The political opposition, composed of the following political organisations, namely AMAHORO PC; FDU-Inkingi; PDP Imanzi; PS Imberakuri and RNC (Rwanda National Congress), calls on peace loving people, governments and organisations and particularly friends of Rwanda to impress upon the Rwandan government the need to enter dialogue with the opposition on the basis of the Arusha Peace Agreement which was derailed by the resumption of war in 1994 that gave total victory to one protagonist, the RPF/RPA. We feel very strongly that the conditions that led to war in 1990 and subsequent social upheaval and genocide 1994 are more acute and explosive that they were at the time.
These included, authoritarian form of government, unresolved problem of refugees, regionalism, nepotism, favouritism, lack of a free press, freedom of expression and association. Economic disparities much lower than they are today. Disparities have doubled in the last 20 years and Rwanda is now among the top 15% of the most unequal countries in the world, in a country that is most aided in the region, and where 60% of the population live under poverty line.
The apparent stability masks deep seated tensions and unresolved grievances that are kept under check by the most repressive regime that Rwanda has ever had, which operates beyond borders to hunt down critics and assassinate them. Just to give a few examples, the former Home Affairs Minister Seth Sendashonga, and former member of Parliament Colonel Lizinde were gunned down in Nairobi; while the former Chief Spy, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, was strangled in South Africa. In August, a South African court convicted two Rwandans and two Tanzanians of the attempted murder of General Kayumba Nyamwasa—a former senior military official and leading RNC member—in South Africa in 2010, and sentenced them in September to eight years’ imprisonment. The judge stated that the attack was politically motivated and emanated from a group of people in Rwanda.
With regards to the problem of refugees, Rwanda has now the highest number of refugees of all time, and for the 1st time Rwandan refugees include people of all ethnic groups, Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, of all social status and age, military, business men, young and old people.
The social capital i.e. relationship of trust and frank collaboration between a social grouping like a family, community values and social norms that glue members of a community together have been destroyed by the ruling party indoctrination programme that promotes loyalty to the party and its leader than to any other social network including family.
We are convinced that the cycle of brutal massacres that have bedevilled Rwanda are not a product of congenital brutal hatreds between Hutu and Tutsi but the failure of the political leadership to manage peacefully the naturally divergent interests of people and societal demands without resorting to violence or appealing to ethnic sentiments.
The long negotiations in Arusha in 1992- 1994 had tried to find a formula to end the cycle of violence but was derailed for opportunistic reasons.
The various stakeholders had done a lot of ground work that can be used as a foundation for a new dialogue taking into account the new environment. We feel that the arrogant and militarist attitude of the present Rwandan leadership might lead eventually to another violent change of regime.
We are calling for an all-inclusive national dialogue of all stakeholders in the Rwandan conflict to agree on legal and institutional mechanisms to end the cycle of violence in Rwanda and build a real reconciled, peaceful, prosperous and democratic society.
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa.
Washington DC June 24, 2016
By: Jennifer Fierberg
Faustin Twagiramungu is a politician from Rwanda living in exile in Belgium. He was prime minister of Rwanda after the 1994 civil war until his resignation in 1995. He was the first head of government appointed after the Rwandese Patriotic Front captured Kigali. He continues to live in Belgium for safety purposes and so he can speak freely about the government of Rwanda. He is the President of the RDI-Rwanda Rwiza Party based in Brussels.
Twagiramungu stood as an independent candidate in the Rwandan presidential election of 2003. Running on a platform of full employment, regional security, and progressive taxation, he accused the government of attempting to silence his views. In the final count, he placed second (out of three) with 3.62 percent of the vote. He initially did not accept the result, claiming that the incumbent Paul Kagame was leading the country towards a one-party system. (Wikipedia)
Mr. Twagiramungu participated in an interview with this writer to further explain his position on the return of refugees and how the letter may be interpreted
He began by stating that the inspiration to write this letter to President Paul Kagame and declaration came from his own experience as a refugee and what has happened in his country since 1959. “We are a country of refugees from 1959 up to now and we think there is a reason for that. One, it is about politics and second it is a way we position ourselves and third, we do not have what you call in the Western world ‘Political Space’ and respect for human rights. That is why people don’t want to stay in that country.” Mr. Twagiramungu further indicated that that Rwandans do not want to return to Rwanda because they will not get their property back and they do not have freedom of speech. “We have 255,000 refugees in Congo. These are official figures, but I believe there are beyond 300,000.” Mr. Twagiramungu references the 2010 Mapping Report, which provides details of how Kagame has killed thousands of Rwandans and Congolese in the DRC. He stated that if this Mapping Report went before a tribunal then it would be called genocide. President Kagame has clearly stated he does not care about the 2010 Mapping Report and stated it should be thrown in the trash.
Mr. Twagiramungu has spent 20 years as a refugee outside of Rwanda. He stated, “It is too much.” He has a special compassion and focus on the children suffering in the camps in the Congo whom, he states, they have no school to go to and no access to a hospital. He went on to state that they are living is very difficult situations and have been forgotten by the UNHCR. He further reports that, “even the government of Congo does not care about them” and that Kagame does not want them all back. Mr.
Twagiramungu stated that when President Kagame travels abroad he does not ever mention the hundreds of thousands of refugees living abroad because he does not care about them.
When asked what would be required for refugees to return home beyond what he stated in the letter, he specified that it would require political change including democracy such as in Japan who has been replicating western values in their political systems after World War II. He believes if Africans can learn from these positive values then refuges would return home with more confidence of their safety. He referenced the developments of what has been happening in Nigeria where soldiers came into power then instilled democracy. However, he explains that instead of learning from these examples Kagame wants to “attack Burundi, he wants to attack Congo and he wants people to shut up when they are in Rwanda.”
During the course of the conversation, Mr. Twagiramungu stated that he wishes Kagames powerful friends in Washington DC and other western countries would try to convince him of instilling democracy for the sake of Rwandans everywhere.
JF: In reading this statement from you to Kagame, it sounds like a declaration of war. Is that the intent you had when writing it?
FT: No. I would not take up arms against him but I believe other would take up arms in order to return home. “We can’t just leave our country to those who came from Uganda shooting us up, no, no, no. We have to change.” It is not my intention to declare war but to state that if things do not change at home, than others will use the method Kagame has used in order to return home. “If he was reasonable he would change his policies so people could go back home to their country. Frankly, I am not prepared to take up arms and fight against Kagame.” Within 10 years or less people will demand to go home and may use any means necessary to do so. I am not afraid to say that. This memorandum is a first warning and if Kagame does not listen, we will follow up with a second warning. “Because of Kagames pretentious progress in Rwanda no one wants to tell Kagame what to do and what could be better for his country.”
JF: Your statement reads quite similar to the Arusha Accords and the negotiation process that was ongoing at the time. Did you have that in mind when you wrote this memorandum to Kagame?
FT: The Arusha Agreement was not a bad idea but Kagame did not want to live under such an agreement because it did not give him total power. We had to go into genocide in order for Kagame to gain total power. It is sad. I did not want to mention the Arusha Accords but if he is intelligent enough, he should know what I mean. We cannot continue to let him lead the country as he is leading it today. We know there is progress but progress for whom? It is for his army and a few in governments but it is not development for all of the people. Dialogue is always needed in situations like these but African leaders do not like to talk. People do not express their feelings and they are not allowed to choose the leaders they want to choose. It is terrible. How long can we go on like this? Kagame likes the language of guns. It is the only language he knows. We do not believe he will read the memorandum but others close to him will and they will inform him of what is in it.
JF: On April 9, 2016, Kagame held a press conference in Kinyarwanda where he stated: “I wish we could be invaded and I show you. I am dying of anxiety — from waiting in vain for war.” Do you believe he was referring to your memorandum and what you had proposed to him?
FT: Oh yes, sure. A few months ago, we made a video in Kinyarwanda discussing these same matters of refugees returning home. The Rwandan Government and the Rwanda media made a lot of noise about it saying, “Mr. Twagiramungu is threatening the country and he can even be taken to court.” I believe I am entitled to make such kind of pressure because there are reasons to do that. First, is the question of refugees and second there is the question of massacres, and nobody cares about the assassination of President Habyarimana and other assassinations like Seth Sendashonga in 1998, and the assassination of Patrick Karegeya in South Africa. Yes, they talked about it for a moment but then they do not bring it up again because it is Kagame they don’t care very much. They even came to kill me here and I had to have security in my house for protection.
JF: The historically cyclical nature of the refugee crisis that plagues Rwanda’s history has mainly centered on Hutus fleeing then Tutsis fleeing and now more are fleeing based on political repression. The Hutu inside the country are severely repressed still and all Rwandans face oppression in the areas of freedom of speech and political space. In your opinion, what will it take for Rwandans to come together and break this tribal divisionism as Rwandans while respecting the tribal differences without oppression one to the other?
FT: First, Rwandans must read carefully their own history very carefully. The history we are told today is the history of white men, which I do not believe. The Tutsi believe they are decedents of Jewish tribes. We have been taught racism from the beginning that Hutu are made for farming only and that Tutsi are there to lead. Colonialists told us that. Now, Tutsi have taken back the power and they will not relinquish it to anyone. This can only end if we choose leaders who can simply who can stick to the African History. Meaning, we are black Africans, we speak the same language in Rwanda, Hutu and Tutsi do not have their own culture. We all have the same culture and we all speak the same language we have inter-married but you cannot speak about that in Rwanda today because Hutu are still considered genocidaires. These changes can only occur if politics is changed in Rwanda.
JF: Under Kagame, there is obvious oppression of Hutu and favor given to Tutsi. Was this the same under Habyarimana except in reverse? Did President Habyarimana give favor to Hutu and oppress the Tutsi?
FT: No, quite the opposite. He tried to give advantages to people from his region and under him, Tutsi owned many banks and businesses and lived nice lives. His only mistake was not to include Tutsi in public administration; he kept them in the private sector. He did not distinguish the people of Rwanda as such. His Coup d’état was for all Rwandans. He did make the mistake of saying there was no room in Rwanda for refugees to return home and so they returned home by force. Frankly, I believe they were right to do so. Their home was Rwanda no matter what the population number is. Habyarimana was not opposed to Tutsi, he was only opposed to over population of the country.
JF: What do you believe would happen if the refugees living in the camps in Eastern DRC returned to Rwanda without some form of agreement in place? Due to the forced return of many refugees after the war ended in 1994 and many of them being charged with crimes simply because they fled, then there must be a culture of fear in the camps about returning to Rwanda.
FT: Kagame does not address the refugees in DRC. He believes they are all members of FDLR and therefore are genocidaires. Approximately 10 per month are coming back but they have to confess and apologize even if they have done nothing wrong. Yes, there is a culture of fear but those who are older are not many. The youth are who are living in the camps now, not those who fled in 1994. These young people cannot be accused of being involved in genocide today because they are too young.
JF: You discuss a plan for a “provisional pluralistic transitional government” that needs to be in place before refuges can safely return home. What type of government are you referring to in that statement and who should be involved in it? Also, were there any other political parties approached to join you in this statement?
FT: No, I do not want to be a part of the transitional government at all. I am simply giving advice to Kagame. I am 70 years old now and I am fighting for my dignity and the dignity of my children. A transitional government will simply clean up and try to write a new constitution, not a constitution that centers on genocide and limits freedom of speech. I do not see why Rwandans do not know how to live together. Rwandans themselves do not know the history of Rwanda. Since the colonization of Rwanda by the Belgians in in 1920’s the behavior of Rwandans has changed. Before colonization, Rwandans did not act the way they do now. We have to be cured of this malady. The Belgians gave us the concept of race, “Hutu and Tutsi and Twa.” No other country has races like these in Africa. They have tribes or ethnic groups but not race. We all come from a group called the Bantu. We speak the same language and have the same culture.
Respect for human rights and democracy in general is requirement for a transitional government. The country was taken under a political coup with President Habyarimana and then again by Kagame in 1994. Rwandans have lived under the rule of soldiers for far too long and another 20 years or until 2034 is too long.
After publishing the memo, other parties agreed with me but did not want to write such a potentially dangerous document. The other groups are not as brave as we are so they would not sign on with us. Some would state they have family in Rwanda and they would not want them harmed by such a document. We cannot continue to fear the retributional violence of Kagame. We wrote the memorandum as an example of what happened in 1990 but today we are not in a position to do so.
JF: You state at the end of your memorandum, “with the risk that Rwandan refugees took up arms to assert their right to repatriation, it would be equally legitimate in 2016.” Are you aware of any group that is currently in the planning stages of returning home by force?
FT: That is a very good question. I do not know of any group at all. I cannot pretend that the FDLR could take up arms and attack Rwanda. They have been waiting for 20 years to attack their own country but these people are disorganized and cannot pretend to attack Rwanda now. They are not in a position to do so. The RNC are clever but I do not think they will take up arms to fight the regime of Kagame. What they can do is continue to put pressure on Kagame through diplomatic channels. Only the future will tell us. Do we have to continue to be spectators of what is happening in our own country? There is a time when people will decide and that is the intention of this memo. People in Rwanda must judge if this memo contains any particular subject, which can take us to a bad situation, or not. They cannot laugh at it because they have to consider it as a fact. It is a fact that Kagame reacted this way in 1994 so why is it not a fact that others can make that choice in 2016? The future will tell.
Writers Note: As an opportunity for full disclosure, this writer edited the English version of the memorandum at the request of the RDI-Rwiza party. Further, some of the answers above have been condensed for space and clarity.
Two top diplomats in the Obama Administration have confirmed that reports about Rwanda destabilization of the sister nation of Burundi" are credible." Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, pointed the finger at Kagame's Rwanda.
THIS is the first time the United States has publicly accused the Kagame regime of involvement in causing chaos in neighboring Burundi.
The Americans may have finally realized who they are dealing with. The United States historically has been an ally of Rwanda, but relations between the two continue to sour almost by the day. The latest chapter is revolving around Burundi, with Bujumbura accusing Kigali of serving as a springboard for the overthrow of President Nkurunziza.
A UN panel reported last week that Burundian refugees had been recruited at a refugee camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015, and taught how to fight. The refugees said their "ultimate goal" was to remove Nkurunziza from power.
President Paul Kagame has used his standard response - DENY, DENY, DENY, AND DENY. One senses that the Rwandan ruler is being squeezed from every side. We await to see what happens next.
Rwanda’s recent constitutional change through the engineered referendum by the ruling party, Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), has strongly reverberated Rwandans and the international community in general. Surely, for most of the Rwandans, especially young ones, this amendment has become a nightmare as it allows the incumbent authoritarian ruler; President Paul Kagame nicknamed “The Monster” to run for life and this means a long lasting repression, persecution and injustice for Rwandans. Since 1994 when the RPF took power after a 4-years-war which shed so much blood of lives of Rwandans, headed by this man, it has been a killing machine and tragedy-maker in Rwanda as well as in the region.
Rwanda is ruled by a military feared man due to his brutal murder of anyone who tries to contest him, he is a self-claimed only capable leader of Rwanda but worst of all he is democracy / freedom-strangler and virulent oppressor of any emerging leader he fears can overtake his power in the future.
Without taking into account of the number of lives of leaders he has taken in Rwanda since his seizure of the RPF since 1990s, over the last 6 years starting from 2010; all emerging leaders mostly the young ones have been assassinated, completely disappeared, jailed and some who were lucky enough to survive were forced to exile but still hunted down.
Let us have a momentary glimpse of some of those leaders:
These are just a small example of the cases recorded over the last six years of horrific mass murders where thousands of Rwandans were killed, dumped in the rivers and burnt in the forests of Rwanda.
To find excuses to kill or imprison these Rwandans; journalists, human rights activists, opposition politicians and free thinker, the RPF regime concocts criminalities, insecurity and terrorism cases such as bombing Rwandans in the towns, attacking villagers with hoes, hammers and machetes. Further, they kidnap divisive people and hide them in safe houses where they are subjected to extreme torture, then link them to the concocted cases and force them to confess to the trumped up charges and if they refuse they kill you. Hence, the massive amounts of forced disappearances.
Rwanda is run under a veiled reign of terror and its leader believes in victimization and the sacrifice of Rwandans as the way of his dictatorship to last longer. That is why during the saga of changing constitution allowing this monster to cling to power for life, Rwandans knew if they did not go and line up to vote “YES” for it, he would rig the votes, scam the figures and later victimize them as usual. What happens in Rwanda is very scary and only Rwandans really know how it stings.
So, now President Kagame Paul has decided to cling to power for life because he believes he has been a good leader to rule Rwanda after changing the constitution which he had vowed not to change ,“Our constitution is clear on term limits. I have no intention, and no desire to disrespect the constitution” said in September 2011 when asked by New African’s Magazine if he would step down at the end of this 7-years mandate which was the last term in office as it was provided by the constitution before it was changed in December 2015.
True to his character, he has now changed the constitution and he announced that he would remain in power for life. This is how all dictators who self-claim to be the only leaders capable to rule do because they have failed to reproduce other leaders who can succeed them; instead they suffocate, strangle, imprison and torment them for fear to leave power. That is what President Kagame Paul has been doing for all leaders whose views are/were different from his.
President Paul Kagame and his clique must know that Rwanda does not need a self –claimed strong leader but the leaders, because you become strong leader by reproducing leader’s great than you. So, for the sake of Rwanda’s future, Kagame must step down in 2017, release all leaders he imprisoned and call all those he exiled and let them compete fairly, he will see how a country with diversity of leaders flourish in all domains.
Edited by: Jennifer Fierberg
About the Author: Michel MUSHIMIYIMANA is the exiled Rwandan Human Rights Activist / Politician; he is the Executive Director and Founder of Rwanda Youth for Leadership and Change Initiative (RY4LCI). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via website www.impinduka.com
The donation comes as 17 per cent of the population (around 2.8 million) face severe food shortage in the lean period (October 2015 to March 2016) following prolonged dry spells and flooding in some parts of the country that led to a decline in production of maize and other food crops..
Egyptian Ambassador to Malawi, Maher El-Adawy said the donation is aimed at boosting food supplies distributed by the Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (DoDMA) to the people affected.
“The people of Malawi can always count on Egypt for sincere efforts towards development and prosperity. This gesture shows clear inclination for continued efforts by the people of Egypt to support Malawi,” Said El-Adawy.
According to figures from the World Food Organisation (WFO), 14 million people face hunger in Southern Africa due to the effects of El-Nino and Malawi will be worst hit, followed by Madagascar and Zimbabwe with nearly 2 million and 1.5 million people affected respectively.
Government of Malawi has since taken measures to address the food deficit. Vice President Saulos Chilima announced late last year that government had taken a drought insurance policy worth K 2.9 billion in premium.
Malawi has also bought 30,000 metric tonnes of Maize from Zambia which will be used to stabilise the price of commodity on the market.]]>
Ten soldiers from a disbanded elite unite loyal to Burkina Faso's former president have been arrested over a raid on an armoury outside the capital Ouagadougou, the army said..
The pre-dawn raid on Friday at the weapons warehouse underscored the challenges facing new President Roch March Christian Kabore, a week after al-Qaeda fighters attacked a hotel and cafe in the capital, killing at least 30 people.
Army officials said that kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers taken in the raid were not loaded and that no ammunition had been stolen. Officials have not specified how many weapons were seized.
The arrested soldiers come from Burkina Faso's former presidential guard (the RSP), which was also behind a brief, failed coup last September.
Willy Yameogo, director of communications for the army, said that one civilian was also arrested in connection with the raid. He described that person as a "religious" figure but did not provide details.
Burkina Faso is emerging from a fragile transition period following the ousting of long-time president Blaise Compaore in October 2014. A year later, Compaore's former spy chief General Gilbert Diendere tried to use the RSP to overthrow an interim government, just a week before presidential elections.
Diendere was jailed for treason and the presidential guard - which had been a pillar of Compaore's rule - was quickly dissolved, although some of its members disappeared.
Col. Gaoussou Coulibaly, head of the army operations unit, called the raid "an act of revenge by some of the former guards who are not happy with thier new situation.]]>
South Africa is witnessing a new awakening. The country’s religious landscape is undergoing a rapid change because increasing number of people in black communities are going open with their atheism and non-religiosity. At the same time, atheists in black communities face serious challenges because deconversion comes at a price.
Recently I came in contact with a black South African, Thamsanqa, who has been an atheist for the past five years. He recounts his tortuous journey to atheism:
“I was born into a Catholic family. I did not experience much religious devotion in my first eight years. My mom had married into Catholicism, yet she was not actively religious. We would only say prayers when my father was in high spirits. The failure of my parents’ marriage made my mother to return to the pentecostal church. My parents separated and we had to move out of our home with my mother. She did not have much of a background, where she would return to. So she rented backrooms in other people’s homes which we adopted as our home”.
While living with the mum, Thamsanqa met some students from a local seminary who were evangelizing in the communities and they lured him and some of the family members into joining the Church of the Nazarene:
“It was in 1982, when I was exactly 9 years that a group of Theological Seminary (College) Students came around on a Saturday. They had various musical instruments and they were speaking an accented IsiZulu, their pronunciation of the language together with their musical instruments attracted my attention. They told us about Jesus who loved us and who would like small children to attend Sunday school. They were coming from the Bible College which most of the kids wanted to attend.
The building was magnificent and there were some children wearing nice clothes who were playing on manicured lawns. I imagined that if their Jesus would allow me to access that luxury, he would be my Jesus too! I took them to our one room backroom which we called home, to my mom and my sisters.
I told my mom how much I would love to go with them to the church. Months later, the whole family, except my elder sister, joined the Church of the Nazarene. I was active in the church. At twelve years I became a Sunday school assistant teacher, and at 15, I became a member of the Regional Youth Committee”
Thamsanqa’s interest in church activities started to wane when he joined a local youth group involved in the fight against apartheid. He could not reconcile the injustices of apartheid and the supposed goodness of the christian god. Apparently this was when Thamsanqa’s process of deconversion started:
“Things changed when in 1987 I became conscious of the Apartheid system and joined the ranks of the youth who were determined to fight the oppression. There were other groups of black people who claimed to fight against the same system, but they were doing all in their power to destabilize our struggle.
I got myself involved in the then so called black on black violence, that in 1988 my mom had to send me packing. I stayed with her distant cousins in rural villages far away from my birth place of Durban. I could not take it, so early 1989 I went back to my place, and enrolled myself in a school and rejoined the student politics”
At the end of apartheid, Thamsanqa’s mother persuaded him to ‘go back to god’ and he obliged. However this was at a time of historic changes within the Christian church in South Africa. Many youths in the black communities had become disillusioned and were leaving the ‘established Pentecostal churches’:
“I became a water baptized born again Christian. It was going to be a long journey of fire spitting evangelism, serious bible studying. By 1999 I had become a sort after youth preacher in and around my area. I had studied the bible and the church history more than some of the pastors and preachers I knew. I began to be uncomfortable with my church – the Apostolic Faith Mission. I tried conferring with people who understood god the way I understood him. It was a time of great exodus of militant youths from the established Pentecostal churches, the Assemblies of God, the Apostolic Faith Mission, etc”
Thamsanqa’s born-again-Christianity made him more curious and suspicious of religions particularly the prosperity gospel churches. Instead of drawing him closer to god it made him more doubtful of divine formulations particularly when he became aware of the unwholesome practices of the different churches that were springing up in the country:
“In early 2000, I had more questions than answers about god. I associated this feeling with the devil and had to go on lengthy fasting and prayer to rid myself of the demons of doubt and unbelief. When I left Durban for Gauteng, I had time to be on my own and to live in a place where no one knew me. I attended any and every church in the city. And it struck me that Johannesburg was full of churches. These churches were run by Africans from the neighbouring countries as far away as West Africa! They were all preaching prosperity. They were inciting people to give until they had nothing in their purses”
Like many atheists across Africa, accessing the internet was the last blow that broke the Camel’s back in Thamsanqa’s deconversion process because he stumbled at information that clarified his mistaken ideas about atheism and emboldened him to take his skepticism to its logical conclusion:
“My questioning of the faith grew! I searched online for materials related to prosperity gospel, until I came across some information about Atheism. I had known atheists all of my Christian life, but always regarded them as Satanists. Now to discover that there were people who did not accept the concept of a deity and were not Satanists blew my mind. I did a lot of research and discovered that quite a number of highly educated people were not religious. I became skeptical but I was not an all-out atheist. The comparison of countries’ ‘poverties’ and underdevelopment with their level of religiosity worried me. I cried for my continent. My days of struggle were over. I began to see religion as a weapon in the hands of the oppressor. I remembered the quotations attributed to great African liberators:
‘Decolonisation of the mind’. ‘When white people arrived, Africans had land and cattle, after embracing the white men’s religion they were left with the bible and the white men had the gun, the cattle and the land’. I became angry with myself because I had never seen myself as a stupid person. I wondered how it was possible for me to be fooled for all these years of my life? I am married now for ten years, but I have been an atheist fully for five years. I married from my Christian background. It has been so difficult for my wife to understand this. My sisters (my parents died long ago) still think I am possessed by the devil. My wife thinks the same. I worry about my children, but I am waiting till when they are old enough so that I will explain to them and let them decide as I did”
Thamsanqa has joined an online group, the Ex-Christians of Africa that provides a sense of community to Africans who have deconverted from Christianity. The group supports those who are deconverting with the information which they need to exercise their doubt freely and to arrive at a dignified position on religion. However, it is important to note that the weapon of religion was not only used by the colonizers of Africa.
Those who governed African kingdoms before the colonial era used religious and magical beliefs to legitimize their rule. The political managers of post-colonial African states have used – and are using religion - the Bible and the Qu'ran in the appropriation of power. In fact the challenges which atheists in South Africa and in other parts of the region face today have more to do with the misconceptions of local believers, the intolerance and hatred of African fanatics, the hostile actions and antagonistic reactions of family and community members and the deployment of state power and authority by home grown theocrats.]]>
According to a report in the ‘Nigerian Tribune’, the honour was bestowed on him by the ‘Egbe Omo Oodua Parapo’, a coalition of 35 Pan-Yoruba groups drawn from across the world..
“We give this award to Pastor Joshua out of over 500 nominees screened by the Planning Committee of the Association,” Dr Akinwale Adewunmi, the Chairman of the award committee said in a statement following the group’s annual conference in United States.
According to Adewunmi, Joshua has added “honour and admiration to the Yoruba nation”, especially through his diverse philanthropic activities.
“We are proud that you are a Yoruba man with a global image in the annals of charity,” he stated, noting that Joshua’s charitable projects span 45 countries and aid ‘millions’ on a yearly basis, irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.
“Pastor Joshua started as a poor boy,” the statement added, acknowledging the cleric’s uncanny rise to prominence from a poverty-stricken home in Ondo State, Nigeria.
“He had no access to education neither did he enjoy any outstanding benefit from his society, yet he built himself. He educated himself and today stands out like a Professor in the greater university of life and living.”
It also cited Joshua’s contribution to improving Nigeria’s image abroad. “Across the world, many ask travellers from Nigeria: ‘Oh, you are From Pastor T.B. Joshua’s country?’ ”
The group noted that The SCOAN was arguably the biggest tourist attraction in the ‘South West’, adding that many foreigners would never have visited Nigeria if not for Joshua’s church.
“We are proud that this generation has produced a Yoruba man, a Nigerian and an African that stands this tall,” the statement concluded.
Intriguingly, T.B. Joshua has not been seen in public since his crusade in Mexico last May, over seven months ago.
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, constituting over 40 million people worldwide.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist
At least 40 people were arrested by police during and after a largely peaceful protest by young people and community members in the town of Kartong on Sunday 22 November 2015. The protest, against sand mining in the area, was largely peaceful although witnesses have reported that the situation between some of the protestors and the security forces appeared tense at times..
“A blanket crackdown on protestors is not acceptable. The right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must not be unduly curtailed because of the suspected unlawful behaviour of some individuals,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.
“The police should not arrest people on an arbitrary basis and criminal charges should only be brought against those against whom there is clear evidence.”
Amnesty International has spoken to community members and witnesses who report that police arrested people in a blanket fashion. Some of the people arrested were either peacefully protesting or not involved in the protest at all. Those arrested include a man in his seventies who is said to be in poor health. Police also arrested family members of at least one activist, although the family members were not involved in the protest.
Witness reports indicate that the police used excessive force during the arrests and some people were injured.
On 24 November, 33 of those arrested were charged with conspiracy, breach of the peace, riot, causing malicious injuries and riotously interfering with a vehicle. They were denied bail and are currently awaiting trial in the country’s biggest prison, Mile 2. Family members were not permitted to visit the detainees.
Amnesty International spoke to a local activist and a community member who fear further arrests and reprisals against activists who have voiced concerns at the harmful impact of sand mining on their environment and community.
Amnesty International is calling on authorities in Gambia to immediately and unconditionally release those detained solely because of their participation in a peaceful protest, or those detained on an arbitrary basis.
The authorities should also promptly look into the concerns expressed by the community about the negative impacts of sand mining and take action to ensure human rights are respected and protected in the context of mining activity.
“Those arrested and detained in connection with a criminal offence should have a fair trial and must have their rights in detention upheld. This includes access to their lawyers, families and medical treatment, and the opportunity to challenge their pre-trial detention” said Sabrina Mahtani.
“Any charges should be proportionate and people should not be charged with more serious crimes simply because they were taking part in a protest,” said Sabrina Mahtani.
For more information or to request and interview please contact Amnesty International press office in Dakar, Senegal on +221 77 658 62 27.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org,
Central African Republic (CAR) must seize the historic opportunity that Pope Francis’ two-day visit presents to place human rights and justice at the heart of national reconciliation efforts, Amnesty International said today.
At least 75 people have been killed, many of them civilians, in a fresh wave of sectarian violence in the capital Bangui since 26 September 2015.
“The Pope has a real opportunity to call for the protection of civilians of all faiths and use his great moral authority to help reduce the tension that has recently resulted in deadly violence,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher..
“The Pope’s visit is a rare opportunity to press for an end to the impunity that too many of those responsible for serious violations and abuses of human rights still enjoy. The impunity is a key driver in the conflict and all those reasonably suspected of committing crimes under international law and other serious violations and abuses of human rights must be brought to justice through fair trials.”
In more than two years of violence, thousands have been killed and at least 900,000 displaced. Civilians remain under severe threat of violence and serious human rights abuses – including killings, sexual assaults and looting.
The victims of September’s fresh wave of violence, including pregnant women and children, have been shot, hacked to death, stabbed, burned alive, or murdered in targeted killings. The violence also displaced an additional 40,000 in Bangui alone. Most have ended up in overcrowded camps or with host families where they remain financially and psychologically vulnerable and with very little outside support available.
In the fallout from this unrest Amnesty International has documented an increase in verbal and physical attacks against the Muslim minority in the city of Carnot with at least one case of targeted killing.
The renewed violence highlights that an under-staffed and under-equipped UN peacekeeping force is unlikely to be able to protect civilians from organized attacks. Much more needs to be done to anticipate, prevent or respond to major outbreaks of violence by armed groups and militias who target civilians.
CAR’s establishment of a Special Criminal Court to investigate human rights abuses since 2003 is a welcome step but it requires adequate, secure and unconditional financing. To date however, few donors have committed resources.]]>
Over a period of two years, the award-winning investigative journalist secretly filmed 12 Ghanaian High Court judges, 22 other judges, and 140 court officials accepting bribes. While exposing their corruption, his actions also led to the release of alleged murderers and rapists..
In early September this year, after behind-the-scenes negotiations with the President of Ghana and the country’s Attorney General, Anas released his findings to the people of Ghana, unleashing a constitutional and political crisis of a kind not seen since in the country for decades. As Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and one of Ghana's most famous sons, says in the film, "Sometimes it takes a spark, just a spark, and I think Anas has provided that spark for the whole edifice to blow up.”
Justice! is an insider look at this most unconventional reporter on his most controversial story yet, at the dreadful ethical dilemmas involved, at his fears for his own and his family’s safety, and the pressures exerted to silence him.
Justice! premiered on Al Jazeera English on Sunday, 22 November 2015 and repeats on Tuesday, 24 November at 0100 and Wednesday, 25 November at 0600 GMT. Watch and embed the promo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwjyTiwdMEc and the full documentary at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26PcOGQWQ5M.
For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2015/11/justice-151122124135186.html]]>
The Executive Order also imposes visa restrictions on those individuals meeting the criteria for the asset freeze. In enacting sanctions, the United States joins the European Union and the African Union, which have also decided to impose sanctions on those Burundians undermining peace in the country..
President Nkurunziza's pursuit of a third term in office has precipitated a humanitarian, economic, and security crisis, forcing more than 200,000 Burundians to become refugees in neighboring countries. We have received multiple, credible, and ongoing reports of targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and political repression by security forces, as well as violence and abuses by youth militia affiliated with the ruling party.
Recent dangerous rhetoric by government officials has further contributed to the climate of fear and risks inciting further violence.
At the same time, some of those opposed to the Nkurunziza government have resorted to violence against the government, government security forces, and civilians, including murders, grenade attacks, and a coup attempt in May 2015.
These actions are also contributing to the instability in Burundi. The United States remains opposed to the use of violence or other unlawful means to achieve political aims or to seize power.
We call upon all parties in Burundi to reject violence, and we will continue to investigate and impose consequences against leaders from the government or opposition who resort to violence and obstruct a political resolution to this crisis. Our consideration of sanctions against additional individuals is ongoing.
Burundi is on the precipice, but there is a clear path available to Burundi's leaders to avoid further violence and reach a political solution to the crisis. Now is the moment for all sides in Burundi to demonstrate the strength and leadership necessary to put aside violence and engage in an internationally-mediated dialogue outside Burundi. We stand together with the many countries in the Great Lakes region, the African Union, European Union, United Nations, and others who have made this same appeal, and will support Burundi if it chooses this path.
As President Obama said in his recent message to the people of Burundi, now is the time to stand against violence and to begin the hard work of uniting.]]>
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel packed with foreigners in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday, taking 170 hostages in a former French colony that has been battling rebels allied with al Qaeda for several years.
A senior security source said some of the hostages had been freed after being made to recite verses from the Koran. The French newspaper Le Monde quoted the Malian security ministry as saying at least three hostages had been killed.
The raid on the Radisson Blu hotel, which lies just west of the city center near government ministries and diplomatic offices in the former French colony, comes a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris..
The identity of the Bamako gunmen, or the group to which they belong, is not known.
Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. They were driven out by a French-led military operation, but sporadic violence has continued in Mali's central belt on the southern reaches of the Sahara, and in Bamako.
The security source said as many as 10 gunmen had stormed the building, firing shots and shouting "Allahu Akbar", or "God is great" in Arabic. The hotel's head of security said two private security guards had been injured in the early stages of the attack, which began at 7 a.m. (0200 ET).
A French presidential source said French citizens were in the hotel. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said several Chinese tourists were among those trapped inside the building. Turkish Airlines also said it had six staff inside.
PREVIOUS ISLAMIST ATTACKS
The company that runs the hotel, Rezidor Group, said it understood that there were two gunmen.
"According to our information, two people are holding 140 clients and 30 employees," it said in a statement.Witnesses in the area said police had surrounded the hotel and were blocking roads leading into the neighborhood.
The U.S. Embassy tweeted that it was "aware of an ongoing active shooter operation at the Radisson Hotel," and instructed its citizens to stay indoors.
An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the death of five people last March in an attack on a restaurant in Bamako that is popular with foreigners.
And in August, 17 people were killed during an attack on a hotel in Sevare in central Mali, some 600 km (375 miles) northeast of Bamako, that was claimed by the Sahara-based Islamist militant group al-Mourabitoun.
The dead in Sevare included nine civilians, five of whom worked for the U.N. mission in Mali (MINUSMA), as well as four Malian soldiers and four militants.
In the wake of last week's Paris attacks, an Islamic State militant in Syria told Reuters the organization viewed France's military intervention in Mali as another reason to attack France and French interests.
"This is just the beginning. We also haven't forgotten what happened in Mali," said the non-Syrian fighter, who was contacted online by Reuters.
"The bitterness from Mali, the arrogance of the French, will not be forgotten at all."]]>
The apparent security lapses at Sharm el-Sheikh airport have already prompted tighter security at Egyptian airports and initiated a fresh review of security standards at airports internationally, including the vetting of airport staff and suppliers amid concern over the insider threat. The incident has rejuvenated calls to standardise airport security measures, potentially introducing new compliance requirements and additional costs for airport operators.
Egyptian airport security standards criticised
Media coverage following the crash of the Metrojet flight to Saint Petersburg drew attention to extensive security failings at Sharm el-Sheikh airport. Criticisms have included allegations of scanning machines rarely being used, bribery of security guards, and reports that only 20-30 percent of airport employees were subject to searches on entry to the airport. The incident has also led to scrutiny of other Egyptian airports, reinforced by reports that two criminals were able to breach a perimeter fence at Hurghada airport on 1 November.
Though the cause of the crash has not yet been made clear, speculation by UK and US authorities has pointed to the possibility of a bomb in the luggage compartment or near the skin of the aircraft, leading to concerns it was planted by a member of staff or supplier. None of the crew or passengers on board the flight have yet been identified as a potential suspect.
Responding to criticism of lax security, Egyptian authorities have increased physical searches of airport personnel at Sharm el-Sheikh to include all staff, including guards and caterers. International teams have also been deployed to examine the scanning of passengers, cargo and baggage, as well as catering teams and security guards at Cairo International Airport. The introduction of more security equipment, tighter baggage checks and improved employee screening is likely to continue at Egyptian airports in an effort to reassure airlines and passengers that preventative measures are being taken.
The alleged security breach has already prompted several airlines and airports to review their operations and security procedures. Russia suspended all flights to Egypt on 6 November, amid concerns over security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport, and indicated that the ban might last several months and could be applied to other countries considered to be vulnerable to terrorism. On 13 November, Russian authorities announced they were temporarily banning flights to the country from national carrier Egypt Air, the only airline still operating direct services between both countries since the Metrojet crash. Several international airlines have temporarily suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, and KLM restricted passengers flying from Cairo to only carry hand luggage on 10 November.
The security fallout is not limited to Egypt. Western authorities, concerned by the threat from Islamic State, have encouraged airports with perceived vulnerabilities to increase security measures. Britains Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond said that a confirmation of the reports of an IS bombing would prompt a review of aviation security in countries where the militant group is active. This was reiterated by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the 13 November IS attacks in Paris, when he announced a review of airports used by British travellers around the world, as well as more advice, training and equipment for local authorities at those airports. The full details of these plans are to be outlined in the five-year strategic defence review, to be published on 23 November.
The US Department of Homeland Security announced a review of security on flights to the US, especially from ten unnamed airports where it was considering providing security assistance. Countries that are both heavily dependent on tourism and facing terrorism threats from Islamic State, including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Tunisia, are likely to be among these. On 9 November, Tunisian authorities announced increased checks of passengers, baggage, and airport employees, as well as aircraft maintenance equipment. According to Al-Jazeera, Algeria also said it would increase the police presence at airports, perimeters and baggage inspection.
The Metrojet incident has also cast a spotlight on the prospect of an insider threat at airports, which requires an alternative security response. The TSA earlier this year rejected full screening of all airport staff on the grounds of cost but an associated Aviation Security Advisory Committee report did advise on increased random searches of staff and reduced access to sensitive areas. Physical security measures alone will not suffice and airports will continue to face challenges from both staff corruption and disillusionment that could be exploited by extremists seeking access to secure areas.
The immediate security changes introduced at airports will increase direct costs for additional staff or security equipment, as well as potentially disrupting efficiency and causing delays. There will likely be some resistance from the aviation industry to knee-jerk measures, for example proposals for passengers to identify their luggage before being loaded onto aircraft. Nonetheless, airports will inevitably feel pressure to adopt tighter security practices due to reputational and competitive disadvantages of perceived non-compliance with new security norms.
Longer term obligations on airport operators will be shaped by the outcome of an investigation into the Sinai crash and subsequent security assessments, such as the eight-day International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) inspection of Cairo Airport, which it passed on 12 November. Aviation experts have called for an international framework to address airport security issues, perhaps building on existing US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). Inevitably for airport operators, the need to enhance security, remain competitive and provide assurances to airlines, will have to be balanced with avoiding disruption and unviable costs.]]>
"The facility will accommodate one shift and will produce an initial 10 units per day for the Nigerian market, creating approximately 180 direct and indirect jobs. Over time, this will gradually expand," said Jeff Nemeth, President and CEO Ford Motor Company of Sub-Saharan Africa region..
"The main driver behind Ford in Africa is affordability. Africa is one of the youngest markets in the world and presents a huge opportunity in terms of consumption," he added. "The buying power of the African consumer is on the rise as the continent's middle class increases exponentially. Despite infrastructure challenges, Africa has demonstrated impressive returns on foreign direct investment."
Ford's semi-knockdown (SKD) operation in Nigeria was established in partnership with the local Ford dealer group, Coscharis Motors Limited, and is based in Ikeja, Lagos State, approximately 750km south-west of Nigeria's capital city Abuja.
Dr. Cosmas Maduka, president of Coscharis Motors, said: "We have worked hard and moved quickly to turn this dream into a reality. Today marks an important milestone when the cogs in the wheel really start to turn, not only for Ford in Nigeria, but in general for the Nigerian industry, which is receiving a much needed boost towards industrialisation and the development of the automotive industry.
"We are committed to setting the bar high, and establishing world-class, best practices in Nigeria that every other industrialist will have to be judged by. This is a major milestone for us and marks another first in the evolution of our company."
The Ford Ranger trucks will be assembled at a semi-knockdown level, using body parts and components imported from Ford's Silverton Assembly Plant in South Africa.
"New assembly operations, even on a small scale, have positive knock-on effects in the local economy and workforce. In line with the operating procedures for Ford plants around the world, Ford will send experienced employees to Nigeria to assist with implementing the Global Ford Production System, which focuses on the highest standards for safety, quality and delivery," explains Nemeth.
Committed to growth
Nigeria is a significant market in Ford's Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region and accounts for a solid percent of the regional sales - the reason why Ford is committed to increasing market share in Nigeria, and other key African markets in the future.
A unified growth strategy for the continent, with the formation of the new Middle East and Africa business unit in 2014, has also enabled Ford to consolidate its efforts in Africa.
"Ford has taken steps to support its dealers in Africa, including after sales support and ensuring parts availability," Nemeth says. "In addition, we are looking at training and skills transfer opportunities to enhance the continent's skills base. In Nigeria, this includes a training programme co-ordinated by Coscharis Motors and the Lagos State Government including hands-on modules for technicians.
Supporting Ford's growth and ability to service its customers, Nigeria is already home to one Quick Lane facility in Lagos with a further two planned for 2016 in Calabar and Ekiti.
Quick Lane centres are an initiative of Ford Motor Company, with facilities that offer motorists the option of having professional maintenance performed for minor service items in the shortest amount of time possible and regardless of their vehicle's brand.
Ford offers an extended service programme in Nigeria that offers free service for four-years or 120,000 km, whichever comes first. The programme, launched in 2012, was the first of its kind.
"Ford's commitment to Nigeria is stronger than ever," Nemeth adds. "We expect to see continued growth in the market as we move forward with plans to expand our outputs and launch new products."
Capable and refined product offering
The Ford Ranger remains one of the most capable pick-ups in its class, and in many regards is suitable for the Nigerian market. With an exceptional 800mm water wading depth, and with 230mm of ground clearance, it is designed and engineered to handle the most extreme terrains with ease. A 28-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle, allows drivers in the new Ranger can feel confident when taking on steep obstacles.
A robust electronically controlled transfer case lets drivers in 4x4 models shift on the fly from 4x2 to 4x4 high via a knob on the centre console. For low-speed torque or additional downhill control, drivers can also engage low-range 4x4 gearing, while an electronic locking rear differential helps to improve traction in difficult conditions. These off-road strengths are matched to a towing capability of up to 3 500kg and impressive payload capacity.
The models that will initially be built in Nigeria are the 2.5 petrol 4x4 double cab base and the 3.2 TDCi XLT 4X4.
This is a multi-country campaign initially focusing on Kenya, Tanzania, Swaziland, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. The number of reported cases of sexual, physical and emotional violence against children in Eastern and Southern Africa is horrifying - and these are just the instances we know about..
In South Africa - a country with one of the highest levels of interpersonal violence, including violence against children - prohibiting corporal punishment offers a catalytic opportunity to reduce violence.
Unfortunately this kind of use of violence is still widely supported by many South Africans. The arguments mounted by the pro-spanking lobby are harmful, to individual children and to society at large.
Children are entitled to at least the same level of protection from random assault as are adults. Hitting people is wrong, and children are people too. South Africa is bound by its ratification of international and regional treaties, its acceptance of various Universal Periodic Review recommendations and its own Constitution to ensure that the rights of children to be protected from physical assault, no matter how ‘mild’, is realised.
In addition, a large and growing body of research provides clear evidence that corporal punishment experienced in early childhood has a range of negative, developmental, emotional, behavioural, physical and cognitive consequences, including a higher likelihood of boys growing into abusive men and girls tending to seek relationships as adult women which re-victimise them.
In 2014, the honourable Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, expressed her commitment to see through the amendment of the Children’s Act that will prohibit corporal punishment in all spaces, especially the home.
“Children are impressionable and when those in positions of authority use violent means to encourage discipline, the children understand this as saying violence is permissible when trying to persuade others to act in a certain way. This is why we are going to forge ahead with banning corporal punishment even in the home environment,” said Social Development Minister Dlamini.
Sonke commends the Minister for her statement. Physical punishment of children is contrary to our own Constitution, and to several international treaties that South Africa has signed.
We believe the Minister’s statement expresses the intention to improve relationships and reduce violence between adults, youth and children, and we support this vision.
Sonke, therefore, calls on the Minister to continue her commitment to this matter and to table the amendment as soon as possibl]]>
The Applicant, an 18 year old woman and a first time offender was convicted and sentenced to 48 months imprisonment with hard labour for burglary and theft in February 2015..
The Applicant was pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth in August 2015. During her trial in the lower court, the Applicant was not represented and as such she did not appreciate the importance of bringing the issue of her pregnancy before the court so that it could be taken into consideration in sentencing. In the lower court, the Applicant did raise the fact that she was already a mother to a three year old in mitigation of sentence but the court did not take any consideration of that child’s best interests in reaching its decision to give a custodial sentence.
Until now, the Applicant’s case has not been reviewed in terms of the mandatory provisions of section of 15 of Malawi’s Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code and the sentences remain unconfirmed.
“Prison is not an ideal place to raise a baby”, said Prisoner’s Rights Activist and Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), Executive Director, Victor Mhango. “This is especially concerning because, this mother may be serving an illegal sentence as her case has not yet been reviewed”.
“International guidelines recommend taking into account the best interests of the child in decisions relating to incarceration of caregivers and generally encourage non-custodial arrangements for women with young children where possible and appropriate,” said Ms Nyasha Chingore of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre which supported the case.]]>
Theater for a change Head of Education Joanna Seth-Smith said in an interview yesterday Girls’ Education Network provide the only platform and avenue through which Malawi increase its education standard, with capacity from different stakeholders (Government, Non-governmental Organization, Faith-based organization and many others)..
Smith said the National Girls’ Education Network Advocacy Plan 2015-2017 intends also to put in place a vibrant coordination on a girl child education to mobilize necessary resources to make education sector a success.
She therefore, advised government and general public to initiate more education development projects and parents to send a girl child to school, as to achieve the international education standards in Malawi.
Member of Parliament for Dedza east Juliana Lunguzi, bemoaned the tendency of parent forcing a girl child into early marriages that is limiting factor affecting education sector in Malawi hence resulting to poor quality in most of schools. Among other factors that hinders education system; insufficient infrastructures, teachers and poor mobilization of early childhood development, are among the least that jeopardize girl child education.
She further said “The problem we have is that the resources for girl child campaign to go to school are not enough. Insufficient of funds limits a girl child accessing quality education and participation in decision making but also limiting them to complete and excel at all levels of education that empowers a girl child and a boy to effectively contribute to the country’s sustainable social, economic development by 2018”.
Lunguzi suggest that employing assert building is one way to curb the problem of school fees hence raising goats in group help in mobilizing resource. In success of any development critical thinking is chief importance, therefore, getting a girl child educated is crucial since knowledge is power in as far as Malawi development is concerned.
Recently I conversed with a black South African woman, Nosipho, who narrated how she abandoned her Christian faith and embraced atheism: “I am 39 years and was raised by my grandparents, my mother had me when she was just completing school and when she got married, my grandparents thought it was better that they raised me. My grandparents both attended Assemblies of God and so I grew up having to compulsorily attend church. I therefore became aware of "Jesus the Savior" early in my life and of course the promise of heaven through Jesus and Hell if you reject him”..
Nosipho had a difficult childhood and that made her to become very religious, “Growing up with a mother who was in and out of my life (as every time she had marital problems she would come back home and then after a period she went back to her husband), I started to have poor self-image issues and found it very difficult to relate to my peers as I somehow felt like a rejected person as I had no mother to guide me. So I had moments where I would try to find my identity independent of human beings and of course I had the belief in a "Jesus" or God who was the perfect father who would not disappoint me”
Nosipho’s struggles continued in her teenage years: “I had some years from my early teens through to my late teens of being on and off with my being ‘born again’ and struggling with the challenges of being a teenager who was trying to discover herself as a woman. It was in 1997, when I was doing the last year of my three year tertiary education that I finally made the full "conversion".
However Nosipho’s ‘full conversion’ took a toll on her education:
“I then poured out all my being into becoming a fervent "child of God". I remember that at the time I was doing my third year, I was very determined to do well and score high grades, but unfortunately, when "Jesus" came, everything else took a second seat so much so that I dropped my grades even though I was able to pass”
The experience did not deter or cause Nosipho to question her faith instead it made her even more fervent and devout:
“When I say full conversion I mean that I decided that I was into it for good. I found a different church to join and became active, got baptized and devoted myself to the whole charismatic church business. I left my grandparents church as I felt they wasted time in mundane issues like not wearing this and that, instead of worrying about saving souls. That was a start of a very turbulent life I would live over the years. I always had a feeling of never being holy and obedient enough. I came under so much pressure whenever I heard other "brethren" give testimony of how they were growing in the Lord and how they had overcome this and that.
All the while, after so many years I knew myself to still be struggling with those challenges they seemed to have quickly overcome. I went through a period of depression and at some stage I concluded that I must be a devil’s child as I seemed not willing to let go of the "worldly" ways. It was a traumatic thing even for my family as they believed it was because of the church I had gone to, but for me I believed that I had to do better. But then I did meet some "pastor" who counseled me and managed to get me to tone down on wanting to be perfect as apparently God can forgive time and time again. So I remained a believer and started to have different views as I now thought of "God" more as a loving than a punitive person”.
However Nosipho’s quest for a more intimate relationship with God led her to make discoveries that awakened her to the omni-impotence of god and the illogic of god belief:
“It was last year in September as I was going through some phase of trying to have a deeper "relationship" with God and was now seeking to remove everything that could hinder me from getting into a more deeper relationship with God that I again realized that it just did not seem natural for God to be asking us to stop certain things in our lives but at the same time not even lift one finger to help us overcome them. That was when I started to do research and to differentiate for myself things that God would really expect from us as human and doctrines that human beings have invented”.
As she wrestled with her doubts, Nosipho tried using the knowledge of science to make sense of God’s existence at least as a passive creator:
“Of course I felt that the first place I could draw knowledge was from scientists whose studies were not influenced by religion. I just wanted to be able to say ‘God created us like this and so he would not come round and expect us to fight what he naturally put there’. To my greatest surprise, when I searched on the internet and googled my queries, I came across these websites that stated that Jesus was never a historical figure.
That was the first time I came across a publication that talked about Jesus as having never existed. And for me, having spent the last 17 years of my life trying to attain that higher place where I would know that I hear from Jesus exactly as others used to claim. It was just a numbing shock. And as I searched further on the net, I had to admit that the only thing I knew about God was what someone told me about him and I knew that was the only reason I thought he existed.
I therefore could find no reason to believe anymore as I understood that Christianity was just as fabricated as all other religions which I knew were mere human creations. I was in a confused state for only a short period because I could not explain what then I was as a human but then as I checked about the state that I was now in, I came across stories of people who wrote about how they made sense of their existence after deconverting and those also who had never been religious”
After realizing that the god idea was a form of fiction, Nosipho had to contend with the issue of human origin :
“I was then interested in reading about evolution just to understand how far science had explained who we are and where we came from. I had of course always thought it ridiculous that they would suggest that humans were once primate and had always been confused as to what bones they have really uncovered to be saying that”. Her readings about evolution reinforced her atheistic notions:
“Of course I am an atheist if that is the word I can use as I do not believe in any supernatural power or unseen power being in existence and I accept that we only take ourselves seriously because we are self-aware and in our ‘primitive’ minds we were not able to explain everything about what or who we are and how we came to be”
One of the challenges atheists in Africa face is how to come out to their families.
Many prefer not to disclose their atheism to their family members because of fear of being ostracized or maltreated. In her own case, Nosipho said: “Only a few of my close family members in the younger generation know. My mother and sister do not know nor my grandma who is now old. I have not informed most of my family and also we are no longer staying close to share our lives that much. And also most of them, even when I was a Christian, we still had a friendship that was not hindered by religion and so I have not really brought up this issue”.
Nosipho thinks that atheism could be of enormous benefit to blacks in South Africa: “Of course, rejecting religion with its superstitions and even the African type of beliefs would bring so much light into people's lives”. She is of the view that in black South African communities, atheism would be helpful in freeing the people from “ignorance and fear that so much diminish the quality of life”. Nosipho objects to what she perceives as the intolerant attitude of some atheists and their lack of ‘tact in trying to win people over from being religious’. She faults the notion of some atheists who think that “without religion the world would suddenly all lighten up”.
Though she agrees that “religion is such a waste of the precious limited time we have of being human”.
Though many sections of black South Africa are bubbling with religious fervor and mysticism, there is a wave of non-religiosity and unbelief sweeping across these communities. Individuals, like Nosipho, are part of this wave of change and transformation. One only needs to look beneath the charged surface of religiosity and theism to capture this undercurrent of atheist awakening in black South Africa.]]>
The 15 men were arrested and detained by Angolan security forces between 20 and 24 June 2015 in Luanda after attending a meeting to discuss politics and governance concerns. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience and it is calling for their immediate and unconditional release..
“The continued detention of the 15 activists amounts to a travesty of justice as they have been arrested solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of association and expression,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“The charges against them must be dropped and state authorities must ensure their immediate and unconditional release.”
The 15 were formally charged on 16 September 2015 with preparing a “rebellion and a coup attempt” against the president. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in jail or a corresponding fine. They were charged along with two others who are not in detention.
The jailed activists were only officially informed of the charges after the 90 days of pre-trial detention allowed by law expired. The charges are deemed crimes against the security of the state.
Several members of the group went on hunger strike to protest against their unlawful detention. One of them, Luaty Beirão, continued his hunger strike for 36 days and his health remains in a fragile condition.
Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of independence of Angola’s judiciary in the past.
“The activists should never have been detained in the first place, as they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Their continued detention is a sign of how far Angolan authorities will go to suppress dissent,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
“Repeated calls for their release have gone unheeded. This trial will be a crucial test of the independence of the Angolan judiciary and an opportunity for it to show that it is impartial and beyond the influence of president José Eduardo dos Santos and his government.”
The activists are being brought before the court for the first time since their arrest and detention almost five months ago.
They were detained for more than 90 days, in violation of Angolan law, without judicial oversight and without being formally informed of the charges against them.
All 15 co-signed a public letter on 27 October, alleging that some of them have been severely beaten by prison officials and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment and denied medical care while in detention.
Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been severely restricted in Angola recently.
Some of those who have challenged the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.
Despite freedom of expression and peaceful assembly being clearly enshrined in the country’s constitution and in several international treaties that Angola has signed and ratified, violations of these rights continue to occur.
A recent case of a politically motivated trial in Angola was that of Jose Marcos Mavungo in September 2015. Seehttps://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/angola-conviction-of-jose-marcos-mavungo-a-blatant-violation-of-freedom-of-expression/]]>
At the Summit, EU and African leaders are expected to agree on a joint declaration ostensibly focusing on saving lives and the protection of refugees, development, and legal migration and mobility. So far, however, the response of the EU and its member states to the influx of refugees and migrants has focused on keeping people out, by preventing their arrival and facilitating their return, with no meaningful steps taken to increase mobility nor safe and legal routes for refugees. Little change is expected at the Valetta Summit, or the ensuing European Summit on 12 November..
“Stated commitments to human rights at Valetta will be nothing more than hollow words unless the Summit concretely results in an increase in the availability of resettlement places and watertight safeguards for human rights in any agreements made on border and migration management,” said Iverna McGowan, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions office.
“Clear and concrete proposals on safe and legal routes are glaringly absent from the Valetta agenda and declaration, and backroom bilateral agreements in the margins risk having serious adverse human rights impact. The lack of transparency around so many of these agreements is already a red flag.”
The EU and its member states have entered into a range of cooperation arrangements with neighbouring and African countries over the last decade aimed at strengthening border control systems and facilitating the return of migrants. Some of these have exposed asylum-seekers and migrants in co-operating countries to arbitrary detention, refoulement and ill-treatment.
In addition, negotiations leading to co-operation agreements with third countries are largely not transparent, and details regarding operational cooperation arrangements, for example the cooperation between Spain and Morocco during Spain’s summary expulsions from the Spanish enclaves to Morocco, are rarely made public. There is also no mechanism to assess the impact of EU or member states’ co-operation with third countries on people’s ability to access asylum procedures.
Those who do make it to Europe are often subject to returns through EU or bi-lateral re-admission agreements, which set out expulsion procedures for non-EU citizens who are in the EU without authorization, returning them to their country of origin or co-operating countries of transit. Although readmission agreements should only cover irregular migrants, there are serious concerns that asylum-seekers are also being caught up in the procedures, and are being sent back without access to asylum procedures. This is a particular concern at border areas where accelerated procedures are applied and individuals have less chance to appeal against their expulsion. For people being returned to transit countries, they risk being stranded there without legal status, and at risk of violations of their rights, such as the right to asylum, the right to liberty, and the right to work.
“With the EU seemingly intent on enlisting African nations as proxy gatekeepers, the Valetta summit is likely to result in a one-sided border control contract dressed up as a cooperation agreement. Refugees and migrants deserve and are entitled to better,” said Iverna McGowan.
Amnesty International is calling on EU leaders to increase safe and legal routes to Europe, including through resettlement, family reunification and humanitarian admissions. This is particularly pertinent in the context of the Valetta Summit given that almost 50 percent of people arriving in Italy from North Africa are coming from the top 10 refugee-producing countries according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Safe and legal routes must feature on the agenda of the following European Summit in Valetta and in the EU’s response to the global refugee crisis without delay.
Note to editors on EU externalization practices
Although the human rights of migrants, including the protection needs of asylum-seekers, are described as a key component of the EU’s external migration policy, many co-operation arrangements focus on preventing irregular migration and returning people through readmission agreements rather than, for example, opening up more legal channels for migration or promoting the human rights of migrants and refugees.
Co-operation arrangements take various forms such as bilateral or regional policy dialogues, agreements on visa facilitation and readmission, and funding or operational support from EU Agencies such as Frontex. They involve financing of border surveillance equipment, training of border guards and coastguards, and setting up information-sharing networks so that migrants and refugees can be stopped by third countries before they reach Europe.
In 2011, the European Commission submitted an evaluation of the readmission agreements the EU had entered into and made concrete recommendations to exclude third country nationals from these agreements and include suspension clauses in the event of persistent and serious risks of human rights violations of people who had been readmitted. The Commission also recommended the participation of international and non-governmental organisations in “Joint Readmission Committees” to monitor the implementation of EU readmission agreements. None of these recommendations were observed in, for example, the readmission agreement EU signed with Turkey in December 2013.
Iverna McGowan, Acting Director of Amnesty International's European Institutions Office, is available for interview in Valetta and can be contacted on +32 (0)483 69 42 62
For further information please contact Maeve Patterson, Head of Media & Communications for Amnesty International's European Institutions Office: +32 (0)483 680 812, email@example.com]]>
As dignitaries and foreign leaders gather in the capital Luanda to mark four decades of independence, at least 16 activists continue to languish in Angolan jails.
“40 years after independence, many Angolans still have a long way before they realise their human rights freedoms. Those who express views that differ from those of the regime are subjected to brutal treatment. Independence should also be about people being allowed to freely express themselves,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa..
“Many human rights defenders are suffering in jail merely for asking for accountability and respect for human rights. The state is using police and the judiciary to entrench fear and to silence critical voices.”
Those who have challenged President José Eduardo dos Santos’s government in recent years have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and torture by state security forces.
Authorities continue to use repressive tactics including arbitrary arrests and detentions, politicization of the judiciary and other forms of harassment and intimidation to suppress freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
A notorious case involves 15 activists who have been in jail since June 2015 after being arrested in Luanda in connection with a meeting to discuss governance issues. One of the activists, Luaty Beirão, spent 36 days on hunger strike in protest against their arbitrary detention.
The 15 were formally charged on 16 September, but their lawyers were only officially informed of the charges on 30 September. The activists were held in pre-trial detention for longer than the 90 days permitted by law. They were kept in solitary confinement for several days and were allegedly subjected to ill-treatment. They are due to appear in court on 16 November 2015 to face charges of preparing a “rebellion and a coup attempt” against the president.
In a separate case, on 14 September 2015, the Cabinda Provincial Court sentenced human rights defender José Marcos Mavungo to six years in prison after he was convicted of “rebellion”. He was arrested on 14 March 2015 for helping to organize a peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Cabinda Province.
Amnesty International considers the 16 aforementioned activists to be prisoners of conscience, whom the authorities must release immediately and unconditionally.
Journalist and human rights defender, Rafael Marques de Morais, was convicted by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal on 28 May 2015 for committing “slanderous denunciation” against 12 individuals, including members of the armed forces. He was tried following the publication of his book, Blood Diamonds, which alleged that military generals and two mining companies were complicit in human rights abuses committed in the diamond fields of Lundas province. He was sentenced to 15 days in prison for each charge, resulting in six months in prison. The Court suspended the sentence for two years.
“The human rights situation in Angola is in serious decline. Citizens’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly has been taken away by a state determined to crush dissent. There is no independence without freedom,” said Muleya Mwananyanda.
“Angola must uphold its legal obligations to protect human rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution as well as regional and international instruments that it has signed up to. Authorities must not violate citizens’ human rights with impunity.”]]>
It is almost 30 years since the first case of HIV infection was detected in India in Chennai in 1986. In a recent webinar organized by Citizen News Service (CNS), Dr R R Gangakhedkar, Director-in-charge, National AIDS Research Institute, Pune (Indian Council of Medical Research), presented a vivid picture of India’s tumultuous journey in its fight against this dreaded disease..
Going down memory lane, Dr Gangakhedkar recalled that India took almost 6 years (after the 1st HIV patient was diagnosed) to finally wake up to the realization of the imminent threat of HIV/AIDS, and thus was born the National AIDS Control Programme in 1991-92. Initially it offered treatment only for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and opportunistic infections (OIs) arising out of HIV. The developed world was, at that time, already providing sequential mono therapy for the disease. 1994 proved to be another landmark year for the West, when prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) became possible with AZT (generic name zidovudine, Retrovir). Also, protease inhibitors led to the evolution of the 3 drugs combination anti retroviral therapy (ART).
FROM DESPONDENCY TO ACTION
The first anti-HIV drug, zidovudine was marketed in India in 1995 but the cost was prohibitively high. It was only in 2000 that generic pharmaceutical companies started manufacturing the drug and prices came down drastically. At that time the feasibility studies for PMTCT, that began in 1998-99, were already over. The government’s PMTCT programme started in 2001—with a private pharmaceutical company CIPLA providing single dose Nevirapine free of cost to as many women and children as possible across the country. Then free ART was rolled out in 2004.
Today, government programme uses the CD4 cell count cut-off <350 cells to put a PLHIV on ART. But in case of women found infected with HIV during pregnancy, ART is started irrespective of CD4 cell count. A simplified once daily fixed dose combination regimen of tenofovir lamivudine efavirenz (TLE) is given for management of HIV in adults and in pregnant women. There is also a 6 monthly immunologic monitoring and targeted plasma viral load testing is used to confirm immunologic failure. The mean CD4 cells count at which a PLHIV presents for ART initiation is > 210, and this is much better than that in many other countries, says Gangakhedkar.
THE NEW WHO GUIDELINE
Recent results of the START, TEMPRANO and HPTN 052 studies, as well as various pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) studies have led to new approaches for treatment and prevention. The latest WHO HIV guideline makes available two key recommendations that were developed during the revision process in 2015. Firstly, ART should be initiated in all PLHIV irrespective of their CD4 cell count. Secondly, the use of daily oral PrEP is recommended as a prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection as part of combination prevention approaches.
CAN INDIA IMPLEMENT THESE RECOMMENDATIONS?
In India, estimated ART coverage among the 21 lakh people living with HIV (PLHIV) is 38%, with close to 8 lakhs PLHIV alive and on ART—768840 on 1st line and 8500 on 2nd line ART. Almost 50% of those who are infected never came in contact with the government programme. If India takes evidence into account and begins to provide ART to the remaining 62% PLHIV, regardless of CD4, then public health outcomes are likely to be enormous – including, but not limited to, quality of life and care, and reducing the rate of new infections as well.
However, despite having a massive infrastructure for provision of free ART related services --516 ART centres, over 976 Link ART centres, 5100 integrated counselling & testing centres, 350 care & support centres—Gangakhedkar lists some of the key challenges that will have to be overcome to adopt the ‘treat all’ approach. These are:
· Strengthening existing ART centres to ensure that the number of PLHIV per healthcare provider is manageably small in order to offer quality services
· Enhancing coverage to key population groups of sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users
· Enhancing coverage by ensuring access to testing and treatment services in low prevalence states
· Ensuring quality supply chain management for ART drugs and test kits
· Enhancing timely targeted viral load test in order to offer 2nd line ART to all those who fail 1st line treatment
· Enhancing treatment services to the mobile migrant population
He also cautioned on the need of having enough stock of medicines before embarking on the new strategy. This could take 6 months to1 year from the date India adopts the new guideline, in order to be able to buy additional stocks of drugs. Regarding roll out of daily oral PrEP as a prevention choice, a demonstration study is likely to begin soon among sex workers in Kolkata and Mysore, results of which might spur further action.
Dr Ishwar Gilada, President of AIDS Society of India and Chair of the 8th National conference of AIDS Society of India (ASICON 2015) opening in Mumbai this week (October 30-November 1, 2015) said that, “Test and treat strategy, treatment as prevention (TasP), PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for the victims of sexual assaults, are some of the evidence-backed approaches where India should not delay to further fortify its programmatic approaches so as to maximize public health outcomes. Achieving the ambitious treatment target of 90-90-90 by 2020 set by the UNAIDS will only be possible by a dedicated and united effort by the government, caregivers, NGOs, pharmaceutical industry, private sector and community.”
In the words of Gangakhedkar—‘In a country that was not used to handling these kind of chronic diseases in the past, we have shown that we can deal with challenges by developing dynamic strategies through progressive and flexible approaches. The past has proved this, and let us hope the future too will hold promises of further controlling HIV infection in India.’
Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service – CNS
Research Academia’s experts have expressed fear that sex roles discrimination against women and stereotyping, will not help Malawian women to participate in country’s development if relevant authorities will not take charge before it is too late.
The experts were speaking during a press briefing presenting a joint UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Malawi Civil Society Organization (CSOs) shadow report for Malawi 2015, yesterday in Lilongwe.
Lecture for Faculty of Law, Chancellor College Theresa Choma say true advancement towards equity for women requires fundamental social and cultural change..
“The government is entitled to adopt education and public information programs to help eliminate prejudices and current practices that hinder the full operation of the principle of equity of women. It is in this regard that prejudice and stereotyping remain a major challenge for women in the Malawian society hence a need for full government involvement to employ special measures of affirmative action for as long as the inequalities exist to accelerate the de facto equity of women”, she said.
She further, bemoaned the tendency of numerous social, religious, customary and cultural practices promoting the notion of inferiority of women and reinforces superiority of men which compromise 50/50 parity equal participation of women and men campaign.
Country Director Representative for Oxfam Lusungu Dzinkamba supported Chome, arguing that the report seeks the budget to contain a special provision to fund the development and advancement of women respectively.
“As you might be aware Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare from National Budget have an allocation of 0.36 which is inadequate to the MoGCDSW. Thus, among factors of; lack of ample strategies for elimination, prohibiting discrimination against women, cultural and religious practices such as Polygamy and women subordination that affect them negatively funding to specific program remain a chief problem in promoting welfare of women in Malawi”, Cautioned Dzinkambo
She therefore reiterated that the targeted solutions among others employing government to safeguard and protect rights of women in the informal sectors such as domestic workers and human resource to the Legal Aid Bureau for expansion (decentralization) and community outreach programs are of critical significance.
Malawi cannot afford the vulnerable group to continue suffer the pains and consequences of economic crisis despite that financial crisis is worldwide problem. Therefore government should take its active role in prioritizing crucial sector in country’s development.]]>
However, a government source has revealed that the Nigerian Pastor’s uncanny influence in the East African nation did not just begin during the recently held elections.
“Our new President, John Magufuli, visited T.B. Joshua in Nigeria long before he even nursed a presidential ambition,” explained Eng. Ngimbwa, chairperson of the Tanzanian Contractors Registration Board..
As Tanzania’s industrious Minister of Works, Magufuli visited The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, Nigeria with his family in 2011, evidenced by a picture which surfaced on social media showing the Tanzanian politician holding hands with Joshua in the cleric’s office.
He has since remained a staunch supporter of the Nigerian and partner to Joshua’s popular television station Emmanuel TV.
Magufuli’s emergence as the presidential candidate for Tanzania’s ruling party CCM was a surprise to both local and international observers, given the more prominent and popular figures he ran against.
“It was T.B. Joshua that actually encouraged him to contest for presidency,” Ngimbwa insisted. “When he won the nomination against all odds, we knew it was God at work.”
Intriguingly, Lowassa is also an outspoken supporter of Joshua, having visited Nigeria to meet the ‘prophet’ on several occasions.
A photo of the former Prime Minister attending one of Joshua’s services in 2012 was widely circulated in Tanzania.
Several commentators have inferred that Joshua may play some reconciliatory role on his first visit to the East African nation, given the palpable tension that still exists in the aftermath of the closely fought elections.
Lowassa’s opposition CHADEMA party have insisted the election was won on fraudulent grounds, refusing to accept the electoral announcement of Magufuli’s victory.
“If there’s anyone who can bring peace to the warring politicians at this time, its Pastor Joshua,” one Tanzanian blogger wrote while sharing the story of the cleric’s arrival, which saw the President-Elect waiting to meet him at the airport.
A tweet from Magufuli’s official Twitter account acknowledged that Joshua will be in Tanzania for the presidential inauguration on Thursday 5th November 2015 although it is unclear if he will play any role in the ceremony.
His visit has sparked huge interest on African social media, especially since it is the first time the cleric has been seen in public since a crusade he held in Mexico in May 2015 which had over 150,000 in attendance.
“T.B. Joshua’s visit to Tanzania can only be a blessing to our nation,” wrote Geoffrey Kapuliya, a Tanzanian pastor, on Facebook.
A video on YouTube shows outgoing Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete escorting Joshua around the Tanzanian State House and introducing him to the country’s ministers.
Tanzanian politicians are not the first in Africa to have sought the spiritual guidance of the unconventional pastor.
The late Ghanaian President John Atta-Mills described himself as ‘a member’ of The SCOAN and publicly testified that Joshua ‘prophesied’ his ascension to power.
Similarly, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai visited Joshua’s church in Nigeria on several occasions as did former Malawian President Joyce Banda and late Zambian President Frederick Chiluba.
Joshua allegedly played a role in the successful transition of power in Nigeria’s recent election. He claimed to have told outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan that his ‘regime had come to an end’, advising him to peacefully concede power.
His television station Emmanuel TV is one of the most popular in Africa, amassing 250,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist
YOUTUBE VIDEO - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrgBlPzRUIk
The service was held in Area 23 at Music Cross Road tent in Malawi’s administrative capital Lilongwe in the early hours of January 1st.
The prophet said First Lady Grace Mugabe “will never win in Zimbabwean politics” and had simply joined politics to “protect her ill-gotten wealth,” for which she would be soon humiliated..
Liabunya said that it would be good for Grace to contest as she would give back wealth to the Zimbabweans during the campaign period. This time the preacher says Mugabe will “certainly die as proclaimed by this oracle of God and I will be vindicated as God’s humble messenger.”
Liabunya is a controversial figure who has won himself a following over the last few years predicting accurate political events in Malawi. His followers say that he accurately prophesied former Malawian President Joyce Banda’s defeat in 2014.
But the preacher has been slammed for making false predictions all to seek popularity after during the same January service he told his followers that Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema would emerge as the new President of Zambia when the country goes to election on January 20, something which turned out to be untrue. The United Party for Development leader was beaten by Patriotic Front leader Edgar Lungu who ironically has been getting support from President Mugabe.
Church member’s charge the Prophet did not miss anything and had already said Lungu would win by stealth after obtaining help from Mugabe.]]>
“The claims made about the integrity of Rwanda’s official development statistics by anonymous sources in a France 24 article of 2 November 2015 are fundamentally wrong,” said Yussuf Murangwa, head of statistics for the Rwandan government, in an official response to the report. “There have been enormous structural changes to production and consumption patterns in the past fifteen years, such as the introduction of maize as a staple crop. A model that failed to take account of these changes would yield distorted results.”.
The data released in September showed that the poverty rate in Rwanda fell by 6 percentage points between 2011 and 2014, to 39 percent. The Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey measures things like staple foods, caloric consumption, incomes and more to get a picture of the lives of Rwandans.
As Murangwa indicated, the latest edition of the survey included changes to the minimum standards set for goods consumed by households. In addition to maize, cassava and sorghum quantities increased, while sweet potato, Irish potato and banana quantities fell.
According to France 24‘s sources, the changes were made by the Rwandan government after the survey was complete. They say Oxford Policy Management, the group that carried out the survey, disagreed with changes proposed by the government, but they were still made after the data was handed over to Rwanda. Those subtle changes distort the ability to compare 2011 against 2014 because the criteria for poverty changed, critics say.]]>
However, a prominent Sierra Leonean politician has sensationally claimed that the contentious arrival of 4,000 bottles of Joshua’s water to her nation was the key to the eventual decline of the incurable disease.
Mrs Fatmata Kargbo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone, gave the startling revelation in Lagos, Nigeria at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) on Sunday 1st November 2015..
“I am very disturbed and have had sleepless nights for not giving this testimony,” the civil servant admitted.
“When T.B. Joshua announced his desire to send Anointing Water to the countries affected by Ebola, I immediately contacted the presidency,” she explained, adding that after the government accepted his offer, she was appointed to head the team that would receive the blessed ‘water’ with alleged healing powers.
As was widely reported in mainstream media, the Nigerian cleric paid for a private jet to transport the ‘spiritual items’ to Sierra Leone, alongside a cash gift of $50,000 to those affected by the outbreak.
“I received the Anointing Water at the airport and submitted the consignment to the President,” Kargbo revealed. “However, the devil fought hard and we faced a lot of opposition and obstacles.”
According to the civil servant, even after obtaining presidential approval to begin distributing the ‘Anointing Water’ to the most affected zones, strong opposition from ‘internationally renowned medical organisations’ severely delayed the allotment.
"Medically, they said there was no scientific proof that it could cure Ebola," she explained, adding that some of the water was even ‘confiscated’ by medical personnel.
It was only after several weeks of struggling that Kargbo found a senior ranking medical official who was sympathetic to her cause and managed to ‘smuggle’ in some of Joshua’s water to a clinic where Ebola patients resided.
“The patients who received the Anointing Water testified that the symptoms disappeared almost immediately,” she sensationally claimed.
“In the South East region where we were finally allowed to minister the Anointing Water, there was no new case of Ebola recorded from September 2014 onwards,” she further added.
According to Kargbo, it was only the regions where Joshua's 'holy water' failed to reach that Ebola's spread continued, eventually beginning to decline in early 2015.
She lamented that if not for the strong opposition, Ebola would have been conquered much earlier. "If we were allowed to use the water as directed by the man of God at that time, Ebola would have been rid from my country within weeks," she asserted.
According to a BBC interview with President Ernest Bai Koroma, if no new cases are recorded, Sierra Leone is expected to be declared Ebola free this week.
T.B. Joshua claims his controversial water, newly branded as 'Morning Water' is anointed by God. "It is not the water that heals but God Himself since the anointing is done in Jesus' name," his website states.
Last week, two survivors of a tragic helicopter crash in Lagos, Nigeria, claimed that it was Joshua's water that rescued them from certain death.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist currently based in Lagos, Nigeria]]>
The country’s Civil Society Organization (CSOs) on United Nation Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)’s 2015 shadow report for Malawi have noted with concerns over the republic’s constitution inconsistency with the current Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations (MDFR) Act on the right marriage age.
The MDFR Act No.3 of 2015 puts the marriage age at 18 contradicting the supreme law of the land section 22 which allows a person between 15 and 18 to get married and the section does not expressly prohibit those who are below 15 from entering into marriage..
The call comes after Chancellor College Associate Professor of Law Edge Kanyongolo declared the Marriage law on marriage age invalid saying the constitution’s disparity on exact age marriage will tend other misguided individuals to challenge any case on it before the court as the MDFR Act is inconsistence with the supreme law of the land.
Associate Professor Kanyongolo argued that inconsistency of the constitution with the Marriage Act on age after individuals successfully challenged it would put court in an awkward position by declaring the MDFR Act invalid which according to him will be disaster to the future of the country’s young girl’s education.
In an exclusive interview with The Maravi Post after presenting the UN CEDAW shadow report for Malawi 2015 to the media, Lusungu Dzimkambani Oxfam Malawi’s Active Citizenship Manager observed with concerns on inconsistency of the two laws saying such discrepancies remain a challenge to girls’ future.
“The CEDAW recognizes that discrimination against women continues to exist with unpalatable laws which are obstacle to women participation on equal terms with men in political, social, economic and cultural life of their countries including Malawi.
“Sixteen substantive article of the UN Convention identify the specific areas of discrimination that all parties to the protocol must have legal, administrative and other measures affirmative action, modification of social and cultural patterns of conduct and suppression of trafficking in women.
“In this regard, the country’s constitution remains a stumbling block on young girls’ protection to early marriage as it doesn’t speak one voice with the current Marriage law. Article 16 of the UN CEDAW on equality in Marriage and Family Law commended Malawi government for putting 18 years as an age limit for one to get married but the challenge remains with the constitution which isn’t clear on marriage age.
“This is the reason we are calling the Malawi Parliament to swiftly look into this disparities and change the supreme law of the land on age marriage into 18 than the currently one which only states that those between 15 and 18 can enter into marriage without elaboration”, urges Dzimkambani.
Apart from the constitution’s inconsistency on marriage age, the report also lamented on low funding towards the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare with only 0.36% of the national budget which was difficult to implement CEDAW recommendation in the country.
The United Nation General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 which came into force in 1981 consisting of the international bill of rights for women.
Malawi ratified the convention in March 1987 and obligated to eliminate discrimination in the exercise and enjoyment of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Malawi as a signatory to the convention is bound to report the CEDAW Committee on legislative, judicial and administrative measures through periodic
report submissions at least every four years.
The CEDAW report for Malawi 2015 was jointly done by Oxfam Malawi, UN Women, Action Aid Malawi, Norwegian Church Aid, Care, NGO Gender Co-ordination Network, International Land Coalition, Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Education Trust Malawi (WLSA-Malawi), University Of Malawi-Chancellor College.]]>