Pambazuka News 559: COP17: Temperatures set to rise
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. Podcasts & Videos, 6. Zimbabwe update, 7. Women & gender, 8. Human rights, 9. Refugees & forced migration, 10. Social movements, 11. Africa labour news, 12. Emerging powers 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. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Fundraising & useful resources
Highlights from this issue
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties kicks off in Durban next week, from 28 November to 9 December. In addition to new articles in this week's edition of Pambazuka, do take another look at our COP17 special issue, produced in partnership with African Agenda, a publication of Third World Network-Africa, which focuses on the need for equity and justice for Africa.
One year since Cancun and days from Durban
Time to Occupy Durban's COP17 climate summit
Community people: COP17 is a ‘conference of polluters’
Communities demand democracy and accountability in climate negotiations
The paralysis of climate change negotiations
Who said Gaddafi had to go?
Back to Tahrir Square
Unfinished revolution: Egyptian activists in Tahrir Square
An interview with Sherif Joseph Rizk, Yehia El Gammal and Shahira Abouellail
Egyptians in revolution
The democratic fraud and the universalist alternative
South Africa: Lower house passes information bill
Mandela, Tutu, journalists and protesters reject law
Committee to Protect Journalists
The Martha manifesto: An Ethiopian woman's dream
Elyas Mulu Kiros
Give me liberty or give me death!
Yenesew Gebre, an Ethiopian patriot
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Nigeria’s same-sex marriage bill violates human rights
Sanyu Awori and Rithika Nair
US & French air strikes raise human toll in Somalia
Ugandans wonder: Is US after Kony, or oil?
Jackee Budesta Batanda
Occupy has the power to effect change
The Occupy Wall Street uprising and the US labour movement
An interview with Steve Early, Jon Flanders, Stephanie Luce, and Jim Straub
Farooque Chowdhury and Michael D. Yates
Minister Teta and the Angolan technology scam
Rafael Marques de Morais
Angola: Sonangol’s hotel bill doesn’t add up
Rafael Marques de Morais
Nigeria: The way forward
Mao Zedong and modern China
Uganda: We need to guard against ethnic polarisation
We are still here
Occupy Cape Town attempts to decolonise Thibault Square
MINUSTAH out! Joint action for the sovereignty of Haiti
Resolution adopted by the Caribbean conference, 18 November 2011
African folklore: Tradition and transformation
A review of 'The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance'
Peter Wuteh Vakunta
Egypt: Footage from November 19 – 22
People ferry the wounded to hospital by motorcycle; a man in riot gear beats a crowd with what looks like a chair; a lifeless body is dragged out of the middle of a road; a morgue is filled with bodies. This amateur footage from pulsemedia.org shows protests between 19-22 November.
Mozambique: Video on female literacy
In Angola and Mozambique, if women are to improve their lives and escape poverty, they need to have access to quality literacy and education which are amongst others the key tools to participate in political, social and economic life. This Video Documentary shows an example of the work being done in the Female Literacy Angola and Mozambique Project- FELITAMO.
Zimbabwe: Hard times in Matabeleland
Nationally, Zimbabwe is more food secure at the end of 2011 than it has been for several years. However, parts of Zimbabwe suffered serious crop failure earlier this year and a million people are still predicted to need supplementary feeding. In Gwanda, Matabeleland South, the authors of this study by the Solidarity Peace Trust found that almost half of households indicated a day without food in the recent past.
Zimbabwe: Nuclear scare as Iran plans to share technology
In what has ignited strong fears of nuclear resource transfer between Zimbabwe and Tehran, the nuclear-power pursuing nation, Iran, has stated that it intends to share technology and scientific resources and expertise with the nation of Zimbabwe. This was revealed by the the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran.
Egypt: Fighting against militarism
Human rights organisation statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
'Women in this second wave of the revolution are participating more, although it is more violent, they are challenging the protective circles that are built around them by the patriarchal society...On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women we are asking for your support to the Egyptian revolution, in its second wave, to move into a peaceful stage and continue our role in building our country and continue playing our role.'
Egypt: The nude revolution
Sophia Azeb comments on the blog Africa is a Country about the Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy in Egypt, who decided to post nude photos of herself on her blog to 'defy restrictions on freedom'. Responses from Egypt and the West were equally confused, Azeb writes, with the April 6 movement saying: 'The movement does not have any members who engage in such behavior and the girl is only an agent of State Security. They want to tarnish our image after our role during the revolution and the increasing support we get from the Egyptian people.' Meanwhile, the New York Daily News wrote that while placing provocative pictures on the Web rarely raise eyebrows in the West, in an increasingly conservative Egypt what Elmahdy did was an unprecedented act of defiance. 'Oh brother,' writes Azeb, 'Doesn’t anyone watch Egyptian music videos anymore?'
Global: Gender and torture report
Torture has been widely viewed in the past in terms of pain and suffering inflicted on a person – usually assumed to be male – in the custody of the state. However, this narrow understanding excludes many forms of severe pain and suffering deliberately inflicted on women and girls. This report summarizes a two-day conference on the gender dimensions of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Global: Mapping violence against women
Marking International Day Against Violence Against Women, Take Back the Tech! has launched an online map to document stories and experiences of women and girls who face violence online. Visit the website to find out more.
South Africa: Offensive tweets draw ire from social media landscape
Condom brand Durex has issued a hasty apology over an offensive, misogynist tweet apparently sent out by their public relations company on Friday. Blog memeburn.com breaks down the various reactions to the controversy over the tweets, which came just before the launch of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. The post quotes from another blog, FeministsSA: 'It’s sad though that Durex’s actions were able to bolster the opinions of those who already thought that using your penis to shut someone up is not rape, and to give them a small semblance of credence. I hope that everyone realises that in the first place, the sentiment that women need to be shut up at all is only valid or valuable in an extremely sexist society.'
Uganda: Midwife speaks to current health needs in
The facts in much of Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa present a harsh reality: only 28 per cent of all health centres have the required supplies and equipment to offer basic emergency obstetric care, while 32 per cent of hospitals in the districts have the supplies, equipment and staff to offer patients caesarean sections. Challenges for midwives with transportation, improper or non-functional medical equipment and lack of doctors and supporting medical staff are ongoing, says this article, which profiles a dedicated Ugandan midwife.
Zimbabwe: Women whose names do not appear on title deeds face hardships
Women whose names do not appear on title deeds face hardships in Zimbabwe. The legal situation is such that husbands whose names appear on the title deeds can sell the immovable property to the detriment of the wife. The law only 'intervenes' at death in terms of the inheritance laws that state that the immovable property goes to the surviving spouse. Upon divorce, the immovable property is shared equitably using the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act. Women and Law in Southern Africa and the Property and Inheritance Rights Network of Zimbabwe has prepared a position paper for submission to the Law Development Commission.
Burundi: 300 killed by death squads, rights group claims
Government-backed death squads have killed more than 300 members of Burundi’s former rebel group and opposition supporters in covert operations over the past five months, a rights group said. The group, Government Action Observatory, a coalition of civil society groups, said the Central African country’s regime and its proxies have waged a systematic campaign of extrajudicial killings against the former rebels, who went back to the bush after pulling out of 2010 polls over fraud claims.
Egypt: Tear gas used in Egypt causes liver, heart damage, miscarriages
The tear gas being employed by the Egyptian military and police in the past 48 hours, beyond being expired for at least five years, according to canisters obtained by Bikyamasr.com, cause severe pulmonary damage, as well as causing damage to the heart and liver. It is also reported to increase the risk of miscarriages, according to international studies of the substance, known as CR gas. A lethal does can be inhaled within minutes if in a poorly ventilated area. The US company producing the gas refused to respond to Bikyamasr.com requests for information.
Egypt: UK firm denies 'cyber-spy' deal with Egypt
A UK firm offered to supply 'cyber-spy' software used by Egypt to target activists, the BBC has learned. Documents found in the headquarters of the country's security service suggest it was used for a five-month trial period at the end of last year. Hampshire-based Gamma International UK denies actually supplying the program, which infects computers with a virus that bugs online voice calls and email.
Equatorial Guinea: Reforms ring hollow ahead of summit
Latin American and African dignitaries gathering in Equatorial Guinea for a cross-regional meeting should press their host, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, on his human rights record, EG Justice and Human Rights Watch said. This ahead of a Africa-South America Summit that took place between 22-25 November 2011.
Ethiopia: Man sets himself on fire in protest against government
An Ethiopian man has died from his injuries after he set himself on fire in a protest against the government following mass arrests of youths from his local area. Residents of Dawro area in south west Ethiopia said 29-year-old school teacher Yenesew Gebre poured flammable petroleum distillate Benzine on his body in front of the local government building in Waka town on 11 November, dying three days later in hospital.
Libya: Ex-rebels hold 7,000 detainees, says UN chief
Libya's former rebels are holding some 7,000 detainees, many of them sub-Saharan Africans, without access to due legal process after the country's civil war, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a new report. Ban cited reports that some detainees had been tortured, that some people had been targeted because of their skin color, that women were held under male supervision without female guards and that children were being detained alongside adults.
Libya: Libya and the ICC: What Next?
It has now been confirmed that the two remaining Libyan suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, have been detained by national authorities. What happens now? Under international law, Libyan officials are required to surrender the two suspects to The Hague. However, members of the Transitional National Council (TNC) have stated their intention to hold the two accused in custody for trial in Libya. Resolving this apparent clash of jurisdictions will be the first and critical step for the new Libyan regime in demonstrating their commitment to international justice, says this Open Society blog post.
Nigeria: Niger Delta still unstable despite amnesty
Two years after the Nigerian government granted amnesty to militants fighting mainly for development and job opportunities in the oil-rich Niger River Delta, violence has diminished, and oil revenues - which dropped at the height of the conflict - have increased. But analysts argue that the amnesty programme is flawed and will not lead to long-term peace. In the delta, former fighters are picking up their guns again, and resentment brews among those not included.
Uganda: Compensation to Acholi war claimants not enough
While the payment of compensation to 30,000 Acholi war claimants is welcomed after two years of waiting, further reparations are required for victims of the northern Uganda conflict, says this article form Uganda's Monitor newspaper. 'Providing compensation to 30,000 victims only represents the tip of the iceberg...Others suffered from mutilation, abductions, killings, torture and looting committed by both the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the UPDF. Yet, for all this suffering, victims have received little or no reparations for their harm or loss, leaving many impoverished and suffering from the physical and psychological harm as well as economic loss without any redress.'
Africa: Refugees in Italy live in poor conditions, says report
Refugees in Italy - both asylum seekers, as well as those who already have obtained a protection status - live largely in absolute misery and homelessness. Most of them are ejected from the Italian basic accommodation system for asylum seekers after a maximum of six months and end up without any assistance to speak of.
CAR: More than 21,000 displaced by LRA violence, new OCHA map reveals
Widescale violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has forced more than 21,000 people to flee their homes in the Central African Republic (CAR), a new OCHA map reveals. Across Central Africa, including South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), CAR and Uganda, as many as 440,000 people are currently displaced by violent LRA activities. They range from killings, mutilations, abductions and sexual slavery, to the burning of houses and the looting of food and other commodities.
Côte d'Ivoire: Months after fleeing post-election violence, Ivorians begin return home
Hundreds of families who sought refuge from post-election violence in Ivory Coast at a church compound in the western town of Duékoué have started returning to their communities, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement. At the height of the violence in April up to 25,000 people were staying in and around the Catholic Mission in Duékoué, about 400 km west of Abidjan, which aid groups described as overcrowded and lacking the sanitation facilities to host such a population. Security improvements in western Ivory Coast have encouraged many displaced persons to consider returning to villages, with many families excited at the prospect of returning home, IOM said.
Egypt: Egypt to deport 118 Eritreans
Egyptian authorities will deport 118 Eritrean refugees currently detained by Cairo, officials said. A lobby group, the Eritrean Refugee Solidarity Movement coordinator, Mr Muse Bahremariam, told AfricaReview.com that the Eritreans had been detained as a prelude to their being handed over to Asmara, in disregard to the international human rights conventions.
Ethiopia: Cautionary migration tales are no deterrent
Ethiopians are on the move. Not only are more rural people relocating to towns and cities, but the number of Ethiopians leaving the country has also ballooned in the last few years. Many are trying to reach Saudi Arabia via Yemen, while thousands of others head for South Africa, Israel and Europe, crossing deserts and seas and placing their lives in the hands of smugglers who often have little regard for their well-being.
South Sudan: Yida refugees feel left out in the cold
Thousands of civilians who fled conflict in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan across the border into the new country of South Sudan continue to face insecurity and a reduced humanitarian presence following a bombing raid, according to the refugees and aid workers. Some 23,000 ethnic Nuba are staying at a site in Yida, just a few kilometers from the border, which came under aerial bombardment on 10 November. The Sudanese armed forces were widely blamed, but denied responsibility.
Zimbabwe: Deportees stretching capacity
Zimbabwean Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede has told Parliament’s committee on home affairs that deportations of Zimbabweans from South Africa and Botswana were stretching his department’s capacities, forcing it to operate seven days a week. Mudede said his staff now worked long hours to process documents for deported citizens. He said his office was overloaded, even though last year staffers went to South Africa to document Zimbabweans without passports who sought permits to reside there.
South Africa: Floods, destruction and despair in the shacks
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Release
'Abahlali welcomes the world in our country, our province and in our city. We also welcome progressive delegates to our homes, our settlements and our flooded shacks. Last night after heavy rain some of our shack settlements were flooded leaving shack dwellers, stranded, hopeless and with all their belonging swept away through floods. We have had enough shack fires already. We have had enough rat bites. We have had enough electricity disconnection. We have had enough of being excluded from the rest of our society and today the storm, the full force of what extreme weather does to the poor, proves itself to the world during the first day of the Conference of the Parties.'
South Africa: Occupations currently underway in Hillary, KwaMashu and Pinetown
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
'As a movement we are struggling to build a society in which there is an economic system where human beings come before profit and a political system in which leaders take direction from below. We are struggling to build a society in which there will be a fair distribution of land and decent housing for all. But we are alive now, our children are growing now. We are living in the rain and with shack fires now. Therefore it is clear that we also have to take direct action to struggle for what land and housing we can get right now even as we continue the long struggle for a more democratic and just world.'
Zambia: Striking Zambian miners win back jobs and pay hike
Zambian miners ended a two week old strike for better pay in early November, winning back their jobs and a pay hike from a Chinese firm. Union officials said it was a sign that Chinese-owned companies in Zambia are starting to bow to government pressure over worker rights. Management at the Non-Ferrous China Africa locked out the workers who had gone on strike for a 100 percent raise from their base pay of $200 monthly. Zambia has seen a rash of strikes at Chinese and Indian-owned plants after newly-elected President Michael Sata proposed raising the minimum wage from the current rate of $84 a month.
Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup
In this week's edition of the Emerging Powers News Round-Up, read a comprehensive list of news stories and opinion pieces related to China, India and other emerging powers...
Cameroon: President must make reforms to avoid ‘Cameroon Spring’
Barely a few weeks after incumbent president Biya won another seven year mandate after 28 years in power, many Cameroonians would prefer to allow the dust to settle than to be drawn into worrying headlines, says this article posted on the www.africafiles.org site. The article highlights some concerns in a number of areas; the electoral process, socio-economic and regional tensions within the country which might push Cameroonians to street protest. Should Mr Biya listen?
Côte d'Ivoire: Ivorian parliamentary vote list closes without FPI
The list of candidates for Ivory Coast's parliamentary election closed on Monday with 1,182 candidates vying for 255 seats, but the former ruling FPI party boycotted the process, the election commission said. The FPI ran the country while leader Laurent Gbagbo was president from 2000 until earlier this year.
DRC: Election watch guide to aid civil society
The Election Watch from Idasa is designed to aid civil society groups in the DRC and the region in holding governmental institutions accountable and ensuring a free and fair election. The Election Watch is based on the SADC principles and guidelines for conducting elections. It holds countries to the standards that they originated and agreed to abide by as members of the regional community.
DRC: Voting begins
Voting is under way across the Democratic Republic of Congo where presidential and legislative elections are expected to provide a stern challenge to President Joseph Kabila's leadership. More than 31 million people are eligible to vote on Monday in the country's second elections since the end of the conflict-stricken country's devastating war in 2002, with some 19,000 candidates competing for 500 legislative seats, while 11 candidates are vying for the presidency.
Egypt: Elections begin; activists wear black
Millions of Egyptians are expected to head to voting polls Monday, in Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the uprising that toppled the former Hosni Mubarak regime earlier this year. A sum of 70 people died and over 3,000 were injured in fighting leading up to the poll. Protesters demanded an end to military rule and a transition of power to civil elected authority. The week long protests brought down the cabinet.
Gambia: Jammeh wins disputed elections
Gambia's election commission has declared incumbent President Yahya Jammeh winner of elections, paving the way for him to begin a new five-year term in the West African country. Jammeh, who has been in power for 17 years, scored a landslide 72 per cent victory, according to results read out on Friday by Alhagie Mustapha Carayol, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission. The vote was regionally criticised as it was marred by intimidation of voters and the opposition.
Kenya: Outrage over $13m payout plan for Kenya MPs
Kenyan MPs will pocket $13.3 million (Sh2.1 billion) if elections are held in August next year. The payout, described as 'immoral' by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), will be compensation for having their terms, in the view of some, cut short. Each MP will be paid $88,600 (Sh8 million) for each of the eight months they will be asked to 'forfeit' if the election is held in August as stipulated in the Constitution, as well as the $11,100 (Sh1.5m) 'winding up allowance' they voted themselves.
Madagascar: Former president back from nine-year exile
Former Madagascar President Didier Ratsiraka has arrived home from a nine-year exile in France. His return follows the formation of a a unity government in the crisis-hit Indian Ocean island nation. Mr Ratsiraka, 75, has lived in luxurious villa in Paris since 2002 and took part in talks to end the political crisis that has gripped Madagascar since 2009. However, members of his party refused to sign the roadmap to new elections put forward by mediators from the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), pointing out that they could not take part in any political process until their 'chief' returned from France.
Malawi: Bingu dodges Zambia-Malawi diplomatic stand-off
President Bingu wa Mutharika failed to give a comprehensive answer on the diplomatic stand-off between Malawi and Zambia arising from a 2007 deportation of Zambia’s President Michael Sata when he was opposition leader then. The Head of State accused journalists in the country of concentrating on backbiting and gossiping instead of concentrating on developmental issues. Ruling party functionaries booed journalists at the press conference and some intimidated them.
Morocco: Islamic party wins Morocco parliamentary vote
The Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamic party has taken a resounding victory in Morocco's parliamentary elections, Taib Cherkaoui, the country's interior minister, has announced. Cherkaoui told a press conference on Saturday that PJD had won 80 seats from 288 seats announced out of the 395 up for grabs in the nationwide vote. That is nearly double the 45 seats won by Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi's Independence Party which finished second and has headed a five-party coalition government since 2007.
Nigeria: Removal of fuel subsidy, not a solution to challenges facing Nigeria, says labour
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said the removal of fuel subsidy will not address the numerous challenges facing the country. Issa Aremu, the vice president of the NLC, made this known in Abuja at a ceremony organised by an NGO, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. He listed the non remittance of tax by multinational companies operating in the country, crude oil theft, the petroleum income bill pending before the National Assembly and the issue of local content as some of the problems facing the country.
DRC: State mining company refuses to release info on contracts
Gecamines, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned copper miner, rejected a directive by the government and International Monetary Fund to publish its mining contracts because any disclosure may result in legal action, reports Bloomberg. In May, Congolese Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito ordered that all contracts involving mineral, timber, oil and gas concessions be made public within 60 days of signing to increase transparency. The Mines Ministry reiterated the demand in a 8 September letter to Gecamines, and the IMF and World Bank have also requested the company publish the documents.
Global: Cizens ask governments to make budgets open
On 18 November 2011 nearly 100 civil society groups from as many countries and 12 international organisations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace, and the ONE Campaign, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory, and accountable. The effort centers on building an integrated and vibrant movement of organisations that will work at the local, national, and international level to promote government budgeting that is open and accountable to the public.
South Africa: Mac's dodgy millions
Jacob Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj stands accused of receiving millions in bribes from French weapons maker Thales, the company that will be at the centre of the government's arms deal inquiry next year. A two-month Sunday Times investigation has uncovered a paper trail that leads from the arms company to Maharaj and his wife Zarina. Schabir Shaik, Zuma's former financial adviser who was convicted of corruption in the arms deal trial, was the conduit used by Thales to channel the money to Zarina Maharaj.
Tanzania: UK cuts aid budget
Tanzania’s government could be headed for hot soup following announcements that the British government will be cutting aid due to corruption. According to reports the Tanzanian government should brace for a cut of up to 30 per cent of United Kingdom aid money channeled through its Department for International Development (DFID) for the year 2011/12 budget. Currently donors contribute between 24 to 30 per cent of the total government budget. A large percentage of these funds support development expenditure - implying that any cut will jeopardise Tanzania’s development aspirations.
Uganda: New details in oil bribes inquiry
The lead petitioners in the ongoing oil sector probe have tabled what they said was more evidence implicating the three ministers accused of taking bribes from oil firms. Testifying before the House ad hoc committee, they presented letters linking Minister Hilary Onek to a $3 billion deal to construct an oil pipeline to connect Uganda, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo to the Lake Albert region. The petitioners, who revealed they are carrying out a parallel investigation on the sector, said the minister’s involvement was contrary to the national policy to have a refinery.
Africa: Report spotlights European policy incoherence
EU policies are continuing to seriously undermine rights in developing countries says a new report by CONCORD, the confederation of European development NGOs. The report shows incoherencies between EU development objectives and other policies, coming at an important time as the EU reforms its agricultural, trade and development policies.
Africa: Sign EPAs and you lose, study shows
This study provides a simple cost-benefit analysis of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between African countries and the European Union. It compares the costs of signing an EPA - measured as tariff revenue losses, versus the 'gains' of signing an EPA - measured as duties African countries would avoid paying if they were to export to the EU market under the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme. The paper shows that even with this simple cost-benefit analysis (looking only at one dimension of the costs), for most African countries, the tariff revenue losses are higher than the duties at the EU border if there is no EPA.
Africa: Who are Africa's richest men?
Forbes recently published its first list of Africa’s 40 Richest people. This blog post takes a more detailed look at the lists and notes the enormous concentration of wealth on the list, that those on the list come from only six countries, that there is a huge spread of wealth even amongst the richest and that the list is an all-male cast.
Angola: Angola pours oil money into debt-ridden Portugal
President Eduardo dos Santos said Angola was prepared to invest its burgeoning petrodollars in Portugal, which has been ordered to privatise struggling state-owned firms under a €80bn (£70bn) International Monetary Fund bailout. Visiting Portuguese prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, said the country was looking to privatise [state utility company] Energias de Portugal and [national grid] REN. Other state-owned entities up for grabs include the national airline Tap and the Banco Português de Negócios. Banco BIC of Angola is set to buy the distressed bank for €40m – less than a fifth of its original market value. Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the long-serving president, is a part owner of BIC. Some Angolans have criticised the growing financial ties between Lisbon and Luanda, amid worries of capital flight and Angola's own yawning poverty gap. In 2008, two-thirds of Angolans lived on less than €1 a day, while only 25 per cent of children are enrolled in primary school.
China: Dam investments span 70 countries
In the China Overseas Dams List, International Rivers Network documents 289 overseas dam projects in which China is involved. For the large part, most of these projects have been proposed and/or built in the past 10 years. Forty-two per cent of the projects are in South-east Asia, 30 per cent in Africa, and growing steadily in number are the number of projects in Latin America.
Global: Beyond repair? Bank lobbies for carbon markets
As UN climate talks loom, the Bank is lobbying G20 countries to resuscitate shrinking carbon markets through controversial measures, including using public climate finance to stimulate demand and creating markets for soil and forest carbon.The Bank will use the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in Durban, South Africa, in late November to launch the Carbon Initiative for Development fund. This aims to provide up front finance for carbon-credit-generating projects in least developed countries. The Bank is also expected to continue to lobby for international agreements to support the viability of carbon markets, which allow countries and companies to claim a reduction in carbon emissions by purchasing credits generated by emissions reductions from other sources.
Global: New reports question World Bank's coal investments
As the November climate talks in South Africa approach, the World Bank continues to be overshadowed by past and prospective loans for fossil-fuel power plants. An October report by the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) and US NGO Sierra Club has sharply criticised the Bank’s cost projections for a proposed lignite-fired power plant outside the Kosovan capital Pristina, which the Bank is considering funding. Meanwhile, the Bank has approved $250 million for renewable energy projects in South Africa, due to host the Durban climate talks, part of a widely-criticised $3.75 billion loan mainly targeted to the country‘s Medupi coal-fired plant.
Global: What happens after the MDGs?
This paper examines some of the debates taking place as we approach 2015, the target date for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It provides reflections, drawn from discussions with donor agencies and international NGOs, on what the focus will be for international development work after that date. Will it be more of the same – nationally based targets to reduce poverty?
Africa: Financial crisis threatens malaria control
The Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria partnership, Awa-Marie Coll-Seck, has expressed fears that the current international financial crisis could shift the commitments of donors from malaria control in Africa.'The international community strongly mobilized to increase its commitments from 100 million dollars in 2000 to almost 1.5 billion dollars now. Today we have fears to see this dynamics called into question as a result of the financial crisis which can lead to a change in national priorities,' she told PANA in Paris.
Global: Cash crunch hits global Aids fund
Because donor funding for global HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund has been declining, the Fund is in the most dire financial situation it has ever seen since its creation ten years ago, says Médecins Sans Frontières. As a result, the Global Fund board decided to effectively cancel its 11th funding round due to lack of resources – an unprecedented act in its history. 'Yet on the ground in hard-hit countries where MSF works, the devastating effects of the overall funding crunch are becoming apparent – for example, Cameroon and Zimbabwe are facing shortfalls in the near future to support people already on treatment, and the Democratic Republic of Congo severely caps the number of people able to start on life-saving HIV treatment.'
Kenya: Slow pace of talks irks doctors
Kenyan doctors are concerned at the slow pace of talks with the government meant to avert a national strike slated for 5. December. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union said the government was dragging it’s feet in kick-starting negotiations. The 2,300 doctors in Kenya’s public hospitals have issued a 19-day strike notice.
Nigeria: Polio in Nigeria 'shows big increase'
A four-fold increase in polio has been reported in Nigeria, with the disease spreading to other countries, a World Health Organisation official says. Forty-three cases were reported in Nigeria this year, compared to 11 last year, the official, Thomas Moran, said. Curbing the polio virus in Nigeria is key to eradicating the crippling disease in Africa, he said.
Tanzania: North-South partnerships are not the answer
Government cuts in research and development (R&D) funding for higher education institutions have compelled public universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to establish extensive partnerships with universities, technology and research centres in the North. But, asks Johnson M. Ishengoma on www.scidev.net, have these North-South partnerships and funding streams strengthened higher education and capacity building? 'I argue that in Tanzania, they have had limited impact. They have not contributed to meaningful capacity building either by expanding student enrolment, increasing the quantity and quality of higher education support infrastructure, or helping develop and retain academic staff.'
Cameroon: Call for jailed men to be released
The Cameroonian authorities must immediately release two men who have been sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Yaounde for homosexual acts, Amnesty International said. A third man was sentenced without being present after jumping bail. The men were arrested in July after police alleged they were caught in a sexual act in a car.
Nigeria: Confusion over same-sex marriage bill
Unconfirmed reports about the Nigerian National Assembly claim that the Nigerian Senate may have already voted on the controversial prohibition of Same-sex Marriage Bill. However, Nigeria LGBT human rights activists are uncertain about information on the status of the bill, which many believe to still be at the Senate committee on human rights and judicial matters.
South Africa: Interrogating the notion of ‘corrective rape’
Recent media reports have shown a rise in attacks against lesbian women in townships across South Africa. The nature of the violence includes assault, often with grievous bodily harm, rape, murder or any combination of these. The sexual violence perpetrated against these women has become a particular focal point in media coverage, crudely termed ‘corrective’ or ‘curative rape’. This Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI) brief argues that contemporary media and the public should rethink their understanding of ‘corrective rape’ and the discourse used to engage this notion. The paper problematises the language of ‘corrective rape’, arguing that it inadvertently further reinforces and re-inscribes patriarchal, heterosexist and racist power through its construction of the phenomenon as sexual violence inflicted by black township men against black lesbian women.
South Africa: Sentencing postponed in lesbian murder case
Four men convicted of murdering a lesbian near Cape Town will receive their sentences just before Christmas. Zoliswa Nkonyana,19, was stabbed and stoned to death in Khayelitsha on 4 February 2006. Since the trial began, gay rights campaigners and residents from the town have continued to picket outside Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court.
Africa: Letter to African agriculture and environment ministers
No soil carbon markets
'We, the undersigned civil society organisations from Africa and around the world, strongly object to a decision in Durban for an agriculture work programme focused on mitigation, which would lead to agricultural soils and agroecological practices being turned into commodities to be sold on carbon markets, or used as sinks to enable industrialised countries to continue to avoid reducing emissions. African ministers have been urged by the World Bank to endorse this approach, coined as “climate smart” agriculture. Yet legitimizing soil carbon offsets through a mitigation-based agriculture work programme will further destabilize the climate, fail to tackle the real causes of agriculture emissions, present a major distraction from the need to generate public finance, and exacerbate social injustice by shifting the burden of mitigation onto developing countries – especially their small producers. Soil carbon offsets also have the potential to drive a new speculative land grab, further undermining food sovereignty and the right to food.'
Global: Civil society to unite against climate change
The Civil Society Committee for COP17 (C17) is calling on the global community to unite against climate change by participating in this year’s Global Day of Climate Action (GDA). The GDA is a traditional and important event during the United Nations climate change negotiations and takes place at the Conference of the Parties (COP) each year. The primary action – a mass march of international and national community, labour, women, youth, academic, religious and environmental organisations and activists – demonstrates civil society’s common determination to tackle climate change.
Global: Rich Nations 'Give Up' on New Climate Treaty Until 2020
Governments of the world's richest countries have given up on forging a new treaty on climate change to take effect this decade, with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment through global warming, reports this article on www.commondreams.org Most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, and that even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate it could not come into force until 2020.
Global: World Bank manoeuvres to influence climate finance debates
The World Bank is advocating the use of private sector finance for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and pushing multilateral development banks as delivery mechanisms. An early October report on mobilising climate finance was coordinated and produced for the G20 by the World Bank in the run up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Durban, South Africa. The G20 had previously avoided taking an active role, as developing country members were concerned doing so could undermine the UN process. The report, 'Mobilising climate finance', highlights the importance of eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies and of implementing a carbon tax on aviation and shipping, which have long been demanded by civil society groups.
South Africa: Are Durban climate talks worth the bother?
With climate talks set to open Monday, African civil society activists are alarmed, writes Nnimmo Bassey for the New Internationalist. 'The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zewani, who is the spokesperson for the African Union, is credited with saying that Africa will be "flexible" in the negotiations. This announcement would considerably weaken the hands of African negotiators who have taken a strong stance against the failure of developed countries to deliver on their moral and legal obligations for climate action.' Should African civil society bother turning up at all?
South Africa: Cop17 is a ‘Conference of Polluters’
Corporations have colluded with governments to capture climate change negotiations for their own interest. At the start of the ‘Dirty Energy Week’ in South Africa, participants called for real commitment to heal the Earth. More than 100 community, union and NGO representatives gathered on 23 November to kick of the ‘The Dirty Energy Week’ gathering, organised by the South African based environment justice NGO groundWork, together with 14 national and international NGOs and community organisations. On the eve of the UN negotiations, they gathered to discuss climate proofing communities and cleaner energy solutions.
South Africa: Cop17 is a ‘Conference of Polluters’
Visit http://durbanclimatejustice.wordpress.com/ for news and event information about COP17, currently taking place in Durban, South Africa.
Africa: The great 'water grab'
Foreign investors aren't just after land in Africa. Access to water is essential – which can bring them into direct competition with the needs of local communities. Ongoing research from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development seeks to redress this blindspot, honing in on how such land deals might affect water access for fishing, farming and pastoralist communities. In a policy paper out on Thursday, the IIED's Jamie Skinner and Lorenzo Cotula warn that an alarming number of African governments seem to be signing away water rights for decades, with major implications for local communities.
Africa: Women and land, securing rights for a better future
'Women’s Land Rights', published by the International Development Research Centre, draws from the outcomes of the three year collaborative project entitled 'Securing Women’s Access to Land: Linking Research and Action', coordinated by the International Land Coalition (ILC), the Makerere Institute for Social Studies (MISR) of Makerere University in Uganda, and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) of the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and funded by IDRC. 'Land is an important source of security against poverty across the developing world, but, in many places, unequal rights to land put women at a disadvantage, perpetuates poverty, and entrenches gender inequality. Surprisingly little detailed information exists on women’s relationship to land, and even less is informed by women themselves. This book aims to help fill that gap, drawing on research funded by IDRC over many years.'
Mali: Foreign investment in Mali's arable land jumps by 60 per cent
Foreign investment in arable land in Mali increased by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2010, says a report published to coincide with the first international farmers' conference to tackle the global rush for land. The report, by the US-based Oakland Institute and the Malian national farmers organisation, estimates that more than 544,500 hectares of Malian land have been leased or were under negotiation for lease by the end of 2010.
Senegal: Conflict over biofuel land grab
Conflict had been brewing in the village of Fanaye in northern Senegal for months before clashes broke out in late October. The launch of a project by an Italian-Senegalese company to grow crops for biofuels on 20,000 acres of local land had been met with scepticism and anger by some villagers; protesters called it 'a form of slavery'. When work began on the project in September, a young man attacked a plantation worker with a sword. A local council meeting descended into violence, buildings were burned and two people died as villagers fought each other with sticks and machetes.
South Africa: Toxic ripple effects of mining in Mokopane
Sheltered from the fierce heat of the Namboomspruit sun, 16 Mokopane community members gathered for an Earth Forum in the cool shadows of an oasis of tall palm trees. These participants formed part of a community action group called Jubilee, which aims to address critical incidences of environmental injustice, particularly around the effect of mining on human and environmental well-being. According to Phillipos Dolo, co-ordinator of Jubilee, the mining has deprived these people of access to land. 'In rural areas we depend on the land for ploughing. The mining companies took all the land we worked on without any compensation.'
Horn of Africa: Understanding the politics of the famine
While it is known the famine is in the five countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan in the Horn of Africa, the epicenter is Southern Somalia. The story of Somalia is not a simple one and cannot be told in the framework of famine alone. The protracted conflict in Southern Somalia, US foreign policy toward the region, lack of a national government and of course the presence of Al Shabab are all attributed to contributing to the worse famine in the country’s history. This Priority Africa Network document provides resources for understanding the famine.
Kenya: Food security concern as farmers switch from maize to coffee
The switch by many farmers in Kenya's Rift Valley province from staple cereals to more profitable coffee is likely to increase the country's dependence on grain imports and possibly affect food security, agricultural experts have warned. 'It is unsafe to use our land for crops with the hopes of being fed by other countries,' said James Nyoro, managing director for Africa of the Rockefeller Foundation. Kenya will have to import 2.3 million tonnes of cereal during the 2011-2012 marketing year to meet demand, a year-on-year increase of 37 per cent, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, which estimated domestic harvests of maize - a staple for 90 per cent of Kenyans - at 2.5 million tonnes, down 18 per cent because of poor weather.
Burundi: Stop menacing the media
Burundi government officials should halt their intensifying pressure on journalists, Human Rights Watch said. In the last few weeks, journalists have been summonsed by state prosecuting authorities for questioning with increasing frequency in response to radio broadcasts implicating state agents in alleged human rights abuses. Senior government officials, including three ministers, have stepped up public warnings against the media in recent days, threatening them with legal action.
Djibouti: Two radio reporters freed conditionally after being held for four days, tortured
'La Voix de Djibouti' correspondents Farah Abadid Hildid and Houssein Robleh Dabar were released provisionally recently after being held by the gendarmerie for four days, during which time they were both reportedly tortured.
DRC: Concern about media environment
With attacks on journalists and media continuing in the final run-up to the 28 November presidential and parliamentary elections and an opposition parliamentarian’s murder in Kinshasa adding to the tension, Reporters Without Borders appeals again to all parties to do their best to ensure that the elections are not marred by violence and that media freedom is respected. 'The initial results of the media monitoring by Journalist in Danger, our local partner organization, are quite clear,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'They show beyond any doubt that, as well as attacks on journalists and repeated closures of news outlets, many media are being turned into propaganda tools, thereby heightening the tension in a climate that has already worsened dramatically in recent weeks.'
DRC: Radio stations in Katanga closed
Journaliste en danger (JED) has expressed surprise over local authorities' decision to close, without warning, five community and faith-based radio stations in Kambove, located about 22 km from Likasi, the second largest city in Katanga province, southeastern DRC. Territorial administrator Brigitte Luta moved to close Radio Télé Jedidja (RTJ), Radio Fondation Thérèse Lukenge Kapuibwe, Radio Communautaire de Kapolowe, Radio Rocher du Salut and Radio Plein Evangile on 18 November on the orders of provincial media and communications chief Mulanya Ilunga after they were accused of failing to pay required broadcast licencing fees.
Ethiopia: Journalist flees country for fear of arrest after tip off
Dawit Kebede, managing editor of Awramba Times, one of Ethiopia's two remaining independent Amharic-language newspapers offering critical analysis of local politics, announced that he was forced to leave the country after he received a tip last week about alleged government plans to re-imprison him. Kebede also said that the paper was unlikely to continue publishing.
South Africa: Cosatu challenges secrecy bill
COSATU plans to challenge the draconian Protection of Information Bill in the Constitutional Court. The bill, dubbed the 'Secrecy Bill' by the media, was pushed through the National Assembly by an ANC majority on Tuesday last week despite widespread condemnation.
South Africa: Factbox, a look at South Africa's secrecy bill
South Africa's parliament passed legislation last week aimed at better protecting state secrets but the measure has been widely criticised for provisions that could help the government hide corruption. Reuters has a useful fact page that details the major provisions of the Protection of Information Bill.
South Africa: FXI condemns info bill vote
Freedom of Expression Institute Statement
'The Freedom of Expression Institute wish to register our disappointment in the ruling ANC for voting in favour of the bill in its current form. We are particularly disappointed since the ruling party promised more consultation on the bill when the bill was withdrawn from parliament a few weeks ago.'
South Africa: Why the information bill matters
This article explains why South Africa's controversial information bill, passed in the National Assembly last week, matters for a youth organisation working in townships to equip learners for tertiary education. 'The problem with the Information Bill (or at least one of the problems) is that it introduces a new barrier to creating the kind of community we long for in South Africa (and we’ve got more than enough barriers already). It makes it harder for us to be engaged active citizens even assuming that there may be some highly-specific pieces of information justifiably held by the state.'
South Africa: Exploring the impact of climate change on children
Climate change will exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities of children in South Africa, unless mitigation and adaptation strategies are child-sensitive and implemented in a timely manner, UNICEF said. ‘Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa’ was commissioned by UNICEF in partnership with the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and the Department of Environmental Affairs and highlights the likely impact of climate change on children’s health, education, nutrition, safety and access to adequate housing and sanitation in South Africa - both directly and indirectly.
Burundi: Troops kill 18 in clashes, says official
Burundian troops killed 18 gunmen in fierce clashes, a government official said on Tuesday 22 November, stoking fears that a new rebellion may erupt in the central African nation. The coffee-producing country has enjoyed relative peace since the Hutu rebel group, Forces for National Liberation, laid down its weapons and joined the government in 2009 after almost two decades of war. But attacks on civilians and soldiers have intensified since elections last year were widely boycotted by the opposition.
CAR: UN envoy sees momentum on releasing child soldiers
A Central African rebel group's agreement to release an estimated 1,500 child soldiers is a sign that momentum is gathering in the strife-torn country for all armed groups to soon end the recruitment and use of under-age fighters, a senior United Nations envoy said. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said up to six groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) could release the child soldiers within their ranks over the next year. Speaking after the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) signed an action plan to release its child soldiers, Coomaraswamy noted the deal followed a similar recent agreement involving the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (known as APRD).
Egypt: 71 dead in Cairo alone, medical sources
A medical source in the Zeinhom morgue near Cairo’s Tahrir Square has told Bikyamasr.com that 71 Egyptians have been killed since clashes erupted. This was as fierce fighting between protesters calling for an end to military rule and the police and the army continued last week.
Nigeria: Police link Boko Haram sect to politicians
Nigeria's secret police have said Boko Haram Islamic militants are receiving funding from certain politicians in the north. The intelligence agency said it had arrested an alleged spokesman for the group, who told them he was sponsored by a politician in Borno state. Boko Haram is blamed for a growing number of deadly attacks in Nigeria. These include the UN headquarters bombing in Abuja in August, which killed 24 people.
Nigeria: Town burns in Islamist sect attack-police
Churches, homes and the police headquarters in the small northeast Nigerian town of Geidam were set ablaze in a wave of night time gun and bomb attacks by a radical Islamist sect, the police said on Sunday. 'Four policemen were killed, 20 wounded, eight churches and 20 market stalls as well as Geidam council secretariat are completely destroyed,' a police spokesperson said.
Zimbabwe: China delivers AK's, handcuffs
The Zimbabwean Defence Force has taken delivery of 20,000 AK-47s, uniforms, 12-15 trucks and about 21,000 pairs of handcuffs, says this article from Black Business Quarterly. The arms were delivered from China via a secret circuitous route, avoiding countries such as Mozambique and South Africa where the trade unions have in the recent past prevented Chinese arms shipments from reaching Zimbabwe.
Global: Panel identifies crucial link between online safety and social activism
How many times have enthusiasm and activism sidelined questions about online safety? The opportunities for participation offered by the Internet can be easily used to identify, monitor, control and harass opponents because of their political or religious and philosophical stances or even their lifestyles. In the panel on 'Social movements and data security' held on 10 November at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Costa Rica, representatives of various forums, networks and organisations discussed the issue, taking into account that every day there are more controls on the Internet pushed by governments, companies, information services and undemocratic lobby groups that seek to limit freedom of expression and citizen participation in public affairs.
DRC: Explore the DRC in maps and graphs
Use these maps and graphics to explore the DRC as it prepares for just its second general elections in four decades.
UN Trust Fund 2011 Call for Proposals
The United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women is accepting applications for its 16th grant cycle (2011) from government authorities, civil society organizations and networks - including non-governmental, women’s and community-based organizations and coalitions, and operational research institutions - and UN Country Teams (in partnership with governments and civil society organizations).
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