Central Africa: African Ministers Ready to Order Attack on Rwandan Rebels

Defence and foreign ministers from the Great Lakes and Southern African regions resolved on Monday that military action be taken against Rwandan rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of...

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West Africa: Researchers Develop Quick Ebola Diagnosis Device

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Oscar Pistorius sentencing: live

Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday. The court adjourned on Friday afternoon after final arguments from the prosecution and defence. The Telegraph's...

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Algeria: President Bouteflika Gave Instructions to Attach Special Attention to Border Regions, Says Sellal

IN GUEZZAM (Tamanrasset)- Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Monday in In Guezzam, Tamanrasset (1970-km south of Algiers), that President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika had given instructions to attach...

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Algeria: Sellal Hails Efforts of Anp, Security Forces in Protecting Algerian Border Areas

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal hailed Monday in In Guezzam (Tamanrasset, 1970 km south of Algiers) the huge efforts undertaken by the People's National Army (ANP) and all the security...

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Cleaning Addis Abeba – It Is a Sisyphean Task

By Kalikidan Yibeltal

More than 10,000 street cleaners are scrambling to clean a city that produces 200,000 tons of waste annually; but their job is a Sisyphean task

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Rwanda: Lifting the Lid On Rwandan Repression

column

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Latest News

Central Africa: African Ministers Ready to Order Attack on Rwandan Rebels

Defence and foreign ministers from the Great Lakes and Southern African regions resolved on Monday that military action be taken against Rwandan rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo if they do not disarm and surrender by January 2 next year.

A communique issued by the South African foreign ministry on Tuesday said the decision had been taken by members of a ministerial meeting of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Luanda, Angola.

The ministers said they had reviewed reports on an ultimatum they issued in July requiring the “Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)” to voluntarily surrender and disarm within six months. The FDLR has its roots in the Hutu militia responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The communique said the review showed that “there has not been progress concerning the voluntary disarmament and surrender of the FDLR…” As a result the ministers “reiterated military action as decided by the Heads of State and Government against the FDLR should take place in event of non-compliance… up to 2nd January 2015.”

The ministers also asked the United Nations mission in the DR Congo and the Kinshasa government to create conditions in reception centres and transit camps which would enable those FDLR troops willing to disarm to do so.

See the full text of the communique >>

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AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

West Africa: Researchers Develop Quick Ebola Diagnosis Device

The new tool, developed by France’s Atomic Energy Commission, could allow doctors to diagnose a patient with suspected Ebola in under 15 minutes.
France’s Atomic Energy Commission said that the device, which has undergone trials at a high-security for…

Botswana: Elections Expose Nation’s ‘Fading’ Democracy

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Photo: GCIS

President of Botswana Ian Khama (file photo).

analysis

By Amy R. Poteete

Botswana earned a reputation for political stability, electoral democracy, and economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s, when much of the African continent appeared to be mired in economic stagnation and authoritarian rule. This reputation has persisted despite contradictory developments.

Since the 1990s, many other African countries introduced multiparty elections, and economic performance improved across the continent. Over the same period in Botswana, corruption and mismanagement have become increasingly prevalent while the abuse of governmental authority have drawn attention to the absence of effective checks on executive power.

Many observers – foreign governments, international financial institutions, Freedom House, Transparency International, and academics researchers – tend to downplay these problems. They insist, by and large, that Botswana has remained stable, democratic, and well-governed relative to other African states. The southern African country continues to enjoy “a halo effect”. But the halo has faded. Political tensions are much more serious and deeply rooted than most observers acknowledge.

They have now erupted in the run-up to parliamentary elections on October 24th.

An already tense campaign took a nasty turn at the end of July, when a charismatic opposition politician, Gomolemo Motswaledi, died in a suspicious automobile accident. Individuals who questioned the official account received threatening telephone calls while hostile messages were disseminated on social media.

In September another opposition politician was abandoned for dead in a ditch. He survived and claimed he had been kidnapped and tortured by agents of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS). A few weeks later, someone slashed the tires of his campaign car and killed his guard dog.

Other opposition politicians and activists complain of threatening phone calls and being trailed. Some have been attacked but escaped while others have gone into hiding to protect themselves. Conflicting intelligence leaks have flooded the media, variously claiming that the government is preparing to steal the elections bysmuggling in fake ballot papers,or bringing in high tech military and intelligence equipment.

Abuse of state resources by the long-ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has become more blatant. Private radio stations broadcast leaked recordings of politicians discussing the inclusion of ruling party campaign managers in cabinet meetings and the use of fake Facebook accounts to discredit critics. The President and cabinet ministers target tightly contested constituencies for repeated state visits, during which BDP candidates moderate public meetings, leaving opposition incumbents sidelined.

The BDP’s campaign team has used military aircraft to travel to campaign events, as revealed in photos that went viral on social media. According to the government, the President has a right to military transportation and may be accompanied by whomever he chooses. The state-run television station has become so biased that when it did broadcast an opposition rally, people assumed – correctly – that international election observers must have arrived in the country.

To rally its base, the BDP engages in fear-mongering and character assassination. Some warn that electoral turnover could mean genocide. If any party has stoked ethnic tensions, it is the BDP. BDP politicians tell citizens that President Ian Khama would be jailed if their party loses. This is, in their view, unthinkable since Khama is also the traditional leader of one of the largest tribes. Two weeks before the elections, Khama and the BDP campaign manager denigrated the character and family life of an opposition candidate who is the traditional leader of another tribe, a move that threatened to inflame ethnic tensions. As recordings of the most virulent attacks were re-broadcast, many citizens reacted with disgust.

The media is caught in the crossfire. A journalist fled and was given political asylum in South Africa, declaring that he feared the government and that his life was in danger. His editor was arrested and charged with sedition while his computer was confiscated. A few weeks later, authorities detained another journalist and impounded his digital media and cell phones. Radio transmitters have been vandalized, disrupting the broadcast of parliamentary debates organized by a private radio station. Private radio stations have experienced recurring interference with transmissions, raising suspicions that their signals have been jammed.

Of course, political violence, intimidation, the abuse of state resources and media repression occur regularly in competitive authoritarian regimes. However, they mark a sharp departure from past political practice in Botswana. Previous presidents favored consultation and cooptation when confronted with strong opposition. Political violence was rare, electoral fraud infrequent, and both politicians and journalists criticized the government without fear of reprisal.[1]

And yet, tensions have been building for some time. The government faces mounting pressures from several directions: increasingly unstable revenues, deepening factional divisions, and growing support for the opposition. These dynamics play out against the backdrop of constitutional and institutional arrangements that vest great discretionary power in the president.

Legally Above the Law

Botswana has a parliamentary system. As in other parliamentary systems, there are few formal checks on the power of the executive. Unlike most parliamentary systems, however, the president is not an elected member of parliament. These constitutional arrangements mean that whoever controls the party in government controls succession to the presidency.

By the late 1980s, factional competition over presidential succession threatened the BDP’s cohesion. Two constitutional amendments in the 1990s sought to defuse these conflicts. One introduced a ten-year limit on presidential tenure. The other specified that, should the presidency become vacant between elections, the vice president would become president without a parliamentary vote. The amendment stipulates that any vice presidential nominee must be an elected member of parliament and would be subject to a vote of confirmation in parliament. Despite these restrictions, the amendments further empowered the president and weakened his dependence on the party.

In 1998, about 18 months before the following round of parliamentary elections, Quett Masire resigned as president. By resigning before the end of his term, Masire triggered the new “automatic succession” provision. He also disconnected presidential term limits from the electoral cycle. Unless and until the BDP loses an election, each president will choose his own successor. Masire’s vice president, Festus Mogae, became Botswana’s third president and, in turn, recruited Ian Khama as his vice president. In 2008, when Mogae’s ten years in office expired and, about 18 months before elections in 2009, Khama ascended to the presidency.

Initially, many Batswana enthusiastically welcomed Khama, who entered politics as a respected military officer, traditional leader of one of Botswana’s largest tribes, and son of the first president. Rather than uniting the BDP factions, however, Khama divided and radically transformed the party. He had arrived as an outsider but very quickly became the focal point of factional conflict. A faction opposed to Khama swept internal elections in 2009. Rather than concede gracefully, Khama quickly moved to circumvent the elected central committee. Within a month, he suspended the elected secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, for challenging his authority (the same politician who later died in thecar crash). The dispute came before the courts, which ruled that the Constitution of Botswana grants the president of the country immunity from prosecution for any action taken in his private capacity, including actions taken as president of a political party.

The BDP held together for the elections in October 2009 but split shortly thereafter. Motswaledi and other members of his faction founded the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in May 2010. The BMD joined two other parties in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in 2012.

The court decision in 2009 and the BDP scission in 2010 demonstrated that BDP members have no effective means of challenging their own president or reforming their party from within. As long as the BDP forms the government, the Constitution of Botswana reinforces the already considerable authority that the BDP constitution confers on the party president.

From Consultation to Coercion

The composition of the BDP also changed. The old factions still exist but are greatly weakened. A number of Khama’s close associates and family members – including former military colleagues, business associates, close family friends, and his brother and cousin – followed him into politics. After the split, Khama drew more members of this group into decision-making roles, either as cabinet ministers or in party structures. The rupture also stimulated a wave of new members united in their professed loyalty to Khama. Critics depict these newcomers as “tenderpreneurs,” suggesting that they have entered politics with the hope of securing material gains. A new sycophancy took root in which even senior politicians refer to themselves as “bootlickers.”

Previous presidents often relied on consultation and cooptation to manage internal conflicts. Khama, by contrast, regularly uses coercion and his discretionary powers – disciplinary action and the power of appointment, government tenders, and various forms of blackmail – to quell dissent. In political circles, it was widely believed that the president had instructed the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services to spy on internal critics as well as opposition politicians.

Even former President Festus Mogae, speaking at the 2014 African Leadership Forum in Tanzania, has acknowledged that “the present regime does not respect the rule of law.”

Victims of corruption, intimidation, and repression have little recourse because the president, in the view of the courts, is above the law as long as he remains in office. Botswana’s highly centralized constitution provides few institutionalized means for checking presidential power.

Neither the legislature nor the BDP nor the courts has the authority to hold the president to account. The only way to achieve reforms opposed by an incumbent President is to remove that President from power.

Responses to challenges depend on the personality of the president. When the opposition began to threaten the BDP in the 1990s, previous presidents coopted elements of the opposition’s agenda and attempted to revive their party by promoting younger politicians. Khama has adopted a much more confrontational style. Unlike previous presidents, he has mobilized all resources at his disposal to undermine his opponents and repeatedly pushes the boundaries of his powers. Time and again, the courts have confirmed his legal immunity while he is in office. In essence, they have determined that the president is legally beyond the law until he leaves office.

Economic Turbulence

If overt repression has been rare in Botswana until recently, it is not only a reflection of the constitutionally entrenched power of the presidency or the personalities of earlier presidents. Incumbency advantages were so strong that there was little need for repression.

Diamond mining spurred an extended period of economic growth that filled government coffers, financing the expansion of infrastructure, services, and public sector employment.

Since the 1990s, when De Beers lost its control of world diamond prices, price volatility has increased. Botswana experienced a boom, more than doubling its export earnings from diamonds over the course of a decade.

But then, in 2008, the global financial crisis triggered a sharp drop in diamond earnings and GDP contracted by 7.8% in 2009. After rebounding to 8.6% in 2010, rates of GDP growth have fallen in each subsequent year.

The effects of changes in the diamond industry are still working their through the economy. They subject the government to unfamiliar budgetary pressures and contribute to social and political tensions, including conflictual labor relations. The unstable economy also reduces the BDP’s resource advantage and limits possibilities for cooptation. The president regularly makes public displays of charity, but is regarded as aloof and insensitive when responding to conflicts. Critics charge that he uses his extensive powers to benefit himself and his associates rather than to tackle the serious structural challenges needed in the economy.

Labor relations have become a serious political problem for the BDP.

Public sector workers gained the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining in 2005. As labor flexed its muscles, the global financial crisis sent government revenues plummeting, generating strong pressures to reducethe public sector wage bill. The standoff culminated in Botswana’s first public sector strike in 2011. In a controversial decision, the government declared the strike illegal and fired thousands of workers. After eight weeks, financially exhausted and worried that escalating violence would erode public support, union leaders ended the strike with nothing to show for it. They vowed to take their struggle to the ballot box andmobilized their members to defeat several cabinet ministers during primary elections. Although union membership cuts across party lines, the BDP considers the union leadership to be allied to the opposition. Indeed, some union leaders have appeared at opposition campaign events or have become opposition candidates themselves.

Pervasive mismanagement and corruption interferes with service delivery, contributing to a general malaise and weakening support for the BDP.

Examples are legion. Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants have been implicated in rampant corruption in peri-urban land allocations.

Corruption and mismanagement by the Botswana Development Corporation contributed to the collapse of a glass manufacturing project. While several cabinet members have been investigated for corruption, many cases are not pursued. Often, those charged are acquitted on technicalities.

Khama has used state power to privatize previously public resources and bolster his business interests and those of his associates. He charged the Department of Water Affairs with locating all boreholes belonging to his father’s family and instructed the Ngwato Land Board to transfer all of the boreholes so identified to himself despite noted ambiguities in their ownership status. Under Khama, the pro-business Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has largely displaced the community-based approach to natural resources that had been in place since the 1990s. A land grab of the most valuable tourism areas is currently underway. Communities have been reduced to becoming by-standers while rival claims to these territories have been ignored. Many in the affected communities suspect that the main beneficiaries will be tourism operations linked to Khama and his cronies. Not surprisingly, tourism and land policy have become flash points in the campaign.

According to recent allegations, state resources have been diverted for political ends as well. A leaked docket for a stalled case, for example, revealed evidence of dubious cash transfers between the DIS and organizations associated with the president’s political activities and the agency’s director.

Electoral Uncertainty

These disturbing developments have set the stage for Botswana’s 2014 elections. The long dominant BDP faces numerous challenges: economic trends that reduce its revenue advantages, unreliable utilities that hamper economic growth and contribute to a general malaise, a demoralized and hostile public sector, and a fractious party organization that is increasingly difficult to hold together. Ian Khama and his party are vulnerable. According to Afrobarometer, support for the BDP has plummeted from 69% in 2008, a few months after Khama ascended to the presidency, to 52% in June-July 2014. Considering that the campaign kicked into high gear in August, and previous Afrobarometer surveys have consistently over-estimated support for the BDP while under-estimating support for the opposition, the actual support for the BDP is almost certainly lower.

The divided opposition, however, is not well-positioned to take advantage of the situation. Neither of the opposition parties could plausibly win a legislative majority. BDP may win a slight legislative majority with less than 50% of the vote, but a hung parliament cannot be ruled out. Based on their behavior, Khama and his supporters take the possibility of an electoral loss quite seriously. They may fear a narrow legislative majority as much as an outright loss, since they would then be vulnerable to post-electoral splits or defections.

Khama and his associates have responded to electoral uncertainty with more overt mobilization of state resources for political ends, intimidation, media repression, and deception. Such a climate breeds suspicion and undermines trust. Although the 2014 Afrobarometer survey was conducted before some of the most disturbing events and revelations associated with the current election campaign, it recorded substantial declines in trust in the BDP and government institutions. Any time anything untoward happens to an opposition politician, such as Motswaledi’s death in an automobile accident, suspicions of political foul play immediately follow. The police report that several police officers happened to be surrounding Motswaledi’s car at the time of the accident. This and the surge of intimidation fuelled further doubts. The proliferation of intelligence leaks about alleged conspiracies leads some to dismiss opposition warnings as fear-mongering. And yet … there are documented cases of torture and undisputed transcripts and recordings in which officials acknowledge highly dubious behavior by state and party officials.

Whatever the outcome of the elections on October 24th, the political horizon appears stormy. If the BDP wins a narrow legislative victory, it will be vulnerable to future factional splits and even individual defections. If there is a hung parliament, the newly elected MPs must choose a new president by secret ballot. Whoever wins will lack a partisan majority in the legislature. Whether it is Ian Khama or somebody else, the president will have to devote more resources than ever to coalition maintenance. Such a situation could empower the legislature and enhance accountability, but it would also create powerful incentives to reinforce presidential powers that could preclude needed institutional reforms even if the opposition wins power. A preoccupation with coalition maintenance would also divert attention from the serious economic challenges confronting Botswana.

Amy Poteete is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal.

Copyright © 2014 AfricaPlus. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

South Africa: Pistorius Taken to Prison

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Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee/Sapa

Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius escorted by police at the Pretoria High Court.

By Thomas Hartleb, Devereaux Morkel and Getrude Makhafola

Pretoria — Oscar Pistorius looked like he was about to cry as he made his way down to the holding cells below the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday, after being sentenced to five years behind bars.

The paralympian, convicted of culpable homicide for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, touched the hands of some of his relatives, including his uncle Arnold Pistorius and wife Lois, and exchanged a few words with them before he disappeared.

While leaving the court room Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry, both looked down at the stairs leading to the cells.

In addition to the five years, Judge Thokozile Masipa sentenced Pistorius to three years’ jail, suspended for five years, for discharging a firearm in Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. The sentence would come into effect if he is found guilty of negligent use of a firearm in that period.

The two sentences would run concurrently.

Pistorius may end up spending only 10 months in prison, a justice department spokesman said.

“Five years in terms of… the Criminal Procedure Act means the accused serves one-sixth of the sentence, which is 10 months,” spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said on his Facebook wall.

“And an offender or inmate can be considered for placement under correctional supervision which is processed by correctional services.”

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube told reporters at court there was an “appetite” to appeal, but the facts needed to be examined.

“There is an appetite to appeal and we have 14 days to consider the law, and ensure the facts and the law allow us to appeal,” Mncube said.

While the NPA had not been happy that Pistorius had been found guilty of culpable homicide and not murder, he said it was a “consolation” that Pistorius would go to jail.

Masipa said a suspended sentence would not be appropriate.

“I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community. On the other hand a long sentence would not be appropriate as it would lack mercy,” she said.

“It will be a sad day if the impression was created that there was one law for the poor and one law for the rich and the famous.”

She said a long prison sentence would “break” Pistorius, but a suspended sentence could see society losing faith in the justice system.

Masipa summarised the evidence of the witnesses who had testified during sentencing arguments, and singled out social worker and probation officer Annette Vergeer, and acting national correctional services commissioner Zach Modise for criticism and praise.

The defence had called Vergeer to argue that prisons did not have facilities to accommodate the disabled, and to recommend a sentence of three years of correctional supervision and 16 hours of community service a month over that period.

“I was not impressed by the evidence of Ms Vergeer,” Masipa said.

Her evidence did not inspire confidence, she used outdated information, and was slapdash. Her evidence was perfunctory and unhelpful, she said.

“It was unhelpful… I find it quite disturbing from someone with 28 years of experience,” she said.

On the other hand, Modise, who testified for the State, was a candid witness who described a department that was not perfect, but was improving.

“He did not paint a picture of a problem-free department, but of one which was making strides and moving with the times,” she said.

Dealing with Pistorius using his disability in a bid to avoid jail, Masipa said: “There was a feeling of unease on my part as I listened to one witness after another placing an over-emphasis on the accused’s vulnerability.

“Yes, he is vulnerable, but he also has excellent coping skills.”

After proceedings, Barry Steenkamp said: “[We are] satisfied with the sentence… [it's] now time to go home.”

Briefing reporters Pistorius’s uncle Arnold said the athlete would “embrace” the sentence.

“As an uncle, I hope Oscar will start the healing process as he walks this path and serves the sentence.”

The African National Congress Women’s League said Pistorius’s sentence signalled a sad day for women in South Africa.

“We are saddened by the judgment… we have never been happy with the conviction of culpable homicide, instead of murder,” spokeswoman Jacqui Mofokeng said outside court.

“We call for the national prosecutions to appeal this sentence… and do it for our society.”

Pistorius was driven out of the court in a police Nyala at noon, escorted by several police cars with lights flashing and sirens wailing.

Copyright © 2014 South African Press Association. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: live

Oscar Pistorius will be sentenced for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday.
The court adjourned on Friday afternoon after final arguments from the prosecution and defence.
The Telegraph’s Aislinn Laing has this summary of the …

Algeria: President Bouteflika Gave Instructions to Attach Special Attention to Border Regions, Says Sellal

IN GUEZZAM (Tamanrasset)- Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Monday in In Guezzam, Tamanrasset (1970-km south of Algiers), that President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika had given instructions to attach a special attention to the country’s border regions.

“For the first time in the history of independent Algeria, a large government delegation has made a visit to border areas in line with the instructions of President of the Republic to give a special attention to those regions in the country’s south, east and west,” Sellal said at a meeting with the representatives of the civil society and local officials of In Guezzam.

The premier stressed the need to take the appropriate measures and ensure the required resources to give a fresh impetus to development in the country’s border areas.

Sellal added that he would make a visit shortly to the regions of Debdeb and Bordj Omar Driss, in the country’s far south.

Copyright © 2014 Algerie Presse Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

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Algeria: Sellal Hails Efforts of Anp, Security Forces in Protecting Algerian Border Areas

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal hailed Monday in In Guezzam (Tamanrasset, 1970 km south of Algiers) the huge efforts undertaken by the People’s National Army (ANP) and all the security forces in protecting the Algerian border areas.

“History will remember the huge efforts undertaken by ANP,” said Sellal in a meeting with the representatives of the civil society and notables of In Guezzam city on the sidelines of a working visit to the region, underlining that the Algerian army ” is doing its role properly to protect the security at the borders.”

While underlining that the Algerian army “does not intervene outside the Algerian borders,” he stressed that “the Algerian diplomacy plays a major role in ensuring stability in the neighbouring countries like Mali and Libya.”

He called on the population of the region to work “for the return of security in this region.”

Sellal said that the populations of the borders should support the efforts of the Algerian army and contribute to the achievement of this objective, because “their stability strengthens the State and the Republic.”

While broaching the opening of the borders, the Prime minister said “we extremely need to open the borders but this opening cannot be done only in an environment of stability and security.”

“Algeria seeks to help Mali and progressively resume the dialogue and regain stability,” said Sellal.

Copyright © 2014 Algerie Presse Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Cleaning Addis Abeba – It Is a Sisyphean Task

By Kalikidan Yibeltal

More than 10,000 street cleaners are scrambling to clean a city that produces 200,000 tons of waste annually; but their job is a Sisyphean task

In one uncharacteristically dry late morning in July of this year, three women with straw hats, waterproof safety jackets and plastic boots walk at their own speed alongside Roosevelt Avenue at the heart of Addis Abeba.

They are wearing the thick latex gloves they use while sweeping the streets; the empty pushcarts and the idle broomsticks, however, are being pushed, thankfully, by their colleagues who are a little ahead of them. The three women look slightly fatigued, but they seem to be enjoying the less demanding hours and less daunting weather.

When they arrived at the place around 5:00 am, leaving their houses an hour earlier, it was drizzling. As it is the rainy season this time of year, sometimes the day breaks with a downpour, making it unbearable to move, let alone deal with the garbage thrown overnight on the streets of a city, which six years ago was dubbed “the sixth filthiest in the entire world” by a Forbes Magazine rating. But they can’t afford to be late. They have to grapple with the most arduous parts of their tasks before the hustle and bustle of life seizes the day.

Equipped with cleaning appliances provided by their employer, the Addis Abeba City Sanitation Administration Agency (AACSAA), they started their crusades against litter on the respective roads they were assigned to.

“We are particularly aware of the prominence this area holds,” says Selamawit Gebrewold, 38, one of the three women, pointing towards the US$ 200 million worth office of the African Union (AU) headquarters standing a few hundred yards away. “A lot of diplomats and leaders pass through it. So we are extra careful to keep it clean.”

That “extra care” involves inspecting each and every inch every now and then, looking for trash thrown out by careless drivers, walkers by or households; sweeping it meticulously, collecting the junk uncompromisingly and finally taking it to the metal containers nearby where the neighborhood waste is amassed before it is driven to the city’s waste disposal landfill.

Addis Abeba aspires to be a clean model city for cities of the continent by 2020, claims the AACSAA’s vision. But considering the mere six years left to hit that deadline, imagining a clean Addis Abeba seems out of horizon, and for many reasons.

A Sisyphean task

One of the most daunting challenges urban centers in developing countries like Addis Abeba face is proper waste management. In their 2011 study titled “Challenges and Opportunities in Municipal Solid Waste Management: The Case of Addis Abeba city, Central Ethiopia,” Nigatu Regassa, Rajan D. Sundarra and Bizunesh Bogale of Hawassa and Haromaya Universities, state that in urban centers throughout African, less than half of solid waste is collected of which 95% is either indiscriminately thrown away at various dumping sites in the periphery of urban centers or at a number of so-called temporary sites, typically empty lots scattered throughout the city.

As demographic and economic growth leads to an increase in amount as well as diversity of waste, the issue of proper waste management becomes complicated.

Apart from insufficient financial, technical and human resources that face the job of cleaning a big city in countries like Ethiopia, there are factors specific to Addis Abeba city that exacerbates the problem.

According to Nigatu, Sundaraa and Bizunesh, even though the city’s solid waste management dates some three decades back, “the service cannot meet the changing demands.

The social waste collection service is unsatisfactory, and scenes of scattered waste are common in most parts of the city.” Despite being the capital with the highest altitude in Africa with an average annual rainfall of 1200mm, for example, the city does not have a commendable sewerage system.

This does not only result in roads damaged sooner than the time it takes to build them, but also poses a great challenge on those who are responsible to keep it clean. Three years after negate et.al conducted their research, much of it remains the same, making the job of cleaning it a thankless labor.

AACSAA was established through Addis Ababa City Administration Executive Bodies and Municipal Service Proclamation No. 15/2009 with a mission to “make the city clean by increasing the participation of the society and stakeholders; controlling and following up of how to keep, transport, and collect wastes; developing the city’s awareness; and providing service in a modern and sustainable way.”

According to the agency, as of 2006 Ethiopian fiscal year (2013/14) AACSAA alone has employed more than 4000 street cleaners. This doesn’t include the more than 6000 cleaners organized under 568 Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) and private agencies.

Complying with Solid Waste Management Proclamation No 513/2007, which in article 4/2 stipulates, “any person shall obtain a permit from the concerned body of an urban administration prior to his engagement in the collection, transportation, use or disposal of solid waste,” private agencies investing in solid waste disposal handle up to 18% of the city’s collected waste transportation.

The agency’s employees, coupled with the employees under organized SMEs and private agencies are responsible for cleaning the 1807 km asphalt road, 227 km cobblestone paved road and 570 km long of sidewalk that Addis Abeba currently possesses.

Nauseating social behaviour

For Selamawit and her colleagues, the execution of much of their job in early hours means having a little “leisure” later to chat and laugh with each other while casting their gazes on the roads, making sure nothing escapes their scrutiny. Often times they are met with disappointment, as it is not uncommon to find the street they help clean only hours ago filled with litter all over again. But there are worse moments.

Kush Gebreyesus, a Coordinator at Woreda Five Sanitation Office in Bole Sub City, who is in charge of 33 street cleaners, of whom 27 are female, identifies truck drivers and animals as the leading causes of urban filth.

Yirgalem Arage, 53, and one of Selamawit’s colleagues, couldn’t agree more. In her sixteen years’ of experience on the roads, truck drivers, who think covering their truckloads as a burden to contend with, do not seem to be bothered by the rubbish they litter around as they speed through the streets “sometimes while we are [still] cleaning,” making the their job of cleaning the city a futile exercise.

In addition to bad social behaviors like spiting, drivers of the city in general are notorious for the junk – banana peels, plastic bottles, chewing gum wrappers and scratched mobile phone cards among others – they throw out of their windows without the slightest regard to the hygiene of the city they inhabit.

According to an ongoing research titled “Public Environmental Awareness Level of Addis Abeba,” and which has responses from the street cleaners as well as different sections of the society, the researcher Gizaw Ebissa of Green Environmental Consultancy Services and Sustainable Research Based Action identifies public indifference to a clean environment and lack of proper safety measurement as some of the main challenges street cleaners have to face. Display of utter disrespect by throwing waste while a cleaning is in progress undoubtedly brings forth negative outcomes, too.

A document titled Solid Waste Manual: With Respect to Urban Plans, Sanitary Landfill Sites and Solid Waste Management Planning, released in April 2012 by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, Urban Planning, Sanitation and Beautification Bureau, reveals lack of public awareness and the issue of attitude as major contributing factors to the worsening of urban filth. According to the manual, “in order to change solid waste management significantly, the behavior and attitudes of individuals and groups in the society will have to change.”

Unfortunately for Selamawit and her colleagues that change is not coming by easy. “People think we are something of annoyances, when in fact we are cleaning the mess they would rather not see,” she told this magazine.

From construction debris to household litter

According to a document: Overview of the City’s Solid Waste Management System, more than 200,000 tons of waste is annually produced in Addis Abeba alone, of which 76% is generated from domestic households. Sweeping accounts only for 6% of the total waste generated. Door to door collection of household waste is done mostly by cleaners, mostly young boys, organized under the different SMEs.

Big state funded development projects and a recent boom in the construction sector means Addis Abeba is in a perpetual state of a city under construction. Construction debris coming from demolished buildings debris and buildings under construction are constant sources of anguish for street cleaners.

As it is clearly put in Solid Waste Management Proclamation No. 513/2007 on article 11/3 it is, “prohibited to dispose of litter on streets, waterways, parks, bus stops, train stations, sport fields, water bodies in urban areas or in other public places while litter bins are available.” Furthermore, article 12/2 states that “construction permits shall be issued only when the building contractor deposits a legally valid bond or any other instrument to ensure the environmentally sound solid waste management.”

Any institute that leaves a mess unattended is subject to a fine ranging from 50 ETB to 2000 ETB. However, like many other rules and regulations, when it comes to implementation this one too is not worth the paper it is written at.

‘Animal Kingdom’

Along with the three million plus humans, Addis Abeba is home to countless animals. According to a study, “Dog Bite as a Health Concern in Addis Ababa” conducted by Fasil Mengistu, Kedir Hussen, Abraham Ali, Gorema Getahun and Dessalegn Sifir in 2011, the number of dogs roaming the streets of Addis Abeba is estimated to be around 250 000, of which 120, 000 are believed to be stray dogs.

Living side by side with people mostly without careful supervision and care, the animals scatter about everywhere spreading their feces. But that is not the whole story. “Sometimes dead animals are found unattended in residential areas,” says Yirgalem. “Owners are rarely concerned about the bodies of dead family pets. They just throw them out to the streets. On some other times, animals, mostly stray dogs, are run over by speeding vehicles,” she says.

Yirgalem says it frustrates her to see when animals are hit by a car, most people, including drivers and law enforcement officers, do not see it as such. “To be frank, dealing with remains of dead animals is quite nasty,” she says. “It is during those times that the job is very trying. When people look down on me or when I am invisible to them, it doesn’t bother me a bit. I can even say I like it,” but collecting animal corpses is something she can never get used to.

Between the past and the future

A major reshuffle at the Addis Abeba City Administration saw thousands of its employees reduced to street sweepers. Yirgalem was one of them. Before she was demoted to the status of a street cleaner by the city administration for a lack of formal education almost sixteen years ago, she served as a documentation officer, where she said she “hated the office politics.

Now I spend my days laboring and sleep like a baby”. Most of those who shared Yirgalem’s fate either left the public sector or managed to land better jobs like secretarial, and office cleaning tasks while she remained on the streets. She doesn’t condemn the move or her lot for that matter. In fact she is grateful. When she thinks about how she would have raised her four fatherless children without the permanent job, she remains aghast. “I am still a civil servant. I can get my pension.”

When asked if she fears for her safely she says is concerned. “Oh, we are all in God’s hands. Who is going to escape their destiny?” However, she thinks the bright yellow “safety coats” that she and her colleagues are provided with contribute to their wellbeing by warning drivers of their existence from afar. Instead of contemplating the dreadful, though, she prefers to be hopeful. Like any civil servant, she is all too aware of the Prime Minister’s pledge to raise salaries. With an animated, expectant face, she whispers, “we will see what will come out of it.”

Last year, AACSAA, has bought 10 main road sweepers which, after undergoing a trial run from December 2013 to February 2014, have fully begun giving service, according to the document from the agency. And the Addis Abeba Sewerage Authority recently said it bought 40 vacuum trucks worth about US$ 10m.

AACSAA believes the arrival of the machines, gives it additional resource that is helpful in covering more areas. Recently, it has set a new standard for the city’s roads. Accordingly, Roosevelt Avenue where Yirgalem and her colleagues spend their working days has been labeled ‘Level 1′, which means it needs extra care in cleaning. All the three women knew what that means.

Mahlet Fasil contributed to this story

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Rwanda: Lifting the Lid On Rwandan Repression

column

By David Mepham

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who is giving a speech at London’s Chatham House today, is viewed by his admirers as the man who saved the nation – who brought stability and rapid economic development to a country devastated by genocide now 20 years ago.

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who advises the Rwandan government, has talked of Kagame’s “visionary leadership,” while former US president Bill Clinton has described him as “one of the greatest leaders of our time.” But these admirers – and others – seem to be willfully ignoring the darker side of Kagame’s record in office.

Rwanda under Kagame has no tolerance for dissent or political opposition. Years of state intimidation and infiltration have emasculated Rwandan civil society.

In July last year, the last effective Rwandan human rights organization, the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, suffered an internal coup, which ousted critical and independent voices and installed government-compliant ones. The Rwandan media is dominated by government views, and most media outlets follow the official line. Scores of Rwandan journalists have fled the country, unable to report freely and fearful for their safety.

Kagame’s Rwanda is similarly ruthless in its treatment of political opponents. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front dominates political and public life, at national and local levels. Opposition parties have faced sustained pressure, preventing them from operating effectively. Some prominent opposition leaders, like Victoire Ingabire and Sylvain Sibomana, remain imprisoned, following flawed judicial processes.

Rwandans living abroad who criticize Kagame’s government have also been physically attacked, raising serious questions about Rwandan government involvement. In January, Patrick Karegeya, a former Rwandan intelligence chief turned Kagame critic, was found murdered in his hotel room in South Africa.

In the days that followed, Kagame and other senior government ministers branded Karegeya a traitor and implied he got what he deserved. A few years earlier, an attempt was made on the life of dissident and former senior military official Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who lives in South Africa.

In August, a South African judge convicted four people for the attempted murder – including two Rwandans – calling the attack politically motivated and saying it emanated from a certain group of people in Rwanda.

While in London, Kagame is likely to be lauded for Rwanda’s economic and development achievements, which are impressive. But they in no way excuse his severe crackdown on political opposition, the intimidation of journalists and civil society, and any violence against Rwandan critics abroad.

Kagame’s hosts in the UK should say so and in the strongest possible terms. And Kagame should be left in no doubt that he will pay a heavy price internationally for his continued repression and authoritarian rule.

Copyright © 2014 Human Rights Watch. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Mozambique: Renamo’s Renaissance, and Civil War As Election Strategy

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Photo: A. Cascais/Deutsche Welle

Afonso Dhlakama took command of RENAMO in 1984 and waged a bitter guerilla war against the government.

analysis

By Simon Allison

In 2009, the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) recorded its worst ever showing in an election. Its candidate, rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, was trying so hard to play the respectable politician, yet he received only 650 679 votes (16,41% of the total). This was, astoundingly, over 300 000 votes fewer than he had garnered in the 2004 poll.

At the same time, Renamo won just 51 seats in Parliament, down from 91 seats in the previous session. By anyone’s estimation, it was a catastrophic showing for the party that had effectively invented opposition politics in the country. It had fought to end the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique’s (Frelimo’s) de facto one-party state both during the country’s bloody civil war (which only ended with the 1992 peace agreement), and in the post-civil war democratic elections that followed thereafter.

It seemed as if Dhlakama and his Renamo movement were a spent force. Incoherent and disorganised, and dogged by its dodgy historical links to the apartheid government in South Africa, the party had lost ground not only to the ruling Frelimo but also to the young upstarts of the Movement for Democracy in Mozambique (MDM). The MDM, a breakaway faction of Renamo, had sprung up to claim 8,59% of the electorate.

Of course, Renamo cried foul, alleging that the election was rigged and initially refusing to recognise the results. But its leaders must have known that the sheer scale of the drop in support indicated that the real problem lay within its own ranks. If Renamo were to remain relevant – if they were to seriously compete for power in 2014, and for a share of Mozambique’s impending oil and gas boom – then something needed to change.

And so the party returned to doing what it does best: no, not electoral politics, but armed resistance. In 2012, Dhlakama began to resurrect his fighting force, re-establishing a military base in the Gorongosa region and arming Renamo veterans.

By October 2013, he was confident enough to rip up the ceasefire that had ended the civil war in 1992. ‘Peace is over in the country,’ said a Renamo spokesperson. These weren’t just words: Renamo launched deadly attacks on targets such as police stations and highways, resulting in dozens of deaths (both military and civilian). The civil war was back, albeit at a far lower intensity.

At the same time, Renamo announced that it would boycott the upcoming municipal elections in November 2013, decrying the politicisation of the electoral system and the blurring of lines between Frelimo and the state (both valid criticisms). It made good on this threat, and its absence allowed the MDM to make significant gains in many of the country’s most important municipalities.

Renamo, it seemed, were weaker than ever before. ‘Dhlakama has backed himself into a corner from which there is no obvious exit,’ wrote veteran Mozambique researcher Joseph Hanlon in late 2013, a conclusion shared by most analysts. But Dhlakama found a way out.

Eventually, Renamo’s intransigence and the threat of even more violence forced the government to the negotiating table – although critics say the government should have acted much sooner to nip the Renamo threat in the bud.

Anxious to deal with the situation before the presidential elections, President Armando Guebuza allowed Renamo to extract several key concessions. These included greater representation for Renamo in state institutions, especially the armed forces; reform of the electoral system to make it harder to rig elections in Frelimo’s favour; and a general amnesty for Dhlakama and his supporters.

The new peace deal was concluded on 5 September 2014, with Guebuza and Dhlakama shaking hands in a ceremony in Maputo. The very next day, Dhlakama hit the campaign trail.

At this point, the odds were still stacked against Dhlakama and Renamo. With little over a month before the polls, his opponents had enjoyed a substantial head start on campaigning. And surely Mozambicans would not take kindly to political groups that make their demands at the barrel of a gun: that threaten to plunge the country into civil war if they don’t get their way.

In fact, the opposite was true. Everywhere Dhlakama went, he received a hero’s welcome. Unlike Frelimo rallies, where crowds were lured by the promise of free merchandise and celebrity entertainment, Renamo rallies were chaotic and disorganised. But still people came, and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of the man who had somehow turned himself into a beacon of hope for the huge sections of society that feel marginalised by Frelimo’s length rule.

‘Dhlakama has won admiration by apparently forcing Frelimo to make political concessions it has been resisting for decades. He even seems to be enjoying – perhaps unjustly – much of the credit for the peace that has come just in time for the election. Emerging from hiding only after the peace agreement was signed was a clever move that brought his supporters out in droves to welcome him as a hero,’ wrote journalist Cait Reid for African Arguments.

Far from being Renamo’s death knell, its resumption of hostilities was a political masterstroke. It was able to depict itself as the party that was able to take real action to defend its principles, which it argued were for the good of Mozambique as a whole. Dhlakama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail echoed this, and emphasised values such as tolerance and unity, which contrasted sharply with Frelimo’s either-with-us-or-against-us approach.

Oddly enough, by pulling out of the democratic process, Renamo was able to demonstrate its commitment to it; at least as far as its constituency is concerned.

The election results bear this out. Although the final results have yet to be released, provisional results and a parallel count from the Electoral Observatory of Mozambique give Renamo about 32% of the presidential vote – double their proportion from 2009.

Regardless of this feat, Renamo are challenging the results and alleging that the vote was tampered with. It is a dramatic return to form, and positions Renamo once again as the most serious challenger to Frelimo’s electoral stranglehold. As unlikely as it may seem, Renamo’s return to the bush had proved to be a most effective campaign strategy.

It is also useful when it comes to negotiating the terms of Renamo’s future democratic engagement. On Sunday, Dhlakama declared the election a ‘charade.’

He warned that while he was committed to peacefully negotiating his differences with Frelimo, he couldn’t necessarily control his angry supporters – thus leaving the threat of violence hanging in the air as he voiced his demand for a government of national unity along Kenyan or Zimbabwean lines. Given Renamo’s history, and the new evidence of the strength of its support base, Renamo remains a threat that Frelimo can’t afford to ignore.

 - Simon Allison, ISS Consultant

Copyright © 2014 Institute for Security Studies. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.