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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 442: Obama in Ghana: The speech he might have made

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

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Obituaries, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Blogging Africa, 10. Highlights French edition, 11. Zimbabwe update, 12. Women & gender, 13. Human rights, 14. Refugees & forced migration, 15. Social movements, 16. Emerging powers news, 17. Elections & governance, 18. Corruption, 19. Development, 20. Health & HIV/AIDS, 21. LGBTI, 22. Environment, 23. Land & land rights, 24. Food Justice, 25. Media & freedom of expression, 26. Conflict & emergencies, 27. Internet & technology, 28. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 29. Fundraising & useful resources

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Highlights from this issue

- Firoze Manji writes the speech that Obama might have given in Ghana
- Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel on Africa and the end of hunger
- Bruce A. Dixon on the unravelling of the Darfur 'genocide' lies
- Yash Tandon sets out how the G8 takes more from Africa than it gives
- Jan Sithole on how Swazis are claiming their democratic space
- Mihret Goitom recounts the tragic end to an Eritrean family's reunion attempt
- William Gumede says put South Africans' needs over their leaders' wants
- Henning Melber on the Namibian sellouts cashing assets in for crumbs
- Khadija Sharife on a landmark ruling that allows apartheid victims to sue multinationals
- Tendai Marima calls on Barack Obama to acknowledge America's role in African affairs
- Zaya Yeebo on why we still need Pan-Africanism
- Chambi Chachage discusses whether Tanzania needs dual citizenship

- Gerald LeMelle reveals the real US–Africa policy
- Emira Woods on the Obama visit to Africa’s 'oil gulf'
- Kia Mistilis on the Niger Delta standoff
- Gerald Caplan thinks President Obama needs a refresher course on Africa
- Beth Tuckey on denouncing dictatorship in Uganda
- Mutsa Murenje says its time to change the rules in Zimbabwe

- Pambazuka News 108: Les limites du rapport Stiglitz

- Horace Campbell on Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem and the tasks of Pan-Africanists
- Vincent Nuwagaba says predatory leaders are destroying the trades unions movement

- Waking the devil: The impact of forced disarmament on civilians in the Kivus
- Nigeria: ASUU strike ends when...

- Mike Rainy on the continued cattle raids in Samburu
- Lavinia Limon on a victory for Burundian refugees in Tanzania
- Kingwa Kamencu on helping realise the dream for African unity

- Chris Maina Peter pays a personal tribute to Professor Haroub Othman
- Professor Haroub Othman's memorial gathering
- Okello Oculi tracks Taju’s political roots

- Chiku Malunga's Understanding Organizational Leadership through Ubuntu

- Roland Bankole Marke's Alabaster balm of love

- Sokari Ekine rounds up reactions to Obama's Ghana speech in the African blogosphere.

- Sanusha Naidu covers the latest in Sino-African news.ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Biti announces salaries for civil servants
WOMEN & GENDER: accountability to women could upset ‘business-as-usual’
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Nigeria militants declare 60-day ceasefire
HUMAN RIGHTS: Can Africa trust international justice?
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Botswana denies Congolese refugees entry
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Urgent Abahlali update
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Angola poll postponed
CORRUPTION: DRC sends corrupt magistrates packing
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Major funding boost for pediatric ARVs
DEVELOPMENT: Africa Grantmakers network launched
LGBTI: Zimbabwe’s gays uncertain about their future
ENVIRONMENT: Playing with fire in Nigeria
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: UN to protect land rights for displaced
FOOD JUSTICE: G8: High food prices continue to hurt the poor
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Media observatory ‘flawed’
INTERNET& TECHNOLOGY: New Tunisian online crackdown mobilizes Facebook users
ENEWSLETTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus: Obama in Africa, What kind of change?
PLUS: 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


Obama in Ghana: The speech he might have made

Firoze Manji


cc Bill Bliss
The internet and wires have been burning with anger and disappointment at the speech made by Obama this week at the start of his visit to Ghana. With several articles commenting on the speech in this issue, Firoze Manji provides a perspective on what Obama might have, or should have, said during his second visit to the continent in the space of a few weeks.

Africa and the end of hunger

Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel


'Africa and the end of hunger' is an extract from Pambazuka Press's groundbreaking new book Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice by Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel. Recommended by figures like Walden Bello and Wangari Maathai, the book is available to Pambazuka News readers at 20% off the recommended retail price of £16.95 and comes with a free ebook copy. Simply enter 56784813 as the discount code when ordering online. The Food Rebellions! ebook is also available on its own for only £5.

Darfur 'genocide' lies unravelling

African Union says only 1,500 Darfuris died in 2008

Bruce A. Dixon


Stopping genocide is apolitical, purely a matter of conscience and goodwill. At least, that's what the Save Darfur campaign would have us believe, says Bruce A. Dixon. While Save Darfur's good-vs-evil battle has consistently touted a total figure of 400,000 dead in Darfur, sources on the ground indicate that there were actually around 1,500 deaths last year. That people are dying is not to be minimised or downplayed, Dixon contends, but the notion that the US's global might is needed to slay a unified evil is increasingly revealing itself as purely a means to establish domestic consent for military intervention in Africa.

G8 and Africa: Some give, plenty of take

Why we shouldn't hitch our wagon to the G8 engine

Yash Tandon


cc H D S
The media has presented the G8’s L’Alqila summit promise of US$20 billion for food security and agricultural development in Africa as good news, but a closer look at the figures shows that G8 countries actually take much more out than they put into the continent, writes Yash Tandon.

Swazis claim their democratic space

Jan Sithole


cc Wikimedia
Asking the majority of people around the world what they know about Swaziland, writes Jan Sithole, is likely to draw a blank stare. But Swaziland is a country with a strong history of political struggle against formidable odds. Despite the determined suppression of democratic expression by the country's government, the last few years have seen a resurgence in civil society's drive for greater freedom, something which Sithole hopes will pave the way for progressively greater interest from the international community in coming years.

Tragic end for Eritrean family's reunion attempt

Mihret Goitom


cc C T Snow
UK-based lawyer Mihret Goitom tells how his sister–in-law’s attempt to escape Eritrea and join her husband ended in tragedy, after she and her children were incarcerated in a refugee camp in Sudan en-route.

Putting South Africans' needs over their leaders' wants

William Gumede


cc A Lynn
The majority of South Africans are dirt-poor, writes William Gumede, something which makes the country's leaders fondness for lavish living on public money all the more unacceptable. President Jacob Zuma must instil a culture of engagement with ordinary citizens among his officials, Gumede argues, one which ends self-serving cronyism and sees public funds directed to those most in need.

Namibian sellouts: Cashing assets in for crumbs

Henning Melber


cc A Davies
Two decades after their country's independence, Namibians inhabit a society that remains one of the world's most unequal, writes Henning Melber. The country's common people are the victims of a rapacious, self-serving elite group which is all too happy to cooperate with foreign corporations to exploit Nambia's natural resources for mutual gain. With Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) earmarked in official thinking as the new means towards 'trickle-down' benefits for all, Melber argues that such schemes are nothing more than a strategy for allowing private capital to generate profit from public property at the wider population's expense.

Landmark ruling allows apartheid victims to sue multinationals

Khadija Sharife


cc T Sly
In one of the most significant legal rulings in the post-apartheid history of South Africa, victims of apartheid have finally received the green light from a US judge to sue multinational corporations that knowingly aided and abetted the regime. The implications of this ruling are colossal, writes Khadija Sharife, not only for Africa but for the world at large.

Acknowledge America's role in African affairs

Tendai Marima


cc Wikimedia
Disappointed by Barack Obama's Ghana speech, Tendai Marima says the US president's failure to acknowledge the role America has played in African affairs reflects its 'political historical aphasia'. By glossing over 'how African wars and dictatorships are made', Obama reinforces the image of Africa as the 'black hole of war and corruption', Marima argues. The US media may have hailed the speech as a turning point in US–Africa relations, but says Marima, so far 'Obama's foreign policy has not reflected a politics of change but more of the same'.

Pan-Africanism in our time

Zaya Yeebo


cc Wikimedia
Pan-Africanism is not just a throwback to the post-colonial period, writes Zaya Yeebo, the people of Africa are still ‘united by culture, history and identity’. Africans around the continent feel each other’s pain and are bound together as a people by events, says Yeebo, whether it is the struggle for emancipation in the Niger Delta, or the crisis in the DRC. Charting a history of the Pan-African Movement from the first conference in 1900 to the present day, Yeebo calls for Pan-African solutions to African problems, with Pan-Africanism as a ‘collective understanding’ of how ‘we intend to conduct our affairs in today’s globalised world’.

Does Tanzania need dual citizenship?

Chambi Chachage


Chachage explores whether nationals of a country ought to have the option of dual citizenship, in the third and final part of a series of three articles exploring the idea of dual citizenship with reference to Tanzania. Despite positive arguments in favour of dual citizenship made mostly by communities living in the diaspora, Chachage concludes that a government that cannot even fully grant single citizenship to the ‘majority’ should not be putting resources into granting dual citizenship to a ‘minority’. This, Chachage argues, would allow the growth of first and second class citizenship, which is what independence movements fought to eliminate.

Comment & analysis

Straight talk: Revealing the real US–Africa policy

Gerald LeMelle


cc Wikimedia
While American officials stress that US foreign policy towards Africa isn't being militarised, Gerald LeMelle thinks differently. Militarisation is essentially about asserting your might to impose your own agenda, LeMelle stresses, something which the doubling of funds to be allocated to AFRICOM (AFRIcan COMmand) in the 2010 financial year would certainly suggest. While Obama's trip to Ghana was officially about celebrating a democratic success, there are fears that America's concern was more for oil and a strategic AFRICOM base. If such concerns are to be refuted, LeMelle concludes, the Obama administration will need to explain how increased military funding relates to its stated aim of promoting and strengthening democracy in Africa.

Obama visits Africa’s 'oil gulf'

Emira Woods


cc D M C L
As Africa surpasses the Middle East as an oil supplier to the US, Emira Woods argues that satisfying the US's addiction to fossil fuels remains the primary influence on the country's foreign policy. With global energy multinationals like Chevron and British Petroleum (BP) battling for a piece of sites like the Kosmos Energy-owned 'Jubilee Fields' off the Ghanaian coast, the US AFRICOM (AFRIcan COMmand) remains a symbol of US efforts to consolidate its access to oil resources. Will Obama's commitment to a greener economy translate into concrete policies, Woods asks, or will we continue to see increased military backing for an oil-based agenda?

Niger Delta standoff

Kia Mistilis


cc Security Watch
International media reports on growing instability in the Niger Delta largely in terms of its effect on global oil supply and prices, writes Kia Mistilis, but for region’s 12 million inhabitants, the struggle is about their survival. Despite the vast wealth oil revenue has generated for Nigeria, communities in the Delta continue to live in ‘abject poverty’. As peak oil and a looming world energy crisis raise the stakes even higher, these local communities and ecosystems are bearing the brunt of conflict between activists, militant groups and the Nigerian forces protecting the economic interests of the government and multi-national companies.

President Obama needs a refresher course on Africa

Gerald Caplan


Following Barack Obama's visit to Ghana last week, Gerald Caplan questions the US president's grasp of African affairs. Obama's comments around good governance as a pre-condition for foreign investment are simply false Caplan points out, as any glance at apartheid-era South Africa or contemporary Nigeria and Angola would confirm. If Obama is serious about supporting Africa, he should seek to break with the entrenched twin burdens of self-interested leaders and exploitative Western policies holding back the continent, Caplan concludes, and not merely perpetuate them.

Denouncing dictatorship in Uganda

Beth Tuckey


cc US Army Africa
After years of seeing President Yoweri Museveni rewrite the constitution to run for yet another term, some Ugandans simply want Barack Obama to ‘denounce dictatorship’, writes Beth Tuckey. But given that Uganda is one of the US’s most important allies despite Museveni’s poor credentials as a ‘responsible democratic leader’, Tuckey asks how easy it would be for Obama to change the nature of the relationship between the two countries.

Zimbabwe: Time to change the rules

Presidential Powers Act is damaging democratic practice

Mutsa Murenje


cc Sokwanele
Legislation that allows the Zimbabwean president to pass new laws without parliamentary approval in times of crisis is open to abuse, warns Mutsa Murenje. Highlighting the dangers that the Presidential Powers Act poses to democracy, Murenje calls on all Zimbabweans to increase their awareness of the country’s legislation so that they can challenge and ‘say no to evil laws’.

Something rotten in the state of Zimbabwe

Constitutional reform is key to solving the country’s problems

Mutsa Murenje


cc Sokwanele
A new, democratic, people-driven and people-centred constitution is key to addressing Zimbabwe’s problems, writes Mutsa Murenje. Examining amendments to the country’s constitution that created the role of executive president, Murenje argues that these have given Mugabe excessive power and undermined the country’s democratic development.

Advocacy & campaigns

Waking the Devil: The impact of forced disarmament on civilians in the Kivus

Oxfam Internartional, July 2009. Briefing Note


The military operations launched against the FDLR since early 2009 have been presented as a bid for the unity (Umoja Wetu) and peace (Kimia II) that have so long eluded eastern DRC. In that light they have received considerable international acclaim and support, particularly through the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC. Warnings of potentially devastating consequences for civilian protection over recent months have repeatedly met with the response that this is 'the price to pay for peace.' In May 2009, Oxfam and a number of its partners interviewed residents in some of the areas of North and South Kivu where that price is being exacted.

Nigeria: ASUU strike ends when...

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike


The Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU began a total and indefinite strike after it became obvious that the government was not ready to sign agreements it jointly reached with ASUU through its Technical committee. Really, what does ASUU want? Why is the government acting up? Is there hope for this country?

Pan-African Postcard

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem and the tasks of Pan-Africanists

Horace Campbell


In his tribute to the late Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Horace Campbell points out that if Tajudeen could mobilise 7 million people to stand up against poverty in Africa, just think what all of us could achieve in the name of Pan-African unity and reconstruction. Buoyed by an inspirational life, Campbell outlines the tasks before the Pan-Africanist movement, highlighting the need to re-politicise Africa's youth along democratic, emancipatory lines in a spirit befitting Tajudeen's legacy.

Predatory leaders are destroying trades unions movement

Vincent Nuwagaba


Beset by antagonism and lack of solidarity, both the Pan-African and the trades unions movements are letting down Africans, says Vincent Nuwagaba. The reason, Nuwagaba argues, is that there are two categories of members: Those that are 'genuinely passionate about the ideals, values and objectives of the movements, which are centred on social welfare, and those that seek personal and self-aggrandisement'. The movements must ‘extricate themselves from the claws of African predatory leaders,’ says Nuwagaba, who ‘promised too much upon capturing power and have destroyed too much instead’.


Haroub Othman: Champion of social justice

Chris Maina Peter


Haroub Othman could have worked anywhere in the world, but out of a deep love for the country, 'he chose Tanzania as his station in life', writes his former student and friend Chris Miana Peter, in a tribute to the 'irreplaceable' professor. Othman was one of the most committed academics and civil society activists in Tanzania and Zanzibar, says Peter. His remarkable work through the Zanzibar Legal Services Centre established him as a local institution, while many of his students, whom he treated as equals and to whom he gave opportunities to excel, have gone on to 'hold high offices in governments all over the world'.

Professor Haroub Othman Memorial Gathering

Saturday 18 July 2009, UDSM Nkrumah Hall, Dar es Salaam


The Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the Directorate of Public Service (UDSM), Mwalimu Nyerere Chair, UDASA, University of Dar es Salaam School of Law, UDSM Philosophy Club and Educational Perspective UDSM Chapter, is organizing a memorial gathering in honour of the late Professor Haroub M. Othman. The event will be held on 18th July 2009 at Nkrumah Hall, at the University of Dar es Salaam, Main Campus starting from 10 am. This event is open to the general public and you are all invited.

Tracking Taju’s political roots

Okello Oculi


Obituaries of the late Pan-Africanist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem continue to arrive at Pambazuka, such was the stature of the man and the esteem with which he was held. In this article Okello Oculi discusses Nigeria's broader historical background in the immediate post-independence period and Tajudeen's many experiences of tumultuous times across different political settings.

Books & arts

Understanding organizational leadership through Ubuntu


Understanding Organisational Leadership through Ubuntu offers a creative, innovative and holistic approach to understanding organizational leadership using the principles embodied in the African philosophy of personhood known as ubuntu – or the essence of being human. Using African proverbs, folktales and indigenous concepts, the book discusses the organizational principles of ubuntu and the leadership lessons that modern organizations can learn from these principles.

Letters & Opinions

Samburu cattle raids continue

Mike Rainy


Cattle raids continue in Samburu East, writes Mike Rainy, but by the time these attacks come to the attention of the media and the world press, there will be no more cattle left.

Victory for Burundian refugees in Tanzania

Lavinia Limon (USCRI)


Because of the quick action taken by people like you, 36,000 refugees in the Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania are no longer in danger of being forcibly returned to Burundi where they feared they would face persecution.

Helping realise the dream for African unity

Kingwa Kamencu


A belated thank you for publishing my poem 'Poetry for Africa'. That was very exciting, thank you!

You do such a great service for Africa. Pambazuka will be very instrumental to realising the dream for real African unity, that's a prophecy. It is all very much appreciated.

Best wishes and keep up the wonderful job.

African Writers’ Corner

Alabaster balm of love

Roland Bankole Marke


Fusion of Tabule, Balangi and Milo Jazz music regenerates accord at
Awojoh feast. I muse at crossroads, a communion of ancestral spirits:
sharing assorted kola nuts, drinking palm wine from gourd of peace.
Titans of unity: Clifford Fyle and John Akar were patriots of mettle,
glaring humility, steadfast nationalism, and integrity as selfless love.
Homegrown fowl savor fangadama: happy-clutching chicks roaming.

Teary-eyed folk embrace each other, tropical breeze hones a melody.
Sacrilege of alabaster balm of love: shrapnel pierced nation’s psyche.
Compatriots return home; to where their umbilical cords are rooted.
Christian or Muslim pray for healing, sharing, caring: God forgives.
Church bells toll: abiding gratitude hallows unerring artisan’s craft.

Salone is a heartland not wasteland: inspiration ripens genius in me
National Anthem unites us; renaissance to love peace blooms like a
baobab tree on one foundation. A fallen elephant is taller than grass.
Ignorance, curry-peppered fame ruined homeland. Tenacity as mental
prowess weather storms: rising motherland blazes into Star of Africa.

Blogging Africa

Obama's Ghana speech lacked substance

Sokari Ekine


Reactions to Obama’s Ghana visit and the contradictory and somewhat insubstantial speech he made there are the focus of Sokari Ekine’s fortnightly round-up of the African blogosphere. Some are ‘uncritical’ and ‘bordering on the sycophantic’, but there is also ‘balanced and informed analysis’ to be found, says Ekine.

Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 108: Les limites du rapport Stiglitz


Zimbabwe update

Biti announces salaries for civil servants


Finance Minister Tendai Biti used a budget presentation Thursday to announce that civil servants will now be paid salaries, in place of the current flat US$100 allowance. He also scrapped import duty on all Information Communication Technology (ICT) products like computers and cell phones. Duty on capital investment equipment will be scrapped while duty on basic commodities will be waived until November this year. Those importing passenger type motor vehicles of 15-20 passengers will pay duty of 15 percent beginning August.

Constitutional meeting collapses


Zimbabwe’s constitutional conference designed as the first stage of drawing up a new constitution for the country collapsed in chaos in Harare on Monday only 10 minutes after the formal proceedings started. Neither President Robert Mugabe nor his coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who were scheduled to speak, attended the meeting. Delegates from the two main parties – Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change – disrupted the opening address by the Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, throwing bottles of water, jeering and heckling.

Police still detaining MDC activist after chaos


MDC activist Patrick Danga, who was arrested by the police while restraining ZANU PF MP Patrick Zhuwawo from manhandling an MDC MP, is still detained at Harare Central police station. Zhuwawo is also Robert Mugabe’s nephew. The MDC MP for Mutare Central, Innocent Gonese, told us on Thursday that Danga has not been taken to court and is still detained, and yet the real criminals, who threw bottles and disrupted proceedings at the All-Stakeholders constitutional conference, remain free.

Women & gender

Africa: Accountability to women could upset business-as-usual


A public presentation of the "Progress of the World's Women" report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Pretoria, South Africa this week suggests that one of the most powerful constraints on realising women's rights and achieving the Millennium Development Goals is a lack of accountability to women's needs.

Africa: Ways to deliver for women where doctors are in short supply


Across most of sub-Saharan Africa, there are fewer than five doctors for every 100,000 people. Each year 20,000 health professionals leave their posts to pursue jobs in urban areas outside their own countries. That’s why innovative approaches to human resource planning and quality service provision are urgently needed if African countries are to reduce maternal death. Such an approach was presented at a recent conference in the Ethiopian capital on Human Resources for Maternal Survival: Task-shifting to Non-Physician Clinicians.

Madagascar: 8 women die during delivery each day


Eight Malagasy women die per day while giving birth, either due to complications during the pregnancy or during delivery, according to a recently-published national Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).

South Africa: Report exposes violence against sex workers


As commercial sex workers in South Africa are fighting for the legalization of sex working, a report by Open Society Institute has revealed harrowing human rights violations inflicted to this minority group by society. Compiled by Open Society Institute’s Sexual Health and Rights Project together with Open Society’s Initiative for Southern Africa this report states that trans women sex workers faced not only physical and sexual violence from police but also public taunting and humiliation for their sexual orientation, gender identity and the kind of work they do.

Sudan: Women lashed for wearing trousers


Several Sudanese women have been flogged as a punishment for dressing "indecently", according to a local journalist who was arrested with them. Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who says she is facing 40 lashes, said she and 12 other women wearing trousers were arrested in a restaurant in the capital, Khartoum.

Human rights

Africa: Can Africa trust international justice?


The image this week of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, defiant in a black suit and dark sunglasses, taking the stand in a courtroom in The Hague – the first time an African head of state has been prosecuted for mass crimes – resonates powerfully. For many, the trial represents another victory for international justice and another signal of the end to impunity for the likes of Taylor, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Alberto Fujimori – presidents who murdered, raped and tortured civilians before eventually finding themselves in the dock. In Africa, however, the Taylor trial elicits mixed – and more complex – reactions.

DRC: Hold army commanders responsible for rapes


The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo should urgently investigate and prosecute senior army officials allegedly involved or complicit in rampant sexual crimes against women and girls, as part of its efforts to combat sexual violence, Human Rights Watch has said in a report. Human Rights Watch also called for a series of other actions to prevent sexual violence during conflict in Congo.

East Africa: LRA torture of civilians continues


The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is continuing to kill and kidnap civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN. In the first fortnight of July alone, the Ugandan rebel group carried out 33 attacks in the districts of Upper and Lower Uele, killing 26 civilians and abducting 144, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Global: Are instruments of human rights law incompatible with Islam?


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and subsequent instruments of international human rights law and international humanitarian law play a vital role in providing protection for refugees and IDPs. Yet the claim to universality has been disputed and not all states have acceded to these legal instruments. It seems that a particular point of controversy or dispute in the Islamic world is their compatibility with sharia. This publication aims to enhance debate and understanding of the concepts and instruments of international human rights in the Islamic world.

Liberia: Taylor claims war crimes case is built on lies


Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, claimed the war crimes case against him was built on lies and deceit as he took the stand as a witness in his trial at a special court in The Hague. Mr Taylor, 61, is accused of orchestrating a campaign of terror in Sierra Leone to gain control of the neighbouring country’s diamond resources, using methods including murder, sexual slavery and the recruitment of child soldiers during a decade-long civil war.

West and Central Africa: Strengthening social protection for children


This report seeks to provide an overview of existing social protection policy and programming initiatives in the West and Central Africa and to assess the extent to which these address the particular manifestations of childhood poverty and vulnerability that characterise different countries in the region. It highlights challenges in the design and implementation of child-sensitive social protection and offers a number of policy recommendations based on the analysis and lessons learned.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: UNHCR: interviews with asylum seekers pushed back to Libya


UNHCR staff in Libya have been carrying out interviews with 82 people who were intercepted by the Italian Navy on the high seas on July 1 about 30 nautical miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa. They were transferred to a Libyan ship and later transported to Libya. Based on subsequent interviews, it does not appear that the Italian Navy made any attempt to establish nationalities or reasons for fleeing their countries.

Somalia: $11 million needed for water and sanitation to displaced


Aid agencies in Somalia are appealing for $11 million to provide the hundreds of people displaced by fighting in the capital with emergency water and sanitation programmes, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported. Over 200,000 people have fled Mogadishu since fighting broke out between the Government and the opposition Al-Shabab and Hisb-ul-Islam groups in early May, in what the UN refugee agency has described as the biggest exodus from the capital since Ethiopian forces intervened in Somalia in 2007.

Southern Africa: Botswana refuses entry to stranded Congolese refugees


Botswana has refused to admit into the country a group of 41 refugees who were spirited away from a refugee camp in Namibia last week end by a local human rights organization over ‘security fears’. The refugees, including women and children who were driven to the Botswana border by Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR, are still stranded at the border.

Sudan: IDPs stretch resources to the limit in Akobo


Poor food security in Akobo, the main town in Southern Sudan's Jonglei state, is being exacerbated by a huge influx of displaced people, including 19,000 who fled attacks by cattle rustlers. “The gap analysis that we have done shows that the needs are greatest among the recent IDPs,” David Tolu Lemiso, health project manager at the NGO Nile Hope Development Foundation (NHDF), said. “Out of 3,442 households from Nyandit, 2,050 are still badly in need of help, and that is minus those from Wanding, Kuechar and Ogal payams [sub-divisions].”

Uganda: Repatriation roils Rwandan refugees


Rwanda's post-conflict recovery has a number of impressive signposts. One is the economy, which grew at an annual rate of about 11 percent last year, according to the country's national bank. Another is the political empowerment of its women. In 2008, Rwanda elected the world's first majority-female parliament and today a woman leads the country's Supreme Court. One third of the cabinet of President Paul Kagame is female.

Social movements

South Africa: Urgent update on Abahlali baseMjondolo - Western Cape protest


The ABM-WC is calling an end to state criminality of criminalizing it's members by applying old apartheid tactics of arresting, assaulting, and shooting people with rubber bullets when they exercise their right to freedom of expression and the right to protest. The movement will not be silenced by the state under the leadership of so called ANC government, and will continue to be vocal using any forms of engagement.

Emerging powers news

China-Africa News roundup


Sanusha Naidu rounds up this week's Sino-African news.

Elections & governance

Angola: Election postponed to 2010


Angola's move to hold its elections this year are doubtful following the absence of a Constitution. Media reports in the rich oil nation said the country's body in charge of drafting a new constitution said preparations of the document would take longer than expected.

Congo: Sassou-Nguesso wins disputed poll


The Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has won another seven years in office, according to preliminary results from Sunday's election. The electoral commission said Mr Sassou-Nguesso took 78.6% of the vote. His nearest rival gained just 7.5%. About 2,000 opposition supporters came on to the streets of Brazzaville to protest. They were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas.

Gabon: Presidential election set for 30 August


The Spokesman of the Gabonese government, René Ndemezo Obiang, on Thursday said the country would go to the polls on 30 August to elect a new president following the death on 8 June of President Omar Bongo Ondimba

Morocco Courts investigate election fraud


With at least one election result annulled and several candidates arrested, Moroccans are seeing courts take a more active role in dealing with cases of electoral fraud. On Monday (July 13th), the Marrakech administrative court annulled election results in the Menara district, following an appeal by the Front of Democratic Forces (FFD) over irregularities. The ruling overturned the election of PAM candidate Fatima Zahra Mansouri as Marrakech mayor.

Niger: Constitution standoff prompts donor warnings


Amid mounting international opposition to a proposed referendum for President Mamadou Tandja to stay in power, the European Commission – one of Niger's largest donors – has warned of aid cuts if leaders do not respect constitutional order. “Any changes to the constitution, notably its fundamental articles, should not be made in the absence of consensual and inclusive dialogue,” European Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Louis Michel, said in a public statement.

Somaliland: Fragile democracy under threat


The Somaliland government's disregard for the law and democratic processes threatens the territory's nascent democracy, Human Rights Watch has said in a report. The administration of President Dahir Riyale Kahin has committed human rights violations and generated a dangerous electoral crisis.

South Africa: Flames to remind the ANC of its promises


The riots that wracked Thandukukhanya township in Piet Retief highlighted just how out of touch the African National Congress (ANC) leadership is with anger on the ground at councillors who abuse their positions to fund lavish lifestyles rather than serving the people who elected them. Days after mobs armed with petrol bombs and knobkierries went on the rampage, burning down several municipal buildings and houses belonging to councillors — including mayor Mary Khumalo — Tim Modise debated the topic on SAfm’s AM Live.


DRC: Corrupt magistrates sent packing


More than 100 magistrates and judges in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been sacked as part of President Joseph Kabila’s campaign to clean the judiciary of greasy dealings. Making the announcement this week, the Minister of Justice, Luzolo Bambi Lessa said the move was only the beginning as other sectors, including the military, were also to feel the pinch of the anti-corruption whip.

DRC: Government criticises Mobutu ruling


The Democratic Republic of Congo has criticised a Swiss court's decision to release the assets of its late ex-leader Mobutu Sese Seko to his family. Information Minister Lambert Mende told the BBC that Switzerland had not done enough to ensure the money was given back to the people of DR Congo. He said his country could not appeal because the legal process had ended.


Africa: The African Grantmakers Network launched


“The African Grantmakers Network will change the face of global philanthropy. And it will happen right here in Africa”, said Sarah Mukasa, Director of Programmes at the African Women’s Development Fund, at a meeting organized to establish a network of African grantmakers. After years of careful planning, preparations, consultations and meetings, the AGN was launched in Accra at a meeting convened by the African Women’s Development Fund, TrustAfrica and the Kenya Community Development Foundation—and attended by key African grantmakers.

Africa: US seeks to underpin oil supply from Africa


The US is increasingly reliant on oil from West Africa for its daily energy needs and forecasts that up to 25 per cent of imports will hail from the Gulf of Guinea by 2015. Ghana, which discovered oil offshore only recently, is set to become a producer next year. Some Ghanaians say Barack Obama’s choice of the country for his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa was partly related to ambitions to ensure an interest in the country’s estimated 3-4bn barrel reserves.

Global: Development in dangerous places


In 2001 the United Nations announced the Millennium Development Goals, pledging to end global poverty by 2015. Paul Collier argued then that it needed to focus its concern on a much smaller group of countries than it had identified. There is, as he argued in The Bottom Billion, an essential difference between a poor family in China and an equally poor family in Chad. Although both enter into the global headcount of families living in extreme poverty, the poor family in China has credible hope that its children will grow up in a society of transformed opportunities: China will be part of the future global economy.

Global: Is the G8 fit for purpose?


Many commentators and development professionals echoed this refrain during the G8 2009 summit held in Italy from July 8 - 10. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, added his voice to the veritable cascade of dissension by declaring that the G8 “will have to update their politics to grapple with problems that none of them can solve alone: financial panic, rising food and oil prices, climate shocks, a flu pandemic, and more. Political co-operation to address these problems is …a global necessity.”

Kenya: Textile exports decline under AGOA initiative


Kenyan manufacturers have lamented the decline in their export volumes to the US since the introduction of trade rules that do not offer exclusive access to textile products to the American market. The Apparel Sector chairman of the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Jaswinder Bedi, said Kenya's exports to US under the US African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) had continued to decline over the last six years.

West Africa: Ghana to receive $1.1 billion in IMF resources


Ghana will receive around $1.1 billion in resources from the International Monetary Fund, as the country tries to reduce its widening budget deficit, a senior IMF official has said. The IMF resources include a $600 million loan over three years approved on Wednesday and another $452 million in IMF special drawing rights, IMF mission chief to Ghana, Peter Allum, told reporters on a conference call.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Further evidence of needless treatment switches


Further evidence has emerged that a substantial proportion of switches to second-line treatment in a resource-limited setting, triggered in the absence of viral load testing, are unnecessary and result in an avoidable inflation in drug costs as people switch to more expensive regimens. The findings, published in the August 1st edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, are likely to lend further support to calls for viral load testing to be made more accessible in resource-limited settings to confirm cases of suspected treatment failure.

Africa: Major funding boost for pediatric ARVs


Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced plans to invest up to US$97 million over 10 years in improving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for children and adults in sub-Saharan Africa. The world's second largest drug manufacturer has pledged $16 million in seed funding to a public-private partnership that will develop new paediatric formulations of ARV drugs, GSK said in a statement this week.

Global: Critical need for more viral load testing


New research has again confirmed the importance of viral load testing, which measures the amount of HI virus in the blood, to determine whether someone on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment is experiencing treatment failure and needs to be switched to a second-line drug regimen. Regular viral load testing is standard practice in developed countries (an increased viral load indicates that a patient has developed resistance to one or more ARV drugs) but such tests are often unavailable in resource-limited settings because of their cost and a lack of laboratory capacity.

Global: World Bank health work flawed


A recent evaluation of the World Bank’s health work is damning in its criticism of the lender’s approach, particularly in Africa. Meanwhile, the Bank is continuing to push privatisation in public services such as health, education and water, despite fierce criticism

Togo: Grant from UN-backed fund allows scale up of HIV services


The United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has signed a grant agreement with Togo worth $20 million over two years, the first part of a five-year grant that will allow the country to scale-up treatment and care for people living with HIV. “This agreement reflects Togo’s determination to continue its fight against the AIDS epidemic,” said Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund, who travelled to Lomé to sign the agreement.


Cameroon: Church accused of manipulating public opinion


Gay rights organisations in Cameroon have accused the country’s Catholic Church and the media of deliberately causing confusion about the Maputo Protocol with the intention to influence the public to have negative attitudes towards homosexuality. This comes after Cameroonian President Paul Biya ratified the Maputo Protocol, known in full as, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of Women in Africa, during the sixth anniversary of the Maputo Protocol on 11 July this year.

South Africa: Lesbians and HIV: Low risk is not no risk


Women who sleep with women (WSW) are not at risk of HIV transmission – or are they? AIDS advocates warn that it is time for a wake-up call about who is and is not at risk. HIV prevention among WSW and lesbian women remains off the prevention agenda, said Beverley Palesa Ditsie, a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Organization of the Witwatersrand.

Zimbabwe: Gays uncertain about their future


While pressure mounts for the Zimbabwean government to draft an inclusive constitution, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in that country remains uncertain about its future in the newly formed government of national unity. Following a public statement earlier this year that called for the drafting of the new constitution to be a people driven process, it now appears that the government is willing to engage.


Mauritius: Hold your fire


Mauritius appears to have a happy problem with the 400,000 tons of waste it produces each year. The island's only landfill is full and the government must decide whether to turn to incinerating waste - generating electricity in the process - or to compost it, to the benefit of farmers.

Nigeria: Playing with fire


Nigeria's gas flare-out date has once again been extended - this time to 2011. The decision follows 25 years of political procrastination by the federal government and illegal behaviour on the part of major oil multinationals engaged in flaring associated gas (AG), the byproduct of oil production in the Niger Delta.

Land & land rights

Africa: UN agency commits to helping protect land rights for displaced


The United Nations agency tasked with promoting adequate shelter for all has committed to ensuring better protection of land and property rights for people uprooted from their homes in Africa, which hosts nearly half of the total number of displaced persons worldwide. UN-HABITAT and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week committing them to this common goal.

Food Justice

Global: High food prices continue to hurt the poor, FAO


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned in a report that despite a drop in international food prices and good cereal harvests overall, prices in developing countries remain high, and continue to hurt millions of poor people in both rural and urban areas. In several countries, current prices exceed last year’s highs or stand at record levels, according to the “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report.

Media & freedom of expression

Africa: Media observatory 'flawed'


Before the 15 July close of the consultation process on a controversial proposal by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission (EC) to create a Pan African Media Observatory, media freedom organisations mobilised to have their voices heard on the matter. A component of the "joint roadmap" proposed by the AUC and the EC this year is to create a Pan-African Media Observatory "composed of eminent figures", based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that would have legal status to mediate disputes that arise with the media.

Ghana: City guards manhandle two radio journalists


Cyrus Degraft-Johnson and Alhassan Suhuyini, journalists of two Accra-based radio stations were on the night of July 9, 2009 violently assaulted by security personnel working for the city authority, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that the incident occurred at about 21: 30 GMT in Shiashi, a suburb in the eastern part of Accra, where Degraft-Johnson, reporter of Joy FM, had gone to cover an ongoing demolition exercise by a combined team of AMA guards and police officers to rid the city of illegal structures.

Sierra Leone: Radio stations banned


Two Sierra Leonean radio stations have been stripped of their licences. The national regulatory body, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), says the stations failed to comply with the country's media code. The IMC announced the withdrawal of the licenses of Radio Unity which belongs to the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), and Radio Rising Sun, owned by the ruling All People's Congress (APC) on Jul. 7.

Somalia: Renewed calls for journalist protection


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has reiterated its request for an emergency international action to put an end to the assassinations of journalists in Somalia, after the murder of Mohamud Mohamed Yusuf of the Radio Holy Quran (IQK), who was killed on Saturday July 4 in central Mogadishu.

Zambia: Government prosecutes editor


An editor at Zambia's biggest-selling newspaper has been charged with distributing obscene materials relating to a health sector crisis. The Post sent harrowing images of a woman giving birth in the street to government ministers to highlight the effects of a health sector strike. In May and June, Zambia's hospitals and clinics ground to a halt as doctors and nurses went on strike over pay.

Conflict & emergencies

Benin: UN agencies increase assistance in wake of floods


United Nations humanitarian agencies have stepped up their relief efforts in the West African country of Benin, where more than 20,000 people have been displaced or affected and numerous farms destroyed by floods. Mosquito nets, water purification tablets, blankets, tents and mats are being distributed and assistance is being provided with water and sanitation and with maternal health care in the wake of the floods.

Kenya: Malnutrition in North West


Poor rains have heightened food insecurity in Kenya's northwestern region of Turkana, where malnutrition rates in children under five have risen above the emergency threshold, according to humanitarian officials."Poor rains in April, May and June worsened food insecurity in the region, where 74 percent of the population [estimated at 550,000] already depends on food aid," Vincent Kahi, the health coordinator for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said on 15 July at a press briefing in Nairobi.

Nigeria: Militants declare 60-day ceasefire


A leading militant group in the oil-rich Niger Delta on Wednesday declared a 60-day ceasefire and said it would seek talks with the Nigerian government. The ceasefire comes 48 hours after militants expanded their attacks beyond the delta with an assault on a fuel-importing facility near the financial district in Lagos, the commercial capital.

Sudan: Justice, Peace and the ICC


This latest report from the International Crisis Group examines the root cause of the country’s many crises, namely the reluctance of the long-ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to enact policies that would bring justice to the victims of its many conflicts. To end Sudan’s centralised, exploitive and unaccountable governance, the NCP must accept judicial reforms and transitional justice mechanisms as key elements of a Darfur settlement and at the same time fulfil its side of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which halted decades of civil war.

Sudan: Rivals agree to avert war


Rival parties from north and south Sudan have agreed new plans to prevent conflict ahead of next week's ruling on their disputed border. The two sides ended 22 years of conflict in 2005 but tension remains high, especially in the oil-rich region of Abyei, claimed by both sides. A court in The Hague is due to rule on the border next Thursday and both sides have promised to abide by its ruling.

Internet & technology

Congo: New presidential term, new hope for better telecomms?


During the 1990s, the Republic of Congo, like most countries, experienced significant growth in the telecommunications sector. However, the liberalisation of the telecommunications market in 1997, when the monopoly held by the National Office of Posts and Telecommunications (ONPT) gave way to free competition among multiple operators, was not free of problems, and the country continues to suffer the effects today.

Tunisia: New online crackdown mobilises Facebook users


A group of Tunisian bloggers started a new campaign on Facebook last week to condemn censorship of the internet by the Tunisian Internet Agency and put pressure on the government to unblock the social websites YouTube and Dailymotion. Over the last few months, internet users have received "404: Page Not Found" errors when trying to surf the two websites. Observers say the motive behind the blockage might be political, coming as it does in the months before Tunisia's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Zambia: Major elearning conference planned


eBrain, the national ICT4D network in Zambia and IICD partner since 2002, will play a key role in organising the 2010 eLearning Africa Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. This annual international conference is the biggest event in digital learning in Africa.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change?

AfricaFocus Bulletin Jul 10, 2009 (090710)


President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana will be rich in symbolism. But those hoping for a new direction in U.S. Africa policy are tempering their hopes with skepticism. The issue posed, parallel to that in other policy spheres, is to what extent change will remain symbolic or reflect substantive shifts, even if small, away from U.S. policies based on unilateral geostrategic goals or unexamined economic policy assumptions.

Fundraising & useful resources

Global: IDRC Internship awards


The IDRC Internship awards provide exposure to research for international development through a program of training in research management and grant administration under the guidance of IDRC program staff. The internship is designed to provide hands-on learning experiences in research program management - in the creation, dissemination and utilization of knowledge from an international perspective.

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