AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Politics and Human Rights - 2006
Dec 12, 2006 Zimbabwe: Symptoms of Decline
"Zimbabwe was once the publishing capital of southern Africa.
It used to host the best book fair in Africa. But years of neglect,
as with Zimbabwe itself, [have revived the saying]: 'We cannot eat
books.' With few visitors and even fewer sales, neither can the
Nov 12, 2006 Lesotho: Anti-Corruption Actions
Search the World Bank's website section on anti-corruption
(http://www.worldbank.org/anticorruption) for "Lesotho" and you
will get the following response: Your search - Lesotho - did not
match any documents. No pages were found containing "Lesotho".
But while the World Bank may not be paying attention, the small
Southern African country has taken the lead in attacking
corruption in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a giant scheme
financed by the World Bank itself.
Oct 31, 2006 Congo (Kinshasa): From Votes to Security?
Voting went peacefully in presidential runoff elections in the
Democratic Republic of Congo on October 29. And both contenders
have promised not to resort to force to contest the results. But
there is still a significant threat of violence as the votes are
Oct 11, 2006 Africa: "New News"
"I am constantly confounded as to why American media don't find
Africa an exciting place to report from and about. I think there's
a perception that audience interest is limited. That's certainly
not been true in my experience. ... I don't have a problem with
reporting death, disease, disaster and despair, because all of the
above exist. But that is not all there is to Africa." - Charlayne
Oct 6, 2006 Africa: Forced Evictions
"Forced evictions are one of the most widespread and unrecognised
human rights violations in Africa," - Kolawole Olaniyan, Director
of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. According to research
by Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing
Rights and Evictions (COHRE), more than three million Africans have
been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000.
Sep 16, 2006 Africa: Migration and Rights
Chartered planes started flying illegal African immigrants back
from Spain to Senegal last week, resuming a repatriation program
aimed at stemming the flow of immigrants to this southern European
country. But judging by experience, the return is unlikely to stop
thousands of others from risking their lives in small boats to
reach the Canary Islands from the West African coast, or finding
other perilous ways of reaching the European continent.
Sep 16, 2006 Africa: Migration and Development
"[The] potential benefits [from international migration] are larger
than the potential gains from freer international trade,
particularly for developing countries," notes an extensive recent
United Nations report on migration. But while the liberalization of
the flow of goods and capital continues to increase, restrictions
on the movement of people are leading to thousands of deaths in
border areas such as the U.S. southwest desert and the sea routes
between Africa and Europe.
Aug 13, 2006 Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency
"Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has
slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves
hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the
region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil
producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil
producer." - International Crisis Group
Aug 6, 2006 Zimbabwe: Displacement and Survival
One year after "Operation Murambatsvina" ("Clean-Up"), the damaging
effects of the government campaign aimed at the urban poor are
still visible, reports a recent delegation from South African
social movements. With Zimbabweans expressing little hope in a
divided opposition, internal efforts at resistance are
concentrating on survival.
Aug 6, 2006 Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies
"There is no reason why Zimbabweans today should watch our country
go down the drain. Look at the time it took to build it up. That
one can just destroy it overnight is something very painful. It
was not about creating another dictatorship, creating another
oppressive system, where you cannot exercise your rights." -
Jul 30, 2006 Congo (Kinshasa): A New Beginning?
In the best scenario, today's elections in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, with more than 25 million voters, will demonstrate the
will of the Congolese people for peace and the possibility of
increased stability. In the worst case, the elections themselves
may prove a stimulus for further violence. In any scenario, the
fundamental issues of building a government that works and fighting
poverty and corruption lie ahead.
Jun 27, 2006 Gambia: Defending Press Freedom
The Gambian government has blocked a non-governmental forum of
freedom of expression scheduled to take place in Banjul on June 19
and 30, prior to the African Union summit in the Gambian capital.
But media freedom groups will still be focusing on threats to free
expression in Gambia and demanding an investigation of the murder
of Gambian journalist Deyda Heydara, which took place 18 months
Jun 13, 2006 Africa: A Culture of Accountability
"In truth serious debate about the manner in which Africa was
governed only became mainstream after the end of the Cold war.
Prior to this human rights, democracy, freedom of expression and
other basic freedoms of ordinary citizens often took a back seat to
the grand geopolitical struggles that were played out on African
soil. It was thus somewhat disconcerting for many of our leaders to
find themselves being lectured about good governance in the early
1990s by the very same Western patrons who had previously supported
some of the most corrupt and oppressive regimes on the continent."
- John Githongo
May 22, 2006 Egypt: Human Rights Protests
Despite promises of liberalization, repression is continuing
against human rights reformers in Egypt, and U.S. annual aid to
Egypt of some $1.7 billion is expected to continue at the same
level in the next fiscal year. In addition to critiques from
international human rights organizations, Egyptian bloggers are
increasingly prominent in disseminating critique of the regime in
both English and Arabic.
May 4, 2006 Congo (Kinshasa): Elections and More
The first round of presidential elections in the Democratic
Republic of Congo is now scheduled for July 30, after repeated
delays. South Africa is taking responsibility for producing the
ballot papers, while the European Union will send over 1,000 troops
to aid United Nations forces in maintaining security during the
elections. The elections, observers stress, are only one of the
essential steps for consolidating peace in the country.
Apr 14, 2006 Africa: Stolen Wealth
"Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by
the poor. ... Much of the money is banked in Britain or our
overseas territories and dependencies. ... We want our government
to get tough on corruption." - Hugh Bayley, MP, Chair of the Africa
All Party Parliamentary Group
Apr 9, 2006 Benin: Democratic Succession
"The constitution favors the change of power and the change of
heads of state. These fundamental prescriptions of our constitution
of 11 December 1990 must resist all opportunistic revisionism,
short-term interests and subjectivism." - Outgoing Benin President
Mathieu Kerekou, who turned over the presidency on April 6 to his
elected successor Yayi Boni, a strong critic of Kerekou's record.
Mar 19, 2006 Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf in New York, Washington
"Listening to the hopes and dreams of our people, I recall the
words of a Mozambican poet who said, 'Our dream has the size of
freedom.' My people, like your people, believe deeply in freedom -
and, in their dreams, they reach for the heavens. ... I ran for
president because I am determined to see good governance in Liberia
in my lifetime. But I also ran because I am the mother of four, and
I wanted to see our children smile again." - Liberian President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking to the U.S. Congress, March 15,
Feb 26, 2006 Kenya: Githongo Report
John Githongo, who resigned a year ago as Kenya's anti-corruption
chief, this month released a report on scandals he was
investigating that has already forced the resignation of Kenya's
finance minister and threatens to bring down other top officials.
The report is based on detailed records he kept during his
investigation, and spells out how officials used security contracts
worth as much as $1 billion to siphon off government funds into
Feb 6, 2006 Swaziland: No Democracy Allowed
"King Mswati's time is up," headlined South Africa's Sunday Times last month after arrests and reports of torture of banned opposition party members in Swaziland. But with inauguration of a new constitution entrenching the powers of the monarchy, the prospects for democracy in this small country neighboring South Africa do not seem promising.