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AANA BULLETIN No. 33/03 August 25, 2003 (b)
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Mon, 25 Aug 2003 18:08:53 -0700
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AANA BULLETIN No. 33/03 August 25, 2003 (b)
AANA Bulletin Bulletin APTA
Editor -Elly Wamari Editor - Silvie Alemba
Rwanda Finally Goes To Polls After Years Of Transition
After nine years of transitional governance, Rwanda is finally set to go to
the polls. The small central African state bordering Uganda to the north,
Burundi to the south, and Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo to the
east and west respectively, is due to experience its first democratic
elections since the infamous 1994 genocide. As presidential polls proceed
today (August 25), AANA Editor, Elly Wamari, takes a look at the scales in
the country's political landscape.
Four candidates are bidding for Rwanda's presidency. They are the
incumbent, President Paul Kagame of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Faustin
Twagiramungu and Jean Nayinzira as independent candidates, and Alivera
Mukabaramba, a lady, of Partie Pour Progres et Concorde (PPC).
The striking factor about these polls is that they are expected to come up
with a democratically elected government to replace a transitional
leadership, which was put in place nine years ago to forestall further
turmoil in a hitherto volatile socio-political situation.
The country had just emerged from a horrendous genocide.
Secondly, the polls are being held under a new constitution, which is only
about two months old, therefore, being practically put to
test. it requires an elected president to form a government of national
unity, incorporating members of the opposition in Cabinet positions.
According to Seth Kamanzi, Rwandan Ambassador to Kenya, it is this concept
of national unity that has steered the country clear of further turmoil
since the National Transitional Government took office on July 19, 1994,
after the RPF, led by General Paul Kagame, drove out genocide perpetrators.
The development marked the beginning of Rwanda's recovery. An Arusha Peace
Accord recommended "a broad-based government incorporating those parties
created in the context of unity, and which had no role in the genocide,"
said Ambassador Kamanzi, in an interview with AANA.
Eight parties were incorporated, including Twagiramungu's Republican
Democratic Movement (MDR), now disbanded for having strayed back into
"politics of ethnicity", the very factor that the country has had to muzzle
over the years, according to Ambassador Kamanzi.
Led by President Pasteur Bizimungu up to the year 2000, and by Kagame to
the present time, the transitional government is acclaimed to have steered
the country into economic growth and political maturity. Kagame took over
as Interim President after Bizimungu resigned following sustained pressure
from his own party (RPF), which accused him of opposing anti-graft
policies. Kagame had been Vice-President.
His (Kagame's) three-year leadership at the top, comment political
observers, has been smooth, apart from occasional flexing of muscle against
Uganda over eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the two countries
have competitive interests.
On internal stability however, Rwanda has realised commendable strides.
According to Ambassador Kamanzi, the country has achieved an economic
growth swinging between 8 and 13 percent. This he says, has been so over
the past five years.
Security is also good, he asserts, pointing out: "Rwanda has the least
crime level in East and Central Africa, if not in Africa." Given its dark
history, these are formidable achievements, notes Kamanzi.
Kagame's major opponent, Twagiramungu, is a man whose background is filled
with controversies. He was appointed Prime Minister at the inception of the
transitional government in 1994, but resigned hardly a year later. He
immediately fled to Belgium over unclear disagreements with the ruling party.
He only resurfaced recently to announce his interest in the country's top
seat. Political observers acknowledge that he is the only candidate posing
a challenge to President Kagame.
Having been a fiery critic of Government of the day and a pioneer of
multi-party ideology in Rwanda, Twagiramungu no doubt has some good
following. He is remembered as the only person who fearlessly challenged
President Habyarimana's regime, and moved crowds to mount pressure on the
then government to accept multi-partyism.
But presently, perhaps due to lack of adequate resources, he has not been
able to attract a following of the magnitude seen in Kagame's rallies.
According to a Rwandan national, the fact that Twagiramungu appeared just
in the "knick of time" to contest the presidency, make many view him as an
opportunist. His being away for long in Belgium, is thus a major factor
that could tilt the scales against him at the polls.
Political analysts also see his alleged policy of seeking votes along
ethnic lines as a major undoing. Ambassador Kamanzi says that
Twagiramungu's strategy of appealing to Hutu majority has not augured well
with the Government because it is being viewed as divisive, and could
easily plunge the country back into the dark ages of ethnic hatred.
It is this factor that led parliament to disband MDR recently, following
recommendations of a parliamentary committee formed to investigate the
party's ideologies. Twagiramungu was thus left without a party. Luckily,
the constitution allows independent candidates to contest for the presidency.
Interestingly, Alivera Mukabaramba, a member of parliament, also contesting
for the presidency, was a member of MDR before she quickly moved to form
her own party, PPC. However, she and Nayizira, a former legislator, are
considered less significant in the elections. They have hardly conducted
According to Ambassador Kamanzi, Alivera represented a progressive element
within MDR, and was also critical of Twagiramungu's strategies of character
Indeed, the latter has been reported to have claimed time and again, that
key opposition supporters are mysteriously disappearing in the country, and
blaming the Government. To this, Ambassador Kamanzi responds: "Nobody has
been killed. We do not know where they are. This is Twagiramungu's
strategy of seeking sympathy. These people are going to resurface after the
Twagiramungu's allegations has had far-reaching effects. Acting on these
allegations the Dutch Government withdrew at the last minute, promised
funding the elections. They had pledged US$ 4.5 million.
Following this development, Rwandans at all social levels, keen on the
elections, have made significant contributions to facilitate
elections. Just about two weeks ago, the Rwandese community in Kenya
raised about three million Rwandese Francs (approximately US$ 7,000)
towards this effect. Communities on the ground have also gone to the
extent of donating structures to serve as polling booths, says Kamanzi.
As the country sails through elections, it is widely acknowledged that the
incumbent is likely to earn a landslide victory, judging from the turn out
at campaign rallies. "Moreover, Rwandans have no reason to vote out the
present leadership, given its track record," says a Rwandese national.
Battle Against Malaria Is Still A Nightmare - Experts
Conflicts, civil unrest, emergence of drug-resistant strains of parasites
and insecticide-resistant vectors, mass population movements worsened by
the refugee situation, and disintegration of health services, is
exacerbating malaria situation in sub-Saharan Africa, reports AANA
Correspondent, Henry Neondo.
A one week workshop held in Nairobi between July 30 and August 4, bringing
together regional heads of malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa, concluded
that malaria is still "an unfinished agenda in sub-Saharan African
countries, and needs more attention than it has so far received".
The statistics are indeed disturbing. According to a World Health
Organisation (WHO) report released on April 25 during this year's Africa
Malaria Day, 90 percent of the more than one million deaths that occur
world-wide as a result of malaria happen in Africa, south of Sahara.
The report further states that about 3,000 African children die daily as a
result of the disease.
African malaria experts now agree with claims by the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) that climatic changes due to global warming,
coupled with environmental degradation, and heavy mining activities like
gold mining, exaggerate the malaria situation.
At the workshop, the experts noted that examples from Sudan, Ethiopia,
Eritrea and Sierra Leone, show that conflicts, civil unrest and mass
movement of populations does not only disrupt malaria control measures, but
also over-stretch programmes against the disease.
According to Dr Marero M. W, head of Malaria Case Management at
the National Malaria Control in Tanzania, malaria, being an endemic health
problem in the region, is now undoubtedly one of the worst scourges.
He notes that by far, the largest burden of malaria is borne by children
under five and pregnant women. Pregnancy, he says, lowers immunity of
women, making them vulnerable.
Dr Marero says that malaria is now the major cause of morbidity and
mortality in countries within sub-Saharan Africa.
"While malaria is the leading cause of out-patient attendance in health
facilities and also the leading cause of admissions and deaths in
hospitals, countries are still struggling to find suitable drugs for
treatment in an environment of a fast development of drug resistance," he
In most of these countries, the preferred drug of choice, Chloroquine and
Sulfa-pyranimidine combinations have either been abandoned, or are in the
process of being abandoned as first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria.
In Kenya, for example, points out Dr Sam Ochola, a malaria expert in the
country, chloroquine has been abandoned as first drug of choice since 1997
due to increasing resistance and unacceptable level of overall treatment
failures. Similar situations apply in Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana and a host
of other countries within the region.
Dr Peter Langi, head of malaria control unit in Uganda, notes further that
the disintegration of health services in the region are well typified by
the inaccessibility of populations to health services for early diagnosis,
combined with shortage of health manpower and of anti-malaria drugs, as
well as lack of enough laboratory equipment.
In addition, he adds, the poor referral system within the health care
delivery systems in most sub-Saharan countries, and inadequate community
awareness and mobilisation for malaria control have not made matters easier.
Dr Langi further points out that regional states exhibit weak by-laws for
environmental management and have inadequate resource allocation for
malaria control at district levels.
He contends that weak health management information system for monitoring
and early detection of epidemics, and emergence and spread of resistance by
parasites and vectors, make the fight against malaria a nightmare for many
countries within the region.
According to statistics presented at the workshop, malaria is now
responsible for between 20 to 50 percent of all out-patients, and 19 to 30
percent of all deaths among the hospitalised patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
The situation in Tanzania is particularly worrying. Here, malaria is
responsible for 43 percent of admissions among children below five years of
age in Tanzania, and 34 percent of deaths of children in this category.
"Unpredictable pregnancy outcomes, including anaemia, premature birth,
abortion, stillbirth and low birth weight are just some of the risks
associated with adverse malarial attacks in the region," says a researcher
with Tanzania's National Medical Research institute, a Mr Mutabingwa.
According to Dr Langi, malaria has remained a major threat to the economic
growth, which is dependent on agriculture. "Most of the traditional crops
like coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco are labour-intensive. Workers
suffering from a malaria bout can lose 5-20 days," he explains.
Malaria-affected families, he goes on, can only harvest 40 percent of crops
harvested by healthy families.
In view of these, persistent malaria can lead to famine resulting from low
food production, which leads to low income and low standards of living, he
Indeed, malaria is a major underlying cause of poor socio-economic
development in Uganda, according to Dr Langi. He maintains that malaria
and poverty tend to go together.
"The poor are more affected due to limited access to health services,
information and protective measures," he explains.
WHO estimates that direct and indirect costs of malaria in the region is
about US$ 0.05 - 2.08 per person per month.
The same organisation states that malaria related treatment costs between
US$ 0.39 - 3.84 per person. Economic loss due to the disease is estimated
at 1-3 percent of average Gross Domestic Product in the region.
The workshop was attended by 14 Anglophone countries from West, East and
Southern Africa, and was organised under the framework of China-Africa
It discussed at length, possibilities of integrating a Chinese "wonder
drug" against malaria, Artemisinin, and its derivatives (Artesunate,
Artemether and Dehydroartemisinin), within public health systems, against a
background of increasing drug resistance to the orthodox medication
currently in use in sub-Saharan Africa.
Uproar Against WTO Begins To Ring Across Africa
Alleged dirty tricks by the rich nations of the world at the international
trade arena is draining Third World nations of their resources with no
respite. It is a game of the winner takes it all. Apuko Nyandolo reports
on the happenings at the World Trade Organisation, that seem inclined to
marginalising developing countries, mostly African.
In 1995, developed nations of the world came up with an idea of expanding
space in the international trade arena, to "open space" for Third World
goods. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was thus, born.
But this was not before some developments dating back to late 1940s, when
the United States (US) unilaterally squashed a Bretton Woods initiative to
establish an International Trade Organisation (ITO) as a rule-based global
US had regarded such an institution as a possible threat to her economic
ambitions. In its place therefore, came the General Agreements on
Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a system of multilateral trade pacts, which had
the blessings of President Harry Truman's administration.
But with increased competition from other Northern countries and rising
imports from the South, the US sought to adjust the GATT system of
international free trade in the 1980s.
With this in mind, the country promoted the concept of a global trading
organisation that would provide a forum to settle trade differences with
its economic rivals, and which would more closely "integrate" developing
countries into a global free-market economy.
The ideology culminated in the birth of WTO, which today has a membership
of 146 countries, among them developing countries, which joined en mass
because of attractive promises.
But unfortunately, trade co-operation via WTO has not yielded the desired
goal, particularly to Africa. Instead, developing countries have continued
to experience declining export earnings. This can be explained.
First, the WTO has not facilitated a level trading field as touted upon its
formation. There is a clear imbalance in the trading system, where the
developed world have employed the use of agricultural subsidies, thus
putting at disadvantage, commodities from Africa, where such subsidies have
been discouraged by World Bank and IMF policies.
While in Kenya alone, where about 60 percent of the population live on less
than a dollar a day, in Europe, each cow receives US$ 2 a day in the form
of subsidy, says Oduor Ong'wen of EcoNews Africa, a non-governmental
organisation (NGO), and chairman of the NGO Council in Kenya . He alleges
that half of European budget goes toward subsidies.
Under such circumstance, Africa, whose many countries depend on agriculture
for economic growth, has as a result continued to experience devastating
Living conditions of its people have deteriorated dramatically, in spite of
its nations being members of the so-called supranational institutions like
WTO, among others. According to World Bank projection, about 30 percent of
the poor in the world by the turn of the century was African.
Yet the continent is potentially the richest in the world. Diamond from
Sierra Leone alone, earns the US and Europe US$50 billion a year. It is
Africa that produces coltan, a mineral that is used for making parts of
computers and cell phones. The same Africa produces uranium that US relies
on to build its a military might.
Clearly, the rules by WTO are unfavourable to Africa. One condition is that
countries of the continent have to export goods in their raw form, and not
as manufactured goods. That is why Ghana has to continue exporting cocoa
and import chocolate, a product of cocoa.
Economic analysts question how Germany has become the leading exporter of
manufactured coffee, yet the crop is not grown in the country. Belgium is
the leading exporter of diamond, which is not available in its land.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which is marketed as an
institution meant to offer opportunities to developing countries to access
the United States markets in a bid to promote Africa-US trade relations, is
beginning to raise suspicion.
Analysts argue that AGOA has political strings attached to it. Countries
enlisted under this privilege must align themselves toward US political
For this reason, organisations sympathetic to the plight of Africa feel
that the continent needs a revolution of perception, and build a strategy
of collective self-reliance. This calls for a new way of doing things,
which must be people driven, since government representatives appear to
have failed championing the interest of their countries.
It is for this reason that Heinrich Boll Foundation, Oxfam Great Britain,
and EcoNews Africa, resorted to creating awareness amongst the ordinary
public on the goings on at the international institutions.
At a workshop they organised in Kenya recently, they revealed how the WTO
rules are designed and made by the rich countries, noting that the interest
of the developing countries was not a priority at the institution.
For example, when a trade dispute occurs, not every member is involved. The
powerful nations resort to the Green House, an inner unit within WTO, where
only the privileged are allowed participation. This breeds suspicion among
many members, but then, they are coerced into accepting the decisions made
in the Green House.
"While lack of staff, capacity, and financial resources is a factor for
many developing countries, the primary reason for this system of
exclusionary consensus making is that the Quad countries assume that, as
the main forces in the global economy, they have the right to formulate its
rules," says Aileen Kwa, a policy analyst with Focus on Global South, a
Bankok-based policy and activist institute.
The scenario described indicates that the rule-based system of WTO is in
fact based more on power than on rules, so that the powerful nations make
the rules at the WTO, just as they do at the IMF and World Bank, argues
Organisations like the Heinrich Boll Foundation are urging the public to
join the big noise to demand that trade be made fair. On the same
wavelength, the public have been prevailed upon not to buy foreign products
if the same can be produced locally.
"Kenya is not for sale!" was their rallying slogan at the workshop, held to
stir the public into action.
Since there is going to be a meeting in Cancun, Mexico next month, Africa's
negotiators are being urged to demand fairness in WTO.
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