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AANA BULLETIN No. 33/03 August 25, 2003 (a)
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Mon, 25 Aug 2003 18:05:10 -0700
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AANA BULLETIN No. 33/03 August 25, 2003 (a)
AANA Bulletin Bulletin APTA
Editor -Elly Wamari Editor - Silvie Alemba
Botswana Rebuts Role In Alleged Plans To Oust Mugabe
GABORONE (AANA) August 25 - Botswana has denied involvement in alleged
plans to topple the Government of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Speculation over such a plan emerged following the visit to Botswana last
month, of United States (US) President, George W. Bush.
"We are outraged by these statements of vilification," Mompati Merafhe,
Botswana's Foreign Minister, said in Maputo during the fourth meeting of
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Defence,
Security and Politics recently. The text of his speech was released by the
Government last week.
"This is a matter of serious concern to our Government. We are being
accused of working with the Americans and the British to bring about a
forceful regime change in a friendly SADC member state, our friendly
neighbour Zimbabwe," Merafhe complained.
He continued: "It is alleged a US military base in Botswana will be used to
launch such military attacks."
There have been reports alleging that meetings had taken place in Botswana,
between Walter Kansteiner, a US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa,
and Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, to hatch the plan.
Kansteiner was in Gaborone in May to open a US trade office, but, said
Merafhe, "Jack Straw has never been to Botswana."
The only visit on record of a British government minister this year is that
of Baroness Valerie Amos, who was in the country in April.
Merafhe gave assurance that even if America and Britain were planning
action to topple Mugabe, it would not be mounted from Botswana. "Botswana
would never allow itself to be used for such treacherous activities," he
Since the Bush visit, Botswana has had to repeatedly deny any links between
the US and a military air base about 100km north-west of Gaborone.
Thebephatshwa base was opened in August 1995 by Merafhe, who was then
Commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). Speculation that it had been
funded by the US resurfaced.
"The US does not own any military base in Botswana. Thebephatshwa air base
is wholly owned by the Government of Botswana," he said, and added: "It was
constructed during my term as Commander of the BDF, with our own resources."
Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira
Churches In High State Of Readiness For AACC Assembly
YAOUNDE (AANA) August 25 - Cameroonian churches are in high state of
preparedness to host the 8th General Assembly of the All Africa Conference
of Churches (AACC), scheduled for November 22-27.
This was reported by the co-ordinator of the Assembly Local Organising
Committee, Rev Salla Abondo.
"All the people of Cameroon are enthusiastic about the Assembly, being the
first in Central Africa," he said.
He pointed out that the local national Christian council, Federation des
Eglises et Missions Evangeliques du Cameroun (FEMEC), "has [sensitised] all
its member churches about the Assembly".
"For Cameroonians, it is like God has chosen to come and bless Cameroon,"
he noted. This, he went on, will be an "empowering gift to FEMEC from AACC".
Referring to issues to be discussed at the Assembly, Rev Abondo observed
that churches could play an effective role in the war against HIV/AIDS, yet
they were often ignored by the funding agencies.
"Churches, for long, have maintained networks from the national to the
grassroots levels through the parishes," he noted, and posed, "Which other
NGOs can claim such a network?"
Rev Abondo said that the majority of Africans live in the rural areas.
"That is where HIV/AIDS bites most; that is where the poor of the poor are,
and that is where the Church is too," he pointed out.
He said he would like to see "coming out of the Assembly, a concerted
continental voice of the churches in Africa addressing continental issues."
Referring to aspirations towards a united Africa, Rev Abondo expressed
concern that instead of moving towards unity, African nations were erecting
higher immigration barriers against their own Africans from different
"We should not be complaining against Europe and United States about their
barriers until we dismantle our own," he noted.
He expressed the hope that "AACC, having been founded to champion the unity
of the African Church", should also promote the unity of the people of
"For this reason I am encouraged by the establishment of the regional
bodies such as ECOWAS (Economic Community for West African States) and East
African Community," he said, adding: "Though belatedly, they are good
starting points for the African Unity, as sub-regional Christian
fellowships also play their roles."
Reported by Mitch Odero
It's Uncertainty Over Talks As ZANU-PF Disappoints Clerics
HARARE (AANA) August 25 - Church-mediated talks between the main political
parties in Zimbabwe now appear headed for the rocks, after the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) failed to submit
its agenda by last Monday's deadline.
ZANU-PF failed to meet the church leaders on August 18, during which the
party was scheduled to submit its proposals. The opposition party,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had submitted their agenda at an
The action by ZANU-PF has raised doubts over possibilities of resumption of
the much anticipated talks. Political analysts now say that there is a high
probability that the negotiations between the two parties will not take off.
Just before last Monday, MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, reportedly said
that his party was mulling a stay-away if ZANU-PF did not submit its
agenda, as scheduled.
Hopes over resumption of the talks first went dim after President Mugabe
made some utterances on August 11, that expressed strong displeasure over
the opposition, terming them "enemies of unity and independence".
Said he: "Those who go together with our enemies abroad cannot at the same
time want to march alongside our partners in nation building efforts that
Talks between ZANU-PF and MDC were initiated last year after the latter
disputed results of the presidential elections held then. But the
negotiations stalled after both parties failed to agree on some sticking
Reported by Namutatanga Makombe
Rightists Blame Govt, Donors For Sketchy AIDS Projects
KAMPALA (AANA) August 25 - Failure by Uganda Government to protect women
from domestic violence and discrimination has been named by Human Rights
Watch (HRW) as a factor that continues to increase women's risk of
In a new report released August 13, HRW documents widespread rape and
brutal attacks on women by their husbands in Uganda, where legislation on
domestic violence has not been enacted, and where spousal rape is prevalent
and not considered criminal.
The 77-page report is thus, aptly titled, Just Die Quietly: Domestic
Violence and Women's Vulnerability to HIV in Uganda. "The Uganda
Government's failure to address domestic violence is costing women their
lives," said LaShawn R. Jefferson, Executive Director of the Women's Rights
Division of HRW.
She warned that the success Uganda has experienced in its fight against
HIV/AIDS will be short-lived if the Government does not address this urgent
According to HRW, the fear of violent repercussions impede Uganda women's
access to HIV/AIDS information, testing and counselling. The report also
presents harrowing accounts of women who possibly acquired HIV after
undergoing brutal sexual violations in the hands of their infected husbands.
One particular experience stands out. Hadija Namaganda (not her real name)
endured repeated beatings and rape by her HIV-positive husband. That was
before he died of AIDS.
Namaganda, now HIV-positive, told HRW: "He used to force me to have sex
with him after he became ill. If he wanted to, he would force me and accuse
me of having other men."
Based on these findings, the HRW report says that HIV/AIDS programmes
focusing on fidelity, abstinence, and condom use do not account for the
ways in which domestic violence inhibits women's control over sexual
matters in marriage.
Yet the United States Government has proposed a dramatic increase in such
programmes as a way of combating AIDS in Africa. Uganda is included among
fourteen countries slated to receive five years of AIDS programmes support
from the United States.
The rights body has therefore urged the Ugandan Government to enact
legislation on domestic violence, and to make equal rights in marriage a
central focus of AIDS programming.
In addition, HRW is urging the US Government and other donor institutions
to ensure that AIDS-prevention programmes also target sexual violence in
marriage, as core components of their strategies.
For more than a decade now, Ugandan women's rights advocates have urged the
Government to enact legislation addressing domestic relations, including
rape and battery of women by their intimate partners. But Bills towards
this effect continue to languish in parliament.
Reported by Henry Neondo
Regional MPs Lay Down Strategy For Strengthening AU
NAIROBI (AANA) August 18 - The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)
has acknowledged the New Partnerships for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as a
turning point in the socio-economic and political landscape in the continent.
In a communiqui issued on August 9 at the end of a nine-day CPA meeting
here, members noted that parliament had a vital role to play in ensuring
progress towards the development of the African Union (AU).
The members, who were drawn from 16 commonwealth nations, agreed that
parliaments must strengthen the AU and its programme of economic
development and poverty eradication, such as the New Partnerships for
Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Giving a talk on how to strengthen the AU to promote democracy, peace, good
governance and accountability in the context of NEPAD, J. Sithole, a
legislator from South Africa, described the creation of AU as a political
and economic indication of commitment to eradicate poverty and conflict
from the continent.
The South African Member of Parliament outlined key aspects to good
political governance that should be focussed by African countries to
promote democracy and its core values, that will ensure stability, peace
He named these as upholding the rule of law, equality of all citizens,
collective freedom, equal opportunity, democratic elections, and adherence
to the separation of powers, including the protection of the independence
of the Judiciary.
The 120 delegates further called upon the Heads of State in Africa to be
committed in the fight against corruption, and promote transparent
Said Sithole: "The issue confronting us today is how we as parliaments can
ensure that AU [becomes] a vehicle for promoting democracy, peace, good
governance and accountability and, in addition, examine the role of NEPAD
in promoting this important objective".
Given the prevalence of conflict in the continent, parliaments were asked
to focus on supporting strategies aimed at peacekeeping, under the umbrella
of AU, in collaboration with the United Nations as well as established
To strengthen AU, the commonwealth parliamentarians resolved to ensure that
they, as public representatives, work towards ratifying protocols that seek
to bring to life, structures that are necessary to give effect to all
objectives set out during the formation of AU in July last year.
Ugandan parliamentarian, Nelson Wambuzi, highlighted some of these critical
issues. According to him, they include creation of a pan-African
parliament, a peace and security council, and an economic, social and
cultural council to enhance good economic and corporate governance.
The CPA further recommended that parliaments in member countries should
establish committees focussing on AU and NEPAD in order to expand their
outreach. In order to achieve such objectives, the CPA members emphasised
that African countries must firmly commit to pursuing a shared continental
Reported by Herman Kasili
Christian Communicators To Prioritise War On HIV/AIDS
LILONGWE (AANA) August 25 - Christian communicators in southern African
have prioritised HIV/AIDS as an area of focus in the next three years,
beginning this year.
In a communiqui issued here at the end of an August 11-16 workshop, 15
Christian communicators stressed the need to set up an effective
communication strategy to fight the scourge in the southern Africa region.
Meeting under the auspices of a regional Christian body, the Fellowship of
Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA), participants noted a "lack
of weight and seriousness to HIV/AIDS" within the New Partnerships for
Africa's Development (NEPAD) framework.
The communicators were drawn from FOCCISA's member councils in Botswana,
Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, to
share experiences on issues affecting Africa, and to sharpen communication
skills of Christian communicators.
The workshop was jointly sponsored by Ecumenical Documentation and
Information Centre in Southern Africa (EDICISA) and the London-based World
Association of Christian Communication (WACC).
The participants committed to, among other things, embark on a multi-media
multi-level campaign against HIV/AIDS, and to engage church leaders in
dialogue on NEPAD matters to ensure the Church is not left behind in the
At the end of the workshop, a committee of three persons, led by Rev. Joe
Mhdlela of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), was elected to
drive and monitor implementation of the suggested strategies.
"We agreed that Zimbabwe, represented by Ms. Shupayi Mpunga spearhead the
HIV/AIDS strategy, Rev. Mhdlela (to handle) NEPAD, while Rev. Kayanula of
Malawi Council of Churches, would direct the emergency strategy," said the
Reported by Osman Njuguna
Botswana Government Steps Up Antiretroviral Therapy
MAUN, Botswana (AANA) August 25 - The opening of a new HIV/AIDS care clinic
in Maun, a resort town in north-western Botswana, has helped to extend the
reach of the Government's HIV/AIDS control and prevention programme.
The Infectious Diseases Care Clinic at Maun General Hospital was officially
handed over to the Government less than a week-and-a-half ago by the
African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP), a public-private
partnership backed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"Last November, the Government asked ACHAP to assist with the construction
of four infectious diseases care clinics and sixteen satellite clinic
extensions, to be ready by the end of 2003. I am happy to report that we
are on track," ACHAP's team leader, Dr Donald Korte, said.
He added: "The clinic will extend the Government's capacity to reach out to
those infected and affected across north-western Botswana. We also hope
that this will help the existing capacity of the clinic to act as a
referral facility for voluntary counselling and testing centres, such as
Tebelopele, and four ARV administrative sites."
Tebelopele is an NGO providing voluntary HIV counselling and testing to
augment the Government's efforts.
The Maun clinic is also expected to play a key regional role in supporting
the Government's prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMCT)
programmes provided through the public health service. ACHAP is also
organising a small grants project to ensure grassroots ideas on fighting
HIV/AIDS are captured and, if feasible, supported.
"Maun is currently providing treatment for over 450 patients. This new
building will enable [the town] to do even more, and enable the site to
provide services in a comfortable and appropriate environment," said
Mathius Chakalisa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
"The world is finally taking note of Botswana's [ARV] programme, and the
country is now recognised as a global leader in the provision of ARV
therapy in resource-constrained settings," Chakalisa added.
Botswana has the world's highest HIV infection rate, but also the fastest
growing treatment programme. Princess Marina Hospital in the capital,
Gaborone, is currently the largest single provider of ARV therapy in
Africa, with over 2,000 patients receiving antiretrovirals.
Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira
Fresh Impetus On Rape Claims Against British Military
NAIROBI (AANA) August - About 100 of some 650 women claiming to have been
raped by British Soldiers training near their homes in Laikapia, Samburu
and Marsabit districts towards northern Kenya, took to the streets of
Nairobi on August 14 to demand an inquiry into their plight.
The women, who had come with their mixed-race children as evidence to their
rape ordeals, called for an end to British military training on their lands.
Presenting a written petition to Sir Edward Clay, the British High
Commissioner here, the women demanded that the fathers of their children
start supporting them.
In a statement, the High Commission said it was determined to look into the
The light-skinned children with curly hair, some toddlers and others young
adults, accompanied their mothers to the streets, carrying placards with
messages such as, "British Soldiers - Rapists," and "Britain, these are
half your kids, take responsibility".
The women have come out in the open in defiance to cultural traditions
where rape ordeals are not spoken about in public. They want compensation.
Early last month, the women's demand got a boost when British Legal
Services Aid Commission, a publicly funded organisation that finances such
litigation, awarded them 25,000 British Pounds to pay their lawyers.
They had applied for the money through their British lawyer, Martin Day, to
enable them sue the British Ministry of Defence. "I am now calling on the
Ministry of Defence to immediately compensate the cases that have been
proved to be genuine," said Day on August 14.
Amnesty International, a London-based global human rights organisation, has
also corroborated the claims.
On July 5, the agency called on the British Government to establish a free
and independent commission of inquiry into the claims by the women,
expressing disappointment that both Kenya and Britain had failed to
investigate the cases.
"Both women and the children born out of these, have been suffering in
silence for close to thirty years, stigmatised, discriminated, and outcast
in their own community," said Amnesty.
Great Britain contracts with Kenya, its colony until 1963, to conduct
artillery training in rural regions, despite objections from impoverished
herders who allege that military operations begin without warning, that
heavy machinery destroys their environment, and that pregnant women
miscarry due to the noise of mortar and gunfire.
But even now as the women in these areas come forward to say they have been
raped, the Kenya Government has not isued a statement.
A number of Kenyan lawyers have said, however, that the Kenyan constitution
would not be suitable for such suits. According to them, the allegations
can best be handled in Britain, where there are statutes allowing claims.
Joyce Majiwa, chairperson of Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)-Kenya
Chapter, is convinced that the case will yield some compensation to the
women due to the overwhelming evidence.
Majiwa revealed that FIDA was planning to work with the British lawyers to
ensure the women got compensated. "We have already entered into
correspondence with the British lawyers and we hope to meet soon over the
issue," she said.
Reported by Muuna Wamuli
Appointing Gay Priests Cannot Be Condoned In Africa - Gitari
NAIROBI (AANA) August 25 - Retired Kenyan Anglican Archbishop, Rt Rev Dr.
David Gitari, has advised Anglican faithful to desist from preoccupying
themselves "too much" with the raging homosexuality debate "as there are
many things to tackle, including evangelism and preaching the Gospel of
In an exclusive interview with AANA, Gitari expressed support to the stance
taken by the Kenyan clergy over the issue, stating that "appointing gay
priests, deacons or allowing same sex marriages cannot be condoned in
Africa, since the Bible does not encourage such".
He, however, expressed the opinion that there was no need to sever links
with the Episcopal Church of United States of America (ECUSA) for having
appointed a gay bishop, as some Provinces have already done, unless it was
clear that "assistance from them had attached strings of homosexuality".
He regretted the decision taken by ECUSA to ordain Rev Canon Gene Robinson,
a homosexual, as bishop, but pointed out that the action was not a
Communion decision, but one done at Province level.
Gitari explained: "The Lambeth Conference resolutions are not binding to
the provinces, for it is up to the provinces to discuss further and
implement what they deem fit for them. Probably, the American church
(ECUSA) had discussed this for many years, and had decided that gay bishops
are better for them."
Rt. Rev Gitari was among the bishops present at the 1998 Lambeth Conference
that proscribed ordination of gay priests.
Asked about his views on the scheduled October meeting of bishops called by
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to discuss the ongoing
homosexuality conflict, the retired archbishop said the intended meeting
will have no impact on the African Church.
According to him, homosexual priests "had been rejected a long time ago and
should not resurface again".
Reported By Herman Kasili
Kenya Seeks Tutu's Input On Reconciliation Commission
NAIROBI (AANA) August 25 - Retired South African Anglican primate and a one
time Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has commended Kenya
for having proposed a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC)
to confront a distressing past.
Archbishop Tutu, a 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was in the country to
crown the opening of a three-day conference here on August 14, held to
brainstorm the need for the establishment of a TJRC in Kenya.
"In transitions, many countries have to come to terms with huge emotional
challenges, where people have been killed, tortured, and lost material
properties. This is a delicate situation because the victors do not share
the platform as the vanquished, but it becomes necessary to know the
truth," he said.
Kenya had invited the famed retired primate to the conference to share his
experience in such matters, having been head of South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, established in 1995 to investigated atrocities
committed during the South Africa's apartheid era.
Tutu, however, pointed out that the South African example was not a design,
which must be followed. He said the most crucial part was that it allowed
the victims a chance to tell their story.
"I was surprised how therapeutic it was. Truth was important for a nation
that did not want a future that carried burdens of unexamined past," he
The idea of a truth commission in Kenya was mooted by Church leaders, human
rights groups, and victims of alleged misdeeds of the previous regimes.
A TJRC Task Force was thus appointed by the Government, to look into the
possibility of establishing one.
Rev. Gideon Ireri, an Anglican bishop, said during the conference that
those who had been victims of the last regime, had often expressed to him
that they would welcome a commission of that nature.
"I had spent time with some victims of the 1992 and 1997 tribal clashes.
They have indicated to me that they wanted this horrifying past addressed,"
he told AANA.
Revealing some of its findings just before the three-day conference, the
task force said 90 percent of Kenyans wanted a truth commission to be
A report of the task force, scheduled for presentation to the Government on
August 26, is expected to suggest etablishment of a commission with powers
to recommend redress and demand that people alleged to have been involved
in gross public misconduct be called to account.
Reported by Muuna Wamuli
Ingenious Poachers Resort To Lethal Booze To Trap Monkeys
ACCRA (AANA) August 25 - In a certain area of Takoradi, a harbour city in
Ghana's Western region, the sight of drunken monkeys wobbling across the
streets has become common.
These monkeys, which live in a nearby sanctuary known as Monkey Hill,
located at the heart of the harbour city, do not intend to bluff anybody by
their strange behaviour.
They are victims of the latest poaching tactic in the region. Poachers drug
them by lacing bananas, a monkey delicacy, with a powerful local alcoholic
drink known as akpeteshie.
The booze renders them helpless against the poachers, who then easily trap
them, either for their meat, which is a delicacy to some natives, or for
sale to tourists, whose demand for the animal is high.
According to Jacob Oti-Awere, Western Regional Manager of Ghana Tourist
Board, the indiscriminate drugging and killing of the monkeys has reduced
the once highly populated monkey family in the area to only 70.
The situation, he said recently, calls for concerted efforts on the part of
stakeholders and residents of the Monkey Hill community, to prevent the
possible wiping out of the endangered species of Olives Colobus and African
Green monkeys in the forest reserve.
Condemning the poachers, Oti-Awere, expressed concern that the Monkeys Hill
Eco-tourism Project, which aims at capitalising on the unique location of
the reserve in the heart of Takoradi, was under threat.
The project is a collaborative effort between Ghana Tourist Board,
non-governmental organisations and the local communities, towards
preserving the sanctuary.
Donors in Finland and the Netherlands are considering supporting the
project with funding to the tune of 60,000 Euros. But the lates development
has raised concern among the project's development partners, prompting
Oti-Awere to intensify appeals to the public to assist the police to arrest
Reported by Felix Amanfu
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