bulawayo Magistrate's Court on Wednesday remanded Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the embattled leaders of a pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the group said in a statement received in Dakar by PANA. The Magistrate remanded the two WOZA leaders in custody till 26 February when the case is expected to resume.

Government accepts foreign currencies to avert economy collapse


Zimbabwe, mirred in a decade-long economic crisis, Thursday announced it was fully accepting foreign currencies as legal tender in its business transactions in an effort to prop up the economy, improve the inflow of basic goods and ease trading. Until now, only a select group of businesses were allowed to charge goods and services in foreign currencies.

MDC resovles to join unity government


Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change looks set to join the unity government following the party's national executive committee agreement on Friday. The move comes barely a few days after the party said it was disappointed by the outcome of a SADC-member meeting in South Africa.

Obama says South Africa can help solve crisis


U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and said Pretoria had an important role to play in helping resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, the White House said on Wednesday. "President Obama emphasized the importance of South Africa's leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa. The two leaders discussed their shared concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe," the White House said in a statement.

African Union Monitor

Africa: Africa close to Union Government after years of debate


African leaders are expected to deal conclusively with the discussions regarding the formation of the Union Government during their meeting scheduled for Sunday which could see the birth of a federal government for Africa after more than half-a-century of debate. African Union Commission (AUC) President Jean Ping told PANA the leaders were likely to make a final decision on the formation of the Union Government after several debates on the issue, which was first raised at the first meeting that gave r ise to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Africa: AU against Bashir indictment


African governments have rallied behind Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in rejecting a possible international arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Sudan's volatile western region of Darfur.

Women & gender

Mauritius: Sceptical welcome for Equality Law


Nobody shall suffer prejudice in his social life or his place of work because of his or her ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, political conviction or physical handicap. This is the challenge of Mauritius's new Equal Opportunities Act (EOA). In Mauritius, the Constitution guarantees everybody's rights. Yet, women, minorities and many other people suffer from discrimination in jobs, and other fields. This is done in such a way that they are difficult to be detected.

Morocco: Women doctors to intensify protest action


Married female medical doctors in Morocco continued their protest this week, with a sit-in that began Monday (January 26th) in front of the Health Ministry headquarters, against a policy that allows them to be assigned to jobs far away from their families. The demonstration – scheduled to run through Friday – also protests the ministry's non-payment of the doctors' salaries since last November.

Human rights

Africa: First-ever trial at ICC, on use of child soldiers, opens


Legal history was made today in The Hague, the Netherlands, when the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was mandated to try war crimes beginning in 2002, put its first suspect taken into custody, a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, on trial. The case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo represents not only the debut proceedings of the ICC but also the first trial in the history of international law to see the active participation of victims in the proceedings, among which will number child combatants.

Africa: Protect the vulnerable and stress accountability - AU Summit


The African Union (AU) should attach top priority to civilian protection and bringing human rights abusers to justice when it meets for its summit meeting in Ethiopia next week, Human Rights Watch said in an open letter to AU Chairman Jean Ping. The AU summit takes place from January 26 to February 3 in Addis Ababa. The letter analyzes the human rights crises in Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Guinea.

Algeria: Debate rages over proposed death penalty ban


Debate is heating up in Algeria between clerics and human rights activists over a proposed ban on capital punishment in the country. Religious leaders accuse legislators of denying society a punitive measure prescribed in the Qur'an, while supporters of the ban believe the death penalty is a human rights issue and should not be approached from a religious or philosophical perspective.

Cameroon: Government 'guilty of rights abuse'


The human rights group, Amnesty International, says security forces in Cameroon routinely use force to put down anti-government protests. Political opposition was not tolerated in Cameroon, Amnesty's deputy Africa director, Tawanda Hondora, said. Dissent was suppressed by violence or abuse of the legal system, he said.

Chad: Human rights violations go unpunished


One year after the battle between government and armed opposition forces in N'Djaména, Chad, serious human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces are continuing with no one being held accountable. "A year after the conflict, members of the security forces who carried out a regime of murder, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected government opponents have not been brought to justice, fuelling an already pervasive problem of impunity," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Programme Director.

Rwanda: End lifetime solitary confinement


The Rwandan government should honor its international obligations by enacting legislation to abolish life imprisonment in solitary confinement, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. In December 2008, the Rwanda Parliament prohibited life in solitary confinement for genocide suspects transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or extradited from other countries and found guilty by Rwandan courts.

Refugees & forced migration

Global: Spanish artists help fight malnutrition among African refugees


A close partner of the UN refugee agency has persuaded some of Spain's top artists to support an exhibition and online auction to raise money to tackle malnutrition among young refugees in four African countries. The Spanish Committee for UNHCR, with the emceeing skills of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jesús Vázquez, launched "Refugi@rte" in Madrid last Tuesday.

Kenya: UN Agency tasks government on Somali refugees


The UN refugee agency has asked Kenya to stop the forcible return of Somalis seeking asylum after three people who crossed the Kenyan border were sent back. "We very much regret the latest decision to forcibly return to Somalia the three wounded Somalis,'' Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement on Wednesday in New York. It also called on Kenyan authorities "to fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention and Kenya's own Refugees Act."

Sudan: Congolese refugees flee LRA


Recent attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have driven thousands of Congolese to South Sudan. A UNHCR team last weekend visited the Sudanese village of Lasu, 50 kilometres from the DRC border, and registered 680 uprooted Congolese, most of them from the village of Aba. They said they fled their homes last week following an attack by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group from Uganda.

Sudan: Stranded Sudanese leave Iraq for Romania


A second group of Sudanese refugees, most of whom are fleeing strife-torn Darfur, have been evacuated from perilous circumstances in Iraq to a groundbreaking transit centre in Romania, from which they hope to be resettled in the United States, the United Nations refugee agency reported. The group of 42 Sudanese refugees are staying in the new Emergency Transit Centre set up by the Romanian Government, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country, a UNHCR spokesperson said.

Social movements

South Africa: Statement on the Slums Act Judgment


Abahlali baseMjondolo have been to the Durban High Court this morning to hear the judgment being handed dawn by the KwaZulu-Natal President, Judge Vuka Shabalala. On the 6 November 2008 the Movement had applied to the Durban High Court for the KwaZulu- Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act 2007 to be declared unconstitutional. Full details of the Act, and the reasons for our opposition to it, and can be found on the Movement's website at

Elections & governance

Congo: Opposition criticises national electoral commission


The presidential candidate of the Congolese opposition Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (ARD), Mathias Dzon, has sharply criticised the country's National Electoral Commission (CONEL), accusing it of favouring President Denis Sassou-Nguesso ahead of the country's presidential election in July. Dzon, who served as Finance Minister between 1997 and 2002, told journalists here Wednesday that CONEL was pushing ''a candidate's cause'', alluding to Sassou-Nguesso, who has yet to announce his candidacy for the election.

Cote d'Ivoire: Identified voters passes 1 million mark


reparations for the much-delayed elections in Côte d’Ivoire is making headway, the United Nations mission there said today, announcing that the number of voters identified so far in the West African nation has surpassed the four million mark. “This is an important step, particularly given the delays and difficulties that beset the identification and census that are currently taking place,” Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters in Abidjan.

Ghana: Downsizing government


Ghanaians recently went to the polls to elect a new President to succeed outgoing president Kufuor. This was the second time under the country’s nascent democracy, that one political party was handing over to another without violent dispute. Ghana can be said to have redeemed Africa’s electoral image after the carnage the world witnessed during the Kenyan and Zimbabwean elections.

Madagascar: Opposition demand justice over death


The leader of anti-government demonstrations in Madagascar said on Tuesday he would not talk with the government until those behind the death of an opposition supporter were brought to justice. But Andry Rajoelina, the 34-year-old mayor of Antananarivo, said he was calling off plans for another day of protests after Monday's demonstrations degenerated into the worst day of street violence for years on the Indian Ocean island.

Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster”


After two days of upheaval that resulted in an estimated death toll at 80 nationally, and the looting of dozens of stores, a day of relative calm greeted a stunned nation. Soldiers are now patrolling Antananarivo, and both parties have called for supporters to stand down. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for a “ghost town” operation in the capital today, January 29th, urging supporters to stay at home, but attend an organized public demonstration on Saturday, January 31st.

Mauritania: Parties in search of permanent forum for dialogue


Ten Mauritanian political parties Wednesday held a meeting in the capital Nouakchott, at the instance of the Alternative Party, the main party supporting the 6 August 2008 military coup in the country, as part of an effort to establish a permanent framework for dialogue.

Somalia: Rivals to seek MPs' votes


Presidential candidates are preparing to address the expanded Somali parliament a day before it votes to choose a new head of state. At least 14 candidates are running, including Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. An additional 149 opposition members have been sworn in to parliament which is meeting in neighbouring Djibouti.


Africa: Corruption takes two...


Corruption in Africa was in the spotlight once again this week with news that Texas-based oil services company Halliburton will pay a record fine to settle a bribery probe. You can see our story here. Halliburton Co will pay a $559 million fine to end an investigation of its former KBR Inc unit if the U.S. government approves the settlement, the largest penalty against a U.S. company for charges of bribery under federal law.

Kenya: Corruption in Africa: Not in my name!


When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, a famous American bank robber Willie Sutton is alleged to have replied: "Because that is where the money is." Over to Kenyan leaders, why are you corrupt? I guess the answer is: "Because public wealth/property belongs to no one in particular!"


Africa: Burundi wins $833 million debt relief


Some $833 million of Burundi's foreign debt was canceled on Thursday under a global program to write off the debts of the world's poorest countries. In a joint statement, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said their executive boards had approved full debt relief for the landlocked Central African country, including money owed to the global financial institutions.

Africa: Libya invested over US$ 1 billion in Africa in 2008


Giving details of its investments in Africa in 2008 on the sidelines of the Africa Union Commission summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Libya has organised a fair depicting the investments. At the fair, Libyan companies are showing off their products and where they could be found in various parts of Africa.

Global: International support for political party development in war-torn societies


How can the international community improve its support for political party development in countries recovering from civil war? This book chapter examines the challenges of political party assistance in post-conflict environments and the support strategies used by the international community. International actors can strengthen assistance by focusing on party laws from a conflict prevention perspective, working early on rebel-to-party transformation and addressing unequal power distribution in party systems.

Southern Africa: South Africa to help rebuild Zimbabwe


South Africa will help rebuild Zimbabwe once a unity government is formed there next month and hopes investors will return quickly, President Kaglema Motlanthe said on Thursday. "This stage is really critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," Motlanthe told Reuters at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Needless deaths as preventable diseases sweep through continent


Buoyed by what is happening with preventing malaria and unnecessary deaths using less costly and simple methods, health experts want similar strategies be applied on other diseases. Recent studies indicate the use cost-effective preventive strategies such as mosquito nets has reduced hospital admission due to malaria by close to 50 percent, cutting down the number of deaths by thousands and medical bills spend on treating the disease.

Africa: Scientists want a cocktail of strategies used to reverse malaria


The findings that malaria caseload in many parts of African countries is reducing faster than ever before is good news. But attempts by different players to take credit of the reducing numbers of malaria cases seems not go down well with others. Those who manufacture and distribute Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) that prevent mosquito that cause malaria from transmitting the virus, claim over 60 percent of the success is attributable to the use of these nets.

Kenya: FGM falsely touted as a panacea for HIV


Priscilla Bosibori, now 17, was 14 when an aunt fetched her from her school in Kisii, western Kenya, on the pretext of taking her to an important family function. Once they had left the school grounds, her aunt said her family had found a way of protecting her from HIV. Bosibori arrived home to a welcome of songs and dances by female members of her family before being placed in a room with other girls her age.

Southern Africa: HIV pregnancy, stigma and ignorance


For many women, pregnancy is a time of anticipation and celebration, but for those living positively it can be frustrating when their status – and not their pregnancy – takes centre stage. Being pregnant and positive often comes with its own brand of stigma. In a study among HIV-positive women in the United States, released at the international AIDS conference in Mexico in 2008, about half the respondents thought HIV-positive women could have children if they received appropriate care.

Zimbabwe: Urban patients now referred to rural mission hospitals


Rosa Chimbindi, pregnant with her first child, recently went Parirenyatwa hospital, one of Zimbabwe's largest referral facilities, located in Harare, the capital, to have her baby. Instead, staff at the maternity wing told her the hospital was closed because of the health worker boycott. Her doctor had recommended that her baby be delivered by Caesarean section because she was HIV positive and had previously suffered a hip injury.


Kenya: Obama secondary school to receive $35000


The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, African Diplomatic Corps, African Union, and African Professionals in Washington, D.C., will donate $35,000 to the Barack Obama Secondary School in Kogelo, Kenya, CCA has announced. The donation, to be given in February through the United States Embassy in Nairobi, will be used to purchase books, supplies, and other needed enhancements. Event partners agreed at the offset of the event’s planning process that the Senator Barack Obama Secondary School would be the most appropriate beneficiary of event proceeds.

Swaziland: Free education? maybe next year


Although the Swazi constitution stipulates free primary education from 2009, parents will have to pay school fees this year. Only three days before the start of the January term, the country's government announced it will continue to charge for primary education, contrary to the law.


Ethiopia: Gays threatened as clerics seek homosexuality ban


Ethiopian religious leaders have called on the country’s government to amend the constitution and ban homosexuality, a law which was never mentioned in the constitution of that country before. In a meeting held in December 2008 in Addis Ababa, where heads of various congregations including the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches met, a resolution was made that seeks to end homosexuality which was branded as “the pinnacle of immorality.”

Kenya: Pro-gay priest may face the axe


Pro-gay priest, Reverend John Makokha may face the axe from the United Methodist Church (UMC) following his positive stance on homosexuality, which is said to contravene the social principles of the UMC. Makokha confirmed this explaining that he is likely to be released from his duties during the next annual conference in April 2009 in Kampala.

Nigeria: Anti-gay bill passed


The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, (LGBTI) community in Nigeria is appalled by the recent approval of the drastic Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill by the House of Representatives, which aims to root out all forms of homosexual practices in that country. According to Reverend Jide Macaulay of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) the Bill “is a continuing nuisance and avoidable evil that is terrorizing innocent same gender loving people.”

Nigeria: Reject ‘same gender’ marriage ban


A bill before Nigeria's National Assembly to ban "same gender marriage" would expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for homosexual conduct and threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, free expression, and association, Human Rights Watch has said.

Racism & xenophobia

Global: UN rights chief urged to fight "orwellian distortions"


As diplomats gathered in Geneva to draft the outcome declaration for the U.N.'s upcoming world conference on racism, UN Watch, an independent non-govermental organization headquartered in Geneva, called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights high commissioner Navi Pillay to take the lead in fighting to remove "Orwellian distortions" that taint the proposed text, and to speak our while negotiations are held this week.


Africa: Pastoralists grapple with climate change


As many as 250 million people in Africa may not have enough water to meet their basic needs by 2020 because of climate change, a specialist in poverty, environment and climate change said on 27 January. "The day-to-day impacts of climate change, such as higher temperatures and erratic rainfall, are increasing many people's vulnerability to hazards," Charles Ehrhart, the poverty, environment and climate change network coordinator for CARE International, told policy-makers and representatives of pastoralists from the Horn, eastern and central Africa, at a consultative meeting on ways of mitigating the humanitarian effects of climate change on pastoral areas.

Nigeria: Environment threatened as oil spills from Agip’s pipeline


Okoroba community is one of the major oil bearing communities in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It hosts two oil multinationals: Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] and Nigerian Agip Oil Company [N.A.O.C. The community has boundaries with Emaguo-Kugbo and Aggrisaba on its right and left respectively.

Land & land rights

Africa: Land Registration in Ethiopia - New report


This publication from the Global Land Tool Network belongs to a series of research reports examining the changing landscape of land tenure security in developing countries. The intent is to provide up-to-date information to land professionals and policy makers working in the land sector and to raise awareness on what is being done at the country level.

Media & freedom of expression

Tunisia: Call for end to blockade of radio station


Members of the IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), a coalition of 18 member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network, firmly condemn the siege carried out by police on Tunis-based media outlet Kalima and call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the abduction of one of its journalists and harassment of the station's staff and contributors.

Zambia: Court "bans" newspaper form covering trial


On 28 January 2009, Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama banned "The Post" newspaper from covering former president Fredrick Chiluba's case currently before the Magistrate's court. The ban came on the heels of a story published in "The Post" on 28 January, which sought to interpret the meaning of Chiluba's intention to give an unsworn statement in court.

Zimbabwe: Court orders probe into journalist's torture


On 26 January 2009, the matter of freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere, who is held on allegations of banditry, was heard before Harare Magistrate Gloria Takundwa. The judge ordered police to investigate and present a report on allegations that Manyere was tortured while in unlawful detention. Manyere was kidnapped and held incommunicado for more than three weeks.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: Courting conflict? justice, peace and the ICC


Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuing too aggressive and disruptive an agenda in Africa, without proper priorities? This series of papers, published by the Royal African Society, suggests that the ICC has made a promising beginning in many respects, but that its work in Africa highlights some significant weakness. According to one charge, the ICC’s pursuit of justice jeopardises fragile peace deals, risking the prolongation of conflict.

DRC: UN to support joint military plan


The top United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has formally accepted an invitation by the nation’s Government to support the joint DRC/Rwanda military operation targeting ethnic Rwandan Hutu militias. “We are going to bring our support so that this process can succeed as soon as possible,” Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said following talks with DRC authorities yesterday in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

Guinea-Bissau: Building a real stability pact


This latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, argues that the West African country’s new prime minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, has an opportunity to carry out the administrative and political measures needed to strengthen the state, stabilise the economy and fight drug trafficking. But he will need to base his approach on political dialogue with President Nino Vieira, the army and rivals within his own party.

Kenya: Food shortage takes a huge toll in North-Eastern Province


Last November, North Eastern Province was hit by floods that cut off the region. Two months later, the green scenery has turned tinder dry. Surface temperatures oscillate between 35 and 40 degrees, says the Kenya Meteorological Department. Residents tread on a thin line between life and death as the food shortage bites. Water sources — pans, dams, and boreholes — have turned into murky poodles. Also facing food shortage are neighbouring districts of Tana River and Kyuso. Fafi and Lagdera, that were carved out of Garissa last year, are also in a bad state.

Kenya: Hunger risk for 10 million


Caritas is launching a US$4.1 million appeal to help the people of Kenya after warnings that children have already started to die from hunger-related illnesses. Up to 10 million people could be hit by acute food shortages. A combination of drought, crop failures, high food prices and last year's post election violence means shortages are widespread. The crisis is affecting not only vulnerable groups such as women, children and pastoralists, but also households previously thought to have reliable food sources.

Madagascar: UN chief calls for protection of civilians


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has offered United Nations support to help foster reconciliation in Madagascar where serious unrest has led to the death of dozens of people. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced concern for the security of the population and deplored the loss of life. “The Secretary-General calls on the Malagasy Government to place an absolute priority on the protection of the population,” it said.

Mali: Conflict intensifies in North, despite Algiers accord


Tensions have returned to northern Mali in recent days, despite efforts by Algeria to mediate a peaceful settlement between the government and Tuareg rebels. The Malian army has intensified its attacks against rebel positions in the area of Kidal, possibly in pursuit of a commander who rejects the peace plan proposed in the 2006 Algiers Accord.

Sudan: Darfur mediator calls for end to renewed clashes


The United Nations and African Union (AU) joint chief mediator for the peace process in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region today expressed grave concern over renewed combat in the southern part of the vast region, saying it undermines hopes for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. “The escalation of violence violates the spirit of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur of 2004 and constitutes a breach of various Security Council resolutions,” Djibril Bassolé said in a formal statement released in Khartoum.

Internet & technology

Global: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released


Keir Thomas, author of numerous Linux how-to books as well as Ubuntu-specific guides, has released a new book called Ubuntu Pocket Guide. The compact 166-page guide to using Linux is available in both printed form as well as a free PDF download.

Rwanda: Better health at a click of a button


The small, dusty village of Mayange lies 20 kilometres from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Its health centre has fewer than 40 beds but serves an estimated 35,000 people. In most ways, the Mayange centre is like thousands of other health facilities across the continent which struggle to meet patients’ needs with very few resources and staff. Thanks to an innovative partnership involving the government, non-governmental organizations and private companies, the Mayange centre now uses mobile telephones to provide better treatment.

Fundraising & useful resources

Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe education sector


The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is looking for a consultant to carry out a gender analysis of the Zimbabwe Education Sector Policies, Programmes and Budget. The analysis is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN, including the promotion of gender equality and equity in public policies and resource allocation to the education sector, and the upholding of the right to education for children in Zimbabwe.

Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe national budget

Call for Proposals


The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is seeking a consultant to carry out a Gender Analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe National Budget. The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is expected to contribute to the main objective of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN. The programme seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets at the national level.

New Path: African Forum for Intellectual thought - Call for articles


The NEW PATH: AFRICAN FORUM FOR INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT is published quarterly by the African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF) and provides a forum for innovative thinking about our common future and about how we need to tackle the most intractable problems facing Africa today – focusing on Eastern Africa. The editor invites your articles (opinion and analysis) for the March 2009 edition.

Writing Queer Kenya - Call for Submissions


We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don't exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme

2009 Competition: Call for Applications


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Advanced Research Fellowship Programme and to invite interested scholars based in African universities or research centres to submit applications for consideration for an award.

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