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Archive for September, 2008

Rebel movement denies responsibility for Ethiopian explosion

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2008

An Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) on Monday denied responsibility for Sundays explosion in Jijiga, the regional capital of the Somali region of Ethiopia, which resulted in the death of four people and 10 injures.

While the Ethiopian authorities have blamed the ONLF for the explosion, the rebels foreign relations bureau said on their website that they are not behind the attack.

The assertion from the Ethiopian occupation forces in the Ogaden that The …act perpetrated at Andenet Hotel in Jigjiga on Sunday is suspected to be the work of the ONLF rebels, is baseless and unfounded, a conjecture that is intended to vilify the legitimate national liberation struggle of the Ogaden people, said the statement.

It also emphasised that the ONLF did not plant that bomb and as a principle does not target civilians.

ONLF firmly believes that the Ethiopian security forces or its cronies in the region are behind such an act which is intended to tarnish the legitimate national liberation struggle of the Ogaden people, it added.

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Rape, violence rife in DR Congo, says Amnesty International report

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2008

Thousands of women are being raped and child soldiers brutalised amid renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Amnesty International warned on Monday.

The human rights body has also expressed worries over unlawful killings, rape, torture and the recruitment and use of child-soldiers carried out by all sides, as aged and pregnant women cry out about baby girls seized by militiamen.

The human rights agency in its report highlighted how the agony-riddled women were marched from their home in the eastern province of North Kivu to join other several scores of women.

“The commander chose me as his woman and raped me everyday. My baby was beside me when this took place”, said one of the victims.

Fighting in the war-torn African country has killed more than 5 million people since 1998, despite several international attempts to install peace.

Aid agencies, including Medecins Sans Frontieres, have pulled out in the past months after government troops stepped up assaults on rebel forces.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees already living in camps have also had to flee.

Amnesty International disclosed that as many as 6,000 children serve with rebel and government forces despite pledges to end this heinous practice.

Some of the boy soldiers (as young as 14 to 16) – have claimed that commanders often withhold food unless we rape women.

Another boy soldier, in his shocking revelation, narrated how he was forced to kill a deserter by older soldiers.

They said to me: You have a choice either slit the mans throat or be killed. I killed the man because I had to save my own life, the sober stricken boy said.

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Seychelles foreign minister hails steady increase in bilateral relations with China

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2008

The Seychellois minister of Foreign Affairs Patrick Pillay on Sunday indicated that since Seychelles opened an embassy in the Peoples Republic of Chinas capital Beijing in September 2007, there has been a steady increase in the bilateral relations in trade, fisheries and tourism as well as in investments between the two countries.

Pillay, who was speaking on Sunday at a reception at the Chinese embassy in St Louis not far from the capital Victoria to mark the 59th anniversary of the National Day of China, added that both countries have maintained exceptionally good relations for the last three decades based on bilateral mutual understanding and a common vision of the China-Africa cooperation.

He added that these relations were further strengthened following the meetings of Seychelles President James Michel and President Hu Jintao in Beijing in 2006 and in Victoria in 2007.

Pillay thanked the Chinese government for all the help it has extended to Seychelles, including in the educational field and added that presently 44 young Seychellois are studying in Chinese universities.

The Minister observed that China has always been by the side of Seychelles in its development projects and cited that example of Chinese contribution in projects in the electricity, water supply, transport and infrastructure sectors.

Minister Pillay reiterated the Seychelles governments support for a One China-Two Systems policy and hoped for a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland.

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Malawi to play Swaziland in friendly tie

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2008

The Flames, Malawis football team, will play Swaziland in a friendly match to be held at Kamuzu Stadium in the commercial city of Blantyre on Saturday (October 4) as part of the hosts preparations for a crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2010 Africa Cup of Nations tie at the same venue on 11 October, APA learnt on Monday.

Coach Kinna Phiri said the game will be a strength testing match for the Flames as they wait for the Simbas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the same venue.

\”We need a friendly game before playing the DRC to test the players fitness because the match with the DRC is a crucial one and needs total commitment by both players and the coaching panel,\” he said.

Currently, he said, the players are undergoing physical training to preparing for the forthcoming matches.

Group 9 teams are Malawi (9 points), DRC (9), Egypt (12) and Djibouti (0).

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What’s Lucy doing at the UN with Kibaki?

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

Since when does the first lady attend the General session at the UN. Shouldnt she be visiting with Kenyans in NYC or shoppingthis is weird

cathymush27-Sep-2008 …reply # 92659
N wat’s amusing Wako?

watergate27-Sep-2008 …reply # 92663
WHAT A WASTE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES. THAT SEAT OCCUPIED BY LUCY SHOULD HAVE GONE TO KENYAN’S SENIOR UN/FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL OR REMAIN EMPTY. I KNOW THIS CUCU DOES NOT COMPREHEND FOREIGN LANGUAGE OUTSIDE NYERI SPEAK VERY WELL. WHAT A CROC!!

mungadelicious27-Sep-2008 …reply # 92666

Yenyewe hi ni upuzi ngani…?
And to think that these are the guys who have always painted Baba Moi as the “enemy”

ochuodho j27-Sep-2008 …reply # 92667
ha ha ha is that karucy the first rady,leave the woman alone she’s got through hell with kibakis mistress ha ha is the entire parliament in New york!

Luambo Makiadi27-Sep-2008 …reply # 92671
I think this lady is out of control…she must have insisted to stay with Kibaki even during the session.

kasmall28-Sep-2008 …reply # 92683
Ai i think this is pushing it a bit too far. Another brain must have been left in kenya for her to have that seat.GRRRRRRRRRRRRR

nash28-Sep-2008 …reply # 92693
ati wats she doing–c she is his “half”——————–wako is ever similing even wen angry n hungry

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Why political parties in Kenya want to sabotage Political Parties Act

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

Parties unite against offending Act

By Joseph Murimi

Major political parties have joined hands to plot an overthrow of the Political Parties Act that they fear may spell their doom.

In a rare show of unity, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Party of National Unity (PNU) and ODM-K have enlisted the support of 78 political parties to subvert the implementation of the Act.

Several parties are to team up with the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy-Kenya (CMD) to move to court and file a constitutional reference with the aim of declaring the new law unconstitutional.

The suit is to be filed before the end of the week, with firm argument that the law is taking away their freedom of association as enshrined in Section 80 of the Constitution.

The CMD oversight board met last Thursday and concluded that some sections of the new law are “unconstitutional and would lead to the stifling of multi-partyism in Kenya”.

CMD chairman Larry Gumbe confirmed the meeting attended by representatives of all the main political parties including ODM, PNU, Narc Kenya, ODM-K and Safina.

ODM was represented by the founding chairman Mugambi Imanyara, PNU by Secretary-General Albert Kamau, and Narc-Kenya by MPs Danson Mungatana and Katoo ole Metito, among others.

On Sunday, Prof Gumbe said they would join the political parties that are going to court to have the offending sections amended.

He said the board mandated them to negotiate with the Government to see how the law that comes into full force next January 1 could be expeditiously amended.

Gumbe said CMD-K welcomed the efforts being made to streamline and regulate the operations of political parties, but had problems with sections of the new law.

He said one of the areas in conflict with the Constitution was the requirements that political parties must attain 5 per cent of the national vote in two consecutive elections or risk deregistration.

Restrictions of funding

The new law came into effect on July 1 and gave parties a grace period of 180 days to meet the requirements. The period expires on December 31.

Parties are currently racing against time to meet the requirements, including conducting elections and opening branches across the country.

Gumbe takes issue with restrictions of funding of political parties by NGOs as well as the huge amount of money (Sh600,000) set out for registration.

He says this means those who fail to raise the amount would have their freedom of association curtailed, which is against the Constitution.

The requirement that parties be national has also been interpreted to mean that the new law was limiting the freedom of association by denying those who want to come together as a region to do so.

He also took issue with the definition of party branches, saying the decision should be left for parties to decide as they deem fit.

Gumbe says the grounds laid out in the Act for deregistration of the parties are discriminatory.

A requirement that a party that does not field candidates for six years would be deregistered turns parties into “mere election machines contrary to the spirit of multi-partyism, where parties generate policies and project different ideological positions”.

CMD-K also takes issue with the decision of level funding to be made by the Treasury, hence giving the Minister for Finance the power to determine level of funding.

Gumbe says this would give the Government of the day a chance to manipulate the parties. He further questions the immense powers the Act gives to the Registrar of Political Parties.

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Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

By Scott Dickensheets

Image

When she gets home early enough, my wife watches Judge Judy, and it always drives me from the room. I can see why she likes the show: My wifes an educator, a line of work rife with students and parents who wont take responsibility for themselves, who expect schools to make everything easy for them. In that context, Judge Judy Sheindlins sharp tongue and no-bullshit demeanor must seem like a welcome corrective.

But I cant stand the old bag. For one thing, Judge Judy isnt really about justice; its about judgment as entertainmentabout the Simon Cowell kick of watching an authority figure empowered to humiliate the silly (and the people before her court seem so consistently clumsy and inarticulate that you finally wonder if theyre screened for precisely those qualities).

Mostly, though, I dislike the shows red-state fantasy of a judiciary seized back from relativist, waffling judges who are more concerned about the niceties of due process than standing up for whats right. Every time Sheindlin curtly shuts up a plaintiff in mid-explanation or barks a lesson in black-and-white morality at some chastened defendant, she mocks the ambiguities of actual justice, to the delight of viewers who believe crooks too easily exploit the complexities of the law. I know, I know. Of course its just a TV show; of course the participants have agreed to be there; of course its all small-claims stuff. I get that.

But we live in a post-nuance world, and Sheindlins badass demeanor and frantic pacejustice is dispensed at lightning speed, her website says, as if shes serving fast foodencourage, in a small but persistent way, a wrongly simplistic view of how the system ought to work.

Plus, that voice! Ach. I have to leave the room just thinking about it.

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Egypt claims 2.2% of Uganda land

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

Image of alibalunywa2

<Story by: Ali Balunywa, AfricaNews reporter in Almere, the Netherlands Photo: Michael Poliza

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The Uganda government had allocated to Egypt two million acres of land to grow wheat and corn this year, Egypt`s minister of Agriculture revealed. He asserted that the land was in a number of places. Two million acres is equivalent to 2.2% of Uganda`s total area.
It was not clear whether the land was sold or leased freely, Ugandas Daily Monitor newspaper quoting the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper cited Minister Amin Abaza as saying.

Mbarara District, Uganda

President Museveni wants to make decisions favouring investors without consultations. He has for example given away land in several prime areas in the city free to foreign investors only to regularize the transactions later.

The monitor approached several executives including the Uganda Investment Authority, the Minister of lands and a number of political executives but they said they have no knowledge of the alleged deal.

However Reuters news agency reported recently that Arab countries, many of them oil rich but largely desert, were seeking large patches of land in fertile Africa to grow food for their populations to stem the increasing food prices.

The claim from Cairo came after Egyptian President Hussein Mubarak visited Uganda – for the first time in his 27 years in power – at the end of July. Members of Parliament on 25 September tasked the government to explain the circumstances under which Egyptians are claiming at least 2 per cent of Ugandas fertile agricultural land for wheat and corn plantations.

MP Ms Betty Kamya appealed to government as a matter of urgency to explain the agreement with the Egyptians, believed to be in final stages.

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Zim: Shops begin sales in foreign currency

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

Image of Sam Banda Junior

<Story bySam Banda Junior, AfricaNews reporter in Blantyre, Malawi, Photo: Elles Van Gelder
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The Zimbabwe Central Bank has given the go ahead to about 600 shops to start selling their goods in foreign currency in an effort to fight the black market trade and shortage of basic commodities. The Bank believes that the move would stop its citizens from shopping in neighbouring countries.
Zimbabwes Reserve Bank top boss Gideon Gono stressed that the Zimbabwe dollar remained the official currency adding that basic commodities like maize flour would be sold in the local currency only.

Zim dollars_currency_Zimbabwe_Elles van GelderThe country which is in an economic crisis and is struggling with the highest inflation ever at 11 million percent, has been hit by migration of its people in search of greener pastures.

We have successfully accepted about 600 applications, said Gono during a handover of the licenses to the owners. A Reuters News Agency report on Thursday quoted Gono as saying that local manufacturers would be allowed to sell to the licensed shops in foreign currency and that Zimbabweans and foreigners would be able to run the stores.

The report further said the Reserve Bank boss removed foreign currency restrictions for individuals, saying this was meant to allow them to use their foreign currency to buy from the shops.

The Southern African country mostly uses two major currencies – the South African rand and the U.S. dollar. Media reports say basic goods are scarce in Zimbabwe and when they become available they are sold at high prices. Consumers pay less when using cash, which is in short supply, while those using electronic transfers and cheques can pay up to ten times more.

Meanwhile the central bank governor announced that from next Monday the daily Zimbabwe dollar withdrawal limit would be hiked from 1,000 to 20,000. Zimbabwe recently wore a new hope which saw Zanu-PF and opposition political parties strike a power sharing deal.

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Malawi unveils third mobile firm

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

Image of Sam Banda Junior

<Story by Sam Banda Junior, AfricaNews reporter in Blantyre, Malawi

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A third mobile phone network operator is to roll out its services in Malawi by 2009. Already the Southern African country has two mobile firms – Zain Malawi and TNM. The two have been in stiff competition with each bringing out new cell phones which are being sold at cheaper prices.
The new mobile firm which should be prepared for a massive competition is known as Globally Advanced Intergrated Network (Gain).The country’s local paper of The Daily Times quoted its directors Peter Lamplugh and Limbani Kalilani as saying they would bring out advanced technology.

mobile phone

We want to offer good services through the best technology that we want to install, Lamplough said adding that they would be using Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA) technology which has better voice quality and speed data.

The country has of late experienced network congestion which has resulted in poor interconnectivity among subscribers. But Gain said SDMA, which uses multiple antennas among others would improve the speed.

Kalilani said the mobile firm was destined to withstand the competition further stressing that being a Malawian company, they would focus on covering rural areas and other places where there is no network coverage.

According to the Daily Times, Gain was granted permission to be the countrys third mobile phone company this year.

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Africa leads in mobile phone subscription

Posted by African Press International on September 29, 2008

The world could reach its four billion mark of mobile phone subscribers by end of 2008, if the drastic increase in mobile phone usage in Africa continues. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said Africa remains the region with the highest annual growth rate in mobile phone subscribers.
In a press statement, Dr. Hamadoun Tour, the ITU Secretary- General describes this as a viable business opportunity. He said the African continent added over 60 million new mobile subscribers and it represents some 90 percent of all telephone subscribers, and mobile penetration in the region is close to 30 percent.

kevinzim

He added: Less than 65 million new subscribers during 2007. At the beginning of 2008, there were over a quarter of a billion mobile subscribers on the continent. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of this century to almost one third of the population today. Mobile subscribers are also now more evenly distributed.

The fact that four billion subscribers have been registered worldwide indicates that it is technically feasible to connect the world to the benefits of ICT and that it is a viable business opportunity,” said Dr Tour. Clearly, ICTs have the potential to act as catalysts to achieve the 2015 targets of the MDGs.

He was speaking at the high-level events on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York, where he also participated in the UN Private Sector Forums addressing the global food crisis and the role of technological innovation in meeting the MDGs.

Mobile penetration

The statement reveals that while in 2000, mobile penetration stood at only 12 per cent, it surpassed the 50 per cent mark by early 2008. It is estimated to reach about 61 per cent by the end of 2008. Some subscribers, particularly in developing countries reportedly share their mobile phone with others. According to ITU, this has often been cited as the success story of Grameen Phone in rural Bangladesh, for instance.

ITU further highlights that despite high growth rates in the mobile sector, major differences in mobile penetration rates remain between regions and within countries. It reveals that, the impressive growth in the number of mobile cellular subscribers is mainly due to developments in some of the worlds largest markets.

ITU recently published two regional reports for Africa and Asia which indicate how mobile telephony is changing peoples lives. Apart from providing communication services to previously unconnected areas, mobile applications have opened the doors to innovations such as m-commerce to access pricing information for rural farmers and the use of mobile phones to pay for goods and services.

Image of mugira

<Story by: Fredrick Mugira, AfricaNews reporter in Kampala, Uganda Photo: Kevinzim

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Kenya: ODM will win the next presidential elections come 2012

Posted by African Press International on September 28, 2008

Orange day: Railas party awakens

By Standard on Sunday Reporter

After successfully defending Bomet and Sotik parliamentary seats, buoyant Orange Democratic Movement leaders electrified Western Province with a declaration 2012 is beckoning.

Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi with Agriculture Minister William Ruto. [PHOTO: ISAAC WALE]

ODM chairman Henry Kosgei referred to Prime minister Raila Odinga as Rais wetu (our president). The Oranges 2012 strategy was unmasked, which is to push for a hybrid system of government presidential and parliamentary to accommodate Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

According to Cabinet Minister Fred Gumo who unmasked the proposal, Raila would go for President with guarantees Mudavadi would be, if he won, his Vice-President and Ruto the Prime Minister. Rutos telling response was he would abide by the wishes of the party. The minister also talked of silent accomplices in the electoral theft.

“You know the PMs position was mine if we had won. You also know I stepped down for Mudavadi to take the DPM position when we shared the half a loaf, but my chance is now coming,” said Ruto, leaving everyone guessing.

In one of its grandest gatherings after the two retreats they held this year, ODM leaders declared the party won, was forced by circumstances to share power, is bruising for 2012 meltdown, and Electoral Commission chairman Mr Samuel Kivuitu must go.

Trademark

Raila, in his trademark metaphors, had a message for ODM supporters over last years election: “Ile mshale mlirusha ilipiga swara, na ikauwa hiyo swara, lakini ilibidi tukawe kwa ndio mzozano iishe”. (That arrow you unleashed got and killed the antelope; we had to share to restore calm).

Led by the PM, whom followers refer to as Captain because of his tranche of images borrowed from the pitch, ODM leaders ringed the PMs deputy and 2007 running mate Mr Mudavadi in a celebratory yet symbolic homecoming fete at Muliro Gardens, Kakamega. Raila and Mudavadi were dressed in leopard skin and blessed by elders from the 18 sub-tribes of the Luhya community, as a symbolic gesture they had been admitted into the communitys club of elders.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi at the celebratory homecoming fete at Muliro Gardens, Kakamega.

“You made him wear a leopard skin and from today, he will never be a coward again,” Gumo said, in the rally that pitched for a re-union of the Luhya under ODM, with Mudavadi as their spokesman.

Raila added: “You people gave me a good pass, I looked at the goal-keeper, saw he was dozing and shot the ball in. Then the referee claimed I was offside, Kibaki then scored on the other side and his was allowed. But when later the referee was asked who won, he said he did not know. You all know that referee spoiled the game,” the PM said, in reference to the disputed election results and the conduct of Electoral Commission.

It was day ODM closed shop for self-audit and cast an eye at the presidential parlour that controversially slipped through its hand last year, with devastating consequences for the country.

Litmus Test

The party to which the by-elections was the unity and continuity litmus test, now has 111 members in the hang Parliament, against Party of National Unity and its 14 affiliates combined force of 108. Three members of the Tenth Parliament from the fringe parties have not come out clearly on which side of the two blocks they prefer working with. They are Mrs Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani), Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central) and Mr Walter Nyambati (Kitutu-Masaba).

Raila assured supporters the party would remain united during and after the upcoming grassroots elections. “People are going around saying Raila has a rough time keeping ODM united because of rivalry between Mudavadi and Ruto, but I want to tell them that the party will remain as solid as ever,” he added.

As it danced away the day, occasionally looking over the shoulder to the dark season after the December victory it believes was stolen, as well as subsequent violence, Orange took stock.

“You people voted so well, you secured those votes until they were flown to KICC. In there they resorted to robbery with violence and stole our victory,” said Kosgei.

Praising ODMs strength, the Secretary General Prof Anyang Nyongo said: “There are only three parties in the world, it is ODM here in Kenya, ANC in South Africa and Democratic Party in the USA. Our party is known worldwide and you must remain in it.”

In the Tenth Parliament, ODM lost four seats through deaths two MPs were shot dead and another two killed in an air crash it reclaimed three but lost one.

However, despite winning back Ainamoi, Bomet and Sotik, and losing Embakasi, Orange clawed back Wajir East seat for which there was no winner because of an unprecedented vote tie.

Railas party now sharing power with the Presidents PNU also reclaimed Emuhaya, which was left vacant after Mr Kenneth Marende was picked Speaker of the National Assembly.

Ruto said ODM agreed to share its victory with their partners from PNU, adding the coalition partners must respect each other to ensure services they promised to Kenyans were delivered.

He said ODM had no apologies over its acclaimed victory, saying Kivuitu himself had indicated he did not know who won. “Kivuitu himself said he did not know who won, so which apology are you asking from us?” the minister wondered.

Raila introduced two ODM MPs-elect, Beatrice Kones (Bomet) (left photo) and Joyce Laboso (Sotik) (right photo).

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Kenya: To African leaders, Mbeki resignation is unforgivable (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on September 28, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – At the rate it is going, South Africa could soon be expelled from the African Union for setting a bad example to the rest of the continent.

African leaders, generally, hate three things. First, anyone who tries to take power away from them, even legitimately at an election.

Secondly, another African leader who shows that you can leave power when your second term is up.

Thirdly, a leader who resigns prematurely just because the public has become disgusted with their rule.

First, in 1999, when the iconic Saint Nelson Mandela would have won a second term without even getting out of his bed to campaign for president, he walked away from it and retired to his village.

His deputy ,Thabo Mbeki, duly stepped up to the plate and won the election.

Now, with less than a year left before he retires, the ruling African National Congress has revolted against Mr Mbeki. Instead of rounding up all the dissidents and feeding them to the crocodiles, he announces that he was respecting the ANCs wishes and stepping down!

Before the continent had fully absorbed the shock of his actions, on Tuesday, it was announced that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka too was resigning, along with 10 ministers, and three deputy ministers.

Mr Mbeki has a thousand faults, and he drove folks like myself to near-insanity with the way he mollycoddled Zimbabwes strongman President Robert Mugabe when he was ruining his country and tormenting its citizens, but on the whole, his achievements were quite remarkable.

While his critics have slammed Mbeki for being too business-friendly and not doing enough to tackle poverty and inequality, he presided over South Africas longest period of steady economic growth.

Mr Mbeki was, without doubt, the most intellectual African leader of the last two decades. Some years ago, an American magazine reported that when he travels abroad, aides usually go and knock on his hotel door at 3am, and remind him to go to bed because he has an early morning meeting. Sometimes, they sneaked back at 5am, only to see the light still on. Mbeki would still be either surfing the Internet, or reading a book.

The Internet was to be part of his undoing, for there he met some chaps who had some crackpot views on Aids, and argued that it was not caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but by various conditions arising from poverty.

Mbeki bought int that view, which influenced his approach to fighting the disease even as South Africa became the country with the worlds highest infection rates. Mbekis government was slow to get on the ARV bandwagon, and become an object of hate for many Aids activists in the world.

South African newspaper The Times, quoted human rights campaigner Zachie Achmat, who had a memorable confrontation with Mbeki over HIV and Aids, saying: This (Mbekis departure) is long overdue. Personally I would have liked to see him impeached for causing the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV…

His attitude towards Aids, though it changed to conform largely to the conventional scientific view, nevertheless led his Health minister to encourage sufferers to treat themselves with a concoction of ginger, beetroot, and a mix of lizard tail powder or something like that.

Mr Mbeki was paranoid, and thus became the architect of the slash and burn culture that saw him hounded disgracefully out of office. In the end, the monster he had created devoured him.

Mbeki was aloof to a fault. You have to look hard to find a photograph of him holding a child, like other African leaders like to do. In the 2004 elections, he showed his aversion for the lowly moments of political rallies by campaigning mostly by walking through neighbourhoods and talking to small groups of people. Mbeki is not one to join traditional dancers, and would never don monkey skins and prance around on the stage.

He would never do a Raila Odinga, and turn up as the Prime Minister used to, with his wife Ida wearing uniform clothes for a public function.

To the very end, Mbeki remained true to form. When he delivered his resignation speech, he was regal, and absolutely dry-eyed. A very presidential performance.

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api/source.The Nation (Kenya), by Charles Onyango-Obbo – September 25, 2008.

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South Africa: Reclusive enigma thrust into political limelight

Posted by African Press International on September 28, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – From one enigma to the next. President Thabo Mbeki was never the most media-friendly of leaders, with details about his personal life always relatively limited. His replacement, Kgalema Motlanthe, seems set to continue this frustrating tradition for the media.

Basic biographical details, like the birthplace of the man who will soon be Acting President Motlanthe, cannot be found on the usually reliable Whos Who of SA website, nor on Wikipedias website.

Do not rely on the Presidencys website either. It has a long biography of Essop Pahad soon to become the former minister in the Presidency but only a picture of Motlanthe with his biography page blank. Wikipedia says only that Motlanthe was born in 1949.

In a previous interview with Business Day, Motlanthe was asked why so little was known about his private life. He responded: I took a decision a long time ago that when I became involved in politics I would try shield my family from the glare of public life.

Mkhulu (grandfather in Zulu), as he is affectionately called within the party, will take over from Mbeki until next years general election.

After his election as deputy president of the ruling African National Congress in Polokwane last year, Motlanthe was tipped to replace Mbeki after next years election should party president Jacob Zuma lose his legal battles.

His appointment came as a shock to many, who had put their money on Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to replace Mbeki.

While secretary-general of the ANC, Motlanthe avoided choosing sides during the Zuma-Mbeki battle leading to the Polokwane conference.

However, he enjoyed support from Zumas cheerleaders, including the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). That relationship almost turned sour when Motlanthe spoke out against the kill for Zuma comments attributed to ANCYL president Julias Malema, and against an attack on the judiciary.

The rift was closed when senior ANC leaders, including Zuma, intervened.

Like Zuma, Motlanthe is said to be an approachable leader. Others say he is a unifier within the tripartite alliance and an intelligent politician. He is a self-confessed jazz lover who listens to the sounds of Madeleine Peyroux, Phillip Miller and Duke Ellington. Motlanthe lives in a gated golf estate and drives a Jeep Cherokee.

It is said that Motlanthe was influenced by the revolutionary ideologies of the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko. In 1976 he was detained by the apartheid government for 11 months for his political involvement in ANC activities .

He also has a trade union background as a former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. He served a 10-year sentence on Robben Island, rubbing shoulders with liberation luminaries such as Govan Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Mac Maharaj and Harry Gwala.

Earlier this year, Motlanthe ruled out the possibility of going into government before next year as a way of smoothing relations between Luthuli House and the Union Buildings. Then, just a few months later, he was sworn in as a member of Parliament and later as minister without portfolio, in a move seen as an attempt to ensure a smooth transition to the 2009 election.

Judge Chris Nicholsons judgment further accelerated Motlanthes move to the highest office in the country when the judge found that the president or his cabinet may have interfered in the functioning of the National Prosecuting Authority in the matter relating to Zuma. The ANC national executive committee then decided to recall Mbeki and replace him with Motlanthe.

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api/source.Business Day (South Africa), by Sibongakonke Shoba – September 25, 2008.

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Posted by African Press International on September 28, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has labelled South African President Thabo Mbekis resignation as devastating, state media reported on Thursday.

“It’s devastating news that President Thabo Mbeki is no longer the President of South Africa, but that is the action of the South African people,” the Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as telling reporters in New York.

Mbeki, who brokered a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara earlier this month to end a deep political crisis in Zimbabwe, announced his resignation on South African national television on Sunday.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are still deadlocked over sharing of Cabinet posts.

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api/source.Zim online (South Africa) – September 25, 2008.

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