Pambazuka News 277: Niger Delta: Restoring the rights of citizens
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Books & arts, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Environment, 18. Land & land rights, 19. Media & freedom of expression, 20. News from the diaspora, 21. Conflict & emergencies, 22. Internet & technology, 23. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 24. Fundraising & useful resources, 25. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 26. Jobs
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Featured this week
FEATURE: In the final article of a three part series on the Niger Delta, Ike Okonta goes to the heart of the democratic deficit in the region
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Libraries should be a centre of activism, not silence: Shiraz Durrani makes a case for information liberation
- What is the role of intellectuals in socio-political change? Henning Melber explains
- Miriam Madziwa says one women’s group is using love to unsettle Zimbabwe’s Mugabe
- Liepollo Lebohang Pheko remembers PW Botha
LETTERS: Oil and Angola
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Bush, looking left to Nicaragua, faces the music
BLOGGING AFRICA: Blogs to Botha: Goodbye and good riddance
BOOKS & ARTS: Have you seen my gender lenses?
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Protocol on the rights of women campaign update
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Using killers to catch killers in Darfur
HUMAN RIGHTS: Mozambique citizens mete out rough justice to criminals
WOMEN AND GENDER: Women send peace torch to Juba peace talks
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Failed UK asylum seekers sleep rough
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: DRC poll contenders urge calm
DEVELOPMENT: The lessons from China; African nationalism; To Bee or not to Bee
CORRUPTION: 2006 corruption index released
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: New frontiers in social policy?
EDUCATION: Globalisation, migration and education
ENVIRONMENT: Nairobi climate change conference opens
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Better land access for rural poor
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Enemies of the internet named
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Software piracy creates jobs; free and open source software creates opportunities, says APC boss
FUNDRAISING AND USEFUL RESOURCES: Innovative South African education project embarks on international fundraising trip
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops; Jobs.
Niger Delta: Restoring the rights of citizens
A massive democratic deficit is at the heart of the Niger Delta crisis, concludes Ike Okota in the third and final article in a series on the troubled Nigerian region. The previous two articles can be found at http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/38005 and http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/38119
It is not yet clear whether the massacre at Letugbene on 20th August will turn out to be a crippling blow, compelling MEND militants to beat a retreat and explore peace alternatives with greater vigour. One fact is clear, though. Both the central government and the oil companies have retreated from their ‘peace and dialogue’ stance of last April when overtures were made to Ijaw youth and community leaders to come to Abuja and agree on a new ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Niger Delta. The new policy, although not favoured by some of President Obasanjo’s senior commanders, is containment and subsequent evisceration of the youth militias through superior fire-power.
Shell led the ‘return to the warpath’ initiative when its officials secretly approached the US military in early March to see if it could intervene in the delta. Faced with MEND’s increasingly focused attacks on its facilities, the company had shut down 455,000 barrels of daily crude output, evacuated the bulk of its staff, and declared force majaure. Company executives adopted two policies at the same time in this period, both designed to serve the same end of ensuring that Shell remained the top player in the delta. When Admiral Henry Ulrich, commander of the US Naval forces in Europe visited Nigeria last March, a delegation of oil company officials led by Shell asked him to deploy his ships to the region to ‘protect our investments.’  At the same time company officials were briefing local journalists in Lagos and Abuja that they favoured dialogue with Ijaw youth as the only route to lasting peace in the restive region, a manoeuvre clearly designed to buy time while they readied their military option.
Admiral Ulrich turned down the request, explaining that ‘it was difficult to conceive of a way that foreign forces could intervene because attacks on oil facilities and vessels were occurring very close to shore in territorial waters, or from the shore itself.’  While maritime analysts at the US Office of Naval Intelligence in Fort Lauderdale openly acknowledge that the Nigerian government is no longer able to ensure security in the delta region, and that indeed oil production in the country will ‘hang precariously in the balance for some time,’ they have been careful to avoid giving the impression that increased US military presence in the Gulf of Guinea is a prelude to ‘Vietnamisation’ of West Africa’s oil-rich belt.
Ulrich, on the occasion of a courtesy visit to Nigeria’s chief of naval staff in Abuja on March 19 informed journalists that his government planned to increase its naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea for the sole purpose of ensuring maritime safety in the region. He explained that his primary concern was the proliferation of ‘terrorist activities’ in the region, and that he had deployed two ships with training and repair facilities to the Gulf of Guinea to assist West African navies in policing their shores more effectively.
The Gulf of Guinea, comprising fifteen west and central African countries, is critical to the United States’ oil security. The region accounted for half of the nine million barrels per day produced by Africa in 2004. In the same year, the continent supplied an estimated 18 per cent of US net oil imports, with Angola and Nigeria as the leading suppliers. This development has meant an increase in the number of ships and oil tankers that pass through the west coast of Africa on their way to America’s east coast. Said Ulrich, ‘In this day and age, all nations have a vested interest in knowing the ships that are coming into their waters, their territory and what they are carrying.’ 
Right-wing American journalists and think-tanks , with the Washington–based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the lead, have also been playing up the ‘surge in Islamic terrorist threat in the Gulf of Guinea’ angle, arguing that with billions of dollars of US investment now in the region, thousands of US workers in the oil fields, and strategic supplies of energy at stake, US effort to boost the capability of these countries to repel attacks from Islamic terrorists of the bin Laden variety had become imperative.
Local journalists and environmental activists in Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea countries have questioned the assertion that the region is crawling with Islamic terrorists, pointing out that neither the Bush government nor the right-wing think-tanks it is allied with have been able to produce compelling evidence to back up their claims when asked to do so. They have also expressed fears that the new ring of steel being put in place in their region by the US navy is an underhand attempt to militarise the region and encourage attacks on oil facilities by armed militias and then use this as justification for military occupation of the Gulf of Guinea.
Significantly, reference to ‘another Vietnam’ and ‘the new Iraq’ is now routine in the Niger delta creeks, and such talk is not restricted to armed militias like MEND. When rumours began to make the rounds in February, at the outset of MEND’s offensive that the US government had resolved to send in the Marines to assist Nigerian troops in rescuing the nine expatriate workers they had kidnapped, there was a general uproar. Patrick Bigha, leader of the Warri Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group, a civic pressure group that espouses non-violent political action, quickly called a press conference in the city and declared that ‘The Niger Delta is not Afghanistan or Iraq and any attempt to dare us will end in a bloodbath and the greatest defeat in the history of the American Army.’ 
Such utterances is sweet music to American journalists like Jeffrey Taylor of the Atlantic Monthly, who, after travelling in the Niger Delta for a couple of days last March, wrote an article in the magazine making the controversial claim that Nigeria had become the largest failed state on earth, further threatened by takeover from radical Islamic forces. This, Taylor, argued, would endanger the region’s abundant oil reserves that the US government had vowed it would protect, adding that ‘should that day come, it would herald a military intervention far more massive than the Iraqi campaign.’  The vultures of war have scented the Gulf of Guinea oil prize, and are now circling overhead, egging on combatants on both sides, and readying their bellies for the inevitable feast of corpses at the end of battle.
The fear of triggering another Vietnam-like scenario is, however, furthest from the calculations of the Nigerian and US governments at present. US deployment of military hardware in the region continues apace. The US European Command has concluded plans to construct a naval base in Sao Tome and Principe, to complement the permanent military base in Djibouti, in the strategic Horn of Africa. On 28 August Nigerian and American officials in Abuja announced a new Nigeria-United States Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Initiative aimed at ‘securing’ $600 billion of new investments in oil fields in the region.
Present estimates indicate that the gulf hosts some 14 billion barrels of crude in deep offshore fields. There are 33 fixed crude oil production platforms, 20 floating production facilities, and 13 floater and off-take vessels in the Gulf. This is expected to increase to 159 fixed platforms and 700 oil wells by 2008. Any military attack and subsequent disruption of production would not only threaten US and Western Europe’s energy supplies, the loss of billions of dollars in investments could throw their economies into a tail-spin. The energy security initiative is the American response to this potential threat.
But is building a new infrastructure of state violence in the Gulf of Guinea an intelligent and effective answer to the fundamentally political questions that fifty years of uncontrolled oil exploitation, massive corruption, and cynical exploitation of the local communities have raised, now given militant expression by the MEND militia?
Brining the civic back in
This author has been travelling in the Niger Delta’s devastated communities extensively since the late 1980s, but nothing prepared him for what he encountered in Oporoza and its satellite hamlets in the Western delta last August. Poverty and neglect are the norm in the region, but in Oporoza, and further still in the clutch of creek hamlets that constitute the Ijaw clan of Egbema, they rise up in the shape of flimsy huts on decayed wooden stilts, bracken greenish water ponds from which the bedraggled inhabitants drink, and polluted fishing creeks long denuded of life, to smack you rudely in the face. To visit Oporoza and Egbema is to encounter the very nadir of the noxious embrace of Big Oil, unaccountable government, and the excruciating indigence that only violent exclusion from the civic sphere can bring about.
For as Amartya Sen has so brilliantly demonstrated in his book Development as Freedom, poverty and famine only flourish where people are deprived of the right to participate in the political and civic process to determine the way in which they desire to be governed. This is only too true of Oporoza and the wider Niger Delta where the machine guns of the Nigerian military, oiled by oil company executives, have violently elbowed ordinary people out of the public sphere.
Academics, journalists, and development workers that espouse the so-called ‘Resource Curse’ theory argue that resource-rich countries like Nigeria inevitably degenerate into authoritarian and corrupt rule because it is easy for the military elites and their civilian allies to hijack the oil fields by force and redesign political institutions to sustain the new regime of praetorian government.  The junta, plentifully supplied with dollars from oil sales, does not bother to tax citizens to finance governance, thereby reducing them to powerless spectators unable to drive economic development or participate effectively in the political arena. Poverty, corruption in high places, and religious and ethnic violence are usually the result, the advocates of the resource curse theory argue.
But there is nothing inevitable about resource-rich regions regressing into poverty and remaining in the ditch of privation, as the cases of oil-rich Norway and Canada today illustrate. Nor is it the case that all movements toward authoritarianism are driven by the lure of easy spoils. Nigerian politics was already well on the way to centralized and unaccountable government, driven by the leaders of the Northern Region, before oil production commenced in 1956. This was largely the legacy of colonial conquest, and the undemocratic institutions of governance put in place by the British to exploit the wealth of the country undisturbed by the local people, subsequently handed over to carefully chosen political leaders who would go on to protect their interests after the colonial rulers quit in 1960. The Maxim machine gun, not the ballot box, was the instrument of rule in the Niger Delta and Nigeria in the age of colonialism.
It matters when oil was discovered in a country – before or after its institutions of government and political representation have firmed up and able to serve as a countervailing force to would-be despots and carpet-baggers. Norway is prosperous because her institutions of accountability were well-established and self-propelling long before she struck oil. Nigeria is a basket case today because her people were still under unaccountable colonial rule when oil was discovered in the Niger Delta in 1956. The machine guns that slaughtered the innocents of Letugbene last August are directly descended from the Maxim guns that Frederick Lugard employed to ‘pacify’ the ‘natives’ at the behest of the Royal Niger Company at the turn of the twentieth century. Shell and crude oil may have replaced Taubman Goldie and his thirst for palm oil, but the marriage of egregious violence and the resources of local people remain undisturbed, a potent link which in the specific case of oil, is illuminated by Prof. Michael Watt’s ‘petroviolence’ thesis. 
It is telling that top on the list of the grievances that the MEND militia pointed to in its negotiations with government officials last March was the exclusion of the Ijaw from meaningful political participation in the Nigerian project following the return of electoral politics in 1999. Anxious to arrange a ceasefire so oil production could resume, a delegation comprising two Shell executives and Timi Alaibe, finance director of the government-controlled Niger Delta Development Commission, visited MEND’s ‘Council of Elders’ in Camp Five, a fortified island near Oporoza where they were ensconced in early June. The MEND spokesperson argued that discussions must go beyond ‘mere provision of electricity and water’ and focus on the political marginalisation of the Ijaw because, according to him, ‘we believe that we have to seek first our political freedom and every other thing will follow.’ 
Oboko Bello had earlier framed these grievances in the handbook Constitutionality of the Ijaw Struggle thus: ‘The Ijaw of Warri, hitherto denied liberty, political space, and peace have been continuously robbed of equal participation in democracy and good governance of the Federation at the local, state and central governments…These entities corruptly control oil and gas resources which exploration has had devastating impact on the Ijaw people and their environment.’  Significantly, Oronto Douglas, the Ijaw lawyer and environmental campaigner, put these political issues in the forefront of the list of demands he and other Ijaw leaders presented to their fellow delegates when they participated in the constitutional dialogue President Obasanjo convened in Abuja in 2005.
We have it on the authority of the Atlanta-based Carter Centre that local and presidential elections were massively rigged in the states comprising the Niger Delta in 1999, following the return of the armed forces to the barracks. Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn travelled to the region to monitor the elections and reported:
‘Serious problems were observed in the National Assembly elections of February 20, partially caused by low voter turn out and the unknown status of many candidates who had been nominated by the political parties. Some ballot boxes were stuffed, election officials bribed, and the final results incorrectly tabulated. In addition to our normal reports, I wrote personal letters to the presidential candidates asking them to urge their supporters to refrain from improprieties during the presidential election.’ 
Carter’s well-meaning entreaty was ignored, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) proceeded to rig the presidential election in March 1999 and install Olusegun Obasanjo president. The PDP also rigged the vote four years later, and returned Obasanjo and all the PDP governors to office. In Bayelsa State in particular, Shell and ENI executives provided cash and logistics to ensure that the local and governorship elections went the way of their favoured candidates in 2003. In the Niger Delta, several influential politicians and community leaders who spoke out against this massive disenfranchisement of the local people were set-upon by government-sponsored thugs and murdered.
Prominent members of such civic groups as the Ijaw Youth Council were lured with promises of cash and government contracts and made to work for the governors of the various Niger Delta states as enforcers and thugs. Indeed, the metamorphosis of political activism in the delta region from non-violent advocacy to armed insurrection is partly explained by the deliberate infiltration of their ranks by government and oil company agents, thereby narrowing the civic options of those who refused to be co-opted. In desperation, elements of the latter group embraced the AK47 to seek redress.
The venality and corruption displayed by the governors of the delta states following the return of electoral politics in 1999 is driven by the fact that they rigged themselves into office with the support of powerful patrons in Abuja, and now loot local treasuries at the behest of the latter. Such government development initiatives as OMPADEC (1993), NDDC (1999) and the newly-established Council on Socio-economic Development of Coastal States in the Niger Delta (COSEDECS) (April 2006), ostensibly designed to address long-standing poverty and social neglect in the region, have also been transformed into avenues to dispense perks and favours to the friends and relatives of the PDP leadership in the capital.
Authoritarian in conception and execution, these projects, including the bewildering array of ‘community development projects’ run by the oil companies, although well-meaning, have not been able to embed in a politically marginalised people. Nor have they been able to deliver jobs, social amenities and peace – the so-called ‘dividends of democracy’ that President Obasanjo promised the people of the region when he took office in May 1999. Anna Zalik, the Canadian scholar and rights activist, has drawn our attention to the problematic of development strategies devoid of democratic and participatory structures in oil-bearing communities in the region. 
Those who sneer at youth activists in the Niger Delta today and claim that the return of politics has only transformed them into younger versions of the corrupt military leaders they battled against in the 1990s fail to distinguish between fraudulent elections, which put the present crop of political ‘leaders’ in the region in power in 1999, and proper electoral processes that, had they taken place, would have put the true representatives of the local people in positions of government and authority. At the heart of the Niger Delta crisis, which has now ballooned into armed insurgency, is this democracy deficit.
MEND, properly understood, is the violent child of the deliberate and long-running constriction of the public space in the Niger Delta in which ordinary citizens, now reduced to penurious subjects, can exercise their civil and political rights in the legitimate pursuit of material and social wellbeing. Behind the mask of the MEND militant is a political subject forced to pick up an AK47 to restore his rights as a citizen.
The journey to peace and prosperity in the region can only commence when the civic is brought back in.
* Dr Ike Okonta is a research fellow in contemporary African politics at the University of Oxford. He is co-author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil, Verso, New York, 2003.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
 Reuters, ‘Nigerian oil “hangs in balance,” 23 March, 2006.
 See Reuters article.
 George Oji, ‘US to increase Naval Presence in Gulf of Guinea,’ ThisDay, 20 March, 2006.
 Segun James, ‘Militants to US: Steer clear of Niger Delta,’ ThisDay, Lagos, 24 February, 2006.
 Jeffery Taylor, ‘Worse than Iraq?’ Atlantic, April, 2006.
 Professor Jeffery Sachs, a Columbia University economist and UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan’s adviser on Millennium Development Goals, developed the ‘Resource Curse’ theory to explain the seeming inability of resource-rich states in Africa and Latin America to industrialise and prosper like their counterparts in south-east Asia.
 Michael Watts, Petro-Violence: Some Thoughts on Community, Extraction and Political Ecology, Berkeley Workshop on Environmental Politics, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, September 1999
 See ‘A Trip to Mend Headquarters,’ The Ijaw Voice, July 2006.
 See Constitutionality of the Ijaw Struggle, preface.
 Jimmy Carter, ‘Visit to Nigeria,’ The Carter Center, Atlanta, 25 February, 1999.
 See Anna Zalik, ‘The Niger Delta: “Petro-violence” and “Partnership Development”, Review of African Political Economy, 2004.
The politics of information and knowledge in Africa
During the struggle for Kenyan independence, the Mau-Mau controlled over 50 newspapers and many printing presses, setting up libraries in liberated territories in forests and cities, writes Shiraz Durrani. It’s facts like these, he says, which are largely buried in an information system inherited from the colonial era, a system which fails to serve the majority of African people.
“Silence in the library”
Perhaps the best way to understand the contradictions facing libraries in Africa today is through a story. It is only when social contradictions are accepted and understood that attempts can be made to resolve them. And resolve them we must, if libraries and information are to play their part in creating a new Africa where there is justice, democracy and development for all. The story is “silence in the library”:
“Nyanjiru wakes up at 4 am; a water debe on her head, she walks for an hour and a half to the nearest stream. Then she climbs back from the river to her home, picking dry wood on the way for fire; she arrives home three hours later to start the day's other work: crying children to be calmed with bits of left over food, chicken to be fed and watered; then to start digging her half acre shamba in the hot, burning sun. This is the daily routine for a peasant.
And then there is Kamau. Kamau pats his dogs fondly as they surround his new Volvo. This is his daily ritual. He realises that the gates are not open yet and hoots loudly. Where is Mutua? Does he not know that today is the library board meeting and he has to report early? They are to discuss library regulations. He has prepared a long list of ‘don’ts’. As Mutua opens the gates, Kamau speeds out, the silent sound of the Volvo soothing his mind. He starts thinking about library rules. Yes, users must be controlled. Only last week he found a fellow eating mandazi in the library. How can that be allowed? Kamau had him thrown out. The first rule is going to be about eating in the library. And then of course ‘Silence: silence in the library’”.
In such an atmosphere works the modern librarian. Inside the stone walls of the library, in total peace and calm among the well preserved volumes, the liberian is oblivious to the ruin and chaos of hunger, starvation and mass exploitation outside.
The contrasting lives of Nyanjiru and Kamau can be found anywhere in Africa. Their activities are taking place within miles of each other and on the same day. Yet the two are so removed from each other that they may easily be on different planets or in different historical ages.
The library is a concrete structure inaccessible to Nyanjiru, and Nyanjiru as a library user is unacceptable to the librarians. For Nyanjiru there is no time to waste, no compromises to be made. All her labour and thoughts are to satisfy her family's basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. Anything that helps her in this work, she accepts with open arms and mind. Anything that prevents her from acquiring what she needs, she will fight. Her information needs are clear - she wants information which will help her to support and protect her family.
On the other hand is the library service - set up during colonial days, with a colonial vision, through ‘assistance’ from a colonial, neo-colonial ‘mother’ country. A mother whose very touch brings death. “Silence please; please, silence in the library”.
Silence, in spite of Nyanjiru’s dying children; silence, in spite of Nyanjiru’s twenty hour working day; silence, even though Nyanjiru's hard labour fails to fill her family’s stomachs. Nyanjiru knows no library. No library wants to know Nyanjiru.
The story of Nyanjiru and Kamau highlights the key need in Africa today: development – development of people, resources, industries, agriculture, art, culture… But “development” does not take place in a vacuum. In order to develop, people and societies need relevant information and knowledge in a number of fields such as science, history, geography, history, technology. Yet, under capitalism, information and knowledge and the very process of learning and education have become commodities to be bought and sold on the “open” market. Those without resources to purchase information end up having no access to it. The irony is that even those who produce information often have no access to that information which is taken from them, copyrighted, patented, repackaged, and sold at prices which the original producers cannot afford.
Thus peoples, countries and societies have been forced into “un-development” and inequality by the economic policies and practices of international finance and transnational corporations using the mechanisms of international financial and political control, such as the IMF, WTO and the UN.
But are these issues that should concern the library profession? Some say it is not our “business” to get involved in “politics” as we are professional people, not politicians. But if we accept that Africa needs a second war of liberation – economic liberation this time – then we need to accept that no liberation can be successful without appropriate information vision, strategy and tactics as well as trained information activists. This is the lesson from the major revolutions in the world. This is also the lesson from Africa’s long history of wars against colonialism and imperialism. And this is where we find a relevant social role for African librarians and information professionals and activists today.
The first requirement for liberation from an inequality imposed on Africa is access to information about the real reasons for poverty. Yet the information and communication systems created by the departing colonial powers were not expected or equipped to put this information before people. They were merely tools for a small, rich elite to impose its world outlook and culture on the poor and exploited majority of people. Post-independence systems and policies have made no fundamental change in this colonial-inspired information framework. We urgently need to seek a role for the information profession that is relevant to the needs of Africa in the 21st century.
An important task for Africa is to document fully the achievements, successes and failures of the anti-colonial struggles in Africa. Information about these can arm us for current and future struggles. This has not been fully documented. But if the history of African struggle for political and economic liberation is poorly documented, the struggle for African information liberation is even less well documented and understood.
It is not a matter of general knowledge, for example, that during the Mau Mau war of liberation in Kenya, the combatants controlled over 50 newspapers and many printing presses; they set up libraries in liberated territories in forests in cities, ran an efficient information collection system, and created their own distribution network, using “traditional” and modern methods available to them. This complex communications system was created and managed by activist librarians and information workers who were active not only in the information field, but in the larger political and social fields as well. Their experience, if fully documented, can help us find a relevant role for the information professional in Africa today.
And yet today, we tend to follow blindly the “Western” model of public library services which actively seeks to remove politics from information theories and practices. This model has not been successful in the “West” itself to provide information to all, particularly to those politely referred to as “socially excluded”. Yet we in Africa have not fully challenged this situation. It is only by subjecting our current policies and practices to a vigorous challenge that new and relevant theories, policies and practices can emerge.
Opportunities for information liberation
Just as in the political field, so in the information field, there are major developments when social contradictions are at their sharpest. It is at such key points in history that opportunities arise for making revolutionary changes in the way information and politics are organised. Colonial Africa has had a number of opportunities to change its societies for the better and serve the needs of the majority of people.
One such opportunity was in late nineteen fifties and early sixties which saw achievement of political independence in many countries. It was a time when foundations of the old colonial world were being destroyed and those of new free societies were being laid.
Many activists had the vision of a society where all would have free access to information and knowledge created by the work of all. It was a time of immense change and high hopes for a just, equitable future after decades of colonial oppression and exploitation. This was the time when people did influence events in a major way, underscoring what was said at the World Summit for Information Society (2003): it is “people who primarily form and shape societies, and information and communication societies are no exception”.
But the opportunity at independence to challenge the very basis of social organisations such as libraries was lost. Library services continued to function on the same basis as under colonialism, targeting their services to the elite, although now this included some more people and became “multiracial”. Class divisions, which formed the real divisions in the society, were deliberately played down, and racial, “tribal” and other “divisions” were brought into prominence. An information service operating in the real interest of people would have ensured that this “information blind-spot” was removed and the question of who the library actually serves would have been resolved in favour of the majority of working people. Thus an information service using resources from all but serving a few was developed. This situation has more or less continued until today.
But today, there is another possibility for change. Changes at a global level in the last 25 years now present Africa with another opportunity to make a fundamental shift in the way societies are organised – and in the way information services are organised. If managed correctly, we can make the transition to a people-orientated library service that did not take place at independence.
A key requirement for development of Africa is a redrawing of the “information map” to reassess our information work. We need to assess the relevance of the sources of information we provide to the people and to review whose point of view such information reflects. We need to look afresh at the form and content of information in our libraries and look at what languages they cover. We need to see if the information is targeted correctly and review how outcomes are monitored. Our information needs to reflect Africa in a new perspective and reinterpret its history from the point of view of African working people.
The world-view that people are daily presented by the Western media needs to be challenged for African people to see themselves as equal partners in a global context. An alternative vision and view of the world needs to be made available to every African. No people can develop under a situation of daily images of their own powerlessness and inadequacy, where facts about their exploitation are hidden and their suffering is shown as resulting from their own fault. In order to build our self-confidence we need to see the world from our own perspective in which the “other” is just that – the other.
An important area that needs to be addressed urgently is the collection policy and practice of African libraries. Again, this is not the forum to go into this in detail, but the following needs to be addressed:
- Material from African liberation struggle. The enormous amount of oral and written material generated during the long history of African struggle against colonialism needs to be collected, documented and made available. Developments in information and communications technologies make this task easier than it was some years back. Part of this process is the need to get back from colonial countries the vast amount of African documents, material culture, and archives stored in London, Paris and other colonial capitals.
- Documents of the Pan African movement need to be included in the above, as do material on slavery whose effects Africa has not recovered from even today.
- Documentation on the policies and activities of organisations and leaders active in the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movements (before and after independence) need to be made available through every public and University library in Africa. These should include organisations and leaders in every African country. For example, films on Lumumba and other anti-imperialist activists need to be collected or commissioned.
- African libraries seems to be flooded by material from a Western, imperialist point of view. There is a need to actively collect material from an alternative, people’s, point of view. This should include material on the World Social Forum (WSF) as well as on the people’s anti-globalisation movements.
- Material from a Pan-African and internationalist perspective. African libraries need to collect material from other African countries, organise a translation service to make material available to all, and promote major regional African languages throughout the continent (e.g. Kiswahili, Arabic, and Yoruba).
- Collections on social and economic development. Experiences on development in other parts of the world needs to be made available to African planners, teachers, lecturers, extension workers and others as a way of disseminating it to people. Thus experiences from China, Cuba, Venezuela and India should be actively collected.
* Shiraz Durrani is a Senior Lecturer, Information Management, Department of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University. He is the author of the book “Never be Silent: Publishing and imperialism in Kenya, 1884-1963”. Durrani formed the African Progressive Librarian and Information Activists’ Group (PALIAct), a partnership with a group of progressive African librarians and information workers. PALIAct seeks to develop people-oriented information services decided upon by workers, peasants, pastoralists, fisher people and other marganilised individuals and groups whose information needs have not been met. It involves working in partnership with other professionals and service providers.
* This article is a shortened version of a paper presented to the XVII Standing Conference Of Eastern, Central, & Southern African Library & Information Professionals (SCECSAL XVII), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 10th- 14th July 2006 (http://www.tlatz.org/scecsal2006/) The full length paper is also to be published in Journal of Pan African Studies. Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
On scholars and social commitment in Southern Africa
Scholars and intellectuals are faced with stark socio-political choices, writes Henning Melber. Do they side with those maintaining the status quo in unequal societies or do they demand the right to engage in social struggles?
This essay argues for the need for a permissive postcolonial socio-political system allowing for dissenting views, including manifestations of critical loyalty through the articulation of dissenting views, and concludes with an appeal to opt for such a socio-political commitment.
The virtues advocated are considered as ingredients in the promotion of a human-rights-focused and development-centred culture conducive to socio-political as well as economic progress of the people. This view follows the notion advocated by the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. In the introduction to his collection of lectures on Development as Freedom he maintains: “Freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means”. He points out that freedoms of different kinds are linked with one another. They include political freedoms, social opportunities, and access to economic resources.
Political regimes in many of the African societies lack recognition of such contributing factors or even deny them. Instead, all too often, the political environment has militated against freedom of thought and expression.
Honesty and Betrayal
“Where there’s no fight for it there’s no freedom. What is it Spinoza says? If the state acts in ways that are abhorrent to human nature it’s the lesser evil to destroy it.”
These were the thoughts of Yakov Bok, the protagonist of Bernard Malamud’s novel The Fixer, while being carried to his bitterly-fought-for trial to prove his innocence after a long and excessive ordeal under torture and dehumanisation in the prisons of Czarist Russia.
As a victim of anti-Semitic hatred, he refuses to compromise with a regime that violates his human dignity and self-respect, but even more so his profound sense of justice. Malamud created his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel as a monument to civil disobedience, guided and motivated by a strong belief in humanism.
Those in control over social power have often considered the Yakov Boks of this world as a threat to their hegemonic rule, not in their individual capacity but mainly reduced to the anonymity of faceless ‘masses’ representing social movements. In contrast to this tendency towards an impersonal reduction, those considered as scholars and intellectuals are often perceived as a danger on the mere grounds of their individual capacities. They are viewed as individual ‘risks’ in the sense of being potential opinion-leaders able to contribute to, if not actively shape, public opinion and debate.
It would be a gross misunderstanding, however, to conclude that scholars and intellectuals are by nature or preference a critical counterweight to authoritarian or totalitarian rule or any other forms of abuse of power. Instead, the ‘intelligentsia’ has all too often been of strategic relevance in supporting such power structures for the sake of their own benefits.
Members of an educated elite have frequently been advocates and protagonists, if not architects and masterminds, of oppressive structures, and many more have even been among the silent supporters of such systems and their devastating results. To be educated does by no means protect one from turning into an ideologue or a perpetrator of crimes against humanity of the worst kind.
Far from being noble creatures, scholars and intellectuals are often tempted to serve political aims for their own gains. Honesty and integrity, supposed to be among the core values of intellectually ethical behaviour, are abandoned or neglected for more profane rewards than respect. Those who uphold their principles despite lack of material recognition are a rare species. Opportunism reigns. This is also true for the postcolonial era of southern African societies, some of which had to fight long and bitter wars of liberation at high costs to achieve sovereignty – only to deny their citizens the right to practise freedom in a democratically comprehensive way.
Decolonisation processes all too often displayed cases of a striking metamorphosis by individuals. Being social revolutionaries initially, claiming to represent the ‘povo’ or masses, they ended up as relatively high-profile representatives of a postcolonial establishment placing their own gains above earlier principles.
These members of a new elite have become part and parcel of a set of deep-rooted anachronistic values within a system of former liberation movements now in power. After seizing legitimate political control over the state, they turned their liberating politics of anti-colonial resistance into oppressive tools under the guise of pseudo-revolutionary slogans. Their “talk left, act right” seeks to cover the true motive of aiming to occupy the political commanding heights of society against all odds – preferably forever – at the expense of the public interest they claim to represent in the light of deteriorating socio-economic living conditions for the once colonised, now hardly liberated (and anything but emancipated) majority.
The Struggle Within the Struggle
Scholars in politics include all too often the prototype of the sell-out intellectuals already lambasted by Frantz Fanon for their role in the decolonisation processes of the late 1950s, whom he accused of joining the liberation movement only to secure a slice of the cake shared after independence among those in control of the party in power.
Almost half a century ago, the Martinique-born psychiatrist and political revolutionary, who had joined the Algerian liberation struggle, presciently described in his manifesto The Wretched of the Earth the internal contradictions and limits to emancipation in anticolonial resistance and organised liberation movements. Writing at a time when the Algerian war of liberation had not even ended, Fanon prophesied the abuse of government power after attainment of independence and in the wake of establishing a one-party state. In a chapter entitled “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness” he predicted that the state, which by its robustness and at the same time its restraint should convey trust and calm, foists itself on people in a spectacular way, makes a big show of itself, harasses and mistreats the citizens and by this means shows that they are in permanent danger.
He continues by criticising the abuse of power exercised by the party, which:
"…controls the masses, not in order to make sure that they really participate in the business of governing the nation, but in order to remind them constantly that the government expects from them obedience and discipline. The political party, instead of welcoming the expression of popular discontentment, instead of taking for its fundamental purpose the free flow of ideas from the people up to the government, forms a screen and forbids such ideas."
The growing blending of party, government and state among the liberation movements in power indicates a very similar development in the post-apartheid era. The specific constellation based on the use of force to gain liberation from undemocratic and repressive conditions like those that prevailed in the colonial societies of southern Africa was hardly favourable to the durable strengthening of humanitarian values and norms. As part of abolishing anachronistic, degrading systems of rule it created new challenges on the difficult path to establishing sound and robust egalitarian structures and institutions, and in particular to promoting democratically-minded people. But independence without true democracy is still far from being liberation.
Criticism as Loyalty
The governments of postcolonial states in former settler societies such as Namibia and South Africa are, in contrast to the previous minority regimes broadly legitimate. Hence there is no justification for a right to generalised resistance to the state authorities as implied in the arguments concerning the colonial order. Notwithstanding this necessary clarification, a similar guiding principle of legitimate dissent from the state authorities’ controlled and enforced views should be advocated for an ethically motivated civic behaviour in the postcolonial societies of today.
In the context of a political culture committed to the values and virtues of pluralism in a liberal democracy, critical voices should not automatically be associated with disloyalty to the existing system. After all, this has been one of the aims of a struggle against the totalitarian regimes previously in place – to abandon the intolerant authoritarianism shaping the colonial societies under minority rule and to allow for a variety of views. Unfortunately, this seems not to be the common and accepted understanding of many of those in control of political power in post-apartheid societies, who seem to feel mainly “accountable to themselves”, as the scholar Ken Good phrased it. He had spent most of his academic life in Southern Africa until he was - 72 years of age and after lecturing 15 years on the campus of the University of Botswana - declared a prohibited immigrant by the Head of State Festus Mogae, allegedly for his criticism of the government’s policy of forced removal imposed on the Bushmen.
While most of the existing political orders are able to claim – in contrast to the preceding minority regimes – a more or less democratic legitimacy, they often fail to recognise the difference between its formal and moral dimensions. In other words: the mere fact that one is formally entitled to take certain decisions and actions on behalf of others without further consultation on the basis of (at times dubious) election results, does not necessarily and always justify such decisions or actions from a moral or ethical point of view.
Rapid social transitions have an impact on those involved in the transformation, which affects them in a direct way. Once moving into the seats of power, the effects of being alienated from people at the grassroots whom political office bearers claim to have represented since the ‘struggle days’, should not be underestimated. It requires a high degree of (self-)critical reflection and assessment to protect oneself from not being moved further and further away from ‘the masses’.
With reference to democratic South Africa, this process has been described by a local observer quoted in an article in the Guardian (16 May 2001) thus:
“The pace of change is such that individuals cease to live in real time. Human journeys that under normal circumstances take decades, if not generations, are completed in a few years, if not months. So the prisoner becomes president; law-breakers become law-makers; armed guerillas become arms dealers. The person who slept on your floor only 10 years ago, after a wild party, is now a government minister with an entourage.”
With the change a growing degree of intolerance often emerges, which considers dissenting views as unacceptable. As a recent South African study by Gibson and Gouws on the degree of (in-)tolerance diagnosed:
“For most South Africans, the idea of putting up with their political enemies is distasteful and/or foreign. And indeed, most South Africans have political enemies they dislike a great deal, and these enemies are perceived as quite threatening. The combination of disliking a group and feeling threatened by it is a powerful source of political intolerance.”
With reference to earlier processes of transition from colonial minority rule to formal political sovereignty under African governments in other parts of the continent, the backlash which often occurred, had been described as a return to repression by Hydén and Okigbo in a chapter to a volume on Media and Democracy in Africa:
“It became clear quite early on after independence that the new nationalist governments were not comfortable with the idea of challenges to their policies. Arguing that the new nation-states could not afford bickering over what is right or wrong, these leaders did their best to suppress opinions other than those favorable to their own stance. The political leadership was ready to bar others from using the public realm, exceeding the efforts of the colonial state in this regard. Political space in this public realm could only be used at its pleasure and permission to do so could be revoked at its sole judgment. The most significant change was the transformation of the discursive realm from being civic and cosmopolitan to becoming parochial and local.”
As part of the historical legacy, those who were fighting against institutionalized discrimination and oppression under totalitarian structured societies tend to resort to similar mechanisms of control once in power themselves. They are tempted to marginalise those who beg to differ or are perceived as different from the accepted norms under the newly imposed discourse of nation building.
Choices for Commitment
African societies and the social forces operating under the given constraints imposed by state control – similar to forces within other societies the world over – face the challenge to achieve and maintain a maximum of independence of thought as a precondition for the realisation of citizenship. It is important to note that such criticism of repressive policy is shared by some of those in established and responsible positions within the currently emerging continental African bodies of relevance. In his keynote address to a conference organized mid-2004 in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda did not mince his words. Having worked as a legal expert on the drafting and conclusion of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (adopted in 1981), Jallow stated:
“Good governance is not only about majorities; it involves the protection of all, including minorities such as those in the opposition. The right to free speech and dissent rests on the existence of an independent private media – both in print and on radio, given literacy levels in Africa. The establishment of independent civil society organisations and the creation of the democratic space for them to operate effectively must be nurtured to diffuse the over-centralisation of power and authority, empower the ordinary citizen and thereby reduce the risks of abuse of centralised authority. Governments should relentlessly strive to ensure the realisation of all categories of rights and freedoms for all without distinction.”
As scholars and intellectuals we have socio-political choices to make. We have to decide if we are merely guided by our petty bourgeois class interests to enhance our relative privileges in a given power structure and social hierarchy by siding with those executing social control and maintaining economic and/or political power within the grossly unequal societies of southern Africa. Alternatively, we can opt for committing class suicide as Amilcar Cabral had suggested (and practised), although this sounds rather crude (and highly idealistic) in the era of postcolonial re-established social hierarchies.
Instead, demanding the right to engage in social struggles as academics might be a more realistic point of departure – and difficult enough to practise. Like any other members of society, scholars and intellectuals are faced with bigger choices. These are about more than how best to ensure their narrowly defined self-interest of academic freedom in cosy niches of institutions of higher learning. Academic freedom in its true, wider sense is related to and is about fundamental aspects of human rights and development. And it’s up to us, if we accept the challenge and decide to fight for such interlinked goals. The question remains: Which side are we on?
* Acknowledgement: This is a shorter version of an article based on a plenary paper presented to the 24th Biennial Conference of the Southern African Universities’ Social Sciences Conference (SAUSSC) on “Human Rights and Development” (University of Botswana, Gaborone, December 5–7, 2005) and published in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, May 2006, pp. 261-278. Please consult the original publication for the full text with detailed bibliographic references.
* Dr. Henning Melber was Director of the Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU) in Windhoek (1992-2000) and Research Director of The Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala/Sweden (2000-2006), where he is now the Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (www.dhf.uu.se).
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Zimbabwe: Women’s ‘tough-love’ protest demands change
Love. That’s the key ingredient of a Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) strategy to unseat the Mugabe regime. Miriam Madziwa reports.
Women in Zimbabwe are taking to the streets to show their frustration with poor governance, lack of basic social services, and unprecedented increases in the cost of education. In the process, police have arrested nearly 1000 women members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), for their attempts to hold their leaders accountable.
This past October, WOZA members scored three legal victories after the State failed to substantiate its charges against the some of the women arrested while demonstrating, prompting the magistrates to set the women free.
Others have not been as successful. Some women spend months detained in filthy police cells, sometimes with babies on their backs, attending continually postponed hearings while the prosecution teams try to find charges that will stick. Some have gone into labour while in police detention.
Jane Mlambo* is from a low-income suburb in Bulawayo. At 62 years of age, the widow explains how jam has become a luxury, and she cannot even afford to buy bread on which to serve the spread. Her grandchildren are no longer attending class because of prohibitive school fees and costly uniforms demanded before admission.
Thinking about the past and a brighter future for their grandchildren has stirred up strong discontent not just in Mlambo but also in hundreds of other Zimbabwean women who have joined WOZA.
WOZA's mission is to restore the dignity of the country's women by speaking out against social and economic injustices that have eroded the wellbeing of the majority of the country's citizens. Guided by their motto 'The power of love can overcome the love of power' the women peacefully show their displeasure.
WOZA is now known for it's non-violent but highly imaginative demonstrations during which they persistently call for 'tough love' among the country's leaders to resolve the crisis that has made not just women's lives, but all Zimbabweans' lives unbearable.
A major plus for the organisation is that the protests always catch State security agents napping because WOZA does not publicise actions beforehand. By the time security agents catch on, the women have already had their say.
With its street action and frequent visit to 'the garden' (WOZA lingo for police cells), the organisation is slowly chalking up victories against a repressive government.
While in the garden, the women seize the opportunity to share some sisterly love through song and dance. The songs also send a message to the arresting officers to realise that they too are victims of the socio-political environment.
Additionally, the women highlight the fact that Zimbabwe's situation is untenable but things are bound to change if they continue speaking out. So effective has this strategy been that police officers who have heard the women's "tough love songs" now refuse to arrest lead singers within the organisation.
WOZA members say through their homemade, hand written placards and leaflet they are communicating with a government that has cut off communication links with its people.
Listening and watching WOZA members plan and stage their projects, one get the sense that here are women determined to have their voices and opinions heard. Here are women who invest their time and meager material resources to stage protracted protests for their dream of a "socially just future."
These women put passion and conviction into their street actions. These women are serious.
The women's commitment is evident through their style of doing things. Members receive intensive training programmes to maintain the organisation's philosophy of non-violence and to always show love. Now even brutal baton-welding police officers have conceded in court that when they go to break-up WOZA demonstrations, "the women are very co-operative and sit down and allow themselves to be arrested."
The spirit of sisterhood ensures packed courtrooms when WOZA activists appear in court. Members who escape the police dragnet after protests go and offer themselves for arrest so that they can be together with their sisters.
With such an impressive record of accomplishment, maybe it is about time disgruntled Zimbabweans start taking WOZA seriously. Currently debate in opposition political circles and civic society is revolving around the need to a 'united and brave leader to direct a popular revolt."
Maybe it's time to draw helpful lessons from WOZA's experiences. Essentially, it is not about how strong the leadership is but how involved, committed and prepared members are in identifying a cause and planning how they will achieve their stated objectives.
It's about unshakeable belief in what you are doing and love for a brighter tomorrow. Just as the old adage notes, "it's love that makes the world go round.” WOZA is using love to unsettle an oppressive regime.
* Not her real name.
* Miriam Madziwa is a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that provides fresh views on everyday news.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
The death of PW Botha
Liepollo Lebohang Pheko
The man who failed to cross his Rubicon, the architect of total onslaught and the leader of apartheid up until 1989, was buried on Wednesday. Curiously, PW Botha’s death has resulted in some surprising statements – including from President Thabo Mbeki – on how he contributed to the downfall of apartheid. Liepollo Lebohang Pheko gives her views.
The news arrived last week that the former president of Apartheid South Africa PW Botha had died, aged 90. Many people’s recollection of Mr Botha was of a mercurial man of iron will and a short fuse. For the younger generation he is the man who refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. However, for most of the African population recollections are more brutal, more sinister and altogether more harrowing.
The outpouring of grief has thus left me aghast at the rehabilitation of Botha into an anti-Apartheid icon. This, coming on the heels of the acres of column space dedicated to Adrian Vlok’s foot washing (Former Apartheid law and order minister Adrian Vlok washed the feet of Revered Frank Chikane as a show of remorse for his sins under apartheid), leaves hearts sore and emotions high.
One of the worst things about the reconstruction of Apartheid as a social construct rather than a colonial, imperial struggle like any other in Africa is that it places the perpetrators on par with the oppressed. In so doing it removes the culpability of the oppressor, thus revising a vicious and deliberate holocaust into an unfortunate misunderstanding which we all suffered and were equal victims of. This is completely false.
A profoundly disturbing feature of this dispensation is the indecent haste with which the African majority is expected, if not ordered, to forgive, forget and to move on. We are denied the right to grieve, to demand answers, to be angry, to be skeptical.
I am not a psychologist but I suspect that this fast tracked pseudo-healing is going to bear us bitter fruits. Anybody who has ever tried to live in denial is bound to trip up on the mountain of issues swept under the carpet. We deserve to be in the moment of our truth and face the reality of our pain, our anger, our loss and all our suffering.
Against this backdrop, moves to honour Botha are on a par with honouring any Nazi leader of the Third Reich. The Jewish holocaust has not been forgotten and even we who had no culpability in its architecture or doing are reminded of its significance by the victims. We deserve the same remembrance of self, of how we were brutalised, of the many children unborn because of Botha’s policies, of the bodies lying in unmarked graves buried on his watch, of fathers who never came home and of mothers who died of heartbreak. We deserve to recall the heroes slain in 1960, 1976 and all the years before and since then. We deserve to mourn and celebrate every drop of blood shed.
As the government made overtures to honour the dishonourable with a State funeral at our expense, yet another opportunity was missed to leave a priceless legacy of truth and self-knowledge to our children about the authentic heroes of the African liberation struggle.
As Botha is buried, I will spend time reflecting on the state of my country and all its contradictions. I will ponder on how a simple issue of freedom became so tied up in narrow class and white capitalist interests. I will think of new stories to tell my children about exile, identity and sacrifice, about what a truly African vision of this country looks like. None of my oppressors will be in that vision.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Bush, looking left to Nicaragua, faces the music
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
What makes the voters of one country, electing none other than those who govern them in a legally recognised political community, superior or inferior? Any normal person will ask why am I asking such a funny Question, the answer to which should be clear. I agree. But I am talking about two elections held in the same week. Many will know one of them: the US election in which Bush, to the relief of billions of people across the world, is finally being shown the door. The other election is the one in Nicaragua where the Sandanistas, who had liberated the country but were defeated in elections in 1989, were returned to power.
In spite of the suspense of the closely fought race for the US Senate. The mid-term elections in the US have returned control of the American legislature to the opposition Democrats. They now control both chambers for the first time since 1994. The voters have shown a red card to Bush and his lunatic neo-cons that enough is enough.
Much as it is claimed that all politics is local, this election was fought on Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The loss of credibility internationally is finally hitting home even in the heartlands of conservatism across America.
There is hope both in America and outside that the changing political landscape in America symbolized in this election may lead to a post Bush regime change that may have more positive impacts on the people of the world. Even orchestrating Saddam Hussein's guilt and death sentence during the campaign did not divert people's attention from the tragic mess long foretold but denied by Bush and his hawks.
One thing that is clear is that Americans are no longer willing to be prisoners of an administration that governs them with fear. They are willing to re-engage with other Americans and the rest of the world. Politically Americans are saying good bye to a one party government.
It is not only Americans who my be feeling a bit safer with a weakening Bush. Even the rest of the world should feel safer. Bush is finally suffering what his allies suffered at the hands of their electorate.
But US elections are not the only ones taking place. Another significant election was decided among one of its smaller and poorer neighbours this week. It may not have the same impact on the world but it is of no less significance both for Americans and the ret of us.
Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandanistas, was reelected President of Nicaragua more than 16 years after losing to a right wing coalition of parties funded and supported by successive US administrations. The Sandinistas remained the largest single party but others (mostly pro US politicians) conspire to keep it out of power. But it remained focused, renewing itself among the masses in elections and working on. Within Latin American politics Nicaraguans have shown again as we saw in Brazil and Venezuela that resurgent left parties and governments have the right to imagine a different world from that dictated by Washington.
What unites both elections for me is the right of people to choose those who govern them. All people have the right and duty to elect their own leaders without the interference of other governments. It is an insult to democracy that the Bush administration that is being chased out by its own electorate should be interfering in the electoral process of other countries. They made their preference clear in the Nicaragua vote and issued not so disguised threats to Nicaraguans not to vote for the Sandinistas.
Even as the results of the electoral meltdown of the Republicans in the Congress was being broadcast on CNN the Bush administration still had time to issue a statement on the Nicaraguan elections 'with cautious welcome'. Who do they think they are? If they need any caution it is to be applied to their own electorate which has punished them for their arrogance and irresponsible leadership of America. Incompetent at home and running wild abroad the Bush administration should just keep quiet about other peoples' elections and face the consequences of its own policies.
* 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 or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
The power of oil in Angola
I just want to congratulate my fellow Angolan Rafael Marques for his wisdom and deep understanding of the Angolan situation. This speech is crystal clear about the current situation. Sadly, due to foreign interest in natural resources, I do not foresee a bright future for Angolans. Unfortunately, this is the reality. Leaders with vision like that of Rafael Marques are not welcome and usually crucified at the first opportunity. I even respect Rafael for being so forward and still going to Angola or living in Angola. Long life my brother, Angola needs people like you.
Have you seen my gender lenses?
Have you seen them
Those gender lenses of mine,
That I brought back with me
From Beijing 21 years ago?
I swear I packed them among
My souvenirs and memorabilia
As I took up that coveted appointment
As Executive Director of this
International NGO with its seat in Washington D.C
In this international arena, Siseranism rules
Only those familiar with Un-speak
Are allowed into the loop of privilege-
Where thematic topics change
With each passing season---
Making it a members-only-club.
We spend our days drifting from
One diplomatic cocktail to the next,
Intoning in our bland, technocrat language
Our double speak, which is no speak
Ever mindful about peoples
Diversity and sensibilities.
We are quite busy sister, trying to
Draft work plans and futuristic agendas
That will usher you into a new era.
So don’t remind me about that grass root talk
Of women in development (WID)
And gender and development (GAD)
So dinosaurian if you ask me!
Today’s buzzword is Women
Peace and Security (WPS)
Keeping and building peace
After men’s big ego’s have suffered
Deflating punctures in battlefields
Where spurts of blood sprout
Off your daughters life spring.
Blogs to Botha: Goodbye and good riddance
Kameelahwrites - KameelahWritew (http://kameelahwrites.blogspot.com/2006/11/mandela-say-it-aint-so-are-you-really.html) comments on the tributes made by South African President, Thabo Mbeki and former president Nelson Mandela on the death of PW Botha, who she describes as the “defiant face of apartheid”. She writes:
“Mandela has been at the center of attention for quite some time as a greater leader and example of progressive nation building tactics, but when he goes on to lead the tribute to Botha, I began to get worried. There is forgiveness of folks who do wrong and apologize and then there is leading a tribute to a man who clung onto white-control, never apologized and never acknowledged his wrong. Then there is the forgiveness of a man, which is conflated with the forgiveness of apartheid - a problematic and hasty conclusion. There is forgiveness, then there is praising your colonizers, slave owner and the man who put his foot in your neck. Botha died without ever apologizing or ever acknowledging his wrong. Apparently, his wife Barbara believes that her husband had been ‘terribly misunderstood’ and that South Africans would come to realize what they had lost.”
My response is this sounds more like appeasement and an insult to all those who suffered and died under the rule of Botha but then when did our leaders ever care about the opinions of the people they are elected to serve?
For more comments on PW Botha see South Africa (http://www.southafrica.to/history/Apartheid/PW_Botha/PW_Botha.htm)
Zimbabwean blogger, Dumisani's Blog - Dumisani's Blog (http://dumisani.tigblog.org/post/60139) is frustrated over the reports in the mainstream US media on the death of PW Botha. It seems revisionism is at work on all fronts from the South African leadership to the US media. Expect the same when Ariel Sharon finally gives up the ghost, but as Dumisani comments lets see how they cover the death of Robert Mugabe?
"So PW Botha, one of the worst leaders of an African country EVER died last night. It's interesting how the NY Times gives this extra long obituary, but doesn't even paint him in the negative light that he deserves. The whole thing tastes like a cucumber. Plain and bland. This guy, who was responsible for one of Africa's most brutal regimes EVER gets this, as an obituary? He is not even referred to as a racist in this article. Not once. In fact, the WORD ‘racist’ comes up once to refer to ‘racist policies’. When people like Idi Amin died, I bet their obituaries didn't read this rosy. When other African 'dictators' died, there are articles of good riddance to bad rubbish. This guy was a dictator. Let's call a spade a spade. He was a horrible, cold, mean, racist, unrepentant brutal dictator who led one of Africa's worst governments ever.”
Chippla’s Weblog - Chippla's Weblog (http://chippla.blogspot.com/2006/11/china-africa-summit.html) reports on the China-Africa summit held in Beijing and attended by most African leaders in what Chippla’s describes as “probably the largest gathering of African leaders outside the UN”. (I would hope more would attend AU summits?)
“China's interest in Africa is, without a doubt, greatly linked to the latter's huge pool of natural resources, much of which remain untapped. And with rapid development and modernization occurring across China, there is an increasing need for raw materials to continue fuelling such development. African leaders in a position of strength (those who govern nations rich in resources of interest to China) must negotiate sensibly. The need to gradually curtail the export of raw materials and focus on the processing or conversion of such materials before export has become all too obvious. Non knowledge-based societies would simply be unable to compete favourably in today's fast-changing world.”
The summit is evidence that China’s move into Africa is to be an all pervasive one that will include all aspects of commerce and industry and one also has to wonder how much influence the Chinese will have on respecting national governments and issues of human rights.
Timbuktu Chronicles - Timbuktu Chronicles (http://timbuktuchronicles.blogspot.com/2006/11/urban-agriculture.html) reports on the advantages of “urban agriculture” as a way of alleviating household expenses, of obtaining small extra income from sale or bartering of foodstuffs and recycling waste in the form of fertilizers.
“The practice is thus component of any strategy for poverty alleviation. Urban agriculture can also benefit the urban environment in profound ways. Large cities produce vast amounts of wastewater and organic waste, whose disposal is often a problem. By using waste as a productive resource, however, urban agriculture can help reduce the pressure on municipal waste disposal systems. Further, these natural fertilizers reduce the need for chemical additives, which in turn prevents groundwater contamination. Moreover, while agribusiness uses ten to 15 calories of petroleum energy to deliver one calorie of food energy, urban agriculture uses between one and three calories to do the same…”
The practice of urban agriculture has been part of Zimbabwean urban life for many years and has recently been introduced and encouraged in South Africa. I am sure other African countries are also involved in this practice. However with government support such as through publicising the advantages and providing seedlings, the practice could become far more widespread, particularly amongst the very poor who would benefit in terms of cost and diet.
The Voice of Somaliland Diaspora - The Voice of Somaliland Diaspora-Ottawa (http://waridaad.blogspot.com/2006/11/obstacles-on-way-to-international.html) publishes an interview with “New School New York” and Dustin Dehez on the “Obstacles On the Way to International Recognition for Somaliland”. Dehez asks what is the most important point from the perspective of the international community?
“I see two major concerns: firstly international recognition could be quoted as a precedent for state secession by other independence-movements throughout the continent. Secondly, but with less impact: Recognition could spark violence between the South and Somaliland and thus creating regional instability.
Talking to Western foreign policy makers there is one clear question nearly every diplomat puts forward: Who would have an interest in recognition? Clearly most of them do not think that recognition is a necessity for the country’s development in the first place. Secondly, the benefit/impact that recognition would have: a strong signal to Muslim states in the Middle East that democratic transition would be appreciated by the West – is not yet in all minds.
Furthermore the reluctance to recognise Somaliland in order to avoid a precedent might change within the next five years, when the Sudanese in Southern Sudan will vote on their independence. If they vote in support of independence international politicians might recognise Somaliland in what they see as a shortly open window for change in the Horn of Africa.”
Miss Mabrouk of Egypt - Ms Mabrouk of Egypt (http://missmabrouk.blogspot.com/2006/11/low-iq-and-curse-of-africa.html) comments on a report by the London School of Economics which said that “African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries.” Once again there is a return to the whole issue of IQ and race. Ms Mabrouk asks two questions which relate to poverty and diet. It is these that need to be addressed rather than questioning intelligence based on race and as she says can you really measure intelligence and what does it matter anyway – to who does it matter?
1)What effect does poverty have on intelligence over generations? In richer countries, researchers are now pointing to how low nutrition diets and in particular bad fats are directly affecting how brain cells are connecting to each other. Good food = many connections = fast working brain. Bad food = few connections = slow thinking.
2) Does IQ really matter? In other words, is it an adequate method for measuring intelligence?
Black Looks - Black Looks (http://www.blacklooks.org/2006/10/access_to_arvs.html) comments that having access to Anti Retrovirals (ARVs) in South Africa by all sections of the community does not in itself mean that Black women will receive equal health care even if they have private medical care. She reports on a specific case which provides an excellent example of racism that exists in the provision and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.
“However Neidhardt points to one aspect of the discussion around HIV/AIDS that is absent. How race is played out in South African society and how this influences the fight against HIV/AIDS…how white supremacy still impacts the struggle against HIV/AIDS, how it orders relationships between people, countries and institutions. It is as if we are violating some unwritten code of conduct, especially in this country if we want to speak aloud that racist thinking is still entrenched in the psyche of all South Africans. Perhaps we think we are disrespecting the new democracy if we speak the reality that racism still does dictate for us who is and who is not worthy of the basic human and economic rights, care and dignity that are outlined so eloquently in the 1996 Constitution.”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, www.blacklooks.org
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Africa: Protocol on the rights of women in Africa campaign update
This the quarterly update (July to September 2006) that Equality Now received from SOAWR members who are working on the campaign for popularization, ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa as well as from the African Union Commission, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other organizations that are also doing work around the Protocol. Also included is the information on the status of ratifications, meetings attended by the SOAWR members and upcoming events.
Update on the campaign on the Popularization, Ratification, Domestication and Implementation of the Protocol on the rights of women in Africa
By Equality Now, July to September 2006
Below is the quarterly update (July to September 2006) that Equality Now received from SOAWR members who are working on the campaign for popularization, ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa as well as from the African Union Commission, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other organizations that are also doing work around the Protocol. Also included is the information on the status of ratifications, meetings attended by the SOAWR members and upcoming events. During this quarter the Steering Committee approved a membership application from the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) bringing the number of members to 23. Welcome to WOLPNET who will serve as the focal point for SOAWR in Liberia.
Country Level Updates
On 9th August Burkina Faso deposited its instrument of ratification and was confirmed as the 20th country to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of women in Africa.
Voix de Femmes plans to hold a workshop in October 2006 to develop a strategy for implementation of the Protocol. Voix de Femmes feels that even though some of its country’s laws are already in conformity with the Protocol such as the Family Code there is still a need to harmonize all the laws with the Protocol. Through its legal clinic, Voix de Femmes continued training women on the Protocol despite the numerous challenges faced such as social and economic factors that affect women in fighting for their rights.
Cameroon signed the Protocol on 25th July 2006 thereby graduating to the yellow-carded category.
Though the Gambian Government had informed SOAWR that it lifted the four reservations that it had earlier entered against the Protocol, SOAWR learned that the African Union Commission has not yet received official notification from the government. The African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) is following up with the Government to find out when this process will be completed.
The ACDHRS will be hosting the NGO Forum in Banjul during 12-14 November 2006 ahead of the Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights which is scheduled to take place 15-29 November. For more information write to the ACDHRS at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Equality Now’s Program Officer, Caroline Osero-Ageng’o, visited Accra in September and had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Joyce Opoku Boateng, the official at the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs charged specifically with the ratifications of international instruments including the AU Protocol on the rights of women. Caroline learnt that the documents of ratification are with the Parliamentary Committee after cabinet approval has been obtained. Once further approved, the documents will be passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will prepare the ratification document for signature by the President.
CPTAFE continued with its advocacy efforts around Guinea’s ratification of the Protocol. It plans to meet with the Minister in charge of Presidential Affairs and discuss a way forward for depositing the instrument of ratification to the African Union Commission.
FIDA (K) has been collaborating with the Ministry of Justice in various initiatives including the drafting of Kenya’s country Report under the African Charter which is due to be presented to the African Commission in November 2006. Through this collaboration there is a proposal to co-host a forum with the Ministry of Justice to sensitize various government ministries on international human rights instruments among them the Protocol. FIDA sees this as a good opportunity to include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sports and Gender to get a clear picture of Kenya’s position on the Protocol and use the forum for advocating for fast tracking the ratification of the Protocol.
During the SOAWR Review and Agenda Setting meeting, Una Thompson from the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) reported that they did some investigation and learned that after signing the Protocol in December 2003, the former Government of Liberia had ratified the Protocol and that the instrument of ratification was with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward transmission to the AU. [She mentioned that the former government faces a great number of challenges in terms of communication due to the destruction of the country by the war. WOLPNET plans to follow up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage in advocacy actions to ensure that the Government will expedite the process of depositing the instrument of ratification to the African Union Commission.
Association des Juristes Maliennes (AJM) has continued with sensitization of the Protocol and has incorporated this action into its day to day sensitization on the laws of the country. The Ministry of Justice has recently asked AJM to draft a proposal on training magistrates around the country on the Protocol and other international instruments that Mali has ratified. This will be a good opportunity to continue to impress upon the Magistrates on the need to use the Protocol as a tool to protect the rights of Malian women.
In terms of domestication AJM reported that the Bill of the Family Code that is currently pending before parliament already contains several issues covered in the Protocol.
AJM has also taken the lead in the discussions with other Civil Society organizations on ways to engage the merged African Courts (the court of Justice and the Human Rights court) as a means to enforcing the rights of women embodied within the Protocol.
Loga Virahsawmy (Chair of the Media Watch Organization-GEMSA) met with the Hon. Rama Valayden (the Attorney General and Minister of Human Rights of Mauritius) on 20th September 2006 to find out about any progress on Mauritius' ratification of the Protocol. Hon. Valayden indicated that the Protocol will be tabled before Cabinet at the end of September and assured GEMSA that Mauritius would ratify the Protocol by the end of the year.
Forum Mulher heads a coalition of organizations that is popularizing the Protocol throughout the country and is campaigning for its domestication and implementation. The coalition came into formation after a consultative meeting in Maputo in October 2005. The coalition carried out advocacy campaigns and engaged parliamentarians and especially the female parliamentarians leading to the ratification of the Protocol in December 2005.
Forum Mulher after ratification has focused on the domestication of the Protocol into national law and engaged in popularization campaigns generating brochures which were used in dissemination meetings within three regions in the country, namely North, Center and South, as well as in the membership monthly meetings. After various reviews, they learned that the Constitution of Mozambique addresses most of the issues addressed in the Protocol except the family law thereby prompting a review of the Family Code. Forum Mulher has also drafted a law on domestic violence which it plans to submit as a proposal to the women parliamentarians for discussion before the Parliament.
Forum Mulher and other coalition members are planning meetings with the Judicial Training Centre (CFJJ) and the Technical Legal Reform Unit (UTREL) on strategizing on ways to implement the Protocol and together with the media will hold roundtable debates around the provisions of the Protocol. UTREL has also drafted a proposal on reviewing succession laws in Mozambique in order for these laws to be brought in line with the Protocol and Forum Mulher is also calling for a review of the Penal Code to be inconformity with the Protocol noting that some of the provisions in the Penal Code may be a hindrance for the full enjoyment of rights provided under the Protocol.
Since Niger’s Parliament rejected the Protocol on 3rd June 2006, the Coordination des ONG et Associations Feminines du Niger (CONGAFEN), a local NGO that has shown interest to join SOAWR, has been campaigning afresh for the ratification of the Protocol. CONGAFEN has been involved in numerous advocacy campaigns with a view to educating the public on the value of the Protocol. CONGAFEN learned that Articles 6 (b) & (f), 7, 14, 21 were considered (by members of the parliament) to be incompatible with the teachings of Islam and that this was the reason the parliament rejected to endorse the Protocol. CONGAFEN has therefore engaged in re-educating the people on the provisions of the Protocol and demystifying the Protocol and the terms used. They have found that this has proven to be helpful as many people have certain perceptions and misunderstanding about the rights of women for example issues of reproductive health and inheritance rights. Once people understand what the Protocol provides they realize that it does not contradict Islamic teachings. CONGAFEN anticipates that on 4th October 2006, the Protocol will be tabled before the parliament for a second time and is hopeful that it will be adopted this time.
Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) has been engaged in a number of activities around the Protocol. WRAPA has expanded the participatory base for the campaign on popularization and domestication of the Protocol to include Action Aid International, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) and Women in Law and Development (WILDAF Nigeria). On 11th July 2006 WRAPA held a meeting with WARDC and WILDAF with the objective of integrating their campaign activities into one campaign on the AU Protocol to avoid duplication and ensure that the domestication process is effectively carried out.
Civil Society Meeting
On 4th-7th August 2006, WRAPA held a one day meeting with twenty civil society groups from six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The objectives of the meeting were to build the capacity of the organizations to conduct popularization and advocacy activities around the Protocol in their zones and to monitor the implementation process of the Protocol once it is domesticated. The participants were from 12 states and were made up of 10 women’s rights organizations, 5 human rights development bodies, two youth focused NGOs and three media organizations. The participants during the discussions identified key strategies and approaches for sensitization and advocacy within the context of their localities.
Meeting for leaders
WRAPA also held a one day meeting with fifty three religious leaders comprising of Islamic, Christian and traditional faiths and civil society members from 6 geo-political zones on 1st September 2006. The objective of the meeting was to establish knowledge and acceptance of the Protocol among religious leaders; to generate support for the domestication and to monitor the implementation of the Protocol once domesticated. During the meeting a few problematic areas were identified. Of the 32 provisions of the protocol only 28 were considered to be in conformity with the various religious teachings. Articles that were controversial and recommendations from these leaders were:
• Article 14 (2) on reproductive health and abortion was acceptable to Islam on medical or health grounds on the advice of professional medical practitioners to save the life or preserve the health of the mother, while abortion was rejected by the Christians based on the rights of the unborn child.
Recommendation: the article should be retained to apply to situations where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the fetus. However the provision on abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault and incest should be modified to take into consideration the well being of the mother and the fetus as provided for by the institutions of faith.
• Article 21(2) on Inheritance - Islamic teachings endorsed the provisions subject to clarification of terminology as well as the Catholics. The other Christian faiths did not express any reservations. The provision of equitable shares requires an unambiguous definition to avoid possible misinterpretation of the intent of the Protocol
Recommendation: the provision for inheritance in equitable shares for women and men should be unambiguously defined to reflect appropriate shares of their parents’ property
• Article 16 – Age of consent being 18yrs was disputed
Recommendation: That the article should de-emphasize the age limit of 18 yrs and rather lay emphasis on mental and physical capacity as the basis for marriage
• Article 7 on divorce separation and annulment - The Islamic teachings endorsed the provision while the Catholic faith allows only separation and annulment of marriage but the provision was not endorsed by other Christian denominations.
Recommendation: These provisions should be determined by the legal and religious regime of marriage
• Article 14 on the right to control fertility, to decide whether to have children or not as well as choosing the method of contraception was not endorsed however the religious leaders felt that the provisions should be amended. Article 14 (1) (b) & (g) on child spacing and not family planning was endorsed by Islamic teachings while the catholic church permits family planning in its teachings
Recommendation: that this provision will be dependent on the empowerment of the individual woman to take the decision of birth control and fertility in mutual consultation with spouses and especially backed by medical or physical factors as well as complimentary support of the State and the institutions of faith.
• Article 6(f)-The right of women to retain her maiden name was rejected by the Christian faith but the Islamic leaders endorsed it as it is permitted within Islam
The meeting concluded that the three arms of government and civil society should collaborate towards the realization of the aspiration of the domestication as a mark of political will and commitment to the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Nigeria. The participants also emphasized the need for further intense and sustained sensitization and public awareness of the provisions of the Protocol before its domestication by Nigeria.
Roundtable meeting on the Protocol
WRAPA also held a one day round table discussion on strategic intervention strategies on the AU Protocol on 18th September 2006. The roundtable was hosted by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) in collaboration with WRAPA and WILDAF. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the Gender Audit of Nigerian laws as put together by consultants and to draft model legislation to implement the Protocol. The meeting brought together legal experts, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice and National Human Rights Commission along with civil society working on women’s rights and media. The outcome of the meeting was as follows:
1. Civil society organizations should jointly re-submit a memo to the Chief Justice of the Federation on amending the Evidence Act before it is passed into law. This would allow the Act to take into consideration the provisions within the Protocol
2. That Professional organizations and trade unions should mainstream women’s concerns such as workplace discrimination by practising corporate responsibility and corporate accountability
3. The model legislation incorporating the AU Protocol should be unambiguous and clear
4. Encourage women to participate in law-making through increased numbers in elective and appointed office to ensure that the laws reflect their needs
5. Empower women economically and with knowledge as women’s exploitation is as a result of low economic status
WRAPA in collaboration with the House of Representatives Committee on Women and Children will also be hosting a legislative consultation on 4th October 2006. The meeting is aimed at closely working with the Parliamentarians to sensitize them on the provisions of the Protocol and identify issues and strategies for domestication once the Executive Bill is forwarded by the President to the Senate. WRAPA will organize another meeting with the Senate Committee on Women and Children at a later date.
Partnership with Action Aid International
WRAPA together with Action Aid International Nigeria have agreed to form a partnership on the popularization and domestication process of the Protocol at the grassroots level. This partnership will involve working with Action Aid Partnership Against Poverty (PAP) partners in Nassarawa, Kaduna, Gombe, Ebonyi, Ondo, Akwa, Ibom, Kogi and FCT to popularize the Protocol to community members, institutions, religions and cultural groups. On 4th September 2006 a meeting was held to identify the best PAP partners to work with WRAPA’s campaign and outline strategy plans, roles and responsibility for sensitization and advocacy around the Protocol at the PAP locations. In addition, the meeting was to enable WRAPA and the PAP to agree on the content and extent of the activities subject to PAP’s budgetary provisions on Gender.
Activities related to the AU Protocol
On 22nd August 2006, the Nigerian Senate conducted the first reading of an Executive Bill for the domestication of the CEDAW (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) after 21 years of tireless efforts by civil society to sensitize and popularize the CEDAW in close collaboration with Nigeria’s gender machinery and the Justice Ministry together with development partners. The Bill has been sent to the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs for consideration. CIRDDOC and WRAPA are making contacts with the Committee to identify ways in which civil society organizations may input into the Committee’s process. WRAPA has been informed that the Bill has reached an advanced stage and may actually receive expedited passage.
In Somalia, the Coalition for Grassroots Women’s Organizations (COGWO) whose membership application is being considered by SOAWR’s Steering Committee, reported that they have translated the Protocol into the Somali language and are educating the masses on the importance of the Protocol. COGWO also recently held a workshop titled, Advocacy workshop on the use of regional and international instruments on human rights, with the help of UNIFEM and UNDP. During this workshop the participants were educated on the Protocol together with other human rights instruments.
In parallel, UNDP is working with lawyers in Somalia to formalize and regulate the legal system and is working on drafting the Penal Code and the Constitution. This has created an opportunity for COGWO and other organizations engaged in human rights work to engage in this process and make sure that women’s rights are not left out, including advocating for the ratification of the Protocol and ensuring other international human rights instruments are put on the agenda.
A study on the compatibility of national laws and policies with the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa for the first 15 countries that ratified the Protocol: Written by Rebecca Amollo, Tebello Thabane, and Roselyn Hanzi of the University of Pretoria, Centre for Human Rights. This recent study seeks to assess the compatibility of national laws and policies of the first 15 countries that ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. The paper gives a background on the motivation and history for creating the Protocol and an overview of its legal framework. The paramount objective of the paper is to identify problem areas in different countries, and make recommendations on how the Protocol can be used to remedy them. The paper provides a comprehensive analysis of current laws and policies in each of the first 15 ratifying countries and where the countries’ national laws are incompatible with the Protocol. An intended use for the study is to provide relevant stake holders, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the Special Rapporteur on women’s rights and civil society organizations; and relevant ministries in the member states, with easy reference material on the status of the Protocol in relation with the first 15 countries that ratified it. The paper makes observations and legal, regulatory, and policy recommendations to member states on using the Protocol and making their national laws compliant with its provisions.
WILDAF Swaziland has been carrying out advocacy campaigns with MPs who are also members of the SADC parliamentary Forum, and the Pan African Parliament as well as some of the officials in the government about the Protocol and hopes that Swaziland is on its way to ratifying the Protocol. WILDAF-Swaziland is following up on this process. WILDAF is analyzing the Protocol in relation to the process of making the SADC Gender and Development Declaration into a protocol. It is seeking to create a rationalized approach that emphasizes the complementary nature of all these instruments to avoid the all too frequent excuse by governments that they are too many and that they do not know how they relate to one another.
Commissioner Advocate Pansy Tlakula accompanied by Mr. Robert Eno, Legal Officer at the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, undertook a promotional mission to Swaziland in August 2006 to assess the country’s human rights situation. They met with various stakeholders including government and civil society organizations. The ACHPR delegation raised many issues with the authorities, including the fact that the Kingdom of Swaziland is yet to ratify the Protocols to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa as well as on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, they discussed submission of Swaziland’s Initial Report to the African Commission in conformity with Article 62 of the African Charter, and engaged the Government on the measures taken to implement the decision of the African Commission with respect to communication 251/2002 – Lawyers for Human Rights/The Kingdom of Swaziland. The government undertook to look into these.
The delegation also expressed concern about the low representation of women in the high echelons of the police and correctional services, the seeming lack of participation of groups and organizations in the Constitution making process, the lack of registration and participation of political parties in elections and governance structures in the country. For more information visit http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/news_en.html
According to the Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations, a new SOAWR member, the political transition in Uganda had an impact on the ratification of the Protocol. The Protocol was brought before the former Cabinet but the Cabinet changed after the elections and the process has to be started afresh. Another reason that the Protocol has not been pushed forward was the rejection of the Domestic Relations Bill as activists and NGOs did not want to quickly push in the Protocol for fear of it suffering from the same fate as the Bill. The Centre, together with other organizations in Uganda, is dialoguing with the new Cabinet while popularizing the Protocol amongst the masses.
Status of ratifications
The following is the status of signatures and ratifications with an additional ratification (Burkina Faso) and one more signatory (Cameroon). Total signatories are now 42 and there are 20 ratifications – 4 more signatories and 6 more ratifications than a year ago. The Protocol entered into force on 25 November 2005.
Status of signatures and ratification At September 2005 At September 2006
Total signatures 38 42
Total ratifications 14 20
RED-CARDED COUNTRIES (8)
03) Central Africa Republic
04) Egypt 05) Eritrea
06) Sao Tome & Principe
YELLOW-CARDED COUNTRIES (25)
05) Cote d’Ivoire
06) Democratic Rep. of Congo
07) Equatorial Guinea
13) Kenya 14) Liberia
19) Sierra Leone
25) Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic
GREEN-CARDED COUNTRIES (20)
02) Burkina Faso
03) Cape Verde
04) The Comoros
06) The Gambia
10) Mali 11) Mauritania
17) South Africa
Meetings and Events
7th ORDINARY SESSION OF AU ASSEMBLY HELD IN BANJUL
The 7th Ordinary Session was held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 1st to 2nd July 2006. The summit was attended by Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mohammed Ahmadinejad of Iran as well as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Some key important decisions were made at this Session which are important for the members of the coalition. The Assembly requested the Commission to convene a meeting of Ministers of Justice to consider the Draft Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and to make recommendations to the Council in January 2007. The Assembly also called on member states to give urgent priority to ratification of AU instruments including seeking to present them to the first meeting of their parliaments and or other appropriate organs immediately after their adoption. The Assembly also requested the African Commission and the Pan African Parliament to consider ways and means of accelerating the process and submit appropriate recommendations at the next ordinary session of the Assembly.
Women and International Migration – The focus of this year’s World Population Report
On 6th September, the 2006 State of the World Population Report was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in a ceremony jointly organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the African Union. The report’s theme was ‘A passage to hope- Women and International Migration’. The report examines the impact of female labour migration both on the source and destination countries, money sent back home to their countries and looks at the benefits of globalization as well as the disadvantages. It looks at the scourge of human trafficking and exploitation of women domestic workers. In her launch speech, Commissioner Advocate Bience Gawanas stated that the AU is concerned about the migration of African youth to Europe and the brain drain involved in the emigration of highly skilled personnel and the consequent capital layout involved when Africa recruits expatriates to fill the gaps. She further stated that the AU will launch its State of the African Population Report during the special session of the AU Ministers of Health meeting on the 21st of September 2006.
SOAWR Campaign Review and Agenda setting meeting, 11th-13th September 2006, Nairobi (Kenya)
The Meeting brought together SOAWR members. It was a chance for the SOAWR members to review the work that the coalition has been doing for the past years and plan ahead for the next two years. The objectives of the meeting were:
1. Discuss the light review of the SOAWR campaign complied by Prof. Jacqueline Odoul
2. Reflection on SOAWR’s work plan
3. Dialogue with development partners
The meeting began with the presentation of the light review by Prof. Oduol. The review highlighted the key successes of the campaign such as the speedy ratification by member states and the coming into force of the Protocol and that the Protocol remained on the African agenda since its adoption. It also highlighted areas needing improvement for the coalition such as improving the flow of communication between members and linking the campaign to the various issues being discussed at summits. It was an opportunity for members to interact and brainstorm on new ideas and challenges. The members were able to interact with the African Union Commission, Women and Gender Development Directorate which was represented by Diakhoumba Gassama, Commissioner Angela Melo who is also the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Ambassador Dr. Eunice Brookman Amissah, Regional Director of IPAS. Each of them gave pointers on how to actively engage the various African Union mechanisms and their respective offices to push for the ratification and implementation of the Protocol. The meeting enabled SOAWR members to share the progress of the campaign with development partners: Action Aid International, Finnish Embassy (Kenya), The Ford Foundation, Oxfam GB, UNDP and UNIFEM. The meeting ended with a Public Forum on discussion of the Sexual Offences Act of Kenya. The keynote speakers were Commissioner Angela Melo and Millie Odhiambo (Executive Director, the CRADLE – The Children’s Foundation, a Kenyan NGO). The public debate was a chance for members to engage with Kenyan activists on the experiences and challenges in pushing for the rights of women. The meeting report will be available soon.
Special Summit on the Conference of the AU Ministers of Health on 18th-22nd in Maputo, Mozambique
Two coalition members, CPTAFE and Oxfam GB, attended this Special Session of the Conference of Health Ministers of the African Union, which was organized in collaboration with the government of Mozambique, UNFPA and IPPF with the financial support of the European Union. Aside from the ministers, participants included the specialized organs of the United Nations, the regional and international non-governmental organizations, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of China, and several private organizations among them the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Packard Foundation. The conference carried the theme “Universal Access to Integrated Services in the subject of Sexuality and Reproduction in Africa” and had two objectives:-
1. To adopt a global approach in the area of health regarding sexuality, reproduction and the fight against HIV and AIDS
2. To adopt a plan of action for the implementation of a framework of orientation for the promotion of the rights and of health in the area of sexuality, reproduction and the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The conference discussed several themes, among them best practices in the provision of health services and in reproductive and sexual health rights, elimination of harmful traditional practices including the prevention and management of obstetrical fistula in Africa, approaches and programs for the establishment of a link between rights, health services in the areas of sexuality and reproduction as well as services in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the strategies for improvement of the quality of maternity and pre natal care.
The historic adoption of the continental plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights by the ministers of Health gives a boost to SOAWR’s work around the Protocol. The plan seeks to integrate sexual and reproductive health services into primary healthcare. One of the key elements of the plan is the requirement for member states to adopt supportive legislation and protocols to ensure the realization of the Plan of Action. The adoption of the Plan of Action thus creates new impetus for continental advocacy around the Protocol, and possibilities for working with health networks at the national level.
SOAWR members present urged the delegates to take into account gains made by the African Union, particularly the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which adds a certain value and which is a major advancement in the area of reproductive health.
Harmful traditional practices and in particular FGM and early marriages occupied an important place in the discussions to a point that certain ministers proposed that a special session be organized on the subject.
Second Session of the Human Rights Council, 18 September to 6 October 2006, Geneva, Switzerland
On Wednesday, 20th September, the Inter-Africa Committee (IAC) Executive Director, Mrs. Berhane Ras-Work made a statement at the 2nd session of the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Her statement on violence against women also dwelt extensively on the Protocol as an important protective instrument and called on governments to ratify and domesticate it.
Roundtable Meeting on Reinvigorating and Sustaining a Vibrant Women’s Movement in the SADC Region, 9-11 October 2006, Johannesburg (South Africa)
This roundtable meeting is a joint collaboration of The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust (WLSA), the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), and HIVOS. The meeting will explore, in depth, the dwindling vibrancy of the women’s movement in the SADC region – a diminished resource base, limited capacity and ability to effectively mobilize and organize around new challenges such as HIV and AIDS, among other issues – and provide a road map towards its reinvigoration, guided by recommendations from findings of a research commissioned by OSISA in 2005. Participants will engage with the situational analysis – examining the causes of the deteriorating vibrancy, proposing strategies and modalities to address this and collectively draw up an action plan with defined roles, responsibilities and timeframes for its implementation. Key speakers will include Honorable Speaker Nthloi Motsamai of Lesotho, amongst other gender and women’s rights activists from across the region.
The roundtable meeting will bring together about 100 stakeholders from national, sub-regional and regional levels, individual activists, NGO coalitions, CBOs, government gender machineries, funding organizations, UN agencies, academics, among others in the SADC region and beyond. The meeting is expected to come up with a regional plan of action that will not only seek to reinvigorate, but also sustain a vibrant women’s movement in Southern Africa. For more information on the meeting please contact: Alice Kanengoni or Thoko Budaza at: Tel: +27 11 403 3414 or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Strengthening Regional Work on Gender based Violence 8th-10th November 2006, Kampala, Uganda
The Gender Based Violence (GBV) Prevention Network, in collaboration with PATH, Raising Voices and others, will be holding this regional GBV meeting whose objective is to bring together organizations and experts working on GBV to share state of the art tools and interventions while strengthening their capacity and developing future strategies for future GBV programs in the region. The meeting is designed for NGOs, CBOs PVOs, FBOs and any other organizations working in the area of GBV and health in East and Southern Africa. Also invited to participate in the meeting are development partners and government counterparts from the region. For more information, please visit http://www.preventgbvafrica.org/
Equality Now, a member of the SOAWR Steering Committee, will be attending the meeting and will share the SOAWR campaign for the popularization, ratification and implementation of the Protocol which addresses issues of gender based violence in Africa.
Workshop on a Research Project to support state preparation for AU Summits, 10-11 November, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
The research project which was conceived in January 2006 and the workshop are a joint partnership of AFRODAD, Open Society Foundation-Afri-map and Oxfam GB.
The purpose of the research was to understand the processes and linkages between national and continental decision-making processes related to the six-monthly African Union summits and related ministerial meetings. Among the questions that the research has answered are: What are some of the best practices that have contributed to effective intra-state coordination, consultation with non-state national actors and public accountability? Are there major divergences between African countries in the way they organize around African summits and international summits? What could civil society organizations and citizens do to contribute effectively to this process? Since there is currently little public knowledge about these processes, the research should enable a wide range of actors, from government and civil society, to participate more effectively in the work of the African Union. A working draft of the ten-country report based on research conducted by Nobuntu Mbelle and Ibrahima Kane will be complete by mid-October.
The purpose of the two-day workshop is to:
1) Present key findings and recommendations arising from the research to interested staff from the Pan African civil society community, the AU Commission and embassies and obtain their comments and suggestions for input into the final report;
2) Discuss key implications for future CSO engagement of the African Union;
3) Brainstorm on key themes for an advocacy reader for CSOs on the African Union;
4) Agree on plans for the research report launch symposium during the January 2007 AU Summit
Following this consultation, the results of the research will be shared formally with the AU Commission and interested states, including those that are the subject of research, as well as published more broadly. The aim is to launch the report at the January 2007 summit.
African Feminist Forum on 15th-19th November 2006 in Accra, Ghana
The African Feminist Forum (AFF) has been a five year project that has been discussed severally amongst African feminists. In October 2005 after the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) forum in Bangkok a number of women who had been involved in previous discussions met and agreed that the previously planned African Feminist Congress should take place in 2006 and was renamed the African Feminist Forum. The African Women’s Development Fund will host the African Feminist Forum for six years. During this time, the AFF will meet three times in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Participation at the AFF is by invitation and nomination only. The working group has established the following criteria for invitations to the AFF:
• Women who publicly self-define themselves as feminists
• Willingness to sign on to a `Charter of Feminist Principles’
• Intergenerational representation
• Experience and track record of active engagement with feminist issues
• Regional/geographical balance
• Self-identified feminists from diverse fields (community, trade unions, politicians, corporate executives, faith-based institutions, etc)
The AFF Working group has expressed a desire to ensure that the Forum is as participatory as possible. It is being planned in such a way as to ensure that different feminist communities can get something out of it – the researchers, activists, artistes, community organizers, scholars, politicians, etc. Diversity is also a core value of the Forum and this will be reflected in the participants’ profile, plenary, workshops and cultural activities
The key thematic areas are as follows
• Crafting an African feminist epistemology
• Feminist perspectives on sexual reproductive health and rights in Africa
• African feminism: political and economic power; resisting fundamentalism
• Intersecting generations
• Feminist creative expression
• African women’s movements: organizing, structures and capacities
• Confronting violations in women’s lives
• Global feminism and the UN system
The African Feminist Forum is a space for reflection and dialogue on the challenges facing the African women’s movement and feminist activists in particular.
40th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia
The African Commission will be having its second annual session during 15-29 November. The country reports being reviewed at this session are Zambia (initial report) and Uganda (first periodic report). For more information please visit http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/news_en.html
North Africa Consultation 22-25 November 2006, Tunis, Tunisia
The Consultation meeting is a joint collaboration of SOAWR and the Africa Union Commission, Women, Gender and Development Directorate, that seeks to bring together participants from governments and civil society organizations from 10 Northern African and other countries in Africa that have or not ratified the Protocol (Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Sahraoui Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia) to deepen understanding of the AU Protocol and explore strategies for national level campaigning for ratification and domestication. This workshop seeks to stimulate the emergence of national campaigns in Northern Africa countries where ratification has not happened. It will specifically target these countries to ratify ‘The Women’s Protocol’ without reservations that would impact negatively on the progress already achieved. It will also seek to encourage countries to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The aim of the consultation is to:
• share continental progress on the ratification of the AU Protocol and so resource persons will come from across the continent to share their experiences on working around popularization and domestication strategies
• create a common understanding of the AU Protocol, its benefits and opportunities as an effective tool for realizing women’s rights
• form a national level campaign on the ratification and implementation of the Protocol.
The ACHDR is organizing the regional consultation workshop on behalf of SOAWR and AUC.
Women Lawyers Meeting on the Protocol 1st- 4th December 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya
At the AUC/SOAWR Conference (September 2005), it was recommended that SOAWR starts looking into litigation as a strategy to push for the implementation of the provisions of the Protocol. In line with this recommendation, Equality Now, on behalf of SOAWR, plans to host a meeting of women lawyers who are actively involved in women's rights litigation from countries that have ratified the Protocol. The idea of the meeting is to:
• hold a briefing on the substance and procedures relating to the Protocol,
• discuss issues and specific cases that might lend themselves to appeal at the regional level, and
• develop strategies to incorporate provisions from the Protocol into domestic jurisprudence.
3rd Feminist Dialogues Meeting on Feminists Transforming Democracies: Visions and Strategies: Pre-Conference, World Social Forum (WSF) Nairobi, Kenya, 17-19 January 2007and Related Feminist Activities during the World Social Forum
The third Feminist Dialogues will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, and some 250 women from around the world are expected to participate in it. The broader objectives of the Feminist Dialogues (FD) continues to be to provide an open and democratic space for dialogue, reflective analysis and thinking among diverse feminists from feminist organizations that espouse the feminist principles and are non- governmental and non political party affiliated. The more specific objective of the meeting is to bring together women who are concerned about and committed to the project of building a feminist movement and to provide a space for the possible development of a framework of shared analyses and political action. Building upon the experiences of the FD in Asia 2004 and Latin America in 2005, an additional objective of the FD 2007 is to catalyze feminist organizations and networks in Africa as well as African feminists in other organizations and movements.
The meeting seeks to do the above by facilitating a process that will allow participants of the Feminist Dialogues meeting to assess and strategize upon:
• how feminists are organising and strategising locally, nationally and internationally in facing the challenges and issues of neo-liberal globalisation, fundamentalisms and militarism;
• what key issues feminist movements are organising around across regions
• the interlinkages between struggles around different issues in different contexts, including human rights, gender justice and reproductive and sexual rights
• the gaps in feminist strategizing and perspectives in terms of these interlinkages, and;
• the way forward in terms of interventions in the WSF, and possible common strategies and platforms for action in other spaces.
Following are the sub thematic areas;
• Sub theme 1: feminist ways of working and articulation;
• Sub theme 2: fundamentalisms and body politics;
• Sub theme 3: neo-liberalism;
• Sub theme 4: democracy and militarism;
• Sub theme 5: global feminist strategies, challenges and common approaches.
The expanded Coordinating Group (CG) made up of 12 regional organizations will remain responsible for providing overall direction to the FD process. However, given the fact that the WSF will be held in Kenya in 2007, DAWN and FEMNET will be responsible for managing the Feminist Dialogues and the various feminist interventions at the WSF received on behalf of the CG.
The website is being developed but in the meantime queries can be directed at FEMNET.
World Social Forum (WSF) 2007
The WSF will be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya during 20-25 January. SOAWR plans to organize events during the WSF. For more information please visit www.socialforum.or.ke
African Union Meetings/Summit, 22 – 30 January 2007, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
13th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (22-23)
10th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council (25-26)
8th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly (29-30)
Equality Now Africa Regional Office
Africa: Church Needs More Women in Authority
The United Methodist Church in Africa needs to address the lack of women in positions of authority in both church and society, according to the head of the denomination's Africa University. Rukudzo Murapa, vice chancellor of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, was one of many United Methodists from around Africa who provided leadership at the Council of Bishops' meeting Nov. 1-6 in Maputo.
Global: 70,000 Women Die annually from Unsafe Abortions
About 70,000 women worldwide die because of unsafe abortions annually, and about 85% of such deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southcentral Asia, according to an International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics report released on Monday at the group's five-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, AFP/Yahoo! News reports.
Cote D’Ivoire: Disability and Gender
Marginalised by society because they have few legal or institutional forms of protection, disabled women in Cote d'Ivoire are now coming out of the shadows and demanding their rights -- particularly those related to their sexual and reproductive lives. "Even if we don't get benefits, what's important to us is our rights," said Fatim Koné, a resident of the Ivorian financial capital, Abidjan, who had a leg amputated three years ago.
Nigeria: Nigeria's first female governor
If ever there was an appropriate title for Dame Virginia Etiaba it is: The reluctant state governor. Twenty-four hours before she made history as Nigeria's first female state chief executive she was adamant that she would not take the office. It took a conclave of elders and other leaders of her party in Anambra State nearly five hours to persuade her to accept it in the interest of the party.
Uganda: Women's Peace Torch Off to Juba
The Women's Peace Torch will today begin a five-day solidarity journey to the South Sudan capital, Juba, where peace talks between the LRA and the Uganda government are taking place. Members of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association and the Civil Society Women's Peace Coalition will be led by Uganda Women's Network on a peace caravan undertaking the trek to Juba.
DR Congo: ICC Hearing Could Pave Way for Court’s First Trial
The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) must pursue more charges against Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga and prosecute others responsible for heinous crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) if the court is going to bring justice to the Congolese people, Human Rights Watch said today. The hearing to confirm these important charges marks a milestone for the victims in Ituri. But these charges only begin to address the horrific acts committed by the UPC. If the ICC is going to have an impact on ending impunity in Ituri, the prosecutor must pursue more charges against Lubanga and target more perpetrators responsible for atrocities.
Ghana: Coordinator Bemoans Child Labour
The coordinating Director of the Mpohor Wassa East District Assembly, Mr. Alex Obeng Gyabaa has observed that there were disastrously worse forms of child labour in society, especially in cocoa growing areas. To this end, he has called on parents to protect their children from the bondage of child labour and take advantage of the capitation grant and other government policies to help nib in the bud the problem of child labour in the country.
Liberia: Professional police force critical to rebuilding democracy
A professional, accountable and disciplined police force is indispensable to building democracy especially in countries recovering from protracted war, a senior United Nations official said in Liberia. “Lessons from the recent history of Rwanda and other conflict areas, including Liberia, teach us how things can go horribly wrong when there is a breakdown in the rule of law,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Deputy Special Representative Luiz Carlos da Costa said.
Mozambique: Citizens Become Judge, Jury and Executioner
With a lack of faith in the police seeming to have escalated in certain suburbs of the Mozambican capital, Maputo, citizens have lately resorted to taking the law into their own hands, and meting out rough justice to alleged criminals. This has resulted in a body count of over 20 since August. The ways in which lynchings are carried out range from beatings to burnings, with images of gruesomely burnt bodies becoming a regular feature in newspapers and on television channels.
Nigeria: "People Always See Us As Health Hazards"
"When I go home, I often notice that as soon as I come, all the towels, soaps and sponges that were in the bathroom will disappear," says Isaiah Ojeabulu. He chairs the Human Rights Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy, an organisation in Nigeria, and has himself suffered from leprosy. Ojeabulu has similar tales from his earlier years. He says discrimination against him started from the moment that he contracted leprosy.
Rwanda: Seeking extradition of genocide 'masterminds'
Rwanda is seeking the extradition from Britain of four alleged masterminds of the 1994 genocide in which more than half a million people were killed, an official said on Tuesday. Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda's Justice Minister, said his country has formally requested that the British government hand over the suspects.
Africa: Born, raised and married in a refugee camp
Ana Ndayizeye embodies the havoc that the unrest in Africa's war-torn Great Lakes region has played on people's lives. The 25-year-old was born in a refugee camp and knows no other world. Born, raised and married in camps, the second-generation refugee has flitted from the Congo to Tanzania to Mozambique, where she now lives in the Maratane refugee camp, along with about 5 000 other people. Maratane, linked by a dusty alluvial road, and about 2 000km north of the capital Maputo has a forlorn, lost air.
Senegal: Mother's battle against Senegal migration
Yayi Bayam Diouf says that for the past two months, she has managed to prevent any boats leaving her home area in Senegal, loaded with migrants trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands - making her campaign more effective than all the warships and planes sent to the Atlantic Ocean by the European Union. "Every morning I go to the seaside, I call many young fishermen and I start speaking to them," she says. She started her campaign after her only son drowned trying to reach the Canary Islands.
Côte d’Ivoire: Another UN Resolution, Another Controversy
For Siméon Konan of the non-governmental organisation Initiative for Peace (Initiative pour la paix), based in Côte d'Ivoire's financial centre of Abidjan, efforts to bring peace to the West African country leave something to be desired -- a recent United Nations Security Council resolution on Côte d'Ivoire notwithstanding. Resolution 1721, adopted unanimously last week in New York, gives President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny another year in office; this is in a bid to have authorities disarm militias and identify voters ahead of elections to be held before the end of October 2007.
Guinea: EU assessment of government questioned
With continued human rights abuses, crumbling social services and economic freefall, many Guineans were incredulous after a senior European Union humanitarian official said he was “very favourably impressed” with the governments efforts at reform to win back aid. ''With each passing day we face more difficulties," said Mamaissata Camara who lives in the capital, Conakry.
DRC: Poll contenders urge calm
Congo's presidential contenders have called on their supporters to remain calm as the vast country awaits the results of a historic post-war election, but one candidate's camp cried foul. President Joseph Kabila and Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba issued a joint statement late on Tuesday following their first meeting since an October 29 vote to pick the Democratic Republic of Congo's first freely elected leader in more than 40 years.
Uganda: Exposing the excesses
In a recent edition of the New Internationalist, Ike Oguine writes: "Not too long ago Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was considered a model of leadership in and for Africa. It was a Museveni-led liberation army which finally brought to an end the chaos and violence which followed the collapse of Idi Amin’s nightmarish dictatorship. His National Resistance Army simultaneously fought a military and political campaign. Even while engaged in military struggle it tried to set up elected, local representative committees in rural areas."
Zimbabwe: Mugabe plans fresh home demolitions
The Zimbabwe government is planning fresh home demolitions, reports ZimOnline. The government in May last year and weeks after controversially winning a key general election, ordered the police and army to demolish thousands of backyard cottages, shantytowns and informal business kiosks, in a campaign President Robert Mugabe said was necessary to smash crime and to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe’s cities.
Global: TI launches 2006 corruption perceptions index
The 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), launched this week by Transparency International (TI), points to a strong correlation between corruption and poverty, with a concentration of impoverished states at the bottom of the ranking. “Corruption traps millions in poverty,” said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle. “Despite a decade of progress in establishing anti-corruption laws and regulations, today’s results indicate that much remains to be done before we see meaningful improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.”
Kenya: Bank scam threatens economy
The government of Kenya is being accused of failing to act on evidence of an alleged banking fraud worth $1.5bn, dwarfing other recent scandals. The alleged scam, involving money laundering and tax evasion, was exposed by whistle-blowers as early as 2004. Investigators believe tax evasion and money laundering worth 10% of Kenya's national income are involved.
Lesotho: Lahmeyer debarment welcome but late, say NGOs
Environmental campaigners have welcomed a decision by the World Bank to debar German-based Lahmeyer International for bribing officials to win contracts for Africa's largest inter-basin water transfer scheme, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).
November 7, 2006
Terri Hathaway, International Rivers Network
(in Cameroon) +237 530 25 95, email@example.com
Korinna Horta, Environmental Defense
(in Portugal) +351 96 392 0759, firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrupt Lahmeyer Debarment Welcome but Late - NGOs
Environmental campaigners welcomed yesterday's decision by the World Bank to debar German-based Lahmeyer International for bribing officials to win contracts for Africa's largest inter-basin water transfer scheme, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).
Korinna Horta of Environmental Defense said: "We welcome the World Bank's decision to suspend Lahmeyer International from doing business with the Bank for a period of seven years. This decision represents an important departure from just talking about corruption to taking serious action. It sends an important signal to international companies that bribery of foreign officials carries considerable risk."
However, the Bank's decision comes three years after the Lesotho court found Lahmeyer guilty of corruption, during which time Lahmeyer received at least 18 Bank contracts totaling nearly US $15 million. Four contracts worth a combined US $1.4 million were granted since the Bank reopened its debarment investigation of Lahmeyer in August 2005.
Terri Hathaway of International Rivers Network said: "Although we welcome this decision, the World Bank's sluggish response has only been to Lahmeyer's advantage. Future action must come more swiftly. The Bank can not be serious about fighting corruption if it chases criminal companies, but gives them a generous lead time."
Environmental Defense and International Rivers Network call on the World Bank to ensure that future court convictions for corruption occurring under World Bank contracts carry immediate debarment and for the Bank to work with other multilateral development banks and bilateral aid agencies to obtain cross-debarment of guilty contractors.
Besides serious allegations of corruption, the LHWP has caused the vulnerable Highlands population to lose fields, grazing lands and access to fresh water sources. Despite promises, their livelihoods have not been reestablished, and poor people have been pushed closer to the edge in their struggle for survival. Problems of erosion and the downstream effects of massive water diversion are disrupting ecosystems and people's livelihoods.
Mabusetsa Lenka Thamae of the Transformation Resource Centre in Lesotho said: "Corruption on large infrastructure projects is a serious problem that directly affects project benefits, especially for project-affected people. Corruption is a two-way street, and companies that bribe must be brought to justice just like project officials who have accepted bribes."
"In addition to corruption, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project has been marred by environmental problems and impoverishment of the affected communities. The World Bank should not close its books on the project as long as these serious problems remain to be solved," said Horta.
Lahmeyer International was part of the consortium which carried out the 1986 feasibility study for the LHWP. The Project's first phase is complete, including the Katse Dam, the Muela Dam, 82 km of water tunnels, and 200 km of access roads at an estimated total cost of US$2.5 billion. If completed, the entire scheme would divert about 40% of the water in the Senqu river basin to South Africa's industrial Gauteng region.
In 2002, the Lesotho courts handed down its first corruption conviction, to Acres International of Canada. The World Bank delayed its decision to debar Acres for more than two years after the conviction, allowing the company to receive at least four Bank contracts, including just one week prior to debarment. Acres was debarred from receiving Bank contracts for a period of three years.
The World Bank decision makes Lahmeyer ineligible to receive Bank contracts for a period of seven years, although this may be reduced to only three years should Lahmeyer meet the Bank's criteria.
For more information on the debarment decision, see the World Bank's press release at:
For more background on project corruption and environmental and social issues, visit IRN's Lesotho Highlands Water Project webpage at <http://www.irn.org/programs/lesotho/>http://www.irn.org/programs/lesotho/.
Namibia: Country Slipping On Graft
Corruption is making inroads in Namibia, according to an international report released in Germany. According to Transparency International (TI), a civil society organisation which aims to fight corruption globally, Namibia has dropped eight places - to 55 - on an international corruption index this year, a ranking it shares with the South American country of Costa Rica.
Africa: China's Trade "Tsunami" Sweeping Africa
China's economic expansion in Africa increasingly is accompanied by strategies for extracting much-needed raw materials to fuel the Asian giant's growth, according to a panel of trade and African experts. But the West still holds an advantage for equity or stock ownership deals in Africa, they concluded. After decades of building stadiums for dictators and providing the occasional railway line and paved motorway to African countries in return for supporting some policies, China's interest in Africa is now almost purely economic, a panel of Africanists and trade experts concluded at a November 1 forum sponsored by the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
* China comes to stay
* Western leaders monitor China-Africa summit
Africa: The lessons from China
Third World Network Africa has a transcript of an interview with Yao Graham on its website. Speaking about China, Graham says: "The thing is if we look at how China has been able to get where it has, there are important lessons and possibilities that we could get from the relationship. There are some lessons that are clearly standard: planning very carefully for the long-term; liberalizing and de-regulating in a phased way; recognizing an important role for the state in supporting private capital development, and the whole economy as a whole; a selective attitude to the inflow of FDI and foreign capital, and in general, a sense of guiding it into the sectors that you think would be most beneficial, rather than a free-for-all; and also targeting the way in which you develop technology, and to apply it."
Africa: The Power, Possibilities and Perils of African Nationalisms
"Contemporary Africa is simply inconceivable without understanding the role and impact played by nationalism which gave rise to postcolonial African states as they are currently configured and the imperatives for self-determination and development that have driven African political cultures and imaginaries," writes Paul Zeleza, "Trying to unpack the historical dynamics of African nationalism—its causes, constructions, compositions, contexts, courses, and consequences—is immensely complicated but critical to mapping more productive futures for Africa..."
Lesotho: Pension System Works
Twenty dollars seems a meagre amount, but it has brought an end to backbreaking toil and food insecurity for many of Lesotho's elderly. Two years ago the government of the small landlocked country started a pension system for citizens over the age of 70. Today, more than 76, 000 people are receiving a monthly pension of approximately 20 dollars. Whereas such steps in Southern Africa are frequently taken at the behest of donors or the international financial institutions, Lesotho's government introduced the grant in order to address worsening poverty among the elderly.
Rwanda: Controversy Over Plan to Join EAC
Rwanda and Burundi may be sworn in as new members of the East African Economic Community (EAC) when the grouping holds its next summit, Nov. 30, in the Tanzanian financial centre of Dar-es-Salam. The regional organisation presently comprises Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and is headquartered in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.
South Africa: To BEE or not to BEE?
This paper explores the historical precedents to BEE in South Africa, its origins, and its points of contact with the experience of 'empowerment' in Malaysia. The authors review the different steps taken by the South African government in promoting empowerment over the past 12 years, together with some of outcomes to date.
Africa: New frontiers in social policy?
In mid-December of 2005, the World Bank hosted a gathering of academics, policy analysts, policy makers and development practitioners at Arusha, Tanzania on the theme of New Frontiers of Social Policy. The meeting reviewed progress on commitments made at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development (WSSD). The meeting called for greater emphasis on equity outcomes in social policy. Chan Chee Khoon, Professor of Health and Social Policy at Universiti Sains Malaysia comments on these meeting outcomes in the latest newsletter of the Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa.
Global: Making a case for international mental health
This editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry makes the case for more attention to be given to mental health. It argues that mental health is closely linked with virtually all global public health priorities, and that mental health interventions must be tied to any programme dealing with physical health.
South Africa: Victory for civil society activism
Sipho Mathathi, Secretary General of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), victoriously holds up her fist at the National Civil Society HIV and AIDS Prevention and Treatment Congress, a watershed event marking a dramatic change in government’s outlook in dealing with the treatment of HIV and AIDS, after sustained civil society lobbying and advocacy.
Sudan: Coping with stigma
Nine years ago, while working in Libya, Sudanese Professor Jalal Mohamed was diagnosed with a severe case of nostalgia. He was listless and had no appetite, but because he had passed all his physicals to work overseas, doctors attributed his malaise to homesickness. When he returned to his native Sudan, Mohamed was diagnosed with HIV. His wife stood by him after he was able to prove that he was infected during a surgical procedure. Today, at the age of 69, he is a spry, gaunt fellow who delights in his own erudition on his condition.
Togo: End of grant raises concerns
Togolese NGOs warned on Tuesday that the end of a grant by the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could put at least 24,000 HIV-infected people at risk. "It's a complete disaster, we're distraught," said Augustin Dokla, president of the main local network of NGOs for people living with AIDS in Togo. "Some 18,000 people are waiting for drugs and 6,000 patients will be at risk within two years. No new treatments are available as for today."
Uganda: Funding shortfall to affect health programmes
Health programmes in Uganda could be disrupted following a decision by the Global Fund to exclude the country from its list of beneficiaries, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The decision by the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria would exclude Uganda from the list of countries due to receive part of its sixth round of grants.
ZAMBIA: Masai healers fill public health services void
Rising demand for the services of traditional healers is drawing Tanzanian Masai practitioners across the border to fill the void left by the creaking Zambian public health system, but their discounted prices are upsetting their local counterparts.
Zimbabwe: Doctors protest condition of health system
Doctors in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, have gone on strike to protest against deteriorating health services characterised by widespread shortages of drugs, food and equipment. The stayaway, which started on Monday, is expected to spread to other parts of the country during the course of the week.
Global: Globalisation, migration and education
How can education systems promote trade, growth and poverty reduction? Should governments assist the education sector to generate income? Should they protect education from domestic or foreign private involvement? Is migration a desirable development option or a drain on a country’s human resources? These are among the questions addressed in a paper from the Overseas Development Institute.
Global: World Science Day comes around
As every year, World Science Day for Peace and Development is being celebrated worldwide on 10 November. Since its inception, the Day has proved to be a great opportunity to reflect on the latest advances in science and the challenges science has yet to overcome.
Ghana and Tanzania: Linking school and work
The lack of preparedness of school leavers for the world of work is a long-standing and controversial issue. In countries such as Ghana and Tanzania, where the school system has expanded dramatically post-independence, many young people have faced difficulties finding jobs suited to their skills.
Kenya: World Bank approves delayed education loan
The World Bank on Tuesday approved a delayed $80 million loan to support Kenya's education sector, following stepped-up measures to guard against corruption and ensure resources are properly used, officials said. The approval of the new project is the first since the World Bank delayed $265 million in aid to Kenya, including $100 million in loans for health programs, due to corruption concerns.
Senegal: Better life for beggar boys
A low hum rises from a row of rough wooden shacks in the winding, sand-covered back streets of the Fass neighbourhood in Senegal's seaside capital, Dakar. More than 30 children, known as "talibe", sit on the dirty concrete floor of a daara, or religious school, chanting verses from the Koran in Arabic. These children are lucky -- they have been spared the worst abuses of a centuries-old system of religious education that some say has been perverted.
South Africa: E-learning takes flight
E-learning, the use of computer and network technologies in teaching and learning, has taken off at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) as a result of a co-ordinated effort by the E-learning unit of the Information and Communication Services (ICS) and UWC academics. "E-learning encompasses distance learning via the internet, which we do not do very much of at UWC, but also includes the use of World Wide Web, CD-ROM and other computer technologies to enhance the more traditional face-to-face education," says Juliet Stoltenkamp, E-learning manager in ICS.
Africa: Billions needed on climate change
Climate change will devastate Africa without substantial help from the world community, according to a new report released at the opening of a major UN climate change conference in Nairobi, Kenya Monday. "Africa is the least responsible for climate change but will be hit the hardest," said Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Africa: Warming Will Push Up Malaria, Aids Cases
Gains made to contain HIV/Aids and malaria in sub-Saharan Africa could be reversed if the "business as usual" approach to climate change continues, a new report warns. And with limited capacity to beat back effects of global warming, these and other vector-borne diseases are likely to get out of control. The report, 'Mapping Climate Vulnerability and Poverty in Africa', says climate change is likely to increase the population of those at the risk of malaria infection by 260 to 320 million in the 2080s.
Global: Climate change could endanger gains against poverty
Kenyan Environment Minister Kivutha Kibwana opened the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi with a warning that climate change could endanger whatever gains have been made against poverty. He urged countries to work together to ensure that real action is achieved on the issue of adaptation to climate change. More than 5,000 participants from 178 countries are in Nairobi for the two-week meeting.
Liberia: Hopes and fears over forestry laws
Similar to what has happened in several Southern countries harassed by centuries of colonialism, the wealth of Liberia has also been its curse, reports the October edition of the World Rainforest Bulletin. "Tropical forests account for 47 per cent of Liberia’s land. Between 1989 and 2003, revenue from forests was used to fund a brutal conflict fuelled by the pillaging of forests. Timber was a key resource for Liberia's armed factions. Wood flowed out; money and arms flowed in. So many concessions had been corruptly awarded that they totalled more than the land area of Liberia."
Namibia: Textile factory creates jobs but causes pollution
The Malaysian textile company, Ramatex, has bowed to industrial action by Namibian workers demanding better wages and benefits, while its environmental practices again came under scrutiny after revelations that its multimillion dollar plant has polluted ground water.
Nigeria: Erosion imperils many southeast communities
Across large areas of Nigeria’s southeastern rainforest belt hundreds of communities are threatened by erosion because of decades of uncontrolled deforestation and other types of pressure on the land. The town of Ekwulobia, or what remains of it, is a testament to the region’s environmental problems.
Africa: Better land access for rural poor
This study focuses on access to rural land for poorer groups. "The study examines the links between land access and poverty reduction, shifting approaches to land reform, different means to secure land rights and to achieve more equitable land distribution, the particular vulnerability of certain groups to losing their land rights, and the role of addressing land rights within conflict resolution and peace building. It concludes with broad recommendations for protecting land rights of poorer and more vulnerable groups," says the executive summary.
Global: 'Enemies of the internet' named
A list of 13 "enemies of the internet" has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). For the first time, Egypt has been added to the list while Nepal, Libya and the Maldives have all been removed.
Report Link: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19603
Egypt: Professor target of death threats
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) is very concerned about the aggressive campaign being waged against Dr. Souad Saleh, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at the Azhar University, following her publicly stating her opinion on the Niquab (the Islamic full body veil), saying it is not compulsory in Islam. Her statement angered many fundamentalists, some of whom have called for the "shedding of her blood".
Lesotho: Maseru resists reform
The Lesotho chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa says transformation of the state broadcasters now seems unlikely, writes Mzimkhulu Sithetho on www.journalism.co.za "The institute’s former national chairperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, has been in the forefront of a Misa campaign to turn Radio Lesotho and Lesotho TV into public broadcasters. But he now says that the campaign is unlikely to succeed as there seems to be resistance from authorities."
Nigeria: Media Consultant Harassed
On 2 November 2006, the Nigerian government filed criminal charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja against Mr. Shehu Garba, a former president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and currently media consultant to that organization's vice president, Atiku Abubakar, accusing him of violating the Official Secrets Act. Garba is being charged with illegally obtaining, reproducing, and retaining documents relating to the death in a bomb blast in 1997 of Bagauda Kaltho, then Kaduna State correspondent for "The New"' magazine.
South Africa: Journalist pressured to testify in court
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) says it applauds The Daily Voice's News Editor, Gasant Abarder, for his ethical stand in not testifying in the civil defamation case involving a poultry chain. "The FXI is disturbed to note that both Courts do not recognise that Abarder has a 'just excuse' not to testify."
Sudan: Press Under Pressure
The Sudanese government is engaged in an increasingly blatant effort to muzzle and intimidate Sudan’s independent press, Human Rights Watch says. “While international media attention has been focused on Darfur, the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum have been stepping up their harassment of Sudanese journalists and newspapers,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Global: Wishful Thinking in Black America
There is an interesting tendency within Black America to engage in wishful thinking when it comes to our feelings about many of our leaders. Let me give you an example. When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court there was a split within Black America. Despite a very conservative record—and actually very little demonstration of legal vision—there were some of us who took the position that being Black, soon-to-be Justice Thomas deserved our support. I can remember the debates now.
Ghana: Jerry Rawlings speaks out
Former president of the republic of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, last week attacked the administration of his successor John Kufuor, during a lecture in London. He claimed the administration was destroying gains he made as president and accused the west of propping up a corrupt regime in the west African nation.
He was speaking at a Black History Month symposium organised by London Southbank University’s students’ union.
Africa: Diamond sector to lift veil of secrecy
The Reinforcement of African Peace keeping capacities (RECAMP) is once more in the limelight. Already in its fifth edition as from next Monday, the training programme prepares African countries for peace-keeping operations at the behest of the United Nations. Dubbed "SAWA 2006", this year's event involves eleven countries drawn principally from the Central African Economic Community.
Kenya: Five killed in slum violence
Five people were killed in a Kenyan slum after fighting broke out between two outlawed groups over extortion, police said on Tuesday, adding that two of them were killed by police who tried to quell the violence. "Officially, we know that three people were killed last night," police spokesman Gideon Kibunjah told Reuters. Kibunjah said the violence in Nairobi's sprawling Mathare slum was by the rival Mungiki and Taliban groups over protection money levied by one of them on brewers of an illegal drink.
Cameroon: Collective Security
The Reinforcement of African Peace keeping capacities (RECAMP) is once more in the limelight. Already in its fifth edition as from next Monday, the training programme prepares African countries for peace-keeping operations at the behest of the United Nations. Dubbed "SAWA 2006", this year's event involves eleven countries drawn principally from the Central African Economic Community. The genesis of RECAMP stretches to 1994 when it took the colourings of the French defence and security policy in Africa. Today, it has evolved to a partnership and cooperation between the African Union and the European Union.
Chad: Sudan Violence Spills Over Border
Chad's government has claimed that ethnic violence in Sudan's Darfur region is spilling across the border, sparking an upsurge of deadly Arab-African fighting among Chadians. Government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said in a statement late Tuesday that the latest fighting broke out Saturday in the eastern region of Sila and left "numerous victims'' on both sides.
Côte d’Ivoire: Impunity blamed for trouble with militias
On Monday, a group of some 200 militiamen in the western government-run town of Duekoue abducted the UN employee, demanding money from the government disarmament programme in return for his release, the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (ONUCI) said in a statement on Tuesday. The abduction followed clashes on Friday that pitted pro-government militia holed up in improvised barracks against angry residents and security forces in the Yopougon suburb of Cote d’Ivoire’s main city, Abidjan.
Somalia: Fighting Erupts in Bandiredley
Fighting that lasted four hours has erupted in Bandiradley, 90 km north east Gakayo where the semiautonomous regional government of Puntland administers. The fighting has taken place between the Union of Islamic Courts fighters and Abdi Qeybdid's that are stationed in somewhere less than five km from then Islamists' stronghold.
Somalia: UN envoy warns neighbours against interfering
Postponed peace talks for solving the crisis in Somalia, now scheduled to be held in mid-December, offer the best hope for the war-torn country, and neighbouring States must avoid interfering in its affairs and using it for a “proxy war,” a United Nations envoy has said. “We will continue to prepare the ground for the success of this round in mid-December with all the key actors,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, told reporters.
Sudan: No killers to stop killers
Dennis Brutus is a veteran of the South African liberation struggle, a leading figure in the global justice movement and a world-renowned poet. Brutus spoke with the Socialist Worker Online about the political situation in Africa today - focusing especially on the crisis in Darfur.
Global: APC Internet Rights Charter
The Association of Progressive Communications (APC) has released an internet rights charter. "APC believes that the ability to share information and communicate freely using the internet is vital to the realisation of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) and the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1980)."
Africa: Piracy creates jobs, FOSS creates opportunities
"Piracy creates jobs but free and open source software and open standards create opportunity and entrepreneurs." That was the word from Johannesburg-based Anriette Esterhuysen, executive director of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Esterhuysen was speaking at a session during the Internet Governance Forum that ends in Athens, Greece, November 2.
Africa: Satellite dominates, says new report
A study done for Balancing Act shows how important satellites are to African communications. "A specially commissioned annexe study for Balancing Act’s African Satellite Markets shows that some 29 out of 55 African countries and territories get more than 80% of their total international Internet bandwidth by satellite, and many fixed and mobile operators in the region are also dependent on satellite for their domestic communications as well."
Africa: ReConnect Africa – South Africa Bonus Issue Online Now
The November issue of ReConnect Africa is now online. Connecting Africa to the global world, ReConnect Africa is a unique online publication and portal that provides essential information to Africans around the world about careers, enterprise and jobs in Africa. The November issue focuses on South Africa, highlighting the country’s achievements, challenges and people management issues and signposts essential services for employers and recruiters in Africa and for professionals and job seekers in Africa and the Diaspora.
Global: Information on the ICC
icc-info distributes news, documents, and other information related to the International Criminal Court. The list is a project of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. For more information, visit: http://www.iccnow.org or email: email@example.com
Africa: October issue of African Identities available
Volume 4 Number 2/October 2006 of African Identities is now available. Contents include:
- On the Postcolony: a brief response to critics by Achille Mbembe
- Surveying the contours of ‘a country in exile’: Nuruddin Farah's Somalia by Annie Gagiano
Global: Fundraising toolkit
Click on the link to read an overview of fundraising and for a link to a Glossary of Fundraising and Grantmaking Terminology.
Global: Sauve Scholars Fund
The Sauve Scholars Fund is an opportunity for highly-motivated people, under thirty, of demonstrated leadership potential, to come to Montreal for eight months to research, reflect, question and enlarge upon their understanding of the state of the world and their roles in effecting positive change.
Kenya: Gender issues published in Nairobi Newspapers 1985-2005
A digital library compiled by the Kenya Indexing Project is now available on CD-ROM. This CD-ROM contains a collection of 3651 articles from seven Kenyan Newspapers that bring together press coverage of gender issues during the period 1985-2005. The newspaper articles that focused on the events and discussions of the UN conference on women (Nairobi, 1985; Beijing 1995), give the background to what has unfolded in the subsequent years.
This CD-ROM project has been funded by the Ford Foundation. It is hoped that the details of these newspaper articles will be useful to research scholars, journalists, students, teachers and others in various fields. For a free copy of the CD-ROM, please contact the Kenya Indexing Project on:
P. O. Box 14893, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya.
Telephone +254 20 4451661
Fax +254 2 4181472
2nd Floor, Nabui House
Off Mpaka Road, Westlands
Senegal: Film festival to fight against gender violence
Filmmakers from around the continent are being invited to submit their films and documentaries for a film festival devoted to ending violence against women in Africa. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the Senegalese Government, donors, NGOs, civil society and other partners are joining forces to sponsor the four-day festival beginning 23 November.
Dakar Film Festival Inaugurated To Fight for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
DAKAR , Senegal — Filmmakers from around the continent are being invited to submit their films and documentaries for a film festival devoted to ending violence against women in Africa.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the Senegalese Government, donors, NGOs, civil society and other partners are joining forces to sponsor the four-day festival beginning 23 November.
The festival coincides with 25 November, the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women," which focuses attention on the alarming rise in gender-based violence (GBV) around the globe and recognizes efforts to rid societies of this scourge.
"Violence against women affects every country in Africa and throughout the world," said Suzanne Maiga-Konate, UNFPA Representative in Senegal. "UNFPA and our partners are driven to work on this issue so that we can stop all forms of violence against women and girls. We want to engage all levels of society, from government ministers to religious leaders to the general public, so that, together, we can ultimately eliminate GBV."
A study released in New York earlier this week by the United Nations Secretary-General found that "In all countries of the world, violence against women persists as a pervasive scourge, endangering women's lives and violating their rights. Such violence also impoverishes families and communities, drains government resources and restricts economic development."
The Dakar festival is being used to educate the public about GBV to raise awareness of the problem and help to eradicate it. Themes include GBV in conflict and post-conflict countries, domestic violence, female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/FGM) and vulnerability due to extreme poverty, which can force women into sex work. All these types of violence increase the risk that a woman may be exposed to HIV/AIDS infection.
Monetary prizes will be awarded to the top films, which will be judged on the potential to play a positive role in eliminating violence and reducing the stigmatization of its victims.
"The media is a powerful tool with which we can educate the public about the problem of violence against women in all its forms," said Angela Walker, UNFPA's Regional Information Advisor for Africa based in Dakar. "Seeing a film or a documentary is a very effective means of communicating these issues. Hopefully this festival will break the culture of silence surrounding violence against women and get people talking and committed to fighting the problem and finding a solution."
Films and documentaries selected for the festival will be shown at various sites around the city including open air locations for the public at large. Panel discussions, featuring African and international experts, will address each day's theme. A media workshop will also be held in conjunction with the festival to train interested journalists on how to cover these sensitive subjects.
In December, the festival films and documentaries will be sent throughout Africa where they will be shown in other countries affected by GBV.
Submissions for the Dakar festival will be accepted through 10 November at the UNFPA Senegal Country Office. Submissions should be addressed to Alia Nankoe , UNFPA-Senegal, 19 Rue Parchappe, Immeuble Faycal, 3eme étage , B.P. 154, Dakar, Senegal.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
Dr. Aboubakar Cisse
Sudan: The Sudan open archive
The Sudan Open Archive provides free digital access to contemporary and historical knowledge about Sudan. The initial version of the Archive consists primarily of technical reports and unpublished grey literature from the history of aid in Sudan, covering the period from the start of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) in 1989 to the present day.
South Africa: Innovative education project embarks on international fundraising trip
IkamvaYouth's innovative approach to addressing inequalities in South African education has caught the attention of a group of Singapore-based volunteers. After spending a month volunteering for IkamvaYouth at the Khayelitsha branch earlier this year, Singapore-based Florence Jennings decided she wanted to do more. She has enrolled a group of dedicated volunteers in Singapore who, together with the South African ikamvanites, are working tirelessly to organise the fundraising trip of a life time!
PRESS RELEASE FROM IKAMVAYOUTH
FROM KHAYELITSHA TO SINGAPORE: IKAMVANITES EMBARKING ON INTERNATIONAL FUN(D)RAISING ADVENTURE
Cape Town, 6 November, 2006
IkamvaYouth's innovative approach to addressing inequalities in South African education has caught the attention of a group of Singapore-based volunteers. After spending a month volunteering for IkamvaYouth at the Khayelitsha branch earlier this year, Singapore-based Florence Jennings decided she wanted to do more. She has enrolled a group of dedicated volunteers in Singapore who, together with the South African ikamvanites, are working tirelessly to organise the fundraising trip of a life time!
Filled with the excitement and nerves that come with first-time flights and visits to foreign lands, eleven young ikamvanites will soon embark on the journey of their lives. The group will consist of volunteers, learners and members of the dynamic theatre group, Iqhude productitons, with whom IkamvaYouth has forged a familial bond. Together with the help of the Singapore team, the group will indulge in a ten-day frenzy of fundraising and fun. Scheduled events include participation in the Singapore Standard chartered marathon, wine tasting and coportate fundraising events, school visits and the filming of a documentary about the trip. Photographs taken by learners during our recent June/July holiday programme will be exhibited at most events. These, together with learners' poetry will be compiled into a special IkamvaYouth book which will also be availible for purchase.
The journey's main event will involve an auction at the Four Seasons Hotel to which the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, the American Club and parents and children of international schools have been invited. Generous Singaporean donations of auctionable wear (from lunches with inspiring and famous people to international art, unique jewelry and champagne cruises) and are pouring in. IkamvaYouth is appealing to the South African business community and philanthropists for more auctionable donations. If you would like to take advantage of this international corporate social investment opportunity, please contact Joy Olivier (+28 83 9513336).
Ultimately the trip aims to raise funds for the project, enabling it to grow and enrich the lives of more learners across the township. IkamvaYouth is functioning at full capacity in it's volunteer-based system, with a long waiting list of would-be students waiting for their capacity to expand.
+27 83 9513336
IkamvaYouth is a community-based non-profit organisation that drives social change in South Africa by enabling disadvantaged youth to access post-school opportunities in tertiary education and job-based training. The organisation is entirely volunteer-initiated, -managed and –run and has been operating since 2003. IkamvaYouth provides supplementary tutoring, career guidance and computer literacy training and operates from the Nazeema Isaacs library in Khayelitsha, the Nyanga library and the Alice library.
Global: Living on the margins conference
The Living on the Margins conference will bring together current knowledge and cutting edge research on the dynamics of economic marginalization and its implications, and will interrogate the adequacy of dominant accounts of marginalization.
South Africa: Managing People Developmentally
The Community Development Resource Association (CDRA) will run a five-day course that explores the principles, values and practices of effective developmental supervision, mentoring and performance appraisals in Cape Town.
South Africa: Donor Services Administrator
CAF Southern Africa
CAF Southern Africa is a non profit organisation that encourages and facilitates effective giving by individuals and companies. CAF Southern Africa enables donors to make the most of their giving and non profit organisations to make the most of their resources.
Donor Services Administrator
CAF Southern Africa is a non profit organisation that encourages and facilitates effective giving by individuals and companies. CAF Southern Africa enables donors to make the most of their giving and non profit organisations to make the most of their resources.
Our Donor Services Department provides a range of programmes that inspire companies and their employees to give their time and money to non profit organisations.
We wish to invite applications for the position of Donor Services Administrator. This is a permanent position based in Melville, Johannesburg.
This role encompasses a broad range of administrative duties, including:
Assessing and processing forms received from donors
Preparing and collating documents for approval
Client communication and liaison
Maintaining electronic and paper-based information systems
We are looking for a candidate with:
Minimum 3 years administration experience
Excellent knowledge of Microsoft office applications including Word, Outlook and Excel
High level of accuracy and attention to detail
Good written and oral English
Ability to organise own work priorities and meet deadlines
Ability to use own initiative and work with limited supervision
Excellent telephone manner
Good people skills and a team player
Work experience in the NGO sector would be an advantage
Written and oral competency in other South African languages is desirable
We require a motivated, matriculated individual for this position.
CAF Southern Africa offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience and qualifications.
All applications should include a one-page covering letter explaining why you are suited to this post, a CV, and the names of three contactable referees.
Applications to be sent to Manana Kotelo by fax: (011) 726-3877 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date for applications is 20 November 2006. If we do not contact you in the two weeks following this date, you may assume that your application has been unsuccessful.
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