Monday, December 26, 2011

Media freedom in Zimbabwe

article at the African Executive

compares media freedom in Ghana to the lack of it in Zimbabwe

Sunday, December 11, 2011


A good article on witchcraft in Africa at the African executive

In this African witchcraft universe, every existential challenge – death, hunger, accidents, disease, conflict and poverty, among others, are attributed to witchcraft. There is no human agency responsible for glitches. Witchcraft is responsible for all problems. Witchcraft beliefs are so dominant that they decide the African’s fortune, asphyxiate him and renders him helpless. How bizarre and troubling! ...

the African is nurtured into such inexplicable witchcraft beliefs by certain parts of the African culture. It feeds into the African’s strong believes in evil spirits, demons, witches, juju and other malevolent forces as responsible for life’s difficulties. The African isn’t accountable for his or her actions.

Such predicaments reveal the battle between rationality/human agency and irrationality in the soul of the African. The African appears helpless under this bizarre battle. There are two possibilities: 1. The believer in witchcraft does not question why witchcraft is responsible for life’s tribulations. 2. The witchcraft believer acts under not only the cultural circumstances but also his or her human agency. In such frame of mind, the witchcraft believer is guilty of atrocities committed against victims of witchcraft accusation and not witches influencing circumstances.

OF course, western societies who killed millions shouldn't point fingers.

The "victims" of communism (Kulaks, Ukrainians, "hoarders", "Old thought people") or those exploited and left to starve (e.g. Ireland) because Malthus said they were overbreeding and inefficient, or those "inferior gene pool" (the Jews, the Gypsies, the Slavs, the retarded) types killed by the Nazis were also victims of a secular type of witchcraft....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Africa Unleashed

I don't remember if I posted this awhile back. It's from Foreign policy magazine.

What is less well known is that Africa's prospects have changed radically over the past decade or so. Across the continent, economic growth rates (in per capita terms) have been positive since the late 1990s. And it is not just the economy that has seen rapid improvement: in the 1990s, the majority of African countries held multiparty elections for the first time since the heady postindependence 1960s, and the extent of civic and media freedom on the continent today is unprecedented. Even though Africa's economic growth rates still fall far short of Asia's stratospheric levels, the steady progress that most African countries have experienced has come as welcome news after decades of despair. But that progress raises a critical question: what happened?...

long article explains what happened.

In Radelet's view, five main factors have conspired to turn Africa around. Expanding democratization has opened up governments, bolstering popular accountability. Improved economic policies have curbed the worst tax and regulatory policies that had plagued African households and investors. Debt reduction has freed up resources for education and health care. New technologies (most notably the ubiquitous cell phone) have boosted Africans' access to markets. And the rise of a new generation of energetic leaders, the so-called cheetah generation (in the evocative terminology of the Ghanaian scholar George Ayittey), has brought new ideas and attitudes to the fore.

and presumably China has a role in the upswing of capitalism..

from "Making it" magazine: the investments are small but growing.

but so far, China is importing raw material and exporting manufactured goods....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stystem D: Entrepeneurs in Africa

ForeignPolicy magazine has an interesting article about how small entrepeneurs get around a lot of regulations and improve the lot of people.

The growth of System D presents a series of challenges to the norms of economics, business, and governance -- for it has traditionally existed outside the framework of trade agreements, labor laws, copyright protections, product safety regulations, antipollution legislation, and a host of other political, social, and environmental policies. Yet there's plenty that's positive, too. In Africa, many cities -- Lagos, Nigeria, is a good example -- have been propelled into the modern era through System D, because legal businesses don't find enough profit in bringing cutting- edge products to the third world. China has, in part, become the world's manufacturing and trading center because it has been willing to engage System D trade.

In the US, this used to be the way to make jobs, but the government, in it's search to regulate everything, is busy destroying the small business owner.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Islamicists undermining African prosperity

a long article in Reuters explaining why the terrorists are trying to destroy Africa to set up religious dictatorships.

however, they link Kenya and Nigeria as examples, even though their problems are different.

In Nigeria, the failure of the northern tribes to get an education means they are poorer, and their terrorists oppose modern education. Since Christians educate, they are the ones being killed (and when they retaliate the press says "sectarian conflict to minimize the one sided war, similar to how the press ignores the attacks and fleeing of Christian villagers here in the Philippines when they are attacked).

But it goes beyond religion: it is tribal and also a conflict between the agricultural tribes of the south and the herders of the north, of the Sahel.

in Kenya, it is a blowback from the Somalian civil war. (Kenya's tribal problems are not part of this, since the terror is from Somalian tribes). I don't see Luo terrorists, for example, complaining they are kept out of the gov't.

peacekeeping in Africa

long article about what the US will do and why at Strategypage.

AFRICOM sees its mission as aiding African armed forces with training, advice and small grants of weapons and equipment. But Congress is aware that, in the past, small numbers of professional troops have gone in and quickly eliminated outfits like LRA. For example, in 2005, Britain sent in a few hundred commandos to shut down some holdout rebel groups in Sierra Leone. That worked. But the U.S. Army is reluctant to divert any of its counter-terrorism forces for an African pacification mission. Such an operation would require a lot of aircraft support, and other troops to establish bases. Instead, the hunt for Kony will be assisted, not carried out, by AFRICOM.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Long term strategy for Africa

from Time argues that the long term plan of President Obama sending troops in to get the LPA is to stablize an unstable Africa

No direct threat to cite here, and no linkages to transnational terrorism, so this is a pure humanitarian/regional stability play - exactly what Africom was initially sold as doing. Lately, Africom's focus has shifted dramatically to killing bad actors as part of the long war against violent extremism, so this is a good image-enhancing move already being applauded by human rights groups. Nobody likes the LRA. They're essentially an insurgency that outlived the civil war and they've been doing their crimes for so long that they don't know how to stop, so the key here will be crafting some exit strategy for the rank and file while separating the leadership for prosecution. The longtime leader, Joseph Kony, is a true nutcase.

The nice upside of this move: it has Africom working with militaries and governments in Uganda, the D.R. Congo, Central African Republic, and fledgling state South Sudan - all states in real need of military mentoring. So this is the right subject, right sort of states, and helping in the way Africom was designed to work. It's a nice move by the Obama administration that speaks to the reality that a lot of this work still needs to be done across Africa. China won't do it, so it's us or nobody

Thursday, October 20, 2011

US troops to Uganda: backstory

strategypage summarizes who is the LRA and who is supporting them. LINK

Some of this I didn't know (e.g. Sudan's use of them to stop Uganda from helping Southern Sudan).

In 1999, Sudan and Uganda agreed to end support for rebel organizations (ie, the LRA in Sudan's case, the southern Sudanese rebels in Uganda's case). Khartoum let Ugandan forces pursue the LRA into its territory.

Since 2003, the LRA has diminished in size, shrinking from several thousand fighters to a remnant band of some 200. Its ferocity, however, has not diminished, nor its capacity for bloodshed, nor its potential usefulness to Khartoum.

The Ugandan government has accused Khartoum of continuing to secretly provide support for Kony, though no one has publicly produced hard evidence of Sudanese complicity. Yet Kony has shown an uncanny ability to evade capture. That suggests he has high-level intelligence sources. Khartoum is a terrorist facilitator waging a genocidal war in its own Darfur region. South Sudan has repeatedly accused Sudan of inciting tribal wars with the goal of making South Sudan a failed state. The LRA's continuing existence contributes to South Sudan's instability.

Uganda may possibly have new intelligence regarding Kony's precise whereabouts. This would make an American-supported effort to end Kony's career quite timely. Removing the LRA scourge will improve security conditions in Congo's northeastern provinces and South Sudan. It will also remind Khartoum's leaders that fomenting chaos has consequences. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, faces International Criminal Court war crimes charges for atrocities committed in Darfur. Kony's arrest might provide Bashir with a sudden dose of sobriety.

Monday, October 17, 2011

US sends soldiers to fight the LRA in Uganda

a lot of Republicans in the US are rolling their eyes up in mockery at the report that President Obama plans to send in US troops to fight the so called "Lord's Resistance army" in Uganda.

I'm pleased that he plans to do so.

This group is a very nasty violence filled cult (can you say "demonic" cult in today's world? that would describe their violent actions, rape, murder and turning kidnapped children into soldiers).

BBC report here.

what is being sent in is not "combat troops" but soldiers with expertise in finding the bad guys.

The force will use hi-tech equipment to assist in what analysts say is a "kill or capture" policy, the BBC's Marcus George in Washington reports

That is the same way that the US is helping us here in the Philippines to help the Abus and other terrorist offshoots of the MILF (who are fighting for their own land and ironically have cooperated with the US and AFP to catch these guys, whose tactics often kill fellow Muslims).

Lots of new techniques to find the bad guys were used in Afghanistan and Iraq: but in Afghanistan, it is easier to send in a drone and kill them. In the Philippines, they send in the local troops to find and catch them. (Local law forbids Americans from firing weapons, although there are rumors by human rights groups that in a few cases that they have pulled out guns to protect themselves).

So I am happy.

But, as Senator McCain pointed out, the president again bypassed congress in this decision, and it will not please congress, who is after all the only ones allowed to okay a war and holds the purse strings.

One reason the President is in trouble in the US is similar one sided arrogant actions in the past, which he could get away with when he had his own party in charge of congress, but will not help him with the present divided congress, who may ask nasty questions.

What kind of nasty questions?

well, I figure that there are three reasons that the president decided at this time to send in the help.

ONE: To help an ally. After all, Uganda has sent troops to Somalia (and in this interesting article, as private security guards to Iraq...hmmm...wonder how many Pinoys are there too)...

Showing a "quid pro quo" here isn't a problem for most folks, although saying it that way is not very diplomatic.

Two: To be able to say we fight ALL terrorists, not just Islamicists inspired ones.

and the real reason a lot of folks will be sceptical:

Three: it's election year, and every war helps the one in office.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rowan hand Mugabe a nasty letter

from the BBC:

Abuses detailed in the dossier given to Mr Mugabe included:

  • Zimbabwean bishops had received death threats by phone, in person and at gun point
  • Access to to churches, schools, clinics and mission stations had been denied
  • Police had tear-gassed and beaten congregations
  • An Anglican Church member had been murdered after refusing to join Dr Kunonga's Church
  • Clinics had been told they could not accept donated drugs - leading to deaths when drugs were rejected
  • Priests had been evicted from their rectories

Anglicans accuse Mr Mugabe of helping Nolbert Kunonga, the former bishop of Harare dismissed by Dr Williams, to carry out assaults on them.


Two African women from Liberia won the Nobel peace prize.

I was in Liberia before the first civil war broke out. It was a corrupt oligarchy, where the American-Liberians ran the place, and locals had little power or money.

I left/was thrown out just before the first civil war started there. (visa problems, and it was easier to return to the US and get a new visa than try to bribe folks to update it there). Two days later, they started an uprising, killed the president, and were shooting looters in front of the Hilton, where I used to disco dance. So I stayed safe at home, and wasn't there several months later when the US Marines had to evacuate all US citizens in August.

There was a terrible civil war, followed by "peace" when Charles Taylor "won" the election. This was followed by a second civil war, which is where the women played an active role in establishing peace.

Film: Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

A group of ordinary women in Liberia, led by Leymah Gbowee, came together to pray for peace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war.[5]

Under Leymah Gbowee's leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.[6] They staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Asatu Bah Kenneth is featured in the film. She is currently Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice.[7] At the time, she was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, and inspired by the work of the Christian women's peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization to work for peace.[8]

Working together, over 3,000 Christian and Muslim women mobilized their efforts, and as a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and helped bring to power the country's first female head of state.

of course, it was a bit more complicated than that. God got a little help from the US Marines:

From Wikipedia:

On August 14, Rebels lifted their siege of Liberia's capital and 200 American troops landed to support a West African peace force. Thousands of people danced and sang as American Marines and ECOMIL, the Nigerian-led West African troops, took over the port and bridges which had split the capital into government and rebel-held zones.[1]

more information HERE. The US troops were the pathfinders, helping with logistics to stablize the country with the help of African peacekeepers.

So Blame Bush for ending the war, because without the Marines and US logistics and support, the local peacekeepers would not have succeeded.

The real role of the women was that they established the infrastructure for a civilian resumption of the government. But that job is a lot harder and messier than the summaries suggest.

So the women do deserve their peace prize.

Whether or not it will help Mrs. Johnson to win reelection however is another story. More on her HERE and HERE.

she is running against a Tubman, which means a grandson of a previous AmeriLiberian president.

She herself is both, since both her indigneous father and mother were adopted and raised by AmeriLiberian family she is would have links with both the patricians and the hoipolloi....and she worked for the Tolbert government (the AmeriLiberian one that was thrown out by Sargent Doe). After that, she worked a lot for think tanks. So she has ties with the elites of the world.

AlJezeerah's report here.

"A win for Johnson-Sirleaf will come as no surprise," he says. "It would be a win for the West, a win for many Liberians and a win for the international investor community. Only time will tell if it turns out to be a win for the poor, the disillusioned and the hungry."

Gberie suggests that it is ultimately these distinct economic and ethnic fault lines that will dictate the course of the election. "The key issue in Liberia, I think, is the gap between Monrovia and the rest of the country. Educated Liberians tend to play this down, but most educated Liberians don't make an effort to understand rural Liberia - the anxieties, hardships, struggles of the rural poor," he says. "Even so-called natives who grew up in Monrovia and are educated hardly speak the native languages. It is the only country in West Africa where you find this kind of thing. [It is] rather bewildering and this cannot help [with closing] the gap between Monrovia and rural Liberia."
a lot of this sounds like the Philippines, where the elites and clan leaders run the place, but we can chose between the clan leaders.

Despite the drawbacks of poor institutions, rampant corruption and divisions along social and ethnic lines, upon being elected six years ago, Johnson-Sirleaf invited rival political parties and civil society into her cabinet and pushed for social cohesion. She has been credited with diversifying her cabinet and appointing women to key ministerial positions, including finance, foreign affairs and commerce and industry, as well as ambassadors to postings like Germany, South Africa and Scandinavia.

Moreover, she is seen to have advanced greater transparency and freedom of speech, while reducing political persecution and, through the support of the US, arranging the cancellation of billions of dollars of foreign debt.

Ajiyi says that even her critics have lauded her attempts to establish stability, whether through infrastructural development or regular salaries.

"She seems to have laid the foundations of governance to build on. Liberia needs foreign direct investment from the rich West, and if they, the rich West have already expressed that they would rather do business with Johnson-Sirleaf then technically, in a strange but real way, it is in Liberia's interest that she wins," Ayo Johnson says.

African peace prize

I worked in Liberia and left in a hurry when it fell apart (I was actually deported but that's another story).

But I haven't followed the war there, mainly because until the internet got going and was available in the rural US clinics where I worked (which was about 1998) I rarely had access to decent news, and such things are not followed by the US newspapers/TV. Yes, I did have shortwave for the BBC but not the time to listen every day.

So the news of the Nobel peace prize being given to two Liberian women including their president is good news.

But GetReligion Blog has a backstory ignored by the clueless press, about their religious inspiration.

(GetReligion gets it's name from the quip that the US reporters don't "get" religion, i.e. understand how religion is seen and practiced by ordinary folks in the US. It is part of our press bias against the ordinary American by the elites who run our institutions).

Their report HERE.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

BBC report on witchcraft


if an African witchdoctor arranged to kill a child so a rich businessman could be successful, or be cured from HIV, it is terrible.

But the west doesn't think it's wrong if a woman goes to an abortionist and kills her child so she can be successful (e.g. not drop out of school, not be burdened with a child) or if a man pressures his lover to abort (because he is too greedy to pay child support) so he too can be richer.

The Devil is behind both types of killing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dambisa Moyo has a new book

via Booker Rising:

. However, Penguin Books has announced her next book, Winner Take All: The Race For The World's Resources: "Winner Take All represents the penetrating research Dambisa Moyo has conducted to uncover the realities behind the numbers. By looking at the developing trends in our commodities markets, and recent geo-political shifts, she has revealed the true state of the contemporary world and the shape it will take over the coming decades. This is not just about oil. Commodities permeate virtually every aspect of the modern world: from the energy complexes that power transport and the electricity grid, to the water needed for all life. From land for food production to the long list of minerals without which technology ceases to exist. What Moyo shows is we are in the middle of unprecedented times. She details how China has embarked on one of the greatest commodity rushes in history and examines the effects this is having on us all. Where is China taking control of land and water? Who is giving up their title to these precious resources? What will be the financial and geopolitical effect of all this? And is large-scale resource conflict inevitable or avoidable?"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Remembering Wangari Maathai of the Greenbelt movement

NYTimes obituary

Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, played many roles — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

GetReligionBlog notes the religious inspiration behind her work:

And Dr.E at PersianParadox discusses meeting her (Dr. E also works on ecological preservation)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Learning to grow Rice

I have neglected this blog since I haven't had the time or energy to keep up on the news in Zimbabwe.

But I will keep posting various news items that have to do with development.

For example, this is from Oryza, a website for the rice industry:

Twenty-five African agriculture extension workers have been training in the Philippines for the duration of the rice season. It's left them with the confidence to help increase the rice yields in their countries two-three times over. The head of the extension group says the group will return home to teach farmers there about technologies and practical experience gained in the Philippines. The participants were given training on the “PalayCheck” and “Palayamanan” systems at PhilRice farms and lecture areas and in six rain-fed areas. PalayCheck is an integrated crop management system for rice while Palayamanan is a diversified rice-based farming system. At least 75 agronomists, researchers and agriculture technicians from 10 more African countries are scheduled to train on rice farming in the Philippines in the next two years, PhilRice officials said. In Uganda, for example, rice farmers yield 1.5-2.5 tons per hectare. With a production area of only 95,000 hectares and increasing demand, Uganda imports an average of 45,000 tons of rice yearly. Most Ugandan farmers are using the New Rice for Africa (Nerica) in favor of traditional varieties that yield lower harvests.

yes, I know: Zimbabwe doesn't have the rain to grow rice...however, with irrigation they could do it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Libya's New Racism

via Migrant Rights org. African migrants have been the target of attacks by anti-Gaddafi forces on suspicion of being mercenaries for the regime since the conflict in Libya began. recent reports suggest that the danger for migrants from Subsaharan African countries has intensified since the Gaddafi regime lost control of Tripoli, with rebels turning their wrath against those suspected of being mercenaries. Dozens of migrants are being held in a prison in the Suq al Jouma neighbourhood of Tripoli, according to the New York Times and Time magazine... but the line between regime soldier and dark-skinned southerner or migrant worker has become blurred in the midst of the conflict, writes Time‘s Abigail Hauslohner in Tripoli.

Hauslohner visits a camp outside Tripoli and examines the background in depth:

The displaced mostly hail from countries across West Africa, like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Many have lived in Libya for years — even decades — and carry the legal papers to prove it. Their presence is rooted in Gaddafi’s legacy of fostering close relationships with fellow African regimes and recruiting loyalists from among their citizens. But for a man who often sought to portray himself as a leader of the continent, Gaddafi may have done more to divide his country’s future than to encourage tolerance and respect.

It’s popular knowledge among the predominantly Arab and Berber rebel ranks here that Gaddafi funded questionable African warlords and armies, even as his own population struggled. And at his home in Tripoli’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound, rebels hold up old pictures of Gaddafi posing with African children dressed in fatigues as further evidence of their former ruler’s betrayal.

His alleged mercenaries — particularly the men who populated the fearsome Khamis Brigade, which was used to assault the rebels over the course of their six-month revolt — often came from the southern town of Sabha or the neighboring countries of Mali, Niger and Chad. The foreigners were alleged to receive benefits and even fast-track residency in exchange for their services as loyalists and fighters — a practice, whether real or exaggerated, that has fueled deep tribal, ethnic and geographic mistrust.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

China scooping up Congo's minerals

From StrategyPage

August 16, 2011: Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy, because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FAO report on African land grabs


Large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia have made headlines in a flurry of media reports across the world. Yet international land deals and their impacts still remain little understood. This report is a step towards filling this gap. The outcome of a collaboration between IIED, FAO and IFAD, the report discusses key trends and drivers in land acquisitions, the contractual arrangements underpinning them and the way these are negotiated, and the early impacts on land access for rural people in recipient countries – with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

India to invest in African land

From Oryza:

Africa’s “land grab” continues with India agribusiness set to spend $2.5 billion to buy or rent land for decades in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda to grow palm oil, maize, cotton, rice, and vegetables, mostly for the domestic Indian market and global markets under several deals being discussed. Some land is being offered for decade-long leases at just $1.50 per hectare or about 60 cents per acre. Investors point out that east Africa has as much arable land as all of India...

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a division of the UN, notes that “new international players, including the governments and some companies of the Gulf States, China, Libya, India and South Korea, have begun to acquire land, partly in response to the 2007-08 price spike in commodities.” FAO reports that at least 60 million hectares of land in Africa has been bought or leased for up to 100 years. There are also large land deals taking place in South America.

Many of these land purchase and lease agreements have been criticized for their lack of transparency and further consolidation of food production and processing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Simon Muguru has died

from Al Jezeerah:

General Solomon Mujuru, a former Zimbabwean military chief and guerrilla leader in the country's independence war, has died in a fire at one of his homes, Zimbabwe's army commander said on Tuesday.

his wife, of course, is the VP, and like others in Mugabe's circle, he got rich

After his retirement, Mujuru acquired an empire of farms, properties, mines and other interests that made him one of wealthiest and most influential figures in the top echelons of Mugabe's party and its policymaking politburo.

if this happened in the Philippines, we would assume it was an assassination by a political rival, but Zimbabwe, despite all the violence, doesn't have that level of political assassinations.

peace be to his soul, and prayers for his family.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Plutocracy in Nigeria

Mugabe is an ideologue and lets his minions steal stuff, but he is minor league compared to Nigeria.

From StrategyPage

In the Niger Delta, fifty years of oil production has left millions of barrels of oil spilled into the local waterways and, increasingly, in the drinking water. Most of this leakage was the result of oil theft (tapping into pipelines, and stealing some of what gushed out, leaving the rest to flow into the waterways of the delta). Most of the oil revenue has been stolen by corrupt government officials, leaving very little to pay for over a decade of cleanup efforts (which will apparently never ha

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Southern Sudan independence day

South Sudan is now a new nation.
I once worked with a doctor who was from there. He and his brother as teenagers were refugees in a camp in a nearby country, and some Seventh Day Adventists picked out some of the smarter boys, including him, to send to get an education...he became a doctor...his wish was to go home and care for his people, but he knew that he would be killed if he did that, so he was working in Liberia instead. When I left that country, he had changed jobs to work in a rural Lutheran hospital in that country....that was before the Liberian civil war, so I don't know if he is still alive and able to go home.

But since I met him in 1980, it gives you an idea of how long these people have been suffering....

the bad news? The North is attacking along the border to get the oil fields given to the south, and will continue to try to destablize the government.

BBC report HERE.

And heh: the (right wing) Gateway pundit points out that the cowboy hat worn by their president in this photo was given to him by GWBush, who was pivitol in pushing for their independence.

The daughter of a British professor/blogger just moved there to work in anthropology, and has a blog HERE.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Mines behind Congo's wars

From StrategyPage: An article on how every war lord and militia group get their pay from their leaders who "own" their own mines.

. At the moment 70 to 80 percent of the working mines are controlled by militias. Some of the militias are bandit groups. Some are tribal war parties masquerading as a political party. Some are nominally Congolese Army units. Controlling a mine is a source of revenue for the militia, tribe, or army unit. There is a gray area here that receives little attention in the international media. Many legitimate Congolese Army units gripe that their pay is stolen or is in arrears. A commander controlling a mine can pay his troops.

But of course, these groups only get money from the mines: someone else owns and exports what is mined there.

so NGO's are pressuring the UN to devise a "blood mineral" designation to discourage the buying of such minerals...the problem is that the rich guys will just bribe the inspectors...and then there is the China problem. China will buy what they want and need from anyone, ignoring the human rights problems...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

will Swiss banks fight corruption?

a long Foreign Affairs article about dictators hiding their assets in Swiss banks...there is now a new law that might help get the money back to the people.

Swiss banks became known as a top choice for corrupt dictators by holding the multi-million dollar accounts of, among others, former Nigerian ruler Sani Abacha, former Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, and former Haitian strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier. Thus, it may come as a surprise that last October, Switzerland adopted what is arguably the world’s toughest law for repatriating the ill-gotten gains of corrupt politicians to the people of those countries, allowing the country to return potentially corrupt assets more easily.

the bad news?

Mugabe probably has his money in Malaysia.

China in Africa

Friday, June 17, 2011


I'm doing an article on G6PD Deficiency on one of my other blogs, and notice something? It doesn't occur in Zimbabwe.
Probably because this problem, like sickle cell disease trait, gives some protection against malaria, and malaria is rare in the highlands of Africa.

When I read laments about the white farmers, I remember the story that when some of our area (altitude 6500 feet) was rezoned for white farms, the people were sent to an area which was only 3000 feet in altitude....and a couple dozen ended up dying of cerebral malaria.

Two of our sisters also ended up with cerebral malaria and lived, but what is interesting is that the European sister "caught" it after visiting the low veldt, and the Shona sister caught it while working in the low veldt, but her family was from the high veldt.

So I saw few malaria in Zimbabwe, although I had malaria and treated many cases when I worked in Liberia.

Interesting too: The only case of sickle cell disease was in a woman who worked in the nearby mining area. Since she was not an "official" wife, she couldn't be treated at the mine hospital so came to us when the child was sick. Both her and the father were immigrants from Malawi...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Hedge funds grabbing African land

BBC reports it's not only China and India that is buying up African farmland:

US and European hedgefunds are buying up the land to make plantations for biofuel.

more reports at the OaklandInstutute

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Phantom voters in Zim

from the BBC

A leaked version of Zimbabwe's voters' roll contains some 2.5m too many names, according to a report by a respected South African organisation....

"This phantom vote is more than enough to settle the outcome of any election," said the author, Richard Johnson.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Anglican corruption in Zimbabwe

NYTimes article

In a three-hour interview in his office, Mr. Kunonga, a portly man with a gravelly voice, scoffed at the idea that he or his allies had sought to have anyone killed. In fact, if he had wanted anyone killed, he said, it would have been Bishop Gandiya, his rival as the legitimate bishop of Harare.

But there was no need for violence, Mr. Kunonga said, because he was already winning the legal battle to control church properties.

“You must have a very good reason to kill people,” he said. “Being a political scientist, I know who to eliminate if I wanted to physically, and to make it effective. I’m a strategist.”

Mr. Kunonga added, “If I want to pick on people to kill, Gandiya would not survive here.” As for allegations that he and his men were involved in Mrs. Mandeya’s killing, Mr. Kunonga retorted, “What would an illiterate 89-year-old woman do to me to deserve death or assassination?”

GetReligionBlog points out that the NYTimesg
by ignoring that the "bishop" attended a very liberal left wing seminary for training, ignores the communist aspect of the matter: The Times spins their own article, not to bash the left who loves Mugabe and helped get him into power, but to bash the US christians who oppose the homosexual agenda...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

China buying land in Africa

from a 2009 article

The countries where China are mainly in South Africa including Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and currently Angola. The agricultural land story began with Zambia in 1995 when Zhongkan Farm, a private Chinese company invested $22,000 in a farm project. By the end of 2007, the number of farm projects across Africa had increased to 63. Mozambique has received $800 million from China for modernizing its agricultural sector. This will be used to increase rice production in the country from 200,000 tons to 500,000 tons. Teams from the Chinese Hunan Hybrid Rice Institute and at least 100 specialists are stationed in Mozambique.

Similarly, Tanzania received millions of dollars to modernize its own agricultural sector. The idea behind this was to help create a green revolution in Africa. In the entire African continent, 1134 agricultural specialists have come from China to teach and see the implementation of agricultural modernization policies.

Angola is increasingly becoming the most sought after country for Chinese investment. It is already China’s biggest trading partner, and is now going to benefit through agriculture. Angola offers the best environment for beef production, coffee, spices, fruits, sugar and cotton.

The agricultural revolution gradually taking place in Africa is not just beneficial for China alone, it is also helping the African countries as an employment generating industry and providing larger food supplies for its starving millions. It is a win-win situation for both.

Source : Chinafrica

Could GM foods help Africa

this article is more recent, from All AFrica, originally from The Monitor:

the article laments the usual suspects, i.e. that evil corporations are behind it, then quotes Prince Charles who is against it, then laments that South Africa hasn't fully implemented it so it hasn't worked yet, and then adds:

GM also is not so much about African foods like millet, sweet potatoes, cassava or yams and the various African vegetables. We need to develop our own food crops as we fight hunger and we don't have to automatically switch to foods from other continents. The more we adapt to western technology the more we have to spend on machinery and chemicals manufactured in the west.

After all, the industrialised countries will not buy our surplus food (including GM food) since they always have enough food and anyway they have safely put in place trade barriers that discourage African products access to their markets. Our food and poverty problems must be solved right on our small plots of land and by ourselves as farmers and researchers...

yes, those old women with hoes using traditional crops will do it...while all the younger men migrate to work for the Chinese in factories and farms and send their money home, like they do here in the Philippines, to feed their children (we have also forbidden GM crops, but some of our food is hurt by cheaper imports from countries that use modern chemicals and production values forbidden here)

china investment in farm lands

from ELDIS

During 2006 and 2007, a raft of new initiatives and programmes sprang into being around the goal of promoting agricultural technology, including biotechnology, in the African continent. These initiatives have been led by African governments themselves, as well as by international aid donors, agricultural research centres and philanthropic organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Africa remains the part of the world which faces the most intractable problems of entrenched poverty and poor productivity in agriculture. The new initiatives mentioned above are intended to stimulate new innovation and growth in African farming, a new ‘Green Revolution’ to match the transformations which took place in other parts of the world during the 1960s, 70s and 80s...

China is another part of the globe where government, scientists and policy-makers are working towards a uniquely tailored approach to biotechnology development. For many years now, China has taken a circumspect approach to GM crops

Food articles

Biowatch South Africa reports:

South Africa is the only African country commercially producing genetically modified crops. It is also the only country which is producing a genetically modified staple food – maize – on a commercial scale.

At least six of the 15 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have said no to genetically modified crops.

The countries in SADC are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Madagascar applied for membership recently.

The six which have taken a firm stand against genetically modified crops are:

* Angola – bans imports of all GM products except food aid, providing this has already been milled.
* Lesotho – bans Gm imports unless processed or milled
* Madagascar – bans growing or importing GM foods
* Malawi – bans GM imports unless they are already processed or milled
* Zambia – bans imports of all GM products
* Zimbabwe - bans GM imports unless they are already processed or milled

Other SADC countries and countries in the rest of Africa are developing legislation to regulate genetically modified crops.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mugabe removes Zuma as mediator

from the zimbabwemail:

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has intensified his fight against an emerging consensus among Sadc leaders for him to go, by among other tactics, trying to sideline and remove no-nonsense facilitator President Jacob Zuma.

harassment of activists at SADC

from SWradioafrica

The civil society groups, including representatives from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, traveled to Namibia to lobby SADC leaders and pressure them to lay out a clear plan for democratic change in Zimbabwe. But their efforts were quickly thwarted by Namibia security officers and members of Zimbabwe’s CIO, who led a crackdown on the activists.

First to be targeted were about ten activists, including National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition officials MacDonald Lewanika, Pedzisayi Ruhanya and Dewa Mavhinga, and other representatives from the Zimbabwe Election Support.

The state security agents also briefly detained Jelousy Mawarire for taking pictures and chased away Shastry Njeru of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum from the venue of the SADC Summit. Mawarire, who had his pictures deleted from his camera, was later released after the intervention of Namibian human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe.

Also targeted were Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) head, Irene Petras, Joy Mabenge from the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe, Lloyd Kuveya of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, and Makanatsa Makonese of the SADC Lawyers Association. The four were force-marched into the hotel’s parking area by two armed Namibian police who took them to the local Chief Inspector. They were then interrogated separately by Zimbabwe’s state security agents.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

China in Africa

by TPMBarnett

Once feted as saviours in much of Africa, Chinese have come to be viewed with mixed feelings—especially in smaller countries where China’s weight is felt all the more. To blame, in part, are poor business practices imported alongside goods and services. Chinese construction work can be slapdash and buildings erected by mainland firms have on occasion fallen apart. A hospital in Luanda, the capital of Angola, was opened with great fanfare but cracks appeared in the walls within a few months and it soon closed. The Chinese-built road from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu, 130km (81 miles) to the south-east, was quickly swept away by rains.

Business, Chinese style

Chinese expatriates in Africa come from a rough-and-tumble, anything-goes business culture that cares little about rules and regulations. Local sensitivities are routinely ignored at home, and so abroad.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Mugabe in Europe

And the "Biased, moi?" award of the day goes to CNN, who notes the murderer Mugabe is attending (uninvited).

Well, Grace likes to shop, and the only way they can get into Europe is on such "diplomatic" trips.

And of course CNN doesn't note how Mugabe is attacking the church in Zimababwe, but never mind.

They also don't notice that 22 world leaders and87 countries are sending representatives to the ceremony, presumably because that might put it into perspective, as might noticing that Mugabe's ambassador was invited to the royal wedding.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Article on African development

much of the news out of Zimbabwe is same old stuff: He is letting his folks kill the political opposition while stoking paranoia of the west to stay in power.

But his marxist rhetoric is absurd: Pleasing to the aging left in europe and the US but in these days when China is buying up Africa turning into nonsens.e

So I am posting another article on development in Africa:

Entrepreneurs epitomize this growing trend of seizing the opportunities that the continent presents. Tal Dehtiar from Olibert√© Shoes – a shoe manufacturing company with operations in Ethiopia and Liberia- is one of them. He writes in a blog entitled “Olibert√©, This is Africa“ the reason for investing on the continent:

we never have and still don't see an Africa that's categorised by negative generalizations. Oliberté believes that with the right partners, each country within Africa has the means to grow and support its people.

Many African entrepreneurs believe that although the triple bottom line -financial, social, environmental- is the new buzz word for companies investing in developing countries, one fact that need to be made clear is that Africa will not able to sustain the growth if the funding are only about “micro-finance”, and financing a woman with “50 US dollars”.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Indian documaker film on Mugabe

from MSnews India:

"Bangalore: An Indian has made a telling and insightful 54-minute documentary titled `Mugabe's Zimbabwe' that has caught the attention of critics and also filmed at Cannes (France) this April. It has been selected as one of the Hot Picks of 2011 in the factual entertainment section....
Mugabe's Zimbabwe is an inquiry into how Zimbabwe, from its successful independence 30 years ago has collapsed dramatically. The film presents a terrifying story, plotting Robert Mugabe's three decades of bloodshed, terror and corruption and narrates how he turned hope into desolation.,,"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Awards for Human rights advocates

from the VOA

Two Zimbabwean female personalities, rights activist Jestina Mukoko and National Healing Co-Minister Sekai Holland have been awarded the prestigious French National Order of the Legion of Honour, for what French authorities termed their outstanding virtue

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Anglicans locked out

from the UK telegraph:

The apostate bishop Nolbert Kunonga has locked the doors of the churches, so only the ZANU PF can Anglicans have to worship elsewhere.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Skeleton stunt backfires on Mugabe

from the Scotsman.

Mugabe sent his youthful thugs out to pull bodies from mine shafts ( a common way to dispose of folks killed by Smith's anti terror terrorists) to show the world the atrocities of the Smith regieme, but some of the bodies are too recent to blame on Smith.

The exercise is being spearheaded by a little-known organisation called the Fallen Heroes of Zimbabwe Trust, led by an official of Mugabe's Zanu-PF. The trust has launched a public appeal for funds to continue. Overlooking Mr Mugabe's murderous record - and the fact Mr Smith's Rhodesian Front faced UK sanctions - the president's loyalists say the International Criminal Court should investigate the UK on charges of "genocide".

The MDC - locked in an uneasy coalition with Zanu-PF since 2009 - is suspicious of the timing of this discovery. Owen Gagare of the local NewsDay paper said when he was taken to view the skeletons "one of the bodies still had visible hair". Others were clothed and were reportedly leaking bodily fluids.

Top MDC official Tichaona Mudzingwa says the unsupervised exhumations are "an exercise to bury evidence."

"Probably most of the bodies being exhumed are victims of the 2008 violence," he told the press in a reference to the terror campaign launched by Mr Mugabe's militias after he lost the first round of elections to Mr Tsvangirai.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Follow the money

From the Philippine Inquirer:

NOUAKCHOTT – The African Union's panel on Libya Sunday called for an "immediate stop" to all attacks after the United States, France and Britain launched military action against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

After a more than four-hour meeting in the Mauritanian capital, the body also asked Libyan authorities to ensure "humanitarian aid to those in need," as well as the "protection of foreigners, including African expatriates living in Libya."

Of course, there is a reason behind their backing a ruthless tyrant who kills his own people and funded terrorism: he bribed them.

The reason that China and Russia didn't veto the resolution is because the Arabs didn't want Libya turning into another Bosnia, where 100 thousand were killed while Europe and the world sat and UN peacekeepers watched.

So who Loves Ghadafffy?

The Mead list discusses a lot of "bought" Americans and Europeans.
more at Mother Jones.

BBC report on how Ghadaffy bribed Africa. when he proposed a "one Africa", he meant of course with the (white) Arabs in charge, preferably himself.

Gaddafi's main contribution to Africa since 1999, when he turned away from the Arab League and the Middle East to try to form a United States of Africa, has been to bribe and buy his way to the chairmanship of the African Union, to promote this idea of a borderless Africa, presumably led by him.

He did this in two ways. Firstly, he sought simply to buy the smaller, poorer states by bribing their presidents. Secondly, in states where he was opposed, he would fund opposition movements. So he has been extremely divisive in his relations with Africa, and his removal will quiet things down a bit.

The presidents of Nigeria and South Africa had to fight a running battle with him to stop his crazy ideas of subverting Africa, trying to make it into one, single country, just like that.

It is hard to say if he has ever genuinely been seen as a fellow African leader by other African leaders. He supported the ANC in South Africa, and Swapo in Namibia, and when Nelson Mandela came out of prison, he went to Libya almost straightaway to thank him.

But while he continues to support groups like that, he has also sided with appalling movements in western Africa which he saw as revolutionary. He has backed Charles Taylor, now on trial in The Hague, and Foday Sankoh, the dreadful rebel leader in Sierra Leone who led the Revolutionary United Front, which cut off hands and legs. So he has a very mixed record in his very idiosyncratic way....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More on Mangoma

from SWRadioAfrica:


The police charged him with abusing public office, a charge that stems from an alleged breach of tender regulations in the purchase of five million litres of diesel from a South African company. He has since been indicted for trial at the High Court on 28th March....

But High Court Judge Samuel Kudya dismissed this claim. He also said the State had no tangible facts to warrant Mangoma’s conviction, a position that suggests the state has a very weak case against the minister....

‘The Judge even alluded to the fact that when Mangoma bypassed the tender procedures, he did so in the public interest to speed up the procurement of fuel which was in short supply at that particular time,’ Muchemwa said.

High court releases Energy minister

From the VOA

Mangoma, deputy treasurer of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was arrested last week and charged with criminal abuse of office in relation to a fuel procurement tender.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Samuel Kudya declared that the case against Mangoma was weak, and granted his freedom on $5 000 bail.,....

Defence attorney Selby Hwacha accused the Attorney General of not taking action against some officers in the Energy Ministry who allegedly misappropriated $35 million, despite an official request by Mangoma.

His trial is expected to begin March 28. If convicted, Mangoma faces no more than 15 years in prison or a $5 000 fine.

Meanwhile, MDC Member of Parliament for Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Costin Muguti was also granted bail by a Kwekwe magistrate, but remained in custody after the State invoked the notorious Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

More MDC staff arrested

from the Independent:

Police have raided the party headquarters of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and arrested a youth leader and two security guards.

(no reason given)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Mugabe can't retire

Chinja Maitriroblog has an essay by Tanonoka Joseph Whande
summarizing why Mugabe dare not retire.

he summarizes Mugabe's crimes, but notes why no one will encourage him to retire:

Mbeki is having it both ways.

Why should he hurry to solve the Zimbabwean crisis? Even without outside help, the Zimbabwean situation is reaching ‘saturation point’ and will inevitably straighten itself out.

But the vultures are circling. Many big companies in Zimbabwe closed down and relocated to South Africa and other countries in the region. Supermarkets are closing down because there are no suppliers.

There is no food in the country. There is no fuel or spares. Zimbabwe does not even have money; it uses paper money and has no coins. There are no chemicals for water reticulation.

Hospital beds, like supermarket shelves, are empty because there are no medicines in the hospitals. Patients are asked to bring their own food which they can no longer find in the empty shops.

And South African business is watching, don’t you see? Mugabe is going to go, one way or the other. He is about to expire, both physically and politically, and South African business is best poised to rush in and set up shop.

They have the money; they have the means and they are nearest. So Mbeki is not losing sleep over Zimbabwe. Either way it goes, he and his country come out winners.

We hear so much about the SADC initiative, spearheaded by Mbeki. Hogwash. SADC, with its united inadequacy, is too cowardly and unwilling to solve problems that directly affect it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsvangirai asks for a divorce

from the UK Telegraph:

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called on Thursday for a "divorce" in the unity government with President Robert Mugabe, proposing elections overseen by southern African neighbours. ...

"Even those with legendary patience, like some of us, have reached a stage where we are saying enough is enough. There is obviously a breakdown in the relationship between the parties," Mr Tsvangirai said.

"If people find that a marriage has reached irreconcilable differences, then agree to a divorce."

Mr Tsvangirai spoke hours after police detained Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, a senior member of the prime minister' Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party on undisclosed charges...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Charisma and Megalomania

AustinBay has a long essay on megalomanics in politics

He makes several points.

One, if the megalomanic dictator is anti American, he will get a pass from the press (mainly in Europe but also in much of the US) for his atrocities and hijinks.

This of course applies to Mugabe, and is because of the Marxist bias in much of the press and the intelligencia, who have a soft spot in their heart for communists and those inspired by the communist propaganda of brotherhood and equality, never mind that it is a potemkin village that is based more on fantasy than reality.

He then goes on to discuss Mugabe and his ilk. How do you take over a country and keep in power?

People shape events, not vague historical forces or deterministic theories, and people who seek to successfully transition their society from a dictatorship to a democracy need reliable institutions that promote consensus, compromise and the pursuit of power by legal means.

Gadafi, Mugabe, and Chavez have systematically destroyed or attempted to destroy the institutions in their nations capable of promoting compromise. These thugs seek to turn such institutions into ideological instruments –not for an ism, but for the perpetuation of their own power.

Mugabe has yet to destroy the Catholic and Anglican churches, and they underpin the various factions of the anti-Mugabe opposition.

The Catholic Church still wields influence in Venezuela; when Chavez goes, and he will, eventually, perhaps the church will play a significant role in resurrecting that beggared nation.

Mugabe stands in stark contrast to his next door neighbor, Nelson Mandela.

Mandela –personally and institutionally– fostered consensus, compromise and the pursuit of power by legal means. (Kemal Ataturk did it in Turkey.) South Africa could fall into tribal anarchy, but it will not be because of Mandela. Mugabe’s personal jealousy of Mandela may well be a factor in his desire to cling to power no matter the long-term cost to Zimbabwe. Apres moi le deluge.

Bay quotes from two famous essays on politics, that of Jean Kirkpatrick and of Hofstatter. Both are classics and should be read to understand Mugabe and the world's interpretation of Mugabe's actions.

From Hofstatter:

“As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician.

Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.

Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention.

This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.”

Mugabe charges six activists with treason

from RTT News:

A court in Zimbabwe on Monday released 39 people in a 45-member group of political and civil society activists arrested last month on charges of plotting a popular uprising in lines of the ones witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks. The court, however, slammed treason charges on the remaining six....

All of them were subsequently accused by prosecutors of plotting to "organize, strategize and implement the removal of the constitutional government of Zimbabwe" through a popular revolt. But the defendants had denied any wrongdoing, insisting that they were only taking part in an academic debate about African politics....

Monday, March 07, 2011

Zimbabwe to sell Uranium to Iran

from the UKTelegraph

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe's foreign minister, said the sanctions – which prohibit member states from providing Iran with raw materials that it could use to make a nuclear weapon – were unfair and hypocritical.

He said that Zimbabwe, which is also the subject of sanctions over human rights abuses perpetrated by President Robert Mugabe's supporters, would benefit economically from the agreement.

A leaked intelligence report suggests Iran will be awarded with exclusive access to Zimbabwe's uranium in return for providing the country with fuel.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

StrategyPage on Zimbabwe

Strategy page has a summary on the Zimbabwe situation. I have found their analyses insightful in the past, so you might want to go to the link and read the whole thing.

Summary: Mugabe is clamping down on his political "enemies" again, and the Jasmine revolts against dictators has scared him.

much of it is known by those of us who are following the situation, but they note rumors (unconfirmed) that some of the African mercenaries that are helping Libyan dictator were sent by Mugabe.
and they worry:

"National elections are looming, political violence is increasing in the major cities, and Robert Mugabe remains very much alive. If Qaddafi survives in Libya will he send commandos to help out Mugabe?

what might save Mugabe, of course, is the same thing Strategy Page has noted about Iran: That the best and brightest, who might start a revolution, have left the country already...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

News update: will the Jasmine revolution hit Zimbabwe?

Sorry I've been too lazy to keep up with the Zimbabwe news, but here are links for your reading:

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA

The Zimbabwean - ‎20 minutes ago‎
The seven members arrested remain in custody and finally managed to receive a meal at lunchtime today. All seven will spend a second night in custody.

Zimbabwe: Seeking Release of 45

New York Times - Celia W. Dugger - ‎4 hours ago‎
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, on Tuesday called on Zimbabwean authorities to release 45 activists charged with treason. A statement from her office said they were being held for “discussing ...

from SWRadioAfrica:
Security crackdown deters Zim protests
Security crackdowns in Harare and Bulawayo deterred any mass action against the ZANU PF regime, with no sign of the protests that have been encouraged over the past two weeks.

Jabulani Sibanda shuts down schools for ZANU PF rally
Mugabe ‘hanged’ by UK protesters
Zimbabwean protesters in London displayed their anger with Robert Mugabe’s ongoing grip on power, by ‘hanging’ the dictator outside the Zimbabwean embassy on Tuesday.

More activists arrested as Mugabe hits panic button
Mugabe’s regime appears to have hit the panic button, ordering the arrest of a total of 93 activists in the last 2 weeks alone. With protests having toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, the ZANU PF leader seems determined to pre-empt similar revolts in Zimbabwe.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lavish birthday party for Mugabe

from the Times Live

"...A huge party, expected to be attended by 10000 Zanu-PF youths, was scheduled for yesterday, at a local five-star hotel in the capital.

The adverts were marked by hero-worshiping phrases and language. In one advert, Mugabe was described as a legendary icon whose selfless dedication in rendering service to the nation and the peoples' of Africa, was inspiring as well as unparalleled..."

and the paper has this photo of the lapdog China seeking stuff from the beloved leader (sarcasm).COMRADES-IN-ARMS: Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Yang Jiechi and President Robert Mugabe.

Iran hunting for Uranium in Zim

via IndianExpress

VIENNA: Iran is expanding its global search for uranium and a key focus is Zimbabwe, says a intelligence report. A report from a member country of International Atomic Energy Agency — with the AP — says Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met last month with Zimbabwean mining officials to negotiate Iran’s uranium procurement plan.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Zim police claim to foil uprising

from the NewZimbabwe

Arrested ... Munyaradzi Gwisai

Egypt: Fatwa on US Middle-East strategy?
'No' vote shall be Zimbabwe's Egypt
Egypt: Zanu PF dismisses PM 'pipe dream'

POLICE say they have foiled Egyptian-style uprisings in Zimbabwe after storming a meeting of 46 rights activists in Harare and arresting them, including the former Highfield MP, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

The activists face charges of “plotting to oust a constitutionally-elected government”, said Inspector James Sabau, the police spokesman for Harare province.

Police said they also seized a video projector, a laptop and two DVDs which Gwisai used to show videos from the Tunisian and Egyptian protests which led to the ouster of those countries’ leaders...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Will Zim rise to destroy the dictator as in Egypt?

from the Mail and Guardian (SA) this writer says no. Unless those in Zimbabwe are willing to do it themselves.

My opinion?
Ah, but the strongest and most willing have left Zim to work elsewhere and send money home to their families. Like Iran, when the best brains and hardest workers put all their energy into leaving, the hope for change at home lessens, allowing the government to threaten and keep the rest under control.

Violence against opposition again: Redux of past elections

lots of stories about the attacks on the opposition members, almost a copy of what happened the last election, where Tsvangirai dropped out to protect the lives of his followers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Diamond money

The Zim Guardian:

THE Treasury is benefiting from sales of diamonds that have surpassed US$170 million this year alone, despite Finance Minister Tendai Biti's claims that diamond dividends were not flowing into the national fiscus.

Documents obtained by the State-run Herald newspaper reveal that Treasury will benefit from at least US$174 million in diamond sales for January to February 7 alone.

Some of the money has already reached the Treasury, although Biti claims that the country has not benefitted from diamonds...

Sources also indicated that Minister Biti was trying to force the Mines and Mining Development Corporation into revealing how Zimbabwe sells its diamonds, which could result in the contracted foreign firms being slapped with Western sanctions.

Recent revelations by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks claim Minister Biti has in the past been actively consulted by the EU when the bloc structured its sanctions regime.

from UPI:

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe's government says it will investigate the disappearance of $100 million in proceeds from an auction of diamonds.

The Ministry of Finance received a document from President Robert Mugabe's office passed to him from The Minerals Marketing Corp. of Zimbabwe saying it had given $170 million from the sale of Marange diamonds last year to the treasury....

"Treasury only received $64 million from the sale of alluvial and kimberlite diamonds. In that schedule MMCZ claims that treasury used part of the money to pay tax to Zimra....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Green Gurus

alas, it's streaming audio, but the BBC has interview with three founders of the Green movement:
the most important one for those working in development:

1. EF Schumacher

Julian starts by investigating the legacy of radical economist EF Schumacher. When his catchily titled book 'Small is Beautiful' came out in 1973, it was a huge best seller. He was courted by both politicians and the media. Schumacher's message was that conventional economics had failed us. In headlong pursuit of greater consumption, we had lost our humanity. We needed to get back to basics, he argued, and embrace small scale production and 'economics as if people mattered'. Schumacher believed passionately that the poor of the Third World were perhaps the greatest victims of modern capitalism. He set up an institute to design 'appropriate' technologies for the Third World that would not rely on Western manufacturers. Nearly thirty years on, how have Schumacher's ideas endured? In a world dominated by global corporations has 'Small is Beautiful' been trounced by 'Big is Best'?

Listen again to programme 1 Listen again to Programme 1

China criticizes West's approach to ZIm

from CNN:

(CNN) -- China's foreign minister pushed Friday for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying no country has a right to dictate the internal affairs of another nation, state-run media reported.

Starting in 2002, the European Union and the United States imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and some senior party members amid rampant reports of stifling his political opposition, human rights violations and his controversial land reform policy that has targeted white commercial farmers.

Mugabe blames the sanctions for his country's woes, which late last year included an unemployment rate of more than 90% and an inflation rate of 231,000,000%.

Speaking Friday during a two-day visit to Harare, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that "China believes that Africans have the right to choose their own way of development, as they are masters of the African continent. All others are just guests."


of course, having a greedy dictator who lets his croonies steal everything in sight is not quite the same thing as letting Africans chose their own way of development, but hey, what's a couple million dollar bribes between friends?

Violence by ZANUPF

According to Amnesty int'l, Mugabe back to his old tricks of harassing his opponents in Zimbabwe. More HERE.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Fear of Infection lowered HIV

from AFP:

WASHINGTON — Fear of infection helped drive a 50 percent decline in new cases of HIV in Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2007, said an international study published Tuesday in the United States....

"Today's findings strongly show that people in Zimbabwe have primarily been motivated to change their sexual behaviour because of improved public awareness of AIDS deaths and a subsequent fear of contracting the virus," said the study in PloS medicine.

Attitude changes were rooted in mass media campaigns that infiltrated church settings, workplaces and other activities, the researchers said.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Mob riots and loots in Harare

ZANU PF demonstration started to riot and so it's Tsvangirai's fault, if you believe Reuters.
Police said they had allowed youths from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to demonstrate against Harare city council for awarding a car parking contract to a South African firm but the protest had been infiltrated by criminals.

"We have arrested some known criminals from Mbare (a suburb) and we are still investigating the group that infiltrated the march," police spokesman James Sabawu told Reuters on Tuesday.

A Reuters witness saw shattered windows and empty shops early on Tuesday. Most of the shops remained closed. The state-owned Herald newspaper said those arrested in Monday's incident were suspected MDC supporters

from Newsday:

Our source said after demonstrations at the Gulf, the party expected the provincial leadership to address them and perhaps make clear the message to the foreigners – that if they have to be in Zimbabwe, they ought to bring with them meaningful investment in manufacturing and other sectors but not selling cellphones and the staple sadza.

Unfortunately, the planners overestimated the discipline of the youths, drawn from various townships, including “battle-hardened” Mbare’s Chipangano members.

Even while their colleagues were still gathering at the Fourth Street party provincial headquarters, scores of youths, chanting Zanu PF slogans and flying the party flag, had besieged the Gulf Complex.

the Zimbabwean gives the MDC side:

The Zanu PF youths are wearing MDC T – shirts. They gathered at Zanu PF headquarters early this morning before driving past the MDC headquarters, Harvest House in seven trucks on their way to the Zanu PF Harare provincial offices along Fourth Street. At the Zanu PF provincial offices, they were given MDC T – shirts. They then marched to the Gulf Complex where they looted goods and property.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Zuma welcomes Mugabe's ambassador

from SWRadioAfrica

04 February 2011

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Thursday warmly welcomed the disputed Zimbabwe ambassador unilaterally appointed by Robert Mugabe, in a move that analysts say further undermines his efforts to mediate in Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

High Protein Cassava?

from NewScientist:

A DEADLY poison could save the lives of millions of African children, thanks to the discovery that cassava can be duped into turning about half of the cyanide it makes into extra protein.

Although cassava is a major source of carbohydrates for 700 million people, mostly in Africa, it normally contains only small amounts of protein. Claude Fauquet of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, Missouri, and his team bumped up the protein content to 12.5 per cent by adding bean and maize genes to make a protein called zeolin. They were surprised to find that the plant used its natural supply of cyanide to provide the building blocks of the new protein. "Cyanide is a source of nitrogen within the plant," explains Fauquet.

While non-modified cassava supplies just one-fifth of daily protein requirements, the extra protein is enough to supply the needs of infants on a typical cassava-based diet (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016256). Fauquet says his root could save 1 in 4 African children from a potentially fatal condition called protein-energy malnutrition.

However, it will be some years before it is rolled out

we didn't eat a lot of cassava in my area of Zimababwe but it is a staple food in Malawi and other areas of the continent

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Zim Urban councils looted

via Zim Online:

HARARE – Corrupt councillors, commissioners and politicians in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and other cities looted hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds, land and other assets in an unprecedented orgy of self enrichment over the past decade while service delivery collapsed in the various municipalities.... Harare alone could have been fleeced of more than $100 million in shady land deals and contracts during the tenure of illegal commissions appointed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, a former university lecturer whose wealth soared upon joining government....

Corruption has not spared town councils outside the capital. In Bindura, then mayor and now Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha bought a mayoral house he had lived in for a miserly $40 in 2008. The house costs at least $70 000.

Former deputy mayor of Chegutu town Phineas Mariyapera was fingered in a 2003 government audit for siphoning the equivalent of $4 million today from the council. Mariyapera, a ZANU-PF official, was never prosecuted.

more details at link

Mugabe opponents beaten

from the NYTimes:

"...political violence in Harare, the capital, and its impoverished suburbs — carried out by youths chanting ZANU-PF slogans — has surged in recent weeks, civic groups and independent journalists reported this week...."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

new surge in political violence

from the Zimbabwean

article has details of attacks on various politicians

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Poverty level up

from the Canadapress:

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean officials on Monday said it takes nearly $500 a month for families to be above the poverty line in this economically ravaged country, where most teachers and government workers earn less than half that amount.

ZANU PF tries to lure opposition

from Nehanda radio:

ZANU-PF desperate to annihilate its rivals at the next elections, has dangled a carrot in front of beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara... \

The shopping list, according to the insiders includes Mavambo/ Kusile/ Dawn (MKD) leader, Simba Makoni, who, at 30, became the youngest bureaucrat in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet when he was appointed minister of industry and energy in 1981 after joining the country’s first black administration a year earlier as deputy minister of agriculture.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AU summit ignores Zimbabwe crisis

again from SWRadioAfrica.

summary: they don't see the increased violence as a problem, so why waste their time on it?

SA population to shrink after 2030

from Moneyweb.

it's because of HIV, and also smaller families due to family planning.

MDC workers seek refuge

from SWRadioAfrica:

"...Two hundred MDC-T members were forced to seek refuge at their party’s Harare headquarters, after ZANU-PF youths hunted them down in Mbare over the weekend.

The MDC-T also reported that the ZANU PF youths besieged their Mbare office, where they allegedly assaulted staff, stole computers and vandalised furniture. Despite this, it’s understood the police did not make any arrests...."

Civil service unrest continues

from Newsday (SA):

"...Civil servants last week got a paltry salary increment of 24% while housing and transport allowances were increased by between $6 and $9, bringing the salary of the lowest paid teacher to $241, inclusive of allowances.

They rejected the increment and gave the government a seven-day ultimatum to come up with new figures...

The unions are demanding $502 as the starting salary for the lowest paid worker."


StrategyPage has this in an article about the Congo:

December 18, 2010: Police broke up a riot by soccer fans in the town of Lubumbashi (Katanga province). The fans were angry when their team lost a close match. What's truly interesting about this is that the crowd thought the Japanese referee was Chinese and yelled that the Chinese referee should go home. The rioters subsequently attacked several Chinese owned stores in Lubumbashi. China has signed agreements with the government to provide infrastructure (roads, power lines, etc) in exchange for Congolese natural resources. Many Congolese believe the agreement is a return to colonialism. The rioters may be an ominous warning to the Chinese.


anyone in Zimbabwe who is worried about being detected while on the internet might want to look into downloading TOR:

"...Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location. .."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Funny voters on Zim voting rolls

from the star:

one third of voters on the Zim voter rolls are very very old (and probably dead) or too young to vote.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zim AG investigating Tsvangirai

from CNN:


Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- The attorney general in Zimbabwe has set up a team of lawyers to investigate whether Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai can be charged with treason or conspiracy related to revelations by the website WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks published U.S. cables last week saying Tsvangirai and his party leadership were planning with U.S. diplomats for Washington to contribute to a fund to buy-off security service chiefs to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe.

"I want to get the legal opinion of the legal experts to see if I can proceed with prosecution," Attorney General Johannes Tomana said an interview Monday. He said the six-member team would remain secret "to maintain its independence and professional integrity" and would submit its recommendations by end of March...."

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