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Archive for June 18th, 2008

More questions than answers on the marine cable project

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008


TREASURY PS JOSEPH KINYUA has directed that the process of choosing the select group of private sector players to partner with the Government in the ownership of the multi-million shilling East African Sub Marine System Project (Teams Ltd) be handled by the Privatisation Commission under the chairmanship of a respected academic, Prof Peter Kimuyu.

Teams Ltd is an initiative of the Government and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates, in which the parties have agreed to build the first undersea fibre optic cable between Mombasa and Fujaira in the Emirates.

Some 11 private sector players were recently selected to own shares in the company, under what the Government is presenting as a private-public partnership deal.

These circumstances have kicked up an intense war between the major telecommunications companies over the ownership of Teams Ltd, with companies left out of the lucrative deal claiming that the process of privatising the company had not been conducted transparently.

Literally, all the major telecommunications companies in this country are lobbying to get a piece of the action, counting on the fact that the value of the company will rise astronomically once the project goes into commercial operation next year.

There have been suspicions that well-connected operatives have lobbied to ensure their cronies get a share of the family silver on the cheap.

So, preponderant have been the claims and counterclaims surrounding the deal that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission officials last month jumped into the fray by launching investigations into the manner in which the privatisation process was handled.

KACC is also interrogating the circumstances under which market regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya was made to issue a $60 million guarantee to enable the construction and laying of the cable to commence.

I gather that the Office of the Prime minister also recently summoned Ministry of Information and Communications officials to ask question about the privatisation of the project.

In my own view, Mr Kinyua deserves congratulations for directing that the responsibility of managing the privatisation of Teams Ltd be transferred to the Privatisation Commission.

The commission is better placed to investigate some of the allegations surrounding the deal because, as opposed to the institutions handling privatisation currently, this body is bound by law to apply stricter rules of transparency and disclosure when overseeing a privatisation projects.

Prof Kimuyus team should investigate and determine is the following. First, is there substance to the claim that the procurement of the 11 private sector players in Teams Ltd was done irregularly?

WERE ALL THE PLAYERS IN THE TELEcommunications industry given an equal chance, and on what basis were the companies selected?

Second, considering that the billions of shillings the Government has so far spent on the project, including the $60 million guarantee by the CCK which more or less covers the cost of completing the cables construction, wouldnt public interest be served better if the sale of shares in the company to private sector players was delayed until the cable comes to commercial operations next year?

Third, what can be done to ensure that the Government reaps maximum shareholder value from the investment it has put into the project?

I say so because billions of shillings in public resources have had to be sunk into the project , including the millions that went into paying for the feasibility studies.

The marine survey alone was done at the cost of $2.7 million. The Government paid millions of shillings to Standard Chartered Bank, the financial arranger, and for the initial down-payment to the contractor.

In contrast, the 11 selected companies have so far only signed escrow agreements committing them to pay 5 per cent of the money they intend to put into the company.

According to the arrangement, the next stage will be for the companies to sign a shareholders agreement with the Government committing them to pay the full amount of the shares they have been allocated.

And, once they pay, the arrangement is that the Government will be relieved of its pro rata part of the financial obligations to the project.

The Ministry of Information and Communications say the project has been modelled as a unique public private partnership where the government is facilitating the private sector to enable them to provide cheap bandwidth to the fast-growing information and telecommunications sector.

The ministry insists that the 11 companies will bear the greater part of the financial burden of the construction.

Yet, whichever way one looks at it, this is a project that reached financial closure long before these companies committed a cent.

Right now, if some problem was to occur, it is the Government that would have to bear the risk.

Prof Kimuyu must make sure that another Mobitelea does not happen under his watch.



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Escalating violence in Somalia causes civilians to loose their lives

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

By: Yusuf Haji Hussein, API staff writer in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Mogadishu-Somalia (API); Five people were killed and many morewere injured in heavy battle between Ethiopian and government troops combined against the insurgent forces in a separate area in Mogadishuon Tuesday night, residents confirm to API.

Opposition warriors have opened fire and motor shellson the Ethiopian and government base solders at Afoloransa junction Wardeglay district. Both sides were heard exchanging fire.

It was a scary night, because the light of the bullets have been seen, old women and a children died after the moto shells landed on the neighbouring houses. Five were wounded; according to an observer Mohamed Omar who narrated the story to API last night.

Three people are said to have been killed in a separate incident at Menada building of Suka Holaha district in north Mogadishu, with three being wounded. All are said to hbe civilians.

These conflicts which escalated in Mogadishu come after U.N-brokered peace talks between TFG leaders and the opposition Alliance based in Asmara. The parties agreed on a cease fire in Djibouti conference on 9 June which now seems to have no effect.

Somalia slipped into anarchy after the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, resulting inclan based fightingin all Somali regions.


African Press International – api

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Kenya: Famine forces clansmen in Baringo to eat wild fruits

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

<By Leo Odera Omolo

More than 45,000 people living in Silale and Kositei villages in the newly created Baringo East district are starving to deathas persistent lack of rainfall continues to hit the area.

Reports emerging from the area says that many families have been surviving on wild fruits which are also hard to find. Children, elderly people and women are the most affected.

A resident of Kabarnet told this writer that the situation is so pathetic with unconfirmed reports of several casualities..

A recent KTN report shocked Kenyans when men, women and children were seen by viewers in wild chase of rats and mouse in the thick bushes for their meal, signifying the high degree of hunger facing the communities in the region.

Fears persist that many parts of Kenya would soon follow suit, though the government recently announced that it was importing 3 million bags of maize from a foreign source. The Minister for Agriculture William Ruto had assured the nation that there was nothing to worry.

In some regions of Kenya, especially the tradition maize growing areas had experienced total crop failure owing to the scarcity of rain. Maize is the food the majority of Kenyan communities depend on. Its market price has gone up by nearly 80 per cent. In some places, 2kg of either maize or maize flour is costing close to Kshs 100/- which is unaffordable to many poor rural families.

Regions like Trans-Nzoia, Trans-Mara, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Molo, Migori, Kuria, Nandi, Kericho had experienced crop failure due to the unpredictability of the weather. The post-election chaos early this year has largely contributed to the on-going state of famine in the country. In some places, tribal skirmishes had forced maize farmers out of their farms. They fled while abandoning their maize in the field, which was eventually harvested by thugs and goons..

Still heeling from the aftermath of post election violence, residents of the agriculturally richNorth Rift had high expectation on this years budget, which was read in parliament by the Finance Minister Amos Kimunya last week. To save them from the sky rocketing food prices.

Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu districts are the bread basket of Kenya, But there is hardly enough grain for sale to the famine stricken members of the public.

Even worse still, post election violence in January and February had led to more families going hungry because no meaningful farming activities took place during the political upheaval.

In Burnt Forest areas within the Uasin Gishu district, looting, arson and wholesale destruction of plantations rendered the economic life virtually desfunctional.

Kenyan farmers were also expecting some money to be allocated towards buying their farm produce when they harvest later this year. Measures to cushion them from drought should also be tailored into finance Minister Kimunya,s budget last week{2008/2009}. Kenyan farmers are anxious lots. They have many problems and they have been waiting for the government to provide the solution in this years budget.. But according to the agriculture minister Ruto very little was given to the Ministry

Following the post election chaos early this, farmers, particularly those living in the maize producing regions in the North Rift were expecting this years budget to subsidise when they harvest later in the year..

The subsidies should have come during the planting season of the main staple food, but we still need them to plant the short-term crops, said one farmer in Eldoret Town. Mr. John Cheruiyot of Sergoi said that the production of maize and wheat would suffer this year as most farmers were unable to afford fertilizers whose prices sky rockted from Kshs. 1.650/- to kshs 4,000/ for a bag of 50 kg.

A recent survey conducted in Baringo East revealed a grave situation one of human being competing for wild fruits with domestic animals, especially goats and donkeys.

At a village called Kositei in Chemelinget Division, school chidren have been forced to forfeit their studies and abandoned learning in schools as they accompany their parents to the hilltop and forests to look for wild fruits traditionally known as Sirichon in the bushes.

This fruit is pounded before being boiled in three different stages to remove the bitter taste and to make it soft. The boiling takes at least 24 hoursif the fruits were still fresh, but sometime boiled for two days when they are dry.

According to the locals, food especially the common ugali {kimiet} that is favorite meal almost every household in the country is now increasingly becoming a rare commodity and a rare thing as some residents said they last tested the precious meal some six months ago, and have only been surviving on wild fruits., t


One 75 year old resident and a widow reported that her husbandsuccumbed to death three weeks ago as his thin body could not survive for another day after going without food for more than two weeks. The incident could not be confirmed immediately. The widow Mrs Chebeteltes Lochab a mother of eight said her own chances of survival were also slim because she cannot climb up the trees for harvesting the wild fruit due to her age coupled with a broken arm

Suffering of many people in Baringo East is evidenced as emaciated children emerged from one of the hats. Locals are really staring at starvation in the face.

One civic leader Clr Daniel Tumsis said the problem is getting worse day by day and several people have died in Kositei Ward. We have a record of seven people in the bushes because they are so weak that their relatives have abandoned them behind as families scampered for the wild in search of the now scarce fruits.

The civic leader said several attempts to get any assistance in the form of relief food from the government have been fruitless as they only give empty promises. He alleged that the government has neglected them and wondered who to turn to next.

A recent visit to Chemelinget shopping centre which has the new district headquarters, essential commodities were very expensive as unscrupulous traders take the advantage of the worsening situation. A kilo of maize flour goes for 100shillings, so expensive that onlya few families can manage to raise.

Many families in the area have been forced to flee their homes and migrate and were seen settling along Kotidoe River, the only available water source in the area. We were tired of trekking for a long distances looking for water said Chepurai Longolesia, adding that we came to live near the river because we use a lot of water in cooking wild fruits.We used to walk for more than 20 kilometres to fetch water..

The civic leaders reported that it has been very difficult for the villagers as livestock auction they depended on were closed due to quarantine in the area following the outbreak of peste petit rumantes disease three months ago.

One person alleged that the last time they saw an Assistant minister and the MP for the area Osman Kamama was when he was serving as the Minister for Public Service shortly before he was relegated to an Assistant minister position in the Ministry of education in the grand coalition government.

In the neighbouring Baringo North district the situation is the same and so is west Pokot. The acute shortage of food has also spread into Turkana district, and in other districts in Western, and Nyanza provinces where close to 100,000 people are facing hunger.




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Tanzanian band takes on Europe

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

You have been sent news by msema ( that appeared on

Comment: Good news for east african dance music

The Ngoma Africa band, a Tanzanian band based in Germany has released a new single CD Apache Wacha Pombe, which means, Apache stop over drinking alcohol. And by all accounts, it’s a hit in Europe!

This danceable song composed by bandleader Ebrahim Makunja aka Ras Makunja “bwana kichwa ngumu is about a poor man called “Apache” who spends all his meagre income in alcohol instead of taking care of his sweet family.

The song reminds people like Apache to invest in the education of their children so that they can build a better future. It reminds them that they have to think of their families instead of wasting their money entertaining friends with drinks.

On this new hit, Ras Makunja sings together with Soloist Christian Bakotessa aka Chris B.

Apache is said to be already dominating many radio stations in Europe and some radio in East Africa with their style of music, which the reckon is a fusion of Tanzanian “Bongo Dance” with East African rumba.

The have also maintained the tradition of singing in Swahili.

Listen on



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Obama magic

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

<Story by Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda

THERE have been stories doing in the media on the good effects Obama victory in the Democratic race and if he wins in the US presidential election this year could have on Africa. First, let his victory not be seen purely on race harmony and care giving basis. It would first and foremost be good to US as a country. After the two terms presidency of George W. Bush and the Republican presidency a break is quite necessary.

Secondly, and due to the same reasons advanced above, the victory would be good to the entire world. During the George W. Bush’s leadership the world has not become safer despite his hawkish and rough style of readership. A leader with a larger and superb soft skills combined with the same force is apparently necessary. This is where Barrack Obama fits the bill.

Thirdly a relatively younger blood would engineer some radical reforms as opposed to the kleptomaniac conservative style which has a good reservoir in John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Looked closely, there is no much difference between John McCain and Hillary Clinton. They are two sides of the same coin.

Clinton reluctance to drop out of the democratic race when it has been apparent that her candidature for the main race is not viable at this juncture is borne out of various factors. Among them is that first all along up to when nominations began she looked the favourite. Secondly, having been a first lady she could not fathom that a neophyte of Barrack Obama type could outshine her. Thirdly, her husband having been a popular former president she reasoned that this granted her automatic success. Fourthly, she thought that the race factor would greatly derail Obama. Fifthly, it all seems that her former husband Bill Clinton failure to openly and strongly support his Vice- president Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign was a strategic move for the VP to fail so as not to derail the chance for his wife who was strategically getting the New York Senate seat en-route to bid for the presidency. Who said that it is only in Africa where power is too sweet to imagine leaving it!

Obama starts the race as the favourite to clinch the US presidency this year. Another term for republicans would leave the world very probably worse with raging insecurity and highly inflamed hatred passions. Obama presents a new face, a new generation, new ideas, a new America and hope to many young people who are tempted to lead wasteful life. Here is somebody who is out to prove that America is still the land of opportunity and that America is not bereft of ideas and that the world can be changed for the better.

However he has too many hurdles to overcome and not least the issue to do with race and class. Let it not be forgotten that even though many analyst take such dim views of George W. Bush presidency, he won two terms successfully in as much as the first was won controversially. Additionally Bush legacy is not all about failure. Let it not be forgotten that it is Bush who appointed the first black as his first secretary of state. It is Bush who during the second term appointed another black as secretary of state. It is Bush who has been pushing dictators in the world especially in Africa and Asia to the wall. It is Bush who though many thought he would forgot poor regions of the world such as Africa who has proven different and actively engaged Africans to sort some of their perennial problems. Bush failure is largely viewed in terms of the Iraq mis-adventure, the never ending conflicts in Middle East, American economy doldrums, his handling of hurricane Katrina, global warming crisis among others. But has not failed entirely as some would want us to believe.

A warning shot to Africa though. Obama may be good for Africa but first and foremost he is an American and America is at his heart. He is unlikely to jeopardize American interests in pursuit to sort others. The pint is that he has the right frame of mind and brings in flesh paradigm shift in American politics. He has the drive, intellect and energy to make America a better, friendlier and liked state. The upshot is that he represents change!



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Sudan: South adopts gender policy for the region

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Juba (Sudan) ? The autonomous Government of Southern Sudan on Friday passed a Gender Policy for the region to address issues of inequality related to gender.

Presented by the Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, Mary Kiden Kimbo, the document highlighted gender issues in relations to girl-child education, maternity health care, poverty, food security, access to land, gender-based violence and decision-making in public and family affairs.

In defense of the document, Minister Kiden argued that there was need for a gender policy framework to reverse history of discrimination against women in Southern Sudan particularly by cultural and customary norms of life that ?dehumanize and subordinate? women in public and family life.

The document discourages early marriages of young girls and promotes easy access to education by girl-child. It also calls for giving special consideration to establishing maternity health care centers up to the Buma (local) level of governance in order to avoid numerous deaths of women during child delivery in the region.

While praising the SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit for his commitment to fulfill the 25% allocated to women in accordance with the provision in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the document calls for establishment of special programs that would empower women to create enabling environment and potential for them to qualify in occupying such allocations.

?Gender equality cannot be achieved without women empowerment,? argued the Gender Affairs Minister Mary Kiden, adding that women have only occupied an average of 18% out of the 25% allocation per the CPA.
Minister Kiden however commended certain state governments in the South for fulfilling the allocation and sometimes exceedingly up to 30%, which she said was the universal agreed upon percentage of special allocation for women.

After it was passed by the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the region?s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Gender Policy document will then be presented to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) for final endorsement before it comes into effect.


API.source.Sudan Tribune, by James Gatdet Dak

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Zimbabwe: MDC secretary general to appear in court today

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Harare ? Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party secretary general Tendai Biti is expected to appear in the High Court today to face treason charges as President Robert Mugabe tightens the screws on the opposition ahead of a presidential run-off election later this month.

Biti, arrested last Wednesday as he landed at Harare International airport, faces the death penalty if convicted of treason but the MDC at the weekend dismissed the charges against its secretary general as false and based on a ?fake? document written by the government?s spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

?He has not been formally charged but the police have said they want to charge him with treason arising out of what is obviously a fake document, headlined “Transitional Mechanism” which was concocted by the CIO,? MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in a statement. The police allege that the ?Transitional Mechanism? document was authored by Biti and that it outlined a plan to seize power unconstitutionally.

Biti ? who was brought to court on Saturday in leg irons and amid high security ? publicly distanced himself from the document when it first surfaced two months ago. The police also say that want to charge Biti with ?communicating statements prejudicial to the state? for allegedly announcing that the MDC and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won the March presidential and parliamentary elections instead of waiting for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce official results.

The ZEC later confirmed the results announced by Biti although the commission said Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe but failed to secure the margin required to take power warranting a second round ballot on June 27.
Meanwhile, in a rare reprimand, Botswana last week summoned Zimbabwe?s ambassador to that country to protest about Biti?s arrest and the repeated detention of Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai has been detained on no less than five occasions in slightly over the past two weeks while on the campaign trail, in what the opposition leader is an attempt by the government to derail his drive to end Mugabe?s decades-old rule. ? ZimOnline


API.source.Zimonline (South Africa/Zimbabwe), by Jameson Mombe

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Kenya: People sound alarm over high food prices

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

The spiralling prices of basic food commodities fuelled by inflation, the post-election crisis and high production costs are forcing Kenyans to cut down on their meals every day.

A survey by the Nation discovered that prices of essential foodstuffs had risen by more than 50 per cent in the past six months. As a result, more and more Kenyans are now resorting to the kadogo (small size) economy, where one buys tiny quantities of essential products as the need arises. Among the goods whose cost has risen dramatically since January are maize flour, rice, bread, milk and sugar.

By the weekend, major retailers were yet to reduce the cost of these products although Finance minister Amos Kimunya reduced taxes charged on them in Thursday?s Budget speech. It is now feared that malnutrition might be on the rise as most Kenyans struggle to put a meal on the table. Though the Budget was praised for the initiatives taken to cushion the poor against spiralling prices, it left out fuel, which has contributed to the rising cost of production.

Although oil prices are largely determined by global trends, a large proportion of the pump prices in Kenya are attributed to taxes. Ms Lucy Wangai, an information officer in Nyeri, is one of those who have been pushed to the kadogo economy. With a salary of about Sh40,000 a month and a family to feed, Ms Wangai is finding it difficult to fill her usual monthly shopping basket, comprising cooking oil, sugar, bread, rice, maize and wheat flour, and detergents, among other items whose costs have skyrocketed.

?One has no option. You have to eat even when the cost is on the increase. We are actually leading a hand-to-mouth kind of a life,? she adds. Ms Wangai, who used to spend Sh5,000 on the monthly household budget, now has to spend double the amount.

To adjust with the hard times, consumers have removed items considered ?luxuries? from their monthly shopping list, to accommodate the costly essential products. Days before the budget speech, the Nation traversed the country looking at how Kenyans of all social classes are coping with high inflation that has, for the first time in many years, gone past single digits and now stands at about 26 per cent.

Everywhere, it is the same woeful story. Kenyans, especially those of the middle and lower income groups, have been hard hit by rising prices. The poor have been hardest hit, unable to meet many of their basic needs such as food, shelter and medical, as prices rises to stratospheric levels and wages stagnate. Will the new measures announced by the Finance minister help?

Many of the most vulnerable do not think so.

What many are quick to note is that while the prices of alcohol and cigarettes went up almost immediately after Mr Kimunya finished reading his budget speech, they are yet to see lower prices for bread, maize flour, wheat flour, maize, beans and other foodstuffs, whose taxes were removed.

And there are no signs that the crippling transport costs occasioned by high oil prices, that also affect the cost of production across the economy, will ease any time soon.

Agriculture minister William Ruto attributes part of the problem to poor policies in the agricultural sector. Though policies advocate affordable and quality seeds, prices still remain high. Kenya Seed Company, the leading seed producer controlling 75 per cent of the market has in the past also been accused of producing poor quality seeds


API.source.Daily Nation (Kenya), by Jeff Otieno

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Kenya: Empowering youth more than tokenism (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

As the dust settles on the Budget debate, it is time to examine the fine print of the Government?s finance plan.

One of the key items of last week?s Budget was the allocation of Sh500 million for youth development. Like last year when a substantial sum of funds was allocated to the youth, there is clear understanding that this group requires specific interventions to address their plight. Notably, the Government has set up the Youth Enterprise Fund to provide seed money to support young people to venture into business.

Underlying this is the acknowledgement that young people remain a disempowered lot that operates at the periphery of the economy. They suffer due to rampant unemployment and lack of access to funds and opportunities for gainful engagement. But is funding the surest alternative out of disempowerment? After two years of experimenting with youth funds, there is little to show for it. The allocation is minimal and the mode of disbursement faulty.

Not only do youth groups formed to source for the money receive meagre allocations, whatever they get, except for few cases, has not been wisely spent. Seldom do we see the fund put into strategic investment.
Most of the fund has just ended going down the drain. At any rate, we have not heard of investment clinics rolled out to sensitise youth and equip them with the right skills and attitudes on investment. Whereas the youth fund is a noble idea, it is time the Government used a holistic approach to tackling issues affecting the young people.

One of their grouses is exclusion in governance and decision-making. With octogenarians dominating top political positions and Government appointments, the youth are left to watch things helplessly at the fringes.
This spawns disillusionment, which in turn, leads to criminal tendencies. Not surprising, it?s the youth who took part quite viciously in the violence that rocked the country in the first two months of the year. The point is that tokenism won?t end the youth crisis. A more strategic and forward-looking approach must be adopted.


API.source.Daily Nation (Kenya)

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Senegal: Beaten in silence

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Dakar (Senegal) – One in four women suffers domestic assault and battery in Senegal yet most suffer in silence because of a deeply entrenched culture of impunity and a phlegmatic response from the government, according to experts in the sector.

A study on domestic violence conducted in 2000 by the Canadian Centre of research and International Cooperation (CECI) in Dakar and Kaolack, 150km southeast of the capital, revealed 27.5 percent of women are subject to physical violence from their partners.

Assatou (not her real name), 35 and married for ten years, is sitting in the offices of Committee for the Fight Against Violence against Women (CLVF), a non-governmental organisation set up to help domestic violence victims in the Colobane district of Dakar. She is trying to find the words to describe her situation. “At first, whenever we had an argument my husband would shout and occasionally slap me, then gradually he started to beat me harder,? she said in a frail voice, covering her braided hair with her white veil. “I do not know how long it lasted but I couldn?t take anymore and I eventually went to complain to the police.”

She presented the police with a medical certificate as proof of her abuse, but her brother-in-law found out and ordered the police to remove her records from the file. Next time she went to the CLVF listening centre, to relate her story.

According to Fatou Bintou Thioune, CLVF?s only employee, the organisation registered 138 cases like Assatou?s between 2005 and 2007, but this represents a fraction of the overall number of cases of domestic violence. ?It is happening inside houses all across the city, she told IRIN.

Despite widespread awareness of the problem and commitment in the form of a national campaign a few years ago to address it, no government structure is in place to address these violent incidents, there is no toll-free number for women to report their cases, and no shelter has yet been created for women who flee their homes. In lieu of government structures to address the problem, 17 women’s associations have come together to form a network called Siggil Jigen, to fight against domestic violence and bring the debate into the public arena. Many of them focus on raising awareness of the issue among communities.

The CLVF is the only one among them to set up listening centres ? one in each of Senegal?s eight largest towns – where staff give women psychological counselling and legal and administrative support including on how to proceed with a divorce. They also offer to mediate in disputes or provide couple counselling. Ndye Ndiaya Ndoye, vice-president of CLVF says their efforts make a difference but the impact is limited. “Counselling can ease tension, but it does not guarantee the violence will stop. We come to talk to women, to bring them out of their houses and it is a start, but this does not solve the heart of the problem,? she told IRIN.

In January 1999 a law was passed in the Senegalese penal code punishing domestic violence with a prison sentence ranging from one to five years and a fine of between US$70 and $117. But this law faces religious and cultural resistance according to Fatou Ndiaye who works with Siggil Jigen.

“The law is poorly enforced,” Diouf Nafissatou Mbodj, president of the Association of Women Lawyers of Senegal (AJS). A former judge to the prosecutor who wished to remain anonymous says judges often do not have a choice – they face pressure from families to minimise the penalties, and there are often limits to what families can pay, given their economic and social reality. “It’s very easy for a judge to apply the penalty, but there are many practical obstacles that also have to be taken into account.?

Adji Fatou Ndiaye, a coordinator at the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Senegal says part of the problem is that people accept domestic violence. ?In Senegal, it is accepted that women are subordinate to men. A woman should always follow a man ? her husband, her son, her uncle, or her father – even if his expression of his domination turns violent.” She continued, ?There are even religious arguments to legitimise this, and it [violence] is often accepted in families. It is not uncommon to see a mother proud to see her daughters suffer in her marriage, because people can say she has learned to behave in the household.”

The result, according to several women who work in the sector, is that too few women dare to admit they are beaten. “When they do, they face enormous pressure from those around them not to,” Thioune told IRIN.
Up to 60 percent of domestic violence victims turn to a family member and in three quarters of cases they are told to keep quiet, try to endure it, and find consensus with their spouse, according to CECI?s study. ?I no longer count the number of women who withdraw their complaints or ?disappear; after having testified,? Thioune said.

Women also face practical problems in extricating themselves from their situation. In Senegal the majority of marriages among the 95 percent Muslim population are traditional unions observed in a mosque and not registered by the local authorities according to Thioune. “The problem is that even when women wish to divorce they are often not able to provide a marriage certificate that would give them this right,? she said.
“It’s a vicious circle,” she pointed out. “There are so many obstacles to getting out of the marriage that many women drop out of the process, stay in their marriages and tell me they leave it in God?s hands.?

Women working in the sector say the first solution is to enforce existing laws more rigorously. And they say if the problem is brought out into the open, and people ? especially the young – are encouraged to talk about it, it could achieve more of a stigma. They also call on Muslim leaders, Imams, to be brought on board since they are a powerful force in Senegalese society. By working with these groups the CLVF?s Ndoye hopes to stop the issue from arising in a marriage in the first place. ?For when violence has appeared in the household it never completely disappears,? she said.


API.source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

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Nigeria: Our migrants’ nightmare (commentary)

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

May was the Nigerian migrant’s nightmare. As dozens were repatriated from Libya, many were targeted in the orgy of xenophobic violence that swept across four South African cities.

But the response in Nigeria to the incidents in both countries was remarkably different. An important reason, of course, was the degree of violence that accompanied the latter case. But it’s much deeper than that. Nigeria takes South Africa seriously, not just in the sense of economic rivalry, but also because of historical ties that go back to the days of the liberation struggle when Nigeria enjoyed the status of a “frontline state”.

Yet Nigerians have never considered themselves lucky. Whether in Zimbabwe, Angola or even Sierra Leone, where the country put itself at the disposal of other African countries, the outcome was a mixed feeling of being short-changed or betrayed. Long before the riots in South Africa I came across many Nigerians who had a feeling that they were overstaying their welcome. And that feeling starts from the South African High Commission in Lagos, where Nigerians pay much higher visa fees than citizens of any other country wishing to travel to South Africa.

The other side of the coin is that many South Africans I have met also think that apart from the legendary boisterousness of Nigerians, they probably compete with Mozambicans for the top spot on South Africa’s crime league table. This is not the kind of talk you hear at the diplomatic level. In the aftermath of the recent riots, for example, when Nigerian Vice-President Jonathan Goodluck met South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in Abuja the discriminatory visa fees was a hot topic. But both leaders spoke in diplomatese that expressed perplexity about the problem, while conveniently pretending that it would go away quietly. Yet echoes that all was not well between both countries rebounded strongly in the press.

Commentators used the harshest words in the book, from butchering to racism and from betrayal to black-on-black violence, to describe the ugly incidents, which claimed more than 42 lives and displaced thousands.

An editorial in the Nigerian Guardian, for example, warned that “South Africa should remember that it does not have a monopoly of violence”, while Dele Momodu in his column for ThisDay praised the beauty of South Africa but railed at “the butchers of Alexandra”. The riots were disgraceful and it would be silly to find another name for a spade. For a country that holds itself as a rainbow nation and one whose political independence came at a high price to much of Africa and the decent world, a higher standard is naturally expected. Since the riots I have been so deeply smitten by shame that I cannot wear any of my three T-shirts emblazoned with South Africanness, which I used to show off proudly.

Yet in spite of my shame and disgust I have left a place in my heart to remember. What happened in Johannesburg, Alexandra, Durban and Cape Town did not happen for the first time.

In the 1960s Nigerians loved Ghana more than they loved their own country. There was a massive exodus of Nigerians to Ghana for some of the gold on the streets of what was then known as the Gold Coast. Sooner than later the Ghanaians couldn’t take it anymore. The backlash might not have been as grim as what the world witnessed in recent weeks in Johannesburg, but the locals hit the migrants where it hurt badly — their pockets. The Nigerians were expelled in their hundreds and many families were forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs.

The tables turned in the early 1980s when Ghana fell on hard times. An estimated one million Ghanaians flooded Nigeria (they were coming in at the rate of 300 a day), taking over jobs from shoeshining to teaching. It was only a matter of time before resentment turned into hostility and hostility into xenophobia. Public opinion forced the Shehu Shagari government to expel the Ghanaians under such hostile circumstances that many of them who were lucky to take anything at all with them did so in ragtag cellophane bags, now derisively known in Nigeria as “Ghana-must-go”.

Most people still remember the experience of the Lebanese and Indians in Uganda under Idi Amin, while in Europe and America concerns about job losses, globalisation and immigrants are rife. It might not be the popular view, but I figure that the recent outbreak of violence in South Africa has more to do with the economy than with race, ingratitude or bad neighbourliness. With unemployment running at nearly 40% and the Mbeki government unable to deliver on its promise of a significant number of new jobs, it was only a matter of time before tensions would run over.

That does not excuse the madness, but it also doesn’t mean that South Africans love Nigerians any less than Nigerians loved Ghanaians in the 1980s. It speaks to how much work the Yar’Adua government must do if it is really serious about wanting more Nigerians to stay home. Not an easy job in a globalised world where the best talents follow money wherever it might be made. But if the government fixes infrastructure, especially power, and runs an open, transparent government, perhaps fewer Nigerians will be obliged to migrate at all costs and the risks and dangers associated with such adventures will naturally be reduced.

Azubuike Ishiekwene is the executive director of publications for Punch and is also a member of the board of the World Editors’ Forum.


API.source.Mail&Guardian (South Africa), by Azubuike Ishiekwene

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Tanzania: Struggle to bring back rhinos from South Africa

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Nobody knew that Tanzania was struggling to bring back its own rhinos that were taken to South Africa, until a high placed Leon Sullivan delegation jetted in.

The United States Government has shown interest to assist Tanzania in bringing back a pack of Rhinoceroses that had been taken to a South African animal sanctuary some years ago and now the country is struggling to have the animals back. The Secretary of the US Department of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne who represented President George Bush at the Leon Sullivan Summit in Arusha said the US would help Tanzania to transport the Rhinos from south Africa.

The Secretary of Interior stated this recently when he, together with other Leon Sullivan Summit delegates visited the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority as part of the convention program. Kempthorne was responding to the issue raised by the director of wildlife, Erasmus Tarimo regarding the rare species of Rhinoceroses that were taken to South Africa by a farmer who reportedly runs a wildlife sanctuary in the country.
Apparently Tanzania is negotiating with the South African Government on how the animals could be brought back in order to boost the number of Rhinos in local National parks and game reserves. According to Tarimo, the only problem so far is how to fly the huge and heavy animals here.

?There was first the issues of buying back the Rhinoceroses at the cost of US $100,000 per animal,? said the director who was not ready to divulge how many rhinos were taken down south and how many are to be flown back. As far as he is concerned however, the contract to have the species returned here has already been signed. The question remaining was who exactly was going to foot the bill of hiring five large cargo planes required to transport the rhinos from South Africa to Tanzania. At that point, the Dirk Kempthorne, the US Secretary of the interior said his government will see how it can assist Tanzania to ferry the animals back home.

?I was speaking with President Jakaya Kikwete ???..and among other issues we discussed about how the tourism sector and wildlife conservation here can be assisted,? said Kempthorne adding that President Kikwete had expressed concern regarding the dwindling number of wildlife especially their demise brought about by mostly poachers. At the moment the Ngorongoro Conservation Area has a total of 24 rhinos all of which are equipped with GPS tracking system to protect them from poachers who hunt them for their horns.

In Asia Rhino horns are believed to have medicinal values, but elsewhere the horns are used to make varieties of expensive artifacts. It is reported that less than 50 rhinoceroses survive in Tanzania today.
The Rhinoceros consist of five species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia. Three of the five species (Javan, Sumatran and Black Rhinoceros) are critically endangered.

The Indian Rhino is endangered, with fewer than 2700 individuals left while the White Rhino is registered as Vulnerable, with roughly 14,500 remaining in the wild. The number of Black Rhinos had reportedly declined by 96 percent, worldwide, between 1970 and 1992.

In the 1980s, many dedicated conservationists and wildlife policy advocates throughout Africa realized that a serious long-term strategy program had to be developed in order to save the African Black Rhino from complete extinction. By then there were less than 100 rhinos in Tanzania, in very widely dispersed small population groups. There were very few left anywhere in Kenya, just north of Tanzania, as well as most of central Africa. There used to be 20,000 black rhinos as recently as the 1960s in Tanzania alone, but poaching for the valued rhino horn and overgrazing of habitat shrunk the area and population down to next to nothing.

In the face of the shrinking rhino populations, Tanzania, with the help of other African Parks, governments, and conservationists, planned a protected breeding program that would increase the black rhino numbers. Fifteen or more years later, Mkomazi Game Reserve Rhino Sanctuary is the result. The rhino sanctuary occupies 43 square miles of the total 2,200 square miles of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, with guards patrolling the electrified, alarmed fence around the sanctuary


API.source.Aursha Times (Tanzania), by Glory Mhiliwa

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East Africa: Ambitious budgets will face attrition (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

The finance ministers of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania read their national budgets last Thursday, underlining once more the need to harmonise the region?s macroeconomic environment.

The need for that harmony cannot be gainsaid. All three countries, as well as new entrants Rwanda and Burundi, face similar socio-economic challenges, including fossil-fuel driven inflation, unemployment and localised food insecurity. In all five countries, infrastructural constraints in such sectors as power, transport and water continue to stymie growth and development.

It is not surprising, then, that the three budgets had more things in common than not. In all three countries, the accent was on social mitigation and infrastructural development, especially that geared towards regional integration.

All three budgets were also ambitious. Tanzania?s spending will this financial year rise by 19 per cent, Kenya?s by more than 10 per cent and Uganda?s by 7.1 per cent.

In the current global environment, however, all three budgets will face various internal and external strains as the year wears on. In Kenya, by far the gravest challenge for Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, whose $12.1 billion budget is the country?s biggest ever, will be to rein in inflation, which recently breached the 30 per cent mark on the back of rising global food and fuel prices.

Experience elsewhere has shown that such high inflation can lead to social instability, something that would be devastating for Kenya given that the country is just recovering from the post-election violence that broke out as a result of the disputed December 27 general election.

Another challenge for Mr Kimunya will be plugging a $2.01 billion deficit, equivalent to 5.3 per cent of GDP. Only a paltry $400 million of this is expected to come from donors, with the balance coming from privatisation and local borrowing. Given this scenario, the Ministry of Finance will have to ensure that privatisation programmes run on time, while guaranteeing that domestic borrowing does not raise interest rates and crowd the private sector out of the money markets.

While Tanzania?s 2008/2009 budget does not have a deficit, the enduring challenge for Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo will be to continue to work to wean the country off donor support, whose conditionalities often lead to procurement bottlenecks, project delays and cost rises. At 34 per cent of the budget, this component remains unacceptably large, although it has admittedly fallen from last year?s level of 42 per cent.

Mr Mkulo?s decision to commit a big percentage of the $435 million allocation made for agriculture to subsidies for fertilisers and boosting strategic grain reserves should help cushion the country against the food shock that has hit the world. It is a welcome sign that both Kenya and Uganda too have made similar provisions.

In Uganda, while GDP growth will slow marginally in the 2008/2009 year, from 8.9 per cent to 8.1 per cent, Finance Minister Ezra Suruma?s $3.43 billion budget will help consolidate the country?s macroeconomic stability through low inflation and greater investments in infrastructure.

It is welcome, in this sense that the single biggest allocation of over $600 million will go towards the upgrading and improvement of Uganda?s transport network, with special emphasis on the highway from Mombasa that crosses Uganda into Rwanda and the DRC.

Going forward, the key challenge for the three EAC countries that read their budget last week will be to adhere to their financial projections. In all three countries, it has not been uncommon, for example, for monies to be returned to the Treasury because line ministries lack the absorptive capacity to utilise them, even as glaring social needs remain unmet and infrastructure crumbles.


API.source.East African (Kenya)

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