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Archive for October 16th, 2009

Zimbabwe: Roy Bennett locked up

Posted by African Press International on October 16, 2009

Harare (Zimbabwe) MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett — charged with possessing arms for the purposes of terrorism and banditry and inciting acts of insurgency — was yesterday indicted for trial and locked up. His trial is set to begin on Monday in Mutare.

According to the law, when one is indicted, he/she automatically loses bail and Bennett can only be released after making a fresh bail application. In which case, Bennett must apply at the High Court.

Mutare provincial magistrate Mrs Lucy Mungwari ruled in favour of the State after chief law officer Mr Michael Mugabe and Manicaland area prosecutor Mr Arnold Chiwara produced a copy of the notice for indictment.

Bennett, who was dressed in a checked shirt and a pair of khaki trousers, was at a loss for words when Mrs Mungwari made the ruling.

Earlier on, Mrs Mungwari had given the State two days to comply with a court order to present the indictment papers. She said failure to do so would have resulted in the court declining any further remand of the accused. However, the State had come prepared and furnished the court with the relevant documents.

Bennett was represented by Messers Trust Maanda of Maunga Maanda and Associates and Mr Blessing Nyama-ropa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Mrs Mungwari ruled: “I commit the accused person to prison and if there are any defects in the process, he should raise them with the High Court.”

Bennett was immediately whisked away by Zimbabwe Prison Services officers.

Among those present were Bennett’s wife, Heather, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Gorden Moyo, Mutare Mayor Brian James and several MDC-T supporters. In an interview after the ruling, Mr Nyamaropa said they would work on the appeal papers overnight and were likely to apply for bail pending trial at the High Court today.

However, last night insiders revealed that there were “frantic efforts by senior MDC-T politicians” to get Government officials to act on the matter.

According to the indictment, the State shall call 12 witnesses to testify. On Tuesday the State had applied for Bennett’s indictment for trial in the High Court.

The defence, led by Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, countered saying the State should have given their client notice for indictment as required by the law.

The magistrate at the time ruled: “The accused person was remanded to October 13, 2009, it being agreed between the State and the defence that this would be the trial date.

“The State being the dominus litus (party in control of the litigation), however, decided on this date that they would actually indict the accused person to appear before the High Court on an unknown date.

“The court, however, could not proceed to indict the accused person by virtue of Section 66 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07), which makes it peremptory that a written notice be given to the provincial magistrate or a magistrate presiding over the matter.

“In my opinion, this was unprocedural as the court derives its authority to indict from the notice in question as indicated by the Act.

“Contrary to what the defence stated, the notice is also required to be given to the accused person and the court.

“He, however, still hasn’t been indicted because of the partial compliance with the requirements to have him indicted.

“I am prepared to give the State two days to comply with the court order, failure of which will result in the court declining any further remand of the accused person.”

Mr Mugabe argued that an accused already on remand could be indicted at any time of his or her appearance. He said the mere fact of the State indicting Bennett to appear before the High Court was notice in itself.

This is the second time Bennett has been remanded in custody after a Mutare court denied him bail in March, only to be released a month later by the Supreme Court on US$5 000 bail.

Charges against Bennett arose between 2002 and March 2006 when he allegedly provided one Peter Hitschmann with money for the procurement of 26 grenades, two-schermuly signal smoke hand, 12 rifles and other weapons. After that, the State alleges Bennett incited Hitschmann to use the weapons to knock down a microwave link situated at a kopje along Melfort-Bromley Loop Road.

It is alleged Hitschmann used cellphone disabling devices to block cellphone signals and to detonate anti-riot water cannon trucks used by police.

Bennett was arrested in February this year upon his return from South Africa where he had fled as a fugitive in 2007. Police, who had received information that Bennett was returning home, arrested him at Charles Prince Airport in Mt Hampden.


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South Africa: Country looks to Colombia to roll back crime

Posted by African Press International on October 16, 2009

Johannesburg (South Africa) Anti-crime strategists in the Gauteng provincial government say strategies that worked in Colombia can be successfully applied in SA.

Colombia’s capital, Bogota, was among the world’s most violent cities, gripped by drug wars and rampant crime. But between 1996 and 2001, violent crime fell 75%, without a concomitant increase in police numbers, and in a period of rising unemployment.

Through focused social investments, better police training and use of crime intelligence, the arrest and detention rates of wanted criminals rose 500%.

Gareth Newham, special project manager in the Gauteng community safety department, says Bogota’s strategy was a comprehensive social effort led by the mayor that even included educating the youth on how to handle alcohol. More than 200 initiatives were tried.

The city set out to build citizenship through, for instance, improving public transport, building public spaces and generally making infrastructure work better for the poor. “Bogota wasn’t really a model as much as providing specific lessons,” Newham says.

Gauteng has also looked at New York for international best practice in combating the “trio crimes” — hijacking, house and business robbery — which are on the rise .

“We first looked at Bogota when we considered the Gauteng safety strategy in 2006, which is an overreaching strategy for safety,” says Newham. Much of the plan is on social crime prevention that goes beyond ordinary police work.

The strategy intends to involve all government departments in combating crime. Improving the quality of policing is just one of a list of strategies, many of which are long term.

Newham was among a team of officials from Gauteng who visited the New York Police Department to look at how station commanders are held accountable, as well as how the city’s specialist police units are structured. “We got a huge amount of very valuable information.”

Gauteng is the most dangerous province in SA, with residents at almost twice as much risk as those in other parts of the country.

The trio crimes, occurring where one would expect to be safest, have a deep psychological effect on people, influencing their decision to emigrate or invest, says Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.

In 2007, the province developed the Gauteng Information on Police Performance System, which ascribed poor policing results to fragmented law enforcement and poor use of intelligence by itinerant police officers.

Corrective measures culminated in the implementation of the Gauteng Aggravated Robbery Strategy, a collaboration with the South African Police Service early this year. Already the results are promising, pointing to an incipient downward trend in the three crimes. The strategy works through localising police work and grouping all of Gauteng’s 134 police stations into 22 clusters, each with dedicated teams of investigators and prosecutors responsible for tracing and arresting wanted suspects in their areas.

A dedicated co-ordination centre — set up on an initial budget of R10m — provides specialised support. The province also bought 42 new vehicles for use in law enforcement.

SA’s murder ratio has also fallen from 67,2 to 37,3 per 100000 since 1994. But progress in Colombia has been more rapid, falling from 62,7 per 100000 in 2000 to 36 now.

“The key lesson there was to focus on the most violent crimes — murder, rape and robbery. Those are the crimes that cause the most fear and social dislocation and alienation,” Newman says. As violent crime decreases, communities feel less fearful, trust the police more and can better deal with petty crimes.

Burger says Colombia borrowed on the “broken window” and “zero tolerance” approaches, even towards petty offences. Both systems were successfully implemented in New York in the 1990s. Robbery alone fell 67% from 1990-1999.

The “broken window” theory works by eliminating the image of decay, disorder and negligence. “Strange how criminals work; when they see this kind of thing they sense there is no control. Where there is no control, that is where they want to be,” Burger says.


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South Africa: Slum law evictions ruled to be unlawful

Posted by African Press International on October 16, 2009

Johannesburg (South Africa) The Constitutional Court yesterday declared unconstitutional a law making it compulsory for municipalities to evict unlawful occupiers of slums when landowners failed to do so within a time prescribed by the KwaZulu- Natal housing MEC.

Mbhekiseni Mavuso, secretary of the Rural Network — part of the Abahlali baseMjondolo movement, which took the case to court — said : “They were thinking, because of 2010, they were just going to go out and evict people … but now people are protected.”

The province’s Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act was a pilot for provinces around SA. If provincial governments want to expedite or compel evictions by municipalities or private owners, they will have to find a different mechanism.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said section 16 of the act was unconstitutional because it “violated” the “dignified scheme that has been developed for the eviction of unlawful occupiers”. The scheme included the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act, the Housing Act and the state’s duty to progressively realise the right to access to adequate housing.

Moseneke said the section could not be interpreted in a way that would make it constitutional . He was addressing a dissenting judgment by Zak Yacoob, who found it was possible to interpret the section to accord with the constitution.


Business Day (South Africa) – October 15, 2009.

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Africa: Continent puts rich states on notice over climate change

Posted by African Press International on October 16, 2009

Nairobi (Kenya) – African countries are digging in with fresh demands to rich nations ahead of UN’s climate change talks, opening a new battlefront in the search for a global accord that has eluded the world over the last 10 years. Leaders meeting in Nairobi have warned that a deal would only be possible if industrialised countries committed themselves to finance the war on global warming in the continent.

While this demand has been on the cards since June, the parliamentarians raised the stakes yesterday when they resolved to speak in one voice, arguing that the developed world emits most of the greenhouse gases.

The leaders, meeting under the aegis of Pan African Parliamentary Conference on Climate change (PANPCC), also want the developed nations to agree to ambitious mid-term greenhouse gas reduction targets.

While the finer details of Africa’s fresh demands will be known by Friday after the conclusion of the four – day meeting, sources said Ethiopia which has been chosen to present the continent’s position at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December has been detailed to insist on a compensation deal as a precondition for negotiations.

The MPs have been pushing for a united front to counter the strong tide of opposition from the West against their long search for an equitable, just and fair post-Kyoto deal which should come into force in two years.

The Nairobi meeting under the theme “One Africa, one voice, one position,” is a precursor to the UN global climate change conference which starts on December 7.

“You are all aware of the lobbying taking place worldwide ahead of the December summit, the scene for negotiations that will culminate in a new global climate deal to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012,” President Kibaki said on Tuesday when he opened the meeting.

World leaders crafted the Kyoto protocol to provide a framework on how the developed world should compensate Africa and other developing nations against the effects of climate change that mainly result from increased industrial activities.

But industrialised countries such as US refused to sign the deal, saying it would jeopardise their development agenda.

“Leadership at the highest level is needed to protect the planet, save lives and build a more sustainable global economy for all. In Copenhagen this December, the world must sign a deal,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement

In Yaound, where the idea of PANPCC was first broached three months ago, African leaders resolved to speak in one voice and join hands with other developing nations in demanding an annual compensation of $200 billion from rich nations to fund mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

“The money for financing climate change should be new and additional (to development aid) and should be provided in the form of grants and other innovative financial mechanisms and instruments,” reads the declaration by the African parliamentarians, who want the cash committed before the Copenhagen talks.

African leaders believe clinching the compensation deal before hand will prevent a repeat of the Kyoto protocol case that saw some rich nations back out of the deal long after developing nations had appended their signatures.

“In unmitigated climate change, Africa faces an apocalypse comparable only to the world wars – meaning Africa’s future depends on a just, fair and equitable deal struck at the Copenhagen,” said Mr Cyprian Awudu, the PANPCC chairman and a Cameroonian MP.

Other than bargaining for compensation for Africa, Mr Awudu said the continent’s leaders have a role to draft rules that will entrench the Copenhagen deal in the national constitutions.

The MPs would also ensure that adequate financing is secured in national budgets for use in funding adaptation and mitigation of climate change programmes, he added.

The MPs are expected to push for tax regimes that promote the importation and use of clean technologies while prohibiting the use of those that degrade the environment.

“The continent is ill-prepared for the impacts of climate change and as a result of poverty and inadequate policies and legal frameworks; we have continued to exert pressure on resources that could have cushioned us from these effects,” President Kibaki said.

Experts warn that climate change will increase vulnerability of already stressed agro-based economies on the continent that has already experienced the impacts of climate change through floods, frequent drought, increased human and livestock diseases, food and water insecurity, and dust and sand storms.

It is estimated that industrial development and carbon emissions are related to an extent that the developing countries with 80 per cent of world’s population only account for 20 per cent of the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, the effects of global warming are most severe in the developing countries due to limited capacities to deal with the resulting situation.

“Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by climate change such that they need scaled up financial and technological support to help their vulnerable people to adapt to the climate change while also meeting urgent energy needs,” Ms Marianne Fay, the World Bank chief economist said at the release of this year’s world development report.

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Marende elected new Parliamentary Association President

Posted by African Press International on October 16, 2009

By Martin Mutua – 6th, October 2009

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende has been elected President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

Mr Marende was elected at the conference in Arusha, Tanzania, . At the same time, Kenya has been chosen to host the 56th CPA meeting next year.

National Assembly Clerk Patrick Gichohi was also elected to the position of chairman of society of clerks in the association. Mr Gichohi will chair the clerks meetings under the Commonwealth arrangement.

Marende succeeds Tanzanian Speaker Samuel Sitta for a year.

Leader of the Kenyan delegation to the conference, Defence Assistant Minister David Musila, praised Kenyan MPs who participated in the conference, saying most of their recommendations were adopted.

Mr Musila told the meeting Kenya had formed a team to start preparations for the conference.

Marende said: “May I take this opportunity to thank the CPA fraternity for having elected me”.

The Speaker said it was a great honour for the Kenya Branch to be accorded the opportunity to host the next conference. Kenya last hosted the conference in 1983.

The conference was officially opened on Friday by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. It discussed, among other issues, threats coalition governments pose to parliamentary democracy.

Anti-terrorism laws, violence against women, effects of the global financial crisis, youth empowerment and climate change were other issues that were deliberated on.

Kenyan MPs Zakayo Cheruiyot, Jakoyo Midiwo, Olago Aluoch, Amina Abdalla, Shakila Abdalla, Njoroge Baiya, Elias Mbau and Raphael Letimalo participated in the conference.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association brings together MPs to discuss issues of good governance, human rights and democracy.

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