From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
AANA BULLETIN No. 31/03 August 11 2003 (b)
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Tue, 12 Aug 2003 17:31:17 -0700
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY
P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya. Tel: 254-2-4442215,
Fax: 254-2-4445847, 4443241; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ;
AANA BULLETIN No. 31/03 August 11 2003 (b)
AANA Bulletin Bulletin APTA
Editor -Elly Wamari Editor - Silvie Alemba
AIDS Still Decimating Zimbabweans At Alarming Rate
HARARE (AANA) August 11 - Although there has been a decline in the spread
of HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe, the disease is still quietly decimating
Statistics indicate that 30 percent of the country's 11 million people have
tested positive for HIV.
This is despite a statement by the Minister for Health and Child Welfare,
Dr David Parirenyatwa, that the anti-HIV/AIDS programmes launched by the
Government and non-government organisations (NGOs) had a positive effect on
the spread of the disease.
Accordingly, President Mugabe has urged leaders in the country to be open
and fight the disease that has devastated the southern African nation,
claiming more than 30,000 lives a week.
The situation has affected the structure and dynamics of families
here. There is a sharp increase in the number of child headed homes, and
it is estimated that Zimbabwe will have about one million orphans by the
end of 2010.
The same applies to the number of female-headed households, homes now
headed by grand parents, and homes, which are looking after the terminally
The already strained coping mechanisms are also being put under further
pressure by the fast rising number of orphans.
Before the advent of HIV/AIDS women had been bearing the triple burden of
production, reproduction and management of the household resources. The HIV
epidemic has created a situation, which has exacerbated this burden.
At the moment, women are carrying the quadruple burden of sheltering and
caring for a sick self, sick family and a sick community.
If the number of AIDS orphans are juxtaposed with increasing numbers of
women living with HIV, the crippling burden of care on women's lives and
livelihoods becomes a glaring reality.
The escalating cost of care is increasing the demands on women's unpaid
labour within the family. HIV/AIDS is already placing new demands on
family resources and is reducing the time adults can spend on income
The demand on children's labour for domestic chores and income generation
to meet treatment and funeral costs is proving to be quite heavy.
HIV/AIDS is already contributing to a downward trend in the age of marriage
for young women, as men seek younger wives, ostensibly to protect
themselves from infection, and families seek economic protection of
marrying off their daughters to economically stable adult men.
This phenomenon is having far reaching consequences in terms of access to
education by young girls and diminished access to productive resources. The
economic dependence on male partners and poor reproductive health as a
result of early intercourse and child bearing is cause for concern.
Women face a tragic set of circumstances in terms of loss of social support
from family members, being ostracised from members of the community, and
lack of legal protection to inherit land and property.
There have been instances where the husband's family members blame the
widow for the death of her husband, and refuse to accept her and her
children into the family support system.
Zimbabwe, being one of the hardest hit countries by the HIV/AIDS epidemic,
is among the six countries where UNIFEM is executing a two-year global
pilot project that aims at addressing the challenges of the epidemic in a
gender responsive manner.
The first activity under the project was a workshop that looked at HIV/AIDS
with a gender bias. Two core groups - information gathering and
dissemination and human rights - were formed in March this year.
Another core group on capacity building is still to be constituted. This
group will be responsible for the development of guidelines and methods in
negotiating safe sex.
The advocacy and human rights core group is working out strategies on how
to document the violations and abuses suffered by the people living with
HIV/AIDS. Under the global project, a community based research to
determine the gender-related impact of HIV/AIDS is underway.
The project is already demonstrated by exchange of information among
partner organisations. So far, the response by partner organisations has
been very positive, and they are beginning to take ownership of the project.
Negative economic effects have further marginalised the position of women
in society, making them poorer. This has forced some women into
prostitution, putting them at greater risk of contracting HIV.
Women do not even seek health care because of fear of stigmatisation, blame
and guilt. The health system has also collapsed due to the economic crisis.
Like in most African cultures, women are recipients of sex rather than
partners. In some cases, women are forced to have sex even when they know
that their partner is infected with a sexually transmitted infection.
Reported by Tim Chigodo
Surprises Expected At Malawi General Elections
In nine months, Malawians will go to the polls to vote for a president,
members of parliament, and district councillors. Malawi Electoral
Commission is now confident that it will catch up on its scheduled
calendar, which had been delayed by three months because of lack of
funding. AANA correspondent, Hamilton Vokhiwa, takes an analytical look at
the political situation in the country, and assesses the chances of the
various personalities and political parties competing for seats.
ince early this year, the electoral commission has been kneeling to donors
and government, asking for funds to facilitate forthcoming elections.
The funds have now begun flowing in. Recently, the electoral body was given
some US$ 1.2 million by the German government, to assist it in the
commencement of its programmes.
The money will be used to implement civic education, and media and public
relations, to create an environment that is expected to cater for the
formation of multiparty liaison committees in districts of the country, and
information technology programmes.
But with just about nine months to go before the elections, would the
commission conduct civic education campaign effectively?
One of the commissioners, Kafwe Tembo, expressed his doubts about an
effective implementation of voter education. The chairman of the
commission, Justice James Kalaile, also expressed pessimism.
But the major problem so far lies with how the political parties are to
identify the right presidential candidates to contest in the general
elections, slated for May 2004.
The ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) has been thrown into disarray,
following the hand-picking of former Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa technocrat, Bingu wa Mutharika, by President Bakili Muluzi, as the
party's presidential candidate.
Muluzi chose Mutharika at a controversial national executive committee
meeting of his party, after opposition, civic and religious leaders, as
well as non-governmental organisations, threw cold water on his bid to
lobby for a third term in office.
Mutharika's selection opened up rifts within the ranks of UDF, and led to
resignations and firing of key cabinet ministers. The most notable was of
former veteran agriculture minister, Aleke Banda.
Banda was disgruntled after he was unceremoniously dropped from the Cabinet
for expressing desire to contest the presidential seat. This did not go
well with Muluzi. He accused Banda of being "ambitious".
Another top official to fall out with the UDF was former natural resources
and environment minister, Harry Thomson, who was also sacked in the Cabinet
reshuffle for the same reason of craving for the presidency. He is
presently standing on one leg in the ruling party, which he is now serving
as a simple backbencher in parliament.
On the other hand, Aleke Banda was left in the cold. Representing no
constituency, he was in parliament by virtue of his appointment as a
Cabinet minister by President Muluzi.
He has now joined a new political party of prominent business people,
composed of academics, lawyers and other well-to-do personalities in the
private sector. The party is called People's Progressive Party (PPM).
Another prominent UDF official to relinquish his position is former
Minister responsible for Presidential Affairs, Patrick Mbewe.
Mbewe, who also held the most important position of National Treasurer of
the ruling UDF, resigned following reports that he influenced two district
governors against supporting Bingu wa Mutharika, and canvass for finance
minister, Friday Jumbe, as presidential candidate.
Jumbe, a former chief executive of the country's Agricultural Development
and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC), had also been hand picked by President
Muluzi to replace American educated economist, Matthews Chikaonda, as
This happened despite the fact that Jumbe was being probed for alleged
collusion with officials of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to
export maize reserves, causing acute hunger that led to the deaths of
hundreds of people a year ago.
The main opposition group, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), has the dilemma of
trying to convince Malawians that John Tembo, who manoeuvred within the
party to emerge as its president at the last convention this year, was the
right candidate for the 2004 presidential poll.
Public opinion is heavily against Tembo, known for his involvement in
atrocities meted out to opponents of former dictator, Dr Hasting Kamuzu
Banda, during the 30 years of one party rule.
Meanwhile, the second largest opposition party, the Alliance for Democracy
(AFORD), has turned out to be toothless as its leader, Chakufwa Chihana,
has made it public that he would not contest the presidential seat in
support of UDF's Bingu wa Mutharika.
Chihana, who President Muluzi appointed as second vice-president in the
current regime, took his stand against the wishes of some members of his
party. Those who disapproved of his stance to work with the ruling party,
in what has been termed as Government of national unity, decided to call
themselves Genuine AFORD, or GAFORD.
However, coming up strong on the current political scene is the National
Democratic Alliance, (NDA), of former Cabinet minister, Brown Mpinganjira.
NDA has been operating as a pressure group since 2001, when Mpinganjira was
sacked from the UDF by Muluzi, on unsubstantiated charges. Efforts by the
ruling party to silence the pressure group, including alleged attempts on
the life of Mpinganjira by government agents, failed.
NDA has now been registered as a political party and is emerging as a force
to reckon with. Returning from a recent visit to South Africa and Britain,
Mpinganjira conducted a press conference at Chileka airport in Blantyre,
during which he announced that he had the backing of western donors for his
party's bid to challenge UDF in the coming polls.
NDA's strategy is carved on the lines of a "rainbow alliance" that saw the
unseating of Daniel arap Moi's regime in Kenya.
The party has held well attended public rallies in the South, Centre and
North of Malawi. Political observes see Mpinganjira as holding the key to a
strong opposition in the country, since his party is advocating an alliance
with all parties that are dedicated to good governance and the rule of law.
Already eyeing NDA with hope of working with it, is the PPM, which in
recent months, stormed Lilongwe, the capital, and other districts of the
country, placing the tattered economy top on the agenda at its rallies.
Controversy Hits Botswana's New Style Of Punishment
Botswana's Education Act, which also seeks to limit corporal punishment in
schools, is once again in the spotlight, after emerging events indicate
that teachers are still acting contrary to laid down rules of meting out
punishment to students. Child rights activists have dismissed this section
of the Act, saying the government is attempting to give a "babaric" action
a human face. AANA correspondent, Rodrick Mukumbira, reports.
apelang Segale, 7, had to be hospitalised in Mochudi, a village 60
kilometres north of Botswana's capital, Gaborone, after a teacher brutally
assaulted her using a rubber hose.
Segale, a Standard One pupil, had to go through surgery to reset the bones
in her left palm, after being lashed for misplacing her exercise book.
Police in the village have confirmed the incident, and have stated that
they have opened a case against the teacher, whose name is being withheld.
The case places children's rights in the spotlight, two months after the
country's decision to maintain corporal punishment, but with guiding rules.
It also comes at a time Childline Botswana, the country's chapter of the
international children's rights lobby founded in 1990, says dropouts due to
brutality of teachers is on the increase.
The organisation also says Segale's case is a tip of the iceberg, since
many cases of teachers' brutality are going unreported. Besides, many
parents think caning is part of the learning process.
Officials in the Ministry of Education accuse schools of acting contrary to
the country's education laws. "We have always warned schools against such
brutal methods of punishing students, and they should observe the
conditions clearly laid down in the Education Act," says Michael Kelaotswe,
the director of primary education.
The Act, amended in May, has provisions ranging from conditions of service
for teachers to the rights of students, as the country takes great strides
to beat illiteracy and lure more children to school.
While children's rights organisations had hoped that the amendment would
end corporal punishment, the new Act justifies it if administered by a head
teacher or school principal, and has placed the role of loci parentis on
It states that the head teacher can delegate his or her caning authority to
a teacher. It also specifies the size of the cane, which should be 10
millimetres thick and 30 centimetres long. Under the Act, no child should
be caned more than five times in the palm or across the buttocks.
There should also be a register for every student lashed, detailing the
name of the student, head-teacher's name or that of the teacher delegated,
nature of the offence and date. Male teachers are also barred under the act
from caning female students.
"The Act spells out conditions under which caning can be done, as well as
how it should be done, and all schools are bound by that Act," says
Kelaotswe, adding: "Indiscriminate and unreasonable caning is prohibited by
Child rights organisations say the government is trying to give a
"barbaric" action a human face.
According to Childline Botswana, the retention of corporal punishment is a
"disappointment" for a country that has not only signed the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child, but also ratified it.
"It is pathetic that the government is hiding under the pretext that the
cane is administered under strict conditions," says Penolomi Letshwiti,
Childline Botswana's senior social worker.
Her organisation provides emergency services to all children who have been
abused. It also educates the public on child abuse, and lobbies for the
protection of children's rights.
"Children are safe in schools only after this practice has been outlawed,"
she says. "These beatings are a violation of the rights of the child," she
points out, adding: "School is meant to be enjoyed, not to be despised."
She continues: "I remember a boy who Childline (Botswana) assisted, who had
been whipped mercilessly by a teacher for failing to say his mother's name.
[Incidentally], the mother had been buried two weeks earlier, and the
teacher did not know."
Letshwiti says Childline Botswana has toured a number of schools and has
discovered that only a few have corporal punishment registers, "but
children are being caned indiscriminately".
Enock Masalila of Emang Basadi, a children and women's rights organisation,
says while the Education Act has gone a long way in giving value to education
facilities as centres for behavioural change, defects lie in granting
teachers the loci parentis status.
He notes that teachers tend to make corporal punishment routine, arbitrary
and brutal, while the head teacher would "not attach strings to punishing a
student as he or she deals with the whole school".
Letshwiti says since January, her organisation has dealt with 43 cases
countrywide, of children dropping out of school because they were afraid of
"Listening to some children narrating how they have been caned by teachers
is enough evidence on the brutality of corporal punishment," she says.
However, Shatiso Tambule, the acting director of secondary education,
defends the role of teachers in administering corporal punishment.
"Teachers come in from the loci parentis position, having been delegated by
the head to avoid situations where every little offence is referred to the
head," she says, but adds: "They should use the rod sparingly."
She observes that bruises, cuts or severe injuries are a result of teachers
acting unprofessionally and getting angry while punishing students.
"Losing one's temper should not be an excuse, as it is unprofessional. If
teachers lose their temper, they should walk away from the scene before
doing something quite wrong," she says.
Nevertheless, the brutal caning of Segale has not only opened debate on
corporal punishment, but has also sparked debate on all forms of punishment
A recent incident where a head teacher of a primary school in Molepolele, a
village west of Gaborone, ordered students who had failed to pay
development levies to eat rice without soup, while fellow schoolmates had a
full share of chicken and rice, has shocked many.
The incident has been treated with contempt, in a country where most
government schools provide students with breakfast and lunch for free,
regardless of whether a student is a day scholar or in boarding.
Wave Of Trendy Ministry Takes Churches By Storm
Last week, we carried a story on an emerging trend in Kenya, of theatrical
performances in church by youth aiming to "liven" liturgy. In this section,
Janet Adongo examines a concurrent but more controversial wave of dance and
disco that is currently sweeping across churches in the country, more so in
he urban youth in Kenya has come up with a "modern" set of church ministry,
which many of them contend, should replace the "old style and outdated"
These include dance and disco, often performed in well-attended concerts
featuring live music performances involving music genres like rap, reggae,
benga and ragga, all formerly considered exclusively secular.
During these concerts, young male performers present themselves fashionably
dressed, some with plaited hair and wearing earrings among other "in
things". The ladies equally appear in stylish hairdos, makeup and
Incidentally, appearance plays a great role in determining whether the
performing group becomes popular or not.
In the present arrangement, unlike in the past, church youth groups prefer
to take full charge of their own programmes. They organise and run what
they refer to as "our own programme", whose activities incorporate the
discos, concerts, and other forms of entertainment. More often, these are
done without backing of the respective churches.
Samuel Miring'u, the leader of Daystar Christian Fellowship Dance Ministry
(DCF) and also a member of a Christian rap music group, says: "We do this
because we as youth, know what we want. We know what appeals to us and
thus can organise our own events with us in mind, and have excellent
He continues: "They (older generation) cannot fully understand our
needs.... The things they organise for us are what they think we need, and
not what we need."
Samuel's group, which is based at the University in Nairobi, recently
organised a two-day dance festival for Christian dance troupes. The
festival had an attendance of more than 1,000 youth on each of the days.
Says Miring'u: "If it was a preaching festival, the seats would probably
have been empty. Not that preaching is bad; it is just not what young
people are looking for nowadays."
The inception of dance and the subsequent inclusion of other forms of
entertainment as part of Christian liturgy, has its roots in biblical
ideologies, according to proponents. They argue that dance originally was
considered a part of worship and praise, especially according to the Old
An example is the story of David dancing for the Lord, and shedding off his
clothes in the process. Biblical reference of praising the Lord with dance
can be found repetitively in the Book of Psalms.
Many dance groups therefore perform with the aim or "restoring the lost
glory of dance". They contend that this glory was stolen by Satan when he
was thrown out of heaven, hence the well-established and enticing secular
dance and entertainment industry.
The acceptance of this emerging culture has been gradual. Some churches
have compromised in order to attract and accommodate the youth.
A few see it as an infringement upon the holiness of the Church, and are
still firm on not allowing the trend during church service. If they have
to do so, it would be under conditions spelling out the dress code and type
In such scenarios, church leaders would be required to preview and approve
of the performances before they are staged. Indeed, there are instances
where certain groups have been prevented from going on with their acts.
Tim Mukora, a member of a contemporary gospel dance team that took Nairobi
by storm, says they were thrown out of churches more often than not.
"There was even this one time when we danced at some church and later
learnt that they had a cleansing service, [convinced] that we had defiled
the altar," he said, adding: "It was not easy. For [a long] time, no
church would allow us to use their premises for practice, so we used to
practice in a park."
Tim's team played a major role in pacesetting for other Christian dance
groups, as they kept going regardless of what others thought of them.
"We were commissioned, not by man, but by God. When Jesus says yes, no
man can say no. That is what kept us going, and when I hear about how many
lives we changed because of our ministry, am glad we went all the way," he
Some churches have been very supportive of the new trend. One such church
is the Nairobi Lighthouse Church, which in recent years has organised an
annual event dubbed "Extreme Weekend". It attracts more than 40,000 youth a
This event includes drama, dance, and music performances of all types, as
well as disc jockeying, and preaching of the Word. On some of these
occasions, thousands of young people have given their lives to Christ.
However, Rev Nicholas Mbai, a pastor with the Baptist Church, has a
different opinion. "There is a time and place for everything. The Church
is not a circus or an entertainment hall. It is a place of worship," he
Many other church leaders, especially the older generation, echo Rev.
Mbai's sentiments. Mr. Wangige Migui, a church elder, leaves no room for
discussion. For him, dance has no place in the Church. "It should be left
out. Simple," he says.
A parent and church council member, Moses Wangai, on the other hand, feels
that the youth should be allowed to dance in church because if not, they
will "go and dance somewhere else."
A University Dean and church elder, David Thuku, has no particular
objection to the use of dance in youth activities. But he takes issue with
the outward show of those involved.
Commenting on a particular dance group, whose male members braid their hair
and wear earrings, he asks if that is a true representation of Jesus
Christ, and if that is the image they want imprinted in people's minds of
what Christianity is.
The youth have an answer for him. They argue that the Lord looks at the
inside and not the outward appearance, "therefore, this is no big deal".
However, elderly Christians fear that young people, if left to run their
own show, could end up changing the whole meaning of holy worship. In any
case, many see nothing wrong with the traditional ministry.
Meanwhile, the church dance and disco culture is going the extra mile, not
just in ensuring that it stays alive, but also in expanding its territory.
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .