Pambazuka News 502: Twilight of regimes or dawn of new eras?
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Highlights French edition, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. African Union Monitor, 12. Women & gender, 13. Human rights, 14. Refugees & forced migration, 15. Social movements, 16. Africa labour news, 17. Emerging powers news, 18. Elections & governance, 19. Corruption, 20. Development, 21. Health & HIV/AIDS, 22. Education, 23. LGBTI, 24. Environment, 25. Land & land rights, 26. Food Justice, 27. Media & freedom of expression, 28. News from the diaspora, 29. Conflict & emergencies, 30. Internet & technology, 31. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 32. Fundraising & useful resources, 33. Courses, seminars, & workshops
Highlights from this issue
- ANNOUNCEMENTS: The November issue of Fahamu’s Refugee Legal Aid newsletter is out now
- ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Government minister twitters his frustrations
- AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: AU asks for Somalia blockade
- WOMEN & GENDER: Forced to farm for free
- HUMAN RIGHTS: Talks moved from Kenya as ICC hunts Al-Bashir + Sweden, oil and human rights
- REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn't they be given refugee status?
- EMERGING POWER NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
- ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Ecowas urges speedy action in Guinea poll re-run; Have Tanzanian MPs performed?; Call for united movement for change in South Africa
- CORRUPTION: Are the right questions being asked about budget transparency in Mozambique?
- DEVELOPMENT: Tanzania faces new debt crisis
- HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Polio campaign to reach 72 million African children
- EDUCATION: Assessing child learning in Uganda
- LGBTI: The violence of intolerance
ENVIRONMENT: The miracle biofuel crop that wasn’t
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Egyptian lawsuit aims to annul Saudi land deal
FOOD JUSTICE: Listening to farmers
- MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Journalist sentenced to 15 years in Egypt + Egyptian bloggers speculate on Facebook crackdown
- CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Benin health concerns after flood; Clean up Nigerian mining, says UN; Terrorism, shadow networks and the limits of state-building in Somalia
- INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Students use ICT to prevent violence in the DRC
- PLUS: Jobs, Fundraising & useful resources, Courses, Seminars and Workshops
Senegal: Twilight of a regime or dawn of a new era?
Haiti: ‘We’ve been forgotten’
EPAs: New trade deals, old agendas
The dangers of economic partnership agreements
Finance, fraud and foreclosure
Ethiopia: Feed them and bleed them
Alemayehu G. Mariam
The US, the AU and the new scramble for Africa
South Africa in 2010: A history that must happen
Lessons from Cheik Anta Diop
Strides in gender parity in peril
Tanzania’s general elections 2010
The terrifying prospect of election-stealing in Africa
Dare to invent the future
Remembering Thomas Sankara
Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter - November issue
Politics in hard times: Routledge article database now available
A turbulent year for the world economy has resulted in pressure for nations, individuals and the international system. To aid research in this field, Routledge have compiled 65 free articles under eight themes:
- Causes of the Financial Crisis
- Financial Crisis Impact and Management
- Regional Focus on the Financial Crisis
- Learning from the Financial Crisis
- The Financial Crisis as a Crisis of Capitalism
- Opportunities Emerging from the Financial Crisis
- Security and Defence in Hard Times
Routledge offers World Development Information Day articles
Routledge, in collaboration with editors and society partners, have selected research articles which engage with the UN World Development Information Day themes of: Sustainable Development, Human Settlements and Energy; Advancement of Women; Population and Migration; Governance and Institution Building; Macroeconomics and Finance; Social Development. These articles are available free online until 31 December 2010. All articles have been drawn from leading journal titles within Development Studies, Gender Studies, African Studies, Asian Studies, Middle East Studies, European Studies, Politics & International Relations and Demography.
For full bibliographic listings of articles and issues you have access to please visit:
ANC revivalism and non-racialism
Ghana: Give the bling to the living, not the dead
Yaa Asantewaa, the Asante warrior queen
Unable to pay bribes, millions languish in detention
Pretrial detention and corruption
Donor money still bypassing Haiti's homeless and poor
Of hate think and hate speech in Kenya’s political landscape
Abahlali baseMjondolo emergency appeal
War on Want
Surge in corporate patents on ‘climate-ready’ crops
Threat to biodiversity and signal of grab on land and biomass
The cholera outbreak in Haiti and Bill Clinton's visit to Jamaica
Open letter to the Caribbean press
Cargo traders, kidnappers and colonisation
Cheche: Reminiscences Of a Radical Magazine
Karim F Hirji (Editor)
Zuma’s Bastard: Encounters With A Desktop Terrorist
Fixing Global Finance
A Developing Country Perspective on Global Financial Reforms
The aim of this book is to encourage and stimulate a more informed debate on reforming the global finance. It examines recent developments and problems afflicting the global financial system. From a developing country perspective, it enunciates guiding principles and offers concrete policy measures to create a more stable, equitable and sustainable global financial system.
Sauti za Busara music festival
Stone Town, Zanzibar 9 – 13 February 2011
The eighth edition of Sauti za Busara music festival takes place in Stone Town, Zanzibar 9 – 13 February 2011. Five nights of 100 per cent live African music under African skies. Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) is an international festival showcasing and celebrating the wealth and diversity of music from East Africa and beyond. For more information on the line-up and to sign up for a newsletter visit http://www.busaramusic.org
South Africa: Tutu urges Cape Town Opera to call off Israel tour
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has written to Cape Town Opera to ask them to postpone their planned trip to Israel. Tutu says: 'Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel.'
Aid does not get to needy
Song for Ahmed Baba
An African Teacher
Natty Mark Samuels
Men in Uniform
Pambazuka News 164: Haïti et les luttes pour la libération du peuple noir
'Unwelcome' IMF returns to hostility
An international Monetary Fund team arrives in Zimbabwe today to assess the state of the economy under its Article IV consultation mission, ahead of the country's national budget next month. The IMF's visit is, however, likely to cause serious political tensions in the divided inclusive government as Mugabe and his ministers remain at least sceptical, and at most hostile, and opposed to the international fund's involvement in the Zimbabwean economy.
New constitution a damp squib, say NGOs
Civil society groups have warned that the proposed new constitution could turn out to be damp squib, reflecting the short-term interests of political parties instead of a truly democratic charter that Zimbabweans have long hoped could safeguard basic rights and ensure accountability from the government. According to the report on the constitution outreach programme jointly published by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Peace Project and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the process to draft Zimbabwe’s new governance charter was 'remained entirely a de facto contest between ZANU PF and MDC-T, a scenario that appear to have sidelined the views of other stakeholders'.
NGOs want SADC role in polls
Zimbabwe’s civil society has urged Southern African leaders to ensure the country’s next elections comply with regional benchmarks for democratic polls requiring an independent body to run polls and that the military not to interfere with voting. In submissions to South African President Jacob Zuma - the regional SADC bloc’s official mediator in Zimbabwe - the groups said President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s coalition government has failed to end tensions in Zimbabwe and that the country’s political environment remains 'poisoned with violence, intimidation and fear'.
Zimbabwe: Minister uses Twitter to air frustrations
On October 22, 2010 Zimbabwean blogger Hope noticed a series of fast twitter updates coming from Professor Welshman Ncube, the Zimbabwe Minister of Commerce and Industry and the MDC Secretary General. In a blog post appearing in Sokwanele: This is Zimbabwe titled, 'Professor Welshman Ncube uses Twitter to air his frustrations,' Hope wrote: 'The snippets I saw were intriguing enough to prompt me to visit his twitter feed page to read more. I saw then that he’d been posting for two hours, all his tweets amounting to an online statement.' Read more at Global Voices.
AU asks UN for Somalia blockade
The African Union (AU) has asked the United Nations Security Council to approve a no-fly zone and naval blockade of Somalia. Ramtane Lamamra, the AU's commissioner for peace and security, said the move would deter pirates operating off the country's coast and prevent fighters and shipments from reaching the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group, and other groups fighting to topple the largely powerless UN-backed government.
Africa: Daring to be different: youth and gender awareness in Southern Africa
We are officially in the Decade of African Women. The launch last week in Nairobi, adopted by the African Union (AU), is an apt moment to consider the realities of African girls who will become women between 2010 and 2020. The Fourth Gender and Media Summit organised by Gender Links was also held last week and provided a much-needed space to explore issues of youth and gender in Southern Africa. What are young girls’ thoughts and feelings on gender and the media? Pretty Skihonde, Mpumi Msibi, Kayla Xhethu and Nhlanhla Mbulawa are a group of energetic Grade Nine school girls from Johannesburg. They unanimously agree that they see more women than men on television, which is their only media source. Yet this perceived increase of women in the media does not necessarily translate to gender-aware representations.
Africa: Modern warfare and the breaking of civilian will
Modern war is often not about soldier against soldier, but a struggle to 'break the will of civilians — women, girls, men and boys' by whatever means possible - including rape - the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2010 report published on 20 October states. The term gender-based violence is often used to refer to violence against women, but, as the UN Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings state, 'it is important to note... men and boys may also be victims of gender-based violence, especially sexual violence'.
Global: Ignoring women with guns
The perception that women are only ever victims of conflict ignores the large numbers of female combatants, which can result in their exclusion from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report, 'State of the World Population 2010: From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change', released on 20 October 2010, acknowledges the role women play in forging peace, but cautions against the assumptions of women as nurturers and 'natural peace-makers ... [choosing] non-violent solutions rather than conflict whenever possible'.
Global: Women, peace and security handbook
For the 10th anniversary of 1325, Peacewomen is launching the ‘Women, Peace and Security Handbook,’ which examines thedegree to which the Security Council has internalised the thematic agenda of women, peace and security in its geographic work over the past 10 years, specifically in the Council’s country-specific resolutions. Divided into thirteen thematic chapters, the handbook is a reference guide for both progress made and action to be taken on the women, peace and security agenda.
Malawi: Malawi’s abortion debate
Joyce Phiri* is only one of many women admitted daily to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, for complications of unsafe abortions. Winasi Boma, a supervising nurse at QECH, says the gynaecology ward admits about 20 women each day. Roughly half of these, he says, are there for post-abortion care. Like most of its neighbours in the region, abortion is illegal in Malawi (except to save the life of the mother). Phiri, a 21-year-old mother of two, sought to terminate her pregnancy only after a contraceptive implant failed.
Tanzania: Tanzania drops in gender equality
Uganda is the leading country in gender equality in East Africa, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report 2010. The report released this week ranked Uganda at 33rd position out of 134 countries surveyed worldwide. Tanzania was the second in the EA region at number 66, while Kenya was the least performer at number 96. The report showed that Tanzania has been recording a steep drop since 2006 when the country ranked 24th out of 115 countries.
Zambia: Forced to farm for free
Martha Zulu dropped out of school in 2006 when she was 17 and pregnant with her first child (she would later have three more). She then married the father, Antony Zulu, an already-married farmer from the Central Province of Zambia. Her parents had also been peasant farmers, so Zulu said it made sense that she continue doing what she had grown up knowing. Yet for Zulu maize farming is not easy, especially because her husband makes all the decisions even though she does much of the work. 'The most challenging thing in our farming life is the dependence on manual labour because we do not have animals and other machinery to help ease our work,' said Zulu, who is the de-facto machinery on her farm.
Gambia: Human rights activists released
Press Release, Coalition for Human Rights in the Gambia
After spending ten days in detention the two prominent Women’s Human Rights Defenders were granted bail on Wednesday 20 October 2010 after a hearing in a crowded courtroom at the Banjul Magistrates Court. The bail was over US$50,000 each, and a surety with a landed property. Dr. Isatou Touray, the Executive Director and Amie Bojang-Sissoho, Programme Coordinator for the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) were arrested on 11 October 2010 by Gambian security personnel.
Guinea: Investigate attack on human rights defender
Guinean authorities should investigate, discipline, and prosecute any members of the security forces responsible for the 23 October 2010 attack on Dr. Mamadou Aliou Barry, a prominent human rights defender, Human Rights Watch has said. Barry was one of scores apparently severely beaten that day by security forces, amid heightened ethnic and political tensions following the postponement of run-off presidential elections. Barry, president of the National Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ONDH), an independent national institution, has frequently and publicly denounced acts of criminality and excessive use of force by members of the security services. He was assaulted while trying to stop members of the security forces from attacking a group of youths in the Hamdalaye neighborhood.
Kenya: Hidden hand behind truth commission crisis
Senior officials of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) have in the past two days sought to strike a business-as-usual note in the wake of the resignation on Thursday of Ronald Slye, one of the three foreign commissioners. In an interview with the Sunday Nation on Friday, Patricia Nyaundi, TJRC’s chief executive officer, used the analogy of a football team that has had one of its players leave the pitch due to an injury or by being shown the red card to describe what she felt Prof Slye’s departure meant.
Kenya: Talks moved as ICC pursues al-Bashir
A regional meeting slated for Nairobi this weekend will now be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after the International Criminal Court asked Kenya to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. On Tuesday evening, sources said Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (Igad) summit organisers transferred the meeting to Ethiopia to shield al-Bashir who has an arrest warrant against him from the International Criminal Court.
South Africa: Political pardons recommendations tabled
Government has released a list of 149 convicted criminals who have been recommended for political pardons – including perpetrators of some of the most heinous apartheid crimes committed in South Africa. Earlier this year, a coalition of NGOs that included the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute launched a successful constitutional court case challenging the lack of victim participation in the special dispensation allowing for political pardons, says this article on the SA Reconciliation Barometer Blog.
Sudan: Sweden, oil and human rights
Carl Blidt, the current foreign minister of Sweden, admitted in 2001 that oil was part of the conflict in Sudan. But he has also been a member of the board of directors of Lundin Petroleum, points out this article on The Current Analyst website. 'Now, as a prominent politician in Sweden he seems to be interested in human rights and justice in Africa,' says the article.
Zimbabwe: Mining industry attracts child labour
The economic upswing in Zimbabwe is luring workers under 18-years-old to the now bustling mining town of Shurugwi, about 350km south of the capital Harare in Midlands Province. Tinashe Mugwira, 15, left home in January this year and walked the 50km to Shurugwi in search of work at the mines in the mineral belt known as the Great Dyke, where gold, chrome and nickel are found. 'I had always heard that these Chinese were employing young children for as long as they can work on the mines, so I decided to come here when I stopped going to school after my father fell ill and my mother could not raise money for food,' a skinny Mugwira told IRIN.
Zimbabwe: Petition for information on controversial diamond mining
With Zimbabwe’s diamond industry still shrouded in secrecy, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and three Zimbabweans have petitioned South Africa’s New Reclamation Group for access to information that will shed some much-needed light on its controversial mining operations - and prove whether any of its promises to local communities have been fulfilled. In particular, the petitioners are asking for information relating to whether communities that were forced to relocate were consulted and have been given compensation, whether the requisite schools and hospitals have been provided and whether environmental and safety standards are being complied with.
Angola: Angola deports Congolese, aid report cites abuses
Angola has deported nearly 200 Congolese citizens, according to humanitarian reports, prompting fears of a new wave of mass expulsions that saw tens of thousands displaced last year. Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo were allies during the latter's 1998-2003 war, but relations have been strained in recent years due to rows over border demarcation and oil rights.
Global: Granting refugee status to climate victims
By 2050 the risk of becoming climate refugees as a result of rising sea level, water scarcity, and extreme weather events will cast its shadow over no fewer than 200 million people, writes Valerio Calzolaio, journalist, ecologist, ex-member of Italian parliament, and author of 'Eco-refugees: Forced Migrations Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow'. In this analysis, the author writes that today those made refugees by 'political' causes - violence or persecution by institutions or communities - are granted 'refugee' status and assistance by a UN commission. And yet climate refugees are victims of human action, too, so shouldn't they be given this same status?
Somalia: Border town emptied by fighting
At least 20,000 Somalis displaced by fighting from the border town of Bulo Hawo are facing an uncertain future in camps in the Kenyan town of Mandera, locals told IRIN on 27 October. 'The entire town [Bulo Hawo] has almost been emptied by the fighting; most have fled to the interior, but at least 3,500 families [21,000 people] have crossed into Kenya,' said Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf, an elder.
Somalia: Help running out as IDP numbers rise in Afgoye
Civil society and local officials in Somalia's Afgoye Corridor - home to an estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) - are worried about the deteriorating situation, especially for women and children. 'The situation...is worse today than a year ago; there are more of them [IDPs], the needs are greater and there is no help in terms of aid agencies,' said Amina Aden Mahamed, a doctor and director of Hawo Abdi Foundation, one of the most active groups helping IDPs in the camps outside the capital, Mogadishu.
Southern Africa: Rights and health, right now, for migrants
Over the past 30 years, discrimination has driven the AIDS epidemic - making marginalized groups more vulnerable to infection and making those living with HIV unable to access care. South Africa has a heroic history of overcoming apartheid, but xenophobic violence and discrimination continues to be a scourge on the country, undermining the health of migrant populations and impeding AIDS efforts.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe vigil to challenge UK on deportations
A vigil outside the Zimbabwean embassy in London will take place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. Visit the website to read stories and see pictures from the vigil.
South Africa: Cape Town protests spread
A four-week service delivery protest in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has spread to Philippi, with hundreds of residents barricading busy roads with burning tyres over the weekend. The protest was set to continue last night, according to Eric Notana, chairperson of the Philippi People's Forum.
South Africa: Budget will not lean to left
Efforts by the political left to shape the debate on a new growth path were dealt a heavy blow when cabinet’s big guns stopped far short this week of backing radical interventions in the economy. Just more than a month after Cosatu called for radical interventions – including having 'ownership' over the
balance sheets of the central bank by a new state bank, tightened exchange controls and redistribution of income in key employment sectors – the government has turned a deaf ear.
Africa: Indian food security needs beckon investment in transnational farming
Investment houses across the globe have been considering acquisition of farmland as an increasingly attractive investment opportunity. Studies indicate that investments of over $60 billion have been committed for farmland deals by the financial investment firms alone. India’s private sector has been participating in this global phenomenon in a big way. In Africa alone for instance, it has been estimated that more than 80 companies, mainly processing and trading houses, have invested about $2.4 billion in acquiring farmlands to secure raw material supplies, scale and global presence.
Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up:
- Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
- Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
- China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
- Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
- Indian Companies Push into Africa
- SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up:
- Africa is painting a distorted picture of economic progress
- Chinese enterprises shoulder social responsibilities in Africa
- China on multi-billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe
- Rwanda reaches out to Indian businesses
- Indian Companies Push into Africa
- SA urged not to be ‘obsessed’ with Bric
Madagascar: Million-dollar beds fuel timber crisis
Soaring demand in China and political unrest in Madagascar are fuelling illegal logging for hardwoods in the African nation, a report concludes. Global Witness and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) talked to loggers, government agencies and traders to compile their report. In China, they discovered beds on sale for $1m, made from Madagascan wood.
Guinea: ECOWAS urges speedy action on presidential re-run
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Tuesday urged the political stakeholders in Guinea to act expeditiously to agree on a new date for the country's presidential re-run, after another postponement was announced Friday. A spokesman for the 15-member regional bloc, Sunny Ugoh, told PANA here that agreeing on a new date would make it possible for the long-delayed election to hold and for the West African nation of Guinea to return to constitutional rule.
Rwanda: Build institutional not Kagame's political capacity, donors told
Opposition politician Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza, who was banned to contest in the recent presidential elections in Rwanda, has urged the country’s development partners to build institutional capacity, not President Kagame’s political capacity for continued stay in power. In a wide-ranging policy paper titled: 'Development partners need to support lasting solution', dated 20 September 2010 and accessed by the Newsline, the fiery politician notes that whereas aid and political conditions attached to it had obliged some dictatorships to open up the political space and level the playing field, in the case of Rwanda, it has allowed the regime in power to put in place a controlled ‘democratisation’ process with no opposition or elections with no competitors.
South Africa: Vavi presses for 'united movement for change'
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) heavyweight Zwelinzima Vavi has denied suggestions that a civil society conference under way in Boksburg was testing waters for a new political party. 'Let us right from onset state that we are not an anti-ANC and anti-government coalition,' the Cosatu general secretary told delegates on Wednesday. 'We are not here to begin a process to form any political party, nor to advance the interest of any individual.'
Tanzania: Did they perform? Assessing five years of Bunge 2005-2010
On 31 October Tanzanians will elect a new President and a 10th Parliament (Bunge). Many of those standing for election served during the 9th Bunge between 2005 and 2010. How did these MPs perform? Did they participate actively and represent their constituencies by asking questions and making interventions, or were they silent backbenchers? Using official Bunge data sources, Uwazi at Twaweza, an organisation that seeks to 'liberate' data and information so as to better inform public discussion, has presented a ranking of the most and least active MPs in Parliament.
Uganda: Museveni nominated for election as he heads for 30 years in power
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was nominated today to run for presidential elections that may extend his rule for over 30 years. Mr Museveni is a flag bearer of the National Resistance Movement, the ruling party. Museveni, in power since 1986, is being challenged by Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr Kizza Besigye, his former physician and long time rival.
Kenya: Minister steps aside over embassy allegations
Kenya's foreign minister has stepped aside amid a growing scandal involving the alleged misuse of his ministry's funds for several land deals abroad. Moses Wetangula, who maintains his innocence, made his announcement as MPs were set to vote on his suspension. A parliamentary report recommended his removal until claims over deals for new embassies were fully investigated.
Kenya: Nairobi mayor arrested over Sh283m graft case
Nairobi Mayor Geophrey Majiwa was on Monday arrested by anti-corruption agents over the controversial purchase of a piece of land for use as a cemetery. Officials from the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) went to the mayor's residence in Nairobi's South 'C' at 7am while accompanied by police officers and took him away to the their headquarters where he is currently being held.
Mozambique: Mozambique budget transparency: are the wrong questions asked?
Mozambique has scored poorly in this year's edition of the Open Budget Index (OBI) - but when the report was presented at a Maputo seminar on Thursday, dissenting voices wondered whether the scores mean anything, since the questionnaires used seemed to be tailored round American experience. The scores range from zero to 100. The US-based International Budget Partnership (IBP) assessed 94 countries - and found that 74 of them did not meet what it considered 'the minimum standards of transparency and responsibility in public budgets'.
Africa: Africa paves the way for climate for development
Amidst persistent warnings that climate change will destroy Africa, the leaders of the world's second largest and second most populous continent have launched the 'Climate for Development in Africa Programme' and decided to set up an 'Africa Green Fund'. The two significant steps to defend the continent come in run-up to the landmark UN climate change conference from November 29 to December 10 in Cancun, Mexico, where the African Green Fund is expected to get underway.
Africa: Manuel to assist with Nepad infrastructure
Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel will help President Jacob Zuma with his work in a New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) sub-committee on infrastructure, the presidency said on Monday. In a statement, the presidency said Manuel - who is responsible for the National Planning Commission - would assist Zuma in his role as the African Union champion of the north-south infrastructure development corridor.
South Africa: Time is not on the side of the poor
The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), just announced by the South African government, can be praised for being a hard win in a context that offers few building blocks to make bolder decisions, writes researcher and policy analyst Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen on the South African Civil Society Information Service website. 'However, time is not on the side of the poor and more broadly, the country. A conscious attempt to finalise economic policy that has the best prospect to break unemployment is needed, and such policy should be integrated within government’s policy and budget by the next MTBPS in 2011.'
Sudan: Southern Sudan must wean itself from the aid bandwagon
For Southern Sudan, the greatest challenge lies in getting off the aid bandwagon, and investing oil and other domestic revenues in building the infrastructure, institutions, and human resources needed to bring about peace and prosperity in this war-torn region, writes Rasna Warah in the Daily Nation.
Tanzania: Tanzania faces new debt crisis
Tanzania is facing a new debt crisis as budget crunches in rich countries are bringing cuts in aid spending, forcing the government to seek loans to meet budget deficits. During the year ending July 2010, the national debt stock soared by more than $1.185 billion to a staggering $10.1 billion, according to Bank of Tanzania figures.
Africa: Polio campaign to reach 72 million African children
Nearly 300,000 health workers are fanning out across Africa this week to reach 72 million children as part of a United Nations-backed bid to drive polio out of the continent. Vaccinators will go door-to-door in 15 countries to deliver two drops of oral polio vaccine to every child under the age of five in areas considered to be at highest risk of polio, a highly infectious and sometimes fatal disease that spreads from person to person.
Cameroon: Cholera death toll in Cameroon hits 559
The official death toll from the cholera epidemic that has hit Cameroon since April is now 559 deaths out of 8,528 cases, according to the Minister of Health, Andre Mama Fouda. The region of the Far North has the highest toll of 542 deaths from 8,227 cases.
Mozambique: Technology revolution hits HIV testing and treatment
Delayed test results often mean HIV patients in Mozambique fail to get timely treatment, but new technology is reducing the need to send tests to far away laboratories, and speeding up test results and HIV treatment. Mozambique’s Ministry of Health has increasingly begun experimenting with new technology to make diagnosing and monitoring HIV patients quicker and easier. After a successful 2009 pilot the country has nationally rolled out SMS or text message printers, which transmit the results of infant HIV tests electronically from two central reference laboratories in Maputo and the northern provincial capital, Nampula, to more than 275 health centres.
South Africa: HIV research 'on the rise'
Research on HIV/AIDS is on the rise in South Africa, a country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world, while Western research efforts have levelled out, a study has found. Only around two per cent of all research articles produced by the United States, the biggest producer of HIV/AIDS studies, are about HIV/AIDS, according to the study in Scientometrics. By contrast, 5.5 per cent of South Africa's research effort goes towards HIV/AIDS - mainly clinical medicine and social studies.
Uganda: The deadly consequences of inadequate HIV counselling
Uganda has had several cases of murder following HIV-positive diagnoses, including a man in the southwestern district of Rukungiri murdering his wife in 2008, the lynching of a woman in Gulu suspected of infecting a man and, in September, a 20-year-old woman in the eastern district of Soroti being sentenced to death for killing her soldier husband after she tested positive and he was negative.
Global: World Education Forum in Palestine
The world education forum will be held in Palestine from 28 - 30 October 2010 as a part of the World Social Forum. Due to the regional situation activists and organisations from the Arab region are restrained from participation in the forum in Palestine, therefore there will be a parallel forum in Lebanon. The forum aims to highlight the necessity of education in the development process and to provide an arena for the exchange of ideas on education and the curriculum.
Kenya: Pupils find teachers in laptops
Non-governmental actors that are taking the lead role in e-education. One such organisation is Kificom, which trains teachers on implementing ICT for learning. Kificom also installs and maintains computers for schools and coordinates content acquisition. So far, 400 teachers have been trained, according to Mathews Kituu, Kificom's director.
Somalia: Stability in Somaliland boosts education prospects
Somalis from south-central Somalia and those in the diaspora have taken advantage of the stable environment in the self-declared republic of Somaliland to put their children through school there, boosting enrolment in private and public education institutions in the region, officials said. 'About 10 percent of 200,000 primary-school children are from south-central Somalia,' Ali Mohamed Ali, the director-general of Somaliland's Education Ministry, told IRIN.
Uganda: Are Our Children Learning?
In recent years, primary school enrollment has increased across East Africa, but are our children really learning? Uwezo aims to answer that question by assessing the basic math and reading skills of more than a quarter million children in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Uwezo Uganda has released the first ever large scale citizen led national assessment of learning. A total of 1,620 volunteers visited 16,200 households in 27 districts. The results show that 15 per cent of children sampled in P7 could not solve class two level numeracy tasks. There was considerable regional and district variation in the competency level of the children.
Uganda: School drop out rate worries officials
Officials have called on residents of Masindi to take their children to school. This followed a survey that revealed that about 850 pupils of school going age in the remote village of Nyalyanika II are not accessing education. The area councilor, Ms Gladys Matwarwa, said residents had shunned the government’s universal primary and secondary education.
Africa: The violence of intolerance
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has spoken out about intolerance towards sexual minorities in Africa and elsewhere. 'Everyday, in every country, individuals are persecuted, vilified or violently assaulted, and even killed, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Covert or overt, homophobic violence causes enormous suffering which is often shrouded in a veil of silence and endured in isolation.'
Africa: Reality check for 'miracle' biofuel crop
It sounds too good to be true: a biofuel crop that grows on semi-arid lands and degraded soils, replaces fossil fuels in developing countries and brings huge injections of cash to poor smallholders. That is what some are claiming for Jatropha curcas, the 'miracle' biofuel crop. But studies on the ground suggest a lot more research and development (R&D) is needed before farmers can come close to seeing any of the promised benefits.
Global: Blog action day focuses on water
For over 24 hours on October 15, bloggers blogged about water in a global Blog Action Day. The final count for Blog Action Day stands at over 5,600 bloggers from 143 countries, reaching more than 40 million readers, according to the organisers. 'It was a remarkable display of support for an issue that gets woefully little coverage in the mainstream media.'
South Africa: World's largest solar plant planned
South Africa is set to unveil plans this week for a huge solar power plant that it claims would be the largest in the world. UK newspaper The Guardian reported on Monday that the project is expected to cost up to US$28.5 billion.
Cameroon: Unpacking a Chinese company’s land grab
Cameroon is one of many African countries being targeted by foreign investors for agricultural lands. As of late, a French investor has taken a huge swath of land for sugar cane and the Malaysian company Sime Darby is in the process of negotiating for 300,000 ha in the southern part of the country for palm oil plantations. Chinese investors are also keen on acquiring farmland in Cameroon. In September 2010, GRAIN visited the Upper Sanaga region, in the centre of the country, to take a closer look at the project of one such Chinese company.
Egypt: Lawsuit aims to annul Saudi prince’s Toshka land deal
A number of human rights organisations and Nubian activists have joined lawyer Shehata Mohamed in the lawsuit he filed through the Administrative Court questioning the legality of Saudi mogul Al-Walid Bin Talal’s ownership contract of 100,000 feddans in Toshka, Upper Egypt. They say the contract stipulates that Talal can obtain seeds without the supervision of Egyptian authorities; can hire foreign labour force that would be immediately granted work permits; can cultivate whatever crops he chooses; isn’t bound to a deadline to start cultivating the land; and can export any or all produce to anywhere outside of Egypt.
South Africa: What is happening with Land Reform?
Gus Pickard, a rural development consultant operating in the Western Cape, has a strange problem, writes Karin Kleinbooi on the blog Another Countryside. He has been contacted by a farming family living on land near Elim: they desperately need help because they may lose their land - to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. 'The family has been farming on the land for many years. Despite setbacks they have survived; but they have also accumulated significant debt — not enough to render them insolvent, but enough to put them under pressure. Seeking a way out of their conundrum, they applied for land reform funds. Their application was successful — but nothing happened, until after a long silence, the Department contacted them and told that instead of getting money, the Department would buy the farm back from them for the amount of money needed to settle the debt. '
Africa: Ending Africa’s hunger means listening to farmers
Africa is hungry - 240 million people are undernourished. Now, for the first-time, small African farmers have been properly consulted on how to solve the problem of feeding sub-Saharan Africa. Their answers appear to directly repudiate a massive international effort to launch an African Green Revolution funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Instead of new hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, family farmers in West Africa said they want to use local seeds, avoid spending precious cash on chemicals and most importantly to direct public agricultural research to meet their needs, according to a multi-media publication released on World Food Day.
Congo: Farming villages to boost food output
The Republic of Congo has launched a 'farming village' project to boost food self-sufficiency, with the first one inaugurated in Nkouo, about 80km north of Brazzaville, the capital, on 8 October. It houses 40 families from different regions of the country. 'Forty hen-houses, a warehouse, a sorting centre and refrigerated storage space have been made available. Each family received 792 laying hens and 2ha for cultivation,' said project director Jean-Jacques Bouya.
Angola: Radio commentator injured in stabbing
A popular Angolan radio commentator, whose satirical broadcasts have been critical of the government, was injured in a stabbing this morning in the capital city of Luanda, according to local journalists and news reports. António Manuel Manuel Da Silva, better known as "Jójó," was walking home around 3am when he was stabbed by an attacker who confronted him about his program on private Radio Despertar, according to the station's director, Alexandre Neto, who spoke with eyewitnesses.
Egypt: Bad Bad Facebook
Last week, the daily talk show, Misr El-Naharda (Egypt Today), that is aired on the Egyptian state-run TV channel, Al-Masreya, discussed Facebook and its effect on the Egyptian society, with the discussions tending towards attacking Facebook. After the show, many bloggers started to think that it might have been a move from the government to repel people away from Facebook, in order to block it later on, especially given the recent developments in the Egyptian traditional and social media scene.
Egypt: Journalist sentenced to 15 years in prison
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the 15-year prison sentence issued in absentia by the Cairo Criminal Court against Allam Abdel Ghaffar, a journalist at 'Youm7' newspaper. Allam reported on the frequent power outages at the Holding Company for Biological Products & Vaccines (VACSERA), which led to the spoiling of imported biological products.
Eritrea: Jailed journalist wins press freedom award
The jailed Eritrean-born journalist, Dawit Isaak, has won the Golden Pen of Freedom Award for 2011. Isaak, who has dual Eritrean-Swedish citizenship, was one of the founders of Eritrea's first independent newspapers, Setit. He was detained without charge in 2001 in Eritrea after his paper published letters demanding democratic reforms.
Rwanda: Rwanda joins ranks of 10 worst countries for journalists, says RSF
Rwanda and Syria joined a list of the 10 most repressive countries toward journalists, while Northern European countries continue to lead the world in respecting free expression, according to the just released annual ranking of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF said press freedom in the 10 countries - rounded out by North Korea, Burma, China, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Eritrea - continues to deteriorate. 'It is getting harder to say which is worse than the other,' RSF said.
South Africa: Draft Bill Is 'A Charter for Rogues'
A coalition of civil society groups marched to South Africa's Parliament on 27 October to protest against the draft version of a new Protection of Information Bill. 'This bill is a betrayal of all the democratic principles we fought for,' anti-apartheid stalwart Kader Asmal told the crowd. South Africa's parliament is presently considering legislation to replace secrecy laws drawn up during the apartheid era.
South Africa: Talking the talk – but does Cwele really mean it?
Media Monitoring Africa comment
In making his second submission to a parliamentary committee on the Protection of Information Bill, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele defended the proposed legislation as being in line with the South African Constitution, International Human Right’s Charters and Conventions and international best practice. Regrettably Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) remains unconvinced.
Ethiopia: Ethiopians to remember martyrs of the 2005 election massacre
Ethiopians from various cities in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia held a conference on Saturday to discuss and coordinate plans for the upcoming 5th anniversary of the Ethiopian election massacre. The participants discussed and updated each other about the various events that are being organised throughout the month of November in remembrance of the those fellow Ethiopians who were gunned down by the Meles regime while peacefully protesting the election fraud and demanding respect of their vote.
Benin: Water recedes, health concerns mount
As the floodwaters begin to recede in parts of Benin, the new threat is an outbreak of infectious diseases, particularly cholera and malaria. The worst flooding in nearly half a century in the country of some nine million people has cut many communities off from health centres, 'paralysing access to health care in a situation that lends itself to a potential outbreak of waterborne disease,' the NGO CARE in Benin said in a communiqué.
Kenya: Communities forge their own peace in the Rift Valley
A water well, serving two different ethnic groups in Kenya's Rift Valley province, has done more to bring them together than government and civil society efforts, say locals. 'This well is an interaction point for the two communities, we always have a chance to meet as we fetch water for our households,' Ishmael Langat, a resident of Kirima village in Mau Narok, told IRIN. Langat is a member of the Kalenjin community, which, in early 2008, was involved in violent clashes with members of other ethnic communities following disputed presidential elections.
Kenya: Kenya: Seven die in stadium stampede
Seven football fans died at the Nyayo National Stadium Saturday when a stampede broke out during an entertaining Kenyan Premier League soccer match between popular clubs, AFC Leopards and Gor Mahia. Among those who died during the tragedy after heavy rains pounded Nairobi and its environs, was a young woman. At least 66 others were treated and discharged at the Kenyatta National Hospital. Most of the victims broke or dislocated their limbs, ribs, legs and hands.
Nigeria: Clean up mining to avert further deaths, says UN
As the number of children known to have been poisoned by lead continues to mount, a UN team has recommended the government help communities clean up the informal gold-mining sector, rather than quash it altogether. Some 400 children have died of lead poisoning over the past six months, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), but many thousands more are suspected to have been poisoned. Official figures will be released only once the US Center for Disease Control has finished its two-month survey.
Nigeria: Secret police intercept weapons shipment
A large shipment of weapons has been seized by Nigeria's State Security Service at the port in Lagos city. The secret police say they intercepted 13 containers, some of which had rocket launchers and grenades and other explosives hidden under tiles. Experts identified the artillery rockets as Norinco rockets - a type used by the Taliban in Afghanistan - suitable for high-intensity warfare.
Somalia: Terrorism, shadow networks and the limitations of state-building
Western policies are contributing to a sense among some Yemenis and Somalis of being 'under attack' and are drawing them towards radicalisation and militancy, says a new briefing paper from Chatham House. This threat of radicalisation, says the paper, extends throughout the far-flung diasporas of Somalia and Yemen, defying efforts at containment within the two countries and requiring new thinking about stemming the appeal of radicalism at source.
Sudan: UN catalogues Sudan arms breaches in Darfur
Khartoum has committed multiple breaches of an arms embargo over Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region and China has done little to ensure its weaponry is not used there, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters. The latest report by the so-called Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with a 2005 UN arms embargo for Darfur, is now in the hands of the Security Council's Sudan sanctions committee. It says Khartoum's violations include unauthorised transfer of military hardware and troops to Darfur.
Congo: Students and survivors use ICTs to prevent the spread of violence
Association Dynamique Plurielle in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, is working with 250 female first to third year high school students from Savorgnon de Brazzaville High School to fight against sexual harassment in schools. During the project, students will also send alerts about sexual harassment cases via SMS by the students; and a 'listening cell of the organisation at the high school will actively respond. Educational information about the laws will be sent to 250 students; and trivia questions via SMS and MMS will be sent out to participants.
DRC: Documenting lives with IT
Francoise Mukuku works as the national coordinator of a young feminist group called Si Jeunesse Savait, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here she describes how the organisation teaches women how to blog, broadcast radio shows, take pictures and document their lives.
Global: Code of good practice on information, participation and transparency in internet governance
Since the inception of the Internet Governance Forum, the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) have been working on a joint initiative on public participation in internet governance. The aim of the CoE/UNECE/APC project is to consider whether there is scope for developing a code of good practice on information, participation and transparency in Internet governance. A code of good practice is now available.
Tanzania: Realising the potential of ICTs
Tanzania is one of a number of countries in the Southern African region that have sought to include ICTs in their national development plans. A Panos policy brief summarises a report of the achievements and weaknesses of this approach in Tanzania, and considers the next steps that are needed to meet the information and communication needs of the coming generation.
Zimbabwe: Mobile internet for major cities
Zimbabwe entered a new digital era last week Friday when the largest mobile phone network Econet Wireless launched its mobile broadband package available to their estimated 4.5 million subscribers. The project has cost Econet close to US$100 million and covers many of the major cities.
New Tactics in Human Rights Project e-newsletter out now
The latest New Tactics in Human Rights Project e-newsletter contains articles on domesticating international human rights law, applying global agreements to local enforcement of human rights laws and using surplus resources to provide individual assistance and strengthen community engagement. Visit http://www.newtactics.org/en/News to read more.
Refugee Consortium of Kenya newsletter
The Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) is a non governmental organisation set up in 1998 in response to the increasing complex and deteriorating refugee situation in Kenya. RCK has a regular newsletter which can be read by visiting their website.
Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions announces news website
The Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE) has announced the launch of a new website. The new COHRE website covers many sectors and regions across the housing rights discipline, and describes the work of the organisation in its focus countries and eight topic areas - now arranged into sector-specific pages - including forced evictions, security of tenure, access to land, water and sanitation, women and housing rights, litigation, restitution and return, and mega events.
Global: Grants for empowerment of people with disabilities
The ABILIS Foundation provides grants ranging from €500 to €10,000 for projects initiated by organisations that are run by persons who have a disability. Organisations that are run by parents of children with disabilities can also apply.
New website tackles modern slavery
The Child Protection and Trafficking site is intended to help unpack some of the myths around human trafficking and child safety in South Africa. Media Monitoring Africa is working with children, journalists and non-governmental organisations to try and create a better understanding of the issues involved, and what we can do to tackle modern slavery.
2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference
3 - 5 March 2011, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London
This conference will explore themes surrounding judicial roles and responses to war crimes and also responses to such initiatives from victims/victors, interested agencies and commentators, including the UN, NATO and various local, regional and international NGOs.
Africa Dance Festival
Nairobi, Kenya, 3 - 5 December, 2010
The main aim of The All Africa Dance Conference and Festival is to bring people together to celebrate the wealth and diversity of African dance. This year's event will showcase a rich and vibrant mix of dance and musical performances by more than 100 dance groups and 500 established artists from all over the world.
Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: 'The Challenges and Opportunities of National and Regional Collaboration'
Berlin, 5 - 11 December 2010
Cultural Diplomacy in Africa: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDA) is a network of young, dynamic individuals from across the world, who share an interest in the African continent. The program is based on the recognition that cultural diplomacy represents an important tool in helping Africa to address the challenges it currently faces. The network conducts ongoing activity aimed at supporting development and strengthening relations between different countries and cultural groups within Africa, and between African and external partners.
International seminar on India and South Africa: political, economic, strategic and diaspora relations
2 - 3 December 2010, New Delhi
The proposed seminar will focus on:
- Indo-South African Political Relations: Historical Goodwill and Current Issues
- Indo-South African Economic Relations: Challenges of South-South Co-operation
- Indo-South African Strategic Relations: Strategic Partnership and Competing Interests
- Indo-South African Diaspora Relations: 150 Years of Indian Migration to South Africa
Winter Short Courses January 2011
The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC)
The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) is offering the following three winter short courses in January 2011:
1. Introduction to Refugee Law (January 9-13, 2011).
2. Migration/Displacement, Development and Gender (January 16-20, 2011).
3. Community Interpretation for Refugee Aid Settings – CCIP Interpreter Training Short Course (January 23-27, 2011).
Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
Pambazuka News is published by Fahamu Ltd.
© Unless otherwise indicated, all materials published are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For further details see: www.pambazuka.org/en/about.php
Pambazuka news can be viewed online: English language edition
Edição em língua Portuguesa
RSS Feeds available at www.pambazuka.org/en/newsfeed.php
Pambazuka News is published with the support of a number of funders, details of which can be obtained here.