Pambazuka News 251: Angola: From politics of disorder to politics of democratisation?
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Featured this week
FEATURED: Steve Kibble assesses the gap between ruler and ruled in Angola
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS: When it comes to the 2007 WSF in Nairobi, the hour has come to leave the beaten track, says Mouhamadou Tidiane Kasse
LETTERS: About the lessons learned from the Rwanda genocide and in support of Kwezi
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem tackles the public split between Nigerian vice-president Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and president Olushegun Obasanjo
BLOGGING AFRICA: Blog columnist Sokari Ekine wraps up the blogosphere
BOOKS AND ARTS:
- Arrest the Music! A review of a new Fela Kuti publication
- Shailja Patel reviews ‘The Banyan Tree Paradox’, a publication about culture and human rights
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: AU shows unity ahead of WTO talks
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Fears of fresh attacks in Chad
HUMAN RIGHTS: Secret execution takes place in Botswana
WOMEN AND GENDER: Advancing women and girls
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: UN alarmed at ‘asylum fatigue’
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Legislating away the Ugandan NGO sector
DEVELOPMENT: US farm subsidies continue to hurt Africa
CORRUPTION: Corruption may delay African debt relief
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Civil society position paper on HIV/AIDS in Africa
EDUCATION: School for hearing-impaired kids opens in Somalia
ENVIRONMENT: The slow death of Lake Chad
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Twenty-five killed in Nigerian land dispute
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Did Kibaki know about March newspaper raids?
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Initiative to woo African students
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Open source relationship management tool for NGOs released
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailing Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops; Jobs
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Angola: From politics of disorder to politics of democratisation?
On Wednesday, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos declared that his country would go to the polls before the end of 2008. Elections, not held since 1992, have been constantly delayed in the country, leading human rights activists to accuse the government of clinging to power. Steve Kibble analyses the complex nature of the Angolan state, concluding that: “Despite rhetoric on increased transparency, accountability and democratisation little has yet been accomplished to overcome the gap between ruler and ruled.”
Angola became independent from the Portuguese in 1975 after a costly and long running liberation war with three antagonistic independence movements based on different ethno-linguistic, ideological constituencies. In its almost fourth year of peace there is no immediate reason why war should resume. This follows 27 years of nearly continuous civil war between Uniao Nacional para a Independencia total de Angola (UNITA) rebels under their dictatorial leader Jonas Savimbi, and the governing Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA). The former were US and apartheid South Africa-backed, with a rhetoric of representing the poor ‘real’ rural Africans of the interior. The governing party was based on the coastal elite which has large urban and mestizo elements, with a commitment to nationalism, socialism, and anti-imperialism in a conflict overlaid by the Cold War.
In 1991 the Stalinist state with an inefficient command economy changed to a supposed multiparty democratic state and market economy. Few freedoms were realised although free and fair elections were won by the government in 1992 – the ‘excuse’ for UNITA to renew the war. The state remained heavily centralised with the president able to control extra-budgetary revenues for his own accumulation and clientilist purposes. It has massive oil production, revenues and potential. Much of the infrastructure, agriculture and rudimentary health services were destroyed by war with millions of landmines being laid - with knock-on effects on agriculture, transport as well as people’s lives.
War also meant excess mortality of one million deaths - roughly a tenth of Angola’s population, displacement and urbanisation with about half of all Angolans, perhaps seven million people, living in cities and towns. The agrarian system collapsed as did the health and education services – only 37 percent of primary-aged children were enrolled in school whilst most of the health budget goes to hospital-based curative services, including elite spending in South Africa and Portugal.
Peace broke out in April 2002 when Savimbi was killed, leaving the MPLA-controlled government undisputed victor, but espousing reconciliation (Although reconciliation here largely means (six) blanket amnesties, no truth commissions and inviting selected opposition elements into the elite) - for which civil society can claim some credit. The country in theory faces a triple transition from war to peace, from devastation to reconstruction, and from a state/elite patronage system to a transparent market economy. The first two are better advanced including a greater commitment to infrastructural (re)construction. Many in civil society express concerns over delays in and government commitment to reform. Inflation has been brought down although no major structural reform has occurred. In particular there is unlikely to be a challenge to the key nature of the bazaar economy (Cadongo) in trade and services controlled upstream by commercial tycoons and army officers able to accumulate resources by using special powers, granted them by senior politicians, to import goods (Angola is ranked 133 out of 145 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index. Between 1997 and 2001, $8.45 billion of public money was unaccounted for (an average of 23% of GDP)- IMF.).
Transition or Steady State?
There is an assumption that Angola is in transition and that its current dysfunctionality will change. Conversely we can see the ‘politics of disorder’ as a functional ‘steady state’ for the Angolan elite. It holds a number of cards, despite dependence on conditionalities such as high oil prices and ability to attract concessional oil-backed loans such as from Standard Bank and $2billion from the Chinese Eximbank in 2005 (As part of the loan agreement, the Chinese are repairing infrastructure but in an opaque non-competitive deal with only 30% of the work going to local (elite-linked) firms.).
Africa's second largest producer is one of its fastest growing economies with some of its poorest people (Revista Energia’, a publication that monitors the country's energy sector, puts yearly government oil revenues at between US $4 billion and $5 billion). In 2005 oil production was 1.3 million barrels a day set to increase to two million by 2008. Much of this estimated $6.88 billion revenue goes to a small number of wealthy Angolans with little reaching citizens (Nearly all of Angola's production is offshore and for every million invested in the industry, only $100,000 is spent onshore.). The government budgeted for 16% growth although the IMF paper projected annual growth at 18% a year over 2005-2007 .
The country had a UNDP Human Development Index of 0.445 – making it 160 of 177. There was neither formal agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2005 or the much-heralded donors’ conference. Donors appeared reluctant to commit to a poor country with a rich elite in relation to a conference or humanitarian appeals.
Angola is also the 4th or 5th largest diamond producer - like oil, an enclave sector with little regulation or accountability, where forced labour, ill-treatment and disappearances were common. Production was expected to raise around $900 million despite continued smuggling (Despite expulsions of 127,000 foreign nationals involved in the illegal diamond trade between April 2004 and February 2005 – accompanied by allegations of brutality).
Like many oil-producing countries. Angola sees the paradox between exploitation of oil, gas and minerals and high rates of poverty indicators of child malnutrition, low health care spending, low school enrolment rates and poor adult literacy (and war). Over one million Angolan people remained dependent on food aid, and one child died every three minutes of preventable causes – 480 per day.
The effect of oil wealth (‘Dutch disease’) is to cause economic contraction and inflation through high local prices, expensive exchange rates and depressed levels of manufacturing in other sectors plus lack of national accountability, especially with increased world demand, tightening supply and in 2005 continued high prices. The underlying problem is the ‘resource curse’ of oil-based economic enclaves with greater external than internal linkages, meaning a lack of reciprocity between domestic rulers and ruled in all spheres – ‘a state without citizens’ or certainly state-citizen reciprocity . The industry employs only 10,000, although accounting for 90% of exports and 80% of tax revenues. Necessary economic diversification is complicated because it is uncertain the elite wants diversification given its control over import and export and reluctance to allow an unfettered free market.
There have been changes. Transparency has improved in revenue if not expenditure through publication of an oil diagnostic undertaken by outside consultants KPMG and moves towards declaration of signature bonus payments. Although allegations of corruption persist, with high-ranking government officials implicated in private business deals related to their public office, there were successful prosecutions of senior officials in 2003-2004. In July 2004 Angola signed up to the African Union’s Peer Review Mechanism – although it is far from meeting its conditions.
Angola then faces the task of moving from a state of non-war to a ‘Civil / Social Peace’. But despite GDP growth, a current account surplus, and the lowest inflation rate ever , transition would have to be from a fragmented national economy with a history of financial embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, a lack of international confidence and donor coordination, poor administrative capacity, a large child population at risk from disease, and largely weak opposition and civil society. If a genuine transition it would mean ending corruption, tackling poverty, allowing the development of a genuinely independent private sector, creating an open and transparent tendering process, transforming the political system into a pluralist democracy. Civil society also calls for action on disarming the armed civilian Angolans (an estimated one third of the population but not a government priority), clearing (the unknown numbers of) landmines, and addressing the exclusion of the poor and marginalised, especially women. A widely owned electoral process would legitimise the institutions of government, debatedly without it since 1996, and lead to a constitution guaranteeing citizens' rights.
But there are a number of reasons why the government can ignore these problems whilst maintaining its own stability and security. Renewal of war is highly unlikely whereas continued high oil prices and fields for development and oil-backed loans look set to continue. The latter are not as cheap as multilateral funding, but are more government controllable. Continued Middle East instability combined with US (disputed) hegemony over the Gulf of Guinea/ the ‘American Lake’ means that Washington is looking to increased African oil, expecting it to provide 25% of its supplies. The increasing market share for Angolan oil going to the USA and other states means national and international security considerations precede transparency or human rights questions.
Angola is a strong security state under few internal or regional threats. Cooption, division and occasional repression work well to negate any possible internal threats. The Angolan elite remain largely immune to what international pressure there is for good governance - directed more towards questions of transparency, and a secure climate for foreign investment (FDI) rather than democracy and poverty alleviation. The West wants to engage with a booming economy, keen to compete with China’s lion’s share of contracts for infrastructural (re)construction.
The continuing geo-petroleo-strategic interest of the USA in the Gulf of Guinea and Angola in particular as alternative sources of supply to the Middle East was shown in continued good relations. The country gained a growing share of the US market (although oil exports to China overtook those to the USA) and the latter continues as Angola’s chief trading partner, political patron and major aid donor and gives it on rather inconsistent grounds preferential African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) treatment. Relations improved with Bern after the resolution of ‘Falconegate ’ whereby the Swiss released $17m for humanitarian purposes of frozen Angolan funds .
This lack of international pressure is against the background of declining world oil production now over the ‘Bell curve’. Regionally, excluding Zimbabwe and (parts of) the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the region has been stabilised - in part by previous Angolan interventions to destroy UNITA bases. Angola is able to use the rhetoric of sovereignty and anti-imperialism which resonates well in the southern African region, despite the more partial AU view of sovereignty as opposed to the absolutist OAU version.
Luanda alleges negotiations are taking place on ending the Cabindan separatist conflict - distinct from though entangled with the civil war. Cabinda enclave from where oil wealth derives has separatist factions fighting for independence. Cabindan human rights organisation Mpalabanda Cabinda Civic Association (MACC) says although it received a document from the government in February 2006 on ‘greater autonomy’ for the enclave, it has heard little since of any negotiations. If Cabinda can be stabilised, Angola’s rulers can open up human rights a little especially in the coastal region/ Luanda without endangering control.
Additionally, rather than seeing forthcoming elections whenever they are as an opportunity, the population being only too aware of what happened in 1992, seems as much fearful or apathetic.
The governing MPLA can pay off and play off other parties . Whilst there are factions, the president runs a parallel state and seems in control as with his reversal of not standing as its presidential candidate. Through government reshuffles he negates existing and potential opponents such as the chief of external intelligence agency General Fernando Miala (who paid the price for becoming too popular).
UNITA formally reconciled its three factions after 2002, but leader Isaias Samakuva is under threat for operating a patronage system and expelling possible leadership challengers. Other parties seem more concerned with ‘getting their snouts in the trough’ rather than representing distinct interests and policies.
Political disorder and its uses
Angola is an example of the use of ‘disorder as a political instrument’ where non-transparency, non-accountable authority, and a weak legal framework provide dynamics for elite accumulation. Historically there has been a ‘Bermuda triangle’ of resource flows between Presidency, Sonangol and the national bank, bypassing formal organs such as the Ministry of Finance (although the latter is gaining greater control). As well as vast corruption in the past detailed by many reports including from the IMF, Global Witness and Human Rights Watch etc, practices continue as shown in the reports from Brazil alleging illegal financial dealings linking the Angola Minister of Finance, and the Governor of the Central Bank .
Sogge notes that the domestic Angolan political economy “cannot be separated from the external constituencies, chiefly the global oil and banking industries, and strongly favourable diplomatic and military currents driven by Western (especially US) strategic interests.”  In this sense Angola’s problems of domestic governance “are at the same time problems of global governance” in which the constrained forms of global citizenship “practised by institutions offshore set limits to citizenship for ordinary Angolans onshore”.
Elections – paths to democracy or ensuring the right result?
Elections have been promised and not held since the end of the war in 2002. The parliamentary and presidential elections announced unconvincingly in 2005 for September 2006 and 2007 respectively are now postponed until there are infrastructural improvements – for which the government would gain electoral advantage and increased control over the process.
Civil society - small, autonomous but with some resistance
A third of Angola’s population live in atomised musseques (shantytowns), with little spontaneous collective action to solve common problems. Despite little alternative leadership and vision, there have recently been protests over forced removals in some neighbourhoods in Luanda, leading to the arrest of SOS-Habitat coordinator Luis Araujo and others. Change due to citizen pressure has been limited by the absence of public systems and institutions – part of the general disorder that has served elites well for many years. There has been civil society questioning the continuation of José Eduardo dos Santos as President, transparency and corruption in government, the land law and the new constitution, the DDR process, police and military impunity, freedom of expression and political action, and Cabinda.
International activism has raised issues and set agendas in corporate behaviour such as the ‘Publish What You Pay’ campaign on transparency of payments by oil companies.
There has been talk of freeing up government control of the media and willingness to address the low rate of HIV/AIDS and associated vulnerabilities despite difficulties in access to rural areas.
Despite low population density land is scarce, with an estimated four million people relying on subsistence agriculture for survival as the only source of family income. Land tenure and use are flashpoints for disputes with large-scale population return to rural areas. In the ideological shifts of the early 1990s, a huge privatisation programme saw an elite land grab at the expense of small peasants. There is potential for conflict between customary law and state land law with the former discriminating against women.
Although the 2005 land reform law allowed communities to access and legally register their land - leading to hopes of greater security for and improvement in Angola's agricultural production - it is doubted it will eliminate conflict.
Women – the burdens of war become those of peace
Women suffered enormously during the war both through the direct effects of violent conflict and the indirect effect of poverty on families and communities. 80% of IDPs were women and children, suffering high levels of mortality, malnutrition, illiteracy, poverty and HIV/AIDS and lack of access to health, information, education and water – and decision-making. Current government crack downs on informal commercial activity increase poverty levels amongst poor urban women with a knock on effect on domestic violence against women.
Enter the IMF – or not?
Angola has applied for an IMF programme to restructure its debt , but not for new loans given the ‘tiny amounts’ compared to Chinese and other loans. A syndicate of European banks led by French bank Calyon are organising a $2.25 billion  oil-backed loan to Sonangol to refinance existing debt and $800 million in new money for undisclosed use, with the Chinese buying the oil. Finance Minister Jose Pedro de Morais said endless failed talks with the IMF were due to its not having an accumulated knowledge of Angolan economics – interpreted locally as being unwilling to understand elite needs.
The ruling MPLA has for many years with justification been able to blame the war for its repressive and unaccountable policies. Subsequently it has been able to point to the need to move from a war economy and polity into transition. But we do not have to believe the rhetoric over transition and its difficulties if we consider Angola as is in a ‘steady state’ with economic and political policies marked heavily by the structures established by war and from command economy and state. It is able to use its oil wealth for elite accumulation and for overcoming resistance to its rule. Clientilism has largely replaced more repressive measures. As its oil wealth and ultra deep oil exploration possibilities increase it is increasingly able to ride out any international disquiet over its policies – accessing available if expensive oil-backed loans and able to put resources where it wishes. There are some constraints in the present and future - such as wanting to present itself as not so corrupt to attract FDI, a desire to deal with its debts and its dependence on the maintenance of high oil prices – but not sufficiently to disturb the equanimity of the elite and its accumulation strategy. Any opposition can be marginalised, bought off or in the last resort got rid off.
Despite rhetoric on increased transparency, accountability and democratisation little has yet been accomplished to overcome the gap between ruler and ruled. Apart from some NGOs it seems there is little help they can expect in terms of support or pressure from the international community. As well as the increased autonomy for the elite with high oil prices and vulnerable supply, there are significant shifts in international and regional alliances in the face of the ‘Chinese threat’ and the war against terror.
* Dr. Steve Kibble is Advocacy Coordinator for Africa/Yemen, Progressio
* This is a revised version of a talk to the Africa Business Group at SOAS, 16 March 2006, and based on a chapter on Angola for Africa Yearbook 2005 to be published by Brill on behalf of Africa Institute in Hamburg, Afrikacentrum, Leiden and Nordic Afrika Instituut Uppsala. A longer version has been commissioned by the Review of African Political Economy for publication later in 2006. Visit http://www.roape.org/ for more information.
* Please send comments to email@example.com
 IMF, 2005, Staff Report for the 2004 Article IV Consultation, IMF Country Report No. 05/228, Washington DC: IMF July.
 Thanks to David Sogge (personal communication) for this insight.
 In January 2006, the National Statistics Institute estimated it as averaging 18.5% over the year whilst the EIU country report thought 23.4% more likely (EIU Angola Country Report December 2005 p.11).
 French businessman Pierre Falcone was suspected of embezzling funds flowing from the restructuring of Angola's debt to Russia.
 although $37 million held in a Luxemburg-based bank account owned by a Panama-based company called Camparal, which belongs to Dos Santos allegedly vanished into tax havens
 Over 150 political parties continued to exist, many with identical platforms, undemocratic internal practices and with little parliamentary initiative, coalitions between opposition forces or promulgation of alternative policies or monitoring of government policies. A recent law on political parties allows government funding of parties not represented in the National Assembly during the election period (Diário da República 1.7.05).
 Over 150 political parties continued to exist, many with identical platforms, undemocratic internal practices and with little parliamentary initiative, coalitions between opposition forces or promulgation of alternative policies or monitoring of government policies. A recent law on political parties allows government funding of parties not represented in the National Assembly during the election period (Diário da República 1.7.05).
 Sogge personal communication.
 With estimated external debts of $10 billion Angola wants IMF approval of its would-be home-grown programme through a Policy Support Instrument (PSI) to tackle its $1.5 - $1.8 billion Paris Club debt and provide a seal of approval for creditors wanting assurances before discussing debt rescheduling.
 According to Global Witness, although the French press says over $3 billion.
Nairobi WSF: The hour has come to leave the beaten track
In the countdown to the World Social Forum due to be held in Nairobi in January 2007, Mouhamadou Tidiane Kasse analyses the trajectory of the social forum movement in Africa and warns that a lot of work remains to be done if the transformative potential of the movement is to be optimised. “By taking the torch from Bamako in January, the Kenyan social movement and the secretariat of the WSF find themselves faced with a lot of work, at the level of the structuring of the social movement in Africa, to raise awareness and popular mobilisation within the country itself, and to consolidate the dynamic of regional solidarity,” he writes.
When Africans first participated in the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, they were only about thirty people, drowned by tens of thousands of others. At the meeting in Mumbai in 2004, their delegation was bigger, but they still comprised no more than 500 people in a sea of anti-globalisation protesters which exceeded 100,000. Their lack of presence was almost laughable.
Africa’s voice was nonetheless heard at the International Council of the WSF, when it was raised to lay claim to the big-tent anti-globalisation event for Africa. Despite the scepticism of some people, even amongst the African delegates themselves, that Africa could welcome such a popular mobilisation on the continent, and could host an event of freedom where so many freedoms are abused, the request was granted. Holding the WSF in Africa will become a reality in 2007, and it will fall on Kenya to host it. But behind the enthusiasm, the challenges facing the Africans are numerous.
When the Indian Social Forum took place in Mumbai, the aim was to de-localise an event associated with Porto Alegre, and to enhance its popular dimensions, thematic richness and excellent organisation. Moreover, on the Asian continent, there were particular concerns at stake within the framework of structural global inequalities. In Asia, the imbalances are not only vertical between the South and North. They are also horizontal and endogenous, and cut across the societies of the Southern countries: the issue of the Indian caste system characterised the Mumbai forum.
The successes of India strengthened Africa’s wish to host the big anti-globalisation event. This was despite some doubts about the suitability of its political environment to host the iconoclastic and critical debates, about the continent’s capacity to host and organise an event for tens of thousands of people, and to ensure real, mass mobilisation.
Until the polycentric World Social Forum in Bamako in January 2006, meetings of African social movements had never been anything but quasi-confidential conclaves. The African Social Forum in Lusaka in December 2004 failed to attract more than 1000 people to the Mulungushi International Conference Center, which resounded with a despairing emptiness. Barely 50 people participated in the march on the streets of Lusaka, and in any case, a ban on demonstrations would have aborted the skeleton procession, which only made it as far as 500 metres from conference centre.
The first west-African social forum in Conakry in November 2004, which attracted about 2000 people, gave a glimpse of the kind of local mobilisation that is possible. But the ensuing events have not exceeded this level of participation, and the popular voice remains restrained. That the events have no roots in the majority populations is evident. Nowhere, with the exception of the last WSF in Bamako, which claimed some 30,000 participants, has the event been strongly linked to the local agenda. It is as if there is a disjuncture between the ferment of opposition and the daily lives of ordinary people.
The African social movements still lack visibility even though the pertinence of the ideas and causes they embrace are in keeping with the urgent matters confronting Africa in the construction of a better world. There have been delays in implementing mechanisms which would allow this dynamic to reach through to the roots of society, and create a genuinely popular movement. From one meeting to another, the debates struggle to escape from the circles of those in the know. Panel discussions are essentially bringing together the same people, going over the same old ideas, and struggling to find an anchorage in people’s realities. The structure of the organisation probably also needs to be challenged, and their chief instigators could do with being reconsidered.
Getting it off the ground
Said Saadi, a member of the Moroccan social forum, stated at the African social forum in Lusaka: “After three meetings, we are at a turning point. The forum must be strengthened by opening it up to all the other groups, which are fighting on the ground. What about the trade unions for example?...We must avoid looking like a group of NGOs, which are keen on travelling but do little real work at grassroots level. The forum must position itself to redress the balance, and outline an opposition agenda with a precise timeframe.” In the same tempo, Abdourame Ousmane from Niger remarked: “It is time to develop alternatives that take account of the aspirations of the populations at the bottom of society, that will be legitimised by nature of their democratic anchorage.”
The social forum evidently remains a space where participation is not predetermined. It is not about groupings that anyone is looking to engineer, rather is organised in such a way that ideas ferment reciprocally and experiences inspire change elsewhere. But certain tendencies are favoured. There will not be real change unless there are veritable actors at the centre of the processes. Whatever the merits of the unions and the rural movements, there is a virtual absence of organised social movements in Africa at present. The themes discussed in the panels and workshops are omnipresent, discussions about the future – ‘a different world is possible’ ¬– are shaped from the perspectives of ordinary people, and yet their own dynamic does not let itself be felt.
The question of the unions in Africa in relation to globalisation was usefully analysed at the Conakry meeting in 2004 in terms of the necessity for their re-orientation. First of all, solidarity is an imperative. When the multinationals set out to blackmail the workers, there is no better defence than union solidarity. How can this be achieved? There must be a fusion of the groups of affiliated unions at both national and global levels. In this respect, the Anglophone countries are further on. COSATU in South Africa is a good example. The second stage involves the promotion of international norms: International agreements, treaties, UN institutions, the World Bank and the IMF must integrate union liberties that symbolise the social dimension of development politics.
The final stage of mobilising the unions in the struggle for ‘another world is possible’ involves the ‘enlargement of the mandate of the union movement’. This change must take effect in several stages. It requires the mobilisation of supporters, sourcing of funding, the democratisation of the union movement, and the construction of partnerships with governments and multinationals. But the union representation in Conakry was not sufficiently consistent to institute a real debate on this ‘road map’.
For the five years that the African social movement has been aligned with the anti-globalisation movement, it has still not identified the motor to get itself off the ground. The key actors for change and the path of ‘liberation’ has been identified, but the forces yet to be unleashed remain marginal to the event.
Can the ‘Women’s Court’ for example, launched in Lusaka in 2004, and again in Bamako in 2006, push for the mobilisation to change the situation of women, moving beyond the mere habitual condemnations of violence and the denial of all sorts of rights, which through being churned out again and again, risk becoming clichés? Will the ‘youth forum’ be a space for the raising of awareness where the identity of the future can be constructed around values which break with the discredited politics of the day? The discourse often betrays a willingness, but the means of bringing about change are neither clearly identified nor widely-embraced.
Paving the way for the younger generation
At the centre of the youth element of the African Social Forum in Conakry, the Ivorian Ouattara Diakala expressed the problem thus: “Young people are out of touch…with the objectives of the WSF. The struggle against neo-liberalism for example - what does that mean to them? What are the ins and outs of it? When someone does not understand a given situation, it is difficult for them to engage. We are going to have a find mechanisms for supporting mass youth participation in these discussions, to generate more activities in which young people can get involved locally.”
At the 2006 forum in Bamako, the rallying cry to pave the way for the young people was around Thomas Sankara, a symbol of protest, defined as an anti-globalisation pacesetter – in word and in deed – ahead of his time. But a representative from an NGO in Burkina Faso remained unconvinced about the impact of this strategy: “Sankara lived what he lived, but the important thing is what he did. He had a strong instinct of what had to be done, and this is what young people today must imitate. Today’s youth strikes me as being more ideological than pragmatic. They need to flesh out their talk with work.”
The secretariat of the WSF is conscious of the importance of the Nairobi forum for the structuring of the movement in Africa. The choice of Kenya from amongst several other candidatures, more-or-less the officially advanced countries such as Morocco, was decided on the basis of criteria drawn up and approved at the World Social Forum held in March 2005. These imply, that at the level of the host country, there is the opportunity for the freedom of expression of opinions, including through public marches and demonstrations, publications, radio and TV broadcasts, and contact between the local populations and the organisers from abroad; and for the possibility of ‘mass social mobilisation’. To ensure the forum achieves an impact, the application must issue from the mainstream social movements of the candidate country, and the sub-region. At the same time, the social movement of the candidate country must prove a certain level of organisation and dynamism, as well as the capacity to mobilise the population around national, continental and international issues.
By taking the torch from Bamako in January, the Kenyan social movement and the secretariat of the WSF find themselves faced with a lot of work, at the level of the structuring of the social movement in Africa, to raise awareness and popular mobilisation within the country itself, and to consolidate the dynamic of regional solidarity.
From Bamako to Nairobi, one trend is to favour ‘linkages’, to give a reality, indeed an identity, to the African social movement. The aim is to construct a continental solidarity which goes beyond the linguistic divisions and sub-regional groupings which have thus far marked the evolution of the WSF through its polemics and internal conflicts.
Bamako also identified a trajectory: “Beyond all political, cultural, economic, and social resistance at the basis of anti-globalisation, one of the challenges in Nairobi will be to resume the process of establishing a Charter of unity, for the people and future of Africa, the foundations of which were laid sixteen years ago in Arusha. Between now and then, there must be a process of consultation throughout society and within social movements, so as to achieve a meeting of ideas, consensus, and an affirmative assembly in Nairobi in 2007.”
* Mouhamadou Tidiane Kasse is Coordinator of Flamme d’Afrique, a daily newspaper published by IPAO and ENDA on occasions of meetings of social movements.
* This article was translated from French by Stephanie Kitchen. It was originally published in the French version of Pambazuka News, www.pambazuka.org/fr Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Obasanjo vs Atiku and the battle for 2007
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem tackles the public split between Nigerian vice-president Alhaji Abubakar Atiku and president Olushegun Obasanjo. The conflict is deadlocked: Atiku can’t quit for fear of what his president will do to him, while Obasanjo can’t fire him because his deputy has just enough power to hang on to office.
In many countries, a vice president who has shown so much public outrage and disagreement with his president and has been so officially ignored and embarrassed by his boss as the vice president of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, would have resigned as a matter of honour. Similarly, a president, who finds himself in such confrontation and so personally and politically distrusts his deputy, would have had him sacked.
The fact that neither has been done despite the open hostility between Atiku and President Olushegun Obasanjo should tell us something very sad about the politics and power dynamics of Africa's largest country: No principles and no scruples, just personal ambitions even at the expense of the people of the country! This lack of principles is not uniquely Nigerian but it does not make it right.
Atiku cannot resign because the second he is no longer vice president he would have lost all immunity (which often operates as impunity among our elected officials). He must be scared that his embittered boss may put him in handcuffs, send him off to Kiri Kiri (Nigeria's maximum prison) on a thousand and one charges which can easily be dusted up from the files. The obvious one, which has been used to silence or 'persuade' some of his supporters to reconsider their opposition to the President, has been trials for corruption through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Atiku has been preparing to be President for a long time and will do anything to achieve his ambition, but going to prison is one of the few prices he is obviously not prepared to pay. Hence he has to remain in office untill the last possible second, when Obasanjo will not be able to do anything to him officially.
The President, on his part, has not been able to sack him because he lacks the political support of the National Parliament to carry it through. Instead, he has chosen to humiliate, subvert, corner, marginalise, undermine and also go after anyone suspected to be loyal to him within the ruling party, the political and business establishment, in the hope that Atiku 'will see sense', mend his ways or just quit.
It is an admission that the President does not control all the ace cards despite the mantra of his supporters reminding Nigerians that General Chief Matthew Olushegun Okikiola Obasanjo is the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Commander of Police, Commander of Prisons and Commander of Customs, Head of Traffic Police, Chief of Federal Road Safety Corp, etc, etc!
But what is the dispute between Obasanjo and Atiku? A very simple matter really. Atiku wants to succeed Obasanjo as President, just like Gordon Brown (who is not even Deputy Prime Minister but the Finance Secretary) has been wanting and waiting to succeed Tony Blair as British Prime Minister. It is not that Blair is very happy about it, but there is almost nothing he can do about it because the Labour Party will decide eventually.
But in the case of Atiku, his and Obasanjo's party, the People's Democratic Party (also more appropriately known as 'People Deceiving People') is not a party but a cabal of political contractors beholden to whoever is in control of the contracts. Despite not having a political, military, or even an ethnic base, in 1999, after Sani Abacha's death, Obasanjo, still recovering from his jail experience, was asked by other generals if he would consider going back to Aso Rock. Once ensconced in power, Obasanjo has become the tail that wags the dog, proving once again that a donkey can rule and twist Nigeria to his whims and caprices as long as it is occupying Aso Rock!
Ibrahim Babangida, Atiku and others who facilitated Obasanjo's ascent thought wrongly that he had no choice but to stick to them after coming to power. In 2003 they flexed their muscle again but their personal and class greed forced them to reach another deal with Obasanjo. Soon after the massive rigging in which Atiku was a major facilitator, Obasanjo went against them again and has remained so since then. He became president twice in spite of the wishes of Nigerians. Therefore, he cannot care less if the whole country is now opposed to his changing the constitution to facilitate what in Uganda many opposition people call a 'Sad Term'.
Does this make Atiku the martyr for democracy that his propagandists claim? Definitely not. He has not articulated any policy difference from Obasanjo's IMF/World Bank-know best neo-liberalism. Between him and Babangida, the other front-running contender, the choice is one of sunset or darkness. Obasanjo's people are using this to blackmail Nigerians that there are no alternatives. They are being half clever because the reason there are no other alternatives is because the incumbent has placed 'No vacancy' on the Aso Rock gate. The real choice is not between Obasanjo and these people but really between Nigerians and the military/civilian plutocrats!
* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa
* Please send comments to email@example.com
South Africa: The One in Nine Campaign
The One in Nine Campaign was launched in February 2006. The purpose of the campaign is to ensure that the courage and action of Khwezi, the woman who has filed a rape charge against the former Deputy President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is affirmed and supported through direct action, the mass media and through strengthening the level of debate and analysis in society of the gender dimensions of the case.
China in Africa
I really appreciated Stephen Marks' article on China in Africa recently (See http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/32432) I think this is a very important topic we as Africans should be discussing. Keep up the great work with Pambazuka, it is a fantastic service!
No lessons learned from the Rwandan genocide
Caroline Yego, Nairobi, Kenya
It is true what Gerald Caplan has said (See http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/33432). But unless we individualy wake up and put an end to these wars we will not win. It is up to us - the African race - to wake up and cultivate a sense of togetherness, a feeling of brotherhood and reconciliation with one another.
Like the war in Darfur which has displaced many, I strongly believe that Africans themselves will end it and not people from outside Darfur. We do not need so much the help of the international community but the African leaders and the people of that region. The resources of reconciliation lies within our reach.
If we cultivate an environment where we recognize that we are Africans fighting one another, we will see the common enemy and fight it with all our energies. We will therefore be in a position to fight such ills inflicted on our society such has poverty, disease and under-development. I would like therefore to say that the African leaders and we in general, will turn the tables only if we are part of the reconciliation and not sitting on the edge of the fence leaving everything to the international community.
On Joe Bryak's piece
The beginning of your piece was right on the mark (see http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/33184) Thank you so much, but I felt that, somehow, one needs to do better than fighting on all fronts. As you so eloquently put it, it boils down to how and who writes the equation. One needs to re-write the equation. The beginning of your piece actually does that. I do not know how to re-write it, except when I hear and read about reparation. The injustices committed in the process of building this triumphant capitalo-parliamentarist system are so huge that it defies our imagination. Be on all fronts is your response. It covers all bases, but in the process it gives up on redrawing the fronts as we should have learned from our collective histories.
Please do not misunderstand this comment. The discourse of authenticity re Mobutu is easy to dismiss and denounce, but what do we do when it is encouraged by the ones who trampled on our ancestors who, I can imagine, upon hearing of reparations might mutter under their eternal breath: "Really, now that the price is right and they have the heavy duty lawyers, are they trying to sell us a second time?"
I try to always remember what the slaves did in Haiti/St Domingue back between 1791 and 1804, without the help of human rights organizations or NGOs. There is still a possibility, as shown by the people of Haiti, of fidelity to that event. Fidelity to emancipatory politics. All fronts (read all armies of the day) were brought to the slaves and were defeated, but the same nations made sure that the emancipation did not bloom. Now we do have the proof that the system which has been built is relentlessly genocidal.
My concrete suggestion is to rally around the event of 1804 and make sure that Haiti becomes what the slaves really want it to be. Such fidelity goes beyond personalities, ideologies, left, right and center. Just one front. It is right there, begging us to join. Thank you for your piece and do take care. Thank you to the editors and workers of Pambazuka News.
Is there an online protest so the women of the world can demonstrate their support for Khwezi? (See http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/33434)
Pambazuka News replies: The One in Nine campaign has been organised to support Kwezi. You can find out more at http://www.oneinnine.org.za
Supporting Kwezi (2)
I praise the courage of these women who gathered in J'bourg and came up with such insight (See http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/33434) As all women in her condition, Khwezi needs the protection of the law. If the police in South Africa have failed to protect her against the threats and intimidation, the court is in a good position to order the police to do so. In order not to send a wrong signal to the other women in similar situation, the time to act is now.
We should not fail to understand that the fear of intimidation, threat and rejection has kept many victims of sexual violence from speaking out against the violators of such inhuman acts. Thus, the few who dare to speak out, do so because they want to help put a stop to such acts. These persons should be praised and protected by the institutions that are charged with such powers of protecting the citizens.
Khwezi should be saluted for her courage.
Women in peace building
The recent plane crash in the Marsabit District of Kenya in which fourteen of our must senior government officials perished while on a peace making mission serves to illustrate that women have continued to be marginalized in conflict resolution ventures; all the fourteen passengers were men.
This is not surprising at all, considering that men occupy 90% of senior government positions; and the affirmative action is yet to reach our august house. It is well documented that even at international forums, women have continued to be locked out from the negotiation table when peace accords and agreements are being made.
This puts to nonsense the various declarations (Windhoek Declaration); plan for actions (Nambia Plan of Action of Mainstreaming Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Support Operations) and legal frameworks ( UN Security Resolution 1325 (2000) which lay down intrinsic details to be followed to ensure gender mainstreaming in peace processes.
The reality on the ground is that what the right hand gives, the left takes away, albeit inadvertently. A good example is the UN Security Resolution 1509 that created the UN Mission to Liberia (UNMIL). One of the mandates of the mission was to ensure that it paid particular attention to vulnerable groups such as ‘refugees, returning refugees, returning persons, women, children, and demobilized child solders’. (
This scenario has been replicated in other UN peace missions all over Africa. It is said that everywhere in the world, men make war and men make peace. Women on the other hand sit on the side lines and wait.
Here in Africa, so long as women fine tune their expected role of ‘vulnerable victims of war’ everybody will be happy; the war mongers watching from vantage spots behind battle lines for cease fire offers to start pouring in; the international press who are only too happy to shoot and beam sorry images; and a fatigued international humanitarian machinery.
Once the ball is set rolling, American dollars and peace negotiators will pour in from all corners of the globe and before long the war monger is catapulted from being a rebel without a cause to the revered title of ‘peace maker’. He will be flown into neutral grounds and booked into five star hotels as peace talks continue for months on end; in the meantime, women will be given food aid.
Meetings with government officials will be called in which village elders (all men) will be invited. Settlements in form of goats, sheep and cows will be reached and everybody will be happy.
With everything settled and agreed on, the peace makers will be flown back home in army helicopters and a group of transported and jubilant women will be waiting to receive him with song and dance.
If truth be told, not many women participate in these peace talks; the assumption being that they are not equipped with sufficient negotiation skills to maneuver their way around a predominantly masculine environment.
For a courageous woman who may want to join the peace talks at the grass root level, her venture will prove to be a Herculean task. She will find cultural prejudices and gender role stereotyping coming in to thwart her noble cause. First she will be viewed as a stranger to the community whose alliance may lie elsewhere.
Secondly she is assigned a role where her value is that of natural care giver and nurturer who must be shackled to the private domain of communal life; she cannot transcend the cultural dichotomy and ascend into the public domain which is a reserve for men.
Even the odd militant woman activist will learn that gaining entry into the negotiation room is no guarantee that she will have a voice, vote or even a seat on the negotiation table.
Whatever settlements are reached after these peace talks do not translate into gains for many women; the ugly scars of war and trauma continue to haunt them.
Arrest the Music! Fela and his Rebel Art and Politics by Tejumola Olaniyan
Indiana University Press, 2004
Reviewed by Mukoma Wa Ngugi
In 1977, Tejumola Olaniyan narrates, Nigerian soldiers armed with AK 47’s invaded a musical concert by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The purpose was “To arrest the music” as per the order issued by the commanding officer . The officer meant for the soldiers to seize the musical instruments and disrupt the concert. But this particular phrase, Olaniyan, by way of introducing the book, tells the reader would not leave his mind. “It [the phrase] reveals, for example, the peculiar character of the relations between art, specifically oppositional music, and a postcolonial African state.” By shining light on the contradictions of the post-colonial state, the artist who during the fight for independence was a nationalist ally quickly became an enemy.
To further underline the relationship of the artist and his or her art to the post-colonial government, the phrase “Arrest the Music” recalls the issuance of an arrest order for Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s fictional Matigari whom the government understood to be a real life trouble maker. It might also recall a time when a highly placed Kenyan government official became so exasperated with a trouble maker called Karl Marx that he was quoted as wondering why the government couldn’t just arrest him. After all he was easy to identify, a long white beard and a heavy head with white hair. This for all we know might have been the criteria used to arrest and detain Wole Soyinka in Nigeria during the Biafran War. The post-colonial authorities ban, detain, kill and exile efficiently but their bumbling efforts do provide the artist with potent occasions for satire.
Olaniyan does several things at the same time. He captures the movement of Fela from an artist who imitates to an artist who has found his own distinctive voice that becomes Afro Beat. If Fela was many things, he was first a musician committed to developing his craft and its form. Olaniyan also traces the movement of Fela from an artist who at first created art for its sake, to entertain or for that matter for money, then to one who merely raised questions of morality and finally to an artist who was socially committed.
It is the same movement give or take a stage that musicians who enter the fray of liberation politics undergo. Improvisation of what becomes one’s calling is not just peculiar to musicians, before they became revolutionaries. Fanon was a psychiatrist, Che trained to be a doctor and Mandela was a practicing lawyer.
Olaniyan sees Fela’s ideology as a “matrix” of radical black nationalism which “opened out to a much more expansive Pan-Africanism and Afro-centrism” and a “sturdy partisanship for the oppressed lower classes that could be described as socialist in orientation” and an “irrepressible libertarianism that frequently tries to be the anchor and articulator of the other two” (76). Fela’s solidarity with “the oppressed lower classes” was complete. “He lived in their midst, trumpeted their sounds to national attention, experienced their brutalization at the hands of official lawlessness, and even shared their poverty” (81).
But Fela, as Olaniyan recognizes, is also fraught with contradictions and tragic flaws. As has often been the case, women are understood as the repositories and keepers of culture. To protect African culture from Western culture, African women have to be cleansed of lip-stick and mini skirts, circumcised, kept away from schools, driven from politics and domesticated. The domestication is done either through brute force or through the pedestal of veneration where the woman becomes a the symbol of a pure Africaness, the African queen.
The effect of either suppression or veneration is the same – African women are silenced in both the private and public spheres. In this bid to protect African culture from Western culture through the African woman, the kind of cultural nationalism that Fela adopts and propagates either suppresses or venerates the African woman. Lady, one of Fela’s most popular songs, understands the struggle for equality between the African male and woman as being infected with Westernization. Conversely, a domesticity where the African man reigns supreme over the African woman becomes African culture.
Because Olaniyan actually vocalizes some of the contradictions that Fela could not, Arrest the Music becomes in part a critique of national liberation ideologies and politics that attempt to authenticate and restore a version of African culture that rests on the suppression of the African woman.
Olaniyan is also careful not to fall into the pitfalls that a lot of critics analyzing African art fall into – the pitfall of seeing African art as always functional. In this rubric, an African artist pursues truth alone and beauty is incidental. In offering a critique of Things Fall Apart, critics first see it as a response to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. On the other hand, Wole Soyinka’s The Interpreters, which in part deals with the imagination and the artist’s role in newly independent states is for the most left on the wayside of African literary criticism. In both instances, the art of how the story is weaved is not part of the critic’s concern. In short very few critics deal with the African artist as an artist who is first moved by images and sounds and carefully works to articulate them.
Yet the truth of it is very simple. Music perhaps more than written literature, has to first move the listener and that happens to the extent the artist uses time, space and rhythm. In Fela’s music, Olaniyan suggests, space and rhythm are just as important as the lyrics. Fela, as Olaniyan reminds the reader, is a musician’s musician; that is a musician who other musicians listen to and learn from. This in my opinion is the highest recognition an artist can receive from his or her colleagues. What happens is that the search for his musical voice, which he calls an African voice, becomes indistinguishable from his search for a political voice which attempts to articulate a beauty and ugliness peculiar to Africa. In other words, it is as if the political and musical quests take turns leading. The political leads him to another note and beat and that new beat and note leads him to another political understanding. Until at the end of it all, the listener cannot distinguish between the two. The end result of Fela’s journey is that he creates a genre of music that before him did not exist. And Afro-Beat in its own way becomes a language that mediates between Africans.
In Limuru, Kenya where I grew up, I had a friend named Joe who had the most extensive music collection in town and a music system to match. Every now and then, my brother, I and friends would descend on him to listen to his records. Inevitably we would end up dancing to Fela. Many years later, after a conference on African languages at Boston University, we (participants from all over the continent, Diaspora and the US) relaxed with Fela in Victor Manfredi’s house, himself a New York born American whose intellectual labor is on behalf of Fela’s Nigeria. In a lot of ways Fela’s music is borderless. This is not to say it is an abstract universal; I would suggest it seeks out the marginalized of the post-colonial state wherever they are and gives them “sound”.
There is a way in which, as Olaniyan suggests, Fela is cosmopolitan. Olaniyan writes that given the “circumstances of his socialization and resocialization, he cannot not be cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world” (167). I prefer the term citizen of the world because implicit in the term is a demand to be accorded human and state rights no matter where you are. At the same time it does not deny home and therefore one can be a world citizen at home. I think perhaps more than cosmopolitanism, world citizen allows for solidarity across borders whereas cosmopolitanism applies more to subjects from the ‘Third’ World who are trying to make a home in the West.
Nigeria to an extent has survived due to the resiliency of the Nigerian people, given a succession of governments that in the words of Fanon have been “good for nothing”. Ken Saro-Wiwa, a poet who was hanged by Abacha in 1996, was in a long of line of artists who have been and continue to be devoured by the post-colonial State. But like Ken Saro-Wiwa whose son has picked up his pen and activism, Fela has Femi Kuti. When I saw Femi in concert in Detroit in the summer of 2002, he opened by stating boldly that he does not apologize for his music being political. Detroit couldn’t have been a more fitting city for Afro Beat. It is a city that has seen its own share of civil strife, economic gutting and racist policies that have left the African American without any economic recourse, paralleling the plight of the Ogoni people and their exploitation by Shell.
The last chapter therefore fittingly gives a critical appraisal of Fela’s heirs to Afro-beat and Afro-beat politics like Femi Kuti. Nigeria since the Biafra War has seen its share of near implosions but none have looked as dire as the ones we are witnessing today. The government remains bent on controlling the resources. But the people of the Delata Region are tired and unable to continue with the old ways of exploitation of their labor and natural resources; they have risen up in violent opposition. It is well known that Nigeria by the year 2025 will be providing 25% of US oil which can easily turn it into an Iraq. These new Afro-Beat voices become all the more critical now.
Most writers and critics will agree Olaniyan has accomplished a most difficult task. To use words to convey the energy of music, the beat, the sound of the trumpet and the space between notes could not have been easy. But he does this seamlessly. He thereby offers a beautiful and charged translation of Fela’s music into words which in turn become a critical composition of his own. In this, that I can only call an intellectual biography of Fela, Olaniyan has not only offered a new way of looking at the man and his music, but new critical tools and concepts with which to analyze the African artist in the post-colonial state. To talk about Fela Kuti then is to talk about the state of post-colonial Africa and the artist who gives sound to the people, and the people who in turn give sound to the artist.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Banyan Tree Paradox – Culture and Human Rights Activism
Written by Ann Blyberg and D.J. Ravindran, published by Institute of International Education
Reviewed by Shailja Patel
The press release for this book posed two key questions:
1) How can we together better protect the right to culture?
2) How can we do a better job of protecting people from harms caused by cultural practices?
It goes on to say:
"IHRIP's goal in developing ‘The Banyan Tree Paradox’ was to better equip us as activists to do both."
"Activists" is an umbrella term. The book seems aimed as much at NGO workers, legislators, scholars, teachers, students, as grass-roots activists. At US$30 plus postage and handling, it's outside the budget of most individual activists in Europe and North America, much less those in the global South. However, a limited number of copies will be made available free-of-charge to human rights NGOs (details on how to order at end of article). In the next several months IHRIP will publish Spanish, Arabic and French translations of the book.
Mentioning "culture" and "human rights" in the same sentence instantly calls up issues from global headlines in recent years: Female Genital Mutilation in Africa, South Asia's caste system, Amina Lawal. Notice they are all located in the developing world. Far less likely to pop up are the US prison industrial complex, polygamy and child marriage among American Mormons, discrimination against the Sami people of Finland, archaically restrictive divorce laws in Ireland or Italy.
‘The Banyan Tree’ does not, by and large, challenge this bias. It cites, a couple of times, the civil rights struggle in the US. One of the 6 case studies in the appendices is a bold and searching examination of United States Exceptionalism - "the notion that the United States is different from other countries, and that this uniqueness gives the country the freedom to act as if it were exempt from international laws and human rights standards." But all other experiences, insights, and testimonies are from Africa, South Asia, Latin America. East Asia rates one mention. Europe and Australasia are conspicuous by their absence.
That said, simply hitting every continent does not guarantee a book's quality. And in all fairness, The Banyan Tree is the result of a specific convocation: a workshop held by IHRIP at Siem Reap, Cambodia in August 2005. The title itself comes from the location. Over centuries, huge Banyan and silk trees have grown around and through ancient temples at Angkor Wat. "While it would be tempting to kill off those trees whose roots are dislodging large stones in the temples, at the same time other roots of the same trees surround the stones, so that they seem to be holding the stones together…This image seems particularly fitting [in considering] the very fundamental role that culture plays in constructing and maintaining human societies at the same time that various cultural institutions and practices can deeply harm, even kill, human beings."
In its 140 pages, the book delves into questions of universal standards vs. "cultural relativism", challenges notions of monolithic cultures, highlights the conservative religious discourse that designates women (without choice) as custodians of community identity, and bearers of culture. The language is clear and direct and encourages the reader to engage and examine her own assumptions and identities. Frequent questions and exercises enhance this participatory experience. The beautiful design, with illustrations by Jonah Lobe, drawn from traditional art around the world, spacious layout, and consistent use of text boxes and shading, make it an excellent teaching and reference resource, although the index could be more detailed. Particularly useful, from a practical point of view, are the chapters on fact-finding and documentation, and developing strategies - framing terms, advocacy, working with international law, formal and traditional legal systems, translating human rights language to make it accessible.
Appendices include six case studies presented at Siem Reap: Amina Lawal in Nigeria, the 2004 Communal Land Rights Act in South Africa, Female Genital Mutilation across Africa, the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Committee, concessions in Cambodia of land and resources to private companies in Cambodia, and US Exceptionalism.
Perhaps the most important thing about "The Banyan Tree" is that it presents, without simplifying, the complexity of the myriad ways in which culture and human rights intersect, merge, diverge, and clash. At one end of the spectrum, Dalit (untouchable) women in India speak of the most important right as "the right to survive…access to food, clothing, housing, education, and secure life, but not at the expense of their personal and community honour."
At the other, South African researcher Aninka Claassens attacks the "false dichotomy" between rights and culture posed by the fiercely-opposed 2004 Communal Land Rights Act in South Africa. "Most dangerous of all, however, is the fact that a discourse which says that human rights are foreign to Africa denies the existence of and potential inherent in, sophisticated African systems of relative rights, which, in balancing needs and entitlements, prioritise meeting basic needs. These systems should be assessed on their merits, not through the prism of Westerm pre-conceptions about the nature of human rights. They have much to teach about the realization of socio-economic rights and survival mechanisms in a hostile world. To ignore them makes it easier for them to be destroyed by a variety of forces, including elites cloaked in ‘tradition’.”
‘The Banyan Tree’ posits that human rights are fundamentally about power – protecting individuals from the power of the state, or maintaining an equal balance of power among individuals and groups. It suggests that: "Human rights standards represent the best current understanding internationally of what is needed to protect human dignity." Perhaps this is nothing more than the latest, most codified incarnation of the innate human need for justice, that goes back to the dawn of time. But for anyone seeking a preliminary understanding of why this is so hard to achieve, ‘The Banyan Tree’ is a good place to start.
To order a copy of "The Banyan Tree Paradox", contact IHRIP at:
tel: (1 202) 326-7725
fax: (1 202) 326-7763
Global Human Rights Education listserv
* Please send comments on this review to email@example.com
* Shailja Patel is a Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist. Visit www.shailja.com
Kenya: Book about alleged British atrocities against Kenyan independence fighters wins US prize
A book about alleged British atrocities against Kenyan Mau Mau independence fighters has won this year's US Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. Caroline Elkins wins $10,000 for her book "Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya". She says that many thousands of Kenyans died in British detention camps during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. Her research also suggests British colonial officials exaggerated the number of people killed by the rebels.
Africa Blogging This Week
Zambian blog, Real Life of a Journalist (http://oliviaphiri.blogspot.com/2006/04/making-icts-accessible-to-women-by.html) writes on how to make ICTs more accessible to women. Technology has been traditionally “male” in both its construct and usage. She praises the coming of FOSS but writes that it is not user friendly and requires a certain level of technology literacy. She believes one way to overcome technophobia and illiteracy is to start teaching ICTs at primary school level.
“The computer must not be seen as a sophisticated machine, it is a tool like a cooking stick, which any person needs to study and gets used to. The world is becoming a global village; virtual offices are ruling the day…Women should be included in this growing process if sustainable development is to be achieved. Everyone should be awarded an opportunity to explore the world beyond their boundaries while sitting down.”
Random Rants of a Kenyan Girl Next Door (http://randomgirlnextdoor.blogspot.com/2006/04/black-africa-vs-black-america.html) is reminded of the tensions between Africans and African Americans. As she was told last week: “A lot of you (Africans) think you're better than us.” As she writes, this is largely true. One possible explanation she raises is:
“The majority of Kenyans, and other Africans, leave home in pursuit of education and job opportunities. Because of the stress we go through to get abroad, most of us are very driven in accomplishing specific goals. After living here (US or wherever else) for a while, you get a reality check about the system. You realize that there are certain benefits reserved for citizens (loans, scholarships, affirmative action programs) and then you wonder ‘Why aren't these people taking advantage?’ For us, it just makes sense.”
African immigrants to the US come with a colonial experience that is very different from the racist experience of African Americans. Both have struggled against white supremacy but the sight and nature of those struggles are different. White America relates very differently towards new African immigrants than towards indigenous African Americans who relative to their population are the poorest and most disadvantaged in America.
Black Star Journal (http://blackstarjournal.blogspot.com/2006/04/secretary-and-her-good-friend-ogre.html) comments on the recent meeting between US Secretary of State, Ms Rice and the “tyrant in charge of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema” and wonders if:
“Equatorial Guinea's nightmarish human rights' record (which is significantly worse than Robert Mugabe's 'outpost of tyranny' but without the bluster) was part of the talks. Given the country's position as one of Africa's emerging oil exporters, I doubt the set of discussions between the secretary and her 'good friend' were that 'full.'”
I doubt it. The US is well known for it’s selective amnesia when it comes to issues of human rights – thus Zimbabwe, Burma, Belarus and Cuba are singled out, Guinea and Ethiopia are not. Neither is Nigeria, despite its blatant disregard for human rights in the proposed gay ban legislation that is presently being presented in the Senate.
Enough is Enough (http://enoughzimbabwe.org/mugabe-misfires-again-on-independence-day) is a new “super blog” from Zimbabwe. The project has been supported by the Committee to Protect Bloggers.
“In addition to my regular posts (Zimpundit) you will be able to find a wealth of information in different multimedia formats from a variety of vantage points including other Zimbloggers, observers, and Zimbabweans abroad.
Alt.Muslim (http://www.altmuslim.com/perm.php?id=1695_0_24_0_M">Alt Muslim) writes on Muslim immigration to the US which he sees as being a particularly challenging experience especially since 9/11. However the Muslim voice has been largely silent during the highly visible immigration debate taking place in the US today.
“The last few years have shown us the early targeting and detained (without a single terror-related conviction among them), the plight of Muslim immigrants caught in INS red tape, the special registration that specifically targeted Muslim visitors, the prevention of the immigration of US scholars, and the deportation of Muslim women who made the mistake of divorcing their US citizen husbands. Based on this, one would think that Muslims would have a lot to say on the current raging debate on immigration. But aside from a few voices joining calls for a more humane immigration policy as scattered endorsers of various protests, there has been little contribution from Muslim circles.”
Although the present immigration protests are largely drawn from the Hispanic community, he feels the Muslim community needs to participate as the issue affects them as much as any other recent immigrant community.
Black Looks (okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks/2006/04/remembering_iqb.html) remembers April 16 (the International Day Against Child Slavery) and comments on the use of child labour in Nigeria where it is estimated there are 15 million working children. The government is presently drafting new policy which aims to support legislation against child labour but this will not include domestic or occupational work, which the draft describes as:
“…mild involvement of children in household and occupational activities carried out in safe conditions and environments and constitutes a mechanism for socialising children necessary for their adjustment to social and economic milieu.”
Black Looks comments:
“The words used to describe domestic labour and hawking as ‘mild involvement’ is outrageous. Children are made to work for up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. The child hawkers spend their day walking the streets with their wares with no relief and instructions that they must sell x amount in a day. All the children, domestic servants and hawkers are vulnerable and open to sexual and physical abuse by punters and employers or rather owners. It is unacceptable that these two groups of children are therefore not to be included in this policy which makes a mockery of the whole idea.”
Afrikan Eye (http://afrikaneye.blogspot.com/2006/04/effect-of-colonialism-on-african-women.html) has an excellent piece on the affect of colonialism on African Women in which she explores the economic, social and political impacts and the responses by African women.
“The first socio-political effect of colonialism was the concept of the Victorian woman which the colonisers brought with them. The colonialists came with the belief that women were to remain creatures of the private domain. Women were to preoccupy themselves with domestic issues and leave the ‘real work’ of ruling and running the nation in terms of politics and economics in particular to the men. (Economically) Firstly, women were affected by the alienation of land experienced by most Africans. However, women appear to have been more personally affected by this land alienation.”
Feminist African Sister (http://feministafricansisters.blogspot.com/2006/04/sexual-offences-bill-2006.html) comments on the proposed Kenyan legislation known as the “Sexual Offences Act” and finds it “ludicrous to the extreme” that activists are having to lobby parliamentarians to support a bill of this kind.
“The Bill is meant to be about the national, common good! It is meant to be about Kenya against the big, bad, perpetrators of sexual violence!”
She is also irritated by activists having to justify the bill in terms of how it will also help men and boys who are raped as if women being raped is an insufficient reason for passing the bill. She asks:
“…why can't we just support efforts to punish sexual violence period! Why must we qualify it by saying, ‘even men and boys are raped?’ I don't buy for one minute, that this kowtowing will get men and boys to empathize with the rampant rape of women and girls! I don't need to be told that I too could be hit by a car, to empathize with a person who has been hit by a car! The fact that the person is telling me they were hit by a car should be enough! They need not roll up their sleeves to show me the bruises or broken bones! So why are we allowing ourselves to do so? Why do we need to qualify the reasons men should support the campaign against sexual violence and this Bill?”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Africa: Continent must step up prevention efforts to stop HIV/AIDS
Africa, which has the highest number of HIV infections in the world, must scale up its prevention efforts to reverse this trend, according to the president of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare. "The responsibility of HIV prevention is not the one of the World Health Organization [WHO] or of UNAIDS. It is ours - we all have to commit ourselves to that," Konare said. Konare was speaking on the occasion of the official launch of the year of "The Acceleration of Prevention of HIV Initiative in the African Region", an initiative of African health ministers aimed at stepping up the pace of HIV prevention on the continent.
Africa: Show of unity in trade talks laudable
If the developments at the just-concluded African Union (AU) ministerial conference on World Trade Organisation talks are anything to go by, there is a real danger of failure to conclude ongoing Doha round of free trade negotiations. In the words of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, the refusal by the big players - the European Union, the United States, Brazil and India - "to make real offers that can facilitate the signing of an agreement" is to blame for the stalemate.
Global: Do literacy programmes for indigenous people ignore gender?
Adult education programmes developed for or by indigenous communities rarely address gender inequalities. Programmes often aim to promote indigenous people’s rights, including bringing together communities who are actually differentiated along lines of gender, class and age. Despite their commitment to adjusting unequal power relations, course designers rarely mention gender.
Global: Enabling environment for the advancement of women and girls
This publication is World Vision’s briefing paper to the 50th Commission on the Status of Women. It focuses on World Vision’s work to empower and advance the status of women and girls while assisting the entire community in realising its full potential. The paper presents a compilation of articles from World Vision’s gender and development, relief, and advocacy experts in the Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and the former states of the Soviet Union. They focus on the challenges and promising practices for the advancement of women and girls in the areas of education, health, work, and those trapped in situations of violence.
South Africa: Final chapter for rights champion Kuzwayo
Life-long champion of women’s rights Nnoseng Ellen Kate Kuzwayo died in Soweto in the early hours of yesterday, after a long illness. She was 91. Her son, Bobo, said Kuzwayo – until June, 1999, South Africa’s longest-serving parliamentarian – died at 2.30am in the Lesedi Private Clinic, to which she was admitted three weeks ago for diabetes- related complications. Kuzwayo was born on a farm in the Thaba Nchu district of the Free State on June 29, 1914, and is best known for her book, Call Me Woman, published in 1986 and winner of the CNA Book Prize.
South Africa: Migrants find sex trade a dead end street
Last March Janet (not her real name) took a hard look at her prospects and made a drastic decision. Equipped with little more than a friend's phone number, she joined the growing number of Zimbabweans who cross illegally into South Africa every day, looking for a better life. According to Khopotso Nakin, director of the New Life Centre for Girls, an NGO, Janet's story is far from unusual: of the estimated 10,000 commercial sex workers in Hillbrow, a rough inner-city neighbourhood where many hotels double as brothels, 20 percent come from other parts of Africa.
South Africa: Sex worker stabbed to death
"The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) is horrified by the brutal murder of Paarl Sex Worker, Ellenore Leander. Leander was stabbed 19 times. The suspect is in custody and will appear in the Paarl Magistrates Court for a bail hearing."
Monday 18th April 2006
The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) is horrified by the brutal murder of Paarl Sex Worker, Ellenore Leander.
Ellenore Leander was stabbed 19 times. The suspect is in custody and will appear in the Paarl Magistrates Court for a bail hearing tomorrow.
SWEAT has talked with Ellenore's family and we support their call for the suspect, Clifford Norval, to be remanded in custody without bail. According to evidence gathered so far, the late Ellenore was stabbed 19 times and her body dumped in the street outside the suspect's mother's house, with a trail of blood running from the house to the street. This is an extremely gruesome
murder and it is clear that the suspect poses a great danger to other members of the community.
Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to violence from various parties, including clients, partners, police and passers-by. Violence against sex workers needs to be considered in the context of the extremely high level of
violence against women in South Africa.
SWEAT calls for decriminalisation of sex work because current criminalised working conditions are very unsafe for sex workers. In a decriminalised industry, sex workers would be able to take greater control of their working
conditions and could approach police and other safety services for protection without fear of arrest or reprisals.
Decriminalisation of sex work would also lessen the stigma society has been taught to associate with sex workers. This stigma devalues the lives of sex workers and makes them easy targets for violent people.
SWEAT calls upon the magistrate presiding over Ellenore's case not to grant bail to Norval, and if Norval is found guilty of murdering Ellenore, to impose on him the maximum sentence for the crime of murder.
For comment call Anna Weekes, SWEAT Legal Advocacy and Lobbying Coordinator
on 021 487875.
Uganda: 'Country leads in bride price violence'
Although a number of reports have indicated high levels of bride price-based violence in Uganda, the country has no laws or guidelines that specifically address bride price violations. According to a survey cited in the Uganda Poverty Eradication Action Plan 2004/5-2007/8, domestic violence and sexual harassment are some of the most frequently mentioned human rights abuses in Uganda. A Unicef survey in 1999 titled "State of World Children" carried out in 14 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, ranked Uganda top with the highest reported incidents of domestic violence at 41 per cent of those surveyed.
Uganda: Survey reveals birth canal disease is common in Kasese women
A just-concluded research in Kasese district has revealed that hundreds of women and girls silently suffer a maternal health problem called obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is a hole that develops between the bladder and the birth canal or between the rectum and the birth canal or both, resulting in uncontrolled and continuous leakage of faeces and urine. The community-based research, was conducted by a Kasese-based NGO, God Hope Foundation for Rural Development in collaboration with Women's Dignity Project (WDP) of Tanzania. According to the research team leader, the condition was typical among the poor who cannot access emergency obstetric care.
Zimbabwe: Domestic violence - more radical approach needed
Although legislation will go a long way in serving as a deterrent, women will remain vulnerable as long as cultural perceptions based on patriarchy remain unshaken. Cultural philosophies in relation to gender violence need a complete overhaul. Legislation can assist women in "visible" cases such as divorce settlements, inheritance, reported cases of physical violence, etc. But legislation can do next to nothing with "invisible" cases such as psychological violence and unreported cases of abuse.
Algeria: Amnesia decree
In Algeria, the good news is that citizens no longer live in fear of being butchered by Islamist militants at makeshift roadblocks, or of being "disappeared" by hooded policemen who break down their front doors. But after turning the corner on a conflict between government forces and Islamist rebels that claimed more than 100,000 lives, mostly civilian, since 1992, Algeria is moving toward less, not more, freedom. The extraordinarily broad new "law implementing the charter on peace and national reconciliation" makes this clear. Never before has a government, in the guise of healing a nation after a fratricidal war, threatened to impose such heavy punishments on those who dare to pose critical questions about the past.
Botswana: Execution of Modisane Ping
"The Botswana Centre for Human Rights strongly condemns the execution of Mr Modisane Ping on Saturday 1 April 2006 . There was no notification of the impending execution. The actual execution was conducted in secrecy. Mr. Ping's family did not have any access to him immediately prior to the execution. Mr. Ping's family did not have access to his body and the family members were not afforded an opportunity to ensure that Mr. Ping received a decent burial. Further, the family does not have the opportunity to visit Mr. Ping's grave. The result of executing people in secret in Botswana is to punish their relatives, who were not responsible for the crime. We believe that a lack of transparency of procedures is a serious threat to democracy and good governance."
Burundi: 34-year old curfew lifted
Burundi has lifted a midnight to dawn curfew that has been in place for 34 years, saying the country is stable. A new government was elected last year following a civil war that killed an estimated 300,000 people. The curfew was used by the government in the 1970s - dominated by a Tutsi minority - to try to maintain control. But the country soon spiralled into chaos - as Hutu rebel groups took up arms against increasingly brutal repression by the military. The curfew remained in force for the next three decades - with Burundians prohibited from venturing on to the streets between midnight and dawn. Now the government says these restrictions are no longer necessary.
Central African Republic: Court refers ex-ruler to The Hague
A top court in Central African Republic has referred its former president, Ange Felix Patasse, and Congo's Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on war crimes charges. Patasse's security forces backed by fighters from Bemba's then-rebel movement in neighbouring Congo and mercenaries from Chad are accused of executing and raping civilians as they put down a coup attempt in the former French colony in October 2002.
DRC: Soldiers jailed for mass rape
Seven soldiers in the Congolese army have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, including the mass rape of at least 119 women in the northwestern province of Equateur. This was the first sentence against the country's military personnel for crimes against humanity. However, the military garrison court in Songo Mboyo, 600 km northeast of the provincial capital Mbandaka, acquitted five other soldiers of similar charges. The convicted soldiers committed the crimes in December 2003 at Songo Mboyo.
Global: Giving teenagers their rights
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified in 1989 but many young people grow up knowing little of what it is to have the protection and freedoms that are described within its 54 articles. Much remains to be done to guarantee teenagers their rights. Often mistaken for or treated as adults, teenagers are vulnerable to many risks and dangers. Despite the protection offered by the CRC, their rights are too often neglected. Between eight and twenty million children are thought to be involved in the worst forms of child labour: forced and bonded labour, armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and trafficking.
Malawi: International human rights mission to study hunger emergency
An international fact-finding mission arrives in Malawi next week to address the ongoing hunger emergency in the southern African country. The mission, comprised of human rights experts from Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, Canada and Germany, is co-organized by Rights & Democracy (Canada) and FIAN International (Germany). The week-long inquiry, which takes place from April 17 to 23, supports an ongoing initiative by a broad coalition of Malawian civil society organizations working to ensure that both donor countries and the Government of Malawi respect commitments outlined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including those related to the human right to food.
Malawi: International human rights mission to study hunger emergency
MONTREAL – April 13, 2006 – An international fact-finding mission arrives
in Malawi next week to address the ongoing hunger emergency in the southern African country. The mission, comprised of human rights experts from Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, Canada and Germany, is co-organized by Rights & Democracy (Canada) and FIAN International (Germany).
The week-long inquiry, which takes place from April 17 to 23, supports an
ongoing initiative by a broad coalition of Malawian civil society
organizations working to ensure that both donor countries and the
Government of Malawi respect commitments outlined in the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including those related
to the human right to food.
The mission comes at a time when a massive food crisis has again taken hold
across Malawi, leaving almost five million people hungry and in desperate
need of assistance. Despite the implementation of various policies and
programmes over the past decade – many externally imposed - the food crisis in Malawi persists and threatens to become an annual hardship in a country already struggling to survive amidst endemic poverty and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
While in Malawi, the members of the fact-finding mission will meet with a
variety of stakeholders, including representatives of civil society,
government officials and international donor organizations. The mission
delegation will also conduct site visits to various communities and food
distribution centers. The mission's preliminary conclusions will be
released at a press conference in Lilongwe on Friday, April 21 and
recommendations will be made public in a final report.
* For further information please contact Steve Smith (x 255) or Louis
Moubarak (x 261) at Rights & Democracy in Montreal, (514) 283-6073
* Rights & Democracy is a non-partisan, independent Canadian institution
created by an Act of Parliament in 1988 to promote, advocate and defend the
democratic and human rights set out in the International Bill of Human
Rights. In cooperation with civil society and governments in Canada and
abroad, Rights & Democracy initiates and supports programmes to strengthen laws and democratic institutions, principally in developing countries.
Rwanda: Mayor jailed over genocide
A Rwandan ex-mayor has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for aiding and abetting killing in the 1994 genocide. Paul Bisengimina, who was mayor of Gikoro in 1994, was sentenced at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the Tanzanian town of Arusha. He was convicted on two charges to which he pleaded guilty in terms of a plea bargaining agreement. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during the 100-day genocide. Mr Bisengimina was involved in the slaughter of about 1,000 Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church.
Chad: President retracts refugee threat, closes Sudan border
The government of Chad has backed down on threats to expel 200,000 Sudanese refugees after linking a series of rebel attacks to Khartoum, but has closed the border with Sudan, threatening aid distribution. The announcements came after a week of attacks on Chadian towns by rebels seeking to overthrow Chadian President Idriss Deby, culminating in a major assault on the capital N’djamena which killed and injured more than 200.
Côte d’Ivoire: UN advocate for the rights of displaced persons visits
With up to a million and a half people displaced by civil war and conflicts over land and ethnicity in Côte d’Ivoire, Walter Kälin, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), is visiting the country to investigate their plight and advocate for their rights. He will meet members of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, organizations representing displaced persons, and national and international bodies concerned with their protection.
Global: UN alarmed over 'asylum fatigue'
Global numbers of refugees are falling dramatically as people return to former war zones, the United Nations says. Some 9.2m people were refugees in 2005, the lowest figure for 25 years. But in a five-year survey, the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) warns of "asylum fatigue" in both industrialised and developing nations. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warns that public confusion meant people who needed help were seen as a public threat.
Global:Remittances sustain livelihoods in war, crises and transitions
Migrant remittances are now widely recognised as a powerful tool affecting livelihoods across the globe. Counting only tracked and registered international transfers, migrants sent over $125 billion in 2004, and the figures are rising. Forced migrants generated by conflict and other causes gravitate to places where people known to them are already residing. Their political, cultural and economic relationship and loyalties, to each other and to their countries of origin, are complex.
Libya: Government makes first donation to WFP for millions at risk
The United Nations World Food Programme has welcomed its first ever contribution from the Government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The donation of 6.1 million Libyan dinars (US$4.5 million) will help feed 2.7 million people in the Darfur region of western Sudan and 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.
Sudan: Last stand?
On any given day, hundreds of women in displaced persons camps throughout Darfur can be seen nervously waiting for African Union (AU) troops before venturing outside to collect firewood for cooking. In its struggle to prevent atrocities, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has had many small successes and has proven innovative in its methods. Despite serious handicaps, AMIS has saved lives and prevented even worse catastrophes for many internally displaced persons (IDPs). But the African Union faces crises of its own. With a weak mandate and near-empty coffers, AMIS is itself struggling to survive.
Uganda: IDP camps close
Two decades of hunger, fear and disease in crowded camps may be ending for nearly two million internally displaced persons in the war-torn northern Uganda. Hundreds have began returning to their villages. The Ugandan army announced that the IDPs mainly in the Lango and Teso sub-regions will walk home. According to the defence and army spokesman, the resettlement process will not, however, extend to the Acholi sub region because there are still a few rebel remnants there. Millions have been forced into camps by the insurgency that has left thousands dead and many abducted and forcefully conscripted into rebellion mainly from the Acholi sub-region.
Comores: Court decision may determine election result
Voters in the Comoros went to the polls on Sunday to select final-round candidates in the race to become President of the Union, but the constitutional court - the highest electoral body - could still determine the outcome. The ballot is aimed at breaking the cycle of coups and political strife that has plagued the three islands in the Comoros group since they won independence from France in 1975.
DRC: Court urged to invalidate Kabila candidature
The Supreme Court in the Democratic Republic of Congo is set to examine a petition against President Joseph Kabila's candidature in general elections set for later this year. Andre-Alain Atundu Liongo, the president of the Holy Alliance, a group opposed to Kabila, filed the suit on Wednesday (April 13) claiming that Kabila was ineligible to contest the country's presidency as he was still a member of the army. According to Congolese law, passed after a referendum in December 2005, no member of the army, police or the civil service is eligible to contest public office. Those wishing to do so must produce a letter showing they have left government service.
Egypt: Amid arrests, activists urge official recognition of Islamist group
Activists renewed calls for official recognition of Islamist opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood after dozens of the banned-but-tolerated party’s members were arrested in recent weeks. “We call for the government to recognise the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political party,” said Nigad al-Borai, director of the Cairo-based Group for Democratic Development. “Only then will political disputes between the government and the brotherhood be resolved legally.”
Liberia: Weah's diplomatic papers 'seized'
The party of Liberian football star George Weah has complained of a "witch-hunt" after his diplomatic passport was seized at the airport. Mr Weah was "bundled off" a plane by security agents, said the party's Secretary General Eugene Nagbe. Mr Weah came second in last year's polls but says he was cheated out of victory. Observers rejected his claims. The government says it is investigating the incident and denies issuing an order to seize Mr Weah's passport.
Morocco: Sahrawi leader sees W.Sahara autonomy as breakthrough
King Mohammed's pledge to grant autonomy to Western Sahara is a breakthrough and should ease concerns on all sides over the territory's fate, said a Sahrawi leader and chairman of the council working on the proposal. "It is the first time in the kingdom's history that a Moroccan king promises autonomy for the Sahrawis," Khali Henna Ould Errachid, chairman of the Royal Consultative Council for Sahara Affairs, told Reuters. "The autonomy satisfies the aspirations of all Sahrawis. It will end the conflict. I have no doubt on that," he added.
Swaziland: Border post scuffles highlight democratic shortfall
Activists lobbying for democratic reform in Swaziland have vowed to push ahead with their campaign, even though several of them were temporarily detained this week for blocking the five border posts between South Africa and Swaziland. "We'll meet with our counterparts in Swaziland to chart a way forward. We are right now consulting with each other and we will agree on a date for mass action as soon as we can," Bongani Masuku, secretary general of the Johannesburg-based Swaziland Solidarity Network, a non-governmental organisation, told IPS.
Uganda: Do not legislate away a vibrant and strong NGO sector
In Uganda, the Coalition on Non-Governmental Organisations (Amendment) Bill ("CONOB") notes with much concern that on Friday, 7 April 2006, the parliament of Uganda passed the Non-Governmental Organisations Registration (Amendment) Bill ("NGO Bill") without taking into consideration the grave concerns expressed by the NGO community. They have issued a press release outlining these concerns.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12TH APRIL, 2006
A VIBRANT AND STRONG NGO SECTOR IS NECESSARY FOR THE COUNTRY: DO NOT LEGISLATE IT AWAY
The Coalition on Non-Governmental Organisations (Amendment) Bill ("CONOB") notes with much concern that on Friday, 7 April 2006, Parliament passed the Non-Governmental Organisations Registration (Amendment) Bill ("NGO Bill") without taking into consideration the grave concerns expresses by the NGO community.
With the passing of NGO Bill what now remains is its presentation to the President for assenting so that it then becomes an operating law. The NGO Bill which seeks to regulate the operations of NGOs was first presented in Parliament in 2001. From the onset CONOB raised concerns over certain provisions within the NGO Bill whose effect they felt would undermine the operations of NGOs and usurp their independence and autonomy. When the NGO Bill was first presented in Parliament in 2001 certain provisions raised serious concern within the NGO community and these were raised by CONOB from the very onset.
As part of the effort to ensure the enactment of a progressive NGO law, CONOB came up with an alternative bill as a basis for dialogue with government. It is self-evident from the spirit and letter of the alternative bill that NGOs needed a law that would serve to create values of partnership, monitoring and dialogue between the NGO sector and Government. Indeed while the NGO sector agrees with the need to have an administrative and regulatory framework within which they can carry out their activities in a responsible manner, it still remains imperative that any laws creating this framework must not usurp the independence and autonomy of NGOs. It will also be noted that NGOs are institutions that have and must exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, indeed the very right to exist. NGOs do play an important role in Uganda's society; far from being enemies of the state they seek to work with and complement Government in many ways, while also ensuring that Government remains committed to its obligations to the people and accountable for its actions.
The NGO sector remains willing and prepared work in partnership with Government and an enabling law is the starting point to forging such partnership for the development of our country. A strong and vibrant civil society is critical for the development, good governance and
democratization of our country. Ugandans should be wary of any attempts to stifle and weaken the NGOs which undeniably are a vital component of the civil society.
It is noted that when Parliament finally passed the NGO Bill on Friday, 7 April 2006, a few changes had been made to the NGO Bill in a bid to address the concerns of CONOB and so a number of objectionable clauses have been retained in the law.
The concerns identified from the original Bill and the final NGO Bill include the following:
a)The first concern is the composition of the National Board set up to monitor NGOs and develop policy guidelines for Community Based Organisations. This Board would, save for only two members selected from the public, be composed of Government representatives, including security organizations, while there was no representation of NGOs
whatsoever. NGOs were being excluded from participate in the
regulation of their operations. Such a Board which excluded NGOs it is felt will not be able to operate independently but end up as a mere instrument of the Government used to frustrate or deal with any NGOs that were disliked by Government.
The final NGO Bill has simply reduced the number of members of the Board from 18 to 15. Of these fifteen members, thirteen are drawn from Government institutions and two from the public. NGOs remain totally excluded from membership.
b)The second concern is the provision that NGOs will only be
able to operate after being granted valid permits which had to be renewed after one year. While NGOs will now be allowed to continue to operate while the Board made its decision on the granting or renewal of a permit NGOs still feel that because a permit can in the end be denied means that NGOs could be forced to stop operations mid way, only after a year of initiating them. The Board, which will be controlled solely by the Government, can thus use this threat of refusal to renew a permit to control NGOs and get rid of those that they feel are against Government.
c)The third provision that was of concern was one which stated that NGO whose objectives contravened any government policies, plans or public interest would be denied registration. The concern was that all NGOs that sought to make Government accountable for its actions, its failure to come up with and execute sound policies or its violation of human rights would find themselves being denied registration and effectively being put out of existence.
This provision has however been changed in the final Bill to state that those NGOs whose operation contravene the law will be denied registration. This new provision is more reasonable and fair than the first, though the concern would be whether these "laws" that should not be contravened remain just laws.
CONOB therefore calls upon the President of the Republic of Uganda to seriously take note of and consider the above noted concerns and particularly refrain from assenting to the law in its current form.
Uganda Debt Network (UDN),
Community Development Resource Network (CDRN),
Anti corruption coalition Uganda (ACCU)
Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U),
Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA),
Uganda Women's Network (UWONET),
Uganda National NGO forum,
Transparency International (TI)
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Zimbabwe: 26 years after independence
Mugabe famously said in 1980: “Tomorrow is thus our birthday, the birthday of great Zimbabwe and the birthday of its nation. Tomorrow we shall cease to be men and women of the past and become men and women of the future. It is tomorrow then, not yesterday, which bears our destiny. As we become a new people we are called to be constructive, progressive and forever forward looking. For we cannot afford to be men of yesterday backward looking, retrogressive and distractive.” Sadly, says this article from the blog www.enoughzimbabwe.org, as Zimbabwe celebrates 26 years of Independence Mugabe has failed to be constructive or progressive.
* Related Link
Little to celebrate as country turns 26
Africa: Corruption may delay debt relief
The World Bank, concerned about allegations of government corruption in Africa, may delay some debt relief announced with fanfare in September, officials said. The bank, which is owned by 184 nations and finances projects in developing nations, has agreed to cancel $37 billion in debt from 18 of 38 countries. Some of the remaining nations, including Chad and Congo, may not get aid as planned because of their handling of oil revenue.
Africa: UK development secretary to urge IMF to punish corrupt regimes
The UK Development Secretary, is to call for new rules to stamp out corruption and prevent aid being squandered in developing countries. In Washington for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, he will urge member-countries to sign up to a new anti-corruption framework. "Corruption, like temptation, exists everywhere, but in poor countries it can kill," he said. "Money meant for drugs for a sick child, or to build a hospital, can be siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts." Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank's president, has made anti-corruption a key theme since he took over the role last year.
Liberia: When will stolen wealth be returned?
"There are no reliable statistics or information on the return of stolen funds to Liberia since the collapse of the Doe regime or the Taylor regime. This issue had not been given prominence by previous caretaker governments because they felt that they did not have the authority to take on such an issue. However the Sirleaf government is an elected one and possesses the authority to press for the return of stolen funds to Liberia. This is part of the process of fighting the culture of impunity that had existed in Liberia."
South Africa: Anti-corruption plan after Kebble debacle
In the wake of the allegations of multi-billion-rand theft by Brett Kebble, civil society has vowed to flex its muscles over the lack of accountability, as well as abuse, by those that hold "entrusted power", particularly corporate graft. A group of non-governmental bodies with an anti-corruption mandate will attempt to uncover the failings of corporate governance at this week's closed National Anti-Corruption Forum with the government and business.
Africa: China calling
China's increased role throughout Africa has demonstrated that Beijing's Africa policy will be an important aspect of its rapid economic growth. Hence, on January 12, China officially unveiled an Africa Policy Paper which outlined the future relationship between Africa and China. As stated in its forward, the Policy Paper was created " with the view of promoting the steady growth of China-Africa relations in the long term and bringing the mutually beneficial co-operation to a new stage."
Africa: US farm subsidies hurting continent's development
In a renewed campaign, African trade ministers have urged the United States to remove agricultural subsidies that are hurting African farmers. "We need to maintain pressure on the U.S. to remove agriculture subsidies because this is an impediment to our development," said Kenya's Vice President. "The removal of these subsidies will be a clear demonstration of the ability of the multilateral trading system to respond positively to the genuine cry of the many poor African farmers who live on less than one dollar a day," he said. The 20 trade ministers, who met under the auspices of the 53-member African Union (AU), called on the United States to indicate when it would stop subsidising its farmers, as the Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations get close to conclusion in 2006.
Global: The prospects of wage labour and labour movements in globalised economy
This paper will attempt to dissect and identify the challenges faced by the wage labour and labour movement in this highly celebrated capitalist era especially by the rich. It would highlight the problems specifically related to wage labour and labour movements and their survival. It will also highlight the constraints resulting from globalised economic policies demands and problems of economic retaliation resulting from a drastic economic reform. The paper will further propose that, the working class organisations missed an opportunity for achieving their perceived goal of socialism in their respective localities.
Global: UN reform - An agenda for accountability
What the UN needs most is an administrative justice system open to people directly affected by UN policies. (For more information on global administrative law, read B.S. Chimni's study, http://iilj.org/global_adlaw/documents/ChimniPaper.pdf on the expansion of global administrative law.) In the long run, the UN should have a unified tribunal system with a high court at the top that can issue binding rulings, but it could start with judicial oversight of UN entities that wield power over vulnerable individuals.
Liberia: Government releases short-term development agenda
At the end of two months in office, Liberia’s peacetime government has released a five-month development agenda to get the country’s post-war reconstruction rolling. The agenda entitled “First 150 Days Action Plan: A working document for a new Liberia” commits President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government to a host of goals from economic reforms to humanitarian initiatives before the end of June.
Southern Africa: Joy as hope of trade deal fades
Civil society organizations in the US and South Africa are applauding the rejection of the USTR's efforts to revive the US-Southern Africa Customs Union Free Trade Agreement (U.S.-SACU FTA) negotiations. Citing elements of the potential deal that could have limited access to affordable generic AIDS drugs and other life-extending medicines and impeded development in the region, activists, unions, and churches expressed satisfaction that a "comprehensive" FTA is looking increasingly unlikely.
Activists, Unions, and Churches Applaud Rejection of “One Size Fits All” Model;
Say Rejected Deal Could Have Undermined Fight Against AIDS & Poverty
MEDIA RELEASE :: US-SACU FTA Working Group
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Jessica Walker Beaumont
+1 (917) 609-5788 (U.S.)
+27 (82) 466-1701 (South Africa)
April 18, 2006
Pretoria, South Africa/Washington, DC—Today, as US Trade Rep. Robert Portman
stepped down to run the Office of Management and Budget, civil society
organizations in the US and South Africa are applauding the rejection of the
USTR’s efforts to revive the U.S.-Southern Africa Customs Union Free Trade
Agreement (U.S.-SACU FTA) negotiations. Citing elements of the potential deal
that could have limited access to affordable generic AIDS drugs and other
life-extending medicines and impeded development in the region, activists,
unions, and churches today expressed satisfaction that a “comprehensive” FTA is
looking increasingly unlikely. SACU countries sent a strong message, say
activists, that they will not be held hostage to the U.S. “fast track” timelines
and will not sacrifice their ability to address poverty. Instead, negotiators in
Pretoria, where Mr. Portman made his departure announcement, are talking of
pursing a watered down “joint work program”—a shift civil society groups hope
signals an end to the push for inappropriate, pro-corporate trade rules in the
The negotiations for what would be the first U.S. bilateral trade deal in
Sub-Saharan Africa have been “on again, off again” for the last three years.
This is largely because the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office refuses to commit
to structuring the FTA in a way that takes the grinding poverty, dependence on
agriculture for livelihoods, and lack of access to essential services and
medicines in the region into account.
Today, it was reaffirmed that the SACU countries have rejected a “comprehensive”
FTA that would have included all economic sectors, and worked from the same
template USTR has used for trade agreements in Latin America, Southeast Asia,
North Africa and the Middle East. Instead, discussions appear to heading down a
path of a “joint work program” that could look much like the US-Swiss
Cooperation Forum that was developed when free trade talks collapsed between the
countries of agriculture subsidies.
“Scholars have studied other U.S. free trade agreements and have found that
there is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ or as the negotiations would say an FTA
framework,” said Carol Thompson, Research Chair of the Association of Concerned
African Scholars from Northern Arizona University. “By refusing to take issues
like patents on life-saving medicines, provision of essential services, and food
crops of special importance off the ‘trade liberalization’ table, the U.S. is
putting Southern African nations in the position of choosing between trade and
the very lives of their people,” she said.
Among the top complaints of civil society and some legislators is that the
negotiations are being held under an anti-democratic veil of secrecy. While it
is well known from the statements of trade negotiators that the U.S. is pursuing
an equivalently problematic approach throughout the world, keeping proposals
secret keeps the populations and many elected official in the both the U.S. and
Southern Africa in the dark about essential issues.
Coalitions in both the U.S. and South Africa today applauded the halt to the
talks. These coalitions encompass a collection of policy groups, trade unions,
faith-based networks, student groups, academics, people living with HIV/AIDS,
women’s groups, and environmental organizations.
“Given the unique developmental profile of SACU — including a least developed
country, Lesotho — we confront a plethora of socio-economic challenges,
aggravated by the unfair and scandalous trade practices of our development
partners in the North”, says Brendan Vickers, Senior Researcher at the Institute
for global Dialogue in South Africa. “It is critical that our government
maintains their right to policy space and the right to protect programs like the
Black Economic Empowerment initiative used to undo historical injustices of the
colonial and Apartheid era,” concluded Vickers.
Access to medicines and the effects of intellectual property rights on people
living with HIV/AIDS is a hot button issue for the region. The SACU countries
are home to the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, with countries like
Lesotho reporting well over a third of adults infected, but where only about 14%
of those in need of HIV/AIDS medication have access.
“As far as South Africa is concerned, it is under a constitutional obligation
not to trade away the health of its population,” says Jonathon Burger of the
AIDS Law Project based in South Africa. “We are committed to take whatever
legal means at our disposal to block any agreement that undermines our right to
access to medicines and cannot count out a constitutional challenge of the
agreement as a whole,” says Burger.
According to experts, the US-promoted rules would have violated a WTO agreement
on public health reached at the 2001 Doha WTO Ministerial, permitting countries
to prioritize access to medicines while implementing their intellectual property
regimes. In the case of SACU, the rules would also violate U.S. Executive Order
13155, which states: “[the U.S.] shall not seek revision or revocation of any
intellectual property law or policy of a…sub-Saharan African country…that
regulates HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals or medical technologies if the law or policy
of the country…promotes access to HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals or medical
technologies for affected populations in that country.”
“As the largest trade union federation in South Africa with two million members
we are concerned about a Free Trade Agreement modeled after other U.S.
agreements and its potential negative impact on levels of employment, poverty
and government’s ability to meet basic needs,” said Tanya Van Meelis of the
Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU). “In a country that faces 26
percent official unemployment and 40 percent when using the broader definition
that includes those too discouraged to seek work,” continued Van Meelis, “if an
FTA cannot contribute to these goals, we would not support it.”
“As a Christian I follow the messages of Jesus – a man who spent his time with
the rural poor, who challenged systems of power and disparity between the rich
and powerful and the resource poor and powerlessness” said Kathy McNeeley,
Policy Analyst from Church World Service, a ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox,
and Anglican denominations in the U.S. “Many Christians in the U.S. participated
in fighting against Apartheid and they know that these kinds of struggles are
for the long hall,” said McNeeley.
Uganda: Billions saved in debt releif
Uganda will save about $2.7 billion over the next 40 years by not having to service the loans it owed International Development Association (IDA) as of December 31, 2003. The country recently qualified for 100 per cent external debt relief under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The initiative, supported by the World Bank, cancelled Uganda's debt along with that of 16 other poor countries around the world. In total, IDA is expected to provide more than $37 billion in debt relief for the 17 countries over 40 years.
Africa: African Civil Society position paper on HIV and AIDS in Africa
"We, African civil society organizations comprising organizations and networks of people living with HIV, young people, women, religious leaders and community workers at the frontline of the fight against AIDS, met in Abuja, Nigeria on April 10 to 12 2006 to develop a consolidated position for use during the review processes of the Abuja Declaration and Framework Plan for action, and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment (DoC), and to chart a way forward regarding access for all people requiring information and services related to HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. This statement reflects the outcomes of these deliberations, as well as the sentiments of the undersigned African Civil Society Organisations."
African Civil Society position paper on HIV and AIDS in Africa: Moving to Action
We, African civil society organizations comprising organizations and
networks of people living with HIV, young people, women, religious leaders
and community workers at the frontline of the fight against AIDS, met in
Abuja, Nigeria on April 10 to 12 2006 to develop a consolidated position
for use during the review processes of the Abuja Declaration and Framework
Plan for action, and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session
on AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment (DoC), and to chart a way
forward regarding access for all people requiring information and services
related to HIV prevention, care, support and treatment. This statement
reflects the outcomes of these deliberations, as well as the sentiments of
the undersigned African Civil Society Organisations.
African Civil Society Organisations are:
Unified in our commitment to working in partnership with all stakeholders
who recognise the role of Civil Society as a force for change, and as a
critical ally of communities affected by poverty, inequality and disease;
Concerned that although there are now more resources available to fight
AIDS in Africa than there were five years ago, urgent action is needed to
reach the millions of African people who are still excluded from access to
life-saving prevention, care and support and treatment services;
Horrified by the fact that in some instances, corruption and mismanagement
of funds have jeopardised the rights of people living with HIV and
affected by HIV and AIDS to access prevention, care and support and
treatment, and that in the absence of structures and systems to monitor
the use of funds in a transparent manner, the continent will be unable to
sustainably respond to the challenges of scaling up towards Universal
Outraged that two decades into the AIDS epidemic, Africans are faced with
the reality that many of our health systems are buckling under the
pressure of new AIDS treatment programmes; large portions of our budgets
are externally-funded and subject to unacceptable conditionalities; many
of our best, brightest and most educated are systematically poached by
institutions based in the Global North; the rights of women and girls
continue to be violated with impunity, further deepening their
vulnerability to infection and stigma; young people remain on the margins
of policy and programme design even as their vulnerability to infection
has not yet been addressed; and people living with HIV in many communities
remain unable to access basic services due to the stigma and
discrimination that they face on a daily basis;
Alarmed that onerous debt repayment obligations and conditionalities by
international finance institutions (IFIs) continue to undermine the
capacity of most African governments to devote sufficient resources for
HIV and AIDS including meeting the 15% Abuja commitment, we note that only
two African countries reached the target of 15% of health spending within
their national budgets and if debt repayments are factored in, not a
single African country would have reached the target set in 2001;
Deeply disturbed by the fact that without a massive and sustained effort
to meaningfully involve civil society organizations, the global
difficulties that impeded the attainment of the "3 by 5" campaign will
also be encountered in the push towards Universal Access in the next four
Dismayed that that despite the pledges made by states in the UNGASS DoC,
not one single African country has met the target of "reducing HIV
infection amongst young people by 25% by 2005" nor have any African
countries managed to "ensure 90% access to information, education,
services and life-skills," or reduce "by 20% the number of babies
infected by HIV;"
Strongly convinced that Universal Access to prevention, treatment, care
and support can only be achieved where goals and targets are set: without
goals there can be no progress towards access;
Unshakeable in our belief that comprehensive prevention, care and support
and treatment are indivisible: action in one area without equivalent
actions in the other areas is unacceptable;
Recommitted to moving beyond words to address the poverty, inequity and
violence that drive and exacerbate the impact of HIV and AIDS on the
communities that we represent and work with;
Within the Abuja Declaration and Framework Plan for Action, we therefore
1. Leadership, Partnership and Accountability
* Enact domestic legislation to ensure that the Abuja Declaration is given
effect in a manner that is commensurate with the State of Emergency
declared by many countries;
* Establish as a matter of urgent priority an inclusive and participatory
process for the development of national targets and indicators which
includes clear timeframes that will be reviewed on an annual basis;
* Include within the 15% health spending target, a specific set of
separate targets for each of the three diseases: AIDS, Tuberculosis and
* Establish independent national oversight committees with active
participation of civil society, to monitor the Abuja Declaration;
* Ensure that there is adequate resourcing and planning to enable civil
society participation in the processes outlined above;
* Put in place explicit accountability mechanisms that address the
allocation of responsibilities, timeframes, funding and access to
information by civil society organizations involved in monitoring and
* Recognise the importance of building and maintaining partnerships with
all stakeholders within civil society including people living with HIV,
young people, the media, parliamentarians, the private sector, faith-based
organizations, trade unions and community-based groups.
2. Sustainable Financing and Health Systems Strengthening
* Work in partnership with civil society organizations to accelerate
action on the removal of unfavourable conditionalities for accessing
resources, particularly the removal of budgetary ceilings imposed by IFIs
on social sector spending and the removal of odious debt repayments which
are demanded at the expense of the health and human rights of African
* Explore and support innovative means of mobilising additional domestic
resources to secure sustainable and predictable financing for HIV and AIDS
(such as the International Finance Facility and the Airline Solidarity
Contribution), including reducing military spending in order to increase
social spending, and ensuring that National Economic Planning Processes
reflect the commitments made in the Declaration;
3. Human Resources
* Ensure that health systems and infrastructure strengthening is supported
by a commensurate investment into the human resources of Africa by putting
in place long-term, comprehensive and fully costed Human Resource Plans at
national and regional levels to address Africa's primary challenge.
* Specifically that all WHO guidelines for effective delivery of health
care should be met by 2010, in particular the ratios recommended regarding
the number of doctors and nurses per patient, the number of hospitals and
clinics per population.
4. Comprehensive Prevention, Care, Treatment and Support
* Urgently scale up prevention efforts in order to meet the DoC targets
agreed upon in 2001, with particular emphasis on sexuality education and
life-skills and specific efforts aimed at decreasing the vulnerability of
women and youth, and promoting their ability to fully enjoy their sexual
and reproductive health and rights;
* Accelerate action on lifting tariffs on cost and price of medicines and
trade rules and mechanisms that impede access to affordable medicines;
creating an enabling environment for local production of medicines;
5. Research and Development
* African states must urgently commit build and strengthen national and
regional research capacity and infrastructure so as to lead HIV research
efforts that Africans will directly benefit from - including treatment,
prevention, indigenous African traditional medicines, and behavioural and
* African states must urgently commit to financial and human resources for
the research, development and planning for future access of vaccines,
microbicides and other female-controlled methods of preventing new HIV
infections - nationally and regionally;
6. Women's Rights and Gender Equality
* Through policy, institutional and legal frameworks, develop a policy,
legislative and administrative environment in which the rights of African
women and girls, especially those living with HIV are actively promoted,
fully enjoyed and protected within and through the ratification and
domestication of international instruments such as CEDAW, the Protocol to
the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the rights of Women in
Africa; Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004);
7. Human Rights
* Create enabling environments through policy, institutional and legal
frameworks at national level that promote and protect the human rights of
those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and that further reduces
their vulnerability to stigma and discrimination through the enactment of
Human Rights legislation;
* Ensure that the rights of orphans and vulnerable children are promoted
and protected through the massive scaling up of efforts aimed at providing
children with the protections outlined in the Convention on the Rights of
the Child, to which all African states are signatories;
Within the UNGASS DoC and the Declaration Statement on Universal Access,
we further call for Heads of States and government to adopt the following:
1. Explicit Targets
At the Abuja Summit, and again at the UNGASS Review, ensure that the
following targets are inserted into any document that is adopted in
regards to Universal Access:
"By 2010, ensure that at least 10 million people have access to HIV
treatment - including 7 million Africans - through an acceleration of HIV
treatment scale-up efforts by all stakeholders, including civil society,
people living with HIV, member-states, donor countries and multilateral
institutions. In order to ensure that this target is reached equitably,
Member States should develop, in an inclusive manner, specific targets for
the inclusion of vulnerable populations in national treatment plans,
including, for example, active injecting drug users, children, men who
have sex with men, women, and migrant populations."
"By 2010, ensure that all pregnant women living with HIV have access to
information and ARV therapy to prevent mother to child transmission."
"By 2010, ensure that the information and means to avoid HIV infection is
available to all citizens through an accelerated effort by civil society,
people living with HIV/AIDS, member states, donor countries and
2. Commitment to Tracking Progress on Universal Access
At the Abuja Summit and again at the UNGASS Review, ensure that African
states commit to the review of progress towards the prevention, care and
support and treatment targets contained in the DoC and outlined above.
This should be done in a High-level Joint Publication developed by key
stakeholders within civil society in partnership with the African Union.
The Summit is requested to adopt the following recommendation:
"By June 2008, ensure that the African Union Commission, in close
collaboration with civil society organisations and other key stakeholders,
produces a High-level Review of Progress towards the goals of ensuring
that a minimum of 7 million Africans have access to treatment services
related to HIV and AIDS; ensuring that all pregnant women living with HIV
have access to information and ARV therapy; and ensuring that all Africans
have access to the information and means to avoid HIV infection."
For steering committee of the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS:
ActionAid International - Africa
African Council of AIDS Service Organisations (AfriCASO)
African Microbicides Advocacy Group (AMAG)
Central African Network of AIDS Service Organisations (CANASO)
Eastern African Network of AIDS Service Organisations (EANASO)
Global Youth Coalition on AIDS (GYCA)
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria
Network of African People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+)
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
Open Society Institute for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Panos Institute GAP
Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA)
World AIDS Campaign
Abuja, Nigeria, 12 April 2006
DRC: Meningitis suspected in the death of 20 in Bandundu
Twenty people have died and 16 more are ill in the village of Tandembelo in Bandundu Province, western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from what could be meningitis, government and United Nations officials said on Wednesday. "All the people are showing clinical signs of meningitis," said Dr Benoit Kebela, an epidemiologist for the ministry of health. The 36 people with the illness were all admitted to hospital with the symptoms of high temperatures and severe headaches.
Nigeria: Book launches on HIV/AIDS
Nigerian Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo Wednesday in Abuja launched a book documenting efforts in the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria in the past five years. The book titled "AIDS in Nigeria: A nation on the Threshold," is the brainchild of the US Harvard School of Public Health programme, AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN). It is the first major comprehensive documentation on the disease in a book form since HIV/AIDS was first reported in 1986 in the country.
South Africa: Some hope for the Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Health MEC Dr Bevan Goqwana was fired by the premier this week, leaving a department which under his stewardship failed to properly account for R18.1 billion out of a total budget of R22.6 billion. Critical staff shortages, severe under spending, dilapidated hospitals and crumbling infrastructure, corruption charges, shortages of essential medical equipment and medicine – are just some of the characteristics that underpinned Goqwana's tenure as Eastern Cape's Health MEC since 1999.
Southern Africa: Working together for health
It is ironic to be talking of working together for health in Southern Africa - a region faced with chronic shortages of health workers as a result of massive brain drain, inadequate drugs, inadequate and chronic shortage of infrastructure and equipment. The fundamental question is who will be working with whom given the skeletal health personnel in the region? How can health provision be a reality in situations of collapsing health delivery systems, absence of drugs and medical equipment? Working together for health was this year’s theme for World Health Day, commemorated on the 7th of April.
Working together for health
Olga Makoni and Everson Munyunyu
It is ironic to be talking of working together for health in Southern Africa - a region faced with chronic shortages of health workers as a result of massive brain drain, inadequate drugs, inadequate and chronic shortage of infrastructure and equipment. The fundamental question is who will be working with whom given the skeletal health personnel in the region? How can health provision be a reality in situations of collapsing health delivery systems, absence of drugs and medical equipment? Working together for health was this year’s theme for World Health Day, commemorated on the 7th of April.
It is sad and disheartening that little was said in Southern Africa for World Health Day. The media carried only limited coverage. How then can we expect to address the health crisis in Africa when we are reluctant to talk about it ourselves and most of us are unaware even of the existence of World Health Day? Whom do we expect to address the problems of Africa when we cannot take an active role in lobbying for help? Is it possible to have adequate healthcare workers when the Western world is poaching the few workers that we have?
This year’s theme was focusing on the human resources for health; nurses, physicians, doctors, and surgeons among others. The Americas were celebrating their over 7 million health workers who were honoured as “Everyday heroes” in ceremonies throughout the region. What a stark contrast to the global South where there was nothing to celebrate. Although we harbour about half of the world’s population of people living with HIV and AIDS, there are only an estimated 750 000 health workers in a region that is home to about 682 million people . The whole African continent has a shortage of about 900 000 workers which means it needs an increase of about 139% to have an adequate number of healthcare workers. For now the realities are harsh; Malawi has 25,6 nurses per 100 000 people, Mozambique has 20,5 and Zimbabwe 54,2, while South Africa currently compares better, with a ratio of 388 nurses per 100 000 people. These figures call for no celebration at all when compared to the 7,5 million healthcare workers in the Americas, many of whom many are the result of costly training programmes paid for by developing countries.
In southern Africa the majority of the population is far below the poverty datum line, a circumstance which puts the cost of health services beyond their reach and has resulted in this tragic comment from the 2005 World Health Report: more than 100 million individuals in the world each year are pushed into poverty as a result of spending money on health. In a recent article published in the Zimbabwe Herald, a woman was evicted from her home after failing to pay rent. She had failed to pay the rent because she had used the money to send her daughter to hospital. Hence she sank deeper into poverty. In Malawi about 80% of the population is rural based, where everything from diagnostic procedures to treatment regimens is unavailable to most people. The situation is similar in Zimbabwe, where the country is faced with problems ranging from the unavailability of life saving medication in most public hospitals, to shortages of the most basic necessities, like contraceptive pills and even sanitary pads. Where these items are available, it is usually from private institutions where the cost puts them beyond the reach of the average person.
The poverty crisis linked to HIV and AIDS in Africa must be addressed because poverty has fuelled promiscuity, especially among girls and women, contributing to the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS. Treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS becomes relatively cost effective when compared with the cost of progression to AIDS, which includes the expense of opportunistic infections like TB, diarrhea, pneumonia, rashes, cancers and meningitis. These diseases translate to a much greater burden on the health delivery system, not to mention the human misery and suffering they cause. Treatment for HIV and AIDS treatment must be made available and affordable to avoid these terrible costs. Equally if treatment is available, this should help combat the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS.
When the theme Working together for health was selected for the World Health Day commemorations it seems they were thinking only of the developed world, where everything is in place to ensure working together for health. Do they ever ask the health professionals poached from the developing world why they left? For many it was not a matter of seeking more money, but a matter of being unable to tolerate watching patients die that ought to live. In the rich countries of the North, there is an over subscription of state of the art medical equipment, preventative health care and drugs. Like some grotesque parody, the people of the North worry about obesity, while those of the South struggle to get enough to eat. For the majority of the Third World, this year’s theme lacks relevance, but especially for Southern Africa, where there is no one to work together with. WHO’s recommendation that the developed nations stop poaching health personnel from poorer regions rings false, for the countries of the North train fewer nurses and doctors than they need, knowing full well that they will ‘import’ these skills at the expense of the South.
Recommending that developing nations should increase their health budgets is both impractical and unrealistic because most of them are scrimping resources from one sector to give to another already. Their failure to improve working conditions and remuneration of health personnel is due to lack of resources. The theme, pretty as it sounds, does not address the problems of the global South and especially of southern Africa.
As most stakeholders in HIV and AIDS are working towards ensuring “universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010” it is time to take stock of the many gaps in the health delivery system and ensure that they are appropriately addressed. Universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment needs to be tackled as a holistic package, which includes the provision of affordable drugs and adequate health facilities and support systems. There is also need for reinvestment in the public health service networks and the removal of user fees, which deny the poor access to even the most basic health care. As we commemorate World Health Day, we call for a reassessment of the increasing global inequality and a genuine commitment on behalf of the rich countries that they recognise the role they play in the state of our health. No one else is going to speak our truth.
* Olga Makoni and Everson Munyunyu are from the SAfAIDS' media unit.
Sudan: Grannies step in to care for children orphaned by HIV/Aids
"My father died when I was young and my mother died in 2000," said Yomima, 14, one of 250 children known to be orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. "The economic burden for grandparents of AIDS orphans is so great it can't be described," said Marcellina Denya, formerly a social worker. "Elderly people in Juba are earning nothing, so they are left in an impossible position. Even the small monies we are able to give make a vital difference."
Uganda: Lack of health care in refugee camps
IRIN/AllAfrica.com on Friday examined the HIV/AIDS epidemic in overcrowded camps in the Acholiland region of northern Uganda, where the disease "can't always be given priority" despite the fact that AIDS-related illnesses are among the "top self-reported causes of death" in the roughly 200 camps, which are home to nearly two million internally displaced persons. The Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government have been fighting for almost 20 years in the region, leading to insecurity and underdevelopment in the country.
Uganda: New method to manage HIV treatment
A new study in Uganda has confirmed that a combination of co-trimoxazole (Septrin), antiretroviral therapy, and insecticide-treated bed nets reduces the frequency of malaria in adults with HIV. The study aimed at assessing the effect of antiretroviral treatment (ART) on the frequency of malaria in people with HIV, and to measure the effects of co-trimoxazole and insecticide-treated bed nets.
Liberia: Sirleaf Launches Girls Education Policy
The Minister of Education, Joseph Korto said the government of Liberia is working out modality to secure scholarship for female students in the country. Korto said the government will use the scholarship program to encourage girls and their parents to engage the “universal learning process.”
Namibia: Impact of education quality on return to education
This study investigates the effect of education quality on rates of return to education in Namibia. In particular, the question raised in this study is whether the quality of schooling as proxied by better school resources matters much in determining future earnings of people. The study finds that school resources as measured by pupil-teacher ratio and teacher qualification had very little impact on rate of returns to education. This implies that school resources are an inadequate measure of quality of education received by an individual.
Rwanda: Country to acquire teachers from Kenya
Kenya and Rwanda have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will streamline professional education in Rwanda, facilitated by Kenyan teachers. The Memorandum was signed by the Kenyan Minister of Education, Science and Technology Dr. Noah M. Wekesa, MP, on behalf of the Kenyan government, while the Rwandan Minister of Education Dr. Jeanne D’arc Mujawamariya signed on behalf of the Rwanda government.
Somalia: Rare opportunity for hearing-impaired children as school opens
Hearing-impaired children in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, now have reason to enjoy a normal childhood, thanks to the opening of the country's first and only school for students with hearing difficulties. "For many families, our school is the only one - not only in Mogadishu, but throughout the country - that offers normal classes to their children," said Usman Muhammad Mahamud, the school's director, on Tuesday. Mahamud, along with other Somalis from abroad, decided to open a school that catered to hearing-impaired children. The demand for a place at the school "has been amazing," he said.
South Africa: School governing bodies split
The only two organisations in South Africa that have been representing the interests of school governing bodies (SGBs) have both split -- ahead of the next round of SGB elections that will start next month. Though the new SGB landscape, which now consists of four organisations, has divided an already weak parent sector, it will give SGBs a wider choice in terms of membership. The two new bodies have no links with established education organisations, according to the Mail and Guardian.
Uganda: Pupil power – students help shape AIDS education curriculum
Education is key to preventing the spread of HIV. But while sex education in Uganda covers effectively the biology of HIV, it fails to prompt behaviour change. Action research from Birmingham University, undertaken in Uganda, engaged pupils in choosing the content and delivery of the curriculum in an attempt to fulfil this need. Sex education is included within the Uganda curriculum, but not as a topic on its own. Lessons are teacher-centred and emphasise abstaining from sex until marriage and shunning homosexuality. Structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and personal accounts reveal that pupils see these lessons as boring, irrelevant and a waste of time.
Africa: Minorities Under Siege
“In every world region, minorities and indigenous peoples have been excluded, repressed and, in many cases, killed by their governments," said Mark Lattimer, executive director of the nongovernmental organisation Minority Rights Group International (MRG) at a press conference in January 2006. The event was the launch of the first edition of The State of the World’s Minorities Report, compiled by MRG with the assistance of various United Nations agencies.
Ethiopia: 'Racist' assault alarms Germans
A German man of Ethiopian origin is fighting for his life after being badly beaten, in what police described as a racist attack. The 37-year-old engineer suffered extensive skull and rib injuries in the attack by two men in Potsdam, eastern Germany, early on Sunday (April 15). About 100 foreigners have been killed in attacks by neo-Nazis since German reunification in 1990.
Chad: Slow death of Lake Chad
One of the world's great lakes is disappearing. Lake Chad - shared by Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger - has receded to less than 20% of its former volume. Global warming is being blamed, as well as water extraction. The land is parched dry and dusty but the first hint that there is water comes with the growing numbers of Caltropis dotting the landscape. These strange, twisted plants have deep tap roots, and where they grow water is usually not far away. Just 30 years ago, water covered the whole area. Baga was a waterfront town. Now it is stranded many miles from the lake as the land around it becomes desert. The Sahara is moving southwards.
Ethiopia: Government seeks China's support on hydropower
Ethiopian President Girma Woldegiorgis said Ethiopia seeks the support of the Chinese government in its efforts to utilize the huge hydropower potential in the country. Girma made the remark while holding talks with Zhang Mao, deputy mayor of Beijing, the capital city of China, at the National Palace, the country's presidential office. Girma said the support of China would be instrumental to enable Ethiopia to tap its huge hydro-electric power potential. He said the cooperation between the sisterly cities of Addis Ababa and Beijing would contribute for an exchange of experience, especially in the areas of urban administration.
Global: Business as usual won't achieve climate development goals
In this critique of the World Bank paper, "Clean energy and development: towards an investment framework", Peter Bosshard of the International Rivers Network points out that at the Gleneagles G8 Summit held in July 2005, the World Bank was given a twin mandate. It was asked to propose a strategy that will facilitate a global transition to a climate–friendly, sustainable energy future, and that will support energy sector development for economic growth and poverty reduction. IRN contends that the Bank’s new paper espouses a business–as–usual approach and will not achieve the climate and development goals of the Gleneagles mandate.
Global: World Bank climate plan looks to South
Large-scale projects such as dams and nuclear power plants, more funding for renewable energy and greater market liberalisation by poor nations are all solutions to climate change, poverty and fossil fuel dependence, according to an internal World Bank document leaked by a non-governmental organisation. The document, "Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development", obtained by IPS, will be discussed at the upcoming joint spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It offers the first public glimpse of the potential features of a plan proposed by rich nations last summer to combat global warming and help secure future energy supplies. The strategy could affect billions of dollars in energy investments, and impact the environment and ecosystems around the world.
Namibia: Conservation gets funding boost
The Namibian government has secured US $12 million in donor support for conservation efforts in four national parks over the next decade, which will have an impact on rural poverty. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided US $8.5 million and Germany's development agency, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, $3.5 million, with the Namibian government adding $27.4 million in cash and kind. The GEF, established in 1991, helps developing countries fund environmental projects and programmes.
Tanzania: New water law "unfriendly to the poor" - opposition
Opposition groups on the semiautonomous Tanzanian island of Zanzibar have criticised new legislation that declares all water on the island the property of the government and introduces fees for water, which had been free. Hamad Masoud, the chief spokesman of the opposition Civic United Front on water matters, said some clauses in the bill were "unfriendly to the poor people of Zanzibar, such as declaring ocean, rain and well water government property." He said water charges would pose a burden to most Zanzibaris, who dwell in “extreme poverty”.
Nigeria: 25 killed in land dispute
Militia armed with guns, machetes, and bows and arrows killed about 25 people in three days in a land dispute in the central state of Plateau, authorities and witnesses said. The blackened shells of at least 20 houses could be seen on the outskirts of the deserted town of Namu, 100 km (75 miles) east of the capital Abuja, which has been at the centre of the dispute. Residents said the dispute was over a new state-run development area headquarters, which would create jobs and bring money to the area.
Somaliland: Another country
It was the little things: smiles; handshakes; driving from the airport without an armed escort; seeing a traffic warden, a public library, a government ministry building; not seeing a gun or hearing a gunshot. Even the weather seemed pleasantly different: a cool breeze floated over Hargeisa at night. According to the map, this was still Somalia. Yet it felt like another country. "Because it is!" said Abdirahman Awil, a small, balding man who had invited me into his restaurant, suddenly becoming animated. "Somaliland is not Somalia - 100% of us know that, even 120%!"
South Africa: In pictures, Joburg's crowded township
As part of a series on housing in South Africa, the BBC News website's Justin Pearce speaks to residents of overcrowded Alexandra township in north-eastern Johannesburg.
Tanzania: Houses slated for demolition to improve water supply
The government of Zanzibar plans to demolish at least 150 houses to reduce the pollution of water sources on the islands. However, Zanzibar's main opposition party, the Civic United Front, said it opposed the demolition plan. The government's decision would be a violation of human rights and of the island's land laws, spokesman Hamad Masoud said.
Zimbabwe: Land invaders target South African farmers
A fresh wave of farm takeovers hit the southeastern Lowveld in Zimbabwe this week with Zanu-PF supporters and land officers seizing five plots with a ready-to-harvest sugarcane crop. The farm owners, most of them South Africans, have since appealed to the South African embassy in Harare to intervene, reports the Zimbabwe Independent. In a letter to Willem Geerlings, first secretary at the SA embassy, the farmers alleged that a Chiredzi lands officer, identified only as Mukonyora, another official identified as Guruvheti and a farmer, identified as Jambaya, invaded Hippo Valley Settlement, Holding 16, and gave the owner 30 days to vacate the property, reports the Mail and Guardian.
Chad: BBC correspondent beaten
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the brutal treatment of BBC correspondent René Dillah Yombirim, severely beaten by soldiers before he was released several hours later. Public radio journalist and French service correspondent for the BBC, Yombirim was arrested by members of the presidential guard on 15 April.
Egypt: Freedom to publish award given to Egyptian publisher
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has conferred the 2006 Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award to Mohamed Hashem, an Egyptian publisher who has been threatened and harassed for defending the right to freedom of expression. Hashem is the owner and managing director of Merit Publishing House, an independent company he co-founded in 1998. Merit supports and encourages new writers.
Global: Stop Jailing Journalists
To mark World Press Freedom Day, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has launched an online information package for newspapers around the world. Articles, case studies, cartoons, advertisements, graphics and statistics on jailed journalists can be downloaded for publishing on 3 May 2006.
Kenya: President Kibaki may have known about raid on newspaper
The March attacks on The Standard and the Kenya Television Network (KTN) by the Kenya police represented a deteriorating relationship between the media and the government, according to the former permanent secretary, John Githongo. Talking to the American Press on a recent visit to the US, he said that the Kenyan media was the primary tool that mobilised and rallied public opinion against corruption in Kenya, putting the media on a collision course with the government. Asked whether he believed the President was behind the attacks, he said, "Given that the President has made no apology for these attacks, one presumes that these attacks happened very much with his acceptance and acknowledgement that it was the right thing to do, which is very unfortunate.”
Malawi: Government offended by cartoons
The Malawi government has objected to cartoons in the country's two main newspapers, calling them offensive and in conflict with Malawian culture, writes Samuel Makaka on the website www.journalism.co.za The government spokesperson, Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Information, held two press conferences in less than two weeks condemning the Nation and the Daily Times. The cartoon in the Nation depicted Archbishop Ziyaye administering Eucharist to President Bingu wa Mutharika, himself a catholic. Kneeling down immediately behind him, obviously in readiness for the same, is Vice President, Cassim Chilumpha, who is a Moslem.
Nigeria: Detained publisher released, faces criminal charges
Alfred Egbegi, publisher of the weekly newspaper "Izon Link", who was arrested by the police in Yenogoa, the Bayelsa state capital in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria on 12 April 2006, has been released from custody, but is now facing criminal charges in court. The publisher was arrested and charged over a story published in the Volume 7, Number 8 edition of the newspaper, carrying the headline "Ebebi cries out: Jonathan is stabbing me". The story alleged political intrigue involving the state governor, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, and his deputy, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, over who would govern the state after the 2007 general elections.
Africa: African Diaspora Investment Forum
The African Diaspora Investment Forum (DiaForum 2006) in Brussels, June 29-30, 2006, aims at bringing together Africans in the diaspora with other stakeholders in view of enabling investment and skills transfer to the continent.
Africa: African migrants risk losing their skills
Many highly qualified Zimbabwean professionals living in the UK and South Africa work in low level jobs. As a result many risk losing their skills. This could affect the long-term development of Zimbabwe, if future economic and political conditions attract these migrants home.
Africa: UK launches initiative to woo overseas students
International students are worth around £5 billion a year to the UK economy but in recent years competition for attracting overseas students has been fierce and Britain is keen not to lose out to countries like the US and Australia which have always been popular destinations. Education Minister Bill Rammell told Black Britain that they are "looking at Africa as a whole to try and establish partnerships and to get it driven at a local level so that they can tap into wider funding from the aid agencies."
Africa: Zimbabweans in SA mobilise to fight poverty
The Forum of Zimbabweans in the diaspora says it has begun organising its members to help solve some of the humanitarian problems in Zimbabwe. At least 80% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. The forum celebrated the country's 26th independence anniversary by holding a meeting in Johannesburg yesterday (April 18).
America: Higher education and the African American experience
Twilight and Reason online magazine provides a mix of news, information, and perspectives on all subjects related to the relationship of African American people to the colleges and universities that enroll Black students and employ Black faculty, staff, and administrators. Twilight and Reason provides news and commentary on current events and trends in Black higher education, historical research, and updates on African American History of Higher Education Project (AAHHEP) collections, exhibits, and programming.
Zimbabwe: Zimbabweans in the diaspora unhappy with Mugabe's mockery
Zimbabweans living in the diaspora have reacted angrily to statements by President Robert Mugabe. "They are letting the country down by going to England where they are looked down on and given dirty menial jobs, they scratch the backs of old people in homes in England," he said.
Burundi: Civilians must hand over weapons
The Burundian government has given civilians in possession of weapons three weeks to register the arms or risk being arrested for illegal ownership. "They have until 5 May to register the arms they are holding," President Pierre Nkurunziza said. He commended some 3,000 people who had already handed in their weapons, saying the law on illegal ownership of arms would apply to those who did not register.
Chad: Fear of fresh rebel attack
Ahmat should be studying for his high school exams but the fear of more fighting is uppermost in his mind nearly a week after pro-government forces repelled a rebel assault on the Chadian capital. "That day for me was 'black Thursday'," he said, referring to the fighting that rocked N'Djamena last week as rebels trying to overthrow Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno battled with pro-government forces in and around the city. Residents fear a fresh outbreak of fighting is inevitable, despite the return of calm to N'Djamena amid patrols by the state army.
* Rebels 'will not delay' Chad poll
Côte d’Ivoire: President and Prime Minister in disarmament stand-off
Cote d'Ivoire's President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny appear to be locked in disagreement over the thorny issue of disarmament. Last week key players meeting under African Union mediation agreed that a programme for disarmament of rebels and pro-government militia could run alongside an identification programme for up to 3 million disenfranchised Ivorians. But Gbagbo, who gave the thumbs up to simultaneous identification and disarmament back in February, appears to have changed his mind.
East Africa: A united effort will end crisis in Horn of Africa
This is the text of an interview with Jan Egeland, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordination. He was in Nairobi recently to launch the $426 million drought appeal for the Horn of Africa. He spoke to the East African's special correspondent on a number of issues facing the region.
Eritrea: Government unbowed by UN demands on Ethiopian border force
Eritrea said Tuesday it would not lift restrictions imposed last year on United Nations peacekeepers monitoring its tense border with Ethiopia, despite fresh demands from the world body. Yemane Gebremeskel, director of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki's office, said the latest resolution, which gives Ethiopia and Eritrea until May to comply with earlier demands, was based on an unfair premise.
Kenya: Thousands flee violent attacks by cattle raiders
More than 10,000 people have fled their villages in two districts in northern Kenya following a spate of violent raids by cattle rustlers in which several people were killed and thousands of livestock stolen, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) and the police. Police said seven people were killed by the armed assailants. Herder communities in northern and northeastern Kenya have a tradition of attacking each other's villages to steal livestock, but the raids have become increasingly violent as herdsmen illegally acquire firearms, which are readily available in the area.
Nigeria: Militants reject Niger Delta help
Nigerian militants in the southern Delta region have rejected plans announced by President Olusegun Obasanjo to develop their region. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta also renewed its threat to continue oil installation attacks. It said the offer of thousands more jobs and a new motorway did not address their demands for more local control of oil wealth and demilitarisation.
Sudan: Clashes displace tens of thousands
At least 30,000 people have been displaced by recent fighting in the mountain ranges of Jebel Marra in central Darfur, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has recently regained access to parts of the region following a spate of violence that led to its evacuation. "During a recent needs assessment, we found 64,000 people - about half of them recently displaced and living with the resident population - putting a strain on local resources," according to the ICRC communication coordinator in Sudan. "These represent only some of the victims of the armed clashes that have been occurring in the Jebel Marra since the start of the year."
Uganda: Army stops escorting aid workers in the North
The Ugandan army has stopped providing military escorts to convoys delivering non-food aid to war-ravaged northern Uganda but relief workers say the decision is premature because the security situation in the region is still fragile. "There is no longer need to give escorts to whoever travels on the roads. We are moving from a bad situation to an improved security situation," army spokesman Lt Chris Magezi said by phone from Gulu, 380 km north of the capital, Kampala. "The situation is much better as most major roads are now motorable without any threat of ambushes."
Africa: African technology powerhouses
There are three main areas of web technology innovation in Africa, three regions that define it. They are split geographically, have different focuses and are the recognized technology leaders in their region. All three contain a strong sense of identity and a continued drive to change the continent. These three countries are Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
Algeria: Algeria opens up its voice market to VOIP but sets the bar high
The Algerian regulator ARPT took the brave step of allowing 24 ISPs an experimental licence at the end of April 2004. After the revision its licensing framework, the first VoIP operator (EEPAD) was granted authorization to operate a year later in April 2005. Russell Southwood reports on how this legalisation has begun to transform the market.
Ethiopia: ELA E-LEARNING AFRICA 2006
May 24 - 26, UNCC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1st International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training: "eLearning Africa", a conference to be held annually in Africa, intends to become the African eLearning capacity building event and – at the same time – a forum for all stakeholders engaged in the planning and implementation of technology supported learning and training on the African continent.
Global: CiviCRM delivers open source eCRM for NGOS
The CiviCRM community seeks to make powerful advocacy, communication and eCRM tools avaliable to even small nongovernmental organizations. CiviCRM 1.4 offers groups freely downloadable software that provide a fully internationalized and localized central database of their constituents, the ability to track donations, and broadcast email.
Global: Google acts to organise your life
Google has launched its latest salvo against rivals such as Yahoo and Microsoft, unveiling a free online calendar service. The web calendar lets people store appointments, receive reminders and share schedules with others. It is tied in to Google's e-mail service, Gmail, automatically offering to add the date information in a message to the calendar.
Uganda: PC prices hit bottom as more shops open assembling units
Computer prices in Uganda have reduced due to an increasingly competitive market ushered in by the growing number of assembling units in the recent years. These units have come up as a result of available good assembling market terms from manufacturers of various brands. In Kampala, computer-assembling businesses dot the shopping lanes and streets with a mix of branded and cloned computers being assembled and sold to 'hungry' customers.
Africa: Feminist Africa
Feminist Africa is a free online journal published twice a year that aims to provide a forum for progressive, gender research and feminist dialogue focused on the continent of Africa.
Contact Feminist Africa on email@example.com for more information.
Africa: Call for Papers for a Special Edition of African Studies
Feminism and Contemporary Culture in South Africa
Post-apartheid South Africa is marked by its rapidly shifting cultural geographies where the position of women illuminates critical issues about how the political and social structure negotiates its contradictions and safe spaces. The idea of being simultaneously seen and unseen, included and excluded, is familiar to studies on race and gender. While South Africa has the largest percentage of women in parliament in the world, it also has the highest levels of rape. How do we make sense of these contradictory indicators?
Call for Papers for a Special Edition of African Studies
Feminism and Contemporary Culture in South Africa
Post-apartheid South Africa is marked by its rapidly shifting cultural
geographies where the position of women illuminates critical issues about how
the political and social structure negotiates its contradictions and safe
spaces. The idea of being simultaneously seen and unseen, included and
excluded, is familiar to studies on race and gender. While South Africa has
the largest percentage of women in parliament in the world, it also has the
highest levels of rape. How do we make sense of these contradictory
indicators? The TRC brought issues surrounding women’s abuse into the open but
the transcripts of its closed sessions on women’s abuse were inadvertently
posted onto the internet, exposing victims to public scrutiny and assessment.
Previously, sexual assault was used by apartheid forces as a means of
subjugation. Gender abuse within liberation movements also occurred with these
narratives only emerging more recently. How has South Africa synthesized these
experiences? Historically, huge differences have shaped the lives of South
African women from different racial backgrounds. How has this shifted in post-
Apartheid South Africa? What are the issues surrounding gender in South Africa
in different sectors? With the Zuma trial pushing issues of women’s rights
into the national spotlight, how women’s issues are recast and appropriated
are important indicators of where discourse resides in the present. In a
period where Feminism has become decidedly unfashionable in popular culture,
what tools do we have to examine women in South African culture? Have feminist
issues disappeared along with the popularity of the ideology? What position do
women occupy in South African culture today?
Issues surrounding voice, victimhood, agency, subjectivity, power, gaze,
silences, knowledge and nation have often been recast in African Feminist
theory and need further exploration in South African today. Works dealing with
the ambiguities and complexities of gender in South African culture are sought
for a special edition of the interdisciplinary journal African Studies. Topics
might include, but are not limited to:
- The relationship between race, class, gender and/or sexuality in
contemporary South African culture.
- Representations of women or gender relations in South African
- Reconsidering Feminist theory in a post-Apartheid context.
- Gender, health issues and the state.
- The media and gender representations.
- Women and structural violence.
- Gender dynamics and popular culture.
- Historical contradictions and present manifestations.
- Reading the silences or gaps in discourse around women.
- The relationship between nationalism and gender politics.
Articles addressing any aspect of South African culture and women to be sent
to Ronit Frenkel by 15 September 2006 – firstname.lastname@example.org (MS word
10 000 word maximum length.
For further formatting requirements please go to:
Global: Enter the Expose Urban Solutions! photo contest
On the occasion of the World Urban Forum, IDRC is organizing a photo competition seeking photos that show us the thousands of creative ways people living in cities of the South or the developed world are tackling the challenges of urban living.
Enter the Expose Urban Solutions! photo contest
On the occasion of the World Urban Forum, IDRC is are organizing a photo competition seeking photos that show us the thousands of creative ways people living in cities of the South or the developed world are tackling the challenges of urban living. We are looking for the best digital photos that fit under these four themes:
- Cities Feeding People (growing food in urban and peri-urban areas);
- Liquid Gold (productive uses of water);
- Waste Not, Want Not (recycling processes); and
- Avoiding Disaster (risk-proofing the urban environment).
The deadline for this contest is April 20. Three individuals can win a cash prize of (CA)$2,500 and an all-expenses paid trip to Vancouver, Canada, including airfare and three nights' hotel accommodation to attend the photo awards ceremony at the World Urban Forum, 20 June 2006. http://www.wuf3-fum3.ca/
Thank you for helping us promote this competition to your friends and partners.
Give us your best shot
Enter the Expose Urban Solutions! photo contest
Get the contest details at www.idrc.ca/wuf/photocontest
The Expose Urban Solutions! photo contest is sponsored by Canada'sInternational Development Research Centre (IDRC) www.idrc.ca
Global: Prize for public interest computing
The unsung heroes of public interest computing may soon receive much more of the recognition they deserve, thanks to a new annual competition launched by the Florence and Frances Family Fund, a donor-advised fund at Tides Foundation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TIDES FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES FIRST-EVER
MAJOR ANNUAL PRIZE FOR PUBLIC INTEREST COMPUTING
The Antonio Pizzigati Prize, starting this summer, will award $10,000 to a software developer whose work reflects open source values — and helps nonprofits succeed
San Francisco, CA — April 13, 2005 — The unsung heroes of public interest computing may soon receive much more of the recognition they deserve, thanks to a new annual competition launched by the Florence and Frances Family Fund, a donor-advised fund at Tides Foundation.
The new Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest will honor individuals who, in the spirit of open source computing, develop outstanding applications that help nonprofits become more effective in their ongoing efforts for social change.
”Within the world of public interest computing, no significant prize has up to now existed,” said Tides Foundation Director of Philanthropic Services Tod Hill. “The Pizzigati Prize aims to honor people working in the field and help create real solutions for activists working for positive social change.”
Applications for the first Pizzigati Prize competition must be submitted to Tides Foundation by May 4, 2006. The inaugural winner will be named in June 2006 and receive a $10,000 cash award.
Judging the applications will be three widely respected leaders in public interest computing:
§ Activist, philanthropist, and writer Allison Fine currently works from the Hudson Valley community of Irvington, New York. She is the founder of Innovation Network, Inc., a national project that has been providing consulting, training, and Web-based tools for nonprofits and funders since 1992. In 2004-2005, she served, as the CEO of the E-Volve Foundation. Her new book, Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age (Wiley & Sons, September, 2006), explores the intersection of passionate activism and the digital age.
§ Joseph Mouzon recently initiated and completed the merger of Network for Good and Groundspring to form the largest nonprofit technology service provider in the United States, a “TSP” that’s helping over 6,000 nonprofits generate $42 million in online donations. He is currently serving as the executive director of nonprofit services for this newly merged organization and oversees all sales, service, business development, strategic planning, and financial management activities.
§ Katrin Verclas is the managing director of the Innovation Funder Network, an affinity group of funders exploring the use of information and communications technology for social change. She also runs the Secretariat of MobileActive (www.mobileactive.org), a global community of activists and nonprofits using mobile phones in civic engagement and advocacy.
The Pizzigati Prize honors the brief life of Tony Pizzigati, an early advocate of open source computing. Born in 1971, Pizzigati spent his college years at MIT, where he worked at the world-famous MIT Media Lab and later the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. Pizzigati moved to California in 1994, to work as a software consultant, and died the following spring in an auto accident on his way into Silicon Valley.
More information about the Pizzigati Prize, including the judging criteria, timeline and the online application form, can be found at the prize Web site: www.pizzigatiprize.org
Questions about this initiative can be directed, through this Web site, to the prize administrator, Jason Sanders, Philanthropic Advisor at Tides Foundation.
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Global: Research4Development portal
A portal to UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded research was launched recently. This is a guide to the latest DFID-funded research and it also provides information about previous research in rural livelihoods, health, social sciences, education, infrastructure and urban development.
Ethiopia: 2nd International Conference and General Assembly Meeting of the African Network for Strategic Communication in Health and Development
The African Network for Strategic Communication in Health and Development (AFRICOMNET) is hosting this event with the theme 3rd Generation HIV and AIDS Communication: The Key to Prevention, Care and Treatment. The conference will bring together about 500 HIV and AIDS communication practitioners.
Ghana: Training Ghanaians Journalists for the Information Society
This three day workshop, held in Accra, Ghana, is organised by PenPlusBytes, in conjunction with the French Embassy in Ghana. The workshop seeks to address the need for major transformation of the Ghanaian journalists in their training and attitude towards using new media technology.
Mali: Youth Media Development Forum
June 4-8 2006, in Bamako, Mali
The Youth, Media, Development Forum is a forum for media professionals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The global aim of the forum is to produce more quality media projects with children, using all technologies and art forms available - television, radio, internet, print, video, music, theatre, photography, cartoons, etc.
Ethiopia: Chief of Party
Save the Children Federation
The Chief of Party for SC/US’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Program is a high visibility, senior management position in the Ethiopia Field Office. He/she will provide leadership, management and technical support, as well as ensuring solid field level implementation of this large program within SC/US’s broader HIV/AIDS portfolio.
Ghana: Director of Programs
African Women’s Development Fund
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Programs will play a critical role in developing and implementing the vision and direction of AWDF's fundraising and grantmaking strategies and initiatives. She will work in close collaboration with the ED, Board of Directors, Advisors and Program team, and will promote the visibility of AWDF and develop strategic alliances with peers in international philanthropy. She will supervise and manage a nine-person program staff and participate in fundraising and communications activities.
The African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) an Africa-wide fundraising and grant making Africa organisation based in Accra, Ghana requires the services of a Director of Programs to support the implementing of organisational programmes and policies that will bring about systemic change to actualize gender equality and women's rights in the context of poverty, violence, conflict and HIV/AIDS.
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Programs will play a critical role in developing and implementing the vision and direction of AWDF's fundraising and grantmaking strategies and initiatives. She will work in close collaboration with the ED, Board of Directors, Advisors and Program team, and will promote the visibility of AWDF and develop strategic alliances with peers in international philanthropy. She will supervise and manage a nine-person program staff and participate in fundraising and communications activities.
Provide oversight, strategy, direction and continuity for current fundraising activities, while at the same time assessing and responding to AWDF's growth and changing needs by expanding current activities and programs and creating new ones, as appropriate; Manage and oversee all
program initiatives and an annual grantmaking budget Support the Executive Director by providing strategic leadership and oversight for the fundraising and grantmaking programs. Work with other Senior Managers to develop program budgets; approve and monitor program expenses; initiate planning processes and facilitate grants decision-making. Conduct annual performance evaluations and actively guide staff professional development, providing opportunities for professional development as needed. Maintain an overview of team composition and dynamics; lead team-building and integration process. Stay well abreast of the international development/women's rights field to ensure that AWDF's programs are responsive to current challenges facing women worldwide and that its fundraising and grantmaking is effective, and timely; Collaborate with senior management team of the African Women's
Development Fund to: ensure the well-being of the organization as a whole; model effective leadership to all AWDF staff; set the tone for organization's inner workings; listen and provide guidance to staff; interpret AWDF vision, values, and strategies; Work closely with the Senior Management Team to ensure flow of relevant information and encourage effective coordination between teams, and to develop and plan special/new initiatives or programs as needed.
Strong analytical and management skills
Ability to manage complex problems proactively/effectively
Ability to write good reports
Personal initiative and ability to work under pressure
Knowledge of current development theory, policies and practice
Ability to express oneself clearly and effectively both orally and in writing;
Ability to organize work and collaborate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders - including individuals of different national and cultural backgrounds, including networking across professional, thematic and organizational boundaries.
An advanced degree in international relations, political science, gender studies, sociology, humanities or related field; A minimum of eight years professional experience working in the field of women's rights or relevant professional experience in social justice or human rights broadly, international work experience is preferred; A proven fundraising track record Proven managerial, operations, financial, problem solving, networking, and organizational development experience; A history of communicating effectively in writing and orally; including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations; ability to represent AWDF to a diverse public. Proven ability to lead and engage in strategic planning processes; able to think critically, objectively, analytically, and strategically and to set priorities; History of collaborating successfully with a broad and diverse range of communities and individuals. Willingness and ability to travel 20% of time, including international and domestic travel. Working knowledge of French will be an advantage.
Qualified candidates should send typewritten applications (1 page) and a CV
of not more than 10 pages to the:
Senior Finance & Administration Manager, The African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), 25, Yiyiwa Street, Abelenkpe, Accra P.M.B.CT 89, Cantonments
Copies of applications should be sent by email to
email@example.com indicating 'Director of Programs'. Applications should reach WDF not later than Arpil 28th 2006. Only shortlisted candidates will be
contacted for additional information and interviews.
Nambia: HIV/AIDS Senior Technical Advisor
Population Leadership Program
The PLP HIV/AIDS Senior Advisor will focus primarily on Prevention of sexual transmission but will also work closely with and provide support to the Namibia Senior Technical Advisor managing Safe Injection and PMTCT. It is expected that s/he will have a full understanding and be committed to a balanced ABC approach.
South Africa: Information and Media Officer
Women'sNet - a South African NGO- is looking for a dynamic and motivated woman to join our team as Information and Media Officer. The post involves developing information both internally, and within the South African women's movement. Reporting to the Executive Director the Information & Media Manager is responsible for the smooth flow of current and relevant information to the website through membership of particular lists or through desktop research or attending ICT conferences.
South Africa: Regional Director
The Regional Director will provide strategic program leadership and overall management of the Oxfam America Regional Office. He/she will also provide overall creative and administrative leadership to agency development of a long-term strategic vision and action plan for a growing regional program.
Regional Director (2 positions open)
Locations: 1) Tshwane, South Africa (SARO) 2) Lima, Peru (SAMRO)
Background: Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that seeks long-term solutions to global poverty and injustice. Its annual budget is $40 million; it has 200 employees located in Boston, Washington DC, and seven regional field offices. Oxfam America is part of a confederation of 13 Oxfam affiliates with combined revenues of $500 million.
Responsibilities: The Regional Director will provide strategic program leadership and overall management of the Oxfam America Regional Office. He/she will also provide overall creative and administrative leadership to agency development of a long-term strategic vision and action plan for a growing regional program.
Requirements: A Master’s degree or equivalent experience in a relevant field; minimum 7-10 years of senior management experience.
For a complete job description, please view our website at http://www.oxfamamerica.org/whoweare/jobs/regional
Please send cover letter and resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: Please state either RD-SA or RD-Peru.
Uganda: RFA - Deputy Chief of Party for Programs
International Rescue Committee (USA)
The International Rescue Committee in Uganda is seeking a dynamic, experienced deputy chief of party for programs, to assist in implementing a $30 million multi-agency consortium delivering USAID- funded HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria prevention and treatment services to conflict- affected persons in northern Uganda.
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