BURUNDI – AFRICA / INTERNATIONAL : 27 JANVIER 2010 [AU Wants Strong African Solidarity for Haiti]

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Rwanda: Ingabire Out of Touch With the New Country – MP
27 January 2010/allafrica.com/The New Times

Kigali — Member of Parliament Françoise Mukayisenga is a shrewd politician with a humble background. She was a refugee in a camp controlled by Interahamwe militia inside former Zaïre, worked as a roadside sweeper in former Gisenyi Prefecture but against all odds rose to become a Member of Parliament. In an Interview with The New Times’ Edwin Musoni, she talks about her past, Rwanda’s post Genocide reconstruction and this year’s Presidential race that has attracted a controversial figure. Below are the excerpts.

You lived in Rwanda before the Genocide and you closely saw how Genocide unfolded. Could you briefly tell us what happened exactly during that time and compare notes of the then Rwanda and that one of today.

I was in the country during the Genocide. Truly speaking, this country was characterized by divisionism and enmity which was sanctioned by the government of the time.

In my view this divisionism and enmity originates back in the colonial period and during the first and second governments until when the Genocide happened in 1994.

I witnessed that divisionism during those days. I remember for instance this divisionism affected all facets of the society. It ran down to the school system as an example.

During the genocide, the then government trained Interahamwe. I saw them myself. Due to this hate based on divisionism whereby parents killed their children, husbands killed their wives. It was total madness.

The Genocide unleashed was against the Tutsi and nobody should refute that during that period I was staying in the neighbourhood of the airport with my family and after the plane crash, we immediately started hearing gunshots and we fled.

The killings had intensified, roadblocks had been mounted and the militias we requesting for the national identity cards so that they could single out and and kill all Tutsi. Tutsis could be killed instantly.

I fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) and I stayed in Kibumba camp. However during the fleeing, we were led by Ex-FAR soldiers who continued with their anti-Tutsi rhetoric. They were telling us that we had to leave the country because the RPF soldiers (Inkotanyi) would kill us if they found us in the country.

Surely to a mature person, it was evident that some people had to be held accountable for what they did during the Genocide that is why they had to flee. In this they used some of us who were innocent as human shields while fleeing justice.

During the time you fled, were you with members of your family?

I left my family behind since I wasn’t staying with them by the time of the Genocide. My family left Kanombe and went to Kibuye then they returned to Kigali while I was still in DRC. This means that whatever people say that the Tutsi revenged the murder of their loved ones is false.

Sincerely I have relatives and friends who did not flee but they were not hurt at all. In fact, they are still alive up till now. So there is no way I can be convinced that there were Hutus who were killed by Tutsi out of a planned revenge campaign…no that is wrong, that never happened.

What was your impression upon arrival in the country?

We were safe but we lived with fear. My fear was most based on what the Hutus did in this country, I could not understand why the Tutsis did not revenge but everything is possible. This is the 15th year and I am living with no fear.

Beside that, during my stay in Gisenyi, I witnessed the infiltration of the Interahamwe myself. They entered from Rwerere and mixed up with the people. They started killing people sometimes even during the broad day light.

During that time, there was no way the new government could sit back and relax while killing continued. I know for sure that while dealing with infiltrators lives were lost. This is where I depart with those saying that a double Genocide happened.

During that period, did you have any sympathy for the RPF soldiers?

After that war, I realized the infiltrators were getting weaker by the day and losing the battle but there was one thing that surprised me, when I returned to Rwanda. I found all my relatives were in school. By the way, I had fled with two of my sisters but before that we were studying in a private secondary school.

The reason we were in a private school is because the school nearby in Kanombe used to list children of soldiers who originated from Ruhengeri and Gisenyi so that they cheat for them to pass exams.

My family originated from the then Kigali-ngali and my father Celestine Nkinamubazi was a soldier with a rank of WOII by then.My father died of sickness in 1990 and we had to get out of the barracks.

So upon returning from refuge, I asked my mother to brief me about the situation. She told me that my sisters were studying and I asked her how she managed to put them in public schools to the extent that one was even in the University on government sponsorship.

She told me that things had changed completely and that education changes were part of larger changes within the society.

Do you have any relative who participated in the genocide?

Yes, my twin sister who was called Louise Mukasine. She was actually an Interahamwe. Her fiancé was former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s houseboy who dragged her into that business. She attended all the prime meeting meant to prepare the massacres. She later died in the DRC together with her husband and the rumor we heard is that she was killed by her own husband who also killed their child and later committed suicide.

You are currently holding a top post in the government, how did you join this government and how exactly did you rise in ranks?

When I returned home, I had convinced myself that I will never get a job based on what the Hutus did in this country. To make matters worse even my parents reinforced my fears by reminding me as a Hutu chances of my advancement were practically slim.

I am not ashamed of saying this but I remember the first job I got was to be a cleaner yet I was a high school graduate.

Gisenyi was a very dirty city by then and the local authorities were offering jobs to cleaners. I could spend the whole day sweeping the streets because I thought that was the best job I could get. I kept sweeping the streets and in return I could be paid food.

Time came and I decided to apply for a job of an accountant at Commune Rwerere. I remember my husband was the first person I told that I got the job but I told him that people were telling me that it was not going to be easy for me working with the RPF government.

My husband motivated me and told me to disregard whatever people were telling me and I focus on my job which I did. I later rose in ranks and I was elected the Vice Mayor in charge of Gender affairs.

Later I was elected a Member of Parliament which came as a surprise to me.

I remember I tendered in my candidature a day before the final closure and I told my husband about it, he thought it was a joke but I went ahead and did it. I remember I even told my brothers but they laughed it off.
After my election more so as a woman, I truly believed the new policy of this count
ry was about what someone is capable of doing not the origin or background of someone.

How would you rate currently the state of unity and reconciliation in the country?

Today, I have seen a lot being done in that regard. The fact that all Rwandan share equal rights as stated in the constitution is a major step. The establishment of the National Unity and reconciliation Commission(NURC) is an indication that the government is interested in uniting Rwandans.

Regarding post Genocide justice Gacaca courts provided the only viable avenue for sorting out justice.

Although there cases of people who have not openly spoken out, I believe truth will reveal itself, whoever participated in the Genocide will have to be punished.

At least Gacaca made people believe that whoever committed a crime will have to be punished and those that committed no crime are not punished in the name of being Hutus. I am a living example since I did not participate I have not been singled out.

With all these achievements, I don’t think someone who has been outside the country for this long should just jet in and start criticizing the gains registered over 15 years.

I normally hear criticisms in foreign media against the government and the policies but the fact is that those people shouting know nothing about the Rwandan history.

You praise Gacaca, your government’s policies and its achievements but of late new political figures including the president FDU Inkingi, Victoire Ingabire have strongly criticizes some of these policies, what is your take on their political approach?

Personally I can only say that this lady Victoire is actually ignorant and arrogant about the whole situation. She doesn’t value the current achievements because she knows nothing about Rwanda and its history.

She doesn’t know Rwanda because she has never lived here. She has not witnessed first hand the transformation of our country. She only hears and knows Rwanda through rumors. She doesn’t have real facts of what has been happening on the ground.

To me, I believe she should actually first learn about the country before stepping out to make such baseless statements.

She doesn’t give value to the progress made simply because she doesn’t know anything going on as I speak. She should compare the Rwanda she left 16 years ago and the Rwanda she found when she came back. At least she should have talked to Rwandans in the country side top gauge the mood.

We as Rwandans, we know the values of our achievements, we now have hope to live and live with each other in harmony. So, regarding Ingabire, as someone who fled the country and did not bother monitoring what was going on, she doesn’t know Rwanda at all.

Ingabire should know that the Genocide which took place here in Rwanda was targeting Tutsis and claimed lives of Tutsis.

On the issue of setting up a Hutu memorial site as Ingabire wishes, I would like to ask her how she would go about it practically. For instance is she going to separate Hutu remains from those of Tutsi? I wonder how she will go about it if at all she is allowed.

By the way, if the RPF Inkotanyi had decided to take revenge after the genocide, no Hutu would still be living in this country. I’m very sure of that.

I have a testimony of my relatives who lived in the Eastern part of the country where the RPF attack started from. They were not hurt at all. The soldiers could tell them to keep indoors as the fighting went out. To me I attach no value at all to Ingabire’s arguments.

What do you think about the upcoming presidential election?

In my understanding, every Rwandan has a right to come and vie for presidency. But the onus is upon us to elect someone of importance to us.

This precisely means that if this lady wants to stand for presidency, she should show us what she has done for us.

Personally I think that if there are tangible things which she has done so far for the country then she could be given a chance to enter the race.

Rwanda: Students’ Plight Exposes Holes in Varsity Admissions
Joseph Rwagatare/ allafrica.com/The New Times/27 January 2010

Kigali — The news on education last week was dominated by two events – one exciting, the other unpleasant. The first was the selection of students to join secondary school in Form 1 and Form 4.

The second was the decision by Rwanda’s public universities to discontinue first year students who had no government bursary. The two could not have been more different.

Admission into Form 1marks a big jump in the educational progress of a child. For most it is a second weaning. They are weaned from parental shield.

They leave home to go and live at school for three months at a stretch and learn to do things on their own, acquire some social habits, get a taste of freedom and learn how to manage it, get a sense of responsibility, and hopefully acquire some education. It is an exciting time of adventure, discovery and development.

Those entering Form 4 are starting on a period in their education when they begin to focus on a definite career. It is a time of both physical and academic maturity.

For both categories of students, it is a time of joy, excitement, celebration and hope. The event expressed the optimism that often marks the beginning of a journey whose end promises rich rewards.

The second event was the shocking news, and the accompanying confusion, that hundreds of students had been discontinued barely two weeks after they had started classes. The reason for this horrible news was that Students Financing Agency of Rwanda (SFAR) could not pay their fees.

For the affected students what should have been the crowning moment of their education turned into a period of anguish and anxiety. Some official(s) put a damper on their optimism.

The universities’ action started a blame game that we have come to expect in situations where several agencies are involved.

Students blamed their expulsion on the government which had allowed them to enrol in the universities when it was not prepared to pay for their education.

The ministry of education said it had done no such thing, that there were rules and regulatons and criteria governing students’ admission and financing that should have been strictly followed.

It transpired that a list of students eligible for admission to public universities had been published on the basis of which students had enrolled. They jumped on this to show that SFAR had led them to believe that they would be paid for.

No thanks, SFAR protested. The list was not theirs. It had been published by the Rwanda National Examinations Council.

The examinations council said yes they had put out the list, but that it had nothing to do with bursaries.

And so the buck-passing went on. The agencies involved in the problem issued statements seeking to exoneratethemselves from blame, but made little attempt to solve the problem.

All this should not have happened. However, it exposed a number of shortcomings that must be addressed if a similar situation is to be avoided in future.

In the first place the universities should not have allowed students to enrol without proof that they had the means to finance their education. This is normal practice in universities around the world.

That they did so on the assumption that the state would pay betrays a lack of information about existing procedures or inexcusable administrative lapses. Either way they have caused embarass
ment to tertiary educatinal institutions and put in jeorpardy the education of hundreds of young Rwandans. Yet this could have been avoided if they had stuck to the requirement that student seking admission show financing ability.

Secondly, SFAR should devise more effective ways of administering the students’ loan scheme instead of passing the buck to others. They could, for instance, consider this.

There is a full year between the publication of students’ examinations results and enrolment in universities. SFAR could issue loan application forms immediately results are announced – sometime in February – so that they have enough time to procees them.

By August – at the latest – they should have completed this and then publish the list of students who have obtained government loans. That would then give time to those who do not qualify enough time to look for alternative financing. That way the current problem would not arise.

The national examinations council should continue to publish names of those who qualify for admission into public universities. This is their rsponsibility.

It should be made clear, however, that eligibility for university admission is not the same as eligibility for government financing.

In the event that a problem similar to the current one occurs, there should be a coherent public relations plan to explain what has happenend.

The current plight of the expelled students has exposed the absence of a communicaton policy in the agencies that were involved.

They were caught unprepared and had no message, or if they had any, were unable to communicate it. This goes to show the little regard that is given to information and communication management in government.

If an effective communication strategy had existed, the problem should have been defused earlier. Which cries for placing public relations management in government departments at senior management level.

It is also clear that government departments must learn to do what has become a common refrain in management seminars – proactive as opposed to reactive management. What we saw last week was a classic example of being reactive.

It is a method of work so ingrained in public service that it would need a major upheaval to change. Perhaps the students’ case is of sufficient magnitude as to cause significant upset in the smug administrative attitude.

The usual pretext for not being proactive is the adherence to rules and procedure. In plain language that pretext translates as shirking responsibility. Buck-passing, in turn, is a typical case of shirking responsibility. Both are examples of bad management.

Rwanda: Private Sector Urged to Play Role in Tourism Dev’t
Frank Kanyesigye/The New Times/ allafrica.com/27 January 2010

Kigali — The Minister of Trade and Industry, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, has urged the private sector to take a lead in developing tourism if the sector is to benefit all communities.

Nsanzabaganwa made the call at the opening of a three-day Pan African workshop on tourism and poverty reduction yesterday at a local hotel in Kigali.

She told the delegates that Rwanda is a relatively young in terms of tourism development but was eager to learn from the valuable experiences of other African counterparts.

“This meeting holds particular distinction, not only because it is the first of its kind being held in Rwanda, but it is also our first workshop as members of the Commonwealth” she said.

Nsanzabaganwa urged participants to exchange ideas on the functions of the public and private institutions in developing more sustainable tourism policies.

“Our objective as a nation has always been to prioritise poverty reduction and wealth creation for the least advantaged people in the country” she said.

The workshop that is attended by delegates from Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, was organised by Rwanda Development Board in partnership with the Netherlands Development program(SNV), International Trade Centre and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The workshop focuses mainly on highlighting the significance of tourism development in poverty reduction on the African continent and how poor people participate in the tourism supply chains.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of RDB in charge of Tourism, Rosette Rugamba, said that Rwanda was chosen to host the workshop because of her remarkable progress in tourism development in recent years.


Rwanda: Haiti Needs Big Hearts
27 January 2010/ The New Times/allafrica.com

Kigali — The recent earthquake in Haiti, that left hundreds of thousands dead and over a million homeless, is one of the worst calamities in recent history.

Rwanda was one of the first African countries to come to the rescue of the stricken country that has had more than its shares of disasters.

The financial contribution was not the only area where Rwanda has played a role; it also has a contingent from the National Police serving as peacekeepers under the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and they have been part of the international efforts to assist the people of Haiti as they struggle to cope up.

This gesture of solidarity is not for photo opportunity, as is the case with certain ‘humanitarian’ agencies that rush to the scenes of disaster a public relations ploy.

Rwanda’s contribution in many strife-torn areas has a deep-rooted reason: It has travelled down the same road, and worse. The people of this country know the pain and cost of loss of lives on a large scale; that is why they are more than eager to come to the aide of whoever is in trouble.

Haiti has been battered by one storm after another, nearly brought to its knees by lawlessness and failure of state organs . and now this catastrophe.

We may not have a big purse, but a big heart we do. That is what Haiti needs at this time of need – from everyone – not camera-toting NGOs falling over each other.

Congo-Kinshasa: China to Push for Peace in Eastern Region
James Karuhanga/ allafrica.com/The New Times/27 January 2010

Kigali — China is willing to use its super power clout to enhance peace and security in the region, especially the eastern DRC where negative forces have found sanctuary, a top Chinese diplomat promised Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday.

Zhai Jun, China’s vice Foreign Minister in charge of African affairs said this at a three-day country visit during the Rwanda-China bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minaffet).

He stressed that China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is committed to ensuring that the Great Lakes region enjoys peace and stability.

“We will make positive response to the appeals from the two Presidents and we support the path of peace, development, reconstruction and prosperity of these two countries and we look forward to the new achievements in socio-economic development of the two friendly countries and brothers of China,” Jun said.

“As a member of the UN Security Council and as a friend of this region, China is ready to work with other members of the International Community to play a constructive role in promoting long term stability and security in the Great Lakes region.”

“Your country and the DRC have improved relations and cooperated to fight illegal militants in the east of the DRC and this has played a very important role in easing the situation in this zone and the whole of the Great Lakes region, and China appreciates this.”

Mushikiwabo commended the Chinese diplomat for the support and requested that China goes along to “support and encourage common positions reached by both Rwanda and the DRC in normalization of ties.”

“We are now at a very special time, a time of transition from distrust and war to a time of trust and a determination to work together between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda,” Mushikiwabo said.

The Chinese Delegation later visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre and was scheduled to hold a business dinner with their Rwandan hosts in the evening.




Uganda Govt: To Decide On Tullow Oil Preemption Next Week

online.wsj.com/JANUARY 27, 2010
KAMPALA, Uganda (Dow Jones)???-The Ugandan government will reach a decision next week on whether to back Italy-based Eni SpA’s (E) proposed $1.5 billion takeover of the interests of the London-listed Heritage Oil PLC (HOIL.LN) in two exploration blocks, or allow pre-emption of the sale by the U.K.-based Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN), state house said late Tuesday.

President Yoweri Museveni and other government officials will discuss the proposals of all companies operating in the sector and those intending to enter and come up with a decision in the coming week, state house said in a statement seen by Dow Jones Newswires.

Only competent firms will be allowed in the sector, and the government will “respect the contractual obligations” of existing companies, it said.

Heritage and Tullow, jointly own Blocks 1 and 3A, and Tullow is the sole owner of Block 2. Up to a billion barrels have been discovered in the three blocks.

Tullow announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement to buy Heritage’s Ugandan oil assets for up to $1.5 billion, pre-empting Heritage’s previous sale agreement with Eni.

According to Ernest Rubondo, the head of Uganda’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Department, the government will study the development proposals of both Tullow and Eni and come up with an informed decision as the country moves close to the start of oil production.

Tullow has presented a list of potential partners including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Total SA (TOT) and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CEO). President Museveni met with executives of Cnooc Monday to discuss its potential involvement in the country’s oil sector.

Uganda is expected to start oil production in the next two-three years.

-By Nicholas Bariyo, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; 256-75-2624615; bariyonic@yahoo.co.uk

Facebook Users Link Chase With Charity
www.sdbj.com/Mike Allen/1/27/2010

Chase, the consumer banking unit of JP Morgan Chase & Co., and Facebook selected San Diego-based Invisible Children as the winning finalist charity based on the number of online votes it received in a recently concluded contest that distributed about $5 million in total grants, the organizations said Jan. 25.

Invisible Children works to rescue children in Central Africa who have been kidnapped and forced to serve as soldiers in a civil war raging in Uganda. More than 30,000 children have been abducted and forced to serve in the armies of both sides, becoming both weapons and victims, according to a press statement.

The charity received nearly 124,000 votes in the second round of the contest earning it a $1 million grant.

Five more runner-up charities were selected by Facebook users and will receive $100,000, along with another $1 million in grants distributed to 17 other groups.

Last month, the contest completed the first round, with 100 groups qualifying for grants of $25,000 each.

JP Morgan Chase, with more than $2 trillion in total assets, said it donates more than $100 million annually to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations, both nationally and abroad.

— Mike Allen











Reflections on the Cabinda fiasco and the politics of football
27 January 2010 /By Séverine Koen /www.independent.co.ug

Back in 2006, the same year the CAF chose Angola to host the African Cup of Nations, Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations, wrote a short but eloquent opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune. The commentary was entitled “At the UN, how we envy the World Cup” and it described the fervour and world-wide interest such an event always garners.

He contrasted this with the world’s attitude toward his own organisation, wishing for countries to compete not only through their football skills but also by “openly vying for the best standing in the table of respect for human rights, and trying to outdo one another in child survival rates or enrolment in secondary education.”

After the shocking events in Angola on January 8, when the Togolese football team’s bus was attacked by separatists in Cabinda, one cannot help but think of a new comparison between football and global politics, and one that is significantly more negative than Kofi Annan’s envy of the World Cup. Without a doubt, the events in Cabinda gave a very sour start to a much-anticipated football event, held ironically in the year the African Union has named the “Year of Peace and Security in Africa”.

With the targeting of the Togolese team’s bus, we are reminded, as with the Munich Olympics in 1972, that not even sporting events are free from politics. As remarked by Annan four years ago, football is indeed a sport that “everybody on the planet loves talking about,” so anybody with an interested agenda- from well-meaning football organisations to low-level criminals- recognises the power of such a well-loved and pervasive sport. Whether to promote development or send a political message, football is no longer just used for fun and exercise.

Thus, even the decision of where to host football cups has become politicised, with the FIFA deciding to locate these events in “developing” nations, so as to boost these countries’ economic standings. This logic has been carried out under FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has recently crusaded for events to be held in Africa (the World Cup in South Africa and the World U-17 and U-19 tournaments in Nigeria and Egypt respectively). It can also be speculated that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to locate the African Cup of Nations in Angola for very similar reasons, as an opportunity for the country to develop its facilities, infrastructure and tourism sector. The January 8 attack begs the question of whether sports events should be used as tools for development, especially when safety and security are still major concerns in the host country.

Once the CAF elected to hold the African Cup of Nations in Angola, the host country set about preparing the event. In this particular case, Angola built four brand new stadiums, and it can be suggested that the Angolan government purposefully chose to set a stadium for the African Cup of Nations in Cabinda, in a political move to prove to the outside world that peace and stability had been restored to that region, even as it remains highly militarised. It is worth querying whether this choice was fully considerate of the football players’ safety. Indeed, Cabinda is an exclave of Angola, sandwiched between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Republic, with considerable offshore oil reserves which account for close to 60% of Angola’s oil exports. Since decolonisation, when it was forcibly annexed to Angola despite its claims to a distinct identity, history, and culture, it has been the stronghold of various independence movements and has experienced continued turmoil ever since. As if aware of the poor choice of this location for a stadium, it is interesting to note that the description of the Cabinda venue on the CAF website is considerably shorter than those of the Luanda, Benguela and Lobango sites.

The consequences of the attack have reached far beyond Angola. Rodrigues Mingas, the leader of the separatist movement that claimed responsibility for the attack, supposedly lives in exile in France, a fact which has added an additional international dimension to the Cabinda attack. Tensions arose internationally when the French government was criticized by Angola as not taking appropriate measures against Mingas, with an Angolan minister calling for Mingas’ extradition from France.

Meanwhile, in Togo, politicians seized the issue of the attack to criticise or praise their government’s controversial decision to have its team return home, using this issue as one of many in light of the presidential elections coming up in February of this year. They too recognised football as an issue that touches their citizens’ hearts, and sought to bank on this attachment by taking their own stands on the attacks.

Even the common debate surrounding the Togolese team’s repatriation to Lomé has been tainted with political connotations. Using geopolitical and strategic terms, some commentators have noted that the Togolese team should not have gone home, since leaving Cabinda would mean that they let the “terrorists win”. Certainly, terrorist tactics cannot be allowed to succeed in instilling widespread fear or impeding the continuation of the African Cup of Nations. However, the fact that these terrorists’ goal was not to make the Togolese team leave, but rather to call attention to themselves and defy the Angolan government, is seldom taken into account in this kind of rhetoric. In a statement given to FRANCE 24 on January 11, Mingas claimed they“did not target Togo, but the Angolan army” and “are fighting for the complete liberation of Cabinda, against Angola’s illegal occupation.” Yet in deciding to attack the Togolese bus, it would seem that the separatist movement recognised the “media-attracting” power of football, since this attack has put Cabinda on the forefront of the international scene in a way that attacking the Angolan army probably would not. After the January 8 attack, a previously little-mentioned Cabinda made international headlines and was on everybody’s lips, even though the story of its struggle for independence from Angola is far from being recent news. Should we worry that the world’s concern for geopolitical unrest can only be harnessed through a sport?

For Annan in 2006, international football games were events in which people came together, as “part of the family of nations and peoples, celebrating our common humanity”. Whilst this is certainly true, another dimension needs to be added to this picture: therefore, even as we watch the coming football matches and cheer for all our favourite teams, we shouldn’t forget that behind the excitement, behind the goals and penalties, and behind the all-star players, there is and will always be politics. And in politics, as in football, there will always be clear winners and losers.




Absa, Anglo Platinum and Impala: South African Stocks Preview

By Nicky Smith/Bloomberg/Jan. 27

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — The following is a list of companies whose shares may have unusual price changes in South Africa. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names and prices are from the last close.

South Africa’s FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index fell 427.99, or 1.6 percent, to 26,652.05 in Johannesburg.

Absa Group Ltd. (ASA SJ): Statistics South Africa releases consumer price inflation data for December, which may show inflation breached the 3 percent to 6 percent target range to grow at a rate of 6.4 percent, according to the median estimate of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Shares in Absa, South Africa’s largest retail bank, fell 1.2 percent, or 1.56 rand, to 131 rand. Shares in Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK SJ), Africa’s largest lender, fell 25 cents, or 0.2 percent, to 105 rand.

Anglo Platinum Ltd. (AMS SJ): The metal used in clean emissions technology by carmakers fell for a second day, declining as much as 0.7 percent. Shares in Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest producer of the metal, dropped 31.99 rand, or 4.2 percent, to 730.01 rand. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP SJ), the second largest producer, shed 6.75 rand, or 3.2 percent, to 201.90 rand.

Shares or American depositary receipts of the following South African companies closed as follows:

Anglo American Plc (AAUKY US) fell 0.4 percent to $19.58. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (AU US) lost 0.2 percent to $38.03. BHP Billiton Plc (BBL US) dropped 1 percent to $61.21. DRDGold Ltd. (DROOY US) shed 0.1 percent to $6.43. Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI US) retreated 0.1 percent to $12.25. Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY US) fell 0.1 percent to $9.76. Impala Platinum Holdings Co. (IMPUY US) lost 0.2 percent to $27.08. Sappi Ltd. (SPP US) dropped 0.1 percent to $4.06. Sasol Ltd. (SSL US) fell 1 percent to $37.25.

South Africa: No Plans to Nationalise Bank – ANC
Karima Brown/ allafrica.com/ Businessday/ 27 January 2010

Johannesburg — THE African National Congress (ANC) yesterday downplayed news reports suggesting it wanted to nationalise the Reserve Bank, saying the “status quo” remained.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told Business Day that party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe merely “flagged” the issue of whether the Bank ought to remain in private hands within the context of what the Freedom Charter says about monopolies.

Mantashe, who presented his organisational report to a recent three-day ANC lekgotla, said the party had to discuss whether the model of private ownership of the bank was the best approach.

“We are not buying out anything or anybody, there is no proposal on nationalisation, we are nowhere there,” Mthembu said, responding to a question about whether the ANC had considered any particular model of ownership for the Bank.

But the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) was quick to capitalise on Mantashe’s comments, saying it welcomed the “progressive” comments attributed to him.

“The call by Comrade Mantashe for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank is consistent with both the South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) and the Congress of South Africans Trade Unions’ (Cosatu’s) calls for the Reserve Bank to play a key and strategic role in job creation and mitigating the global financial crisis in the midst of a jobs bloodbath, massive squalor and poverty infested amongst the broad sections of the working class and the poor,” Numsa said.

Numsa urged the secretariat of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance to have a “structured discussion” as part of establishing an informed and shared perspective on practical mechanisms towards nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.

But Mthembu said the matter was not discussed or elaborated on in any of the five commissions at the ANC’s recent lekgotla, which looked at a number of issues in the economy related to the ANC’s five key priorities – education, health, jobs, crime and rural development.

He said it would probably be thrashed out further in the ANC’s economic transformation committee, which is dealing with reviewing the mandate of the Bank.

The ANC’s allies have pushed for the inflation target to be reviewed, arguing the Bank ought to take into account growth and job creation.

Yesterday, Cosatu said it would continue to lobby for changes to the Bank’s mandate. Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told Business Day it wanted to “democratise” the Bank.

But the task team announced at last year’s tripartite alliance summit to broaden and review the mandate has yet to meet. It is meant to present proposals by next month.

Muslim TV chief freed after arrest in Johannesburg for alleged terrorism

The Times /January 27, 2010

Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg and Dominic Kennedy in London

The head of Britain’s main Muslim TV station was freed by a court in South Africa yesterday after being detained because he is still wanted by Interpol for alleged terrorism.

Lawyers for Mohamed Ali Harrath, 46, are now expected to go to court to challenge what they see as his wrongful arrest when he arrived in Johannesburg on a flight from London on Sunday.

Mr Harrath’s Islam Channel accused his native Tunisia of misleading Interpol resulting in a worldwide request in 1992 to arrest him over terrorism, forgery and arms allegations.

“There’s just a feeling that injustice has been done. This was an issue from 20 years ago, a political matter that happened back in Tunisia. I was fighting for justice and I am proud of what I did,” he told South Africa Press Association after being released. “I consider myself as a friend of South Africa, who knows more than anyone about injustice.”

As a young man, Mr Harrath helped found the Tunisian Islamic Front which opposed what he regarded as his country’s one-party rule.

Tunis accused the organisation of seeking to establish a Muslim state by armed revolution but he insists it was a non-violent political party.

He fled to Britain which accepted him as a refugee. His Islam Channel is watched by 59 per cent of British Muslims and he has been courted by senior politicians of all parties. He became an adviser to Scotland Yard against Islamic extremism. In September the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, gave him a platform to address thousands of Muslims in Trafalgar Square at the city’s celebrations for the end of Ramadan.

He has been fighting for years to remove the Interpol Red Notice, its highest state of alert.

South Africa is one of 132 countries where Islam Channel is available. Mr Harrath is seeking investment deals and wants to move most of his production there. “I was also supposed to set up a call centre,” he said. “My plan is to create hundreds of jobs here.”

Musa Zondi, a police spokesman, told The Times: “We followed the Interpol procedure and detained this man because he was red-flagged.

“For the case to proceed we asked Tunisia for further information on him and for them to direct us but they did not come back to us. Because the Tunisians did not respond we were left with no option but to free him.

“It is an odd case. Perhaps the Tunisians have no evidence against this man or perhaps there is no longer any political desire for him to be returned there.

“Either way, from our side we were simply doing our job and following the letter of the law. It is something we would do again, should the occasion arise, although not necessarily with this poor man.”

Iqbal Jassat, chairman of the Media Review Network, an Islamic rights organisation which has been advising the TV channel, said: “He is planning to head back home to his family in the UK.”

Earlier yesterday Mr Harrath was moved from a hospital in Pretoria to police cells. He was hospitalized on Sunday because he fell ill shortly after his arrest. He is expected to return to Britain on Thursday “Mr Harrath was released as there was no evidence against him and no extradition treaty exists between South Africa and Tunisia,” a statement from his TV station said.

“Mr Harrath’s lawyers in South Africa will be challenging the validity of his arrest in the High Court, as they strongly believe it was unlawful.”




View AIDS through the life of a child

www.egcitizen.com/By Katie Freeman – Lifestyle & Arts Reporter/ January 27, 2010
African children call for help through AIDS exhibit

Kaitlin Law never met Tuma Mange, but the Tanzanian girl’s story almost brought Law to tears.

Law, an 18-year-old Elk Grove resident, stared at the picture of the young girl she held in her hands. The girl is one of millions of children affected by AIDS in Africa.

At the “World Vision Experience: AIDS” exhibit at the First Baptist Church of Elk Grove, locals can experience life through the eyes of African children living in areas affected by the disease. At the end of the exhibit, they get a chance to sponsor a child.

Dozens of other Elk Grove residents looked somber and teary-eyed at the end of the exhibit as they held pictures of African children who need sponsoring.

The free tour takes place in a 2,500 square-foot interactive exhibit where guests listen to the stories of one of three African children living in HIV/AIDS affected areas.

The exhibit launched in July 2007 and has traveled to 106 American cities. It will be in Elk Grove until Jan. 29. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Walking into the church, guests see a thatched-roof hut and shoddy wooden fences.

Disturbing facts about the destruction AIDS has caused in Africa are written on a board: “The death rate in South Africa (from AIDS) is 1 per minute,” and “at the rate of 1 death per minute, Elk Grove, CA would be gone in 94.5 days.”

Derek Zahnd, outreach mission pastor at First Baptist Church, said the HIV/AIDS pandemic should concern everyone.

“It’s killed 28 million people, left 15 million children orphans, it’s undoubtedly the greatest healthcare crisis in human history,” he said. “It’s bigger than the plague, it’s bigger than the Vietnam War, it’s bigger than the Civil War, it’s bigger than 9/11 in terms of the number of people that have died.”

Even though many people in Elk Grove are struggling financially right now, he said, for about one dollar each day they can significantly impact the life of a child in Africa.

Zahnd said members of First Baptist give stipends to families in Cameroon who adopt AIDS orphans. The church has also done some charity work at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Nigeria too.

Zahnd was looking for a way to tell the story of these African children to the approximately 3,000-person congregation.

“You can’t take the whole church to Africa, but this is one way to bring a little bit of Africa to our church and to our community,” he said.

Zahnd emphasized that the event is not just for church members, but the entire community.

The Elk Grove exhibit includes the stories of Kombo, Babirye and Mathabo. Each story is inspired by true events.

Each visitor receives a headphone set with a play/pause button.

Guests will hear the approximately 30-minute story of one of the three children.

The voice on the audio player instructs visitors to close their eyes and imagine they are the child whose life they are about to experience.

Inside, no one talks to each other. Each guest sees one child’s world while listening to headphones and experiences that youth’s difficult life.

The voice on the tape guides individuals through the exhibit; viewing photos of the child and their families, as well as rooms replicated to look like their living quarters.

One room features pictures of a schoolhouse and a dirty uniform hanging on a wood board.

Near the end, each person ends up in a clinic to find out whether their child has HIV/AIDS by receiving a stamp on their hand.

After that, guests can write a prayer and add it to the prayer wall, or sponsor a child living with, or among AIDS.

People walking out of the exhibit are shocked to have learned the devastation HIV and AIDS has caused in Africa, Zahnd said.

“When you educate people, you empower them,” he said. “And they can make a difference.”

Parental supervision is recommended for children under 12 years old.

S.Africa’s rand soft, possible rate cuts could weigh
Wed Jan 27, 2010 /Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand slipped against the dollar on Wednesday and could stay on the backfoot after the central bank did not rule out the possibility of interest rate cuts this year.

The bank’s monetary policy committee left the key repo rate unchanged at 7.0 percent on Tuesday, the fourth consecutive time it has done so after 500 basis points of cuts betweeen December 2008 and August last year to help an ailing economy.

But Governor Gill Marcus admitted the decision was not unanimous, with some committee members having called for another reduction, and said she would not rule out a cut this year, which could undermine the rand’s high-yield appeal among investors.

At 0632 GMT the rand traded 0.15 percent softer at 7.59 against the dollar after ending Tuesday’s session in New York at 7.5784.

“The rand was mostly unchanged yesterday … showing very little fallout from the clearly dovish monetary policy outlook provided by SARB governor Marcus,” said IDEAglobal emerging market analyst Alvise Marino.

“(But) this new factor on the table is bound to contribute to further rand weakness in the short-term … Investors attracted by the rand’s carry might shift their allocation in favour of currencies more likely to be backed by monetary tightening in H1 ’10.”

Government bonds rallied, and yields were subsequently lower, with the 2015 down 4.5 basis points at 8.52 percent while the yield on the 2036 bond trimmed 2.5 basis points to 9.13 percent.

The Johannesburg bourse looked set for a rather flat start at 0700 GMT, with the blue-chip Top-40 March futures contract last down just 0.18 percent.

Somalia: Huge Explosion Occurs at AU’s Main Base in Mogadishu
Hassan Osman Abdi/Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu) /allafrica.com/27 January 2010

Mogadishu — Huge explosion has occurred at the African Union troops AMISOM’s largest military base in the Somali capital Mogadishu, official told radio Shabele on Monday.

Major Brigye, the spokesman of the AU troops in Mogadishu confirmed that big blast was targeted to the military compound of AMSIOM troops at Halane specially a clinic centre in the compound of the south of the capital.

The spokesman said that there were some casualties for both the AU troops and Somalis adding that it was unclear what was the real cause of the explosion.

Number of wounded figures are not known and the spokesman said that they were search how some thing had happened to night.

No group has claimed the responsibility of the blast so far.

Australia giving up to $12.5m to Africa

January 27, 2010/news.smh.com.au/AAP

Australia is handing up to $12.5 million in additional aid to Africa to enhance ties as well as drum up support for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has discussed with his South African counterpart, Nkoana-Mashabane, that country’s recent term on the security council.

The ministers also canvassed promising areas for multilateral cooperation.

“I strongly believe it is in both our own long-term national interests to be doing more together, regionally and internationally,” Mr Smith said in a speech to the South African Institute for International Affairs.

Australia would contribute $6 million during the next two years towards UN peace building with $4 million going to the UN Peacebuilding Fund and $2 million to support efforts in Burundi and Sierra Leone.

Australia will also provide $500,000 to support South Africa in developing the Southern African Development Community climate change plan of action.

Mr Smith said Australia would contribute up to $6 million in extra funding to cooperate with South Africa in supporting the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy and basic services.

This funding would support collaboration between the South Africa and Zimbabwe taxation authorities to build Zimbabwe’s taxation administration.

“It will also mobilise South African technical expertise to support recovery efforts in water, agriculture and economic governance,” he said.

Mr Smith is making the first visit to South Africa by an Australian foreign minister in seven years.

His central message was that Australia wanted to work even more closely with South Africa to shape effective global responses to economic, political and security challenges.

“We have much to offer each other and much to gain through closer cooperation.”

© 2010 AAP

AU Wants Strong African Solidarity for Haiti
From Juliana Taiwo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia/ www.thisdayonline.com/01.27.2010

Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Mr. Jean Ping, has called for strong African solidarity with the people of Haiti.He reminded Member States that the country was ravaged by earthquake, an extraordinary disaster which affected the people of Haiti drastically, appealing to them to contribute in support of victims He informed member states at the official opening of the 19th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that a Note Verbal to that effect was addressed to all the Heads of State of the African Union and that a similar letter was jointly published by the League of Arab States and himself, calling on African communities on the continent and the Diaspora to rally support behind the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

He also disclosed that, a special account to collect funds from the African countries and free donors has been opened at the African Development Bank (AfDB) in order to ensure transparency in the channeling of the funds to the victims.
“Many African countries have already sent their contributions”, he said, adding that a more detailed report of what has been done so far will be presented to the Heads of State during their 14th AU Assembly scheduled to take place from January 31 to February 2, 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he said.”

Meanwhile, the Third Pre-Summit of African Union (AU) on Gender has recommended that AU offices on Gender be opened in areas of conflict to be more involved in creating awareness on the role of gender in the peace keeping processes.
It has also emphasised the need to increase and strengthen the participation of civilian and military women in peace processes and decision-making on the continent. FEC’s Actions are Illegal, Say




Russia won’t block removal of former Taliban members from U.N. terrorism list

By Colum Lynch/Washington Post Staff Writer /Wednesday, January 27, 2010

UNITED NATIONS — A U.N. Security Council committee announced Tuesday that it has lifted sanctions against five former Taliban officials, bolstering Afghan and U.N. efforts to pursue peace talks with the group, Security Council diplomats said. The decision came after Russia agreed to stop blocking a U.S.-backed proposal to delist the men.

The action marks a dramatic shift by Russia, which for years had opposed requests by the U.S. and European governments to delist former Taliban members who say they back the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. No Taliban member had been delisted since the Security Council first imposed sanctions on the group more than 10 years ago.

Recently, Afghanistan and its U.N. special envoy, Kai Eide, had appealed to the 15-nation council to lift sanctions on a handful of former Taliban officials whom Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador, Zahir Tanin, described as “willing to renounce violence and join the peace process.”

The delisting process is part of a broader review of anti-Taliban sanctions by the Security Council, which has been criticized for failing to remove dead combatants and add new terrorism suspects to the U.N. blacklist, according to Richard Barrett, the chairman of a U.N. panel that oversees the implementation of sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Russia’s move helps ensure that the list is “up to date and reflects the reality of the threat,” Barrett said, adding that delisting shows that “a change of behavior can lead to a removal from sanctions and an opportunity to play a full part in the future of Afghanistan.”

The Security Council approved sanctions on the Taliban in October 1999 after the group refused to surrender Osama bin Laden to face trial in New York for masterminding the August 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. More than 100 Taliban leaders were placed on a sanctions list in January 2001.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States ushered through resolutions that expanded the list to cover people suspected of being al-Qaeda members. The sanctions include a travel ban, an arms embargo, and a prohibition on the direct or indirect provision of funding to nearly 500 terrorism suspects.

Over the years, several members of the former Taliban government switched sides to join forces with Karzai’s government. But Russia repeatedly rebuffed initiatives by the United States and other governments to reward them by easing sanctions.

Now, after Russia’s shift, those measures have been lifted against Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, who was a minister of foreign affairs in the Taliban government, and Abdul Hakim Monib, another former Taliban official who has since served as Karzai’s governor in Uruzgan province. Sanctions against Fazl Mohammad Faizan, Shams-us-Safa Aminzai and Mohammad Musa Hotak have also been dropped.

The Russian decision reflects the new thinking that political reconciliation with some elements of the Taliban leadership “is both feasible and a good idea,” said J. Alexander Thier, the director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “Taking some Taliban names off the sanctions list is like a prisoner exchange, a small step and sign of good faith on the part of U.N. Security Council members.”

UN: 27m lost jobs worldwide in 2009
(UKPA)/The Press Association/27012010

Twenty-seven million people around the world lost their jobs last year, the UN said in a report released on the opening of the World Economic Forum.

About 12 million of the newly unemployed were in North America, Japan and Western Europe, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said.

The jobless total jumped by nearly four million in both Eastern Europe and Latin America while unemployment rates were more stable last year in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The figures point to the need for a “global jobs pact” to boost employment around the world, the ILO said.

“Avoiding a jobless recovery is the political priority of today,” ILO chief Juan Somavia said. “We need the same policy decisiveness that saved banks now applied to save and create jobs and livelihoods of people.”

In an 82-page report, the agency said it expected unemployment to remain high through 2010, with perhaps an additional three million people in the rich world losing their jobs or unable to find employment as they enter the job market.

Not all the unemployed were fired. The ILO said youth unemployment has increased by over 10 million in the last two years, the worst surge since the agency began compiling global statistics in 1991.

To address the problem, the ILO wants governments to adopt a two-pronged approach of employment creation and better unemployment benefits, even if the latter may prove a disincentive for some people looking for jobs.

It said the global unemployment rate was 6.6% last year, but that the true scope of the problem was much worse because over 600 million workers and their families were surviving on less than 77p a day.

The ILO timed its report for the start of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where 2,500 business and political leaders will spend five days debating financial reforms, job creation strategies and other key elements of economic recovery.

AU Commission chairman calls for boosting of cooperation with Guinea
2010-01-27 /www.apanews.net
APA-Addis Abeba (Ethiopia) The chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission Jean Ping on Tuesday in Addis Ababa called for boosting cooperation with the newly appointed authorities of the transitional government in Guinea.

Addressing the 10th meeting of the International Contact Group on Guinea (ICG-G), Ping, urged bilateral and multilateral members of the Group to provide assistance to Guinea, which currently faces “hard economic and financial difficulties.”

According to Mr. Ping, these hardships could “negatively” affect conditions for a “peaceful, stable and concluding” transition in Guinea.

Referring to the recent evolution in the Guinean crisis resulting in the joint Ouagadougou Agreement, the chairman of the AU Commission said that owing to this significant achievement “the issue of sanctions on Guinea should be considered.”

The final statement from the 9th session of the ICG-G meeting held on 13 December in the Burkinabe capital backs the implementation of a transition leading to elections from which are excluded the members of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) and the transitional government.

Though the African Union should enforce the new architecture of the transition, it urges the government authorities to fight against impunity ; Mr. Ping said that he will meet with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations to discuss the international inquiry commission’s report.

The UN had opened an international investigation in Guinea following killings perpetrated as part of 28 September incident resulting in the death of over hundred people.

While hailing the agreement reached on 15 January, under the auspices of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, within the framework of the joint Ouagadougou Agreement made by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and General Sékouba Konaté, the chairperson of the AU Commission said “that there is a new political situation.”

It would be noted that the Secretary General of the ECOWAS Commission, Mohamed Ibn Chambas attended the 10th ICG-G meeting, being held a few days ahead of the 14th African Union Summit with a focus on : “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa : Challenges and Development Prospects.”




Liberia: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Seek Second Term in 2011
Boakai Fofana/ allafrica.com/27 January 2010

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected head-of-state in Africa, announced Monday during her annual message to the national legislature that she will seek a second term during elections next year.

She said she was making the announcement now “to bring to an end all speculations” and said she would be “a formidable candidate” in the 2011 campaign.

“I know from whence we came yesterday. I know where we are today; I know where we ought to be tomorrow and I know how we will get there. Therefore, however I act, whatever I do, it will be for you, the people,” she said.

This announcement was punctuated by loud applause that lasted several minutes, halted only by the president herself.

Campaigning as an underdog during the country’s first post-war elections in 2005, which followed 14 years of civil conflict, Johnson Sirleaf said she planned to served only one term, although Liberia’s Constitution authorizes two presidential terms of six years each. The job she began is not yet finished, she said: “Let us travel the road together knowing that the God who brought us this far will not leave us.”

The campaign announcement came at the end of a lengthy review of the country’s progress and problems.

“We have come a long way in our journey to economic reconstruction and national renewal,” she said in her address and added: “Together, we have laid the foundation that will ensure that the sufferings and miseries of our people are adequately addressed.”

“Internationally, we have moved from the status of an outcast on the international stage to one of the leading countries representing Africa internationally,” she said.

But, she continued, Liberia still has a long way to go to recover from more than three decades of instability and war.

“There is no magic wand to transform our nation from destruction to prosperity.”

Monday’s message, the president’s fifth, covered a wide range of issues ranging from her government’s fight against corruption, the state of the country’s economy and the Truth Reconciliation Commission’s final report.

Among the accomplishments cited is an annual growth rate of 7.4% for four years and an increase of the budget from the U.S.$80 million to over U.S.$370 million – all the while maintaining “the fiscal discipline of a cash-based expenditure regime.” Another achievement she cited was the reduction of the debt arrears from U.S.$4.9 billion to U.S.$1.7 billion, with the expectation that most of the rest will be forgiven later this year.

The speech itself had a number of highlights. She said government inherited the societal problem of corruption that was further exacerbated by the years of conflict, but that it has now begun to strengthen and support institutions like the the Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission to fight graft. She then congratulated the legislature for passage of several pieces of significant legislation and called for the body to move forward on other important measures, including the Freedom of Information act, the code of conduct governing civil servants, a law to establish the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Investment Incentive Act of 2009.

The country is in line to receive about U.S.$10 billion in foreign investment over the next two years, and oil exploration is “well advanced,” she said. “Food production, particularly rice, cassava and other staples, has increased significantly all over the country.”

“All this has been achieved despite the impact of the 2008/2009 global economic recession which has impacted us, just as it has all other nations,” she said.

She cited “key initiatives [that] demonstrate my Administration’s unwavering commitment to fight corruption” and pointed to the new professionally trained national army now numbering over 2,000 and a revitalized police force.

“Freedom of the Press reigns supreme, regrettably, sometimes without responsibility and concern for the good of the country,” she said. “There are no political prisoners and no repression against the exercise of political rights and expression. No political opposition has been forced into exile.”

The country’s is rebuilding its infrastructure, including roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, clinics and playgrounds; and public buildings are also being constructed, renovated or repaired throughout the country. Both the port and the airport have been rehabilitated and in conformity with international security standards, said the President.

“Enrollment in primary schools throughout the country is 605,000 compared to 540,000 in 2008, representing an increase of 11 percent,” she said. “Secondary school enrollment is 183,000 compared to 158,000 in 2008, an increase of 14 percent. For the first time, subsidy has been provided to private schools which have contributed to this enrollment performance. We have provided over U.S.$400,000 in subsidy to 20 private institutions.”

In the area of health, she said that prevalence rates of malaria, cholera and anemia have been reduced in children, a nationwide immunization campaign against yellow fever was completed and the country has significantly increased delivery of anti-retroviral drugs to Liberians living with HIV.

Outlining three areas “that will be defining to the future of this country” she said more has to be done to promote transparency and accountability throughout government but also in the society as a whole. She said “more needs to be done particularly in the areas of punishment under the law,” and she promised to take further action herself.

“Without prejudice to their rights of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, I must act against those, including the ones close to me, whose malpractices have put my credibility and the credibility of the country at risk.”

On the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s controversial final report, the president said that, while she may not agree with all the findings and recommendations in the report, “there’s no doubt that it dissects and analyzes our problems and makes recommendation for the healing, reconciliation, restoration, peace, prosperity and the progress of our nation. She proposed a strengthening of the Independent National Human Rights Commission Act of 2005 to follow up on the TRC recommendations to determine those “that are implementable or enforceable under the Constitution and laws of Liberia.”

She then called for legislation that would allow Liberians living abroad to maintain foreign nationalities without forfeiting their Liberian citizenship.

She also said that the County Development Funds, which are the mechanism for dispensing funds to the country’s 15 counties, must be handled “directly and solely” by the Executive Branch, to remove the roadblock created when the legislature gave itself a role in determining funding priorities.







Australia keeps 5 to 25 pct CO2 cut range for accord
Wed Jan 27, 2010/Reuters

CANBERRA, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Australia will stick to its 5 to 25 percent emissions cut range as part of a global commitment to fight climate change under the controversial “Copenhagen accord”, the government said on Wednesday.

But any decision to opt for a 15 or 25 percent target depended in part on strong steps by India and China to reduce the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions, a statement said.

The accord, a non-binding political agreement sealed at the end of last month’s U.N. climate talks, asks nations to submit their goals to reduce planet-warming emissions to the world body by a Jan. 31 deadline.

The goals would be formally included in two appendices in the accord, one for rich nations and one for developing countries.

“Consistent with our commitment to do no more and no less than the rest of the world, we are today submitting our existing target range: 5 per cent unconditional, with up to 15 per cent and 25 per cent both conditional on the extent of action by others, as set out in May last year,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said in the statement.

But a decision to move above 5 percent would not happen until the “level of global ambition becomes sufficiently clear, including both the specific targets of advanced economies and the verifiable emissions reduction actions of China and India”, the statement said.

It said the credibility of those commitments and actions must also be established, for example, through a strong global agreement at a major U.N. climate conference in Mexico at the end of the year.

The accord disappointed many nations hoping for a new and tougher legally binding climate pact. It failed to set tough emissions curbs for all major emitting nations by 2020 and beyond and instead asked nations to submit their plans by Jan 31.

The run-up to Copenhagen, originally meant to be the deadline to agree on a new pact, led to many major emitters to announce their 2020 emissions curbs, including top carbon polluter China as well as India, Brazil and Indonesia.

So far there is no sign of nations backing away from these but also no sign of any nation announcing deeper-than-planned reductions. (Writing by David Fogarty; Editing by Jerry Norton)




Don’t rush acceding to Copenhagen Accord

President urged to first study implications to nation

By ELLALYN B. DE VERA/www.mb.com.ph/ January 27, 2010

With only four days left before governments decide the Copenhagen Accord, President Arroyo was urged by over 30 local and international civil society groups to resist being rushed into committing the Philippines to the widely-criticized agreement on climate change.

The CSO Working Group on Climate Change and Development asked Mrs. Arroyo to conduct a thorough study on the Accord’s implications on the country’s climate survival and economic development.

“If the President is intent on leaving a firm legacy in protecting the long-term interests of the country, it is best that she adopt a cautious attitude towards associating the Philippines with the Accord, and she should strongly insist on returning the focus on working with the other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to complete the pending negotiations in order that something concrete may be ready for adoption by the time the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC meets again in Mexico this December 2010,” the group said.

The Copenhagen Accord, which was agreed by huge carbon-emitting countries led by the United States during the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark last December, was seen as “not fair, not ambitious and not binding.”

The Accord is intended as a substitute for the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol that sought to move developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and finance the poor and developing countries capacity to cope with the effects of climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012.

The 192 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were given until the end of January to sign the Accord.

“An ambiguous, non-legally binding deal forged by only 26 nations led by United States President Barack Obama and orchestrated by Danish Premier Rasmussen cannot be a substitute for the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol which was crafted and agreed by all Parties under a transparent process, and which binds developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and pay for their historical culpability in polluting the atmospheric space,” Chito Tionko of the CSO WG said.

“It is the United States, the European Union (EU), and other developed countries that should change their production and consumption patterns and cut their greenhouse gas emissions drastically now in order for the earth to have a chance to recover,” Tionko said.

The group also called on the newly-created Climate Change Commission to initiate serious discussions among different sectors on the political, economic, and environmental ramifications of the Accord.

It also urged presidential candidates to speak their minds on climate change that will have long-term effects on the lives of the Filipino people.

According to CSO WG coordinator Rowena Bolinas, the money the Accord promises to deliver in the amount of US$30 billion between now and 2012, and US$100 billion by 2020, is largely uncertain and the Accord is devoid of specifics as to its source, provision and governance.

“The total amount of the non-binding pledges made so far falls short by US$2 billion per year,” Bolinas said.

She also said that “most of Japan’s funding is in the form of loans, while much of the EU money has simply been re-pledged and little is committed over and above the 0.7 percent of GNP (gross national product) aid target promised since 1972.”

“The funds promised by the US, on the other hand, are subject to congressional approval which is highly uncertain in view of the current debate among US legislators,” she said.

“In our view, this is an alarming indication of the type of financial support poor nations will be receiving as payment of the climate debt of developed countries — redirected development aid, more loans earmarked for private sector investment, and not the much needed adaptation funds for communities suffering the brunt of climate change impacts,” Bolinas said.

ILO: Unemployment reached highest level on record in 2009
The FINANCIAL — GENEVA. The number of jobless worldwide reached nearly 212 million in 2009 following an unprecedented increase of 34 million compared to 2007, on the eve of the global crisis, the International Labour Office (ILO) said in its annual Global Employment Trends report.

Based on IMF economic forecasts, the ILO estimates that global unemployment is likely to remain high through 2010. In the Developed Economies and European Union unemployment is projected to increase by an additional 3 million people in 2010, while it will stabilize at present levels, or decline only slightly, in other regions.

The ILO also said the number of unemployed youth worldwide increased by 10.2 million in 2009 compared to 2007, the largest hike since 1991.

At the same time, the ILO report shows wide variations in the employment impact of the crisis between regions and countries as well as in labour market recovery prospects.

The report says that coordinated stimulus measures have averted a far greater social and economic catastrophe; yet millions of women and men around the world are still without a job, unemployment benefits or any viable form of social protection.

“As the World Economic Forum gathers at Davos, it is clear that avoiding a jobless recovery is the political priority of today” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “We need the same policy decisiveness that saved banks now applied to save and create jobs and livelihoods of people. This can be done through strong convergence of public policies and private investment”.

Mr. Somavia added: “Each year, the global labour market has expanded by 45 million people therefore recovery measures must target job creation for young men and women entering the labour market for the first time.”

According to the ILO, the share of workers in vulnerable employment (Note 1) worldwide is estimated to reach over 1.5 billion, equivalent to over half (50.6 per cent) of the world’s labour force. The number of women and men in vulnerable employment is estimated to have increased in 2009, by as much as 110 million compared to 2008.

The report also says that 633 million workers and their families were living on less than USD 1.25 per day in 2008, with as many as 215 million additional workers living on the margin and at risk of falling into poverty in 2009.

The ILO report says that it is urgent to establish wide coverage of basic social protection schemes to cushion the poor against the devastating effects of sharp fluctuations in economic activity.

Other key findings:

The global unemployment rate rose to 6.6 percent in 2009, an increase of 0.9 percentage points over 2007. However it varied widely by region, ranging from 4.4 per cent in East Asia to more than 10 per cent in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CSEE & CIS) as well as in North Africa.

The global youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to reach 13.4 per cent in 2009 relative to 2007. This represents the largest increase since at least 1991, the earliest year for which global estimates are available.

The overall impact of the economic crisis on women and men is far more important than the differences in impact between these groups.

Preliminary estimates of growth in labour productivity, measured as output per worker, indicate that productivity levels fell in all regions except East Asia, South Asia and North Africa. The largest decline in output per worker occurred in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non- EU) & CIS, – 4.7 per cent, thus reversing part of the gains that were made in the first half of the decade.

As a result of declining output per worker, working conditions are deteriorating especially in regions where labour productivity was already low preceding the economic crisis, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To address these issues, the ILO constituents which represent the “real economy” have agreed a Global Jobs Pact that contains a balanced set of tried and tested measures to promote a robust response to the employment challenge by focusing on accelerated employment generation, sustainable social protection systems, respect for labour standards, and strengthening social dialogue. The Pact has received strong backing from the G20 heads of state and from the UN General Assembly. Rethinking policies is essential because we will not get out of the crisis by applying the same policies that lead to the crisis in the first place.

Regional outlook

The unemployment rate in the Developed Economies and European Union jumped to 8.4 per cent in 2009, up from 6.0 per cent in 2008 and 5.7 per cent in 2007. The number of unemployed in the region is estimated to have surged by more than 13.7 million between 2007 and 2009, with an increase of nearly 12 million unemployed in 2009 alone. Employment in the industrial sectors has suffered more than employment in agriculture or services.

Overall, despite comprising less than 16 per cent of the global workforce, the Developed Economies and European Union region accounted for more than 40 per cent of the increase in global unemployment since 2007. Unemployment in the Developed Economies and European Union is expected to remain elevated, with a projected increase in the regional unemployment rate to 8.9 per cent in 2010.

Between 2008 and 2009, the largest increases in unemployment rates by region occurred in the Developed Economies and the European Union, which saw an increase of 2.4 percentage points, in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) & CIS, 2.0 percentage points, and in Latin America and the Caribbean (1.2 points). Similarly, these three regions account for more than two-thirds of the increase in the global number of unemployed in 2009, despite only accounting for 30 per cent of the global labour force. Other regions saw more limited increases in unemployment rates (0.5 points or less).

In sub-Saharan Africa, the unemployment rate is estimated to have risen to 8.2 per cent in 2009 and is likely to show very little change between 2009 and 2010. The limited increase is not reflective of the true impact of the crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, and should be seen in conjunction with indicators such as vulnerable employment and working poverty (Note 2).

In North Africa, the overall unemployment rate is estimated to have reached 10.5 per cent in 2009 and is projected to remain elevated in 2010, at 10.6 per cent. This would represent an increase of 300,000 unemployed in 2010 versus 2009. Overall, the weak conditions of labour markets prior to the crisis are likely to make the impact of reduced economic growth more severe, and the region may well need a long period to recover.

The Middle East’s regional unemployment rate has not risen substantially over the 2007-2009 period and is expected to remain relatively unchanged in 2010, at around 9.3 per cent. However, with nearly 23 per cent of workers in the region living with their families on less than USD 2 a day, the impact of the crisis should also be seen in terms of increased vulnerable employment: any reduction in employment quality could also lead to increased poverty.

In Latin America and the Caribbean the unemployment rate is estimated
to ha
ve risen from 7 per cent in 2008 to 8.2 per cent in 2009 (Note 3), amounting to 4 million additional jobless in 2009. Current estimates also indicate that the share of workers in extreme poverty ranged from 7.0 to 9.9 per cent in 2009, an increase of up to 3.3 percentage points from 2008. In 2010, unemployment is expected to decrease slightly to around 8.0 per cent, reflecting the better outlook towards the end of 2009.

In East Asia unemployment is estimated to have edged up to 4.4 per cent in 2009 from 4.3 per cent in 2008 and 3.8 per cent in 2007. A rapid improvement in the Chinese domestic market, as well as the positive spill-over effects to neighbouring countries, led to an improvement in the economic and labour market figures for the region. The region’s unemployment rate is projected to decline slightly to 4.3 per cent in 2010.

The South-East Asia and the Pacific region includes a number of economies that are highly dependent upon foreign trade and investment flows. The number of workers in vulnerable employment in the region is estimated to have increased by up to 5 million since 2008. The regional unemployment rate is estimated to have risen to 5.6 per cent in 2009, up 0.2 percentage points versus 2007 and is expected to remain steady in 2010.

The Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CSEE & CIS) experienced the most severe shock in terms of economic growth of all regions in 2009, leading to a 2.0 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, from 8.3 per cent in 2007 to an estimated 10.3 per cent in 2009. The current outlook is for a slight decrease of the unemployment rate down to 10.1 per cent.



Barriers on cash sent home to Africa are retarding growth from ‘trade not aid’
27 January 2010 /Source: The Scotsman /By Sanou Mbay

THERE is something dismally familiar about the tide of news concerning Africa’s increased suffering in the face of the recent global financial crisis.
But there is another side to the story. African countries locked out of international capital markets for most of the past five decades have largely been spared the financial turmoil and economic downturn. Their economies experienced a slowdown,
not a recession.

Several African countries have now received ratings from credit agencies, which has opened up global financial centres to them. Stock exchanges are being established across the continent.

Countries such as China, India, and Brazil have provided a platform for increased exports, and a model of co-operation based on trade, investment and technology transfer, rather than “aid”. China-Africa trade alone increased from $10 billion (about £6bn) in 2000 to $107bn (£54bn) in 2008, and billions of dollars are being invested in industry and infrastructure.

But transfers from the African Diaspora re the most significant factor in the continent’s improved fortunes. A study commissioned by the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development shows more than 30 million individuals living outside their countries of origin contribute more than $40bn (£25bn) annually in remittances to their families and communities back home.

Migrants’ remittance behaviour is essentially dictated by the regulatory environment and the speed, cost, security, and accessibility of services offered by banks, transfer companies, micro-finance institutions, and informal operators. There are three different strategies in place in Africa.

The Anglophone strategy focuses on freeing up the remittance market by encouraging competition, relaxing regulatory constraints for non-bank operators, offering financial incentives, encouraging technical and financial innovation, and stimulating collaboration among market players. This approach contributes to reducing costs and increasing the overall volume of funds for beneficiaries.

The Hispanic approach emphasises migrants’ involvement in banking by offering a range of banking services in both the country of origin and the host country, products of specific interest to migrants, and low commissions on foreign transfers.

Finally, the Francophone approach relies on two types of monopoly. The first is enjoyed by Western Union, which controls up to 90 per cent of the total formal transfer volume within Africa’s 16-member Franc Zone. Western Union charges fees as high as 25 per cent on transfers to these countries, compared to an average global benchmark of 5 per cent, and has required that Franc-Zone countries sign exclusivity agreements.

The second monopoly is exercised in the banking sector. France has a veto within the boards of directors of the Franc Zone’s two central banks, while two French commercial banks, BNP-Paribas and Société Générale, exercise a quasi-monopoly on lending programs, mainly centred on short-term trade financing and the needs of governments, public and private companies, and the elite.

Despite the increasing importance of remittances from Italy, Spain, and the US, the largest share still originates in France. There is thus a real need in the Franc Zone for a finance institution that would convert migrant remittances into productive investments, thereby generating jobs and wealth.

• Sanou Mbaye, a former member of the management team of the African Development Bank, is a Senegalese banker and the author of Africa to the Rescue of Africa.

Paladin Slumps on Slower Production Growth in Malawi (Update1)

By James Paton/Bloomberg/Jan. 27

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Paladin Energy Ltd., the Australian mining company producing uranium in Africa, dropped the most in three months in Sydney trading after saying output at its Malawi venture increased slower than expected.

Paladin dropped 4.4 percent to A$3.71, the biggest decline since Oct. 29. That compared with a loss of 1.6 percent for the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index.

The Perth-based company posted record production of 987,310 pounds of uranium oxide in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, it said in a statement today to the Australian stock exchange. Even so, production at the Kayelekera project in Malawi was “slower than anticipated but rapidly improving,” Paladin said.

Paladin plans to more than double output from its African operations during the next five years as it seeks to tap a projected increase in demand from nuclear power producers, it said in October. The company, whose Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia is undergoing expansion, said today it has completed a contract to supply more than 4 million pounds of uranium oxide starting in 2012 to an Asian utility it didn’t name.

“The production at Kayelekera was less than the market was expecting,” Peter Chapman, an analyst at Southern Cross Equities, said by phone from Sydney. “But production has increased over the past 12 months and it will continue to increase.”

The Australian mining company said work toward making a trial shipment of uranium to China is “well advanced.” Paladin reported sales of about 1.1 million pounds of uranium oxide in the December quarter and received an average price of $56.54 a pound. That compared with an average market price of $45.44 a pound over the same period, the company said.

Paladin said the estimated cost for the third phase of its Langer Heinrich expansion had risen to about $100 million from $71 million previously anticipated.

Josh Welch, an analyst at Patersons Securities Ltd. in Perth, downgraded Paladin today to “hold” from “buy,” according to Bloomberg data. Welch declined to comment.




Key Developing Country Environment Ministers Meet in India

theenergycollective.com/by Hugh Bartling /01/27/2010

Environment ministers from the BASIC countries–Brazil, South Africa, India, China–met in New Delhi over the weekend to coordinate their responses to international climate change negotiations in advance of the 31 January deadline for parties to communicate their emissions reductions strategies to the UNFCCC.

The meeting ended with a joint statement that reasserts their support for both the UN process and the Copenhagen Accord which has a tenuous and uncertain relationship to the global climate regime. The countries call on the Prime Minister of Denmark to convene five meetings leading up to the big, COP 16, meeting in Mexico. But they also indicated their intentions to submit emissions reductions targets by Sunday’s deadline.

Perhaps more significantly was their emphasis on the Accord’s immediate $10bn annual pledge for adaptation in developing countries. In news reports several of the environment ministers pointed to that pledge as a test of developed countries’ seriousness.

On related note, the Guardian reports today that the United Kingdom is contemplating reallocating money from existing overseas aid budgets to finance climate change adaptation. This, of course, is objectionable to developing countries who insist that climate assistance should be above and beyond existing aid.

Things aren’t much better in the United States where the climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said yesterday that the government is “currently looking at the financing in the budget” suggesting that the “fast track” funding is far from immanent.




“Obama Effect” helps African tourism
by Sean McLachlan (RSS feed) / www.gadling.com/Jan 27th 2010

Last year was a bad year for travel in most places, but a continent that has generally been overlooked by the majority of travelers is seeing boom times–Africa.

Africa is the only continent to see a rise in tourism last year, up 5 percent when most other places felt the pinch. The UN World Tourism Organization revealed the figures this week and said Africa had “bucked the trend” of the worldwide travel recession. Part of the boom is attributed to the “Obama Effect”, a new curiosity about Africa thanks to the U.S. having its first African-American president. Obama, seen here playing basketball in the African nation of Djibouti, has family in Kenya. The tourist board there says visitors are flocking in to learn more about where the president is from.

The other big factor is the World Cup, due to take place in South Africa this year. Not only will that bring a huge number of visitors to South Africa, but it helps put the entire continent on the map.

Not all countries are doing well. The Gambia has been hit hard, with the usual crowd of beach-loving Europeans tanning closer to home. Meanwhile, Chad and Niger are struggling to expand their tiny tourism industries by protecting and promoting their wildlife. The overall picture, however, looks rosy.

Will this be the decade Africa comes into its own as a tourist destination? There’s no shortage of natural wonders, ancient civilizations, and interesting cultures to explore. Our very own Stephen Greenwood is having an incredible time in Madagascar right now, a friend of mine is crossing the entire continent on a motorcycle, and later next month I’ll be sending dispatches from Ethiopia.


EN BREF, CE 27 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,27/01/2010

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