Pambazuka News 540: Legalised looting: Exploitation and dissent
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Advocacy & campaigns, 3. Books & arts, 4. Highlights French edition, 5. Cartoons, 6. Zimbabwe update, 7. African Union Monitor, 8. Women & gender, 9. Human rights, 10. Refugees & forced migration, 11. Social movements, 12. Africa labour news, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. LGBTI, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Food Justice, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Social welfare, 24. News from the diaspora, 25. Conflict & emergencies, 26. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 27. Fundraising & useful resources, 28. Courses, seminars, & workshops
Highlights from this issue
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Treason trial charges scrapped
WOMEN AND GENDER: Angola gets new law on domestic violence
HUMAN RIGHTS: Kenyans win right to sue UK over Mau Mau abuses
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Millions face death in East Africa due to drought
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: News from DRC, Egypt, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia
CORRUPTION: Barriers towards combating corruption
DEVELOPMENT: Free trade is not what Africa needs, Mr Cameron
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Groundbreaking Ugandan case challenges state on maternal health EDUCATION: Time to start learning in South Sudan
ENVIRONMENT: GM maize imports given the nod in Kenya
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Booming cotton no boon to African farmers
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Crackdown on media covering Malawian protests
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: News from DRC, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan
The world of dirty money
Fighting the minerals-petroleum-coal complex’s wealth
Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife
Magnus Malan and crimes against humanity in Africa
If they come for you, who will speak out?
We should never have left Tahrir Square
America's role in Somalia's humanitarian crisis
US sends in the marines and more drones
NATO's debacle in Libya
From the middle distance: Ethiopian journalist in exile
How the Rawlings camp were defeated in Ghana's elections
Confronting female genital mutilation
The role of youth and ICTs in changing Africa
Marie-Hélène Mottin-Sylla and Joëlle Palmieri
Setting the record straight on the Nile
The last of the anti-apartheid heroes
Victory for Abahlali baseMjondolo - Defeat of our detractors!
Bishop Rubin Phillip
South Africa: Halala Abahlali baseMjondolo!
A victory for one is a victory for all!
Unemployed People's Movement
Congratulations to Abahlali baseMjondolo
Mandela Park Backyarders Movement
Kennedy Road 12 acquitted!
Democratic Left Front
Celebrating the acquittal of the 'Kennedy 12'
Bishop Michael Vorster
Kennedy 12 acquitted on all charges
Halala for the Kennedy 12
Dear Mandela world premiere: Durban International Film Festival
South Africa: Mandela Park Land and the housing crisis
Open letter to Madam Mayor Patricia de Lille
Mandela Park Backyarders Movement
Somalia: Developing robust and principled policy
Review of Afyare Abdi Elmi’s ‘Understanding the Somalia Conflagration: Identity, Political Islam and Peacebuilding’
Pambazuka News 198: Moneytheism and monotheism or the obscurantist international?
Mubarak in court
UK hacking scandal
Zimbabwe: Treason trial resumes
The trial of six Zimbabwean activists charged with treason for attending a lecture in February about the Egyptian uprising opened in Harare on 18 July. The activists had their charges altered to a lesser charge as the magistrate who was supposed to hear the matter recused himself. The activists are now being charged with conspiracy to commit public violence.
Kenya: Governance reforms unstoppable, says Kibaki
President Mwai Kibaki has assured that the Government is committed to undertaking far-reaching reforms in the management of public affairs and entrenchment in constitutionality. Speaking when he met and held discussions with members of the African Peer Review Mechanism, Kibaki noted that new and vibrant structures of governance were being put in place under the new constitution.
Angola: New law on domestic violence a step forward
Domestically abused women who are financially dependent on their abusers can now report the crime with the assurance that they will be able to get financial and medical support from the state, thanks to the country’s new law on domestic violence. Women’s campaigners have welcomed the introduction of the new law, which was signed into the statue books on 8 July, and which criminalises domestic violence and offers protection to victims and their families. Until now domestic violence had not been illegal in Angola - and on the rare occasions it reached court, it was prosecuted under rape, assault and battery laws.
Zambia: At 14 per cent, Zambia's political women stir controversy
Of the 158 MPs in Zambia, just 22 are women. With women representing just 14 per cent of parliament, Zambia is one of the poorest performers on affirmative action for female politicians in the South African Development Community, SADC, a regional interparliamentary body made up of 15 member countries. Zambia will hold its presidential and legislative elections in October. The Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus, a policy organ of the SADC, has set a goal for women to make up half of Zambia's parliament after these elections.
Nigeria: Women take key cabinet posts
Gender activists have won a significant battle in their quest for more women representation in government with the final unveiling of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet. Of the 40 ministers, 13 are women, a major milestone in the campaign for more involvement of women in governance. The number of female appointees in the cabinet represents about 31 per cent of the 42-member cabinet.
Africa: Challenge men to share political and economic power
Bineta Diop is well known for her campaigning in defence of women's rights in Africa. As director of the non-governmental organisation Femmes Africa Solidarité, she is at the forefront of the fight for better protection of women in conflict zones and their integration in peace processes. In April 2011, the US magazine Time listed Diop among the 100 most influential people in the world, recognising her engagement with several initiatives for peace in Africa. In this interview, Diop, who comes from Senegal, told IPS that women must challenge men in order to share political and economic power.
Malawi: Women fix water pipeline
Ethel James cannot wait for the gravity-fed water scheme in her area to be fixed so that she and the other women in her village will no longer have to wake up before dawn everyday to queue for water. She is part of the team of local villagers repairing the existing water system, which consists of a pipeline connected to a reservoir. At various points in the village are taps connected to the pipeline, but there is no running water just yet.
Kenya: Kenyans win right to sue UK over Mau Mau abuses
Four elderly Mau Mau war veterans have been given permission to sue over alleged British colonial atrocities committed during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya more than 50 years ago. The ruling issued by a High Court in the UK granted the war veterans permission to sue for compensation for the atrocities meted out to them by the British authorities between the 1950s and 1960s.
Egypt: The price of hope
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has released the report, 'The Price of Hope: Human Rights Abuses During the Egyptian Revolution'. This report follows a fact-finding mission that was conducted in Egypt in March 2011 and documented the grave human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces against the protesters during the popular uprising. The investigation covered the period between 25 January and 11 February 2011, the day President Mubarak stepped down, with a special focus on Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, the cities that witnessed the most violence.
Kenya: Police quiz Ocampo Six in violence probe
Police have started questioning the Ocampo Six suspects in connection with the 2008 post-election violence. Three suspects - former police boss Hussein Ali, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Sang - have already recorded statements. The move to question the suspects, fingered by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo as bearing the greatest responsibility for the mayhem, is said to be aimed at convincing the International Criminal Court that Kenya can try them at home.
Sudan: Satellite project documents alleged mass graves
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has revealed visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan, which corroborates new eyewitness reports, obtained by SSP, of systematic killings and mass burials in this conflict-torn region of Sudan. The evidence found by SSP is consistent with allegations that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and northern militias have engaged in a campaign of killing civilians.
Global: UN report declares internet access a human right
A United Nations report has said that disconnecting people from the internet is a human rights violation and against international law. The report railed against France and the United Kingdom, which have passed laws to remove accused copyright scofflaws from the internet. It also protested blocking internet access to quell political unrest
East Africa: Millions face death due to drought
While Kenya struggles to cope with the influx of refuges fleeing the drought in Somalia, it is estimated that about 1,300 people arrive daily at the Dadaab refugee camp. It takes on average nine days in 50-degree Celsius heat for those fleeing the drought in Somalia to travel the 80 kilometres of the sandy, expansive desert that separates Dadaab in Northern Kenya from Somalia. The journey to Dadaab is a treacherous one, made even more perilous as it snakes through territories of lawlessness where armed bandits and even police harass the refugees.
Kenya: Kenya to open new camp on Somali border
Kenya has agreed to open a new camp near its border with Somalia to cope with the influx of refugees fleeing the region's worst drought in 60 years. The lfo II camp in Dabaab will open its doors to 80,000 refugees within 10 days, the Kenyan government said. Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to open the new camp after visiting Dadaab's three existing camps where an estimated 380,000 refugees are now living at facilities intended to cope with a population of 90,000 people.
Zimbabwe: Borders closed to refugees and illegal immigrants
Zimbabwe’s immigration officials say they have instructed their officers at border posts not to accept illegal immigrants and refugees seeking to enter into the country. The ban is targeted at refugees mainly from Somalia and Ethiopia whom Zimbabwe accuses of using the country as a transit point to South Africa. The government-owned Herald newspaper reported that five border posts usually used by the Ethiopian and Somali immigrants had been instructed not to allow refugees into the country.
Zimbabwe: Rights group appeals for Zim documentation extension
A South African refugee rights group has called on the South African authorities to extend the deadline for Zimbabweans to get permits, warning that thousands of people are yet to receive their paperwork. The end of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project is less than two weeks away and South Africa is set to resume deporting undocumented Zim nationals when the process is finalised. But according to the Cape Town based PASSOP group, thousands of people have not got their documents yet, and fear is rising that they face possible deportation in the coming weeks.
South Africa: Philippi electricity protest rages on
Residents of a Philippi informal settlement and police have clashed again as protests over electricity supply entered their third day. Three police Nyalas cordoned off the corner of New Eisleben and Sheffield roads on 21 July when protests flared up again in Siyahlala. Residents set containers on fire and used them to block off sections of Sheffield Road, while teenagers and children lined the road, armed with rocks, watching for police.
South Africa: Fuel union says employers 'not listening'
South Africa's fuel workers' union has rejected a minimum eight per cent wage increase and is holding out for a double-digit hike, the union's chief negotiator said on Tuesday (19 July).The strike has left petrol stations dry across South Africa for more than a week and will probably cost the continent's top economy billions of rand in lost output.
South Africa: Tribunal could alter Walmart conditions
The conditions agreed to by Walmart and Massmart as part of the Competition Tribunal’s conditional approval of their merger could be abandoned if the case has to be reheard by the tribunal. This is just one of the possible outcomes of what is increasingly being seen as a high-risk attempt by three government departments to extract additional concessions from Walmart and Massmart. Not only might the country lose the commitments that have been made by the merging parties but it is possible that Walmart could approach the US government and in turn the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it is put under unacceptable levels of pressure to agree to additional commitments.
DRC: Voter registration nets 31 million
DR Congo's National Independent Electoral Commission has registered 31.4 million voters for the November elections. The announcement was made by the commission chairman, the Rev Daniel Ngoy Mulunga, following the completion of the first phase of the updating of the electoral roll. DRC’s population is estimated to be 65 million people. With 48 per cent of these already enrolled to vote, this will be a big increase compared to the last election in 2006.
Egypt: Parliamentary polls to preceed new constitution
In a blow to those calling for a new constitution to be drawn up before elections are held, Egypt's ruling military council last week reiterated its intention to hold parliamentary polls later this year. 'The council remains committed to an interim plan to hold parliamentary elections first, after which a new constitution will be drafted,' a spokesman for Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) declared in an official statement on 12 July. 'Presidential elections will be held some time after that.' Since the February ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, the debate over whether parliamentary polls should precede the formulation of a new constitution - or vice versa - has polarised the public.
Egypt: The road to Egypt’s second revolution
In what is being described by many Egyptians as the country's 'second revolution', tens of thousands are currently staging protests and sit-ins in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities in the biggest wave of protests since the fall of Hosni Mubarak on 11 February. The 18-day uprising toppled the former dictator, however, many demonstrators maintain that his legacy is alive and well in the current administration. Anger now is directed toward the ruling military council and caretaker prime minister Essam Sharaf's transitional government. This Al Jazeera page carries a series of photographs depicting events in Egypt.
Guinea: Troops arrested after assassination bid
At least 38 soldiers have been arrested over an assassination attempt on president Alpha Conde of Guinea, who was nearly killed last Tuesday when his home was bombarded with rockets. An official of the Guinean government told the AP news agency on Thursday that many of the men arrested have ties to Guinea's previous military rulers. Conde, 73, escaped unhurt from the incident, but a member of his presidential guard was killed and two others injured as they fought off the attack for over two hours.
Kenya: New poll law seeks to curb vote buying
Campaign spending will be limited by new election laws in a move aimed at levelling the political playing field. This is among a raft of radical changes that have been introduced in the just published Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act.
Malawi: Mass funeral for Malawi protesters, president warns others
Seven Malawians killed in anti-government riots this week were buried in a mass grave on Friday 22 July as President Bingu wa Mutharika threatened to stamp out any further protests against his rule. At least 18 people have been killed and 200 arrested in unprecedented protests against Mutharika, with soldiers firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds calling for an end to what they say is autocratic rule.
Mali: Party names 2012 presidential candidate
Mali's majority party, the Malian Alliance for Democracy (ADEMA), picked Parliament Speaker Dioncounda Traore as its presidential candidate for April 2012 polls, a party official said Saturday. ADEMA holds 54 of 147 seats in parliament and has dominated the chamber since former president Alpha Oumar Konare was elected in 1992.
Senegal: Protests banned
Senegal banned political rallies in the centre of the capital Dakar on Thursday 21 July, two days before a planned protest against President Abdoulaye Wade seeking a new term in 2012 elections. The move forced organisers of the march to reschedule it to a location outside the centre of town, where they had been planning to demonstrate close to Wade's presidential palace. A pro-Wade rally is due to take place in a separate suburb of the sprawling coastal capital. The Interior Ministry said the ban was needed on grounds of security.
South Africa: Time to 'discover the truth' about Malema
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Sunday called for an investigation into the financial affairs of African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema. 'We call for an investigation by the ANC's committee on ethics and members' interests, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the Special Investigations Unit into the allegations,' spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement. This came after AfriForum laid a corruption case against Malema on Sunday, after it was reported that he had a trust fund for deposits from business people.
Tunisia: PM says unrest aims to derail polls
Beji Caid Essebsi, the Tunisian prime minister, has said that a new outbreak of deadly violence in Tunisia is designed to prevent the country holding its first post-revolution elections. 'There were disturbances aimed at preventing elections,' said Essebsi during an address to the nation on Monday. 'These elections will be held on 23 October as scheduled.' Voters will choose a constituent assembly that will write a new constitution that will pave the way for legislative and presidential polls.
Africa: Barriers towards combatting corruption in Africa
Regional and international bodies such as the SADC, AU and UN should make the implementation of anti-corruption instruments by all signatories mandatory. These bodies should specify time frames within which the implementation should be done and sanctions for failing to do so. Such sanctions can include but not be limited to automatic cancellation of the signature and ratification thereof. This is one of the recommendations of a survey report on barriers towards combating corruption in Africa, conducted by Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa).
South Africa: New corruption-busting probe
Police have been asked to investigate a second complaint of corruption against Willie Hofmeyr, the head of both the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Special Investigating Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed on Sunday. NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mahaga said the national director of public prosecutions (Menzi Simelane) called in the police after billionaire Dave King levelled the allegations against Hofmeyr. The Sunday Times portrayed the two charges as part of a campaign by Simelane to undermine Hofmeyr and the AFU. The newspaper said an investigation against the KwaZulu-Natal head of the AFU, Knorx Molelle, was linked to the fight for control of the unit.
Tanzania: BAE criticised by UK MPs over Tanzania corruption
The British arms and aircraft firm BAE Systems has been severely criticised by a UK parliamentary inquiry into a corruption case surrounding an air-traffic-control deal with Tanzania. MPs accused BAE of unilaterally setting up a compensation arrangement for Tanzania that was a 'complete sham'. BAE admitted to not keeping full accounting records of £8m ($12m) it paid to an agent who brokered the deal.
Africa: Free trade is not what Africa needs, Mr Cameron
On his trip to South Africa, David Cameron talked of the need to go beyond debt cancellation and aid 'to make African free trade the common purpose of the continent'. But, argues this article from the UK Guardian, trade on the wrong terms has been of no benefit to Africa - rather it 'has ripped open markets, destroyed infant industries, undermined control of food production, and exploited resources. It is the opposite of what Africa needs'.
Angola: Merkel under fire for controversial warship deal
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced recently that Germany was prepared to sell six to eight patrol boats to Angola as part of an international cooperation deal. 'Germany is ready for an energy and raw materials partnership,' Merkel said during a visit to the oil-rich country. Politicians in Berlin are concerned about Angola's human rights record. Claudia Roth, the head of the Greens, described it as a bad move following the controversial decision to sell battle tanks to Saudi Arabia last week, calling Merkel the 'patron saint of the arms lobby'. And Rolf Muetzenich from the SPD parliamentary group alluded to Germany's concern over Angola's human rights record.
Ethiopia: Meles dismissive of economic criticism
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi recently dismissed a question from an MP representing his ruling EPRDF about comments made by Ken Ohashi, former country director of the World Bank to Ethiopia. Ohashi believes Ethiopia’s economy has deeply structural flaws in competitiveness and is trapped in a low productivity quagmire. He concluded his four-year tenure in Ethiopia last month. He was known for his scepticism on the viability of the administration’s signature plan outlined in the Growth and Transformation Plan.
South Africa: Euro crisis to hit SA, Gordhan warns
South Africa would not be able to escape an escalated European crisis unscathed, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday, adding its direct economic exposure to the countries affected was reasonably low. 'South Africa's direct economic exposure to those countries affected by current market turmoil is reasonably low,' Gordhan said in an opinion piece published in Business Day. 'The greater risk for South Africa is the potential for contagion that results in a prolonged and expanding crisis in Europe and undermines global growth significantly.'
South Sudan: Addressing South Sudan’s impediments to regional trade
South Sudan became the world’s newest nation on 9 July 2011, making it Africa’s 54th country. Independence brings enormous opportunities to South Sudan to increase its integration into the regional economy but also substantial challenges to put in place a policy and security regime that facilitates cross-border trade. The 2005 peace accord that ended Africa's longest-running civil war has led to a significant growth in demand in South Sudan, ushering in a new era of increased regional trade, in particular, with Uganda. A new Africa Trade Policy Note highlights the recent patterns of trade between South Sudan and Uganda, and draws attention to significant constraints that are limiting the prospects for enhanced cross-border trade.
West Africa: Regional integration key to hunger fight, says report
A new report from Action Against Hunger and the Oakland Institute, 'Achieving Regional Integration: The Key to Success for the Fight Against Hunger in West Africa' assesses the relevance and potential of regional institutions and mechanisms in reducing hunger and undernutrition in West Africa - where chronic hunger remains pervasive - decades after the devastating droughts of the 1970s. The report analyzes the role regional institutions have in the fight against hunger and argues that, despite weaknesses, the existence and commitment of regional institutions is key. 'Many issues, such as price volatility, are regional by essence and cannot be tackled effectively by individual countries. Without integration, most West African states will remain subject to the agenda and goodwill of international donors, institutions, and richer countries. Resource-poor African governments need to implement regional policies for sustainable food production, smoother regional trade, and regulated agricultural markets.'
Uganda: Groundbreaking case challenges the state's failure to protect maternal health
On 27 May 2011 the Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), a Ugandan NGO, and the families of two mothers who died in government hospitals in 2009 in Uganda approached the Ugandan Constitutional Court alleging the women’s deaths were caused as a direct result of Uganda’s failing healthcare system. The petitioners argue that the tragic deaths are but two manifestations of a larger problem of an unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality in Uganda. They hope that a declaration to this effect by the Court will force the Ugandan government to increase its budget for maternal healthcare.
Somalia: Mogadishu hospitals running out of medicine
Hospitals in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have been hit by a shortage of drugs following the arrival of large numbers of drought-displaced people in the past two months, with health officials reporting that up to five patients were dying daily due to disease outbreaks. 'Hospitals are experiencing shortages of medicines yet they need to distribute drugs to deal with outbreaks of measles, diarrhoea, malnutrition, malaria and respiratory diseases,' Aden Ibrahim, the Health Minister in Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, told IRIN in Mogadishu.
Global: HIV spread driven by number of partners, rather than concurrency
The spread of HIV is driven more by how many sexual partners a person has in their lifetime rather than having more than one lover at a time. This is according to extensive research conducted over five years by scientists from the Africa Centre in Umkhanyakude district in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The results were published on 15 July in the prestigious Lancet journal. Debate has raged for years about the role that concurrent sexual partnerships (ie sexual partnerships that overlap in time) play in HIV transmission, with a number of experts arguing that concurrent partnerships are a key driver of the epidemic in Africa.
Madagascar: Small steps towards treating hydrocephalus
The bandage covering Olida Soanirina’s eye does not disguise the ravages of hydrocephalus as the three-month-old recovers from an operation at the Joseph Ravoahangy Andrianavalona Hospital (HJRA) in the capital Antananarivo. Hydrocephalus is caused by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles, with those who suffer from it producing up to seven spoonfuls an hour while the average person produces one. Left untreated, the condition causes the head to swell as pressure increases, leading to disability and a painful death. Treatment in the developing world is difficult because of the high cost of neurosurgery operations.
Côte d'Ivoire: The downside of 'free' health care
Côte d'Ivoire is studying national health insurance and other schemes for financing public health services so more people have access to quality care. For now the temporary policy of free care - which the government said was aimed to help people after the post-election crisis - is causing grief for doctors and patients alike. Many women in the city who have recently taken their children to hospital, where medicines are scarce, told IRIN they would prefer a return to the country's long-time system of health user fees. 'At least we knew where we stood, and we could get some services,' said Mariam* in Adjamé District.
South Sudan: Time to start learning
South Sudan has three generations of children who have never seen the inside of a classroom. According to Dr. Michael Hussein, the minister for general education, the education sector suffered most during the civil war. 'Teachers were neglected, salaries were not regular, there was no training and many fled the war-torn areas. As a result, three generations lost the opportunity to go to school,' says the minister. The issue of education in South Sudan is so critical that most leaders are calling on the youth to go back to school.
Malawi: Civil society asks for a dialogue committee over university stand-off
The Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education has asked Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika to transform the Commission of Inquiry on the University impasse into a Dispute Resolution Dialogue Committee in order to resolve the stand off which has led to the firing of four Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU) lecturers. The Coalition observes that since the president, as a Chancellor, is subject to the inquiry’s probe, the objectivity of the commission is likely to be compromised as he is known to have already taken sides and so the commission may be forced to change its modus operandi to accommodate him.
South Africa: Pupils stage protest sleep-in
Nomonde Vumazonke is one of about 100 learners from schools across the Cape Peninsula who have spent two nights camping outside Parliament in an attempt to pressure the Minister of Education to adopt Norms and Standards for all public schools in the country. Vumazonke, who is in grade 12 at Sangweni Senior Secondory in Khayelitsha, said she and her fellow learners needed the education department to set regulations that will list all the physical infrastructure schools require to function properly. This would ensure there is a basic infrastructure level that every school must meet, she said.
South Africa: Why Zimbabwe can't fill 15,000 teaching vacancies
Zimbabwe is unable to fill 15,000 teaching posts in government schools because school leavers are reluctant to join the profession. The vacant posts are said to be increasing despite reports that thousands of Zimbabwean teachers, who had left the country at the height of the economic problems, were returning home. An official in the Ministry of Education told the state owned Herald newspaper that out of the 111,000 teaching posts in the country, 96,000 were filled by qualified teachers.
Tunisia: Tunisia to hire thousands of new teachers
Tunisia is set to hire thousands of new teachers while at the same time doing away with a long-derided aptitude test for those wishing to join the ranks of educators. Many teaching hopefuls said the Contest of Aptitude for Secondary Education Teachers (CAPES) was a barrier to employment and a source of corruption. The education ministry will hire 2,000 new teachers, 1,345 new superintendents and 120 new chief superintendents.
Ghana: Concern over arrest order for homosexuals
The western region minister Paul Evans Aidoo has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the region. He has tasked the Bureau of National Investigations and all security agencies to smoke out persons suspected to be engaging in same sex. He also enlisted the services of landlords and tenants to provide reliable information which will lead to the arrest of homosexuals.
Ghana: Mills backtracks on homosexuality statements
Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills has chastised the media for reporting that he 'would institute measures to check the menace of homosexuality and lesbianism'. He allegedly made the statement at the Sunyani Central Ebenezer Presbyterian Church. President Mills was said to have personally telephoned the acting editor of the Ghanaian Times to reprimand him over a recent publication in the state-owned newspaper of the raging homosexual issue, even though the story was originally a Ghana News Agency story.
South Africa: SA firm comes up with exclusive gay insurance portfolio
South Africa’s LGBT community now has a financial service provider, Gaysure, catering exclusively for its needs. 'The gay community is a much lower risk when it comes to insurance needs and thus it is long overdue for not just another company targeting the LBGT market, but a company catering specifically for their needs with a niche product,' say Gaysure on their website. Products and services provided by Gaysure include, car and household insurance, business insurance, life insurance, retirement planning and stock broking.
Uganda: Constitutional Court hears petition on equal job opportunities for gays
Uganda’s Constitutional Court on Monday 18 July began hearing a petition against the law that bars homosexuals from being employed and accessing equal opportunities. An LGBTI activist Mr Adrian Juuko, the Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), petitioned the court to nullify section 15(6) d of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act 2007.
Kenya: Kenya gives millers the nod to import GM maize
Kenya’s Cabinet has approved the importation of genetically modified maize as it seeks to curb a biting food shortage ravaging most parts of the country. The move makes Kenya the first country in the region to allow GMO crops into the market for human consumption. Kenya is the most advanced country in the region in terms of GMO research and biosafety protocols, and analysts expect that the country’s experience in handling GMO crops in the market will be used as a model for other neighbouring countries to refine their own biotechnological practices.
Kenya: Advice on GMOs ignored
The government ignored recommendations by the House committee on the rising cost of living in regard to importation of genetically modified maize. The committee’s chairman, Mr Ababu Namwamba, said this on the second day of a tour of the North Rift town of Eldoret to find out the factors that led to increased cost of farm produce. His team held a discussion with farmers. 'In our preliminary report, we advised the government to consult with the Kenyans first before giving a green light to the importation of GMO in the country,' said Mr Namwamba.
Africa: Copenhagen Accord gathers dust as Africa battles drought
As thousands suffer the effects of drought in the Horn of Africa, developing nations are silent on pledges they made to help developing countries cope with climate related change. In 2008, world leaders met to deliberate on climate change under the UN in Copenhagen, Denmark. The developed countries pledged aid to developing countries to help them cope with the impact of the global phenomenon that has caused several droughts and related disasters in Africa. According to the World Resource Institute, which has kept an eye on the Copenhagen Accord, less than four per cent of the pledged cash has been disbursed.
Uganda: Farmers battle uncertain weather patterns
Having spent years uprooted by conflict, farmers in northern Uganda are again facing tough times – this time caused by the weather. In late June, Joel Lacung and Margaret Ataro of Got-Ngur village in northern Uganda’s Nwoya district, laboured under the scorching sun as they drove two pairs of oxen to prepare their land for the approaching second rice-planting season. They were among many rural farmers in Uganda whose livelihoods have been affected by increasingly erratic rainfall and high temperatures. Most were displaced by the years of conflict with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and remain poor and unable to acquire farm inputs.
Africa: African rainfall data 'will improve climate predictions'
A comprehensive 30-year dataset of African rainfall could soon help test climate change predictions and improve climate models, according to a UK researcher. The new data come from a European Meteosat satellite that has been collecting data over Europe and Africa. The data will supplement the poor ground data on rainfall to help improve climate predictions, which are often contradictory.
Africa: Booming cotton no boon to African farmers
Amado Kafando's elation followed news on 7 March that the price of cotton, a crop he plants each summer in rows broken by a cow-tethered plow, hit a record $2.197 a pound, capping a two-year surge of 430 per cent. Finally, he said, cotton could fulfill the promise of its nickname in his homeland of Burkina Faso: white gold. But within weeks, Kafando was clenching his fists. The government and regional cotton monopolies, which Burkinabe farmers must sell to, announced they would charge growers 38 per cent more for fertilizer - and pay them as little as 39 per cent of the world price at the time for their crop.
South Africa: Let’s transform the debate on land reform
The failure of post-apartheid South Africa to address the pressing challenges facing both land reform and the rural economy more generally may be due to inadequate policies and implementation, but essentially it indicates an intense political struggle, writes Obiozo Ukpabi on the blog Another Countryside. 'That the reality is much more complicated than finding compelling ways to get the land may be obvious. But how does South Africa move beyond the stuckness of the land reform process by confronting the key issues head on? A reframing of the issues for a truly progressive public debate requires an understanding of the powerful interests that are vested into the current deadlock.'
South Africa: Police involvement in land issues condemned
Association For Rural Advancement press release
'For too long the people of the Amajuba District have been raising their concerns with the office of Land Reform and Rural Development at many levels and at many times, but in vain. It is in our view that such an audience with both senior officials and politicians will ensure accountability which has been lacking thus far within the department.'
Burkina Faso: Boost for smallholder farmers
The government of Burkina Faso has responded to long-standing demands of farmers for greater support for small family producers with the launch of 'Operation 100,000 Ploughs'. Smallholder farmers say this will strengthen the country’s food security. The operation, launched in June, will make 20,000 ploughs available to the poorest rural households in each of the next five years, half of them to be given to women. According to Dao, the ploughs will be made affordable thanks to an 80 per cent subsidy from the government.
Malawi: Crackdown on media covering protests
The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned sweeping arrests and attacks on journalists, as well as censorship by the administration of Malawi President Bingu Wa Muthiraka against media outlets reporting on nationwide antigovernment protests that erupted on Wednesday 20 July. Police arrested a contributor to Nyasa Times, a UK-based online news site critical of the government, journalist Collins Mtika. Vitima Ndovi, a freelance journalist in the capital, Lilongwe, was also arrested.
Tunisia: Journalist protection urgently needed
ARTICLE 19 says it is extremely concerned by reports of police and army clashes with demonstrators over the weekend of 15-17 July, which resulted in at least two deaths, including the killing of a 15 year old protestor, Hajlaoui Thabet, who was shot in the heart. In addition, ARTICLE 19 says it is equally concerned by reports it has received of attacks on journalists covering protests and police and army clashes with demonstrators in Tunis, on 15 July 2011.
Egypt: Calls for investigation into disappeared journalist
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has called on the prosecutor general to launch investigations into the forced disappearance of many individuals, including the journalist Reda Helal. On 21 July 2011, 'Al Wafd' Newspaper published a report on an interview with police officer Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, a member of the Honest Police Officers' Coalition in which he said that 'the police killed him [Helal], I know the officer who committed the murder.'
Kenya: Fears of media gag
A Chinese company has been given a contract to distribute media content in Kenya. The company has got the license to distribute digital broadcast signal, giving it control of key strategic infrastructure and role in Kenya’s transition to digital broadcasting. Pundits are scared that this is a measure by the 'conservative' forces in government to curtail the freedom of the media in Kenya.
Zambia: TV crew attacked by ruling party members
Reporters Without Borders has condemned a violent attack by members of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) on a Muvi TV crew that included two women that went to Nakachenje, a town to the west of Lusaka, on 18 July to investigate claims that MMD members were illegally seizing and sharing out land. The police, who are investigating the assault, said they arrested two suspects on charges of 'assault, criminal trespass and obtaining money by false pretences'.
Global: Anti-boycott law curbs free expression
Israel has violated the right to free expression by approving a law that penalises individuals and organisations that call for boycotting Israel, say IFEX members the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Human Rights Watch. The law, approved in a 47-to-38 vote by Parliament on 11 July, makes it a punishable offence to publicly call for a boycott - economic, cultural or academic - against Israel, its institutions or any area under its control.
Global: The demise of news, when lies become truth
'The death of newsprint represents the end of an era. And news gathering will not be replaced by the Internet,' argues this article about the US news industry, but which has relevance for the industry globally. 'Journalism, at least on the large scale of old newsrooms, is no longer commercially viable. Reporting is time-consuming and labor-intensive. It requires going out and talking to people. It means doing this every day. It means looking constantly for sources, tips, leads, documents, informants, whistle-blowers, new facts and information, untold stories and news. The steady decline of the news business means we are plunging larger and larger parts of our society into dark holes and opening up greater opportunities for unchecked corruption, disinformation and the abuse of power.'
Somalia: Somali children 'risk death all the time', says Amnesty
Children in Somalia are being systematically recruited to fight on frontlines, killed in indiscriminate attacks and denied an education, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Other abuses include being flogged, and being forced to attend public stonings and amputations by Islamist groups, including al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab, the rights watchdog said in a report. 'As a child in Somalia, you risk death all the time: you can be killed, recruited and sent to the frontline, punished by al Shabaab because you are caught listening to music or "wearing the wrong clothes", be forced to fend for yourself because you have lost your parents or even die because you don't have access to adequate medical care,' Michelle Kagari, Amnesty's deputy director for Africa, said in a statement.
South Africa: The people of Blikkiesdorp
The blog www.africasacountry.com features a selection of photographs from South African photographer Lizane Louw, who has spent three years chronicling the lives of the people of Blikkiesdorp (translation: Tin Town), a temporary relocation camp in Delft, located about 30 km from Cape Town's city centre. 'I don’t think it is ethically and morally acceptable that people that are poor must live in such challenging and substandard living conditions. Something needs to be done and we need to seriously reflect on ourselves as a society, when these things happen in your backyard without us attempting to do anything about it,' she is quoted as saying.
Global: Petition to free the Cuban 5
The Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in US prisons serving two life sentences and 96 years, collectively, after being wrongly convicted in the US federal district court in Miami on 8 June 200l. The open letter - available at the link provided - authored by long time activists, Joan P. Gibbs, Esq. and Rosemari Mealy, JD, Ph.D., has been endorsed by over a 100 activists from throughout the United States and around the world.
DRC: Quagmire in east set to blight DRC elections
More than three years ago, peace accords signed in the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma, were supposed to signal the end of violence and displacement in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, as the country heads for general elections in November, armed factions continue to destabilize the country. In this analysis, IRIN explores the sticking points in the protracted conflict, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Global: The wartime rape of men
Because there has been so little research into the rape of men during war, it's not possible to say with any certainty why it happens or even how common it is – although a rare 2010 survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 22 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women in Eastern Congo reported conflict-related sexual violence. Research shows that male sexual violence is a component of wars all over the world and also suggests that international aid organisations are failing male victims, reports The Observer newspaper.
Libya: US struggles to free money for Libyan rebels
Despite its decision to grant diplomatic recognition to Libya’s rebels, the Obama administration is struggling to find ways to provide them with the $34 billion in frozen Libyan assets held in US-controlled bank accounts, officials say. Administration officials held at least two meetings this past week to explore ways to release the money, which the opposition Transitional National Council says it urgently needs to pay salaries and buy critical supplies. But the funds are ensnared in a thicket of legal regulations.
Nigeria: President meets elders over Islamist sect attacks
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has met with northern elders on the menace of Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for a spate of deadly bomb and gun attacks especially in the city of Maiduguri. The meeting explored different options to bring about peace and security in the beleaguered state and other affected areas in northern Nigeria, said a minister who briefed journalists after the meeting.
Somalia: UN to declare famine in parts of Somalia
The United Nations is set to declare famine in parts of southern Somalia, signalling to donors the need for more aid and to insurgents that the population's suffering is being taken seriously. Mark Bowden, humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, was expected to make the announcement in Nairobi, based on fresh data from the food security and nutrition analysis unit for the violent Horn of Africa country, aid officials told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday. 'It will declare famine in several areas of southern Somalia,' a Geneva-based aid worker said. The world body has described the Horn of Africa drought as an emergency, one level short of a famine, citing dire levels of acute malnutrition among Somali children reaching camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
South Africa: SA, UK agree Gaddafi must go
British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Jacob Zuma have agreed that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must go. Cameron, who is on a working visit to South Africa, told reporters in Pretoria on Monday that he and Zuma believed Gaddafi needed to step down from power. However, Zuma said: 'What happens to Gaddafi must be decided by the Libyan people. You need to negotiate how, why and where he must go.'
South Sudan: UN calls for S Kordofan war crimes probe
A senior United Nations humanitarian official says the world body is 'extremely worried' about the situation in Sudan's South Kordofan region after a leaked report said war crimes may have been committed there. The leaked UN report, which emerged on Monday, documents witness accounts of suspected atrocities and called for an inquiry into the allegations. Oil-rich South Kordofan borders the newly created nation of South Sudan. It has seen intense fighting in recent months between the Sudan's army and local armed groups.
SA Reconciliation Barometer newsletter: Volume 9 Issue 2
The issue includes:
- ‘This place restored my dignity’: Stories of the Solms-Delta farm workers by Crystal Orderson
- Struggle songs, heritage and reconciliation by Cecyl Esau
- Employment Equity: Ticking Boxes or True Transformation?
- Are we democratic citizens? by Ayanda Nyoka
- South Africa documents the undocumented by Caroline Ruetsch.
Africa: Free Africa Yearbook until 1 August
The Africa Yearbook covers major domestic political developments, the foreign policy and socio-economic trends in sub-Sahara Africa – all related to developments in one calendar year. Six editions of the Africa Yearbook are now freely available online until 1 August 2011.
Mali: November conference on land grabbing planned
Although many conferences, articles and TV broadcasts have tackled the topic of land grabbing, the voice of farmers has been marginalised. This is why La Via Campesina and the national farmers organisation of Mali is inviting people to a conference in November to listen, exchange experiences and support those who experience land grabbing every day.
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