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Archive for September 18th, 2008

South Africa: Blatter’s special soccer gift for Mandela

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Cape Town (South Africa) – Fifa President Sepp Blatter yesterday paid tribute to ‘his friend Madiba’ at a private audience at the Nelson Mandela Foundation with a very special gift.

To commemorate the historic moment on May 15, 2004 when the former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, emotionally raised the iconic World Cup trophy right after the 2010 Fifa showpiece was awarded to South Africa, Blatter handed over a specifically manufactured replica of the Fifa World Cup.

“You are the true architect of this Fifa World Cup; your presence and commitment made it happen. Now the first African Fifa World Cup is a reality and the Fifa Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 – the dress rehearsal – will already take place in less than 10 months’ time,” explained Blatter.

“I remember that moment back in Zurich. It’s an honour to welcome you here today. It was my desire to meet you and I am happy that we managed it. Thank you for this very special gift,” said Mandela, who assigned the Trophy a special place in his office.

Blatter was accompanied by Fifa Secretary General Jrme Valcke and Fifa Ambassador Tokyo Sexwale.

Speaking about his visit to Soccer City, Blatter said: “This is the centre of all the activities of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and I am so impressed by the magnitude of the construction of this stadium which already has more than 20,000 seats in place. It’s great, it’s big, it’s huge. It is like a temple where people will assemble in 2010.”

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API/Source.Kickoff (South Africa) – September 17, 2008.

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Kenya will be effective if ECK is rewamped

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Revamp and give ECK powers to prosecute, says judge

By David Ohito

Kenya needs a lean, independent and effective Electoral Commission to guard against flawed elections. This is according to the Independent Review Commission, which also wants the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) given powers to prosecute those who break electoral rules.

The report paints a gloomy picture of ECK, which is chaired by Mr Samuel Kivuitu and has 21 other commissioners. It describes it as an inefficient outfit averse to the use of technology and lacking in transparency.

It says in part. “ECKs internal management processes deserve a thorough overhaul. The commissioners should be replaced or their appointment be radically transformed,” adding, the manner of appointment of commissioners and the structure, composition and management system of ECK are defective and lack independence.

The report wants the number of commissioners reduced and ECK made accountable to Parliament.

It recommends a new, transformed ECK with a thorough management system appraisal.

“The review should aim to tailor the institution to implement critical decisions expeditiously and transparently,” the report says.

Consultations

In spelling out a radical surgery, the team chaired by Justice Johann Kriegler recommends constitutional amendments to make ECK more vibrant.

It proposes broad consultations before appointment of members and chairman of the commission, and the creation of eight provincial offices to coordinate processes between elections.

The ECK Secretariat should be revised and headed by an executive secretary, who must be an experienced election manager competitively recruited in the rank of permanent secretary.

Institutional reforms proposed include issuance of national identity cards and voters cards together.

It says disputes arising from elections should be resolved through a special election tribunal.

It requires ECK to announce the new laws relating to Political Parties Act to provide a clearer framework for the registration and financing of political parties.

Additional consideration should be given to all relevant electoral laws to provide ECK with prosecutorial powers over election offences.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Mugabe still on top

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (left) speaks at a signing ceremony for a power-sharing agreement in Harare on Monday as opposition …….

The power-sharing deal signed yesterday between Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe and his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, is a stop-gap measure which leaves many of the nation’s most vexing problems unresolved. The agreement was struck after months of violence, followed by negotiations brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki. Yet Mr. Mugabe’s murderous rampage, human rights violations and his thwarting of the democratic process remain largely unpunished.

The deal fails to redress the fact that the will of the Zimbabwe people has not been fully heard. The first round of presidential elections held in March resulted in victory for Mr. Tsvangirai’s party, Movement for Democratic Change. He did not have sufficient support, however, to prevent a second round of voting. Yet Mr. Mugabe and his advocates unleashed a bloodbath against the opposition – one that was conducted mostly by the military and police. Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew from the campaign amid cries – echoed by his supporters and the international community – that the process was unjust. Mr. Mugabe won the second round of voting in June. But by then, international observers recognized this to be a sham election. What legitimacy does Mr. Mugabe now have?

Under the new agreement, Mr. Mugabe nonetheless remains as president and still has control of the military, which are the very tools he needs to threaten dissidents. Mr. Tsvangirai will be prime minister, but it is uncertain how much power he will wield. The cabinet will contain 31 members; 16 from the opposition and 15 from Mr. Mugabe’s ruling ZANU party.

World leaders rightly view the deal with cautious optimism because the violence has ceased for now and Mr. Mugabe has seemingly ceded some ground to his opponents. But the road ahead is long and difficult. Zimbabwe’s economy is struggling under the weight of hyperinflation and heavy economic sanctions. Human rights organizations fear that the perpetrators of the violence will be given immunity. And some opposition leaders in Zimbabwe insist that the deal gives Mr. Mugabe too much room to return to his old habits.

This deal does nothing to redress the gross brutality committed at the hands of the Mugabe government. But it is a good start – for now.

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API/Source.washington times

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US embassy in Yemen bombed

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

The US embassy in Yemen was attacked
by two cars, witnesses said [AFP]

At least 16 peoplehave been killed in an attack on the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa by a suicide bomber and armed fighters, the country’s interior ministry has said.A suicide bomber on Wednesday morning drove a car close to the embassy before detonating his explosives, witnesses said, leaving part of the building on fire.
Armed men then attacked the embassy frm a second car, they said.A group called Islamic Jihad in Yemenhas claimed responsibility for the attack and threatenedto target the British, Emirati and Saudi embassies in Sanaa, reports say.

Police cordon

Avehicle was on fire on the road near the embassy compound’s perimeter and police sealed off the area, witnesses said.

Roads leading to the embassy were closed after the attack.

Mohammed al-Qadi, a political columnist for the Yemen Times, told Al Jazeera: “The attack came at about 9.30 in the morning, when there were not so many people passing in the streets outside the US embassy.

“Otherwise, the casualties could have been a lot more.”

US reaction

Washington accused al-Qaeda of being behind the attack.

“I think it is safe to say … the attacks bear all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack,” Sean McCormack, the US state department spokesman, said.

George Bush, the US president, said the attack was a bid by extremists to drive the United States out of regions like the Middle East.

“This attack is a reminder that we are at war with extremists who would murder innocent people to achieve their ideological objectives,” Bush said as he met with General David Petraeus, the former top US commander in Iraq.

“One objective of these extremists as they kill is to try to cause the United States to lose our nerve and to withdraw from regions of the world, and our message is – is that we want to help governments survive the extremists, we want people to live normal lives,” Bush said.

High alert

The US state department hadin April ordered all non-essential diplomatic staff to leave the country after an attack on the embassy the previous month.

A residential compound used by US oil workers in Sanaa had also come under attack from rockets at that time.

The embassy called on Americans in Yemen to “exercise caution and take prudent security measures, including maintaining a high level of vigilance, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, varying times and routes for all travel”.

There have been several attacks by fighters in Yemen in recent years.

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API/Source.aljazeera

Six guards, four civilians and six attackers died in the assault, the interior ministry said.

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Norway, a small nation in desperate need for international recognition uses oil money to save the Amazons, while some Norwegians at home are homeless

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Billion dollar pledge to save Amazon rain forest

The Norwegian government will donate USD 100 million this year and another USD 600 million next year to prevent deforestation in Brazil. A total of USD 1 billion will be spent by 2015.

Solheim, Lvold and Stoltenberg in Brazilia saving the rain forest.

PHOTO: OLE MATHISMOEN

“This is the most effective and least expensive way to safeguard the environment,” says Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, to daily newspaper Aftenposten. He and Environment Minister Erik Solheim, met with President Lula da Silva to sign the agreement on Tuesday.

“This is the greatest thing Ive done so far as a politician,” says Prime Minister Stoltenberg.

“The Amazon Fund breaks new ground because money is only paid out if deforestation is actually halted,” says head of the Rain Forest Fund, Lars Lvold.

“I feel really proud today. Its important that we do this. As a country which has become rich selling polluting oil and gas, we are expected to do make a substantial contribution to reducing the threat to the environment,” says Environment Minister, Erik Solheim.

The payments will be linked to assessments of the annual amount of deforestation. Satellite data will be used to carry out this task.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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Radical review on electoral laws sought

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Chairman of the Kriegler Commission Johann Kriegler (left) makes his remarks at Harambee House during the handing over of a report on the 2007 general elections to President Mwai Kibaki (second right). Looking on are Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Justice minister Martha Karua. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

ByDave Opiyo

Kenyas electoral laws are weak and need radical review to provide a solid foundation for a free and fair election.

That was the verdict of the Kriegler commission as it presented its report on last years elections to President Kibaki on Wednesday.

According to the report obtained by the Daily Nation, a number of laws were weak and might have contributed to the anomalies that characterised the elections.

Electoral laws provide the basic framework for conducting an election in any country.

The report revealed that the various laws dealing with elections were scattered among various statutes, saying that this was inappropriate.

Some of these laws include the Kenya Broadcasting Act, the Election Offences Act, the Public Order and Preservation of the Public Security Act (Cap.56) and the Penal Code (Cap.63).

The report further says that the weaknesses exhibited by these laws may have been as a result of several years of misrule by previous administrations.

Ballot stuffing

The many instances of vote buying and selling, misuse of public resources, ballot stuffing, participation of civil servants in politics, among others, were as a result of the failure by the law to curb all these malpractices, states the report.

It describes as unfortunate the fact that the Electoral Commission, with all the powers under the National Assembly and Presidential Act, the code of conduct and the Electoral Offences Act, failed to prosecute anyone.

And it is due to this that the report makes the following proposals:

All laws relating to the operational management of the elections be consolidated under one statute.
The right to vote and be elected be included in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution and that voting by universal suffrage should be guaranteed for all without discrimination.
Currently, the Constitution does not entrench these rights.
That section 34 (c) of the Constitution be amended to be clearly non-discriminatory towards persons with disabilities.
A provision be made for the establishment of an appropriately composed and empowered elections tribunal.
Current rules and regulations on the procedures of election petitions be repealed and replaced with new ones that will ensure that petitions are heard in a just and timely manner.

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API/Source.nation.ke

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ODM LEADERS IN NDHIWA IRKED BY CLAIMS BY A GROUP OF DISGRUNTLED BUSH POLITICIANS THAT THEY WERE RIGGED.

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

<By Leo Odera Omolo

THE claims made by a group of disgruntled politician in Ndhiwa constituency, Homa-Bay district claiming that they were rigged out of ODM Party elections when the party held its grassroots elections last year has angered party leaders in the area.

According to a report, which appeared in the current edition of the popular and widely read CITIZEN Weekly, the group which is consisting mosr of the perennial Ndhiwa parliamentary election losers alleged they were rigged out of the last party election in favour of the area MP Joshua Orwa Ojode.

The truth, according to a Ndhiwa civic leader, the MP did not contest any position in the branch elections, there could have been no way, he {MP} was rigged in.

The group comprises perennial parliamentary election losers in the names of Mrs Monica Amolo, Ted Odero, Neto Oyugi and Jeremiah Owiti were beaten hands down by unknown individuals who are allied to the area MP, while Mr. Ojode was not personally involved and did not contest any branch elections.. The group, which has announced that its members have already ganged together to take on Mr. Ojode, according to the civic leader who spoke on condition of anonymity, are most welcome to come and contest any position in the branch.

The civic leader, however, wondered how the group which consisted of a bunch of political non-entities could win the ODM branch election in Ndhiwa while they remained holed in the streets of Nairobi. These are well known rumour peddlers and streets vendors in both Nairobi and Kisumu Cities. They will find it an up-hill task to make any major political inroads in Ndhiwa. Ours is a rural constituency whose residents are farmers, and these are the bulk of party followers. But some of the group which has ganged up are mysterious characters and conmen roaming the streets of Kisumu and Nairobi.

We dont have room for rumour-mongers to gain any position of leadership in our party branch, and we shall only vote in for the credible individual personalities who are ready to work hand in hand with our elected MP to promote development in the area, though it is the constitutional rights of every party members to contest any elective posts within the party, such people or individuals must have clean track record of active participation in the promotion of ODM activities in Ndhiwa and elsewhere. Let them know pretty well that Ndhiwa is not the playing ground for every Tom, Dick and Harry.with no credibility to walk in and win ODM post without having sweat for it.

Reached for comment, Mr. Ojode whjo is an Assistant Minister in the Office of the President in-charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration scoffed at his critics. He said the group wanted to use him a punching bag, and yet he hold no position in the ODM branch in Ndhiwa. They should direct their criticism against the right people are currently holding positions in ODMs branch in Ndhiwa. As for parliamentary elections, he said there is still four more years to go, and people with parliamentary ambition should the incumbent chances and the opportunities to serve the electorate effectively.When the time comes, everyone will be given an opportunity to sell his or her policy to the electorate . But there is no point in making all the time election times. The Wananchi needs the service delivery, but not empty political ,slogans, said the Assistant Minister.

Ojode reminded the group of a big Harambee fund raising which was held in Ndhiwa last month in which more than Kshs 4 million was raised. The money will go towards the various economic and social development projects. The Chief guest was the Land and Settlement Minister James Aggrey Orengo and the guest of honour was the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto and the Country Director of Marie Stope Clinics Cyprian Otieno Awiti.. None of the four big talkers who wanted to lead ODM in Ndhiwa showed up during the Harambee and the Assistant Minister wondered how such people wouild convince the party followers to elect them in any position in the branch by issuing misleading and malicious statements from the city streets.

It is imperative to note that during the last general election Mr. Ojode polled 42,000 votes against the paltry votes of 8,000 garnered by Mrs Monica Amolo therefore the question of her being rigged out is a matter of public conjecture. Mr Owiti and Mr. Neto while Mr. Ted Odero did not even contested the primaries, but had turned to be a youth winger for another candidate Mr. Dennis Orero who performesd dismally during the primaries.

If these are the character of people who can have a gut and tell the press that they were rigged out, then the word rigging remain a phantom, said Ojode.

Ndhiwa MP, however, said he would welcome anybody with the agenda to help him built the area and making a hub of economic and agricultural activities in the greater Southern Nyanza region.Let all those with development agenda come forward so that we could work together for the mutual benefit of our people, he said.

Ends

leooderaomoloQ@yahoo.com

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API

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Big win for foreign minister Livni in Israel – She will be Israel’s prime minister in decades

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Huge night for foreign minister: Tzipi Livni wins Kadima primaries with roughly 48% of vote, exit polls predict; Livni will now have opportunity to form government, become Israel’s first female prime minister since Golda Meir

Huge night for Tzipi Livni: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won Wednesday’s Kadima primaries with roughly 48% of the vote, exit polls predicted after polling station across the nation closed.

According to Channel 2’s exit poll, Livni won 48% of the vote, while Mofaz won 37%. Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit were tied at 7% each. According to Channel 10, Livni won 49% of the vote and Mofaz garnered 37%. Sheetrit and Dichter were tied at 7% in this poll as well. Meanwhile, Channel 1 predicted that Livni won 47% of the vote, compared to Mofaz’s 37%

Throughout the campaign, Livni aimed to convince Kadima voters that she will bring the party back to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s glory days. She repeatedly stressed her clean, uncorrupted image, noting that “I’ve been conducting myself differently throughout my political life, not in order to say I’m different, but rather, to prove that it is possible to do it differently.”

Livni will now replace Ehud Olmert as Kadima chairman and will have the opportunity to form a government. Should she be able to secure a coalition, Livni will become Israel’s first female prime minister since Golda Meir, who led the country in the 1970s.

Tense day

The day was marred by reports of irregularities and mayhem. The Central Elections Committee disqualified the polling station in Rahat after a man entered the site and threw all the ballots out the window. Irregularities were also reported in other polling stations.

Wednesday evening, following a tense day, Kadima’s Central Elections Committee approved Livni’s request to extend voting hours to 10:30 pm, instead of 10 pm, as result of “congestion at polling stations” nationwide. Earlier in the day, Livni associates expressed deep concern over the low voter turnout rate reported across the country.

Voting hours were initially extended to 11 pm in wake of Livni’s request, but the decision was changed following an appeal submitted by Mofaz’s camp. Mofaz was hoping for a low turnout rate in order to capitalize on his camp’s superior organizational abilities. However, it now appears Livni was able to bring her supporters to the polling stations and score a huge victory.

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API/Sources.IsraelNews

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PLANS ARE ON FOR TANZANIA TO EXPORT NATURAL GAS TO KENYA

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

<Business News Analysis BY LEO ODERA OMOLO

Kenya will be the first destination for Tanzania natural gas, according to a report appearing in the influential Nairobi publication the EAST AFRICAN.

It says a company called Artumas Group Incorporation, a Mtwara-based gas exploring company has been given the go ahead by the Tanzanian government to export its products to Kenya.

It quoted a source in the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral as saying that gas exports to Kenya will depend on whether they can satisfy local demands.

The plant at Mtwara has a capacity fro 300MW and the company recently finalized plans for motor vehicles and domestic purposes.

It further quoted the CEO of the firm Stephen W.Mason as saying that he was not in a position to comment on the company gas export plans to Kenya.

The Norwegian listed oil and gas firm discovered a gas deposit at Mnazi Bay in Mtwara region, which has about two trillion cubic feet of proven gas deposit.

Early last year, the Tanzania government effectively licensed the Norwegian Company which is involved in the exploration of gas to generate electricity to be supplied to Lindi and Mtwara, two of the countys underdeveloped regions.

According to a prss statement recently released by the company, the Tanzania government has given approval to the firm to finalize negotiations with the relevant parties for the export of compressed natural gas to off-take clients in Mombasa,Kenya.

It further stated that the approval allows Artumas to move forward to conclude the relevant projects Agreements including long term gas sales agreement with the off-take customers and transportation services agreement with the compressed natural gas shipper.

In the statement Mr. Mason said the conclusion of these commercial agreements of these would underpin the current planning activity in support of commencements of the drilling programmes in fourth quarter of 2008

The CEO said, During the past year, Artumas has worked in close cooperation and collaboration with its working interest partner, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation and the government of Tanzania to determine the optimal use of the large gas resource base located in the Tanzania port of Ruvuma Basin.

The commercialization strategy involves balancing Tanzanias domestic requirements with high-value export opportunities. The approval fro export compressed natural gas reflects the vision of the government of Tanzania and is further evidence of the confidence held by the government in the abilities of Artumas to execute on its recommendations.

The gas exploration at Mnazi Bay became the second facility to produce electricity from locally sourced gas. The first was gas from Songo Songo Island, which is transported to Dar Es Salaam via a pipeline to Ubungo power plant from where Songa generate power fro sale to Tanesco

Tanzania has also discovered further gas deposits at Mteranga slightly over 40km from Dar Es Salaam.

The director general of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Harun Masebu last year said that the Mnazi Bay gas to electricity project will generate power that is sufficient for small and medium industries in the Lindi -Mtwara region.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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API

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Zimbabwe: Women have had more trauma after independence

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Cape Town (South Africa) – Zimbabwean women have experienced higher levels of trauma, including violence and lack of food, after the country’s independence from Britain in 1980 than before.

This is one of the findings of a study conducted by the civic movement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) on trauma in the collapsing southern African state. Trauma has not only been inflicted through direct violence (beatings, torture and rape) but by food deprivation and a lack of access to medical treatment and shelter. State violence, economic decline and the destruction of social capital have had severe consequences for women.

According to the report, most women interviewed experienced more incidences of trauma after the countrys independence from Britain in 1980 than before independence. Of the 1,983 WOZA members interviewed, 14 percent experienced a lack of food in 1979, compared to a staggering 66 percent between 1980 and 1999. While nine percent did not have access to medical treatment in 1979, this figure shot up to 24 percent between 1980 and 1999. Similarly, while six percent did not have access to shelter in 1979, 12 percent reported a lack of shelter between 1980 and 1999.

– On average we found that violence have risen more than three times since 2000. People suffered an average of more than 16 events of trauma since 2000, compared to 2.9 in 1979 and 5.8 from 1980 to 1999. The increase seems improbable when one remembers that the 1970s was a time of open struggle. Yet the figures prove that the increase since 2000 was dramatic. This is under the rule of a man who was once regarded as a liberation war hero. History will judge Robert Mugabe harshly for this, says Jenni Williams, national coordinator and one of the founders of WOZA. WOZA is the Ndebele word for come forward.

-Yet women survive. We simply do not know how it is done. In Zimbabwe, it is a huge achievement if one manages to send your children to bed at night with one meal in their bellies. I was at a conference in South Africa where I ate three meals a day at the hotel where I was staying. I felt sick. My system could not handle three meals a day. Zimbabweans do not eat that much any more. The meals we have are substandard.

Women are scavenging all the time. The informal trade is still very much alive. A woman will, from somewhere, find a few vegetables to sell at the side of the road. Some people go shopping in neighbouring countries and bring back goods to sell in Zimbabwe or they look for piece work. They survive from day to day.

– The efforts by Robert Mugabe to criminalise informal trade have to stop because it is an important part of the economy. For thousands of people in Zimbabwe it is the only way they can survive, says Willliams.

– Many doctors and other healthcare workers have left the country. There is no medicine. The hospitals are like ghost towns. Stress, trauma and illness are killing people. The life expectancy of a woman is 34 and that of a man 37. I am 46 and there are not many people of my age around, says Wiliams.

The report focused to a large extent on trauma suffered by women in Matabeleland, in the south of the country.

– My generation suffered under Gukurahundi the 1980s conflict between government forces and opposition movements in Matabeleland. Over 10,000 Ndebeles in this region were executed by government forces, says Williams.

Today, the members of WOZA are often beaten and thrown into jail.

– WOZA has more than 60,000 members. It is a mass-based organisation. But members know when they sign up that they run a risk of being arrested and beaten, says Williams. – We have workshops training people on how to cope with reprisals. I was arrested along with 13 others in May when we protested against the election violence in Zimbabwe. I was kept in prison for six weeks on the charge that I would mobilise a Kenya-style uprising against the government during the run-off election. I was freed after Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-offs.

– The people of Zimbabwe live in fear all the time, regardless of who they are. There is a deep awareness that one can be arrested at any moment and tortured and killed. Our study revealed that repeated exposure to trauma has a cumulative effect. Some 53 percent of the women who were surveyed had scores indicative of a psychological disorder. If healing does not take place, we will continue to have a violent society, says Jenni Williams.

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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS), by Stephanie Nieuwoudt

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Zimbabwe: West waits to gauge change

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe) – About $1,8-billion in Western aid to revive Zimbabwe’s economy will hang in the balance on Monday as Western donors watch to see how a power-sharing deal to be signed by President Robert Mugabe works in practice before committing a rescue package.

Under the deal with his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe is to surrender many of his powers for the first time in 28 years. But though the agreement, to be formally signed on Monday, marks a huge climbdown by Mugabe, foreign donors indicated that they want to see just how much power Tsvangirai wields as the new prime minister in the coalition government.

“We want to see this government in action before we commit our support to it,” said a European diplomat in Harare. “We need to see Mugabe is not continuing to run things. There will be benchmarks, litmus tests of who’s really in charge.”

Donors, including Britain, the EU and the US, are broadly agreed to inject about $1,8-billion in aid over a year to reverse more than a decade of economic decline that has brought inflation above 20-million percent, mass unemployment, empty supermarket shelves and forced about four million people to leave the country to find work. Agriculture has collapsed, leaving millions without sufficient food and reducing many to one meal every other day.

Tsvangirai will be keen to see the foreign money as soon as possible in the hope of bolstering public support by swiftly moving to alleviate people’s misery. The power-sharing agreement brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki gives the opposition a majority of one in the Cabinet and places Tsvangirai in charge of the daily administration of government.

When the 31 Cabinet posts are divided in the coming days, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change is likely to win control of the finance ministry because Mugabe recognises the donors will not want to see a Zanu-PF minister in charge of their funds. But diplomats say that their governments will be looking for other signs that Tsvangirai is in control.

One test will be if the MDC gains authority over the police and if it is able to remove the highly partisan police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, who said he would not salute Tsvangirai if he were elected president and whose force played an active part in the bloody assault on opposition supporters during the election.

Western donors are also keen to see the governor of the central bank, Gideon Gono, sacked because of his alleged role in the plunder of the country’s hard currency reserves and fuelling inflation by furiously printing money.

Nonetheless it will be difficult for Western countries to turn their back on Monday’s watershed agreement because they risk being accused of failing to accept an African-mediated settlement. The evident hostility and suspicion with which Mugabe regards Tsvangirai and the expectations of western governments was evident in a column in the state-run Herald newspaper by the president’s spokesperson, George Chiramba, under a pseudonym. It called the MDC in government the “enemy within” and accused it of taking its orders from Britain and other powers.

“For a party that has always relied on government and intellect for policy incubation, [Zanu-PF] has to learn to govern in a new environment where the enemy is within, well embedded,” Chiramba wrote. “The West will now have an eager listening post, right up to cabinet. There will be lots of policy pre-emption.”

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API/Source-Mail & Guardian (South Africa) , by Chris McGreal

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Africa at large: The new scramble for Africa (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Windhoek (Namibia) – Africa is on the threshold of being re-colonised.This process will, however, differ from the one that followed the Berlin Conference in the 18th century when the continent was divided among the European powers.

There will be no guns and the Bible to pacify and subdue the natives. This time it will be decided in boardrooms using the dollar and wine.

It will also be different because there will be no resistance and revolts as Africans will be active participants in this process of re-colonisation of their continent. And by Africans here I refer specifically to the comprador class – the African ruling elite.

This new scramble for Africa, unlike the old, is not interested in redefining national borders but the continent’s national resources – oil, diamonds, timber, gold, uranium, ivory, natural gas, you name it.

Thus, in addition to the former colonisers who have maintained their presence on the continent through a host of multi- and trans-national corporations after we gained our quasi-statehood, two new kids on the block are joining the scramble – China and India. Two of Asia’s biggest economies, each with a billion-plus population, and which are fast industrialising and developing. And they badly need resources to keep the wheels of industry rolling.

Most of these resources are here in Africa. This is not to say that other continents don’t have them; it’s just that people in other countries have found better ways of turning resources into consumable products and they have understood the importance of resource nationalism. We have not done so, despite all the talk about value addition. For example, what value are we adding by polishing diamonds? Except that you are employing a few locals while the real value addition is done in other world capitals like Tel Aviv, Antwerp or New Delhi.

The irony is that while Africa’s significance on the global market is minimal in terms of production and its very position in the world is precarious and contested, it is at the same time the supplier of the resources needed to make the global economy move.

The other irony is that despite the continent’s abundant resources, Africa is the leading beggar continent in the world. Every generation of Africans is socialised into a begging mentality. Just listen to African leaders at many of their conferences how they complain about not getting enough money from the so-called rich or industrialised nations.

African leaders have become allies of external agencies. I remember, for example, how Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) was paraded here in Windhoek by our Government as a saviour which would bring the benefits of our diamonds back to Namibians.

But the strangest development has been the active encouragement of Chinese immigration to Namibia. Chinese have now replaced Namibian constructors and builders, even to build some of the most basic of structures. They get preference over the locals when it comes to Government tenders and contracts.

It is said that the Chinese don’t put any conditionality in their economic relationships with Africans. Take the case of Sudan where China is supporting the Sudanese government fighting the uprising in Darfur as long as China has access to its oil.

There is a total convergence of interests in this process of re-colonisation. Foreigners badly need the continent’s resources and African leaders badly need the money at all costs and are thus ready to enter into a deal at virtually any cost.

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API/Source.The Namibian (Namibia), by Alexactus T. Kaure

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Nigeria: MEND Declares ‘Oil War’

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Lagos (Nigeria) – Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said, yesterday, it had launched an “oil war” in response to Saturday’s aerial and massive bombardments on one of its positions by the military.

It claimed in an online statement that its members attacked gunboats and oil facilities, and killed some military men in the first round of the attack.

But spokesman for the Joint Task Force in Rivers State, Lt-Col. Musa Sagir, said an attack on a Chevron facility in the state was aborted. He said a soldier sustained gunshot injury, but declined to say if there had been any casualty. Shell said it was still investigating reports of attack on its facility.

MEND in the statement signed by Jomo Gbomo said: “Following a previous warning that any attack on our positions will be tantamount to a declaration of an oil war, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has declared an oil war in response to the unprovoked aerial and marine attacks on a MEND position in Rivers State of Nigeria on September 13, 2008 by the armed forces of Nigeria.

“About 0100 hrs, today (yesterday), September 14, 2008, Hurricane Barbarossa commenced with heavily armed fighters in hundreds of war boats filing out from different MEND bases across the Niger Delta in solidarity to carry out destructive and deadly attacks on the oil industry in Rivers State.

“By dawn, MEND destroyed oil flow stations, gun boats, burst pipelines, dead and injured soldiers trailed in the aftermath of the ‘hurricane’. Some specific locations include the Soku Gas Plant, Chevron Platform at Kula; over 22 well-armed soldiers sent as reinforcement were intercepted, killed and dispossessed of their weapons, a major crude trunk pipeline at Nembe creek was blown up at several points.

“The operation will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue. This military style bullying belongs to the past 50 years when the Niger Delta people responded only with their mouths, pens and placards.

“All international oil and gas loading vessels entering the region are warned to drop anchor in the high sea or divert elsewhere until further notice. Failure to comply is taking a foolhardy risk of attack and destruction of the vessel.

“Again, we are asking that oil companies evacuate their staff from their field facilities because the brief is not to capture hostages but to bring these structures to the ground.”

However, Col. Sagir, speaking yesterday confirmed a clash between soldiers and militants at Soku and Robortkiri but declined to speak on casualty. The militants, according to him, stormed oil facilities in Soku and Robortkiri areas with a view to blowing them up but were repelled by soldiers on ground.

“As a result of yesterday’s (Saturday’s) attack on our troops on marine patrol at Elem Tombia which led to an exchange of fire with heavy casualty on the militants, as anticipated the bandits staged an attack in the early hours of today (yesterday) between 3-4 am at Soku facility and Robortkiri where they met active resistance from the troop guarding the facilities. It was successfully repelled with casualty on the miscreants’ side.

Meanwhile, Chevron on its part has confirmed attack on one of its platform in the region to newsmen. “There was an attack on a platform already shut down due to pipeline problems,” the company official who reportedly spoke under cover said it happened yesterday.

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API/Source.Vanguard (Nigeria), by Emma Amaize & Jimitota Onoyume

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Tanzania: Inflation hits hard in Arusha

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) – The ravages of inflation, now about to hit double digit, are earnestly being felt by Arusha residents many of them saying they have never seen such difficult times.

Prices of all commodities have sky-rocketed and a large section of the population especially those in the low income bracket can hardly make ends meet. Inflation country-wide stands at 9.5% It all started with the sharp rise of petrol and diesel now selling at Tsh.1,750 and Tsh.2,150 respectively compared to about Tsh.1,200 for both around this time last year. The rise in fuel has led to hiked transport costs for commodities and commuters all over the region.

A Njiro resident, Mama Pili Ramadhani, found at the Central Market place by this reporter, said that she used to spend Tsh.50,000 for vegetables a week for her family but when she recently found that the money could not meet the family needs she went shopping herself only to realize that she now needed Tsh.80,000 for the same buy.

This is ridiculous I still find it difficult to believe that vegetables have become so expensive. This is a very difficult year for Tanzanians. Every day now we wake up to brand new prices. Where are we heading to?, she asked. To others the country may be going the Zimbabwe way. But may be not yet. In Zimbabwe inflation rate is 2200000%.

A vendor at the central markeArusha Times (Tanzania), by Edward Selasini
t, John Kimaro, said commodity prices have gone up several times this year and there is no need of talking about last year. He compared current commodity prices with what they fetched a few months ago. A kilogram of sugar (prices two months ago in brackets) now sells at Tsh.1,200 (1,000/-), maize flour per kg Tsh.700 (500/-), rice Tsh.1,500 (1,200/-), wheat flour Tsh.1,000 (800/-), bread Tsh.750 (500/-) and meat Tsh.4,000 (2,800/-).

Vendors at the central market say they are selling commodities expensive because they buy expensive at source. For example, they now buy a 100kg sack of rice at Tsh.130,000 whereas a few months ago a similar sack cost Tsh.90,000. A sack of Irish potatoes Tsh.35,000 while two months ago they bought the same quantity at Tsh.28,000.

Taxis and commuter buses have doubled and many people have now resorted to walking all possible distances.

But Arushans may not yet have seen economic hardships. Economists recently warned over possible rise in inflation in the near future that would leave Tanzanians in desperate a situation of not being able to afford even the most basic commodities.

Economists argue that food prices are spiraling because the country is experiencing external shocks due to the dramatic fall in the purchasing power of the Tanzanian shilling in the last six years. One hundred thousand shilling in 2004 is estimated to be worth only about 65 thousand shillings this year.

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API/Source..Arusha Times (Tanzania), by Edward Selasini

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South Africa: ‘My dearest daughters, today I say goodbye’

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – A father who is giving up after a four-year fight to see his daughters has written the two girls an emotional goodbye email, prompting fathers facing similar situations to say: “Remember, brother, you are not alone.”

The email has been distributed as far as the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia. The father, who can’t be named in order to protect the identity of his children, divorced his ex-wife in 2004. He told The Star that since then she has not allowed him to see his daughters, aged 8 and 11, except for a weekend visit with the eldest last year.

“My dearest daughters, today I say goodbye to you, as I no longer have the strength to continue the four-year battle with your mother. I am mentally, physically and financially drained. Please always know that I love you, and that this is no decision on my part,” the email reads.

The father said his ex-wife had prejudiced his daughters against him, resulting in “hate faxes” in which the girls said they didn’t want to see him. “I do not know you, I do not go to strangers,” the eight-year-old wrote.

“Yes, you have become strangers to me too, but I have tried so hard to see you girls,” the father said in his email.

He has kept a detailed file of his attempts, and said that if his daughters came looking for him one day, he would show them the file, so that they could make up their own minds about what happened. He said that when he tried to make arrangements with his ex-wife to see the girls, she gave excuses, put down the phone, or wouldn’t answer the phone at all. The ex-wife told The Star that her attorney had advised her not to comment.

At the time of the divorce, a High Court order gave the father access to his daughters on alternate weekends and holidays. His attempts to have the order enforced by the justice system have been unsuccessful and so expensive that he has decided to give up. It has left him feeling disappointed in the way fathers are treated. “I have to pay maintenance, otherwise they issue a warrant of arrest, but if she denies access, nothing happens. There’s so much support for her and I get nothing. There’s no one to turn to for us men,” he said.

According to Dr Asif Suleman, national media liaison officer for Fathers 4 Justice South Africa, there is an ongoing maternal preference in family law that makes it difficult for fathers to get equal parenting rights.

“We believe all children have the right to be loved and cared for by both parents after parental separation, in an equal, responsible, committed and positive environment, with no one parent being better than the other, but rather having complementary rather than competitive roles,” Suleman said.

Parental alienation is the indoctrination of negative thoughts and feelings in a child against one of his or her parents, usually the non-custodial parent. According to A Guide to the Parental Alienation Syndrome, by Stan Hayward, children often claim their decisions to reject their fathers are their own, and deny any contribution from their mothers, who vehemently support this.

“In fact, the mothers will often state that they want the child to visit the father and recognise the importance of such involvement, yet such a mother’s every act indicates otherwise,” Hayward writes. “Such children appreciate that, by stating that the decision is their own, they assuage their mother’s guilt and protect her from criticism.”

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API/Source.The Star (South Africa), by Kanina Foss

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