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The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 467: Haiti: Microcosm of the crisis of development

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. Blogging Africa, 9. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 10. Highlights French edition, 11. Zimbabwe update, 12. African Union Monitor, 13. Women & gender, 14. Human rights, 15. Refugees & forced migration, 16. Social movements, 17. Africa labour news, 18. Emerging powers news, 19. Elections & governance, 20. Corruption, 21. Development, 22. Health & HIV/AIDS, 23. Education, 24. LGBTI, 25. Environment, 26. Land & land rights, 27. Food Justice, 28. Media & freedom of expression, 29. News from the diaspora, 30. Conflict & emergencies, 31. Internet & technology, 32. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 33. Fundraising & useful resources, 34. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Help Pambazuka News become independent. Become a supporting subscriber by taking out a paid subscription. Donate $30 a year.

Highlights from this issue

- Yash Tandon: Haiti is a microcosm of the crisis of development
- Sir Hilary Beckles: Haiti didn't fail, it was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth
- Cynthia McKinney: US response to Haiti earthquake reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina
- Marian Douglas-Ungaro: Does Africa care about recreating Haiti's socio-economic structures?
- Peter Hallward: Securing disaster in Haiti
+ more

- Journalist study tour to China 2010 - Fahamu China in Africa programme

- Pan-African solidarity with Haiti
- International Association of Health Policy and Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública statement on health for Haiti
- The social barriers to sustainability
+ more

- L. Muthoni Wanyeki: Al-Faisal’s gone, questions linger

- Kenyan citizens support withholding of Free Primary Education (FPE) funds by US government
- Donors must keep up support for Guinea-Bissau
+ more

- David Coetzee, progressive journalist and publisher

- Vicensia Shule reviews Laura Edmondson's 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage'ANNOUNCEMENTS: Journalist study tour to China – Call for applications
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Woza members arrested
AFRICA UNION MONITOR: Guide to the AU launched
WOMEN & GENDER: Documenting sexual violence in Kenya
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Djibouti sends peacekeepers to Somalia
HUMAN RIGHTS: Call for Morocco to ease restrictions on Sahrawi
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Expulsions from EU rise sharply
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: WSF: Africa continues to draw inspiration
AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: Tell Firestone to play fair!
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Kenyan MPs opt to scrap Prime Minister position
CORRUPTION: US suspends Kenya school funding
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Rotavirus vaccine making headway
EDUCATION: Dreams of free education in Swaziland deferred
DEVELOPMENT: Africa policy outlook 2010
LGBTI: Kenya’s gays embrace inclusive Aids plan
ENVIRONMENT: The problems with big dams
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Unraveling the land grab
FOOD JUSTICE: Reclaiming autonomous food systems
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Zambian government urged to prevent ‘information gap’
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: New attacks on Afro-Colombians
INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: Google moves into Swahili
PLUS: jobs, fundraising & useful resources, publications, courses, seminars and workshops

*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


Haiti: Microcosm of the crisis of development

Yash Tandon


cc Wikimedia Commons
The 'failure of development' is to blame for the devastating effects of the recent earthquake in Haiti, writes Yash Tandon. Calling for democratic institutions accountable to the country's people to be put in place, Tandon argues that Haiti is ‘a microcosm of the disastrous outcome' of ‘development’ policies and the 'destructive effects of foreign interventionist policies’ in the affairs of the South.

The hate and the quake

Hilary Beckles


cc Gloria Mundi
‘Haiti did not fail,’ writes Hilary Beckles, ‘it was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.' Buried 'beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda', says Beckle, is 'the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.’

Haiti 2010: An unwelcome Katrina redux

Cynthia McKinney


cc Wikimedia Commons
What is happening in Haiti is, Cynthia McKinney observes, 'shades of Hurricane Katrina all over again’. McKinney depicts, step by step, the US response to Haiti’s crisis and lays bare its unashamedly military nature. McKinney explores the reasons for the US’s militarised rescue operation. She believes it is not only a consequence of US material and oil interests in Haiti, but also the ideological threat that Haiti poses to the Western world: 'Haiti is a light.' In defeating its colonisers, it inspired millions to follow in its footsteps. But McKinney concludes with a warning: 'Every plane of humanitarian assistance that is turned away by the US military … and the … arrival … of up to 10,000 US troops, are lasting reminders of the existential threat that now looms over the valiant, proud people and the Republic of Haiti.’

Haiti ‘Year Zero’: The Afro-Americas and Africa

Time for a new kind of trans-Atlantic relationship

Marian Douglas-Ungaro


cc United Nations
Haiti’s earthquake has provided the first opportunity since slavery for slavery descendants in the Afro-Americas to alter and recreate the country’s socio-economic structures and physical infrastructure, writes Marian Douglas-Ungaro. But will former slave-owners and colonial masters hinder or assist with the process, Douglas-Ungaro asks, and will continental Africa notice or care?

Securing disaster in Haiti

Peter Hallward


A fortnight after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, the initial phase of the US-led relief operation has conformed to three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island's recent history, writes Peter Hallward – the adoption of military priorities and strategies, the sidelining Haiti's own leaders and government, and disregard for the needs of the majority of its people. These same mutually reinforcing tendencies will continue to govern the imminent reconstruction effort too, Hallward cautions, unless determined political action is taken to counteract them.

Haiti can awaken from the dark night of the boar

All together for the redemption of the country that showed us the light of freedom

Amanda Huerta


cc Billtacular
Against the backdrop of the fundraising 'Hope for Haiti Now’ concert, Amanda Huerta reflects on the impact that it will have. She believes that it will at least draw the attention of 'those who, by commission or by omission, never cast their eyes on the "third world" because they got lost losing the "second" one'. Haiti has two potential paths, Huerta argues, to become even more quashed by the 'military boot’ or to be rebuilt in solidarity whereby 'We will construct among us the morning … that forever ends the night of the boar.’

Letter to Honourable P.J. Patterson

Norman Girvan


cc WSPAInternational
Norman Girvan writes to the Honourable P.J. Patterson, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s representative to the Conference of Foreign Ministers on Haitian Relief, which was held in Montreal on Monday 25 January 2010. Girvan makes recommendations for a response which ‘should be based on the principles of solidarity, respect for [Haitians’] rights and respect for their country’s sovereignty'.

Haiti's 'odious debt' must be completely and unconditionally cancelled

Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet


cc Haiti Earthquake
Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet criticise mainstream commentary on Haiti for failing to look beyond the earthquake and to ask where Haiti's poverty is rooted. They depict the historical passage of political and economic exploitation and individual greed that has led Haiti into a hole of crippling debt. Haiti, they argue, 'needs to be rebuilt because it has been stripped of its means to rebuild itself'. Toussaint and Perchellet note that 'All current financial aid announced following the earthquake is already lost to the debt repayment!' They conclude that those most responsible for systematically exploiting Haiti, namely France and the US, must pay their compensation through a fund for the country's reconstruction.

Democracy before democracy in Africa

Alemayehu G. Mariam


cc caribbeanfreephoto
Alemayehu G. Mariam attacks the common concept that economic democracy must be achieved before abstract political rights. Mariam holds that this ‘democracy before democracy’ notion is rooted in Kwame Nkrumah’s dangerous legacy of one-man, one-party rule designed to ‘avoid genuine multiparty democracy’ and buffer personal power. Mariam warns African rulers following Nkrumah’s ‘political formula’ that ‘Africans want Africa no longer to be the world’s cesspool of corruption, criminality and cruelty.’ Ghana is today, Mariam argues, ironically the best model of democracy in Africa. He concludes that in contrast to beliefs that economic needs precede political rights, Africa wants genuine multiparty democracy now.

Stop 'mutilation' of Kenya's constitution

Yash Ghai


As the Kenya Parliamentary Select Committee conducts its review of a revised draft of the country’s constitution, Yash Ghai reminds the committee that its role is to ‘resolve contentious issues’ in the document, not to determine them.

ANC shareholdings present conflict of interest

William Gumede


cc Wikimedia Commons
From whichever angle you look at, it is simply wrong for a governing political party to own shares in a commercial company, let alone when such a company bids for government tenders, writes William Gumede.

Comment & analysis

Pan-African solidarity with Haiti: Press release


South African CIVICUS [the World Alliance for Citizen Participation], and its partners have announced the launch of the ‘Africa for Haiti’ campaign aimed at rebuilding Haiti in solidarity. The press statement, issued on 22 January 2010, states that ‘The objective of this campaign is not to provide immediate relief but rather to contribute toward the medium to long-term reconstruction of communities in Haiti.’ The press statement is accompanied by supporting statements for the campaign from Archbishops Desmond Tutu, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Malusi Mpumlwana, Thabo Makgoba, and businessman Stanley Subramony.

Health for Haiti

International Association of Health Policy and Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública


The following is joint statement by the International Association of Health Policy and the Federación de Asociaciones para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública calling on international health organisations to ethically establish proper social and healthcare systems for the people of Haiti.

Final declaration of the extraordinary meeting of the political council of the ALBA, 25 January 2010


cc ¡Que comunismo!
The following is the full text of the final declaration of last Monday's meeting at the Miraflores Palace between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit and the foreign ministers of the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

The social barriers to sustainability

To avert climate change, we must outlaw inequality

Bob Hughes


cc kk+
The modern global economy doesn’t just run on fossil fuels, writes Bob Hughes, it primarily driven by social and economic inequality. But as a growing number of studies suggests that this inequality also has a heavy environmental cost, Hughes argues that ‘a world without inequality is not just desirable, it is necessary, and urgently’.

Dear most honorable MP

Paul Mwangi Maina


Dear most honorable MP,
When will it ever end?
When will it stop, people are crying, dying,
When will it stop?
It’s been called disgusting,
Yet it still continues,
When will it stop?
It’s hard to imagine,
It can be justified,
With all these problems,
Stop it,
Stop now,
Stop the slaps on the face,
The vomiting on the shoes,
The cold heartedness,
To the hungry, sick, poor,
Of our nation,
By constantly increasing your pay packages,
And failing to pay tax,
We are FED UP,
And on a day soon to come,
We will show you how much.

Why the nation-state is wrong for Africa

Amira Kheir


cc Wikimedia Commons
The development challenges African countries face stem from their use of an inappropriate governance structure, the nation-state, writes Amira Kheir. The nation-state is an inherited system that does not match the continent’s needs and potential, says Kheir, arguing instead for a state that functions as an administrative centre for legislation and organisation but that remains free from ‘fictitious affiliations’ to a larger identity.

Advocacy & campaigns

Citizens’ statement in support of US Government withholding FPE funds

Bunge La Mwananchi


We the citizens of Kenya wish to issue this statement in support of the decision by the United States Government to withhold funds that had been earmarked towards Kenya’s Free Primary Education programme. As aggrieved citizens we agree and demand that those responsible for the misappropriation of free education funds not only be dismissed from office but be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

Keep on supporting Guinea-Bissau


This is a petition to reiterate the necessity for donors, European Governments and European NGOs not to give in to current trends of aid concentration that very clearly contribute to further marginalizing countries such as Guinea-Bissau, and to reconsider their present relationship with Guinea-Bissau.

South Africa: Anti-gay appointment concerns us all


If Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill becomes law, it will be little short of state-sponsored "genocide" against the gay community. So, the ambassadorial appointment of Jon Qwelane, well-know for his homophobic and derogatory statements against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex (LGBTI) community, was a shock to human rights and gay activists.

South Africa: SOS: Civil society unites to challenge Public Service Broadcasting Bill (PSB)

Amandla! Alternative Media


Media and communication activists and organizations in South Africa have united into the strongest communication advocacy campaign since the collapse of formal apartheid: the SOS Support Public Broadcasting coalition. The coalition formed first in response to the governance and financial crisis at the SABC and then broadened to engage the Department of Communication's (DOC) bold steps to review Broadcasting legislation.

Pan-African Postcard

Al-Faisal’s gone, questions linger

L. Muthoni Wanyeki


cc Wikimedia Commons
Following the arranged departure from Kenya of the Muslim preacher Abdullah al-Faisal back to Jamaica, L. Muthoni Wanyeki reflects on the curious circumstances behind the preacher's transportation out of the country.


David Coetzee, progressive journalist and publisher


Adrian Crewe


David Coetzee, the founder of the alternative information bulletin SouthScan, for a number of years the most significant source of independent, uncensored information about what was going on in apartheid South Africa, passed away on 24 January 2010 at the age of 66.

Books & arts

Review of 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage' by Laura Edmondson

Vicensia Shule


Vicensia Shule reviews Laura Edmondson's 'Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage', a book which she regards as decidedly limited in its analysis of the evolution of Tanzanian theatre.

Letters & Opinions

Doubts on the veracity of Mutsinzi report

René Lemarchand


Anyone familiar with the basic provisions of the Arusha accords of 18 August 1992 is impelled to call into question Gerald Caplan's credentials in commenting on the merits of the Mutsinzi report, writes René Lemarchand.

The evidence points in one direction only

Gerald Caplan


Gerald Caplan responds to Professor René Lemarchand's criticism of his article on the Mutsinzi Report into the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana in 1994.

Rwandans deserve better than this

Susan Thomson


Given Rwanda's history of the elite manipulation of the past for political
gain, Gerald Caplan's analysis of the Mutsinzi Report is dangerous and thoughtless, writes Susan Thomson.

Blogging Africa

35 seconds that changed everything

Sokari Ekine


In this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, Sokari Ekine is disappointed to find little commentary from Africa on the recent Haiti earthquake. She looks to bloggers in the diaspora instead, to shed light on events and to investigate the historical connections between Haiti and Africa.

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Africa rising

Ed Cropley and Ben Hirschler


The International Monetary Fund believes growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 1 percentage point above the global average, and puts eight African countries in its top 20 fastest-expanding economies in 2010, write Ed Cropley and Ben Hirschler. Oil-rich Angola and Congo Republic will lead the charge with growth rates of more than 9 and 12 percent respectively, both beating China, according to the IMF's most recent projections.

Namibian, Chinese trade enjoys rapid growth

Chrispin Inambao


Despite the financial crisis that has wrecked global economies, the volume of trade between Namibia and China has grown, resulting in commerce between the two countries exceeding US$550 million in 2009, writes Chrispin Inambao.

Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 131: L'Afrique face au drame haïtien


Zimbabwe update

11 WOZA members arrested, beaten in Bulawayo for education protest


At noon, January 25, a delegation of 200 women and men marched to Mhlahlandlela Government complex to deliver WOZA’s report on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled - Looking Back to look Forward. Once the Ministry of Education official had attended and received the report, members began to disperse. As they dispersed seven riot police officers ran out of the Police Drill hall, which is opposite the complex and started to beat the peacefully dispersing activists and innocent bystanders and vendors.

EU: Keep sanctions on Mugabe’s inner circle


The European Union should maintain its travel restrictions and asset freezes on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle until Zimbabwe carries out the concrete human rights reforms set out in the 2008 Global Political Agreement, Human Rights Watch has said. The EU is currently reviewing its sanctions policy toward Zimbabwe.

MDC seeks SADC intervention in power-sharing dispute


Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation has called for urgent regional intervention to save the coalition government amid signs the country’s feuding parties are drifting further apart in efforts to resolve outstanding power-sharing issues.

Tsvangirai calls on investors, donors to return to Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he believed the process that led to creation of a unity government last February is irreversible and that it is time for Western donors and investors to return to the country.

African Union Monitor

Africa: AfriMAP and Oxfam launch guide to the AU


A new guide to the African Union launched by the Africa Governance and Monitoring Project (AfriMAP) of the Open Society Institute and Oxfam International aims to ensure that Africa’s citizens can contribute more fully to the work of the
inter-governmental organisation.

Africa: Ministers urged to give real power to AU Authority


Foreign ministers gathered for talks on the change of the African Union Commission into an Authority should focus on giving this proposed government real power, the Libyan Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, said.

Women & gender

Freedom of Information and Women’s Rights in Africa

FEMNET/UNESCO book launch


The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) with support from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a book titled: Freedom of Information and Women’s Rights in Africa. The book is compilation of five case studies from five African countries namely; Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia, will help women’s organisations as they organise around freedom of information in their respective countries.

Kenya: Documenting sexual violence


The testimonies of women who survived sexual violence during post-election conflict in 2008 should be heard, say advocates. The magnitude of the crimes committed against women because of their gender must be recorded and prosecuted to prevent such violence from occurring again.

Mozambique: First woman speaker a step for equality


Mozambique is continuing to see a steady stream of changes when it come to upping the gender mix in the country's political landscape. The most recent victory was the unanimous election of Veronica Macamo, a member of the ruling Frelimo party, who made history when she became the first woman speaker of parliament at a swearing in ceremony in the capital Maputo on 12 January.

Sudan: Vulnerable girls risk sexual exploitation on Juba's streets


In a large market in Juba, the regional capital of Southern Sudan, young women spend long afternoons lounging on beds in sweltering iron sheet rooms, waiting for men. One girl, no more than 17, wearing a tight tee-shirt with the words "I love beer" emblazoned on it, points us in the direction of a different set of rooms, with the really young girls.

Women taking their place on the pitch


The current football fervour resulting from the Africa Cup of Nations is just a small sample of what is to come when South Africa hosts the World Cup this coming June. Young footballers across the continent are watching and cheering on their local heroes. Some of the regions’ young women players are among the fans, even though they are often left out on the pitch.

Human rights

CAR: Paris demands fate of Charles Massi


France has asked the Central African authorities to shed light on the fate of the Central African ex-minister and rebel leader, Charles Massi, reported to be dead by his family of the torture he underwent in prison after having been handed over to Bangui.

Ethiopia: Oposition says jailed leader ignored by West


The West is ignoring a jailed Ethiopian opposition leader to keep the Horn of Africa stable despite her being this week named on a United Nations list of arbitrary detainees, her party said on Friday. Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ), was first jailed with other opposition leaders when the 2005 election turned violent. She was pardoned in 2007 but re-arrested last year accused of violating that pardon.

Global: Health care providers torture patients – World Report


A Human Rights Watch report has revealed details of health care providers withholding care or engaging in treatment that intentionally inflicts pain on patients for no medical reason. World report 2010 details major human rights violations in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide. It is a record of investigative work carried out by the organisation in 2009.

Kenya: Tackling the crisis of urban poverty


Fridah Awour Agolla has sold vegetables in Nairobi's Mathare slum for 20 years. In better times, her stock sold out every day. But lately market forces have begun to bite even harder for the millions in Kenya who live in such squalid, neglected settlements.

Morocco: Ease restrictions on Sahrawi - HRW


The international human rights body has called on Moroccan authorities to cease a ban on foreign travel against selected Sahrawi activist, saying it hampers the freedom of movement. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said since August 2009, the government has revived an arbitrary and repressive measure, which it had used frequently more than a decade ago to bar Sahrawis’ from traveling abroad.

Zimbabwe: Anglicans to hold protest prayer over persecution


Members of the Anglican Church are planning to hold a prayer meeting this Sunday in protest against ongoing persecution from an ousted bishop who is using the police to disrupt their services.

Zimbabwe: One million casualties of land reform


The seizure of large commercial farms - almost all white-owned - has continued despite the formation of a unity government in Zimbabwe. The country's farm workers say they are the biggest losers. The workers say that Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders must intervene immediately to stop the violence against them.

Refugees & forced migration

Global: Expulsions from EU rise sharply


At least 1,570 individuals were removed from the EU's territory in 31 flights coordinated by the bloc's external borders agency Frontex between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15 last year. This represented a tripling in joint expulsions - involving authorities from two or more EU states - since 2007. Some 428 migrants were flown out in such operations that year, with the figure rising to over 800 in 2008.

Global: Lancet article calls for changes in health care practice for conflict-afflicted


An article in The Lancet medical journal, co-authored by a UNHCR expert, says health care for people in conflict settings needs to be updated. It calls for changes in four key areas: delivery of health services; treatment of chronic diseases; development of health services in urban areas; and surveillance, measurement and monitoring.

Nigeria: Aid agencies “staggered” by IDP numbers


Relief agencies are struggling to help the some 18,000 displaced people in 17 makeshift camps in and around the central Nigerian city of Jos. Most of the displaced do not have enough food and they lack access to toilet facilities and safe drinking water, Nigeria Red Cross (NRC) head Auwalu Mohammed told IRIN.

Sudan: School project in Darfur helps to build bridges between communities


Thanks to funding from the UN refugee agency, hundreds of primary schoolchildren in Sudan's volatile West Darfur state no longer have to study in the open. At the same time, UNHCR is helping to form bonds between different ethnic groups and avoid conflict in an area where hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced in recent years.

Social movements

Global: Third NYC Encuentro for Dignity & Against Displacement


An echo that turns itself into many voices, into a network of voices that, before the deafness of power, opts to speak to itself, knowing itself to be one and many, acknowledging itself to be equal in its desire to listen and be listened to, recognizing itself as different in the tonalities and levels of voices forming it. A network of voices that resist the war that power wages on them. – Words of the Zapatistas at the “First Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism.”

Global: WSF: Africa Continues to Draw Inspiration


The same kind of worldwide solidarity that helped bring down apartheid is necessary to free the global South from economic domination. "Global solidarity has proved to be the only sustainable mode of confronting global apartheid, as exemplified by the liberation struggles that were fought in the 20th century," says Dakarayi Matanga.

South Africa: Help Zille-Raine Heights fight eviction


On Friday the 29th of January, over 260 women, men, children and elderly will be represented in court for our appeal trial against forceful relocation from Zille Raine Heights informal settlement in Grassy Park to Happy Valley, 35 kms away from Cape Town.

South Africa: What is happening in Kennedy Road after the Attack on AbM?


After the 26th September 2009 attack on Abahlali baseMjondolo in Kennedy Road by the shebeen owners and the ANC the life of the people has changed into misery. Everything is out of their control and some people are even abandoning the area due to a high level of crime activities making it unsafe. These activities are being started in the shebeens which are operating right through the night again.

WSF: Back seat driver of social change


The World Social Forum (WSF) is only "a tool" and must not be confused with the global movement for another world, says Chico Whitaker, one of the founders of this meeting which is celebrating its tenth year with a seminar to assess its track record Jan. 25-29, in its southern Brazilian place of origin, Porto Alegre.

Africa labour news

Liberia: Tell Firestone to play fair!


As sports fans gear up for the NFL Super Bowl next week, the Halftime show sponsor, Bridgestone/Firestone, continues to exploit workers on its rubber plantation in Liberia. The majority of workers who labor as “rubber tappers” must carry two heavy buckets of raw latex weighing 75 pounds each on both ends of a stick on their back for miles.

Zambia: Lumwana workers win pay rise


Lumwana Mining Company has signed the first collective agreement with Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and awarded a 21 per cent salary increase to its unionised employees across the grades.

Emerging powers news

Emerging powers news roundup

Sanusha Naidu


In this week's emerging powers news, south-south cooperation is cemented in new partnerships, Africa seeks frameworks for managing new resource-driven weatlh, BRIC and South Africa commit to mitigating climate change, and the AU keen to forge closer ties with China.

Elections & governance

Guinea: Junta leaders 'should be barred from unity government'


Guinea's interim government should exclude key military officials suspected of involvement in the 28 September massacre of pro-democracy activists in the West African nation, an African Union lobby group has said.

Kenya: MPs opt to scrap prime minister position


Kenyan MPs have agreed to scrap the position of prime minister in a draft constitution being drawn up as part of a power-sharing deal. The role was created following post-election riots in 2007 to allow coalition partners to share power.

Liberia: Mixed reaction over Sirleaf's 2011 participation


Mixed reactions have marred Liberia following the recent announcement by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she will run for re-election in 2011. Ms Sirleaf has said that she had not realised before the 2005 polls how much rebuilding work needed to be done in Liberia. She became Africa's first elected female head of state after winning 53 percent of the vote.

Nigeria: Senate and cabinet at odds over ill Yar'Adua


Nigeria's Senate and cabinet are at loggerheads over President Umaru Yar'Adua, who has spent two months in hospital in Saudi Arabia. The cabinet has declared that he is still capable of governing the country.

Sudan: Abuses undermine impending elections


Violations of civil and political rights by Sudanese security forces throughout the country are seriously undermining prospects for free, fair, and credible elections in April 2010, Human Rights Watch has said.

Sudan: South Sudanese name poll candidate


South Sudan's former rebels have chosen a northern Muslim as their candidate in April's presidential election, the country's first multiparty poll since 1986. The candidacy of Yassir Arman was announced by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which leads the government in the semi-autonomous south, on Friday after lengthy talks among party officials.


Kenya: US suspends school funding


The US has suspended $7m of funding for free primary schools in Kenya until fraud allegations are investigated, the US ambassador in Nairobi has said. Michael Ranneberger says "credible action" must be taken on claims that 110m shillings (£900,000; $1.4m) were siphoned off a free-education fund.


Africa: Africa Policy Outlook 2010

Africa Action


One year after President Obama was sworn in to office, and less than a week before his State of the Union address, Africa Action has released its Africa Policy Outlook 2010, also published by Foreign Policy in Focus. The Outlook is an annual publication forecasts the key issues and developments in Africa policy, such as climate change, the global economic crisis, HIV/AIDS, foreign aid and other country topics, and it analyzes trends in U.S. relations with Africa under the current administration.

Africa: Barriers on cash sent home retarding growth from 'trade not aid'


There is something dismally familiar about the tide of news concerning Africa's increased suffering in the face of the recent global financial crisis. But there is another side to the story. African countries locked out of international capital markets for most of the past five decades have largely been spared the financial turmoil and economic downturn.

Africa: ECA says continent shaking off effects of recession


The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said Africa was slowly shaking off the effects of the global financial crisis, but warned the road to full recovery would still be painful and require adjustments to economic management.

Africa: Weak infrastructure plans limit financing: AU


African countries must develop clear infrastructure improvement plans to tap soft finance available for investment in the transport and energy sectors, an African Union official said on Friday.

East Africa: New trade platform to boost EAC ties with US


The East African Community (EAC) is set to boost business ties with the United States in a new trade platform that is to be launched in February. Operating under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa), the arrangement will help EAC member countries to utilise existing trade opportunities such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Global: IFAD President urges Davos leaders to invest in developing countries


As business, government and private sector leaders gather in the Swiss town of Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, global food security and poverty will be among the key challenges they will need to tackle.

Global: New paper from HBF criticizes direction of World Bank lending


Nancy Alexander's new report finds several worrying trends in how the World Bank spends its money, namely that it is increasing its lending to middle income countries while loans and grants to low income countries stagnate, that DPOs with less stringent safeguards are outpacing project lending, and that the Gender Action Plan is not achieving its goals.

Global: WTO to establish chairs at 14 developing country universities


The WTO Secretariat has launched a new programme of support for teaching, research and outreach activities at 14 universities in the developing world. The WTO Chairs Programme (WCP) will assist national academic institutions in providing students with a deeper understanding of trade policy issues. Through analytical input into the formulation and implementation of trade policy, the WCP will help strengthen the participation of the beneficiary countries in international trade.

West Africa: World Bank president visits Côte d'Ivoire


The president of the World Bank group, Robert Zoellick, has begun a visit in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, with working sessions with the Ivorian government and civil society organisations. According to Mr. Zoellick, the aim of his visit to Côte d'Ivoire is to listen and learn.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Rotavirus vaccine making headway


New vaccination programmes against rotavirus are starting to have a positive impact, and could eventually prevent hundreds of thousands of child deaths a year, according to a new report.

Nigeria: Adherence partners give short-term boost, but no long-term benefit - study


People with HIV who selected treatment partners to support their adherence were more likely to return to the clinic to collect further doses of antiretrovirals, and showed a higher rate of viral suppression after six months of treatment, but showed no longer-lasting advantage in terms of viral suppression, CD4 cell counts or mortality, Nigerian and American researchers report in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Rwanda: Circumcision more cost-effective in newborns than adults


An analysis of the cost-effectiveness of male circumcision for HIV prevention in Rwanda has concluded that circumcising newborn babies would be cheaper and prevent more infections than providing the operation to adolescents or adults.

Senegal: Twitter helps save thousands of lives


An epic collaboration involving one of the world's most popular social networking media, Twitter, and Malaria No More, an international body fighting against Malaria, is poised to save over 80, 000 lives from the deadly effect of malaria.

South Africa: Huge cuts in aid ahead for HIV/AIDS treatment


South Africa faces potentially huge cuts in donor support for its HIV/AIDS programme over the next five years, yet it needs an extra R2-billion a year to reach all those who need antiretroviral treatment. “US government funding is going to come down dramatically over the next five years,” warned Dr Roxana Rogers, USAID South Africa Health Team leader last week.

South Africa: Military gets new HIV policy


The announcement in late 2009 that the government had approved a new HIV/AIDS policy in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was widely welcomed by AIDS and human rights lobbyists as long overdue. A November 2009 statement by the SANDF noted that the new policy made provision for the "recruitment and selective deployment of HIV-positive members" of the military and complied with a High Court ruling in May 2008, which found the previous policy of excluding HIV-positive people from recruitment and foreign deployment unconstitutional.

Sudan: Battling HIV in a post-conflict army


The evidence of five years of peace is everywhere in Juba, regional capital of Southern Sudan - in the brisk trade in the city's markets, its packed bars and nightclubs, and in the relaxed gait of the soldiers of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).


Swaziland: Dreams of free education deferred


Ten-year-old Tembuso Magagula sat outside her classroom with her shoulders hunched against the cold today, tears streaming from her eyes. Her long-awaited first day of school had turned into a nightmare. Magagula expected to start grade one this year - four years late - as a beneficiary of the Free Primary Education programme which started on Jan. 26 in all public schools.


Ethiopia: Conference to tackle sexuality


Gender based violence, sexual orientation, gender equality and sexuality of people living with HIV/AIDS will be issues discussed at the upcoming Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, 8-12 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This fourth conference is expected to open up discourse about sexuality in Africa and to source possible insights of reducing the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.

Global: Urgency Required: Gay and lesbianrights are human rights


The book Urgency Required focuses on urgent issues of gay and lesbian liberation, taking a historical perspective and reflecting worldwide geographic diversity. Employing the term ‘LGBT-persons’, the acronym used for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, it explores concepts and strategies for taking steps towards decriminalization and equal rights and treatment regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Kenya: Gays embrace inclusive Aids plan


Gay rights groups are pleased with the third National Aids Stategic Plan by the National Aids Control Council (NACC), which caters for men who have sex with men (MSM) as most at risk populations, launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga on 12 January 2010.

Southern Africa: Condemnation of Malawi's discriminatory laws


Civil society organisations have expressed strong opposition to the imprisonment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a gay couple, in Malawi. More than 40 African civil society organisations have called for the immediate release of this couple, and for the repeal of discriminatory laws against same-sex relationships.

Uganda: Bill 'latest chapter in long story of fight and flight for LGBT protection'


From the opinion pages of the world's most influential newspapers to the hallways of high schools in Oregon and beyond, globally people are taking a fresh look at an old problem - the persistent and pervasive discrimination faced by the world's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.

Uganda: Kill the gays or kill the bill?

A Compilation by the Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law


This is compilation by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights & Constitutional Law of recent articles, opinions and press statements related to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda's Parliament.


Africa: Greenwashing hydropower: The problems with big dams


Big dams have frequently imposed high social and environmental costs and long-term economic tradeoffs, such as lost fisheries and tourism potential and flooded agricultural and forest land. According to the independent World Commission on Dams, most projects have failed to compensate affected people for their losses and to adequately mitigate environmental impacts.

Global: Can the rainforests be saved without a plan?


The West wants to direct billions toward protecting forest lands, but the lack of any standardized rules and enforcement methods could lead to disaster. Experts warn that the wrong people might benefit from the money and argue indiginous peoples, not bureaucrats, should watch over the rainforests.

Land & land rights

Africa: Activists, researchers raise alarm on Africa’s ‘land grab’


Activists and researchers in the United States are raising the alarm on what they call the “land grab” in Africa. Outside governments and foreign corporations have been turning increasingly to African countries to purchase large areas of land, to the dismay of activists, who say economic mistakes of the past should not be repeated.

Global: Unravelling the Land Grab

How to protect the livelihoods of the poor?


Oxfam Novib wants to come to grips with the land issue – trying to understand the implications of the capital-rich countries and companies endeavouring to purchase or lease large tracts of agricultural land in resource-rich developing States. Some general questions that have come up in internal debates start even from the premises whether this is a good or a bad thing.

Food Justice

Africa: Farmers 'jury' voices agricultural research concerns


Agricultural researchers should spend more time improving local seeds and less time developing hybrids from "outside", farmers in West Africa have said. And research should broaden from narrow concerns such as improving a single crop to wider studies that take into account the environment in which farmers operate, they said.

Global: Towards food sovereignty: Reclaiming autonomous food systems

Multimedia publication by IIED


‘Towards Food Sovereignty’ is an online book with full color photo illustrations and linked video and audio files. It describes the ecological basis of food and agriculture, the social and environmental costs of modern food systems, and the policy reversals needed to democratize food systems.

West Africa: Act now to stem Sahel food crisis, donor says


Governments, aid agencies and donors must join forces now to ensure that severe food insecurity in the Sahel does not lead to famine, says the European Commission humanitarian aid department (ECHO).

Media & freedom of expression

Global: Top Documentary Films


Top Documentary Films offers direct or indirect access to hundreds of documentaries - many of them socially critical - with reviews from trusted sources. The content here is created with a passion for documentary films, the site is in open form and allows readers to add comments about documentary films they like or dislike. This is a useful resource for educators, the socially critical and, indeed, anyone bored out of their minds by the inanity and poverty of mainstream TV and commercial cinema.

North Africa: 'Waves of the Mediterranean' radio project unveiled in Tunis


Regional radio professionals and an international organisation promoting cross-cultural dialogue joined together to launch a Mediterranean-wide radio station from Tunis on Tuesday (January 19th).

Zambia: Digital switch: MISA urges government to prevent 'information gap'


The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter has observed that Zambia is running out of time to prepare for the mandatory migration of broadcasting services from analogue to a digital platform.

News from the diaspora

Global: New murders and fumigations in ancestral Afro-Colombian territories


In only two weeks, four Afro-Colombian leaders have been murdered, and several subjected to death threats. Fumigations have caused the internal displacement of more than 100 Afro-Colombians. The violation of Afro-Colombian fundamental rights continues to escalate. Effective and structural measurements must be taken by Colombian government in order to guarantee the safety and integrity of Afro-Colombians, and promote the respect and observance of their rights.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: "Strong risk" of 2010 famine in Sahel, says EU


Millions in West Africa's arid Sahel belt could face famine this year unless the world acts quickly to help, the European Union's humanitarian aid arm has said. The warning came as Niger confirmed the veracity of a leaked government forecast that half its population will face food shortages this year after a dive in grain production, but said it had enough food stocks to care for the most needy.

Cote d'Ivoire: UN council OKs short force renewal in Ivory Coast


The Security Council on Thursday sought to nudge Ivory Coast into holding much-delayed elections soon by extending the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers there by four months instead of the usual six. The West African nation that is the world's top cocoa producer has missed a series of deadlines for a presidential poll originally due in 2005 to resolve divisions that fueled a 2002-03 civil war that split the country in two.

Global: Armed violence reduction: Enabling development


Integrated, comprehensive and inclusive armed violence reduction (AVR) programmes are an emerging and growing area of development practice around the world. This paper, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, discusses the components of a multi-level AVR approach.

Global: New report urges UN to learn lessons on resource-fuelled wars


The lack of a coherent and committed international approach to tackling the role of natural resources in conflict is costing lives in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and heightening the risk of further unrest in other fragile states such as Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, according to a new report from Global Witness.

Somalia: Djibouti sends peacekeepers


Djibouti has announced to send 450 troops to Somalia next month as to join the African Union peacekeepers mission in that country, the foreign ministry said.

Somalia: Fighting kills at least 12 in capital


Fighting between Islamist insurgents and African Union peacekeepers that started late on Thursday and continued into Friday killed at least 12 people in Somalia's capital, health services and witnesses said.

Internet & technology

Africa: Google moves into Swahili


Google has sponsored a contest to encourage students in Tanzania and Kenya to create articles for the Swahili version of Wikipedia, mainly by translating them from the English Wikipedia, according to an article appearing in the New York Times. Swahili, because it is a second language for as many as 100 million people in East Africa, is thought to be one of the only ways to reach a mass audience of readers and contributors in the region.

Africa: New telecoms tax epidemic sweeps across Africa


A new telecoms tax epidemic is sweeping across Africa adding to the already high tax levels imposed on operators on the continent. This time the tax is being levied on inbound international calls and will increase their costs by between 20-100%. This will make the cost of doing business with Africa rise significantly in a time of global economic downturn.

Africa: Website launched to share SME success stories


In any economy, a vibrant SME sector is essential for sustainable job creation, poverty reduction and private sector development. It plays a catalytic role in the development of any country. All accept that poverty-elimination in Africa can only come about through investment-driven economic growth.

East Africa: Malili: Kenya’s planned technopolis


Malili – a 5,000 acre East African technopolis – is a city built up for technology firms and it’s the Kenyan government’s way of creating a regional ICT brand. The Malili project is modeled off of other large technology and research parks around the world. One often cited in comparison is Smart Village Cairo, which currently hosts 120 companies and 20,000 professionals and they’re expecting that to increase to 500 companies and 100,000 professionals by 2012.

Ethiopia: International fibre companies want to get new connections


Ethiopia has become a market for owners of high bandwidth fibre optic cable systems; at least four foreign companies are aiming to get all or a slice of this vast potential market, reliable sources disclosed.

Global: OLPCorps


OLPCorps is OLPC’s official field volunteer program. It is a worldwide community dedicated to transforming education for children who have had little or no access to modern information technology. OLPCorps gives young people the opportunity to contribute their minds, bodies, time and skills to delivering better education for children living in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Rwanda: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

AfricaFocus Bulletin Jan 24, 2010 (100124)


"The April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords. The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army.

Fundraising & useful resources

CODESRIA Small grants programme for thesis writing 2010


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the eighteenth competition under its Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing. The grants are designed to contribute to the development of the social sciences in Africa, and the continuous renewal and strengthening of research capacities in African universities through the funding of primary research conducted by post-graduate students and professionals.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks (CRNs)

Call for Proposals for 2010


Within the framework of its strategy for building comparative knowledge on Africa produced from within the African continent, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals from researchers based in African universities and centres of research for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs) to undertake studies on or around any of the themes identified as priority research themes within the framework of the CODESRIA strategic plan for the period 2007 – 2011.

Public Interest Law Fellows Program seeks candidates from West Africa

2010-2011 fellowship announcement


The Public Interest Law Institute (PILI) is pleased to invite applications for its Public Interest Law Fellows Program for 2010-2011. The program will select qualified lawyers from West Africa for ten months of study and practical experience in New York and Budapest. We will be accepting applicants from the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The program endeavors to target future leaders in various fields of public interest advocacy.

Tanzania: Upcoming courses - MDF Eastern & Southern Africa


MDF-ESA designs and delivers courses in the sphere of Project and Programme Management, Organisational Development, Human Resource Development, Resource Mobilisation, Facilitating Processes, Dealing with Contextual Changes and Rapid Skills Development.

The dynamics of legal pluralism in Mozambique

Call for papers


The Aquino de Bragança Social Studies Centre (CESAB) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) co-organizes this International Conference in collaboration with DANIDA and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. It will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to engage in an open debate of the current state of justice provision and public safety in Mozambique.

UNICEF - GPIA 2010 International Conference

Call for papers


UNICEF and the Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) at The New School will host an international conference on adolescent girls in April 2010. With an emphasis on reviewing existing evidence and policies, the conference will focus on the role and potential agency of adolescent girls in meeting emerging global challenges.

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