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Archive for March 9th, 2007

Showdown looming in Zimbabwe as war veterans demand pension hike

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

Harare (Zimbabwe) A potentially explosive showdown is looming in Zimbabwe following an ultimatum issued by the country’s independence war veterans who are demanding an increase in their gratuities, APA learnt here on Friday.

The combative Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association gave Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche up to 14 March to respond to their demands or risk a confrontation.

The war veterans want their monthly pensions immediately raised from 103 000 Zimdollars (US$412) to 500,000 Zimdollars (US$2,000) per person.

Zimbabwe uses a dual exchange rate, with most transactions quoted at the unofficial and illegal parallel market rate of 8,400 Zimdollars to one American greenback.

The official rate is 250 Zimdollars to the US unit.

“You understand and appreciate the role we played during and after the liberation struggle and we hope you will address this problem on time. We give you 14 days to address the issue, failure of which we will confront our patron President Robert Mugabe,” said ZNLWVA in a letter to Goche.

Mugabe is patron of the war veterans who wield immense influence in his ruling ZANU PF party because they are a centerpiece of its electioneering machine, waging violence and terror against the opposition at every election to ensure victory for the party.

The ex-combatants also spearheaded the government’s controversial land reform programme that began years ago.

The veterans used the same tactics in 1997 to arm-twist the government into giving them gratuity payments, a development blamed by some observers as being the main trigger of Zimbabwe’s current economic problems.

Zimbabwe has the world’s highest inflation rate of close to 1,600 percent, while the country also faces rising unemployment and poverty as it grapples its worst ever economic crisis.

If their demands are met, this would put the war veterans on the same salary scale as teachers and nurses.

 

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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A Lebanese diamond smuggler to re-appear in court

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

Harare (Zimbabwe) A Lebanese national will on Wednesday make a second appearance before a Harare magistrate after being charged together with a senior Zimbabwean government official of attempting to smuggle more than 10,000 carats of diamond from the country.

Lebanese Carol Gerge Elmatni was jointly charged with William Nhara, a principal director in the Zimbabwe government, of attempting to smuggle out of the country 10,773 carats of diamonds valued at over US$128,000.

Nhara is further accused of attempting to pay a US$700 bribe to a police officer at Harare International Airport to secure the release of Elmatni.

The two are remanded in custody.

Nhara becomes the first senior government official to be netted under a police crackdown codenamed “Operation Chikorokoza Chapera,” whose aim is to rid the country of gold and diamond barons who are smuggling precious minerals out of Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe revealed two weeks ago that he was aware that some of his ministers and senior officials were smuggling of precious minerals from the country.

He warned that the net would soon close in on the barons.

 

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Former parliament speaker to answer questions of corruption

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) The former speaker of Liberia’s lower parliament Edwin Melvin Snowe Tuesday for the second time appeared before police investigators to answer to questions of corruption.

Mr. Snowe, who resigned his post as speaker recently, is being investigated on allegations of stealing more than US$1million while he served as managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation between 2003 and 2005.

Police investigators say Mr. Snowe cooperated with the investigation team, and was given copies of audit reports linking him to the corruption.

The former speaker’s lawyer, Counsellor Theophilus Gould, who also served as Solicitor General during the transitional period, told reporters late Tuesday that Mr. Snowe is expected to respond to the charges during his next appearance.

Already, there are arguments that the former speaker as a sitting legislator has immunities which cover him from prosecution.

But Justice Minister Mrs. Frances Johnson Morris clarified in an interview with UN radio in Monrovia Wednesday that a legislator can be stripped of his /her immunities, depending on the crime he/she is accused of committing.

She explained that a legislator’s immunities can be stripped if he/she is charged with corruption, felony, and other grave crimes.

Published Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Flaws detected in the recently signed agreement

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) Several flaws have been detected in the agreement recently signed between the Liberian government and Mittal Steel Company, which is yet to be ratified by Liberia’s bicameral legislature, APA learnt Thursday.

The agreement with the steel giant, Mittal seeks to exploit iron ore in north-eastern Nimba County of Liberia for about US$1billion.

The Senate Press Bureau told APA Thursday that a series of flaws were discovered in the agreement during a public hearing hosted Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines and Minerals.

The senator for Grand Cape Mount County, Abel Massaley wanted to know whether the bidding for the agreement was done in line with the Public Procurement Act of the country, or just the mining laws of Liberia which do not require bidding or on a first come first served basis.

He pointed out that the Public Procurement Act and the first come first served basis were in conflict with each another, and that he will submit a dissenting position to plenary in due course.

Other issues of concern which the senate took keen note of during the public hearing, included the non-inclusion of the provision of elementary and secondary schools by Mittal Steel in its operational areas.

The provision of schools was contained in the previous agreement ratified by the 51st legislature, but was later dropped when the agreement was reviewed.

The current agreement obligates the company only to provide vocational education.

Considering the massive pollution of the environment during operations of LAMCO, the predecessor of MITTAL Steel in north-eastern Nimba County, the senators also raised concern about the environmental impact the mining activities of MITTAL would have on its area of operations.

The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ben Donnie was alsoconcerned about the environmental impact assessment to be submitted by MITTAL.

Mr. Donnie said the agency would not issue the company an operating certificate in the absence of an environment development and protection plan.

During the operations of LAMCO, the Yah River in the area was polluted by materials, chemical and human waste produced during the company’s operations.

The St. John River in nearby Grand Bassa County in which the Yah River washes its banks, was equally polluted, and affected residents of these areas.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Zimbabean activist honoured

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

Washington DC – (USA) The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday presented Zimbabwean human rights activist Jennifer Williams with an International Women of Courage Award at the State Department in Washington.

Ms. Williams, founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civil society organization established in 2003 to protest government abuses, accepted the award in the name of the group’s more than 45,000 members.

The Zimbabwean was one of 10 recipients of the courage award chosen from among a field of 82 women activists nominated by U.S. embassies worldwide. The ceremony was held on the eve of International Women’s Day, during a month that the United States celebrates its National Women’s History Month.

Announcing the award for Williams, the department cited the “harassment and physical abuse” she suffered under President Robert Mugabe’s regime and commended her for “providing an example of courage and leadership by working for change through peaceful and non-violent means.”

In establishing the award in 2006, Ms. Condoleezza Rice said : “Women of courage are standing up for freedom and human dignity and the United States stands with them. We must not forget that the advance of women’s rights and the advance of human liberty go hand in hand.”

Arrested more than 25 times for leading protests against President Mugabe’s regime, Ms. Williams said : “Zimbabwe supposedly got independence in 1980. But under “dictator” Mugabe’s disastrous land-seizure policies the economy is being destroyed and the country is turning into a beggar of international food aid.”

Because of resulting malnutrition and lack of proper health care, she added, “women are dying at age 34 ; men, at 37. You can’t earn a living. The authorities tear down houses that are not squatter houses and stop you from making a living. Hardships fall especially hard on women,” Ms. Williams adds ; “because it is the children who beg mama for more food or want to know why they can no longer go to school when there is no money for school fees.”

Ms. Williams has paid a high personal price for her social and political protests. She received death threats following her arrests.

Her thriving public relations business is defunct and her husband and children live in “economic exile” in Britain. Despite the personal sacrifices, the activist said she feels empowered because “WOZA’s strength lies in its community members who have ownership” in the organization.

“It is because of our united struggle, hand in hand, that we are going to get the Zimbabwe we want,” she said.

 

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525. source.apa

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Human rights court begins hearing of rights violations

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

*”Europe’s top human rights court started hearing charges on Thursday of human rights violations leveled against Norway by nearly 160 children of a Nazi program aimed at creating an “Aryan elite”.

The application was lodged with the European Court of Rights in 2003 after the Oslo City Court rejected a case by seven of the applicants, notably because their claims came too long after a statutory time limit. Norwegian courts upheld that ruling.Joined by 152 others, who were also born during World War Two to a Norwegian mother and a German father, they are now asking the European court to rule on whether their human rights were violated due to the discrimination and hardships they faced towards the end of the war and afterwards.

“The applicants complain about the treatment they suffered as war children as well as the authorities’ failure to take any remedial measures subsequently,” the European Court of Human Rights said in a statement. “They claim the violations are continuing in the sense that they are still reminded in negative terms of their origin and value.”

Between 10,000 and 12,000 so-called “war children” were born in Norway to Norwegian mothers and German fathers, with a number of them registered as children of “Lebensborn” or “font of life” – a project launched by Heinrich Himmler’s SS to produce children who were deemed racially and genetically pure.

Many children from the Lebensborn homes, particularly in Norway – which was seen as home to the most Aryan stock – were socially ostracized after the war.

The European Court of Human Rights said the applicants claimed that many mothers of war children were marginalized, had difficulties in obtaining employment and often had their children adopted or placed in foster homes or institutions. It also said many of the Norwegian war children were deprived of their original names and identity, subjected to discrimination, harassment and ill treatment and left with psychological problems and registered disabled at an early age.”*

(Reuters)

*”/”*Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525 source Reuters/aftenpostenENG

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Norway: Dead for one month without the family knowing

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

*”Two days before the burial of a 71-year-old man, relatives learned that he had been dead for a month without the family being notified. “We are all shaken that something like this can be possible,” the 71-year-old’s niece, Rita Halden, told newspaper Bergens Tidende.

Her uncle died of a heart attack on Feb. 3 this year and was taken to Haukeland Hospital, where his body was put in the morgue, without his closest relatives being notified.

The dead man had been living in care for a psychiatric disorder, and a female friend there took on the arrangements for the funeral.

“What happened, as far as we have been able to reconstruct events, was that this friend told hospital staff that she would take on the duties of informing the family and the practical arrangements of the funeral. But she was clearly not able to do this,” Halden said.

The man’s two sisters and five nieces learned about his death two days before the burial after chancing upon his funeral notice in the newspaper.

According to the family, Haukeland Hospital has not apologized. Information director Mona Høgli of Health Bergen said that guidelines were followed and that it does not necessarily have to be the next of kin that are notified when a patient arrives.

“It can be a friend, a lover, or anyone else. This was done in this case,” Høgli said.

*”/”*Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenENG

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Norway: Cheaters to be cracked down technologically

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

*”The University of Oslo (UiO) will introduce new technology in an attempt to crack down on cheating and plagiarism. UiO will likely adopt Ephorus, an electronic search system designed to unearth copying and repeat texts, student newspaper Universitas reports.

It is currently possible for two identical papers to pass through the grading system without being discovered, but Ephorus should reveal plagiarism and the reuse of texts.

The system recognizes texts that have already been submitted and also checks papers against the Internet. In the end an expert will determine if any matches are the result of cheating.

The humanities and law departments will now test the anti-cheating system.

“Each cheating case is one too many, whether it is done with intent or due to a lack of training. It means that we have not managed to communicate our preventive efforts, which can result in a loss of reputation for the University if it becomes a matter of large numbers,” UiO studies director Monica Bakken told Universitas.”*

By Dag Yngve Dahle and Jonathan Tisdall

*”/”*Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenENG

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President Kibaki calls on Kenyans to be ready for the coming elections

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

*”President Kibaki calls on more Kenyans to register as voters

President Mwai Kibaki has asked all illegible Kenyans to register as voters in the on going voter registration exercise.

Saying that no Kenyan should be disenfranchised on account of lack of a voting card, President Kibaki said the government had mounted a crash programme to issue identity cards to those without them to enable all illegible Kenyans to register as voters.

President Kibaki was speaking at State Lodge Eldoret today when he received a delegation of leaders from North Rift area.

He however reiterated that the general election is not due until December adding people should not be distracted from their normal activities by pre-mature electioneering.

Said President Kibaki, “The general elections will be held in December, we should therefore not raise the political temperature in the country unnecessarily this early.”

President Kibaki at the same time outlined the role of maendeleo ya wanawake in the country’s development saying that women comprised more than 50 per cent of the country’s population.

Saying that anyone ignoring women would be doing so at their own peril, President Kibaki emphasized that women should be let to play their rightful roles in the country’s development.

In this connection the President clarified that his recent directive requiring 30 per cent of all new employees in the public service be female was for all women and not only graduates.

“We have very resourceful women in this country who do not have degrees but who have excelled in academic, professional and other leadership roles, they should be given these chances,” he added.

On farming, the President said the Eldoret Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) factory will be revamped to enable it take in more milk following increased milk yields from farmers in the area.

Noting that the government had increased the producer price for milk, maize and other farm produce over the last four years, the President encouraged farmers to redouble their efforts so as to realize higher earnings.

In response to some of the issues raised by the leaders, the President said the government had intensified the rural electrification programme so as to make electricity available to most Kenyans.

He also talked of building more water points in the countryside to ensure that wananchi were able to easily access clean piped water.

On health, the President said the government was looking into the possibility of putting up a district hospital for Uasin Gishu district to ease pressure on the Moi teaching and referral hospital.

The leaders expressed their confidence in President Kibaki and the government saying in the last four years the country had realized unprecedented development due to sound leadership.

They vouched for the re-election of President Kibaki so that he can continue to serve Kenyans for another term.

Other speakers were cabinet ministers Musikari Kombo and John Michuki, the MP for Mosop John Sambu and Eldoret mayor Jonah Maiyo.”*

Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.statehouse.ke

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Bishop Gilbert Deya tells Apn by Phone that ODM-K has promised him to become Kenya’s High Commissioner to London

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

The offer of the job is as a result of Deya’s participation in ensuring funding of the election campaigns in Kenya. 

Shocking news now coming out from the UK in connection with Deya’s involvement in ODM-Kenya’s cancelled trip and the promises he has been given if he helps the party with funding does not go down well with ODM-K leaders who say they are against corruption. Secret deal of this kind amounts to corruption. Giving away the post of High Commissioner in exchange with the money secretly raised by someone wanted by Kenya on the crime of child traffincking.

APN has managed to get in touch with Deya through the phone. He has revealed that there is a deal that has been struck between him and the ODM-Kenya leadership, adding that as a Kenyan he has a right to actively get involved in the ODM-K politics and also to use his influence in raising money for the party from his friends and his followers.

Deya says he has been offered to become Kenya’s High Commissioner to London if ODM-Kenya takes over power in Kenya after the coming elections.

Deya who has been accused of child trafficking, and is wanted in Kenya says that the ODM-K is a willing partner in the deal and he will raise a large sum of money that will be used in the campaigns in Kenya.

The man does not lack surprises to tell the Kenyans. When asked about the child trafficking case in Kenya and how he could be given such a high position when Kenya wants to prosecute him, Deya says that the new government of ODM-K has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Deya Ministries that the charges will be dropped if ODM-Kenya takes over, thereafter, his appointment will be made public  on the 25th of February 2008.

When Apn told him that it did not make sense especially when he had a concrete date for his appointment, the man was insistant saying that according to the deal the appointment would have to wait for 2 months because a new ODM-K attorney general would have to process the case and have it withdrawn.

This now confirms why he was secretly involved in raising over 10 000 pounds and willing to clear all the bills that ODK-K leaders would incur in connection with the UK trip.

It has also emerged that the ODM-Kenya leaders while in London with Deya, were to discus unity and also agree on who the flag bearer will be. This is scary because ODM-K leaders are now allowing Deya to be a mediator in looking for a solution on who the flag bearer should be in the coming presidential elections.

Related stories:

By Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no, tel +47 932 99 739 +47 6300 2525

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ODM-Kenya is now a wounded horse heading for total colapse if nothing drastic is done to save it

Posted by African Press International on March 9, 2007

 

ODM-Kenya seems to be heading into the collapse. Most of the ODM-K leaders are the real “thirsty for power politicians” when one looks at the way they fly around the world aimlessly in the name of democracy.

Apn has no quarell with ODM-K presidential aspirants. However, the behaviour of many of them is very questionable.

Imagine they planned to run and seek advice from the former colonialists, people who made Kenyans suffer and had to be kicked out by the waging of the MAU MAU war against them. Going to the same people for advise is abusive to the Kenyans in general.

Now the trip has been cancelled after an outcry from the Kenyan public who made sure that their voices has been hard.

When politicians are unable to show unity, when politicians run around the world holding endless meetings, when politicians remain most the time abroad instead of being in the country and their constituencies, that leaves a great deal to be desired.

Raila Odinga is now again in the US and not his Kibera constituency where he got the votes to go to parliament. It is reported that he is in the US holding meetings and lectures. Does that develop Kibera slums in Kenya where he is supposed to be doing his job now that he is no longer a minister?

It has now come clear that the UK meeting has been cancelled and one of the reasons is said to be the involvement of the controversial preacher, Archbishop Gilbert Deya, the man who has been in the news for been party to child trafficking between Kenya and the UK.

How many of the ODM-K presidential hopefuls knew that Deya was involved? Some were definately kept in the dark by those who knew of Deya’s involvement.

Apn has learnt that Deya was to fund the trip and stay for the ODM-Kenya travellers. If so, then it is questionable whether the money is part of that which has been claimed is the proceeds from child trafficking.

The voters should now be watchful. How much involvement has Deya in ODM-Kenya? If he was one of the uK trip organizers, they is no question that he has a hand in the picking of who will be ODM-K flag bearer. It means that ODM-K, if it came to power after Kibaki, will drop all charges that has been preffered against Deya and his associates in the uncovering of the illegal child trade.

Is this a party that Kenyans are being asked to accept as one that is against corruption, when the same party accepts to be funded by questionable individual who has been charged in a very serious crime of child trafficking?

The government should use time to find out how much money Deya may have given to the ODM-Kenya and ODM-K UK chapter. And it will be important to look into the source where Deya got the money from because if he has contributed to ODM-K money obtained illegally, those in ODM-K who received the money should be questioned.

According to the standard newspaper, ” It emerged that Deya, a controversial cleric fighting deportation from the UK to face trial in Kenya for his alleged link to international child trafficking, raised £ 10,000 (Sh13m) to host the ODM-Kenya top brass in London.”

When contacted by the media he reacted, “I’m an ODM-Kenya member and it is therefore unfortunate if people cancelled the trip because of me,” said Deya, the man known for his claim that he helped women conceive miracle babies in the UK before they came to give birth in Kenya”, adding “I have been participating in Kenyan politics for a long time. I even helped Narc officials, who came to visit me in 2002. I cooked uji (porridge) and they also ate my ugali,” said Deya, who referred to the late Vice-President Michael Wamalwa and ODM-Kenya secretary-general Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.”

Reported by the standard to be “speaking from London, Deya said he had every right to be involved in shaping the country’s political agenda. They were then told that Archbishop Deya had promised to give £10,000 for transport, food, accommodation, and the venues.”

This involvement confirms that there is a hidden agenda that some ODM-K leaders are not telling the electorate.

It has also come to light that one of the ODM-K presidential hopefuls, William Ruto was not going to get any visa to travel to UK. Now imagine voting him in as president of Kenya. The man will not be able to travel out of the country into the UK, one of the close countries having trade ties with Kenya.

ODM-K accuses President Kibaki for his style of leadership. APN is not coming out in defence of Kibaki, but we are of the opinion that the president is doing a good job, taking care of the Kenyan needs by being in the country where his presence is required. He is not jumping around from country to country holding lectures that does not promote the develoment in the country.

Most of the ODM-K leaders are more interested in getting popular abroad as if they think it is the foreigners that will put them in the presidential seat back in Kenya.

The government should have a policy that forces these travelling leaders to account for what they do abroad. They should declare all the money that they receive from the foreigners who are paying them under the table, because by receiving money from the foreigners and promising them investment if they get power is betrayal to the Kenyan people. That is one indirect way of selling Kenya to foreigners due to greediness and personal gains.

Although the trip has been cancelled, it is reported that Raila will go to the UK and hold the meetings. For him, it seems the Deya involvement is not a bother, even though he knows how controversial the financier of the trip is in the eyes of the public.

Why does Deya’s involvement not bother Raila? For Ruto, failing to get a visa, he has started to cry foul. Now he is accusing those he calls conspirators and his enemies inside his own ODM-K fo having sabotaged his visa application.

Ruto seems to forget that he has a case in court where he is accused for having taken millions from the public kitty while he was a minister in former president Moi’s government.

By Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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