"Part of the reason why poverty still persists in our continent is governments inability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the opposition to confront the many problems facing us as a continent. In almost all the advanced democracies a government in power works or listens to the opposition in matters of national importance such as education, defence, energy and the economy. However in Africa such matters are always hijacked by the ruling government to the detriment of the nation and its people". Lord Aikins Adusei


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Let’s Blame Ourselves – NDC Organiser


The Deputy National Organiser of the NDC, Opanyin Yaw Boateng Gyan has admitted that the various political parties, especially the two leading parties (the NDC and NPP) should be blamed for the various acts of violence reported during from the just ended Akwatia re-run election which took place on 18th August 2009. The election which crowned the NPP Candidate, Dr Kofi Asare as winner last Sunday, saw some violence in the area. One party leader had his nose broken while others had their cars smashed, including that of the minority leader, Hon Kyei-Mensah Bonsu.

According to the Deputy Organiser, the various parties especially NPP and NDC, did not behave well because of their failure to educate their supporters or caution them against violence. He said thus, “let’s not apportion blame on anybody, I’m part of it, we must blame ourselves, because we’re the cause.”

Opanyin Yaw Boateng was speaking on Peace FM’s morning show “Kokrokoo”, in reaction to the blame levelled against the NDC by the General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Ohene Ntow, that they (NDC) were the cause of the reported acts of violence in Akwatia which compelled the government to impose curfew on the township. However, the elections became successful later on, and the people chose the NPP candidate, Dr Kofi Asare to be their Member of Parliament (MP).

By: John Nyaaba/peacefmonline.com

Ghana: Prof Atafuah: Ruling Against BNI Calls For Celebration”

The former Commissioner for Human Rights in the Province of British Columbia, Canada and a private legal practitioner, Prof Ken Attafuah, has hailed the recent ruling by an Accra High Court regarding clients or suspects having access to their counsel during questioning by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), as a landmark victory for the rule of law.

The Human Rights Division of an Accra High Court yesterday ruled that it is unconstitutional for the BNI to interrogate suspects without the presence of their counsel. The NPP Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Sammy Crabbe, had sued the BNI for infringing on his rights when the investigative body invited him for questioning regarding Ghana International Airlines and prevented him from having his lawyer present during the interrogation process.

Speaking on PEACEFM’s KOKROKOO this morning, the former Executive Director of the National Identification Authority (NIA), posited that the ruling is in consonance with the constitution. According to him, due process of law hinges on these three principles, namely; the Right to Counsel of Choice, Presumption of Innocence and Procedural Fairness, which the country’s constitution guarantees.
Quoting extensively from Articles 14 (1) and 14(2) to support his argument for the rights of an individual and the protection of personal liberties, Prof Attafuah called for a celebration.

“We as Ghanaians should celebrate, we should bask in the glamour of this victory for democracy and the rule of law,” the learned professor said. Touching on the need for effecting arrests in a constitutionally mandated manner, Professor Attafuah stated, “the possibility exists that an accused person may be factually guilty but legally innocent if the proper procedures and rights of the accused have been violated.” Whilst citing Article 14 (5), to buttress his point, Prof Attafuah therefore stated that it is important to let the security agencies know what is enshrined in the constitution in such scenarios. Article 14 (5) states; “A person who is unlawfully arrested, restricted or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation from that other person.”

By Kojo Asante/peacefmonline.com

Arrest over gem expert's murder

Campbell Bridges (pic: www.tsavorite.com)
Campbell Bridges was credited with discovering the rare stone Tsavorite

Police in Kenya say they have arrested a "key suspect" in the murder of a Scottish-born gemstone expert.

Campbell Bridges, 71, was attacked last week near the southern town of Voi by a gang armed with spears and machetes.

A police spokesman said a man was arrested in the town of Taveta, near Kenya's border with Tanzania, as he tried to flee the country.

Mr Bridges' son Bruce, who was also attacked, told the BBC his father had received death threats for three years.

The 30-year-old said the family had been threatened by "bandits" trying to gain illegal access to their gemstone mines.

But he alleged politicians were ultimately behind his father's murder as part of a continuing effort to grab his land.

Tsavorite gem

Mr Bridges was ambushed on 11 August by up to 30 men in the grounds of his 600-acre property.

He died from a stab wound while two guards who were with him were seriously injured.

Map of Kenya

Herbert Khaemba, regional police commander, reportedly told Reuters news agency on Wednesday: "The suspect believed to be the main organiser of the brutal murder was arrested by the police at the Kenyan border town of Taveta in hiding.

"The police are still pursuing other suspects who were armed with crude weapons during the attack."

Mr Bridges was born in Scotland, but had lived in Africa for most of his life.

He was a world-renowned gemstone expert, credited with discovering the green Tsavorite gem, a rare stone unique to the region, more than 40 years ago.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross said the find had fuelled interest in the region's mineral reserves, but had led to frequent clashes between contracted and local artisanal miners in both Kenya and Tanzania.

A memorial service for Mr Bridges is due to take place on 21 August in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Report: South Africa school leavers cannot read


Higher education specialists say first year university students lack essential reading, writing, maths and comprehension skills – raising questions about the implementation of curricula at schools and the value of the National Senior Certificate, writesAdrienne Carlisle.They add that school leavers’ lack of academic competence is also contributing to universities’ high failure rates.

Higher Education South Africa (Hesa) chairperson Dr Theuns Eloff yesterday warned that there was a serious breakdown between school-level outcomes and higher education entry-level proficiencies. “Schools should be able to better prepare learners for higher education.”

In a presentation to the portfolio committee on higher education, Eloff this week painted a bleak picture on school leavers’ lack of academic competency. His presentation is confirmed by the results of the final pilot phase of the National Benchmark Tests Project (NTBP). Among other things, the NTBP assesses entry-level academic and quantitative literacy and mathematics proficiency of university students. About 13 000 students at seven universities, including Rhodes, wrote the assessments earlier this year. It reportedly found that only seven percent of those tested were mathematically “proficient”, meaning they would not need extra help to pass their first year. About 73 percent had intermediate mathematical skills, and would need to take part in extended or augmented programmes to pass the subject. Twenty percent had “basic skills” and would need long-term support.

Out of those who wrote the academic literacy tests only 47 percent were proficient, meaning more than half would require “extensive support in language development”. The test assessed ability in English, the medium of instruction.

In an interview with the Daily Dispatch, Eloff yesterday said the results were “cause for concern” about curriculum implementation at school level and the quality of the NSC.

“We don’t want to rush to judgment but it is a serious cause for concern right now. Matric leavers with exemption should have at least basic academic literacy and be better able read, write and do calculations.”

Rift in Botswana ruling party

Botswana’s president has moved against a rival in his party, exposing an internal split with only months to go before elections.

  • AU Summit failed Africa: Botswana VP

  • Don’t recognise Mugabe: Botswana

    On Tuesday, President Seretse Ian Khama suspended party Secretary General Gomolemo Motsweledi for 60 days.

    Khama says Motsweledi brought the party into disrepute by criticising the party’s law firm, which includes a lawyer who is a friend of Khama.

    In his announcement, Khama indicated Motsweledi will be barred from running for parliament on the party ticket in October elections.

    Khama is the party’s candidate in presidential elections that will be held alongside the parliament vote. He has considerable support because of the popularity of his late father Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president.

  • Niger jails publication’s head

    This ruling has no legal basis and I am deeply shocked by it

    A court in Niger jailed the director of a satirical private weekly for three months for "discrediting a court decision", his lawyer said.

  • Niger press strike for freedom

  • Niger arrests opposition figure

  • Clashes over Niger referendum

    "This ruling has no legal basis and I am deeply shocked by it," Marc Lebihan, who has appealed the court decision, told journalists on Tuesday.

    Abdoulaye Tiemogo, of Le Canard dechaine, was charged last week after he commented on a private television channel on an arrest warrant issued by authorities against former prime minister Hama Amadou, the lawyer said.

    "We are surprised and sad over this heavy punishment," added Boubacar Diallo, the president of the Association of Independent Press in Niger (ANEPI).

    Tiemogo fled the country last August following a complaint lodged by President Mamadou Tandja over an article suggesting he planned to impose his son to succeed him should he fail in his bid to revise the constitution.

    The controversial referendum earlier this month cleared the way for Tandja, in power since 1999, to run in subsequent elections, potentially allowing him to hold on to power for life.

    On his return to Niger in May, Tiemogo was charged with "spreading false information" although that case was subsequently dropped, ANEPI said.

  • Air Zimbabwe to slash workforce

    Our 737 fleet is 23 years old and has outlived its economic life span

    Zimbabwe’s flag carrier will cut 500 jobs, representing one-third of its workforce, to mitigate financial losses incurred over the past years, the airline’s boss said on Tuesday.

  • Iran, Zim to start airline links

  • Zimbabwe inflation ticks up

    "We have no option other but to right-size or else we are dead," Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba told AFP.

    Nearly a decade of economic and political crisis has seen annual passenger numbers for the embattled airline drop from a peak of million in 1996 to just 300,000 now, the company said.

    The company currently has a 30 million US dollar debt, and has asked the government to sell its stake in the airline in a bid to raise desperately needed cash from private investors.

    "If we do not do anything about it, the business will collapse.

    The situation we are in today as an airline and as a country is not best for business," Chikumba told AFP.

    The company, with 1,500 employees, has already cut its flights to Dubai, Kinshasa and Luanda, while concentrating on busy routes to South Africa, Britain and Zambia.

    Chikumba also expressed concern about the airline’s aging fleet.

    "Our 737 fleet is 23 years old and has outlived its economic life span," he said.

    "The standard economic life span of an aircraft is about 15 years. Maintenance costs are high, spares for these aeroplanes are scarce," Chikumba added.

    The company’s newer planes are three Boeing 737s, two 767s and three Chinese MA60 which were purchased in 2005.

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Angola praised on Asian oil deals

    President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, file
    President Dos Santos has fostered a strong government, the report says

    One of Africa's largest oil producers, Angola, is much tougher in negotiating deals with Asian firms than critics might suggest, a new report claims.

    UK-based think-tank Chatham House says the country does not fit the stereotype of weak African states being exploited by resource-hungry Asian tigers.

    Their report contrasts Angola with Nigeria, which it says has mismanaged its relations with Asian firms.

    It says Nigeria has put $20bn (£12bn) of infrastructure at risk.

    'Playing politics'

    In Angola, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos has been in power for almost 30 years, boosting stability and helping to create a functioning state-owned oil company, Sonangol, the report says.

    The scale of the corruption, mismanagement and non-execution of projects in the Obasanjo years has sent shockwaves through Nigeria
    Chatham House report

    Angola emerged as the second-largest supplier of oil to China last year, helping the African country secure at least $13bn in oil-backed loans from Beijing.

    "While Nigeria was playing politics with its Asian partners, Angola was driven by economic necessity to quickly access funds to finance its reconstruction," the report said.

    The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the co-operation between Angola and China reflects the fact that Beijing, unlike the West, has played a major part in rebuilding Angola after its long civil war.

    Legal moves

    Nigeria's dealings, on the other hand, have been bogged down by corruption and mismanagement.

    Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo sought partners in China, India, South Korea and elsewhere to buy oil blocks in return for billions of dollars of infrastructure.

    But not a single barrel of oil was ever produced by Asian national oil companies in Nigeria, leaving the Nigerian economy with no tangible benefit, the report said.

    "The scale of the corruption, mismanagement and non-execution of projects in the Obasanjo years has sent shockwaves through Nigeria," the report said.

    "His intentions were good but officials failed to spell out the full implications of the scheme. And many used the scheme for private profit."

    When President Umaru Yar'Adua took power in May 2007 many deals were revoked - and a Korean firm has taken the Nigerian government to court over the issue.

    Malagasy leaders agree transition

    Andry Rajoelina (left) and Marc Ravalomanana (right)
    Both Mr Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana claim to be president

    The leaders at the centre of Madagascar's political crisis have reached agreement on a power-sharing government, the UN special envoy says.

    The accord would see a transitional period of 15 months, during which legislative and presidential elections would be held, Tiebile Drame said.

    Ousted President Marc Ravalomanana said he would return to Madagascar but not personally take part in the process.

    The deal follows days of negotiations in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

    Mediators hope it will bring an end to the months of crisis which culminated in the opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina, forcing Mr Ravalomanana to resign as president on 17 March and flee.

    Mr Rajoelina and his allies, who accused the president of being a tyrant who misspent public money, were accused by the African Union of taking power through a coup and foreign aid was frozen.

    The power struggle led to the deaths of more than 100 people in violent riots and crippled the island's tourist industry.


    The leaders of Madagascar's four main political groups, including Mr Rajoelina, Mr Ravalomanana, and their predecessors as president, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, began the power-sharing negotiations in Maputo on Wednesday.

    In the interests of the nation, and following consultations, it seems reasonable to me to not participate personally in the transition
    Marc Ravalomanana

    The talks were mediated by the former Mozambican leader, Joaquim Chissano, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

    Earlier, Mr Ravalomanana said that under the terms of the agreement, he would not take part in the transitional period, although his party would.

    "In the interests of the nation, and following consultations, it seems reasonable to me to not participate personally," he said.

    But he added that he would return to Madagascar, where he would be granted an amnesty from a conviction for abuse of power handed down in June. He was also fined $70m by the court in Antananarivo.

    Mr Ravalomanana has been living in exile in South Africa since March. On Friday, Mr Rajoelina said any deal should not allow him to return.

    An amnesty has also been agreed for Mr Ratsiraka, who has been living in exile in France since a crisis over the disputed results of the 2001 presidential election, which was won by Mr Ravolamanana.

    He was sentenced to 10 years of hard labour and five years in jail in 2003 for misusing public funds and threatening state security.

    Ghana:BNI cannot seize passports - High Court declares

    Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Akwasi Osei Adjei
    Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Akwasi Osei Adjei

    The Fast Track Division of the High Court in Accra has granted reliefs sought by former Foreign Minister Akwasi Osei Agyei over the seizure of his passport by the Bureau of National Investigations.

    The court wants the BNI to return the passport to him immediately and also refrain from curtailing his free movement without a recourse to the courts.

    The former Foreign Minister in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration sought a declaration that the seizure of the passport by the BNI was not constitutional and against his right to free movement.

    According to Joy News’ Sampson Laadi Ayenini, who was in court, the ruling means that the BNI cannot under any circumstance confiscate a citizen’s passport unless it is so authourised by a court of competent jurisdiction. The BNI would have to present before a court, explicit reasons for wanting to restrict a person’s movement by taking away his or her passport and the court would have to grant the request based on its merit, and in accordance with law.

    The BNI seized Mr Osei Adjei’s passport following its investigations into quantities of rice imported from India which the Bureau said his ministry facilitated in a fraudulent manner.

    He has denied any wrong doing.

    Following the seizure, Mr Osei Adjei sued the national investigative body, arguing they have no right to seize his passport and that the BNI acted arbitrarily, contrary to the laws of the land.

    Counsel for Mr Osei Adjei, Mr. Godfred Odame told Sampson all three reliefs sought by the plaintiff were granted by the court.

    The applicants sought an unconditional release of the passport and an order restraining the Attorney-General and BNI from curtailing the right to freedom of movement of the plaintiff, counsel said.

    He described the ruling as a victory for the country’s democracy and a deepening of the rule of law.

    Supporters of the former Foreign Minister who thronged the court premises, wielded placards some of which read, “we believe in the court,” “we want fairness.”

    Tandja and the Big Man syndrome

    Syndrome has become a buzzword in Africa’s emerging progress world. The most popular being the pull him/her down syndrome, where Africans destroy each other as they attempt to progress in the fashion of crabs pulling each other down as they attempt to get out of a trap. Pull him/her down syndrome is so cancerous that runs from the micro to the macro in Africa’s development process. The term, as George Ayittey will tell you, has become a mantra for theorists of Africa’s development as they attempt to diagnose Africa’s developmental ills.

    It isn’t one of the ills of the often beat-up European colonialism. As “African solution for Africa’s problems” gathers heat in post-Barack Obama Accra therapy, new generation of African development thinkers are analyzing Africa’s advancement from within Africans’ cultural values and institutions in relation to the global prosperity ideals. The term syndrome derived from Greek roots means “run together.” Medicine aside, syndrome is culture-bound where a set of symptoms have no evidence of an underlying biological cause, and which is only acknowledged as a “disease” in a particular culture, such as Africa’s pull him/her down syndrome.

    People in African development, businesses, mass media, academia, think tanks, centres of power, use syndrome as some sort of reality thresher – a way of comparing positive and negative aspects of the African culture as it becomes increasingly used in Africa’s progress. Syndrome is an implement of sorting out African development history at a moment of changing African progress scene, of Barack Obama era, where Africans are told to incorporate their traditional values and institutions into their development process.

    Pull him/her down syndrome may be more discussed in Africa’s development universe today but as Africa’s development gradually opens up into its emerging democratic practices, Big Man syndrome, a neo-traditional paternalistic autocratic practices where African elites, intellectuals, elders, rulers, wealthy folks and traditional kingpins, mired in high volume egocentricism and megalomania, believe they are the only ones destined to rule or have monopoly over ideas. Big Man syndrome is anti-democracy, anti-freedoms, anti-human rights and anti-the rule of law. Big Man syndrome obstructs the popular will of the masses and lord it over Africans, sometimes invoking outdated traditions and divinity. It is anti-progress and an obstacle to Africa’s superior progress.

    Mamadou Tandja, 71, President of Niger, is current example of Big Man syndrome. Tandja is scheming to extend his constitutionally mandated two-term into infinity. Under the existing Nigerien law, Tandja should step down in December, 2009 when his second presidential mandate comes to an end. But Tandja can’t let go the Big Man syndrome. Tandja believes he is the only man who can rule Niger, as the juju-marabout spiritual mediums might have told him. Tandja is a throwback to Africa’s period of paranoid one-party systems and military juntas that darkened most part of post-independent Africa.

    Tandja had his first taste of power after a 1974 coup. As a symptom of the Big Man syndrome, Tandja will is oblivious to criticism from the regional body ECOWAS, the African Union, politically born-again democratic African leaders, African democrats, opposition parties, religious organizations, trade unions and human rights activists as well as the international community. Tandja is hell bent ruling Niger for life by scrapping such constitutional presidential term limits and stifling democratic voices.

    In Niger, Tandja is overturning the country’s infant democracy (since 1999) by appropriating its democratic tenets to create a domineering President-for-Life system a la Sekou Toure’s Guinea. The psychology informing Tandja’s thinking is no more than a page from the unelected Jerry Rawlings telling Ghanaians “To whom,” when asked to hand over power in the 1980s and give way to democracy. In Sierra Leone, President Siaka Stevens told Sierra Leoneans, “Pass I die” (Till I die I remain President) when asked to democratize. Stevens prepared the grounds for Sierra Leone’s eventual detonation. In Liberia, as Samuel Doe messed-up the democratic system in an atmosphere of extreme autocracy, he and his cronies shouted, “No Doe, No Liberia.” Doe ended up blowing up Liberia into pieces. Generally, Africa’s long gone “President-for-Life” culture reveals that the Big Man rules forever against the democratic and development aspirations of the masses.

    Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe today demonstrates that in the long run such thinking makes the citizens living corpses. But Tandja isn’t positively tapping into African history, culture, wisdom, and current African development trends. “No Tandja, No Niger … Pass I die … To whom,” Tandja indirectly tells Nigeriens and Africans. Since independence from France rule in August 3, 1960, the 13 million poor Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military juntas against the backdrop of assassinations and Tuareg insurgency.

    Africa’s Big Man syndrome emanates from certain inhibiting parts of the African culture where juju-marabout medium, spiritualists and witch-doctors give stimulation to the Big Men in the form of high level traditional spiritual rituals (including human sacrifices) that can come in renditions such as God has destined the Big Man to rule for life against the realities on the ground. The superstitious Sierra Leonean will say “Na God make am.” As an irrational activity, most times it results in disaster – look at Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

    The Central African Republic’s Jean-Bedel Bokassa’s famous juju cannibalism rituals and its eventual near-collapse of CAR is one. And so were Nigeria’s Gen. Sani Abacha engaging in wide-ranging juju-marabout-driven practices in attempts to transform himself into civilian president. Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko reveals Africa’s Big Man syndrome leaving in its wake extremely damaged country and the state becomes a cadaver of itself. The Big Man syndrome is incompatible with democracy and progress.

    What is the antidote to the Big Man syndrome and in dealing with the likes of Tandja? Education. The rule of law. Human rights. Freedoms. Democracy. Continental, regional and civil society pressure. “Teachable moments” of African history, culture and wisdom.

    Credit: Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

    [Email: kakos064@uottawa.ca]

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