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Pambazuka News 578: DRC & Senegal: The people's voice unheard

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. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Podcasts & Videos, 7. Zimbabwe update, 8. Women & gender, 9. Human rights, 10. Refugees & forced migration, 11. Social movements, 12. Africa labour news, 13. Emerging powers news, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. LGBTI, 19. Racism & xenophobia, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Social welfare, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 28. Publications


Congolese Vote, but who decides?

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja


cc R O
Given the importance of DRC as a land of considerable natural wealth, the major powers prefer leaders with no national constituency who are easy to manipulate like Joseph Kabila to those like Etienne Tshisekedi who are unapologetically nationalist.

Senegalese presidential elections: a missed opportunity

Bernard Fall


cc J H
The electoral campaign has been about interpretation of the constitution, the age of the incumbent, his son’s future, and so on. But the underlying problems of underdevelopment have not been addressed.

Investigations around Libya

NATO’S craven cover-up of its Libyan bombing

Vijay Prashad


cc A O
A new UN report strongly suggests that the rush to a NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ might have been made on exaggerated evidence, and that NATO’s own military intervention might have been less than ‘humanitarian’ in its effects.

Kony2012: militarization and disinformation blowback

Horace Campbell


cc J G LA
‘This Kony2012 video has reinforced my own conviction that demilitarization and peace in Africa is intricately connected to demilitarization and peace in the United States.’

White saviours, black victims: An old story

Sokari Ekine


cc K-I
What is really disturbing about Invisible Children is, if a group of Africans had made the Kony2012 film would it have got the publicity from around the world? Would they have been able to raise the funds to make the video in the first place?

Self-determination of the intersex child

Implications for homosexual adults living in a homophobic world

Akinyi M. Ocholla


cc Wikimedia
Intersex individuals must be afforded the right to self-determination, dignity, and privacy from childhood through adulthood.

Creating violence-free childhoods: what will it take?

Dipak Naker


cc E V
Violence against children is a complex problem that requires a holistic solution. In this article, Uganda-based Raising Voices explains the different elements that are needed to add up to sustainable change.

The London conference on Somalia: Rhetoric and reality

Muuse Yuusuf


cc F O
Will the rhetoric at the London meeting change the reality on the ground in Somalia? Maybe. But the motives of Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders, especially those from eastern Africa, are not above suspicion.

Sudden interest in Somalia points to suspect Western corporate interests

Rasna Warah


cc P C
Even if the London Conference on Somalia hosted by the UK government last month may not have been yet another business opportunity for Western governments and companies, the timing is certainly suspect.

Have politicians joined warlords and profiteers in the plunder of Somalia?

Rasna Warah


cc F O
Somalia’s transitional administration is mired in corruption. Like other players in the lawless nation, the government has contributed to the suffering of its own people.

Why climate-smart agriculture won’t work

Khadija Sharife


cc W E C
Much of the energy expended by official ‘world-savers’ – governments, policy wonks, multilateral institutions and the like – is devoted to devising news ways to cash in on the next ‘development’ era.

UN body ‘appalled’ by Israel’s racial segregation policies

Adri Nieuwhof and Mireille Fanon Mendès-France


cc J A I
Israel is criticised for violating the right to equality in a new report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The committee underscores its unease at allegations of ongoing discrimination against Ethiopian Jews.

The role of women in nation-building in South Sudan

Christopher Zambakari


cc UN Photo
The challenge of gender parity in South Sudan is less in the provisions of the constitution but more in implementation of the rights provided for at the state and local levels.

What do the new World Bank poverty statistics really tell us?

Robin Broad and John Cavanagh


cc G L
The statistics upon which most poverty elimination strategies are based are extremely misleading and often steer experts toward the wrong solutions.

Modern slavery of Ethiopian women

Billene Seyoum Woldeyes


cc Wikimedia
Bilene Seyoum raises critical points concerning the safety of Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle East, suggesting that governments in the region could be institutionalizing a form of modern day slavery.

Siemens makes illegal windmill deal in occupied Western Sahara

Peter Kenworthy


cc I B
According to international law, it is illegal to trade or dispose of resources in occupied Western Sahara without the consent of Western Sahara’s indigenous population who also have to benefit from any such dealings.

Conversations with my stream of consciousness (2)

Remembering Alex Ibru

Cameron Duodu


cc M G
Violence has been visited personally on some of the most illustrious sons of the country in recent years.


REDRESS to mark 20 years with literary event


REDRESS helps torture survivors to obtain justice and reparation.

Comment & analysis

Loopholes in Ghana’s budgetary process

Ron Singer


cc K C
Parliament is supposed to play a key oversight role in budgeting, but that is not the case in Ghana. This is one of the areas of institutional reform that need urgent attention.

Nigerian deniers of Biafra genocide

Osita Ebiem


cc Wikimedia
The deniers of the Nigerian genocide may deny it as much as they like, but their denial will never erase the fact that this heinous crime occurred.

Sex toys to save Zimbabwe’s homosexuality in prisons

Marujata Kwenda


cc C F
If there is any meaningful change it should be providing condoms, which the government has refused to do.

Advocacy & campaigns

Oakland Institute's Open Letter to the Government of Ethiopia


The Oakland Institute, which has been producing some critical reports on land grabs in Africa, reports how the Ministry of Agriculture in Ethiopia has suspended land allocations to take time for assessment.

Petition campaign on behalf of Chagos Islanders

Elena Landriscina


Human rights group wants Obama administration to remedy the harms that Chagosians have been suffering.

Sign on to protect the right to water


Efforts are being made to remove the human right to water and sanitation from the Rio+20 negotiating text.

Ugandan LGBT persons speak out

Kasha Jacqueline


Uganda Universal Periodic Review session 19th Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland. 16 March 2012.

World Water Forum paves way to privatize nature, undermine right to water in RIO+20

Statement by Maude Barlow, Chair, Council of Canadians, and Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch


The World Water Forum held in Marseille, France was an opportunity for multinational water companies to make money out of nature.

Letters & Opinions

Contaminated Japanese food for Africa

Kaori Izumi


I just got information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan has agreed with the World Food Programme to export canned fish, including that produced in disaster-affected areas to the following countries: Ghana, Congo, Senegal, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Mamdani's article on Kony video an eye opener on Rwanda

Antoine Lokongo


Professor Mamdani's article on the Kony video is an eye opener for the situation in Rwanda as well. He writes: ‘The solution is not to eliminate the LRA physically…At its core the LRA remains a Ugandan problem calling for a Ugandan political solution.’

By analogy, the solution in Rwanda is not to eliminate the Hutu physically…At its core the Hutu problem remains a Rwandan problem calling for a Rwandan political solution.

We Congolese have had enough to bear the brunt of the Ugandan and Rwandan internal problems which they export into our country.

Simone Gbagbo: it is time for progressive women to speak out

Uchenna Osigwe


Simone, wife of President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire, is a political prisoner. The only reason why she’s in prison today is because her husband was overthrown in a military coup by the forces of the man under whose order she’s currently languishing in jail. Simone didn’t commit any crime. Indeed she won her parliamentary seat handily in the 2010 elections, and unlike the presidential election, that election result wasn’t contested by opposing parties. As women around the world celebrate International Women’s Day, and given that the month of March is dedicated to attracting attention to women’s issues, one needs to ask why there’s silence from all quarters about the ignoble treatment Simone Gbagbo is being subjected to.

The guise of growth

Jack Lindstrom


I’m involved in the Occupy movement, so I absolutely agree that capitalism is the system perpetuating these problems. My question is, what, if anything, can American activists do that will be to Africa’s greatest benefit? Sorry if this question is vague, naïve, or frustrating - it seems your article is suggesting that what the western world needs to do is in fact to stop meddling with Africa - but one thing activists can do is to agitate to stop such meddling, both in the form of exploitation and in the form of creating dependence.

Podcasts & Videos

Getting Somalia Right: Part II


Somalia is no stranger to international interventions, having been colonised and invaded throughout its history. On 23 February, an international conference was held in London to plan a roadmap for Somalia’s future, with some arguing that this conference has stripped Somalia of its sovereignty. Following on from Part One Part Two of this SOAS Radio special looks at the conference and what implications it might have for the country’s future with studio guests Quman Jibril, a Somali independent research consultant who has a special interest in international refugee protection and advocacy; Mary Harper, BBC Africa Editor and author of the new book, 'Getting Somalia Wrong?' published by Zed Books; and Mohamed Haji Ingiriis, a Somali researcher currently pursuing a Masters degree at the London Metropolitan University.

Global: A history of an occupation


Al Jazeera has premiered the first part of a two-part documentary on the Occupy movement. The film was made for Fault Lines, the award-winning public affairs documentary program. Part one of the film can be watched through the link provided.

Global: The March TaxCast


The March edition of the TaxCast by the Tax Justice Network is available. The 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The March show covers Apple i-tax dodging, reclaiming Arab Spring country assets, the rich country club of the OECD and the ABCs of setting up letterbox companies.

Zimbabwe update

Zimbabwe: Activists’ term is suspended


A Zimbabwean magistrates’ court has given six activists accused of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe a two year suspended sentence and fined them $500 each. The six who include a university lecturer and former Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai were on Monday found guilty of a conspiracy to incite violence by a Harare magistrate.

Zimbabwe: Prosecution case against MFL leaders ‘shaky’


The prosecution case against three Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MFL) leaders who are facing treason charges is shaky, their lawyer has said. Defence lawyer Sabelo Sibanda said the prosecution team has failed to produce evidence to prove that MFL leaders Charles Thomas, John Gazi and Paul Siwela, distributed flyers calling for the separation of Matebeleland and other parts from the rest of Zimbabwe.

Women & gender

Global: Women in informal employment and growth


This page on the Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising website explores the two-way linkages between informality and growth: the impact of the informal economy on economic growth, and the impact of economic growth on the informal economy. How much and in what ways does the informal economy contribute to economic growth? Or does the informal economy account for low productivity and low growth? Does the size of the informal economy shrink during economic growth and expand during economic slumps or downturns? Is it, in other words, counter-cyclical or pro-cyclical?

Global: World Courts of Women on Poverty launched in the US


Four American cities are gearing up to host regional meetings of the World Court of Women on Poverty in the US Founded by Tunisian activist Corinne Kumar, the World Courts of Women (WCW) are public hearings featuring testimonies of survival and resistance from people on the margins. Since 1992, there have been 37 Courts in cities around the world, including the International Court of Women on Crimes Related to Population Policies in Cairo, Egypt in 1994; the World Court of Women against War, for Peace in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001; and the World Court of Women on U.S. War Crimes in Mumbai, India in 2004.

Morocco: Rape victim suicide spurs calls for reform


Hundreds of protestors rallied in Rabat on 17 March to press for a review of the legal exemption allowing a rapist to marry his victim, following the suicide of a Tangier teenage girl. Amina al-Filali, 16, drank rat poison last week in Larache, after being forced to marry her rapist. Under Moroccan law, rape is punishable by several years in prison if the victim is a minor. Marriage to the victim, however, shields the perpetrator from prosecution.

Uganda: Kony2012 Campaign blurring realities

Statement by women civil society groups


'While the idea of this campaign against the LRA leader Joseph Kony is welcome, the steam it has created overshadows the real concerns of the sufferers and survivors of this conflict in Uganda. Many former child soldiers and former abductees, women and girls are now struggling with so many challenges such as reproductive health problems, post traumatic stress disorders, food insecurity and livelihood support among others.'

Human rights

Global: UN experts urge human rights' standards in development goals


A group of independent UN experts has urged member states to include universally-agreed international human rights norms and standards, as well as accountability mechanisms, in the goals that will emerge from a UN sustainable development forum in June. 'Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,' said the 22 human rights experts in an open letter to governments, as the first round of informal negotiations ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) holding in New York, US.

Malawi: Human rights activist Kapito narrates his arrest ordeal


Human rights activist John Kapito says there was drama at a hotel in Lilongwe on Saturday afternoon when over 25 police officers swooped on him as he made his way out. Kapito said within minutes, his car was surrounded by the officers, scrambling for it as they opened every door and boot in search of 'harmful' materials. Contrary to police's earlier charge of illegal possession of forex, Kapito said a new charge of alleged possession of materials carrying seditious works emerged.

Malawi: Human Rights Watch condemns Malawi


An international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Malawi government's recent arrests and threats against critics reflect its broader crackdown on free speech and other basic rights. Deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch Leslie Lefkow said arresting government critics was the latest sign of increasing repression in Malawi. He asked President Bingu wa Mutharika to take urgent steps to end the harassment and arrests of people seen as opposing the government.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: Calais residents show solidarity with migrants


Solidarity with migrants in the city of Calais - a migrant bottleneck in Europe - is not limited to organisations, reports IPS Africa. 'Some local residents have also become involved on an individual basis with the transient foreign population that has passed through the city. Some have put up migrants in their own homes – despite the fact that such activities are punishable by five years imprisonment or a 30,000 euro fine under Article L622-1 of the French Foreigners Law.'

Kenya: 'I never regret being in Dadaab'


IRIN's freelance journalist Moulid Iftin Hujale, in this third installment of his account of life in the Dadaab refugee complex in eastern Kenya, describes how since November 2011 there have been a a series of abductions and road-side bombs, which the Kenyan police attribute to people linked to Somalia's insurgent Al-Shabab group. '...the past four months have been quite tough and very scary with unprecedented grenade explosions, killings and rigorous police operations; Dadaab has never been the same again.'

Libya: Navy struggles to stem migrant flow


Libyan authorities are struggling to cope with a post-revolution influx of migrants, many of whom are using the Mediterranean country as a stepping stone to Europe, according to this Al Jazeera video. Mustafa Joha, the commanding officer of Tripoli's naval base, says that the country's coastline is too vast to patrol effectively, especially since NATO forces destroyed most of its ships during the country's war.

Mozambique: Growing numbers of Portuguese seeking economic opportunities


The Financial Times reports on how Portuguese people are fleeing their homeland in search of economic opportunities in Mozambique. The paper estimates that there are 20,000 Portuguese people in Maputo with the number of people registering at the Portuguese consulate up by 10 per cent in recent years.

Social movements

South Africa: Ratanda residents rekindle Heidelberg protests


Hundreds of residents of Ratanda, Heidelberg gathered on the streets on Tuesday 20 March to continue their protest over power cuts and the cost of electricity, Gauteng police said. On Monday, violent service delivery protests in Ratanda were met with police water cannons, stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. In the Western Cape, meanwhile, residents in Grabouw protested over school infrastructure.

Africa labour news

Swaziland: Threat of public service strike


All public service unions in Swaziland are threatening strike action for a 4.5 per cent pay increase. This comes at a time when the Swazi Government is trying to reduce its public sector salary bill by 10 per cent to try to save the kingdom’s economy from meltdown.

Zambia: Strikers threatened with dismissal


Michael Sata has threatened to dismiss all public service workers and replace them with staff from his own political party if they take threatened strike action. The staff have threatened to go on strike over prolonged negotiation over salaries and other conditions of service. During his election campaign Sata announced a 100 per cent salary increase for health sector workers, who have since expressed their concern that the promise would not be fulfilled.

Emerging powers news

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...

Elections & governance

Egypt: April 6th Movement demands participation in drafting constitution


The April 6 Youth Movement has issued a demand to have at least one member involved in the process to draft a new constitution for Egypt. The movement issued a statement saying that they reject parliamentary proposals on drafting the new constitution. The movement said that 'the temporary majority of the parliament does not have the power to elect the members of the constituent assembly slated to draft a permanent constitution for Egypt and all of its communities'.

Egypt: Military looking to keep its grip at least on economy


Estimates suggest that military-connected enterprises account for 10 per cent to 40 per cent of the Egyptian economy, reports the LA Times. 'It is an opaque realm of foreign investments, inside deals and privilege that has grown quietly for decades, employing thousands of workers and operating parallel to the army's defense industries. The coming weeks will reveal how the military will maneuver to protect its authority and financial holdings as it prepares to hand power to a new president and civilian government in June.'

Guinea-Bissau: Kumba Yala boycotts presidential run-off


The runner-up in Sunday's presidential election in Guinea-Bissau has said he will not participate in a run-off vote. Former president Kumba Yala has claimed the first round of voting was unfair. Provisional results from Sunday's poll gave ex-prime minister Carlos Gomez 49 per cent of the vote out of nine candidates. Kumba Yala came in second with 23 per cent.

Kenya: Date set for probe into Kibaki ‘ICC claims’


A parliamentary team scrutinising a dossier claiming that President Kibaki is being investigated by the International Criminal Court will start hearings on Monday. The dossier claimed that Britain was working to have two ICC suspects, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto, jailed to pave the way for Prime Minister Raila Odinga to ascend to the presidency.

Malawi: Police step up security


The Malawi Government has stepped up security in the country’s major cities, with armed riot police officers seen patrolling all over. This has raised questions among people who are not used to such heavy security. There is now more security after sporadic political riots that started in Area 24 in Lilongwe where UDF MP Atupele Muluzi was stopped from holding a rally. The development also follows the tension that preceded the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) conference in Limbe whose objectives included mobilising key stakeholders and efforts towards a common agenda and collective redress to Malawi’s political and economic challenges.

Malawi: Protesters torch police station as discontent rises


Anti-government protesters torched a police station in Malawi's capital on Monday 19 March, raising tension in the destitute country that was last year rocked by the police killing of 20 people in similar protests. The latest outbreak of violence followed the weekend arrest of the chairman of the government's Human Rights Commission. The commission had sharply criticised the administration of President Bingu wa Mutharika for the July 2011 crackdown, accusing his government of using unjustifiable violence and arrests to intimidate its critics.

Morocco: Suppression of peaceful protest condemned


The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has condemned the continuation of the Moroccan security services suppression of peaceful demonstrations that began one week ago in the town of Beni Bouayach in the countryside of northern Morocco. The demonstrations continued for the whole week against the marginalization of the people there and for demands of greater social justice.

Senegal: Sall supporters celebrate after Senegal win


Thousands of people are celebrating in the streets of Dakar after preliminary results showed Senegalese opposition candidate Macky Sall has won over Abdoulaye Wade, the incumbent president who sought a third term in office. Sall supporters gathered in the streets of the capital on Monday, chanting, dancing and sounding car horns. Wade conceded election defeat and congratulated Sall, as preliminary results gave an overwhelming lead to his runoff rival.

South Africa: Cosatu to square off with ANC


Simmering tensions between the ANC and its ally Cosatu are expected to come into sharp focus at a high-level meeting. Said to be aimed at thrashing out differences over e-tolling and labour broking, the two issues over which Cosatu called a one-day strike and led well-attended protest marches earlier this month, the meeting is expected to encompass broader underlying issues that are fuelling discord in the alliance.

South Africa: Court orders NPA to hand over record of Zuma charges


The Supreme Court of Appeal has upheld an attempt by the Democratic Alliance for access to the records that led to the suspension of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2009. The DA wanted a review of the decision, by then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe, to drop charges against Zuma before he was elected president. The SCA ruled that Mpshe should hand over the record to the registrar of the Supreme Court of Appeal within 14 days.


South Africa: No probe into MTN corruption claims in Iran


South Africa will not probe allegations that mobile operator MTN paid bribes to win a license in Iran, in exchange for Pretoria backing Tehran's nuclear program, the foreign minister said Monday. MTN - which operates in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East - has said it would investigate the allegations, but denied any wrongdoing. MTN owns a 49 per cent stake in the Iranian telecom Irancell, which holds the operating license.


Africa: The impact of the European debt crisis on Africa’s economy


This UNECA background paper reviews the potential impact of the European debt crisis on Africa and offers policy advice on the actions that African leaders need to take to mitigate those negative effects. To that end, it overviews the characteristics of the euro area debt crisis, before discussing the risks it poses to Africa and the possible channels through which its effects may be transmitted.

Egypt: Debate rages over foreign aid


As dozens of employees of the nongovernmental organizations raided in December by Egyptian officials await trial, Egyptian citizens debate the charges against them, reflecting various views of the progression of democracy in the country. Meanwhile, US congressmen and the leaders of several organizations contribute their opinions during congressional hearings on the future of aid to Egypt.

Global: An international perspective on Occupy Wall Street


'For me the Occupy Wall Street movement expansion is, first, a clear sign of the fact that there are many more people than we can imagine wishing to change the world; and, second, that the tools and institutions we have to make it possible for people to participate in politics are absolutely insufficient and inadequate.' This is according to Chico Whitaker, a Brazilian activist and organizer who helped launch the World Social Forums in 2001, in an interview with US Social Forum news.

Global: South Africa's presence 'drags down Brics'


A year later and South Africa has still not convinced the world or the creator of Brics why it belongs in the exclusive emerging-giant grouping that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China. 'It's just wrong. South Africa doesn't belong in Brics,' said Jim O'Neill, global chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, who coined the term 'Bric' 10 years ago. In an interview with the Mail & Guardian in London this week, O'Neill was highly critical of South Africa's position in this political bloc. 'South Africa has too small an economy. There are not many similarities with the other four countries in terms of the numbers. In fact, South Africa's inclusion has somewhat weakened the group's power.'

Global: The staggering rise of the South?


This paper argues that the unprecedented acceleration of growth in the developing world in the new millennium in comparison with advanced economies is due not so much to improvements in underlying fundamentals as to exceptionally favourable global economic conditions, shaped mainly by unsustainable policies in advanced economies. For Latin American and African commodity exporters, gaining greater autonomy and achieving rapid and stable growth depend on their success in reducing reliance on capital flows and commodity earnings.

Global: Urgent international action needed to combat social inequalities and environmental risks


Social justice and environmental protection are equally urgent and intrinsically linked universal goals, with coordinated global action needed on both fronts at the UN’s ‘Rio+20’ Conference on Sustainable Development in June, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to an audience of development experts, civil society leaders and government officials at the first Global Human Development Forum in Instanbul.

Global: WTO Torn asunder?


Trade envoys of India, Brazil, and South Africa have warned industrialised countries not to hijack the Doha multilateral trade negotiations by adopting the controversial plurilateral approach to liberalise trade in services. A plurilateral agreement allows member countries to voluntarily agree to new rules. In contrast, in a multilateral agreement all members have to be in agreement. This, they say, could ultimately undermine 'the possibility of resuscitating the Doha Round'. The Doha Development Agenda was launched almost 11 years ago to correct the historical imbalances and asymmetries in the global trading system and was designed to enable poorer countries to integrate into the system.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Political instability hinders maternal health progress


Political instability, civil strife and humanitarian crises in Africa have over the past decades reversed countless maternal health development gains on the continent, health experts warn. 'African countries with good maternal health statistics are generally those that have long-term political stability. This shows that stability is a fundamental basis for development. If it doesn’t exist, other priorities overtake,' Lucien Kouakou, regional director of the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) in Africa, told IPS.

Global: Countries failing to report cholera outbreaks, says report


Cholera infections are ten times higher than the number of cases reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to new estimates of the global disease burden. Cholera is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the Vibrio cholera bacterium. The disease causes watery diarrhoea and severe dehydration that can be fatal. In a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation this month (1 March), researchers from the International Vaccine Institute, in South Korea found a more accurate estimate of the global cholera burden is nearly three million cases a year, and around 93,000 deaths - the majority in children under the age of five.

Mali: Unrest hinders fight against fistula


The turmoil in northern Mali is thwarting efforts to treat and prevent obstetric fistula, say health experts and local NGO workers. It is just one example of the fallout from the latest fighting between Tuareg rebels and the Malian army, triggered when rebels began attacking northern military posts in January. Since then, some 195,000 people are estimated to have been displaced by fighting, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Swaziland: Miners hardest hit by TB


Health-e news reports on Musa Ernest Nkoko, a 52-year old ex-miner with multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis. He lives in KaShoba in the Lubombo region of Swaziland with his wife and five children aged between 9 and 27 years. Co-infected with HIV, Nkoko says he has been on treatment for MDR-TB for the last four years. The disease has diminished Nkoko’s lung capacity and rendered him too weak to do any work, and he and his family relies on his wife’s income as a part time cleaner.


Africa: Lobby for new Commonwealth charter on LGBTI rights


Britain’s Kaleidoscope Trust has submitted its recommendations for changes to the Commonwealth Charter and called for an agreed timetable to end the criminalisation of LGBT people. The call came in response to a request by the Royal Commonwealth Society for proposals to amend the new draft Charter of the Commonwealth. Eighteen countries in Africa are currently part of the Commonwealth of Nations (with Zimbabwe having departed in 2003).

Liberia: Sirleaf backtracks on reported anti-gay remarks


Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been forced to backtrack on alleged comments published by the UK newspaper, The Guardian, which suggested she was opposed to gay rights. While holding a joint interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Monrovia, the president had been asked a question about an anti-gay Bill being debated by Liberian lawmakers. The Guardian reported Mrs Sirleaf as responding: 'We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve...We like ourselves just the way we are.'

Nigeria: Call for Nigeria to abandon new homophobic Bill


The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is examining the Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill. The draft law foresees three years of prison for those entering a marriage with someone of the same sex, or already in one. The Bill does not exclude tourists or expatriates in Nigeria. Those ‘witnessing, abetting and aiding the solemnization of same gender marriage’ face fines of up to 50,000 Nigerian naira (approximately EUR 230), and imprisonment for up to five years.

Racism & xenophobia

South Africa: Clashes over school conditions


Black and coloured Grabouw residents guarded their schools against attack from either side following violent protests, the Cape Times reported on Tuesday. Coloured Pineview residents and black Siteview residents clashed on Monday 19 March. Police had to form a human shield to prevent the groups from entering each other's territories.

South Africa: Learning to be racist in South Africa


The shocking video Afrikaner Blood by Elles van Gelder and Ilvy Njiokiktjien from the Netherlands has just won first prize in the World Press Photo multimedia category. This slideshow comprises photographs of young white South African teenagers who attend a holiday camp set up by a right-wing racist group.

South Africa: Zille's education refugees comment draws fire


As the debate over Helen Zille’s use of the word 'refugees' in relation to the education crisis in the Eastern Cape raged on the social network site Twitter late last week, an ANC provincial coordinator raised eyebrows by calling her a 'racist bitch'. Zille’s remarks on ­Twitter that Eastern Cape pupils were ­moving to schools in the ­Western Cape in order to access better educational resources, and calling them 'education refugees' sparked fierce debate on radio talk-shows and social network sites. Asked why he called Zille a 'racist bitch' on a public site, Mphila said: 'She is racist and is behaving like a bitch.'

Zambia: Students severely beaten in Russia


Three Zambian students were severely beaten in Saint Petersburg Russia on the night of 18 March, leaving one of the students in a coma. Police are studying records of CCTV cameras to establish the circumstances of the incident which many believe was a racist attack. Racist assaults are frequently committed by skinhead gangs, which have grown in number in recent years in Russia and specifically Saint-Petersburg.


Global: Illegal logging makes billions for gangs, report says


Illegal logging generates $10-15bn (£7.5-11bn) around the world, according to new analysis from the World Bank. Its report, 'Justice for Forests', says that most illegal logging operations are run by organised crime, and much of the profit goes to corrupt officials. Countries affected include Indonesia, Madagascar and several in West Africa.

Global: Large dams 'unsustainable'


Numerous non-governmental organisations used the World Water Forum (WWF) held in Marseille as an opportunity to remind the international community about the serious global impacts of large dams all over the world. Defined as dams higher than 15 metres or with a reservoir volume of at least three million cubic metres, large dams number no less than 48,000 worldwide and present numerous issues, not least of which is a considerably negative impact on the livelihoods of local populations.

Global: Rising number of farm animals poses environmental and public health risks


The global population of farm animals increased 23 per cent between 1980 and 2010, from 3.5 billion to 4.3 billion, according to research by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication. These figures continue a trend of rising farm animal populations, with harmful effects on the environment, public health, and global development. Both production and consumption of animal products are increasingly concentrated in developing countries. In contrast, due in part to a growing awareness of the health consequences of high meat consumption, the appetite for animal products is stagnating or declining in many industrial countries.

Nigeria: 11,000 Nigerian villagers sue Shell over oil spills


The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has been hit by a swarm of 11,000 villagers seeking compensation for oil spills which they said have polluted their waters and devastated farmlands. The villagers from Bodo community, a network of 35 villages in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta are set to square off against the oil company in a London Courtroom with Martyn Day of law firm Leigh Day & Co. saying the spills devastated a once-thriving fishing community.

Sierra Leone: Illegal fishing vessels escape fine


Three illegal fishing vessels - the Five Star, Marcia 777 and the Kum Myeong 2 - have fled Sierra Leone, escaping fines for doing illegal fishing and transhipment in the country's Inshore Exclusion Zone, IEZ. The disclosure was made by the Project Coordinator of Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Andy Hickman at a press briefing held at the conference room of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

South Africa: Venda communities say no to CoAL mining


Venda's cultural and ecological diversity are increasingly threatened by land grabbing, development projects, tourism and now mining. Coal of Africa (CoAL), an Australian mining company, has proposed the Makhado Coking Coal Project. If this goes ahead, the community faces severe ecological, social and economic damage to their ancestral homes. The biggest concern is water because this is an area where water is already scarce.

Land & land rights

Egypt: Citadel Capital part of land-grab in South Sudan


Saudi Arabia and China are buying up significant parcels of agricultural land in South Sudan. So is Egypt. Egypt’s Citadel Capital is buying land in South Sudan, with designs on agricultural production to help feed Egypt’s growing population.

Global: Report highlights land grab water concerns


A new report by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) points out that millions of hectares of farmland in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America have been leased to foreign countries, sovereign wealth funds, and private corporations over the past four years with little or no explicit legal agreement on how water can and will be used on the acquired properties. With 70 per cent of global water withdrawals used in agriculture, the rapid increase in cultivated farmland will require significant quantities of water to sustain production.

Global: UN human rights body criticises Canada over resource extraction


The Canadian government has not addressed the issue of persistent poverty among indigenous peoples, nor implemented the right to free, prior and informed consent, before undertaking projects that affect them or their lands. This was among the conclusions, reached last week, by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). CERD also expressed concern over the impact of Canadian corporations, particularly mining companies, on the lands of indigenous peoples in other countries.

Sierra Leone: Land deals beginning to stir discontent


Foreign land investment is on the rise in Sierra Leone and, as with many of its neighbours, the government wants more companies to come in to boost the economy and spur much-needed agricultural development in rural areas. Sierra Leone ranked 180 out of 187 countries on the UN human development index in 2011. But as more and more companies flock to the country to lease large tracts of land, murmurs of protest and unrest are cropping up among local populations who are unhappy with the way the deals are done; and civil society groups are growing increasingly concerned that foreign land deals are not producing the win-win scenarios they had hoped for.

Media & freedom of expression

Egypt: Freedom of association in jeopardy


After a fact-finding and advocacy mission on freedom of association and the situation of civil society organisations conducted in Egypt from 11-14 February 2012, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders - a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) - have published the findings of the mission, and noted that one year after the Revolution, the conditions for the enjoyment of freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in Egypt have significantly deteriorated. 'Our organisations are particularly concerned about the direct attacks by the government against Egyptian and international human rights NGOs.'

Gabon: CPJ urges authorities to drop legal proceedings against journos


The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Gabonese authorities to drop legal proceedings against six journalists in connection with articles raising questions about use of a presidential plane. According to a CPJ statement, two of the journalists have fled the country fearing arrest after being summoned by police for interrogation.

Kenya: Police assault three journalists, detain one


Kenyan authorities should hold responsible police officers who assaulted three reporters last week and drop a baseless legal case against one of them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. At least 10 police officers in plainclothes surrounded Suleiman Mbatiah, a reporter for the Daily Nation, after he took photographs of an undercover traffic operation in the western town of Nakuru on 13 March, according to news reports.

Liberia: Call for protection of female journalist


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to make it her priority to protect the life of Mae Azango, a female reporter of Front Page newspaper who has been threatened for having published last week a story on the Sande society which practices Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia. 'The threats made by the Sande society are unacceptable and a throw-back to dark ages of journalism which have no place in a modern democracy led by a female president for that matter,' said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. 'The Government of President Sirleaf should warn the Sande society of its direct responsibility for any attack on the journalist’s life.'

Mali: Soldiers shut down news media


Reporters Without Borders has condemned the occupation of the headquarters of the state radio and TV broadcaster ORTM by renegade soldiers since yesterday and the interruption of broadcasting by many other radio and TV stations as a result of an apparent military coup against President Amadou Toumani Touré. 'Whether this is a real coup or just a mutiny, we are appalled that soldiers have occupied the state broadcaster and taken control of its broadcasts,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'As it is often the case in such circumstances, control of news and information is primordial and the media are among the mutineers’ first targets.'

Mali: With coup, quiet #Mali generates noise on Twitter


While the future of Mali's hitherto free press is unclear, the Twitter narrative during last week;s coup demonstrated the ways in which traditional media are increasingly less relevant in any case. 'Marking papers, with one ear tuned to RFI. But def got more quality reporting from Twitter today about #Mali than from any other medium,' tweeted Philippe M. Frowd, a MacMaster University doctoral student living in Canada.

Somalia: Lucky escape for Somali journalist


A journalist working with the independent Shabelle broadcaster in Mogadishu, Mr Mohydin Hassan Mohamed alias Husni, was Sunday attacked by two men armed with pistols. The attackers struck as Mr Mohamed was walking along Madina Avenue, near his home in Wadajir District in south Mogadishu. One bullet brazed Mohamed's chest as he fled.

Social welfare

Madagascar: Addressing toilet taboos to improve sanitation


In Madagascar's east coast city of Tamatave, a local taboo against having a toilet in your house or on your land has complicated the task of trying to improve the region's dire sanitation situation. Nationwide, more than 10,000 people, of whom two thirds are children under five, die prematurely from diarrhoea annually, according to the World Health Organization, which attributes 88 per cent of these cases to poor quality water and sanitation.

Conflict & emergencies

Eritrea: Leader says US behind Ethiopia raids


Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki accused the United States of plotting cross-border raids by Ethiopian troops, saying the two allies were out to divert attention from a festering border spat in the volatile Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa, Washington's main ally in the region, said it attacked military bases used by rebels inside Eritrea earlier this month.

Mali: Relative calm returns to Mali capital


Life in the Malian capital Bamako is slowly returning to normal after mutinous soldiers seized power, toppling the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Toumani Toure. Fuel stations and market stalls reopened on Sunday after a decrease in the gunfire and looting that followed Wednesday's (21 March) overnight coup. The military junta that ousted Toure has ordered all soldiers back to barracks, but rebels in the country's north exploiting the coup have been pushing towards three northern towns, the Reuters news agency reported.

Somalia: EU approves attacks on land bases


The European Union has agreed to expand its mission against Somali pirates by allowing military forces to attack land targets as well as those at sea. In a two-year extension of its mission, EU defence ministers agreed warships could target boats and fuel dumps. Up to 10 EU naval ships are currently on patrol off the Horn of Africa.

Somalia: Rush to complete Somalia mission before Kenyan poll


Citing insiders, this article in The East African says there is a renewed sense of urgency within Amisom to complete the military operations by end of July, as the election fever in Kenya starts to gather pace. Kenya’s elections are closely watched in the region both for their potential to disrupt landlocked neighbours, and now for regional security, given the country’s current centrepiece role in Somalia.

Sudan: Deal between the two Sudans hit by fresh demands


Khartoum could dishonour an agreement if Juba did not withdraw alleged support for rebel groups operating in Sudan, officials said. The demand came a day after Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP), argued that agreeing on security was a deal breaker for the agreement. The 'Four Freedoms' agreement signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, guarantees citizens of the two countries the right to own property, live, work and move between the two nations.

Uganda: African Union to launch force for Kony hunt


The African Union has said it will deploy a 5,000-strong military force to hunt down the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The force - with troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic - will be led by Uganda where the LRA, headed by Joseph Kony, abducted and massacred civilians in a decades-long armed rebellion. The AU announced the launch of the force after Kony's global profile shot up recently thanks to a celebrity-backed internet campaign to bring him to justice.

Internet & technology

Africa: Scramble is on for social media users


With the popularity of social media platforms continuing to grow, users should brace themselves for more and more players in the market. Google last week raised its stakes in the battle for South African social media users with the launch of its Google+ platform in Zulu and Afrikaans. In the same week, Yookos, an 'Africa-specific' social media network, announced its entry into the space, claiming 6-million users across the continent.

Africa: The rise (and rise) of mobile phones


This USAID infographic looks at the rise of mobile phones in Africa, predicting that there will be one billion phones on the continent by 2016.

Libya: Libya sues Zambia over network


Libya's investment authority says it is suing Zambia's government for seizing its controlling share in a mobile phone network. A Libyan telecommunications enterprise that owns 75 per cent of the Zamtel network says the seizure last year by the government of newly elected President Michael Sata was 'illegal and unconstitutional'. The investment authority said in a statement that the network filed demands at the Zambia High Court for $480-million worth of compensation in asset value along with unspecified additional payouts for operating losses should the business not be handed back.

West Africa: Will new UN initiative to recycle E-Wastes succeed?


Four months ago, 178 nation states voted to prohibit all exports of hazardous wastes, including electronic wastes. Yet, so-called 'e-wastes' - particularly from discarded mobile phones - continue being dumped across the developing world, especially in West Africa. In an attempt to stem this 'rising tide', two UN agencies last week signed a new agreement to facilitate collection and recycling of such wastes.

Fundraising & useful resources

Egypt: A biographical history of the Egyptian revolution


Students at the American University in Cairo have created a biographical history of the Egyptian revolution. Many of the personalities profiled are not widely known in the Western press, but have been important in the evolution of events in Egypt.

The Africa/Asia/Latin America scholarly collaborative program

Research grants call for applications 2012

2012-03-26 for Proposals Research Grants.pdf

The Collaborative Tri-continental Program was launched in 2005 by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA) with the purpose of carrying out high quality social science research and enhancing the production of knowledge suitable for fostering southern perspectives on critical issues, and feeding these into global debates. The Program includes an annual South-South summer institute, research conferences, and grants for advanced research. The research grants are intended to promote collaboration among researchers from the South and to stimulate analytical empirical studies on topics of relevance for their regions and for the Global South.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Is Fanon Finished?


It is the pleasure of the Masters programs at the American University of Paris to host an international and bilingual conference on contemporary critical and experimental engagement with Frantz Fanon’s work, co-organized by Lisa Damon, Sousan Hammad and François Huguet.
The conference will take place at AUP and at the Lavoir Moderne Parisien and is open to everyone.


Global: Race and class re-appraises Malcolm X at Oxford Union


A new issue of Race & Class features an article on 'Malcolm X at the Oxford Union' in 1964. Saladin M. Ambar, who examines Malcolm's speech and the context in which it was given, reveals a key change in Malcolm's thinking on nationalism in response to the call for decolonisation in Africa and the extension of human rights to other marginalised groups throughout the world.

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