Pambazuka News 568: Ruptures and changes in 2012
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
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Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Books & arts, 5. Podcasts & Videos, 6. Zimbabwe update, 7. African Union Monitor, 8. Women & gender, 9. Human rights, 10. Refugees & forced migration, 11. Social movements, 12. Emerging powers news, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. LGBTI, 18. Racism & xenophobia, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. Social welfare, 23. News from the diaspora, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 27. Publications
African world view on revolutionary ruptures and pace of change in 2012
‘Egypt's popular revolution will change the world’
President Wade vs. the people: Senegal is in danger
Angola: CNN accepts ads from corrupt regime
Rafael Marques de Morais
Angola: Public official goes shopping with state money
Rafael Marques de Morais
DRC: What next after corruption of truth and justice?
Debate: Critiquing the critique on China in Zambia
Human Rights Watch and labour abuses in Chinese state-owned copper mines
Debate: The wrong answers to the wrong question
A response to HRW
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong
Beyond ICC and Kenya’s divisive politics
Time to focus on post-election violence victims
The new landlessness and the lessons of Biafra
Abena Ampofoa Asare
What Westerners don't understand about modern economy
We blacks are failing our own people
In defence of the new AU headquarters
New AU headquarters: A tribute to China-Africa relations
A response to Chika Ezeanya
Antoine Roger Lokongo
LGBT: David Kato Award goes to Jamaican activist
Ethiopia: Concerns about Gibe 3 Dam
We are building a new way of organising
South Africa: Charges against protesters withdrawn
Kenya: Bunge la Mwananchi movement and its challenges
Libya and Syria: Lizzie Phelan on her reporting
Somaliland and the London conference on Somalia
Ahmed M.I. Egal
Will neoliberalism make a comeback in Africa via Tunisia?
Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife
Latest edition of Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid newsletter available
The latest edition of the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid newsletter produced by the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Network is now available on their blog. The latest issue includes the following highlights:
- United States practice advisory concerning asylum applications for long term residency or family reunification put on hold under the Tier III provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act
- Somalis in Kenya suffer the consequences of Kenyan war in Somalia
- Life in exile: challenges facing refugees and organisations working to support them in Cape Town
- Arbitrariness regarding access to the asylum procedure in Bulgaria
- Longing to repatriate or resettle? Bhutanese refugees in Nepal
- How language testing used to authenticate asylum claims fails to recognise the reality and complexity of language.
Announcement: Transitioning Africa
Ethiopia: Death penalty for blogger, prison for journalists
Recent stripping of women in Malawi condemned
Statement by the Solidarity of African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition
Statement on the government’s plan to relocate refugees back to Somalia
The Refugee Consortium of Kenya
Statement to the National Council of Provinces Hearing on the Secrecy Bill
Unemployed People's Movement
'The Help' disregards agency of black women
Liepollo Lebohang Pheko
Africa: Africa Today interviews Third World Network's Yao Graham
Africa Today on KPFA 94.1 FM carries an interview with Yao Graham, executive director of the Third World Network in Accra, Ghana. Graham has written extensively on development and the role of extractive industries in Africa.
Africa: Racism against Africans in Israel shown in new report
This video report for the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) on the mistreatment of asylum seekers in Israel was submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on 30 January 2012. It presents evidence of racial discrimination towards African asylum seekers and refugees who have walked across Israel's open border with Egypt.
Global: Bio-fuels, Speculation, Land Grabs = Food Crisis
This edition of The Real News Network interviews the authors of a new report that calls for sweeping agricultural reform. The report states that the fundamental causes of the global food crisis remain. 'We sit poised on the verge of another food price spike that could push millions into poverty and hunger,' says one of the authors. Three of the main issues raised are the use of biofuels, which have driven up demand, financial speculation in the food system and land grabs.
Global: Taxcast, a new monthly podcast
The Tax Justice Network has launched a new monthly podcast. In each 15 minute show, they discuss the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The January edition deals with the Vodafone vs India landmark tax case, compares Bill Gates and Mitt Romney’s attitudes to taxation and talks about Egypt's offshore wealth.
South Africa: Limpopo, falling through the cracks
In the context of the recent takeover of South Africa's Limpopo province by the country's national treasury, apparently because the province was bankrupt, the Mail and Guardian newspaper visited the province and have published this multimedia package showing how the lives of ordinary people are effected by a lack of service delivery.
Zimbabwe: Ncube denies conniving with Mbeki to split MDC
Professor Welshman Ncube has once again denied claims contained in a book by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that he and former South African President Thabo Mbeki connived to split the MDC into two factions in 2005. In the book ‘At the Deep End’ Tsvangirai claims that Mbeki was a central player in hatching a plot that would have seen an MDC faction led by Ncube forming an alliance with the ZANU PF faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai issues strong letter to Mugabe
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has written a strongly-worded letter to to President Robert Mugabe outlining his problems with the coalition government. The leaked letter addresses areas such as land, violent acts, diplomatic protocol, arrest of ministers, appointment of government staff, hate speech, media laws and elections.
Zimbabwe: Typhoid stalks Harare
Over the past few weeks some 900 residents of the Zimbabwean capital Harare have been diagnosed with typhoid, and about 60 have been admitted to hospital, say health authorities. There have been no confirmed fatalities from the disease, although senior health officials, who declined to be identified, told IRIN they were investigating the cause of some deaths at hospitals.
Africa: AU extends mandate of top executive official
The African Union has extended the mandate of its top official Jean Ping after an election, in which he was challenged by South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, deadlocked. Intense campaigns had preceded the vote for commission chief which dominated the AU summit in the Ethiopia capital, where leaders gathered to discuss broadening trade within Africa and tackling conflict hot spots.
Africa: AU summit concludes with package of agreements
The 18th African Union summit ended 31 January in the Ethiopian capital with adoption of a series of agreements concerning Africa's economic, political and security issues. Africa will speed up its infrastructure development and put related policies and laws in place to boost the integration process, according to the 'Declaration on the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa.' The declaration said the summit recognises 'the vital role of infrastructure and related services in the political and social-economic development, and physical integration of the continent', especially given the population growth and economic demand.
Africa: French interference cost Ping his job
It was French interference in the election of the African Union Commission chairperson which cost the incumbent, former Gabonese foreign minister Jean Ping, his job. Asked about foreign interference, Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi declined to mention France by name, but told reporters that it was indeed outside pressure that angered enough African leaders to deprive Ping of the necessary two thirds majority. Ping faced a challenge from South African Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, backed by SADC (Southern African Development Community).
Cameroon: Rape victims discouraged to report
This Global Press Institute article says that few rape cases result in conviction in Cameroon. 'Doctors, police officers and lawyers say frequent false reports make it difficult to confirm when rapes occur. But this culture of skepticism leads to underreporting as victims say they doubt anyone will believe them.'
DRC: Massacre survivors to pursue justice at the Supreme Court of Canada
The Canadian Association Against Impunity (CAAI), expressed its profound disappointment with last week’s decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal overturning the decision of the Quebec Superior Court in the case against Anvil Mining Limited. While acknowledging the difficulties that the victims have encountered in their attempt to obtain justice, the appeal Court ruled that they lack the necessary legislation to allow the case to proceed in Quebec. Anvil Mining, a Canadian corporation, is accused of providing logistical support to the Congolese army who raped, murdered and brutalised the people of Kilwa in the DRC. According to the United Nations, an estimated 100 civilians died as a direct result of the military action, including some who were executed and thrown in mass graves. The CAAI, an NGO coalition representing relatives of victims of the 2004 Kilwa massacre, filed a class action in 2010 against Anvil Mining for its alleged role in the massacre. Anvil Mining denies any wrongdoing.
Ethiopia: Future of last remaining human rights monitoring NGO in the balance
On 3 February 2012, the Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia will hear a petition by the Human Rights Council (HRCO), Ethiopia’s oldest human rights organisation, to admit an appeal against the freezing of its bank accounts. Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and Human Rights Watch have expressed deep concern at the obstacles and restrictions to which HRCO and other human rights organizations in Ethiopia are now subjected, as illustrated by this case. The decision of the Supreme Court will be of great significance for the future of HRCO's vital work and for the wider promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia.
Libya: Diplomat dies after torture: rights group
A Libyan diplomat who served as ambassador to France for Muammar Gaddafi died from torture within a day of being detained by a militia from Zintan, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday. On 26 January, humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had stopped its work in detention centers in the city of Misrata because its medical staff were being asked to patch up detainees mid-way through torture sessions so they could go back for more abuse.
Libya: Human rights mission raises concerns
In January 2012 the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) went to Libya on an information gathering mission and to establish contact with the new, rapidly growing civil society in the country. The mission went to Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi and held lengthy discussions with the representatives of the interim government, members of the National Transition Council (NTC), lawyers, journalists and representatives of human rights organisations. The mission noted the NTC was being increasingly reproached for its political incompetence and its lack of transparency, both in managing current affairs and in taking political decisions. FIDH is also worried about the growing disconnect between Tripoli and the Eastern part of the country.
Nigeria: Abacha aide to hang
A close aide to former Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha has been sentenced to hang for killing the wife of politician Moshood Abiola in 1996. Major Hamza al-Mustapha has been in detention since 1999 over the killing. Abiola is widely believed to have won the 1993 election, which was annulled by Nigeria's junta. His wife Kudirat was shot dead in 1996.
Nigeria: South Africa postpones MEND trial
The man accused of masterminding two deadly bombings at Nigeria's 50th independence celebrations will face trial in October after a South African court delayed his case by nine months. Nigerian national Henry Okah is facing trial in South Africa, where he has permanent residence, on charges that he orchestrated the twin car bombings - which killed 12 people in Abuja on 1 October 2010 - from his home in Johannesburg. Okah has denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Senegal: Opposition activist Alioune Tine freed
Prominent Senegalese opposition activist Alioune Tine has been released after spending two days in detention. Tine is a member of the opposition June 23 Movement (M23), formed after countrywide protests last year against incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade's plans to run for a third term. Tine told the AFP agency he had been freed without charge.
Western Sahara: Greenpeace names worst firms
The organisation Greenpeace has chosen the firm Mercadona as one of the worst firms of 2011 due to the fact that this company has taken advantage of the resources of Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco, and in acquiring 30 million tins of sardines, Mercadona has been supporting the occupation and thereby the ensuing oppressive rule by Morocco.
Africa: Just Justice? Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability
The International Refugee Rights (IRRI)’s experience over the last seven years is that in the enthusiasm to embrace the promise of international justice there has often been inadequate space for honest reflection on the practice and reality of international justice, particularly from the perspective of local advocates and local communities in Africa. This lack of debate has, not least, stunted assessment of how the objectives of international justice might be more effectively pursued. In response, IRRI is launching a discussion paper series entitled 'Just Justice? Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa'. The series will reflect local perspectives on international justice as it is being experienced in Africa.
DRC: UNHCR alarmed at reports of atrocities against displaced Congolese
The UN refugee agency said Friday 3 February it was alarmed by recent reports that Congolese civilians have been tortured and killed by armed groups entering camps for the internally displaced in the volatile province of North Kivu. The agency called for more security in and around the camps.
Mauritania: Touareg refugees pour into Mauritania
Thousands of Touareg refugees fleeing clashes in northern Mali entered Mauritania in recent days, escaping the fighting between the Malian army and Touareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaouad (MNLA). 'Since January 28th, a lot of Touareg refugees have moved in here. Most of them have arrived on vehicles,' said Sheikh Ould Ahmed, a teacher in the border town of Fassala.
Somaliland: Sexual violence on rise in Hargeisa IDP camps
Cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), as well as domestic violence, are increasing in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland, with social workers attributing the trend to hard economic times made worse by recent drought in the region.
South Africa: Police slammed for refusing to help beaten Zim man
South Africa’s police force is facing criticism for refusing to help a Zimbabwean man, who was beaten by security guards at a refugee reception office in that country last week. The man, Lucky Dube, was trying to sort out his asylum documents at the Maitland Refugee Reception Office in the Western Cape, after making an application late last year.
South Africa: Refugee children miss out on school
While the quality of education available in refugee camps varies, the difficulties of accessing education in urban settings are generally greater. In addition to legal and policy barriers and the often prohibitive costs of sending a child to a local school, a UNHCR report has noted that: 'Refugee children often have less support than in a camp-based school in adjusting to a new curriculum, learning a new language, accessing psychosocial support, and addressing discrimination, harassment, and bullying from teachers and peers. They may also encounter a lack of familiarity by local school authorities for the processes of admitting refugee children and recognizing prior learning.' A year-long, yet-to-be published study by the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg into the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants to education in South Africa found that schools often demanded documents to enrol a child which are not legally required.
South Africa: Occupy Cape Town distances itself from COSATU
The Occupy Cape Town movement has distanced itself from a Cosatu event held at Rondebosch Common. 'Our principles clearly state: We do not recognise leaders or celebrity speakers. We are not party political. We are not destructive - we want to protect our shared natural and cultural heritage. The way this event is being managed contravenes these principles.'
Latest edition: emerging powers news roundup
Angola: Appointment of election head was impartial
Angola's ruling MPLA party has defended the re-appointment of the electoral commission chief and said opposition criticism was aimed at causing instability before an election this year. UNITA lawmakers and those of three smaller opposition parties walked out of parliament in protest as the election commission members were sworn in earlier on Wednesday, the state news agency Angop reported.
DRC: Opposition makes election gains
The Democratic Republic of Congo's ruling party and its allies won a reduced parliamentary majority in November elections, according to results released two months after the disputed polls. The electoral commission announced the figures saying President Joseph Kabila's People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and its allies captured an absolute majority of about 260 seats in the 500-seat National Assembly. The opposition won about 110 seats, the results from the 28 November vote showed.
Egypt: FJP dominating parliament sub-committees
Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which controls a near majority of seats in the Egyptian Parliament, won more than half of the committees of the Lower House on 31 January. The Speaker of the Parliament Mohammed Saad el–Katatni, also a member of the FJP, announced the results of the internal elections of the parliament’s sub-committees, where 9 out of 19 committees are to be headed by senior members of the FJP bloc.
Ethiopia: Ethiopia and the APRM: a path to nowhere?
Ethiopia joined the APRM in 2003. However, in this AfriMAP publication authors Tigist Fisseha and Medhane Tadesse, whilst acknowledging the government of Ethiopia’s leadership within the APRM at continental level, argue that the mere fact that the APRM process itself, is little known by the Ethiopian citizenry, and that those that are aware of the process, are reluctant to engage with it, points to the total control of the process by executive power. They also argue that the only way the Ethiopia’s APRM process can be meaningful is if its participatory processes are opened to all citizens, especially civil society, who ultimately have a say as how they wish to be governed.
Kenya: Court gags debate on Uhuru, Ruto bid for top seat
The Constitutional Court has issued an order barring public discussion on the candidature of Deputy Prime Minister and William Ruto in the next presidential elections until a case before it is heard and determined. Justice Isaac Lenaola issued the orders on Thursday 2 February in response to a petition by three voters and two civil societies seeking to block Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto from vying for the Presidency in the next elections.
Mauritania: Call for an end to military rule
The incumbent chairman of the opposition umbrella in Mauritania, Mamadou Alassane Ba, has called for an end to military rule in the country. Ba, who leads the Mauritanian Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD), an umbrella of 12 political parties, called “for the withdrawal of the military system in power in Mauritania for 30 years to end the misery and suffering of the people.
Senegal: Police fire tear gas to break up anti-Wade rally
Senegalese riot police fired tear gas to break up a tense, thousands-strong rally 31 January in Dakar demanding that President Abdoulaye Wade drop plans to seek a third term in office. Opposition groups united under the June 23 Movement (M23), had called for mass resistance after a decision last Friday by the country's top judges allowing 85-year-old Wade to seek a third mandate in the February 26 polls. Thousands had gathered by late afternoon in a square in the working class suburb of Colobane, where tension rose and angry youths hurled rocks at scores of riot police keeping watch from afar.
South Africa: ANC denies Malema appeal
South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has upheld the membership suspension of one of its prominent youth leaders convicted of causing rifts within the bloc. A panel rejected an appeal on Saturday by Julius Malema, who was found guilty by the disciplinary committee in November and was seeking to overturn the five-year suspension, but it said he could seek a lighter sentence. The suspension effectively curtails the career of Malema, one of the country's most renowned politicians whose calls for a major transformation of Africa's largest economy unnerved investors and drew serious criticism from some ANC leaders.
Africa: Major continental infrastructure programme endorsed
African Heads of State have endorsed the launch of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), a multi-billion dollar initiative that will run through 2040. In a statement at their 18th summit held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the Heads of State approved the implementation of the recommendations in the study on PIDA presented to the summit. The study was a joint initiative of the African Union, the African Development Bank and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordination Agency. Endorsement by the AU summit will now be followed by more detailed planning on the actual implementation of PIDA.
Angola: Angola wants restructuring of Portugese bank
Angola's state-controlled oil company Sonangol - the largest single shareholder in Portugal's Millennium bcp - wants the bank to gain global scale in a restructuring that involves a management shakeup, Expresso weekly said. The lender - Portugal's largest by assets - is hampered at home by the country's debt crisis and deep austerity imposed by a 78-billion-euro bailout. It needs to find fresh capital in the next few months to comply with new European rules, with cash from rapidly-growing Angola seen as one possible solution.
Global: How male global elites work hard to fix the economy
Meet the Davos Man in this www.alternet.org article and hear about the same old song being played at the recent World Economic Forum. With global retrenchments and a Eurozone in crisis, was system change a subject for debate. '...the system, as we know by now, is one designed so very carefully for the benefit of the 1 per cent. So things like, for example, prosecuting financial fraud, redesigning incentives for corporate predation, and, well, reining in a capitalist system that is sucking the world's real economy dry, are just not on the table.'
Namibia: Illicit flows cost Namibia N$6-billion
Namibia is estimated to have lost US$750 million (over N$5.8 billion) between 2000 and 2009 in illicit dealings such as trade mis-pricing, tax evasions, corruption, bribery and kickbacks. The syndicate - reports research and advocacy group Global Financial Integrity (GFI) - involves foreign companies that are doing business in Namibia, most of which are headquartered in the West. GFI reports that these companies are bedfellows of corrupt local officials, with whom they struck ill-fated cordial relations meant to ease the flow of money from Namibia to foreign destinations.
Tanzania: Donors scale back budget support
Donors and development partners have reduced their General Budget Support (GBS) to the government as they announced a commitment of 800bn/- for the 2012/2013 financial year. The support has slightly been scaled down compared to the 1.1tr/- pledged for the 2009/2010 fiscal year, 822bn/- for the 2010/2011 financial year and 840bn/- committed to budget support for the current financial year.
Zambia: Libya's stake in Zamtel nationalised
Libya will do all it can to protect its 75 per cent stake in Zamtel, the fixed-line telecoms firm in Zambia, whose government announced plans last week to seize Libya's stake in the firm, Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour bin Khayyal said Monday. 'The Zambian government has taken a unilateral action by nationalizing this company,' Khayyal said, adding he had spoken to his Zambian counterpart about the issue at the African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital. The previous Zambian government had sold the 75 percent stake to LAP Green Networks for $257 million in 2010. Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour bin Khayyal said: 'Definitely this money is Libyan money, and owned by the Libyan people. We will exercise all our efforts to protect this money.'
Africa: Men who have sex with men may now be the highest-risk group for HIV, study
Men who have sex with men may now be at considerably higher risk of acquiring HIV than other at-risk groups such as female sex workers or young people of either sex, if findings by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) of HIV incidence at two centres in Kenya can be generalised to other populations. The study, which compared the Kenyan populations with a largely heterosexual group from South Africa, also found lower-than-expected HIV incidence amongst female sex workers and their clients. The researchers also found that recruiting MSM into the study was easier than expected, but note that there was a particularly high dropout rate in MSM.
DRC: Alarm bells over poor funding for HIV treatment
The lives of thousands of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk as the country faces declining donor funding and a severe shortage of HIV treatment, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF recently launched a year-long advocacy campaign to raise awareness of the DRC's HIV crisis. 'The problem is quite old in the DRC; the country has always been minimized by donors who have not seen it as a priority, mainly because HIV prevalence is relatively low at between 3 and 4 percent,' Thierry Dethier, advocacy manager for MSF Belgium in the DRC, told IRIN/PlusNews.
Global: Group comments on Global Fund crisis
The UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights has released an independent statement in response to the crisis facing the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. It states: 'The November 2011 announcement of the cancellation of the 11th round of funding of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria because of the Fund’s financial difficulties presents the international community with both a health and a human rights crisis. Since its first round of funding in 2002, the Global Fund has played an indispensable role in advancing the health and human rights goals of the global HIV response. The Global Fund’s financial difficulties are part of a broader global HIV funding crisis.'
Global: Malaria mortality 'underestimated'
A new attempt to quantify malaria deaths over the past 30 years suggests the death toll, especially among adults, has been greatly underestimated. The figures also show the fragility of the gains made in fighting the disease. Collecting data on malaria deaths is notoriously tricky; the countries where the disease is most prevalent have the weakest statistics. And even where causes of death were recorded, the researchers found many deaths were simply attributed to 'fever' – probably malaria, but possibly not. In addition, a malaria infection is often a contributory cause of death along with other health problems.
Somalia: Mortality rates among world's highest in Somaliland
The self-declared Republic of Somaliland is grappling with high child and maternal mortality rates, malnutrition and inadequate medical personnel, health officials told IRIN. 'Somaliland has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world, estimated to be between 10,443 and 14,004 per 100,000 live births,' said Ettie Higgins, head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) field office in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland. 'The infant mortality rate is 73/1,000 while the under-five mortality [rate] is about 117/1,000. Fully immunized children represent a mere five per cent. Environmental sanitation is highly challenged,' she said.
South Africa: 'Faulty' ANC celebration condoms recalled
South Africa's leading HIV group has warned that large numbers of 'faulty' condoms are in circulation in the Bloemfontein area, despite a recall. The problem with the condoms was discovered after people complained to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Health authorities have recalled more than one million condoms handed out ahead of the recent African National Congress centenary celebrations.
Uganda: Ugandans battle neglected tropical disease
Health services in northern Uganda are still scarce in the wake of the region's 20-year civil war, leaving many battling diseases that could be cured with proper medical treatment. Elephantiasis is a widespread disease caused by a parasite that causes limbs to swell up, leaving sufferers in pain and often ostracised from their communities. According to the World Health Organisation [WHO], neglected tropical diseases, such as elephantiasis, affect more than one billion people, primarily poor populations living in tropical and subtropical climates.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe's party says typhoid outbreak 'biological warfare'
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has attributed the typhoid outbreak that has affected 1,500 people in the capital Harare to biological warfare and Western sanctions. The claim was made by a Zanu-PF spokesperson in Harare Mr Claudious Mutero as Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr Henry Madzorera warned the outbreak would spread to other towns because of collapsing water and sewer infrastructure.
Swaziland: Students clash with police
Police in Swaziland fired teargas on Monday 30 January at students protesting their university's failure to open for the semester, injuring several people, a student leader said. Police arrested at least four demonstrators after students of the University of Swaziland vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers from a teachers college who refused to join their protest. The university announced last week it would not be able to open as scheduled, the second time in two semesters it has postponed its opening.
Africa: Pan-African alliance formed
Three African transgender and intersex rights advocacy organizations have formed an alliance to enhance the trans and intersex movement on the continent. The organizations include South African based Gender DynamiX (GDX), Uganda’s Support Initiative for People with atypical Sexual Development (SIPD) and Transgender and Intersex Africa (TIA).
Africa: UN chief urges respect for gay rights
While speaking to delegates at the African Union’s summit, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged stronger protection of homosexual rights. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend urged African leaders to respect gay rights. Ban told the on-going African Union summit in Addis Ababa that discrimination based on sexual orientation had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long.
Ghana: Mills rules out legalising homosexuality
The President of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, has stated that as a responsible leader he will ensure that gay marriages are never legalised in the country and on the African continent as a whole. President Mills’ comments come after the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressing the Heads of States at the African Union Summit at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia called on African leaders to respect gay rights in their respective countries.
South Africa: Lesbian killers jailed
Four men were jailed for 18 years on Wednesday for stabbing and stoning 19-year-old lesbian Zoliswa Nkonyana to death in 2006. Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi and Mbulelo Damba were sentenced by the Khayelitsha Regional Court to 18 years, four of which were suspended for five years. A crowd outside the court cheered, sang, raised their fists and danced when news came that the men had been sentenced. The National Prosecuting Authority had asked for the men to be sentenced to 15 years each.
South Africa: Student anti-racism poster causes a stir
The Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) recently released a controversial poster as part of their anti-racism campaign. The 'In OUR future, you wouldn't look twice' poster shows a naked mixed-race couple embracing. The poster has caused a huge stir on Facebook, Twitter and blogs and even generated viral spoof posters. Global Voices Online has summed up the online reactions and posted some of the spoofs.
South Africa: Tension at ET trial
The trial of murdered rightwing leader Eugene Terre'Blanche resumed in the Ventersdorp Magistrate's Court on 30 January. Just before lunch there was a standoff between AWB supporters attending the trial and black residents over the singing of Bobbejaan klim die berg by the AWB to which the residents responded with Awuleth' Umshini wami. Chris Mahlangu and a minor are accused of beating and hacking 69-year-old Terre'Blanche to death with a panga and metal pipe in his farmhouse on April 3 2010. Both have pleaded not guilty to murder, housebreaking and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Mahlangu claims he acted in self defence. The teenager has denied involvement in the crime.
South Sudan: Economic migrants battle xenophobia
There are about one million Ugandans living in South Sudan, according to the Kampala City Traders’ Association (KCTA). But life is not easy for the Ugandan traders who supply South Sudan with many essential goods. On a side road at the market, a Southern Sudanese policeman wearing orange fatigues strikes a passing Ugandan with his rubber whip a few times, seemingly without any provocation. The Ugandan winces and then continues on his way. Ugandan migrants say such incidents - and much worse - are not uncommon. They say they have been beaten, arrested without cause and faced a plethora of other forms of harassment by Southern Sudanese security forces.
East Africa: Law on trans-boundary ecosystems
Aiming to enhance the quality of the environment and ensure sustainable utilisation of shared natural resources in the five-nation East African Community (EAC), the East African Legislative Assembly has moved a step closer to enacting a regional law on the management of trans-boundary ecosystems. Currently holding its session in Kampala, Uganda, the Assembly has passed the East African Community Trans-boundary Ecosystems Bill 2010 after its third reading.
Global: How big agriculture is trying to kill you
Energy-intensive industrial farming practices that rely on toxic chemicals and genetically engineered crops are not just undermining public health, they’re destroying the planet.
Africa: Warning of unrest, new study shows millions risk losing lands in Africa
New studies released in London 1 February suggest that the frenzied sell-off of forests and other prime lands to buyers hungry for the developing world's natural resources risk sparking widespread civil unrest - unless national leaders and investors recognize the customary rights of millions of poor people who have lived on and worked these lands for centuries. 'Controversial land acquisitions were a key factor triggering the civil wars in Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and there is every reason to be concerned that conditions are ripe for new conflicts to occur in many other places,' said Jeffrey Hatcher, director of global programs for the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), which sponsored an expert panel today at the Royal Society on the trends shaping rural lands and rights worldwide.
Ethiopia: 'Spoof-o-mercial' on investing in Ethiopia
Bargain prices on Ethiopia's prime farmland! Who's down for some land grabbing?! Anybody? This spoof commercial follows a Human Rights Watch report stating that the Ethiopian government under its 'villagization' program is forcibly relocating approximately 70,000 indigenous people from the western Gambella region to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities.
Morocco: 'We'll do everything to stop the agri-agreement with Morocco'
Mozambique: Understanding land investment
Mozambique granted concessions to investors for more than 2.5 million hectares (ha) of land between 2004 and the end of 2009, says the Oakland Institute's country report on Mozambique, which forms part of a multi-country study on understanding land investment deals in Africa. 'Mozambique’s history of Portuguese colonialism, three wars, and then the imposition by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund of a harsh neo-liberal economic model led the government in the 1990s to accept the idea that the only way to promote development and end poverty was through encouraging foreign investment. Mozambique was identified by the World Bank as one of five sparsely populated African countries with large tracts of land available for rainfed cultivation. After 2000 rising food and fuel prices and new climate change-related attention on forests triggered the interest of investors in Mozambique, particularly for trees (for paper, timber and carbon credits) and agrofuels (notably sugar and jatropha).'
Djibouti: Radio journalist threatened and tortured for 24 hours
Reporters Without Borders has roundly condemned radio journalist Farah Abadid Hildid’s abduction by the police and the threats and torture to which he was subjected during the 24 hours he was held. Hildid works for La Voix de Djibouti, a radio station that broadcasts on the shortwave from Europe and is now also available on the Internet.
Egypt: Egyptians continue sit-in to protest pro-junta media outlet
Egyptians have continued a sit-in outside the country's state TV building to protest the media's pro-junta programs, calling for the purging of the state media from anti-revolutionary officials, Press TV reports. The protesters believe that even after the popular revolution which led to the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak back in February last year, the state media outlet is still the voice of the country's ruling junta and part and parcel of its propaganda machine.
Ghana: Radio static for Ghana’s community stations
Members of the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN) and the Coalition for Transparency of the Airwaves (COTA) have demanded that government answer to the limited frequency allocation being given to community radio stations. Across the country, there are 11 community radio stations on air with 14 more waiting to receive their frequency.
Global: Twitter policy that restricts tweets sparks outrage
Twitter announced last week that it would begin restricting tweets in specific countries if they violated local laws, setting off claims of censorship by IFEX members Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR). Previously, Twitter had to remove a tweet from its entire network if it received a takedown request from a government. But the company said in a blog post published on 26 January that it now has the ability to selectively block a tweet from appearing to users in one country.
Malawi: Plunge in press freedom rating
Malawi has dropped 67 places on the 2011/2012 press freedom index as a result of the 'totalitarian tendencies' of President Bingu wa Mutharika, French based media watchdog Reporters Without Boarders (RWB) has said. Malawi is now at position 146 alongside Indonesia out of 225 assessed countries.
South Africa: Cosatu attacks 'capitalist' press
Cosatu has mirrored the ANC's offensive on the print media faithfully, finding that the three major newspaper groups 'reflect the outlook and prejudices of the capitalist class' and backing calls for tougher regulation of the press. In a six-page submission to the Press Freedom Commission (PFC), the federation praises the ANC for having 'opened up an important public debate' on its 2007 Polokwane conference resolution on the media, and particularly for its investigation of a statutory media appeals tribunal.
South Africa: Press freedom hearings to resume
Several political parties, including the DA and ANC, are expected to make representations to the Press Freedom Commission (PFC), when it resumes hearings. Monday 30 January marked the start of the latest and final round of hearings on how best to regulate the print media. Possible models include independent regulation, co-regulation, self-regulation, and statutory regulation.
Zimbabwe: Artists continue work despite extrajudicial threats
Zimbabwean artists operate in one of the most politically repressive environments in the world. But despite the monumental challenges, art continues to thrive here as artists say they are determined to shape the future of the country by expressing themselves, says this report from the Global Press Institute.
Global: One billion people still lack electricity, says report
More than a billion people in the world still lack access to electricity, while another one billion have unreliable access stalling efforts for improving health, livelihoods and conserve the environment. Findings from a new research published by the Worldwatch Institute (WI) urge governments and development organisations to invest in electrification to achieve critical health, environmental, and livelihood outcomes, a statement released by the Institute said.
Malawi: Consumers have a right to fuel and forex black market
The black market for foreign exchange and fuel is booming in the midst of an acute scarcity in Malawi. The shortage is so severe that even the Consumer Association of Malawi, an influential consumer rights body, has come out in support of the black market. Malawi continues to reel under severe economic problems after the country’s major donors cut aid to the country last year. Up to 40 percent of Malawi’s national budget has been dependent on donors and donors funded 80 percent of the country’s development budget.
South Africa: Design isn’t just about shiny objects
Cape Town has been awarded the right to host the World Design Capital 2014 (WDC2014), but the City of Cape Town’s recent announcement that it will lead the management and coordination of WDC2014 threatens this vision, writes Gavin Silber of the Social Justice Coalition. 'The City is one of the main providers of Cape Town's basic services including sanitation, water, electricity, roads, safety and (increasingly) housing. It also approves most design plans. As a service provider, whose leadership will always have re-election as a foremost concern, it should not be leading this process; it is a plain conflict of interest. The city has too much vested in promoting its own way of doing things to the exclusion of critics.'
Uganda: Power hikes to last
Power tariffs will remain high despite the anticipated commissioning of Bujagali Hydro Electricity Dam in July, State Minister for Energy Simon D’Ujanga said. The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) last month increased consumer tariffs by 36 per cent and commercial dues by 69.7 per cent.
Global: Discussions on the 'The Warmth of Other Suns'
This February, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), in partnership with the Applied Research Center’s Drop the I-Word campaign against the pejorative 'illegals', will be hosting an online nationwide book discussion about the critically acclaimed book 'The Warmth Of Other Suns', by author and Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson. The book chronicles the Great Migration, in which an estimated six million African-Americans migrated to cities in the north and west to escape oppressive conditions of the south’s Jim Crow caste system between the 1910s and 1970s.
Africa: Latest AU peace, security report available
With the 18th ordinary summit of the Assembly of the African Union just concluding, the Peace and Security Council Report No 31 covers the rising terrorist attacks that Boko Haram has continued to perpetrate in Nigeria in recent months, the rising tension between Sudan and South Sudan, and has an analysis on Côte d’Ivoire.
Algeria: Algeria freezes Mali military support
Algeria withdrew military advisors from northern Mali last week in an effort to force a political solution to the Touareg revolt. The Algerian troops were partaking in joint counter-terror efforts, including training and equipment maintenance, and were flown home on an Algerian air force plane last weekend, El Khabar reported. Algeria's decision to freeze military support to Mali came after the country halted counter-terror operations in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu and redirected troops towards areas now in rebellion.
Egypt: Anger in Egypt over deadly football riot
Egypt has declared three days of mourning for at least 74 people who died at a football stadium amid violent clashes between rival supporters in the northern city of Port Said. Earlier, Essam el-Erian, a politician from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, said the military and police were complicit in the violence, accusing them of trying to show that emergency regulations giving security forces wide-ranging powers must be maintained.
Egypt: Clashes resume around interior ministry despite calls for truce
A number of truce initiatives succeeded to temporarily stop the violence near the Ministry of Interior (MOI) as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday. A tense calm earlier in the day followed fierce clashes on Saturday night despite other calls for calm. Hundreds of women organized a march in downtown Cairo, taking off from Qasr El-Aini Street in the vicinity of the Cabinet and the People's Assembly condemning the violence. (http://bit.ly/zM7Vde)
Kenya: Clashes highlight dangers of devolution
Politically motivated violence in the northern Kenyan town of Moyale, which has left dozens dead and tens of thousands displaced in recent weeks, shows little sign of abating and there are fears that the clashes could continue until elections are held for new local government positions. But by many accounts, an unintended consequence of Kenya’s new devolutionary constitution has raised the stakes considerably. The prospect of real political and budgetary power - concentrated since independence in distant Nairobi - rather than water, pasture and cattle-raid vendettas, now drives the violence.
Kenya: Kenya claims hit on rebel convoy
Kenya's military has struck al Shabaab targets in one of the most devastating attacks against the al Qaeda-linked insurgents since it launched an operation in Somalia to crush the rebels last October, a Kenyan army officer said on Saturday. Military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir said the force estimated that more than 100 al Shabaab fighters were killed in the attack. Al Shabaab dismissed the military statements as propaganda.
Libya: Rival groups clash in Tripoli
A gun battle between rival groups has raged near office buildings and five-star hotels in central Tripoli, in the latest sign of unrest in Libya following the overthrow and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. Witnesses said gunfire could be heard on Wednesday 1 February coming from near the beach house of Gaddafi's son, Saadi, on the Mediterranean Sea at Tripoli. Thick smoke spewed out from near the house, and ambulance sirens could be has heard as rival groups, using heavy machine guns, clashed in the mostly business district of Tripoli.
Mozambique: Storms death toll rises to 40
About 40 people have died and more than 100,000 are affected by twin storms that struck Mozambique 18-26 January, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Tropical Cyclone Funso struck northern Mozambique, 'affecting about 64,663 people and causing floods and damage of houses, schools and health centres. In southern Mozambique, high river flows from upstream countries… combined with heavy rainfall due to tropical storm Dando, affected about 51,670 people,' it said on 27 January.
Nigeria: Mend threatens SA firms
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation says it will investigate threats against South African companies with investments in Nigeria by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend). The movement has threatened to attack the holdings of companies including MTN, Africa’s biggest cellphone network operator, and SacOil, an oil and gas exploration company, saying that President Jacob Zuma is interfering 'in the legitimate fight for justice' in the Niger River delta region.
Nigeria: Soldier, policemen killed in fresh Borno attacks
A wave of fresh attacks by suspected gunmen of the Boko Haram sect has claimed the lives of a soldier, two policemen and two civilians. Two other policemen and a soldier have also been injured. The sect attacked the Gambouru/Ngala Police Station, Joint Task Force (JTF) checkpoint and the Nigeria Air Force Barracks, Maiduguri on Monday 30 January.
Senegal: Rights groups condemn violence
Human-rights groups in Senegal, including the local branch of the UK-based Amnesty International, have condemned police violence during an opposition rally in which one person was killed. Officers used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest in the capital, Dakar, on Tuesday night, attended by an estimated 10,000 people in what until now had been one of Africa's most stable countries.
Somalia: Government forces seize strategic town
Somali government forces backed by Kenyan troops have reportedly captured a strategic town in southern Somalia after al-Shabab fighters vacated the town without any resistance, Press TV reported. 'Several pro-government forces, including Kenyan soldiers and Ahlu-Sunna fighters are now based in Howsingow town,' said Mohamed Khalif, a Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) military official.
South Sudan: Khartoum accused over deadly raid
South Sudan has accused the government of neighbouring Sudan of arming gunmen alleged to have killed dozens of people in a cattle raid, as the UN warned that tensions between the two sides risked regional peace. 'A militia group from Unity state penetrated into Warrap state... and attacked people in a cattle camp, killing over 40,' Alison Manani Magaya, South Sudan's interior minister, said on Monday following the latest violence in the world's newest nation, which ceded from Sudan last year.
Kenya: Google Kenya boss quits after data scandal
Google Kenya country manager Olga Arara-Kimani has left the firm days after the Internet giant said it had taken action against employees implicated in a recent data poaching scandal. Arara-Kimani, who had been at the helm of the firm’s Kenyan operations when the scandal broke, said someone had to take responsibility. Two weeks ago, Kenyan online business directory firm Mocality accused Google of fraudulently using its data to sell competing product to clients.
Zambia: Lap Green Networks sues Zambian government
Libya's Lap Green Networks has dragged the Zambian government to court over its decision to take over telecoms and Internet service provider Zamtel. The Libyan government says the takeover is illegal, as the company was genuinely acquired and rightly belongs to the Libyan people. A report by a Zambian commission of inquiry, which was constituted by that country's president Michael Sata last year, concluded that the sale of Zamtel to Lap Green Networks by the previous government was 'fraudulent and irregular'.
Kenya: Africa’s Golden Jubilee: Assessing 50 Years of Scholarship and Development in Africa
26-30 June, Nairobi, Kenya
http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/568/Call for Papers - International Conference June 2012.doc
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa is organizing for an International conference 26-30 June at their main campus in Nairobi under the theme 'Africa’s Golden Jubilee: Assessing 50 Years of Scholarship and Development in Africa'. Please click on the link provided to read more information.
Africa: Understanding the impact of genetically modified crops in Africa
This handbook from the African Centre for Biosafety will enable readers to:
1. Know the field and articulate your position;
2. Familiarise yourself with the regulatory issues;
3. Identify your allies;
4. Interact with the process;
5. Keep the pressure on.
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