Pambazuka News 536: Polluters and corporates: Stealing the commons
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. Books & arts, 5. Zimbabwe update, 6. African Union Monitor, 7. Women & gender, 8. Human rights, 9. Refugees & forced migration, 10. Elections & governance, 11. Corruption, 12. Development, 13. Health & HIV/AIDS, 14. Education, 15. LGBTI, 16. Environment, 17. Land & land rights, 18. Food Justice, 19. Media & freedom of expression, 20. Social welfare, 21. News from the diaspora, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops
Highlights from this issue
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Drama over release of Tsvangirai aide
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Concern over lack of civil society events at AU summit
WOMEN AND GENDER: International Widows’ Day: The world must support its widows
HUMAN RIGHTS: ICC issues Gaddafi arrest warrant
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Criticism as North Africa migrant death toll reaches 1,000
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: News from Algeria, Botswana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Africa
CORRUPTION: Tunisia’s Ben Ali sentenced in absentia
DEVELOPMENT: Egypt declines World Bank loan
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Drug distribution policy fails Ugandan clinics
LGBTI: UN chief speaks out on corrective rape
ENVIRONMENT: Renewables growth outstrips coal, nuclear
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Hundreds of organisations say no to land grabbing
FOOD JUSTICE: Egypt proposes ban on export restrictions that undermine food security
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: South Africa’s ANC backs down on information bill
SOCIAL WELFARE: Food security challenges in Mozambique in the spotlight
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: News from Chad, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria and Sudan
PLUS: Internet and Technology, eNewsletters and mailing lists, Fundraising and useful resources, Courses, seminars and workshops and Jobs…
From Bonn to Durban, climate meetings are conferences of polluters
'Transparency' hides Zambia's lost billions
cc EITIMining corporations' tax avoidance schemes cost African nations billions of dollars each year, says Khadija Sharife.
cc EITIMining corporations' tax evasion schemes cost African nations billions of dollars each year, says Khadija Sharife.
Bringing Canadian mining to justice
Saving Uganda from its oil
Senegal: Violent uprising in Dakar
Human rights activist Alioune Tine seriously wounded
Tidiane Kassé, Yellitaare
Why Regime Change in Libya?
Striking back at Egyptian workers
Egypt: The old repression resurfaces
Senegal: The coming of age of an heir apparent
Ethiopia: Press freedom, the law and democracy
Interview with Dawit Kebede
Contextualising Hillary Clinton’s ‘New Colonialism’ remark
Boko Haram: Nigeria’s new national crisis?
Why the AU is wrong to hold its summit in Equatorial Guinea
While Equatorial Guinea blows money on the AU summit, it's people live in poverty
The Malabo extravaganza, the AU and a ‘sacrificed agenda’
Living on the Coke side of life in Swaziland
Gabon in ruins: A democracy devastated
Open letter to US President Barack Obama
Marc Ona Essangui
Unga Revolution: Report on solidarity visit to Taita Taveta County
The right to food and access to national resources
Arrest of the Angolan civil society activist Agostinho Chicaia
OSI Angola, AJPD
Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
Gay Kenya congratulates UN on resolution on LGBT human rights
Stop NATO from using your domain for their killings in Libya!
Open letter to Twitter
2011 Caine Prize: Ikhide’s complaint
Bringing Nkrumah to the people
Review Of ‘The Mind of Kwame Nkrumah: Manual for the Study of Consciencism’
Centre for Consciencist Studies and Analyses
Zimbabwe: Drama as court orders Timba’s release
The High Court on Sunday freed Jameson Timba, a key aide of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai but there was drama outside the courts as lawyers and MDC-T officials tried to prevent what they feared was a ploy by the police to re-arrest him. Timba, a minister of state in Tsvangirai's office, was detained on Friday after he allegedly called President Robert Mugabe a liar.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe defiant over right to export gems
Zimbabwe has vowed to defy moves for international monitoring of diamond sales from its disputed Marange fields, at a meeting of the global 'blood diamond' watchdog, state media reported. Mines minister Obert Mpofu said the Southern African nation must be allowed to export gems without any monitoring, insisting Zimbabwe has met the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which seeks to prevent diamond sales from financing conflicts. The Marange fields, touted as Africa's richest diamond find of the decade, have been at the centre of a years-long controversy over reported abuses by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's military.
Zimbabwe: Zuma turns up the heat on Mugabe
The announcement by SADC in its final communique on 12 June that it would immediately deploy monitors to Zimbabwe and raise money to assist the country's cash-strapped Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, JOMIC, has unnerved Mugabe, says this article, which argues that South African President Jacob Zuma is getting tough on Mugabe. 'JOMIC is a tripartite body created under the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) to monitor cases of continuing violence, intimidation and other violations of the power-sharing deal brokered by SA on behalf of SADC and endorsed by Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai, the perceived winner of the disputed poll.'
Africa: Support justice for gravest crimes, civil society tells AU
Civil society groups from more than 25 countries in Africa issued a report on 27 June urging African member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to show support for the court at the upcoming African Union (AU) summit meeting. The report, 'Observations and Recommendations on the ICC', is endorsed by 125 African organisations and international groups with a presence in Africa. The 17th AU summit will hold its assembly of heads of state from 30 June to 1 July 2011, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Meetings of ministry-level officials in advance of the heads of state discussions began on 23 June.
Equatorial Guinea: Concern over lack of civil society events at AU summit
Letter to H.E. Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson, African Union Commission
'We write to express our grave disappointment that the African Union Summit currently taking place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, unlike previous summits, does not include a parallel civil society gathering for foreign and domestic groups.'
Africa: New light shed on male sex work
Commercial sex work, dominated by a focus on women, could be redefined as new research launched in Nairobi, Kenya, sheds light on the complicated HIV prevention needs of what may be Africa’s most deeply underground group at high risk of HIV - male sex workers. The report co-authored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and South Africa's Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) seeks to better understand the social contexts, sexual practices and risks, including that of HIV, among these men. The professional debut of many of the 70 male sex workers surveyed in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe was often prompted by the family rejecting the men’s sexual orientation; for others, it was a way to survive in a foreign country.
Africa: Women urged to make money from trees, says new study
Women in Africa may be the backbone of the continent’s agricultural production, but they are not profiting as much as they should from agroforestry - the growing of trees on agricultural land, according to a study by the World Agroforestry Centre. It recommends women increase their income by moving into producing high end items like soap and wine from the same products they currently sell as raw materials.
Global: The world must support its widows
There are 245 million widows in the world, yet their problems are often ignored, states this article in The Guardian UK on the occasion of International Widows Day on 23 June. 115 million widows still live in extreme poverty. In many cases, their children have to leave school to go to work to plug the gap in the household income left by their father's death; their daughters, in particular, are therefore often at a high risk of sexual exploitation.
Global: Women danger poll ignites global debate
Igniting a firestorm of global debate, the results of a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll identifying the five most dangerous countries for women are generating controversy in the blogosphere and on news organisations’ websites around the world. Conducted by the Foundation’s TrustLaw legal news service and released on 15 June, the perception poll of more than 200 experts on women’s rights and issues on five continents found that, overall, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia posed the greatest danger to women, in that order. On Salon.com, blogger Natasha Lennard said, the TrustLaw survey 'at best offers a snapshot of genuinely concerning situations across the world, but lacks any real or valuable analysis; at worst it betrays [concerning] cultural and racial biases.”
Liberia: Tackling sexual violence head on
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female president, has been proactive about fighting sexual and gender-based violence. The Liberian government and the United Nations jointly committed to reducing gender-based violence by 30 per cent by the end of 2011. The Ministry of Gender and Development also has a special unit dedicated to tackling sexual and gender-based violence, the Gender-Based Violence Task Force, which aims to coordinate violence prevention and response. Despite the end of the nation's civil war, many Liberian women still face violence daily.
South Africa: Malema's court-ordered apology accepted
The Sonke Gender Justice Network has welcomed Julius Malema’s court ordered apology to rape survivors, despite it being 15-months late. Malema, the ANC Youth League President, who had been sued by Sonke apologised to all women, particularly the woman known publicly only as Kwezi, who in 2006 accused then deputy president Jacob Zuma of rape. Malema told students in 2009 that Zuma’s accuser had had a 'nice time' because 'those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money'.
Cote d'Ivoire: Gbagbo associates charged with crimes
Fifteen associates of Cote d'Ivoire's ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, including two former ministers, have been charged with harming state authority, setting up armed gangs and economic crimes, the Abidjan prosecutor said Sunday. Those charged this week included former prime minister Gilbert Ake N'Gbo, former foreign minister Alcide Djedje and Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, a former governor of the Central Bank of West African States, Simplice Koffi added.
Cote d'Ivoire: Gbagbo associates released
Cote d’Ivoire authorities have released 17 associates of deposed president Laurent Gbagbo who had been detained inside an Abidjan hotel. Gbagbo and his wife Simone and about 50 of their relatives and associates, remain under house arrest in five cities across the country. According to the Justice ministry, they could be charged as early as this week. They face charges of economic mismanagement, and involvement in post-election violence or collaboration with an 'illegitimate' regime.
Egypt: End military trials, scrap repressive laws
The Egyptian authorities must earn the trust of the people by abolishing repressive laws and ending abusive practices, the Secretary General of Amnesty International said in Cairo. Speaking after his week-long visit to Egypt, his first official trip to the Middle East and North Africa, Salil Shetty called on the Egyptian authorities, including the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), to use the post-Mubarak transition period to carry out urgent reforms and lift new repressive steps such as the law banning strikes and the use of military trials against civilians.
Equatorial Guinea: Abuses ahead of AU summit
Equatorial Guinea's government has spent lavishly on diplomatic accommodations while neglecting the rights of the country's poor in the lead-up to hosting the African Union summit, Human Rights Watch and EG Justice said. The government has also sharply limited public dissent and critical reporting. While most citizens of Equatorial Guinea languish in poverty, President Teodoro Obiang's government, which holds the revolving AU chairmanship, spent more than US$830 million to construct a luxury complex for the summit outside the nation's capital, Malabo.
Gambia: Missing ex-minister found, charged with treason
Dr Amadou Scattered Janneh, a detained former Minister of Information and Communication and three others have been charged with treason for allegedly distributing anti-Jammeh materials, demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia. Dr Janneh, an outspoken former minister went missing after his arrest on 7 June 2011. Dr. Janneh was whisked towards Banjul, the capital to an unknown location. On 13 June 2001, he was seen publicly for the first time after his arrest.
Libya: ICC issues Gaddafi arrest warrant
The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and two of his confidants, citing evidence of crimes against humanity committed against opponents of the Libyan regime. Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng announced the decision on behalf of a three-judge panel in The Hague on Monday, saying the warrants were meant to force Gaddafi, his son and his intelligence chief to appear before the court and prevent the possibility of a cover-up.
Rwanda: Woman sentenced for genocide
Judges at the UN court for Rwanda have sentenced a former Rwandan minister for women's affairs, to life in prison for genocide and incitement to rape. The ruling by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) means that Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, is the first women to be ever convicted of genocide. She was found guilty on seven of the 11 genocide charges she faced for atrocities committed in Rwanda's southern Butare region in 1994.
Sudan: Concern over human rights violations in South Kordofan
Minority Rights Group International has expressed serious concern regarding the worsening situation of Nuba people trapped and displaced in recent heavy fighting in South Kordofan. Fighting during the last couple of weeks in South Kordofan has left approximately 60,000 displaced and there are reports emerging of serious human rights violations directed at Nuba people, MRG says.
Africa: New refugee search system launched
Safaricom subscribers can search for and reconnect with their loved ones using their mobile phone via an application provided by Ericsson and Refugees United. The system enables refugees to use mobile phones to register themselves, search for loved ones, and subsequently reconnect via an anonymous database.
DRC: Militias and the displaced
Bandits, militias, and alleged abuses by the army are causing access problems for aid workers trying to help large concentrations of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the territory of Irumu, part of the Ituri region in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Among the 130,000 IDPs in the Ituri region, 89,864 (69 per cent) are in the territory of Irumu, about 40km southwest of Bunia, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Global: Refugee statistics mapped
The latest statistics from the UNHCR show where refugees come from, where they go to and how many return. The Guardian UK has created a map that explores the data by region and country.
Global: Studying the mental health of refugee women
As a result of the migration process, many immigrant and refugee women suffer serious mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicide, and psychosis. The purpose of this Canadian study was to increase understanding of the mental health care experiences of immigrant and refugee women by acquiring information regarding factors that either support or inhibit coping.
Kenya: 20,000 Somali refugees arrive in two weeks
The UNHCR says it is alarmed by a dramatic rise in the number of new refugee arrivals from Somalia into Kenya. Over the past two weeks the Dadaab refugee complex in northern Kenya has received more than 20,000 Somali refugees. The new arrivals are mostly farmers and animal herders from Lower Juba and the city of Dhobley. During 2010, Dadaab received an average of 6,000 to 8,000 Somalis every month. This year the monthly average has increased to 10,000 refugees.
North Africa: Criticism as migrant death toll reaches 1,000
Following a series of shipwrecks and deaths, as well as reports in the Guardian newspaper about the failure to rescue migrants in boats or dinghies that are adrift by ships and patrols deployed in the Mediterranean by NATO and the EU to stop migrants reaching Europe, Migreurop has issued a press release to mark the fact that over 1,000 people have died in this context since January 2011. It argues that the failure to assist migrants who are in distress at sea is in violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention and international maritime law.
Algeria: Unrest sweeps country
Algeria has witnessed unprecedented unrest in the past few months. Since the beginning of this year, law enforcement officers have carried out no fewer than 2,777 riot control operations. A record was set in March, when more than 70 rallies and sit-ins were staged. In response, the government has issued calls for dialogue, bowed to demands for pay hikes and promised greater political freedom.
Botswana: Legislation amended to stop strikes
The Botswana government said on 20 June that it had amended legislation classifying essential services workers to include teachers in an effort to prevent more civil servants from striking. Making the announcement through a government gazette, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Peter Siele said that veterinary services, teaching services, diamond sorting, cutting and selling services and all supporting services connected to them have now been placed under the essential services.
Senegal: New law dropped amid protests
The Sengalese president has dropped a controversial electoral law amid opposition protests in the capital, Dakar. The current law requires that a candidate be elected with a 50 per cent majority in the first round of voting to avoid facing a run-off. The draft law would reduce that number to only 25 per cent and create a position of vice-president, leaving Wade's rivals concerned that he has plans to bring his 42-year-old son, Karim, into power.
Senegal: The day everything changed
'Thursday June 23 was indeed a historic day in the life of the Nation that we the youth of Senegal will never forget,' says this article on the afro-optimism blog. 'The Nation came out, in all of its glory and fury, men and women, youth and old, poor and rich, swift politicians and lay common men/women, and took to the streets together as one to contest a law proposal orchestrated by the Presidency that was to change the rules of the electoral game to enable an easy reelection for Abdoulaye Wade for a third seven-year term in the upcoming February 2012 election.'
Sierra Leone: Opposition threatens to reject 2012 poll results
Sierra Leone`s main opposition party has said it will not accept the outcome of the 2012 general election. Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) said there are indications that the process would be flawed if the current head of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Ms Christiana Thorpe, presides over the polls. The SLPP, who lost power to the ruling All People`s Congress (APC) party in 2007, continues to blame Ms Thorpe for their defeat. The electoral body had rejected 477 votes cast in some polling stations in the eastern region of the country, an area considered to be SLPP stronghold.
South Africa: Malema sets stage for 2012 takeover bid
Julius Malema’s recent attack on ANC policies at the opening of the ANC Youth League’s 24th national congress struck at the very core of the ruling party, setting the stage for a bruising battle in the run-up to the 2012 conference over the future direction of the party, writes Jabulani Sikhakhane in the Sunday Independent. 'Borrowing from Hugo Chavez and other populists, Malema built his narrative this week on three pillars: he tapped into and stoked the anger and feelings of social despair among the black majority; framed poverty as a function of conflict between the powerful elite (white people in this case) and the majority (poor, landless black people who own very little of the economy); and then presented the youth league, if not himself, as capable of radically transforming the lives of the poor.'
Kenya: Activists arrested for locking Ongeri's office
A group of civil society activists who had locked Education minister Sam Ongeri's office to demand his resignation have been arrested. The activists had been camping at the reception of Ongeri’s office demanding his resignation or sacking and be made to face charges following a Ministry of Finance audit report showing Sh4.6 billion was lost in the Ministry of Education.
South Africa: Hawks to reopen arms deal probe?
The Hawks have stopped short of promising to reopen their investigation into the arms deal following last week's revelations that a R24-million alleged bribe was paid by a weapons dealer to a local 'consultant'. Last week the CEO of Swedish arms manufacturer Saab, Hakan Bushke, revealed that British Aerospace Systems had made a R24-million payment to a South African 'consultant' on the arms deal. But Hawks chief Anwar Dramat's spokesman, McIntosh Polela, would not be drawn on further details: 'We will assess the information and see where it takes us going forward.'
Tunisia: Ben Ali sentenced to jail in absentia
A Tunisian court has sentenced former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila to 35 years in jail for embezzlement and misusing public funds. The couple, who fled to Saudi Arabia in January after a popular uprising, were also fined $66m (£41m). The one-day trial in absentia focused on $27m of cash and jewels reportedly found inside one of their palaces.
Africa: SABMiller to discuss unsettled tax claims
SABMiller Plc (SAB), the world’s second-biggest brewer by volume, has denied allegations that it dodged taxes in some African countries, including Tanzania, and said it’s prepared to discuss the matter with authorities. Officials from South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Mauritius are to meet later this month to discuss tax payments made by the London-based SABMiller, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Logan Wort of the African Tax Administration Forum. The meeting will be held on 28 June in Cape Town in the wake of a report by ActionAid, a UK non-profit group, which challenged the way the brewer paid taxes in those countries, the newspaper said.
Egypt: Egypt declines World Bank loan
The government has declined a loan from the World Bank because it found the terms of the loan incompatible with the national interest, Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Abul Naga said. The minister added that the government would not accept conditions dictated by the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, especially since the 18-day uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
Global: WikiLeaks revelations expose corporatism dominating American diplomacy
In the context of corporate government corruption, one of WikiLeaks' greatest achievements has been to expose the exorbitant amount of influence that multinational corporations have over Washington's diplomacy, says this AlterNet article. 'Many of the WikiLeaks US embassy cables reveal the naked intervention by our ambassadorial staff in the business of foreign countries on behalf of US corporations. From mining companies in Peru to pharmaceutical companies in Ecuador, one WikiLeaks embassy cable after the next illuminates a pattern of US diplomats shilling for corporate interests abroad in the most underhanded and sleazy ways imaginable.'
Global: World's wealthiest people now richer than before the credit crunch
We are not all in this together, begins this article in the UK's The Guardian newspaper. 'The UK economy is flat, the US is weak and the Greek debt crisis, according to some commentators, is threatening another Lehman Brothers-style meltdown. But a new report shows the world's wealthiest people are getting more prosperous - and more numerous - by the day. The globe's richest have now recouped the losses they suffered after the 2008 banking crisis. They are richer than ever, and there are more of them - nearly 11 million - than before the recession struck.'
Namibia: All systems go for Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart has wrapped up its much contested merger with Massmart, paving the way for the retailer to take-over Game, Makro, Windhoek Cash & Carry and Builders Warehouse in Namibia. The US giant issued a statement saying it has completed its acquisition of 51 per cent of the shares in Massmart in a N$16,5 billion transaction. Lucius Murorua, chairman of the Namibian Competition Commission (NCC), confirmed that the latest development also allows Wal-Mart to enter the Namibian market.
Congo: Measles kills 32, infects hundreds
At least 32 people have died and 800 others have been infected following an outbreak of measles in the southern Pointe Noire and Kouilou regions of the Republic of Congo, say health officials. 'The total of 32 deaths and 800 cases of measles has not changed,' said Hermann Boris Didi-Ngossaki, head of the World Health Organisation’s Expanded Programme on Vaccination. At least 3,000 cases of measles were recorded in a 2006-2007 outbreak.
Ghana: Ghana blames Chinese companies for dumping fake anti-malaria drugs
Some Chinese companies are being blamed for importing fake anti-malaria drugs into Ghana, a country where China has so far enjoyed a very good name for its massive economic investment. On 19 June, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board (FDB) issued a statement to warn the public against the sale of counterfeit Artesunate tablets on the market which laboratory analysis had confirmed contained no active anti-malaria ingredient.
Kenya: HIV and Aids tribunal sworn in
It will no longer be business as usual for those who have been discriminating against Aids patients, reports The Daily Nation. That was the message by the seven-member HIV and Aids Tribunal after they were sworn in at the High Court by deputy registrar Rose Ougo. Lawyer Ambrose Otieno Rachier, who will chair the tribunal, said it was a great occasion and a new dawn for those who have been victimised as a result of their HIV status, adding, the time for silent suffering was over. 'The tribunal is going to address fundamental human rights abuses as a result of an individual’s HIV status and come with remedies to redress the injustices,' Mr Rachier said.
Kenya: Poor adherence threatens paediatric ARV programme
As Kenya puts more HIV-positive children on life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, experts are warning that unless more effort is put into ensuring the medicines are taken regularly, widespread treatment failure could result. 'It is very hard to maintain adherence in children because they rely on others to give them medicine, some change regimens as they grow into adolescence and they can hardly cope with the many drugs they are expected to take,' said Dr Andrew Suleh, medical superintendent at the Mbagathi District Hospital in the capital, Nairobi.
Swaziland: No hospital care for cancer patients
More than 300 Swazi cancer patients being treated in South African hospitals have been repatriated, according to the Cancer Association of Swaziland, (CANASWA), after the government of King Mswati III could not meet their medical costs. Most of the cancer patients in South Africa were recipients of a special fund for the poor - in the absence of a national health system - but Health Minister Benedict Xaba told parliament recently the fund was exhausted.
Uganda: Distribution policy means not enough drugs for clinics
The nurse at Najembe Health Centre in Buikwe district says the centre’s supply of malaria drugs will be finished in two days. A malaria epidemic has hit the area and the demand for the drugs is high. But the centre, which serves the entire sub-county, will have to wait up to six weeks before their supply will be replenished. The Ugandan government changed the policy of distributing drugs to parish and sub-county health centres in 2009 by implementing a policy where the National Medical Stores decides what drugs to supply and in what quantities. (A parish health centre is a clinic that provides medical treatment for up to 12 villages.) Previously heads of these health centres requisitioned the drugs, depending on their needs. The National Medical Stores supply 70 per cent of the drugs in public health centres and district health officials locally procure the remaining 30 per cent.
Tanzania: Climate of non disclosure could be undermining accountability in schools
A climate of non-disclosure pervades the sharing of basic school related information despite policies and pronouncements to the contrary. In a research brief titled 'Funding of Dar es Salaam Primary Schools: How accessible is school level information?', Uwazi at Twaweza shows that because of a climate of non disclosure, 80 per cent of the teachers interviewed could not correctly state the capitation grant amount entitlement per pupil, which is pegged at US$10 per year according to the Primary Education Development Programme.
Africa: LGBTI rights in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi
Naome Ruzindana is a feminist and founding member of the Coalition of African Lesbians. She presented her paper 'The Great Lakes of Africa: Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and their Position Towards LGBTI Rights' at the ILGA panel 'The Growing Consensus: Towards the End of Criminalisation and Human Rights Violations based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity' at the 17th session of the Human Rights Council 7 June 2011 at Palais des Nations, Geneva. You can read the full presentation from the Behind the Mask website.
South Africa: UN chief speaks out on corrective rape
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay has publicly condemned the scourge of corrective rapes in South Africa saying they are 'a serious crime that should never be tolerated nor condoned.' In an article published on 14 June by The Star newspaper in South Africa, Pillay asserted that South Africa had 'given the world some powerful ideas, among them the concept of the Rainbow Nation, where diversity is a source of strength and everyone is entitled to equal rights and respect.' She added, 'However it is saddening that the country reborn under Nelson Mandela’s watchful eye should now be the setting for corrective rape, a far more sinister phenomenon that undermines everything the Rainbow Nation stands for.'
Burkina Faso: Thousands of hectares of forests lost each year
The Burkina Faso authorities have sounded the alarm over the increased rate of degradation of forests in this Sahelian country. According to a study by the Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development, some 110,550 hectares of forest are destroyed each year, just over four per cent of the country's total wooded area – around three-quarters of this annual loss linked to farming. The data covers forest loss between 1992 and 2002, but the trend continues, according the ministry.
Global: Bottom-up perspectives on smart renewable energy
In order to meet the intensifying climate challenge, the global energy system must undergo a fundamental transformation, with a rapid increase of renewable energy worldwide, states this working paper. 'Developing countries are at the forefront of this challenge, since they are expected to add around 80 per cent of all new electric generation capacity worldwide in the next two decades...This working paper seeks to assist in this process, by identifying key components of smart renewable energy policy in developing countries, focusing on the power sector.'
Global: Is the Green Climate Fund a faulty model?
At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Cancún in December 2010, the World Bank was granted the interim trusteeship of the newly established Green Climate Fund (GCF). Recent events indicate that the Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) will also have an influential role in the design of the fund. The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), a collaborative MDB climate finance initiative housed at the Bank, are being pointed to as ‘a best practice’ model for the GCF. This paper critically assesses the appropriateness of the CIFs as a model for a global climate finance fund. It finds that in terms of institutional arrangements the CIFs have achieved some notable progress that acknowledges some of the critical issues raised by civil society groups. However, in operations and performance there are serious concerns.
Globals: Renewables growth outstrips coal, nuclear
A new analysis of the global power plant market launched by Greenpeace International shows that since the 1990s, installations of wind and solar grew faster than any other power plant technology. In addition, renewable energy expanded rapidly, to reach its biggest market share in 2010 and providing enough capacity to supply electricity to the equivalent of one third of Europe. The Greenpeace report, 'The Silent Energy Revolution: 20 Years in the Making', also highlights how renewable energy power plants accounted for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all new power plants added to the worldwide electricity grid over the past decade, compared to nuclear power stations representing just two per cent of new installations in the same period.
Kenya: Unga Revolution tackles right to food in Taita Taveta
Members of the Unga revolution committee in Nairobi received an invitation of solidarity from Taita Taveta community leaders to visit their area to witness the violation of their rights to food by an increasing number of elephants that stray from the Tsavo National park during planting and harvesting seasons. 'The systematic destruction of the maize crops during this season has exposed the said peasant farmers in Taveta to food insecurity and hunger.'
Tanzania: Serengeti highway cancelled
In what is being hailed as a victory for conservationists and the wildlife of the Serengeti, the Tanzanian government has cancelled plans for a controversial highway that would have dissected the Serengeti National Park. According to scientists, the road would have severed the migration route of 1.5 million wildebeest and a half million other antelope and zebra, with indirect impacts, such as poaching and new development, exacerbating the situation.
Uganda: Farmers reject genetically modified crops
Farmers in the eastern districts of Uganda that constitute the Elgon zone have rejected a proposal by Arthur Makala, the executive director at Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, to start engaging in the cultivation of genetically modified crops that are supposed to be drought resistant and give high yields. Makala had suggested that farmers should embrace the Genetically Modified Crops [GMC] for better yields but the farmers rejected it saying GMCs are contaminated with chemicals that may be harmful to their health.
Global: Hundreds of organisations say no to land grabbing
Hundreds of civil society organisations, including farmers' movements, women's groups and non-governmental organisations, will launch a global appeal against farmland grabbing during the G20 meeting on agriculture in Paris on 22 and 23 June. Over 500 organisations from around the world have joined the 'Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing' that was originally drawn up at the World Social Forum in Dakar last February. While agriculture ministers from the world's 20 richest countries are discussing what to do about food price volatility and the growing hunger crisis, millions of hectares of fertile land, along with their water resources, are being grabbed from peasants, pastoralists, herders, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples to be converted into massive agribusiness operations by private investors who want to produce food supplies or agro-fuels for international markets. As a consequence, millions of peasant families and other rural and indigenous folk are being thrown off their lands and deprived of their livelihoods.
Global: World Bank told report on land grabs is dubious
The World Bank has been told its report on the robustly reported land grabs by foreigners in Africa and elsewhere is questionable. 'The report is both a disappointment and a failure. Everyone was expecting the Bank to provide new and solid on-the-ground data about these large-scale land acquisitions that have created so much controversy since 2008,' said GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.
Egypt: Ban proposed on export restrictions that undermine food security
Egypt has initiated a proposal in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ban export restrictions on farm products to poor countries that are net food importers. The Group of 20 has also exhorted the upcoming WTO ministerial conference to adopt a specific resolution on export restrictions. After Egypt’s democratic uprising earlier this year, food security has become a main aim in its quest to achieve social justice. Therefore, Cairo has initiated a proposal at the WTO to ban export restrictions of agricultural products to net food importing developing countries (NFIDC).
Global: Food summit meeting disappoints
The agriculture ministers of major economies, rich as well as emerging, meeting for the first time as the world verges on another food crisis in only four years, have disappointed. Their decisions, summed up in a 24-page Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture, lacked the teeth to bite the neck of the crisis, according to food experts and NGOs. Shenggen Fan, director-general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFRPRI), a US-based think-tank, who was in Paris for the meeting, said the G20 did not identify the 'most pressing priorities', nor provide details on how to deal with them to help everyone move beyond 'words and rhetoric to action and implementation'.
Kenya: Re-discovering cassava during drought
The current drought in Kenya and the Horn of Africa is expected to affect millions. Farm Radio Weekly has a story that tells how affected families in a semi-arid region of Kenya are changing their opinions about cassava. Once stigmatized as a crop for the desperately poor, it is now feeding families in areas with insufficient rain to grow maize.
Djibouti: Six radio station contributors released
Reporters Without Borders says it is relieved to learn that six contributors to opposition radio station La Voix de Djibouti – Farah Abadid Hildid, Houssein Ahmed Farah, Houssein Robleh Dabar, Abdillahi Aden Ali, Moustapha Abdourahman Houssein and Mohamed Ibrahim Waïss – have been released after more than four months in Djibouti’s Gabode prison. After several appeals to Djibouti’s supreme court, an appeal court ruled on 22 June that they should be released conditionally and placed under judicial control pending trial.
DRC: Community radio journalist gunned down
Reporters Without Borders says it is deeply saddened by the murder of Kambale Musonia, a journalist working for Radio Communautaire de Lubero Sud in Kirumba, in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu. Aged 29, Musonia was shot three times in the chest at close range by three unidentified men who were waiting for him outside his home as he returned from work.
Ethiopia: Journalist likely held under anti-terrorism law
Ethiopian authorities have been holding a newspaper columnist incommunicado since Tuesday (21 June), local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reeyot Alemu, a regular contributor to the independent weekly Feteh, was expected to spend the next four weeks in preventive detention under what appears to be Ethiopia's sweeping anti-terrorism law.
Libya: Birth of 'free media' in eastern Libya
Reporters Without Borders visited eastern Libya in April to evaluate the situation of the media in Benghazi and the surrounding region and, in particular, to report on the extraordinary vigour of the new media that have been emerging in this part of the country since its liberation from Muammar Gaddafi’s oppressive rule. 'The current media are essentially citizen media consisting of young activists who have played a key role in the war, activists such as Mohamed Al-Nabbous, the creator of the Web TV Libya Al-Hurra, who was killed by a sniper on 19 March,' Reporters Without Borders said.
Sierra Leone: Newspaper editor attacked by ruling party militants
Mohamed Kai, acting editor of The Satellite, a privately-owned Freetown-based newspaper, was on the night of 13 June 2011 violently assaulted and injured by armed assailants believed to be militants of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Party. Kai sustained bruises all over his body especially his chest and arms. His face was also swollen. Kai was treated and discharged from hospital.
South Africa: 'Good news indeed' as ANC backs down on info Bill
The African National Congress (ANC) bowed to pressure on the Protection of Information Bill and promised major concessions to bring the legislation in line with the Constitution. The ruling party agreed to restrict the power to classify, which it had previously sought to extend to all organs of state, to bodies dealing directly with security and to scrap mandatory prison sentences for leaking secret information.
South Africa: Secrecy Bill should be scrapped, says former ANC minister
Former ANC minister Kader Asmal has come out against South Africa's controversial Protection of Information Bill. In a letter to the Right2Know campaign, Asmal wrote that: 'This Bill is so deeply flawed that tinkering with its preamble or accepting a minor change here or there will not alter its fundamental nature, that it does not pay sufficient attention to the nature of freedom of expression.'
Tunisia: Scars of oppression run deep in the Tunisian media
If Tunisians are to play an informed part in the transition phase and beyond, they need a free and independent media and a strong, democratic and open civil society to hold power to account, according to a new report published by the 21 members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange -Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), including ARTICLE 19. 'The Scars of Oppression Run Deep: Assessing the Critical Requirements for Freedom of Expression in Tunisia’s Democratic Transition' report was released on 16 June, 2011 to national and international media as well as local civil society groups at a press conference held in Tunis. It provides a sample of opinions gathered from a broad
cross-section of over 60 media professionals, civil society advocates and authorities interviewed in Tunisia during the course of a mission that took place from 9 to 16 April.
Madagascar: Poverty and malnutrition on sisal plantations
At the Centre for Treatment of Acute Malnutrition with Complications (CRENI) in the town of Amboasary Sud in the Anosy region of southeastern Madagascar, Samina Tahiaritsoa, 20, cradles her son, Lambo, 3, who still weighs less than six kilograms after 10 days at the centre. According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), two out of three Malagasy live in poverty and 50 per cent of children younger than five have stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Mozambique: Food security challenges under spotlight
Reports from the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane indicate that acute hunger is worsening in several districts. Families have resorted to eating wild fruits and roots due to irregular rains and wild animals destroying the little production in the area. Though there are no reports of famine-related deaths, state television, TVM, has reported that if measures are not quickly taken, the situation will become catastrophic.
Haiti: Wikileaks exposes US profiteering after Haiti earthquake
On 15 June, the whistleblower web site WikiLeaks began releasing US diplomatic cables from the period immediately following the devastating Haitian earthquake of January 2010. The cables, from among the 251,287 in WikiLeaks’ possession, provide important information on the machinations of US politicians, on their tight control over Haitian government functions, and about their drive to reopen Haiti to capitalist exploitation. WikiLeaks has reached an agreement with Haiti Liberté, a weekly paper and web site published by Haitian immigrants in the US, under which the paper has first access to the Haitian cables and also helps to post them on the WikiLeaks web site.
Chad: Plan signed to end children in the military
On 16 June the government of Chad signed an action plan to end recruitment and use of children in its national army and security forces. The new action plan is an agreement between the Chadian Government and the United Nations to end recruitment and use of child soldiers. The action plan spells out concrete steps, which when taken, will result in Chad being removed from the Secretary-General’s list of parties who recruit and use children.
DRC: Grim prospects of DRC's female child soldiers
Girl soldiers, who are often forced to marry militia commanders, tend to have difficulties leaving and reintegrating into civilian life. In 2004, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF launched a national programme to help former child soldiers adjust to their new circumstances. But since it started, only two per cent of those it has assisted have been women. Juvénal Munubo, head of a child soldiers reintegration programme for the NGO Caritas in Goma, eastern DRC, argues that this is disproportionally low, compared to the number of women that are estimated to be members armed units.
Eritrea: Ethiopia slammed for AU summit plot allegations
Eritrea has rejected Ethiopian claims it trained the rebels who plotted to carry out bombings during an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in February. Ethiopia routinely accuses Asmara of supporting rebel groups, and declared in April it would support Eritrean guerrillas fighting to overthrow President Isaias Afewerki. Both sides have often traded tough rhetoric since their 1998-2000 border war, which killed around 80,000 people and left the frontier demarcation unresolved.
Libya: AU meets to chart way forward on Libya
The African Union panel on Libya met on Sunday in Pretoria on mediation efforts to end the four-month war, after South African President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Tripoli last month failed to reach a deal. The leaders of Mauritania, Uganda and Mali as well as Congo-Brazzaville’s foreign minister met with Zuma as Libyan rebels said they expect to receive an offer from Muammer Gaddafi 'very soon' that could end the four-month war.
Libya: Zuma slams Nato over bombing
South African President Jacob Zuma slammed Nato’s operation in Libya at the opening of the African Union’s (AU) Libya panel meeting in Pretoria. Rebels said they expected a proposal from Moamer Kadhafi 'very soon' through French and South African intermediaries. The UN resolution authorising the Nato bombing campaign 'was not to authorise a campaign for regime change or political assassination', Zuma reportedly told opening talks of the AU panel on Libya.
Nigeria: Deadly bomb blasts hit Nigerian city
Authorities in Nigeria have said that three separate bomb explosions in the country's northeast have killed at least 25 people and wounded many others. The attack on Sunday targeted outdoor beer gardens in the city of Maiduguri. Authorities have accused the Boko Haram group, which demands the adoption of sharia law, or Islamic law, throughout Nigeria, of being behind the attacks.
Sudan: North and South Sudan sign pact over Abyei
North and south Sudan have signed an agreement to demilitarise the disputed Abyei region and allow in Ethiopian peacekeeping forces, former South African president Thabo Mbeki said on 20 June.
Sudan: Sudan threatens to block oil flow from South
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has threatened to shut down pipelines carrying oil from South Sudan if there is no deal on oil before its independence next month. 'I give the south three alternatives for the oil. The North is to continue getting its share, or the North gets fees for every barrel that the South sends to Port Sudan,' Bashir said in a televised speech. 'If they don't accept either of these, we are going to block the pipeline,' he told his supporters in Port Sudan, the main terminal for all of Sudan's oil exports.
Africa: Is cyberspace a key to Africa's development, or a sideshow?
Google Trends, a tool to track internet searching patterns, is a window onto the internet habits of nations, states this article, which examines what can be learned about Africa by using Google Trends. 'By assessing people's searches, and the frequency of key terms in internet news media, it is possible to construct a picture of what matters to people, when, and where. Generally, the patterns that emerge with regards Africa are predictable: an apathetic, uninterested world, whose only interest in the continent appears during the World Cup, or when a ship is hijacked by Somali pirates. Beyond this, however, we can track the associations of global internet users between certain terms to gain a sense of connections between places and events.'
Global: An overview of Muslim women and social media
Research from social and digital media research firm Mediabadger on the role of Muslim women in social media concludes that: 'Muslim women are a multi-dimensional part of societies all over the world and this is no exception in social media. They enjoy a rich, complex and overall positive presence online. They are very engaged and have adopted social technologies as rapidly as any societal group. The roles of Muslim women in Islamic and Western societies are changing drastically, perhaps more than any other online demographic we have researched to date. With the changes in Egypt, Muslim women there are working to better define their role and emancipation.'
Malawi: Citizens 'fuel' Facebook for gas updates
As one way of updating one another on latest fuel supplies at gas stations, Malawians are using Facebook in advising where they can fill up their tanks. Over 210 subscribers share updates on an open group called Malawi Fuel Watch, reports Global Voices. Malawians have been queuing up for hours for fuel since last year.
West Africa: New rights registry project launched
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry has announced a project to build a common digital platform which will help streamline the identification of protected musical works across 11 West African countries, helping creators from these countries get paid for their work through a simplified and standardised rights registration system. US firm Google will be WIPO’s technology partner in developing this new web-based system, which builds upon WIPOCOS (WIPO Software for Collective Management of Copyright and Related Rights).
June 2011 Biowatch Bulletin available
The latest issue of the Biowatch Bulletin is out and includes the following:
- Planned US control of SA seed supply threatens food security
- SA GM update
- Biowatch comments on SA's climate change response Green paper
- World Social Forum, COP 17 and other events
- Agro-ecology - workshops and trainings
Visit http://www.biowatch.org.za for more information.
Reporting for Change: A Handbook for Local Journalists in Crisis Areas
'Handbook for Local Journalists in Crisis Areas' is a practical guide for journalists in crisis areas, which is based on the wide experience of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in training and working with journalists in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The handbook teaches international reporting standards, explaining the journalistic process clearly, from subject choice to final editing. The modules are enhanced with examples and extracts from previously published IWPR stories from around the world.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lectures in South Dayi
2 July 2011
An initiative to have Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lectures in every constituency in Ghana is starting with a Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lecture in the South Dayi District in Volta Region. This event is being coordinated by Constance Ayer, an Nkrumaist based in the constituency.
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