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Archive for September 10th, 2008

Minor technical works delay W/Africa Polytechnics Games

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

The West Africa Polytechnics Games (WAPOGA) were postponed again to 17 September due to minor technical adjustments on the sports fittings to be achieved, the steering committee hassaid.

The Games were initially scheduled on 17 July, and then on 10 September in Yamoussoukro at the Institut National Polytechnique Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivorian capital.

This second edition of the WAPOGA is expected to bring together six polytechnics schools.

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South Sudanese govt apologizes over raid on Kenya by cattle rustlers

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

The Sudanese Regional Cooperation minister, Barnabas Marial apologized on Tuesday to the Kenyan government over last months attack in Turkana district in northern Kenya by armed raiders from Southern Sudan and kidnapped a Kenyan herds boy and several heads of cattle.

Speaking in Nairobi at the offices of Kenyas minister for Internal Security, George Saitoti, Marial said that his government has already deployed security agencies to recover the cattle and the 18 year- old herds boy abducted by the Sudanese cattle rustlers widely known as Taposa raiders.

The raiders killed ten Kenyans including boys aged 13 and 12 and kidnapped the young man identified as Kakeru Amoi.

Already, the Kenyan government has written a protest letter to the Southern Sudanese government calling for the unconditional release of the youth.

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A Norwegian open-mouthed and big-headed coach sacked unceremoniously

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Lyn asks Berg to leave

Henning Berg is no longer head coach for Oslo soccer club Lyn. Berg, who already has a new coaching job lined up with Lillestrm, was asked to leave immediately.

Henning Berg is no longer head coach for Lyn.

PHOTO: TERJE BENDIKSBY / SCANPIX

Berg’s contract ran until the end of this season, and he’d indicated a desire to ride it out. Lyn, however, is in serious financial difficulty and its board wanted Berg’s resignation earlier.

Kent Bergersen, assistant coach for Lyn, will take over as acting head coach.

“We discussed various solutions,” Berg said Tuesday. “There were, in my opinion, solutions that were better. I don’t agree with the board’s decision, but accept it. The club is in a serious situation. It’s decisive for the club’s future that I don’t coach it any longer.”

Berg is a former soccer pro himself, who played for both Blackburn and Manchester United in England. He also was a fixture on Norway’s national squad for which he played in 100 matches.

Berg will start coaching the pro team in Lillestrm, just northeast of Oslo, next season.

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Are Immigrants victims of murder in Norway? Couple found dead at home

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

A couple in their 30s was found dead Tuesday in the home they shared near the west coast city of lesund. Police say they didn’t die of natural causes.

The house where the dead couple was found.

PHOTO: ARFINN MAUREN

The bodies of the woman, from Germany, and the man, from Hungary, were found after their seven-year-old son turned up at school alone Tuesday morning, reports Aftenposten.no.

Police went to the family’s home, a basement flat in a house at Sjholt in the village of rskog, around 30 kilometers east of lesund.

The couple had lived in the area for several years, and their son had attended day care in rskog before starting at Sjholt School.

Aftenposten.no reported that police had been called to the couple’s home earlier, but police said neither had been involved in any criminal offenses. Police say the deaths could have resulted from a “family tragedy,” which is the description often used in Norway for suicide or murder-suicide.

Both bodies were being sent to either Trondheim or lesund for autopsy.

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Norwegians were forcing travellers to spend money at the airport by delaying flights intentionally ‘Tax-free trap’ set to fall

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

On the eve of its 10th anniversary, Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen has found itself immersed in another round of criticism, this time for virtually forcing international passengers into its duty-free shops. Airport officials gave in to the critics on Tuesday.

The entrance to the international terminal leads passengers right into the duty-free shopping area, especially since the fence (at left) was erected. Now it will be removed.

PHOTO: JON HAUGE

The airport has been bashed in recent months for everything from long lines at security checkpoints to high food prices. Not everyone thinks the airport has lived up to its ultra-modern design, and critics contend it has descended into tacky commercialism.

Last week Norway’s leading expert on consumer behaviour, Trond Blindheim, blasted airport officials for what he declared was a creative attempt to funnel passengers into the airport’s large duty-free shopping area.

In addition to locating the duty-free shopping area just inside the entrance to the international terminal, airport officials approved construction of a fence just to the left of the entry area, ostensibly as a place to park shopping carts.

Blindheim, principal of Oslo’s marketing college, noted that the fence also served to all but block off a corridor skirting around the duty-free area. That “forced” passengers into the duty-free shopping area, Blindheim charged.

Airport officials now agree, to an extent. “For a while there was even a sign saying it was prohibited to walk around the shopping area,” said Jo Kobro, information chief for the airport. “That was quickly removed.”

Now, he said, the fence will be removed and the terminal entry area expanded so that passengers can more easily avoid duty-free temptations if they so choose. Kobro claims that surveys show passengers want more shops, not less, at the airport, but concedes that spending time at the airport should be “a good experience,” not one in which passengers feel pressured into shopping.

“We now see that the passageway beyond the tax-free shop was too small,” Kobro said, adding that the fence was likely to be taken down before the end of the week. He stressed, though, that revenues from the duty-free operations are an important part of the airport’s overall revenues and contribute to keeping costs down.

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Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

US Democratic Presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama. Photo/REUTERS

CHICAGO, Tuesday – A spokesman for Senator Barack Obamas campaign is taking the Chicago Sun-Times to task for reporting on a verbal slip Obama made referring to my Muslim faith.

The Democratic Party nominee for president was discussing false rumours on ABCs This Week with George Stephanopoulos when he made the gaffe, the Sun-Times reported yesterday.

Mr Obama suggested that GOP rival Senator John McCain was behind false rumours that he is a Muslim. Mr Stephanopoulos then reminded him that Mr McCain denied spreading the rumours.

Youre absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith, Obama said before Stephanopoulos corrected him.

The Sun-Times says the verbal slip unleashed a barrage of Internet attacks, becoming a magnet for comments on the YouTube.com video site.

Pretty irresponsible

Printing a blogger suspecting that Obama is a Muslim is pretty irresponsible and below the standards that were used to out of the Sun-Times, Obama spokesman Bill Burton wrote in an e-mail message to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Mr Obama has accused Mr McCain and Sarah Palin of shameless dishonesty with their claim to be mavericks, different from the unpopular President George W. Bush.

They are not telling the truth, he said in an interview with MSNBC news yesterday after the Republican running mates advertised themselves in a television spot as the original mavericks who would stand up for hard-pressed voters.

When you have somebody who was for a project being presented as being against it, then that stretches the bounds of spin into new areas, Obama said in response to Palins boast that she had intervened to kill a controversial federally funded bridge to nowhere, a project she initially supported.

The Obama campaign also unveiled an ad highlighting McCains lock-step voting record with President George W. Bush.

Politicians lying about their records? You dont call that maverick you call it more of the same, the announcer said, breaching one of the last taboos of US politics by accusing the Republicans of outright dishonesty.

Meanwhile, Mr McCain has gained huge support and now leads Democrat Barack Obama among white women voters since naming Sarah Palin as his running mate, according to a survey published on Tuesday. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that much of McCains surge in the polls since the Republican National Convention is attributable to the shift in support among white women.

The race for the White House is now a virtual tie, with Obama at 47 per cent support of registered voters and Mr McCain at 46 percent, the poll found.

Before the Democratic National Convention in late August, Obama held an 8 percentage point lead among white women voters, 50 per cent to 42 per cent, but after the Republican convention in early September, McCain was ahead by 12 points among white women, 53 per cent to 41 per cent, the poll found. (Agencies)

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The whistle blower on the secret sale of Regency Hotel Orengo appears before Cockar

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Lands minister James Orengo appeared before Justice Cockar on Tuesday. Photo/CHRIS OJOW

ByMuchemi Wachira
Lands minister James Orengo on Tuesday presented himself to the Cockar Commission and denied being served with summons to appear before the inquiry.

Mr Orengo made his appearance in the morning when the commissions 18th witness, Mr Kennedy Abuga, who is the Central Bank of Kenya legal director and board secretary, was testifying.

Mr Abuga was explaining how a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Kenya and Libya provided the opportunity for the bank to sell Grand Regency Hotel, when the minister suddenly walked in with his aides and expressed his readiness to give evidence to the commission.

Three attempts

Mr Orengo said reports that efforts to serve summons on him had failed were not correct and painted a bad picture of him in the public eye.

No one has ever served me, the minister told commission chairman retired judge Abdul Majid Cockar who had the previous day said they had made three attempts to serve the minister in vain.

Mr Orengo said he had been in his office where anyone could reach him, adding that there is no record of anyone making an attempt to serve him with the summons.

The minister said that it was only last month when he received a letter from the commissions assisting counsel informing him that he was required to appear before the commission.

I thought I would be served with summons. I have not seen them, he said adding: If I had been served with the summons, I would have come here running.

Asked by Mr Justice Cockar when he would be able to make his statement, Mr Orengo said he would be able to do so at 10am today as he needed to retrieve some documents before giving evidence.

After Mr Orengo left, the commission adjourned and when it resumed, an assisting counsel, Mr Wilfred Mati, made an application for Mr Abuga to be stood over.

Would be fair

It would be fair if we can stand him down so that we hear Mr Orengo first, just the way the commission had planned its proceedings. Then we will be left with three persons mentioned in the gazette notice, Mr Mati said.

The three are Mr Abuga, his boss Prof Njuguna Ndungu and former Finance minister Amos Kimunya.

Mr Justice Cockar concurred with the application ordering Mr Orengo to present himself on Wednesday.

He said Mr Abuga can continue with his statement on Thursday.

Earlier in his evidence, Mr Abuga said after the memorandum of understanding between the Kenyan and Libyan governments for the latter to buy the hotel was signed, CBK took the opportunity to sell the establishment to recover the Sh2.5 billion owed by Mr Pattni.

Meanwhile, the time frame for the commission to discharge its mandate ends today but, according to secretary Anthony Ombwayo, they had applied for an extension of time but will only know the outcome today.

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Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

ByJAINDI KISERO

MRS JACINTA MWATELA, who was replaced on Tuesday as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, is an extraordinary banker and public officer. Her story and record of service at the CBK offers an illuminating study on what personal commitment to probity by a public official can bring to public office.

Observers who have been keenly following the shenanigans at the Central Bank of Kenya know very well that her replacement and promotion to the position of permanent secretary for the Ministry of Northern Kenya and Arid Lands was not inspired by a sense of gratitude to the 30 years of exemplary service she has given to the CBK.

The truth of the matter is that somebody wanted her out of the way at the central bank in a hurry. It is an open secret that she was not in good books with the clique that wields power at both the Central Bank of Kenya and the Treasury.

Outspoken and uncompromising on issues to do with procedure and probity, she found herself on the wrong side with powermen over the manner in which the multi-million second generation currency printing contract was handled.

Last month, she rubbed the powermen the wrong way by the evidence she gave to the Chris Okemo-led parliamentary committee on finance and public administration that was investigating the Grand Regency saga.

Within the Central Bank itself, it was an open secret that she was among a group the insiders at the bank would derisively refer to with the code name, The Three Musketeers. Mwatela was perceived as the inspiration to a group of three tough women in the top management of the bank, who refused to play to the whims of politicians and influence-peddlers at the Central Bank of Kenya and the Treasury on matters of procedure and probity.

With her exit, the three musketeers have more or less been dismantled.

The manner in which Mrs Mwatela was replaced raises several broader policy questions. Can we really claim to have an independent central bank?

Why does the Government pretend to subscribe to the principal of central bank independence, but in reality treat the affairs of this critical regulator of the financial system as if it were another ordinary parastatal?

If we indeed believed in an independent central bank, the Government should have left the recruitment of the second in command of this key institution to its board.

The issue of Central Bank independence is as old as central banking itself. We need to renew our faith in this principle so that we can keep politicians and the Government away from the Central Bank as far as possible.

IT IS FOOLHARDY TO ENTRUST THE power of issuing paper money to the Government. Goldenberg happened basically because we had a central bank that was willing to cede power to ministers and permanent secretaries at the Treasury.

Why are were driving in the reverse in terms of the need to achieve independence and autonomy of the Central Bank of Kenya?

Last year, the Treasury tried to introduce changes to the Central Bank Act with the aim of introducing a chairman appointed by politicians.

Treasurys argument at that time was that the current arrangement, which allows the governor to hold the positions of both chief executive and chairman of the board was not in line with modern corporate governance practice. Clearly, the intention was to get the Central Bank to cede space to politicians.

Fortunately, that move did not see the light of day. What Kenya needs is a central bank whose commitment to price stability cannot be influenced by either short-term considerations of politicians or the borrowing appetite of those big spenders at the Treasury.

Inflation is the cruelest form of taxation on the people. Yet only an independent central bank, operating autonomously without the influence of politicians, can deliver monetary conditions for non inflationary growth.

We should not allow politicians to come near the conduct of monetary policy. Faced with hyper-inflation, authorities in Zimbabwe recently ordered the removal of zeros from their currency notes.

The idea that inflation can be brought under control by simply deleting zeros from the currency notes is utterly foolish. It is like believing that you spend less on the scratch cards for your mobile phone by buying more bamba 20s.

Monetary policy must be left to an independent central bank run by individuals who do not owe their positions to political patrons.

In 2003, David Mwiraria made a decision that led to the collapse of the government bond market when he announced in the Budget Speech that year, the reduction of the cash ratio from 10% to 6%.

By this move, the minister had freed Sh8.1 billion of liquidity into the marketplace. The 91-Treasury Bill rate went to 1 per cent. When the rates started coming up, it triggered market volatility as never seen before.

What is my point? That politicians must keep away from the Central Bank of Kenya.

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Pentagon declared dead. ODM’s polls: Raila faces new dilemma

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Prime Minister and ODM party leader Raila Odinga addresses delegates during the close of the partys retreat at Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge at the weekend. Jostling for top positions has started ahead of party polls in November. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

ByBERNARD NAMUNANE and LUCAS BARASA
ODM is set for renewed jostling as it prepares to hold grassroots elections next month.

The biggest headache for Prime Minister Raila Odinga is how to accommodate two key regions, Western and Rift Valley, led by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Agriculture minister William Ruto respectively.

Mr Odinga is already assured the position of party leader in the new leadership structure.

It would be taken almost for granted that the position of deputy party leader goes to Mr Mudavadi, who was his vice-presidential running mate at the 2007 elections and remains the affective second-in-command.

But with need to placate the restive Rift Valley region which has been grumbling that it got a raw deal in the Grand Coalition government, there is a strong push to have Mr Ruto become the deputy party leader.

Mr Kutuny said Rift Valley is fighting to get ODM deputy party leader position.

We will not compromise. We have given up so much. We cannot continue any more, Cherangany MP Joseph Kutuny told the Nation.

He said the populous Rift Valley gave ODM close to two million votes in last years elections and that it deserved the number two slot now that Party Leaders position had already been taken.

Following the weekend retreat, ODM crafted a new hierarchy that dispenses with the Pentagon, the group of key regional leaders that fronted the party, and establishes a more formal leadership structure.

The party has been under a group of largely unknown registered officials who have been holding brief since it was acquired from lawyer Mugambi Imanyara.

But real power has resided in the informal Pentagon that included Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi, Mr Ruto and fellow ministers Najib Balala, Joseph Nyaga and Charity Ngilu.

Below the Pentagon have been the unregistered but de-facto leaders of the party executive who include Cabinet ministers Henry Kosgey (chairman), Anyang Nyongo (secretary general) and assistant minister Omingo Magara (treasurer).

Since the elections and then following installation of he Grand Coalition government, some MPs have been questioning the continued relevance of the Pentagon, arguing that some members did not deliver their regional votes and yet were guaranteed cabinet positions.

According to Konoin MP Julius Kones, after dissolution of the Pentagon national positions in ODM should be distributed to reflect regional balance.

Deserve it

Since we know the top position will go to Nyanza, we want the next one to come to Rift Valley and theres no doubt about it because we deserve it, Dr Kones said.

Dr Kones said since ODM has been championing for young leadership we want most of the positions to be taken by new blood.

He also insisted that ministerial positions which fell vacant following plane crash death of MPs Kipkalya Kones and Lorna Laboso should remain in South Rift.

He said all MPs from region were qualified and that the PM should choose from amongst them.

The need for a higher position in ODM has been increased by the outspoken MPs from the Rift valley who have been accusing Mr Odinga of short-changing them in appointments and in the fate of illegal settlers threatened with eviction from Mau Forest.

Nominated MP Musa Sirma is among those campaigning for Mr Ruto to be recognised with a top post in party.

Mr Sirma told the Naivasha retreat that the province had been sidelined despite giving ODM high number of votes.

However, former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo shot up and defended the sharing of the partys cake saying just like Rift Valley, other regions also had their own issues.

Some Rift Valley MPs, particularly form the south Rift, have been threatening to shift to another party, most likely UDM, if their demands were not met.

During the Naivasha retreat Mr Odinga warned the MPs of the folly of dumping a national party to move to a regional outfit. If you form a regional or ethnic party, you will end up with MPs from that region or ethnic community alone, he said.

Mr Odinga also secured at the Naivasha meeting a resolution backing plans for conservation of Mau Forest, but at the same time moved to placate the Rift Valley with the demand for release of youth allegedly held by police over post-election violence.

The Prime Minister might need to do much more to appease the Rift Valley, and this is where the issue of making Mr Ruto his deputy in the party arises.

How Mr Mudavadi and his western region might take this is not clear, but there could be some grumbling. There have also been suggestions that Mr Ruto settle for the position of secretary general which he was holding in Kanu.

It is understood that Mr Balala will take over the post of national organising secretary while Cabinet minister Joseph Nyaga or an MP from Northern Kenya becomes the treasurer.

The unregistered officials, Mr Kosgey and Prof Nyongo, are however also keen to retain positions in the new line up which is set to be fine-tuned next week before preparations for grassroots elections begin.

Mr Odinga is also grappling with the choice of the politician who will be named minister in place of the late Kones. It is understood the he prefers Buret MP Franklin Bett, while Mr Ruto is canvassing for assistant minister Charles Keter.

ODM has set its grassroots elections for November 22 to November 24.

On Tuesday, Prof Nyongo denied that Pentagon has been an organ of governance in ODM nor was it under discussion regarding its existence.

He said the Pentagon was established as an informal consultative forum. You cannot abolish an informal institution nor can you legislate its existence, he said.

He named Strategic Planning Unit as another ODM consultative forum and that it, together with Pentagon will continue to exist notwithstanding the media propaganda bent at creating imaginary wars within the party.
Pentagon members will continue to play leading roles in the party given their history and the mantle of leadership bestowed upon them by the electorate, he said.
During the Sunday-Monday retreat at Simba Lodge Hotel in Naivasha, participants endorsed changes to the party constitution in a bid to revitalise it and conform with Political Parties Act.
On Monday, Mr Odinga in what appeared to reference to fighting for positions in party ahead of 2012 elections, warned against early campaigns.
Mr Odinga said it was wrong for some members to argue that 2012 was around the corner and that the party should start preparing for the polls.
He said the country had just come from elections and that people expected us to deliver on promises made to them.

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Kenya will retain national examinations as a tool to test measure students’ strengths and abilities

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Experts say KCPE, KCSE here to stay

By Marion Wambugu And Joel Okwayo

Education experts and stakeholders have reacted sharply to a proposal by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (Ipar) to scrap primary and secondary schools national examinations.

Education Secretary George Godia said national examinations were a viable method of testing students in a standardised format.

The proposal to scrap KCPE and KCSE was among a raft of recommendations in a study conducted by Ipar on the education sector and exclusively reported by The Standard on Monday.

The Parliamentary Committee on Education, Research and Technology, chaired by Mosop MP David Koech, too, backed national examinations, saying they were vital tools of measuring students strengths and abilities.

Speaking on behalf of Koech during the committees visit to Nairobis Upper Hill Secondary School, Lari MP David Njuguna said testing students through the national examinations should remain.

“Abolishing examinations is not wise. They are vital tool to determine student performance and ensure quality learning in schools,” said Mr Njuguna.

The Koech committee said scrapping national examinations would be detrimental to the quality of education. Testing using a standardised examination is part of the curriculum.

On his part, Prof Godia said: “National exam assessment has been tested by curriculum developers and proven viable as a standardised method of testing pupils and students performance.”

Godia said scrapping examinations and replacing them with individual school tests would not show a true reflection of performance, which is key in development and review of the curriculum.

“National examinations are a selection mechanism tool that tests relevance of content taught and students mastery of the skill and curriculum. Its removal will result in production of half-baked students,” said Godia.

He, however, urged teachers and parents to constantly counsel students and accept their intellectual ability, which he noted would remove the pressure to perform.

Commission for Higher Education Secretary Everett Standa opposed the proposal.

“These examinations are standardised and the only viable results to measure students performance at the national level,” said Prof Standa.

He said without examination results, it would be difficult to determine the entry point to universities.

“The examination is also one of the key tools we use to measure the quality of learning and the curriculum in our schools. Individual examination is not a good idea because each will set the tests according to the content learnt and understanding of the curriculum by their teachers,” said Standa.

However, he recommended constant review of the curriculum, saying it would help to remove parts of the syllabus that caused undue pressure among students.

Higher Education Loans Board Chief Executive Benjamin Cheboi opposed the proposal to scrap national examinations, saying it was wrong to attribute school unrest to them as many students had done.

“People have been doing examinations for a long time and they have never been reason for unrest. Let students concentrate instead of focusing on irrelevant things to justify under performance,” said Mr Cheboi.

He said a standardised examination is important to set a level playing ground for all learners.

He advised students to be disciplined and focus on their studies.

Similarly, Nairobi Provincial Director of Education Boniface Gitau opposed abolition of examinations would just be a temporary measure to a bigger problem.

“The education sector should instead reform the methods of testing students instead of scrapping examinations,” Mr Gitau said.

But some students supported the suggestion to scrap KCSE, saying it was a major cause of undue pressure to perform, which teachers alleged use to victimise weak students.

However, others opposed the proposal saying examinations ensured that all students were tested in a standardized system.

Speaking in Kakamega, Parliamentary Committee on Education Chairman David Koech said the Ipar report should be ignored.

Mr Koech, a former high school principal, said national examinations determined those who would be picked for further education.

He said the committee would not allow KCSE and KCPE to be scrapped.

“Allowing each school to set its own standards will compromise the quality of education, ” said Koech.

He said Ipar should present its report to the committee to so that its views could be harmonised with recommendations from task forces.

In its report, Ipar also proposed a new education Act to provide a legal framework for running and testing the curriculum.

Ipar also called for the disbandment of the Kenya National Examinations Council.

Ipar says cheating in national examinations where some students and schools get examination papers before hand was the consequence of poor management.

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Planning to murder is a crime – Kenyan ministers accused

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

How ministers plotted murder

Published on 02/09/2008

By Standard Team

The post-poll violence that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people may have been planned, it has now emerged.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report, On the Brink of the Precipice: A Human Rights Account of Kenyas Post-2007 Election Violence, documents meetings in which leaders incited community against community, and even funded the procurement of war gear.

The report, which was presented at the Waki Commission recently, is embargoed until those mentioned adversely are notified, as the law demands.

The findings of the report which have been disputed by some politicians and lawyers discount the notion that the violence was “spontaneous,” and gives specific instances in which politicians, including Cabinet ministers and current and former MPs, incited people to violence.

In August 2007, the report says, a meeting chaired by a Cabinet minister, and attended by other ODM politicians “resolved to carry out mass evictions of non-Kalenjins, especially the Kikuyu and Abagusii from in the Rift Valley.”

During a ceremony, the minister is alleged to have called on the locals to “uproot the sangari (weed), shake off the soil, gather it together and burn it.” This was a direct call to arms, inciting the locals against those perceived as “foreigners” in the Rift Valley.

On November 23, 2007, a parliamentary aspirant is alleged to have addressed a gathering in Kericho town, and urged members of his community to remove madoadoa (blemishes) from their midst, alluding to migrant communities from their midst.

Another minister is alleged to have held several meetings with councilors and also funded violence in his area.

The report says a former minister addressed a meeting of youths in January, telling them to block roads. “When we tell you to block, make sure you block the road, and when we tell you to remove, make sure you remove them.”

The same former minister is said to have hosted raiders in his residence from where they launched attacks against Kikuyus and Kisiis.

The report also quotes an MP who addressed a rally at Ziwa area in Uasin Gishu District telling the residents that Luhyas should be expelled from Trans Nzoia district.

Retaliation

Two other ministers are said to have held several meetings and funded retaliatory violence by the Kikuyu.

The report also names several police officers who failed to remain neutral in the execution of their duties during the violence.

Earlier on October 4, 2007, an assistant chief warned that a local trading centre, that was perceived as dominated by a certain community, would be razed down.

Sure enough, several attempts were made to burn the premises, which happened a month later and two elderly people killed.

One MP in South Nyanza region is accused of making promises that if elected, he would ensure that all business premises run by outsiders would be taken over by local communities.

The KNCHR report corroborates narratives that have been offered by independent human rights organisations that the resultant anarchy last December was a handiwork of people who plotted murder of fellow Kenyans.

“Opposition leaders are right to challenge Kenyas rigged presidential poll, but they cant use it as an excuse for targeting ethnic groups,” Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch early in the year.

“We have evidence that opposition politicians and local leaders actively fomented some post-election violence.”

The Justice Waki-led Commission is sitting in Mombasa to establish the root causes of electoral violence at the Coast before embarking on the compiling of its report to be presented to President Kibaki.

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Malawi: Going against the grain on subsidies

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Lilongwe (Malawi) – In each of the past three growing seasons, the family of Bernadette Banda, in Chidambo village in the central region of Malawi, has doubled the maize harvest from the family plot, thanks to a government input subsidy programme.

Subsidised hybrid maize seed and fertilisers have helped boost harvests and incomes at household level for more than 1.7 million farming families in Southern Africa’s most densely populated country. Resource-poor smallholder farmers like the Bandas have demonstrated that subsidies — opposed by international donors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — can overturn a food crisis if applied correctly.

In 2005, Malawi experienced a major famine where more than 5 million people needed food aid. Three years later, Malawi has dramatically moved from a serious food deficit to becoming a net food exporter, with the 2008 maize harvest of 2.6 million metric tonnes the highest on record.

“We used to have food shortages but now that has changed as a result of the subsidy programme, says Banda. “My family has enough to eat and we are able to sell some of the maize to get cash.”

While the subsidy programme may not be the silver bullet for the global food crisis, it has bolstered food security in Malawi. Banda explains that sustained bumper maize harvests have freed her family from hunger and given them a better outlook on life.

In a country where almost 7.2 million people — 60 percent the population — live under the poverty line, each extra bag of grain harvested and extra kwacha earned makes a difference. The Banda’s compound in Chidambo village is a hive of activity. Bricks are being moulded and neatly lined up to dry in the sun ready for firing. The bricks are for a new house for the Bandas and their five children.

A short walk from their home is the homestead of another farmer, David Mpezeni (32). Mpezeni saved some of the proceeds from selling excess grain in an account opened with the village Bank. He had built a brick house with a wrought iron roof.

“I am food secure,” he says pointing to a loaded traditional granary. “This granary holds a harvest of seven ox carts of maize (about 1 tonne of maize). From the surplus maize l sold, I have been able to build a new house which is better than the old thatched one you see over there.”

Government officials, the private sector representatives and researchers say the maize productivity turn around is proof that with the right policies, Malawi can say goodbye to international food aid. As a result of the subsidy programme, Malawi’s grain production tripled from national production average of 1.2 million metric tonnes in 2005 to 3.4 million metric tonnes in 2006 and 2007.

It was a government policy intervention which changed country’s food fortunes to the extent that it has even exported grain to its neighbour Zimbabwe. Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika — who is also the Minister of Agriculture — went against the grain and risked international donor support by promoting the subsidy programme. Government distributed seed and fertiliser vouchers allowing small holder farmers to buy two 50 kg bags of fertiliser which would normally cost the equivalent of $14 for around a fifth of the market price. In addition, farmers received a coupon for maize seed.

Players in the private sector have also been won over. Concerns that the subsidy programme would fuel budget deficits and distort the market and be costly to administer. The jump in maize production, saving the country millions of dollars in imported food aid, has players in the sector commending the programme for promoting “smart partnerships” with government.

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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS), by Busani Bafana

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Africa at large: 5,000 people die of tuberculosis daily

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Abuja (Nigeria) – Minister of FCT, Dr Aliyu Umar Modibbo, at the weekend, described tuberculosis as a leading cause of death in the sub-Sahara Africa because 5,000 people die of the dreaded disease daily.

Modibbo, who was speaking at the inauguration of the Niger Delta HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, Malaria control and community education programme organised by Global Initiative for African Development (GIFAD), said “we have lost able bodied men in their prime to the scourge of HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria,” adding the victims cut across religion and ethnic barriers.

The minister, who was represented by Director Public Health Department FCDA, Dr. Mrs. Shade Momoh, disclosed that 2005 sentinel survey showed that FCT has 6.3% of the epidemic.

She, however, commended different individuals and donor agencies for bringing down the prevalence rate in the FCT as compared to 8.4% in 2001.

He added that the administration, in tackling malaria, had provided free malaria test and treatment to children under five and pregnant women in all government hospitals and primary health centres.

Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive of Global Initiative for African Development and the National Coordinator, Niger-Delta HIV/AIDS. T.B and malaria control, Rev. Abraham Breakforth, blamed the prevalence rate of the disease in the region to the unrest in the area.

Breakforth said “based on the analysis, the destructive livelihoods leads to the emergences of alternative coping strategies, one of which is increased transactional sexual networking leading to the spread of STIs/HIV.”

He lamented that “the break down of family and social network leaves them headed by women who may be forced to offer sex in exchange for food shelter or protection”.

He said GIFAD intends to use the people of the region to eliminate them about the dreaded disease, so as to reduce the prevalence rate in the region.

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API/Source.Leadership (Nigeria), by Moses John

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Kenya: Impostors after our cash, say camp families

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Internally displaced people have scuttled government plans to resettle them after they rejected Sh10,000 each of them was to be given, claiming corruption.

Those camping at Nakuru showground argued that the Government had been paying imposters who have invaded the camp for families that fled their homes after violence broke out following last years elections. The families accused the Government of trying to compensate 3,420 fictitious victims while ignoring the 3,389 genuine beneficiaries whose identities could be authenticated. The victims blame resettlement officials and some members of the Provincial Administration.

We are demanding a proper screening of those claiming to be genuine IDPs, because as far as we are concerned, we vetted all the beneficiaries and handed our lists to the Government, yet we were shocked to learn that some of the names we recommended were omitted, said Mr Peter Kariuki, the chairman of the camp.

Similar claims of corruption and discrimination have dogged the first-tracked disbursement of cash and food rations to help the refugees in the neighbouring Molo and Nakuru North District.

In Sondu, more than 200 families are stranded after the Government failed to resettle them in Kericho District after removing them from Ekerenyo camp in Nyamira District. On Sunday, the groups representatives John Mauti, Charles Atina and Samuel Nyambane asked the Government to start talks with the locals to accept them back.

In Kipkelion, nearly 4,000 internally displaced people protested over the delay in compensating them. They marched around the town, demanding money and building materials. The uprooted families converged at the district headquarters where efforts by the DC, Mr Aden Harakhe to convince them to go back to their farms fell on deaf ears.

And Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat said that the statement by the former Public Service minister, Mr Moses Akaranga that the district lists were fictitious had only complicated the matters.

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API/Source.Daily Nation (Kenya)

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Swaziland: Legal system an obstacle to women’s rights.

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2008

Mbabane (Swaziland) – When the women’s movement in the southern African kingdom of Swaziland took to the streets in August to challenge what they called extravagance by the royal family, Swazi traditionalists were livid. It was the first time women openly questioned Africa’s only remaining absolute monarch on his luxurious lifestyle amid grinding poverty.

Swaziland is faced with many socio-economic challenges that primarily affect women and girls. The country has the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate — 26 percent among the reproductive group of 15 to 49 years old — an under-funded health system collapsing under the strain, and two thirds of the population are dependent on food aid. 69 percent of the king’s subjects live on less than a dollar a day.

On Sep. 6, Swaziland celebrates 40 years of independence; it is also the king’s 40th birthday. Despite pleas from some quarters for fiscal discipline, millions of dollars are being spent on the joint event, dubbed the 40/40 Celebrations.

On Aug. 21, over a thousand protesters, led by the Swaziland Positive Living for Life (SWAPOL) organisation, went to demand answers from the Minister of Finance, Majozi Sithole, and Prime Minister, Themba Dlamini, to protest this perceived extravagance as well as a two-week shopping spree by nine of King Mswati’s 13 wives in the Middle East.

Governor-General Jim Gama — the traditional prime minister in Swaziland’s dual system of government — could not hide his anger, stating that “these women should have voiced out their concerns through their husbands who are supposed to speak on their behalf.”

SWAPOL Director Siphiwe Hlophe retorted that women have a right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution of Swaziland. “People should understand that the Constitution gives us the right to speak for ourselves,” said Hlophe.

However, because of Swazi Law and Custom, Swazi women are far from enjoying their rights as enshrined in the Constitution and other international conventions to which the Kingdom is a signatory.

According to Lomcebo Dlamini, national coordinator of gender rights organisation Women and Law in Southern Africa, the duality of the Swazi system is the greatest stumbling block in the development of the country. Swaziland uses both the Western system (so-called modern law which is based on the Westminster System and Roman Dutch Law) and Swazi Law and Custom. While the Constitution of Swaziland is modelled on the United Kingdom’s Westminster system, it gives the traditional structure marginal precedence.

For example, the constitution gives exception to matters pertaining to cultural activities, such as the reed dance and incwala (an annual kingship ceremony), rights to use Swazi Nation Land, the designation or removal of powers of a chief or traditional authority. These are all regulated by Swazi Law and Custom.

Only last month, King Mswati was present when heads of state from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) signed the Protocol on Gender and Development in Johannesburg at the SADC Summit held on Aug.16-17. The protocol calls for state parties to endeavour to enshrine gender equality and equity in their Constitutions and ensure that these rights are not compromised by any provisions, laws and practices by 2015.

“However, Swazi Law and Custom is not codified and it’s vague and open to different interpretations, which leads to the manipulation and abuse of culture,” said Dlamini.

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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS), by Pal Teravagimov

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