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February 27, 2004

It Passes as Humor

On the same day that I read this:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, under fire at home and abroad for his intimidation of domestic opponents, was feted as a "warrior of freedom" on Thursday by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

The 80-year-old African leader, who is barred from traveling to the European Union by EU sanctions, was warmly received by left-winger Chavez after he arrived in Caracas to attend a two-day summit of developing nations.

I also read this:

”We are the only country in the world not at war whose economy is shrinking at an alarming rate. Inflation is running at 620 percent. Eighty percent of our people live in poverty,” says Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Gibson Sibanda, Deputy President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) adds that 70 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed. ”The manufacturing sector has shrunk by 40 percent...The situation is very grim,” he told IPS.

Sibanda, along with his colleagues, is in South Africa to draw attention to the plight of Zimbabwe. They are, yet again, calling for pressure to be brought on the government of President Robert Mugabe, which has presided over a political and economic crisis in the country. Since the start of 2000, the country has witnessed two elections that were dogged by violence and allegations of vote rigging.

Of course, Chavez's statement that Mugabe "always will be a true warrior of freedom" was interpreted incorrectly. What he really said was that Mugabe "always will be a hero of despots and tyrants everywhere, a beacon to those who would hold onto their power through ruthless exploitation of their people, their lands, and the continuation of racist tribal policies designed to shatter unity in the nation for the betterment of the dictator."

Of course, I'm not a very good interpreter. Your milage may vary.

Posted by zombyboy at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2004

All Things Zimbabwe

I was just sent a link to a site that carries Zimbabwe-related stories. I'll be adding it to the blog roll, but I wanted to point it out to everyone.

Check it out.

(Thanks to Babak Fakhamzadeh.)

Posted by zombyboy at 12:54 PM | Comments (3)

February 19, 2004

Taking a Look Around

Once in a while, when I get ready to write about Africa, I simply wish the news were good. It just doesn't seem to work that way.

Food shortages are worsening in Kenya.

least 300,000 people in four districts of Coast Province are short of food despite heavy, unusual rainfall since January, while the situation is rapidly worsening in the northwestern pastoral districts, such as Turkana, where local conflicts have disrupted farming patterns, a report said on Tuesday.

The January-February rainfall has, however, provided substantial relief to severely drought-affected households and improved availability of water and pasture for livestock, the Kenya Food Security Watch report published by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said.

Aid to Rwanda may be frozen.

Four Dutch NGOs have urged Rwanda's development partners - the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom - to freeze parts of their government aid to the country and to stop current negotiations on new memorandums of understanding with the Kigali administration, pending the fulfilment of two requirements.

In a report evaluating developments in Rwanda in 2003, the NGOs called for the aid freeze until independent investigations about the disappearance in early 2003 of five people, among them political opponents to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), are held, and until the government gives a credible reaction to accusations made by a UN team that investigated the role Rwanda played in the exploitation of natural resources in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

I actually do consider that to be good news, in a sense. Keeping the governments accountable is an important part in building the systems that lead to self-reliance. That this measure is necessary, though, is unfortunate.

Over three-quarters of a million people need medical and food assistance in Swaziland "national disaster."

Many parts of southern Africa are in the grip of drought and last week Lesotho also declared an emergency, saying 800,000 people needed help.

"Aids, drought and land degradation, all these have reinforced negative effects that have created a web of extreme vulnerability reinforced by the collapse of family structures," Mr Dlamini [Prime Minister of Swaziland] said.

The painful part, though, is the spending of Swaziland's monarch, King Mswati. While the nation faces food shortages, drought, and AIDS, he asks for new palaces. There is nothing atypical about this; what would be a real story is to hear how a monarch didn't funnel foreign aid for his own comfort and glorification.

Correspondents say King Mswati, Africa's only absolute monarch, has been reluctant to declare a national disaster to avoid a close scrutiny of government spending from foreign donors.

He last month requested $15m to build new palaces for his 11 wives and has been seeking to buy a royal jet.

Yes, it's business as usual throughout Africa.

Posted by zombyboy at 10:37 AM | Comments (3)

February 06, 2004

President Mbeki Celebrates Democracy and Progress

In South Africa, President Mbeki celebrated a decade of democracy and progress. While I've been critical of Mbeki, I admit to celebrating with him. While there is much left to do to make good on the promise of South Africa's potential, none of it happens overnight.

Mr Mbeki then went on to list his government's achievements in attaining those goals.

He said that the economy has grown steadily from an inauspicious start and added that the government had provided housing, water and electricity for millions of people, but he acknowledged that more needed to be done to bring them out of poverty.

"We have not as yet eradicated the cruel legacy we inherited," he said.

Leaving behind shortcomings, leaving behind partisan bickering, South Africa truly has grown into an example for those African nations still laboring under tyranny, poverty, and war. South Africa proves the idea that democracy can grow, freedom can be nourished, and power can be shared without bloodshed--ideas that haven't taken root in much of post-imperial, sub-Saharan Africa.

Today is a good day to celebrate what South Africa has achieved, and to look forward to even greater accomplishments.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 09:41 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2004

Another Plea from Uganda

A while back, Uganda was in the news after the UN plea for member nations to boost donations to the nation. Today, Uganda is back in the news after a Catholic Archbishop calls for international and African organizations to help stop the war.

Archbishop Odama has emphasised the need for more powerful groups like the Unites Nations, European Union, the Commonwealth and also African union to help.

But army spokesman Shaban Bantariza said the Ugandan army would redeploy into South Torit in Sudan to flush out the rebels.

The army has accused the Sudan government of failing to keep its side to the bargain to occupy LRA camps in the area after the rebels were flushed out in April 2002.

This will be the ninth time the army has moved into Sudan to pursue the rebels.

Like Zimbabwe, things will likely be getting much worse in Uganda before they begin to get better. With or without international assistance, the need for humanitarian aid from other nations is going to increase dramatically for the foreseeable future. Of course, in a year where aid need is expected to increase throughout Africa, finding the extra donors is going to turn out to be difficult.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
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