International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 4, 2004

August 4, 2004




**  Sub-Saharan dailies deplore the continent's "present tragedy" of poverty.

**  Corruption fills politicians' pockets while "the people crawl in misery."

**  "Poverty, cupidity, and tradition" are obstacles in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

**  Africa continues to suffer from "coups d'etat, still-born revolutions and violent tribal conflicts."




'On the last rung' of the development ladder--  Recent editorials in sub-Saharan dailies lamented that the continent's resources and infrastructure continue to be "underutilized, misused and allowed to deteriorate," leaving Africa "the only remaining region where significant developments have not been made in eradicating extreme poverty in the last 20 years."  Commenting on the emigration of youth "in search of greener pastures," the independent Ghanaian Chronicle judged it "sad indeed" that so many citizens considered that "life is better anywhere but Ghana, their home."  Senegal's business-oriented Le Journal de l'Economie called on the region to "ignore the growing pessimism" and concentrate on industrialization to eradicate poverty; a Ugandan writer touted "agro-based" industrialization.


Burdened by the 'venality and ambition of leaders'--  Many writers tied poor economic growth to a "culture of thievery" by leaders "intent on getting their piece" of the "national cake."  Kenya's tabloid People praised Western governments for "demanding accountability and transparency" from aid recipients; others termed donor demands "sheer neo-colonialism."  Nigeria's independent New Champion wondered how long Nigerians will "continue to suffer and smile" while living in a "satanic" culture of corruption.  "Good people" can not fight graft alone, a Ugandan analyst said; strong "institutions and constant pressure" are essential to success.  Sierra Leone's Independent labeled the government's latest anti-corruption moves "gimmicks."


HIV/AIDS: 'New ideas needed now'--  The significant threat posed by HIV/AIDS led papers in Uganda and Cameroon to conclude that governments need to increase "the accessibility of drugs" for infected persons and "bring the price of antiretroviral drugs" to a level that the "most destitute patients" can afford; Kampala's independent Monitor stated "glorification" of abstinence was not enough.  A Kenyan writer worried, meanwhile, that increased NGO efforts on HIV/AIDS prevention will have "a negative impact" on family-planning and other health-care services for women.


'Hope keeps us alive'--  Recalling wars brought on by "more than 40 years" of coups d'etat in virtually all sub-Saharan nations, outlets deplored the fact that suffering had become "the lot of the masses."  Continued strife in Cote d'Ivoire caused Abidjan's state-owned Fraternité Matin to express the fear that the country was experiencing "Zairinization," while papers elsewhere despaired that "what is going on in Cote d'Ivoire is a sorry testament" to Africans' inability to escape from "divisive ethnic power plays and tribal politics."  They urged Ivorians to "give peace a chance," fearing the conflict's "ripples" could endanger the rest of the region.


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 32 reports from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, July 22-31, 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.


BENIN:  "Africa Condemned"


Alexis Azonwakin editorialized in Fraternité (7/26):  “Despite all of the electroshock therapy the African continent has been submitted to, in the hopes of restoring its health, the results are hardly encouraging and even predict that the worst is yet to come....  The United Nations’ latest publication regarding industrial development made evident Black Africa’s present tragedy....  For instance, sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the only remaining region where significant developments have not been made in eradicating extreme poverty in the last 20 years....  Moreover, the number of polio cases in Nigeria has increased fivefold in the last year....  Thus is Africa’s course, reduced to little but hesitations and endless attempts to make a fresh start.“


BOTSWANA:  "Save The Earth"


Mmegi/The Reporter commented (7/30):  "Botswana's countryside is bleeding to death.  Studies indicate that some tree species face extinction.  If desertification is not addressed soon, the entire countryside will soon be a wasteland.  Areas that only a decade ago had rich trees have been completely denuded.  The trees have found their way into your (or your neighbor's) fireplace and barbecue stand. The story of desertification is one of a vicious circle of poverty.  Land degradation breeds poverty, and poverty in turn leads to land degradation. In the traditional society, firewood was harvested for subsistence use.  Therefore, there was no threat to the environment.  The modern economy has since caught up with the rest of the country.  Firewood has become a source of commerce.  Where commercialization comes into the picture, the law of supply and demand becomes supreme.  While there is clear demand for firewood, the merchants have no plan to replenish the source of their commodity.  As the demand for firewood grows, more trees are felled, left to dry, and cut into nice pieces to be sold by the roadside. This is a problem that needs a multi-pronged strategy....  Wood is the primary source of heating for many households.  Many of these are poor.  This presents a challenge to identify new and affordable sources of heating energy that are also convenient. There is an obvious need for environmental education because a vast majority of the population does not yet understand the magnitude of the problem.  There is no reason why the environment question cannot be treated with the same urgency that Botswana has--correctly--accorded the HIV/AIDS crisis.  With the right attitude, desertification can be reversed--but intervention is needed yesterday."


"Leading By Example"


Mmegi/The Reporter had this to say (7/26):  "Botswana is rated among the top countries in the world with a high infection rate of HIV/AIDS.  To try to reduce the infection rate and de-stigmatize the disease, President Festus Mogae has been in the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS.  This gesture has been applauded world-wide because it is seen as the right step in trying to save the population from being decimated by the deadly epidemic.  The political commitment that has been shown by the leaders in this country went a step further over the weekend when legislators joined hands with Barclays Bank management in a charity game to raise funds to assist in programs geared towards combating the epidemic....  The gesture by the bank should act as a catalyst to other companies to join the bandwagon in raising more funds to help the needy and fight against HIV/AIDS.  The woes afflicting our society are many and must not be left to one sector, organization or certain groups of people.  In our different ways, each and every one of us must find his or her place in the anti-AIDS struggle....  Not many countries, especially in the Third World, boast a committed leadership to deal with the problems that afflict their societies.  Many leaders have shown more commitment and gained notoriety for all that is bad rather than good.  But in the AIDS war our leaders, more so the president has done fairly well by leading from the front.  What is needed is reciprocation by the people if the war against AIDS is to be won."


CAMEROON:  "AIDS Can Be Halted"


Ndzinga Amougou wrote in the government-controlled, English-language Cameroon Tribune (7/22):  "AIDS officially appeared in Cameroon 10 years ago....  Based on existing statistics, the National AIDS Control Committee maintains that 33.7 percent of the young and sexually active population is infected....  Yet, from the time the very first cases of this scourge were declared in our country, everything was done to nip this disease in the bud.  There was total mobilization:  sensitization campaigns, seminars, colloquiums, radio and TV broadcasts, commercials, newspaper articles, posters, banners, strip cartoons, leaflets, educative talks, etc. ...  Nothing shows that Cameroonians...changed their behaviors following this blackjacking.  This is because there are obstacles to AIDS control.      These obstacles include an unexpected increase in the number of infected persons within a population initially wrongly considered to be 'risk-free'.  Also, there has been an inadequate involvement of sectors other than health in prevention activities.  Furthermore, an acute scarcity of financial resources as well as an inadequate coordination between the various stakeholders and partners of the National AIDS Control Program have been deplored.   When one adds to these obstacles...certain anomalies such as poverty, cupidity, tradition and the various forms of laxity faced in obtaining funds, one can understand why the medical corps faced a lot of difficulties halting the spread of the pandemic....  A national strategic plan for the fight against AIDS was drawn up, a very ambitious plan, which took into consideration the shortcomings raised above.  On the whole, it is a matter of making the next adopt a healthy lifestyle within a context marked by AIDS.  It is also a matter of making the adults understand that they are now living in an environment ravaged by the pandemic, and that, consequently, they should adopt a less risky sexual behavior.  Finally, it is a matter of raising the feelings of solidarity, which have always characterized the traditional African society, within the Cameroonian society, in order to support persons living with HIV/AIDS morally, financially and physically.  The main objective of this plan is to bring the national seropositive rate below the critical level of 10 percent.  This is an objective which can be attained within a long or short term, on condition that everybody gets involved....  However, the most important challenge remaining is to treat all the patients and bring the price of antiretroviral drugs to the financial level of the most destitute patient.  In this connection, we are grateful that the Cameroonian government has really taken the matter in hand....  These efforts need to be encouraged."


COTE D'IVOIRE:  "Annan Should Try To Avoid Cypriot  Syndrome"


Laurent Hodio observed in state-owned Fraternité Matin (7/28):  “On the eve of the third Accra summit regarding the crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire, initiated personally by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, it would be advantageous to recall his administration’s failure in the Cypriot peace talks in April....  The single most important lesson to learn from the Cyprus referenda is that the people always determine their own destiny....  Furthermore, the Ivorian people will judge Mr. Annan upon his performance and not his reputation....  History and our mistakes of the past will help us improve our future actions.  The Cypriot example and the efforts made in Marcoussis and Kléber are still present in our memories.  That is why I humbly wish that Secretary-General Annan will clearly dissociate himself from the proposed solutions to the Ivorian crisis, in order to rationally assess the expectations of the people of the Cote d’Ivoire.”


"The Dance Of The Magicians"


By Jean-Baptiste Akrou remarked in state-owned Fraternité Matin (7/26):  “For nearly two years the Cote d’Ivoire has experienced terrible conditions:  the country is at war, divided, impoverished, and dishonored....  At the crux of the Ivorian crisis lies without a doubt the questioned eligibility of the RDR president, Alassane Dramane Ouattara.  This subject tends to polarize passions and elicit tensions, even causing divisions among the mediators....  The summits held regarding the Ivorian crisis seem more like masquerade balls.  A large number of participants [among the heads of state] come to the summits in disguise:  they are portrayed as facilitators when in fact they are actors in this crisis.  Thus we are witnessing what is essentially a group of magicians dancing around the Ivorian crisis.”


"Hope Keeps Us Alive"


Michel Koffi commented in state-owned Fraternité Matin (7/27):  “In two days’ time, the third political summit of its kind will convene in Accra....  When examining the rupture between the North and the South, it is clear that the former can be characterized by extreme wealth; the latter by extreme poverty....  Therefore, let us pray that Accra III will be the real building block for ending a crisis which has gone on for too long, that this miniature summit will be our last opportunity, allowing us to bury our unsustainable ways of running our countries....  If Accra III proves to be another delude, then we must ask ourselves:  what have we done to deserve such a fate?”




Venance Konan noted in state-owned Fraternité Matin (7/23):  "Our country is not yet at the level of Zaire, but it is not far from that of Nigeria.  We close our eyes by sheer indifference, and let things go....  Don't you have the feeling that we are exactly in the same situation as the former Zaire?  We let go, and cared only for our stomach; today we have a country divided into two, with half of it occupied by a rebellion which depends much on a neighboring country, which is said to be poorer, and weaker.  All this, while what are our youths doing?  Like their counterparts in former Zaire, they drink, dance, and mate; their idols are those young rich men; nobody really knows how they got rich, and whose major activity is to throw the money through the window, wear clothes that are more expensive than the richest in Europe can afford.  As for the political class, its unique concern is struggle for power sharing so that it could apportion to itself the 'choicest meat,' as the late Amadou Kourouma would say.  We have all watched the battle of the hawks around the Abidjan port.  What each one advanced as argument was that each wanted the juicy structure to himself, to prepare for future elections.  If we observe how the port was ceded to Bollore; how they set aside all the minor rules of good governance; and all the recommendations of the international financial institutions; how they ejected a minister from the government, who wanted to prevent them from eating, one can then understand better.  All this, they say, are to liberate Cote d'Ivoire from the major grip of a certain France, and to give the Ivorian economy to Ivorians.  Long live the refoundation.  Just as in the former Zaire, everyone is watching the colossal fortunes building up, while the people crawl in misery; while those displaced by the war crowd themselves into the living rooms of their relatives, who themselves are already too burdened with all the misfortunes of the world in trying to make ends meet....  We see the huge mansions, with a lot of concrete, just as the new rich blacks want them, spring up daily, while the lifts in the skyscrapers have stopped functioning, and the buildings themselves are on the verge of collapse.   Do you know that in this complicated situation we live in, the national assembly felt it is more urgent to give 12 Mercedes Benz, latest model, to its deputy speakers and general secretary?  Zaire, Cote d'Ivoire, two countries, same destiny.  Each was an envy of its region.  And each crumbled because of the negligence and greed of its citizens."


ETHIOPIA:  "Squandered Opportunities"


Sereke Berhan opined in the Addis Tribune (7/30):  "It is undoubtedly mind-boggling to try and understand the reasons why Ethiopia's natural resources, treasures, tourist attractions, manpower etc. are underutilized, misused and allowed to deteriorate in front of our very eyes.  Although some painfully slow steps are being taken to attract investment and address this situation--under local and international pressure--the country is still a long way from realizing its full potential to extricate its people from the devastation of poverty.  Plenty of opportunities have been squandered, dashing hopes and dreams of a better future.  The necessary action essential for rapid development is yet to be recognized and applied appropriately even though years of valuable experience have been gained from past mistakes.  In the part of the leadership, there is an unrelenting lack of innovative thinking, motivation and general apathy, which have conspired to slow the pace of development."


"Heavy Government In Rich Countries"


Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala held in the Addis Tribune (7/30):  "The mantra of the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral organizations is that poor countries should reduce the size of their governments and give more of the economic playground for the private sector.  Private investment is considered to be more efficient than public investment.  But the role of government in rich countries' economy is larger than that of the poor countries...according to [the World Development Report...[published by] the World Bank....  It is clear that the role of government in the economy of the rich countries is generally much greater than in the poor countries.  These facts prima facie stand against the case for lean government.  On the contrary they lead to the conclusion that less role of the government may be responsible for the weak economies of the poor countries....  Countries having heavy governments have exploited the poor countries over last three centuries....  These countries extracted their resources. The poor countries were given independence after the Second World War and pushed into the arena of free trade.  It was like releasing a bonded labor and asking him to contest a wrestling match with the landlord's tout.  We had become weak and they had become strong during the colonial rule.  Free competition favors the strong.  Big companies can engage in predatory pricing and kill the infant industries of the poor countries.  The income extracted from the poor countries enabled the rich countries to invest in the creation of new technologies....  Poor countries, on the other hand, compete with each other to sell their produce to the rich countries at ever lowering prices."


GHANA:  "Give Peace A Chance"


The independent Ghanaian Chronicle asserted (7/29):  "Once again, the troubled situation in Cote d'Ivoire has captured center stage and another high-level conference that seeks to bring peace to the divided country begins...with the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, lending his weight to the deliberations.   What is going on in Cote d'Ivoire is a sorry testament to our ability as Africans to move away from the rancorous and divisive ethnic power plays and tribal politics.  At a time when the rest of the world is moving rapidly into development of human resources to uplift humanity from poverty, hunger and disease, we are still wallowing in misunderstanding and tribalism.  The West African sub-region has, for the four to five decades since independence from the colonialist, not been able to step out onto the international arena as a place where true economic and political progress has taken root.   For all these years, nothing but coups d'etat, still-born revolutions and violent tribal conflicts have been the lot of the suffering masses of the sub-region.  Considering the rich natural resources that nature has endowed us with, West Africa should have been a paradise for its citizens....  Our post-independence leaders have promised much and delivered little....  What is happening in Cote d'Ivoire, if not contained and resolved, is bound to send ripples throughout the whole sub-region.  The Linas-Marcoussis accord signed in France seems to be in tatters.  President Laurent Gbagbo and the northern rebels have both taken entrenched positions which seem to leave no room for compromises.  Yet there must be some give and take from both parties if peace is to come to that country....  The Chronicle trusts that beginning today, the people of that country will see the need to make peace a viable option for themselves and their children.  The country has suffered long enough and both parties in the dispute must make the perhaps unpalatable but necessary compromises so that normalcy will prevail in Cote d'Ivoire."


"In Search Of Golden Fleece"


The independent Ghanaian Chronicle editorialized (7/26):  "The search for greener pastures by young Ghanaian men and women, desirous of succeeding materially, has now reached absurd lengths.  According to...reports...the Italian government has deported some 25 Ghanaians who posed as refugees fleeing the Darfur region in Sudan.  They were found to be hale and hearty young men who were pursuing the dream of going to Europe to work in whatever capacity in order to make Euros, lots of it, which money would allow them to come back as rich 'burgers' who would be able to open their own businesses and prosper for the rest of their lives....  There are many serious lessons to be learned from this sorry episode.  For one thing, it signifies that things are not that well in this country....  For [some] young Ghanaian men and women, life is better anywhere but Ghana, their home.  Thus, they leave here in droves for more prosperous societies, ready to work in any capacity just to earn precious foreign exchange.  The bottom line in all this is quite simple.  Life for many Ghanaians has become almost unbearably hard.  To have a situation where the average young man or woman thinks that living in the country gives no hope to make any meaningful progress in life, is sad indeed.  It now appears that unless one deals in narcotic drugs, comes from a wealthy family background, is lucky enough to get a job in a well-paid profession or has access to steal at the work place, one would not be able to acquire the comforts that make life worth living.  In all these scenarios, it is a dog-eat-dog situation and one has to be a ruthless, unfeeling person to stay on top.  Some of us...cannot bear the cut-and-thrust and dog-eat-dog mentality needed to survive in business.... That is why it is important for our young people to go to school and study hard so that they may have many more avenues open to the hardworking but averagely endowed persons.  If this country continues to gloss over these issues, we would be laying the foundations for a terrible bloodbath in the future when the deprived will rise up against everybody perceived to be rich."


KENYA:  "Family Planning Under Threat"


The top-circulation, independent Nation editorialized (7/30):  "The first African organization to advance women's reproductive health and provide contraceptive services began its work in Kenya about 40 years ago.  In fact, Kenya was the first African country to establish a population policy and a national family planning program....  Because of this early headstart, the country has been able to check its population growth.  Despite these early accomplishments, however, 24 percent of Kenya's married women who want to stop or delay their child bearing today are not using family planning.  This has consequently led to high rates of abortion.  It is quite disturbing, therefore, to read that donors, who provide 80 per cent of the funds needed to procure contraceptives, have decided to channel a substantial proportion of their resources towards HIV/AIDS prevention programs.  It is estimated that the percentage of women using contraceptives in this country has stagnated at 39 per cent from 1998 to the present.  Further reduction of funds to procure these population control services will only lower this figure.  The cutback in funding traces its genesis to the infamous 'Global Gag Rule' imposed by the U.S. government in 2001 on NGOs receiving international family planning assistance, purportedly to reduce abortion.  Instead of reducing abortion, the policy is having a negative impact on international family planning programs, hampering their ability to provide basic reproductive healthcare services and leaving women vulnerable to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, not to mention HIV/AIDS.  If the policy's goal was to ensure separation of abortion-related activities from family planning--in a country where abortion is illegal and causes many health complications and deaths each year--it has sorely missed its mark.  It is in this light that the donors should rethink their position on providing family planning assistance to countries where abortion is illegal."


"Donors Can Do Better Than Cry Corruption In Kenya"


Jackson Mwalulu, former MP for Taveta, wrote in the investigative, sometimes sensational People (7/31):  “It is plausible to posit that much of Kenya’s plundered wealth since independence is invested in the West, the UK included.  Western governments are currently doing an excellent job by demanding accountability and transparency from us.  They should now go the extra mile to bar scoundrels from stashing Kenya’s (and Africa’s) stolen wealth in their countries.  Otherwise the West is guilty of hunting with wolves and running with the hare.”


"Now Witness The Danger Of Dependency"


Matuma Mathiu commented in the East African Standard (7/25):  "These have been, to use unfortunate terminology, a tumultuous two weeks.   Donors have applied the kind of pressure we haven't seen since the 1990s.  There is great danger that they will cut aid unless President Kibaki does what he swore to do, which is to have no mercy at all on those who would want to steal our money....  I support, as does every sane person in this Republic, demands for accountability and zero tolerance for corruption....  However, I am concerned at some of the other demands.  I have heard, but I have no evidence at all, that Germans have put on the table the person they want appointed to the Treasury.  This is sheer neo-colonialism....  President Kibaki ought to be ashamed that 18 months after coming to power, he hasn't jailed anyone for corruption.  It leaves the people, who have heard the threats and the promises before, with the feeling that he is talking the talk but not putting his handcuffs where his mouth is, so to speak.  To get back to the donor furor, I should have thought that this would be an opportunity for Kenyans to see the dangers of dependency and neocolonialism and rededicate their commitment to making these shores truly and totally free.  But no--the venality and ruthless ambition of the African politician is such that no price is too high to pay for the privilege of exercising power and being close to the public kitty, and stealing from it."


"War On Graft Lacking Political Will"


Adongo Ogony had this to say in the KANU-party-owned Kenya Times (Internet version, 7/27):  "President Kibaki is beginning to look like a smoker who has been told by his doctor that he has a deadly lung disease and has to quit smoking or risk his life but instead of doing what the doctor said the smoker pretends to quit and continue smoking....  The latest gimmick of a National Anti-Corruption Steering Committee coming on the heels of donor revolt against graft under the very nose of the president would be laughable if it weren't such grim times for the nation....  Kibaki seems to have good intentions but he is running around in circles and sending the country into a dizzying spin when everybody knows we need real action on corruption, not a thousand committees/commissions and a million promises....  What is lacking in this war against corruption is political will by the highest offices in the land.  We can form 20 committees and name a million anti-corruption czars but until there is real commitment to genuinely fight corruption we are fooling ourselves.  In the meantime if we blow our relation with the donors we are cooked.  Foreign aid and loans..are not a solution to our problem, but looking at the economic situation things couldn't be tougher....  If we don't get money from the donors we are going to have trouble even paying the civil servants and most of our minimal development projects will be stalled almost permanently."


"Don't Embrace GM, Go For Homegrown Solutions"


John Mbaria observed in The East African (7/26):  "Shortly before declaring the famine in Kenya a national disaster, President Mwai Kibaki had announced that his government would embrace genetically modified (GM) foods....   For a country that has experienced occasional famines, one that is yet to attain food security...Kibaki's contention that biotechnology 'can help us increase food output' seems, on the surface, reasonable.  However, it is unclear how far the Kenya government had addressed other agricultural issues that have created food insecurity in the country.....  Past governments, and to some extent the current one, have shown little commitment to eradicating hunger in the country for good.  Many are the instances when food has been used as political capital to buy off victims of hunger....  Experts argue that structural changes in agriculture and land relations, combined with the use of low input technologies, have a big and fundamental role to play in ensuring food security and food sovereignty.  The government needs to be cautious over the real intentions of the giant multinationals that drive global biotechnology research.....  The Kenya government ought to learn a simple historical fact:  that there is nothing offered for free.  We have ample examples to show us that there is a heavy price to pay for unwittingly accepting what appears, on the surface, a 'goodwill' gesture from the West....  At a time when the world is still monitoring and refining risk assessment procedures, it is not clear why the Kenya government is in such an apparent haste to embrace GM foods."


"Time To Take The AIDS Battle From ABC To ARV"


Dagi Kimani wrote in The East African (7/26):  "The 15th International AIDS Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand, recently amid the usual protests by activists, grim statistics and hand-wringing.  Above the cacophony, one thing was clear though:  the world is losing the war against HIV....  Given the experience of the past few years, it is clear that new ideas on prevention, treatment and mitigation are needed now if the war against the killer virus is to be won.  For all the good it has done, the old ABC strategy does not seem to carry the knockout punch that is needed to stop HIV in its tracks; a great number of people are not abstaining, are not being faithful to their partners, and are not using condoms.  In the circumstances, it is time serious efforts were made to mainstream other interventions that to date have remained on the fringes in the fight against HIV....  One powerful and relatively new tool which can have an immediate impact on both the prevention of transmission and the mortality associated with AIDS is antiretroviral (ARV) treatment....  Few HIV-positive people in East Africa know that they can enhance the protection of their partners by lowering their viral loads with ARVs and concurrently using condoms....  The region's governments can widen access to ARVs by encouraging the private sector to start providing the drugs to infected workers....  Closely related to the use of ARVs is, of course, the crucial issue of nutrition....  It is time that programs to treat the poor with ARVs were twinned with basic supplementation programs involving such micronutrients as vitamins.  Another possible area of intervention that has been the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, which AIDS experts say act as windows for HIV to enter the body....  Changes in the way mitigation programs are implemented could also have far-reaching impact in mopping up the socio-economic effects of the scourge.  Whereas the emphasis now seems to be to build homes for AIDS orphans, for example, care of such orphans by a responsible guardian, preferably a close relative, is probably more cost-effective and sustainable....  Elsewhere, at both the global and local levels, a lot more resources need to be committed to the development of effective microbicides....  What these simple examples show is that opportunities exist to initiate new radical programs that meet the challenge posed by HIV at the personal and societal levels in a manner that has not been done before.  The world may, after all, be getting dangerously tolerant to the ABC message."


NIGERIA:  "Children In The Firing Line"


Ifeanyi Ubabukoh opined in the independent tabloid Daily Champion (7/30):  "While this year's 'Day of the African Child' was being celebrated, as many as 120,000 children under 18 years old, some as young as eight, were spending the day as child soldiers across the continent, reports the Amnesty International....  We must dig into the roots of the wars in Africa, and begin to recognize that children are being recruited to make up for shortfalls in adult enlistment, or to fight adult wars, brought about on the continent in the past more than 40 years by coups d'etat in virtually all the African nations south of the Sahara, and sustained by manipulation of the ballot and constitutions by civilian and military dictators to perpetuate themselves in power.  This being so, it is unfair and down-right unjust for children to pay the cost of wars they have no hand in bringing about, but which usually result from adults' greed add folly."


"Final Push Against Polio"


The government-owned New Nigerian stated (7/29):  "[Government] must engage in a vigorous awareness campaign, to mobilize the people, especially those in the rural areas into accepting the efficacy and safety of the oral polio vaccine....  A lot of damage has been done in the last 11 months that the controversy over safety of the oral polio vaccination lasted.  During this period, some mischief makers, most of whom were ignorant of the issues involved, hijacked the controversy and went ahead to spread all sorts of lies....  Many people were made to believe that the polio disease was just being used by the Western world to depopulate Muslims in northern Nigeria.  We are glad that the Kano state government has started on a good note by deciding to flag off the return of the immunization exercise with the state governor and some senior government officials administering the OPV to their own children."


"Suffering And Smiling"


Chuma Ifedi noted in the independent tabloid Daily Champion (Internet version, 7/27):  "Section 23 of the Nigerian constitution states that the National Ethics shall be discipline, integrity, dignity of labor, social justice, religious tolerance, self reliance and patriotism.  If both the government and the populace keep to these noble ideals, our society should be a really happy one.  But, the situation on the ground is satanic.  Leadership by example does not exist....  Leadership in Nigeria is still largely characterized by corruption.  Contrary to the beautiful manifestoes presented by Nigerian leaders during their electioneering campaigns, they only get there not to turn around the economy, get things done properly and make the nation prosperous but to get pieces of their own national cake.  According to recent publication by he British government, 55 per cent of corruption in Nigeria is perpetuated in the presidency.  This is an open secret manifested in the wheeling and dealing between the executive and the legislative.  Hapless citizens watch the dreary situation suffering in silence....  More public funds have found their way from Nigeria to European banks in the last four years than was the case before the 1999 inception of democracy.  The embattled citizenry cannot celebrate this culture of thievery by leaders who are expected to be above board....  There is no hope in sight in spite of the frequent platitudes by the president and governors.  Every week, new commissions and committees are inaugurated....  For how long shall destitute Nigerians continue to suffer and smile?  In his last 'Democracy Day' speech, President Obasanjo said inter alia:  'The security and happiness of all is the goal of our society.'...  This assertion is blatantly hypocritical given the prevailing circumstances of inequity, injustice and double standards in the distribution of national wealth."


SENEGAL:  "Millennium Objectives:  Industrial Development Is The Solution"


Pierre Diam wrote in business-oriented Le Journal de l'Economie (7/26):  “The fight against poverty, within the framework of the millennium objectives, in hopes of ending the underdevelopment plaguing Africa, should without a doubt be oriented towards increasing the continent’s industrial potential....  The weak industrial performance of sub-Saharan Africa reflects deeply rooted problems within economic and governance structures....  What’s more, the international community has not adequately assisted African enterprises in developing competitive capacities....  Successful industrialization helps to create jobs which poor economies are badly in need of....  The region must ignore the growing pessimism regarding its real capacity to industrialize and to create an investment-friendly climate, all while working to overcome structural problems.”


SIERRA LEONE:  "Dishonesty, Nepotism, Tribalism...Keep Sierra Leone Down"


Abu Whyte Fofanah observed in the Independent (7/30):  "If Sierra Leone is listed as the least in human development, it should not be a surprise.  For a people to enjoy a good standard of living, there must have been determination and improvement in socio-economic conditions and not a competition of rogues as happens in Sierra Leone.  Dishonesty is the backbone of our backwardness in the country.  The so-called leaders and their cohorts are always competing in defrauding the people and get away with it.  President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah established the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate corrupt people.  But how many people have been tried and found guilty? The Anti-Corruption Commission will say the judiciary has the problem while the judiciary will say cases usually referred to them have no substantial evidence to convict accused persons.  But...people can only reduce corruption when they expose them to the public.  In fact, most Sierra Leoneans are always going with the concept that 'a man can only survive in Sierra Leone when he is corrupt.'  With this kind of negative perception...what will be the fate of honest Sierra Leoneans?  If a man is not honest to himself, how is he going to be honest to others?....  Most Sierra Leoneans are fond of defending a rotting system that is also depriving them of all their needs.  How can a man can just depend on getting his single meal and rejoice because of sentiments.  They eulogize the system because their brothers are holding public positions or it is their traditional tribal party that is in power.  The future of Sierra Leone is in the hands of Sierra Leoneans themselves. It is time the citizens take a critical look at policies, projects implemented in the country, even the performance of the government and all public officials."


"Sierra Leone Is Last, But What Is The Way Forward?"


Alpha R. Jalloh opined in the Independent (7/26):  "For the seventh time Sierra Leone has taken a position on the last rung of the human development ladder....  The report is a serious indictment on a government, which in the 2002 elections boastfully declared, 'We promised and we delivered.'...  The government's argument has always been that the country has been devastated by a decade of civil war, a statement that has always invoked sympathy.  But Sierra Leone has not been left alone to rise from the ashes of war.  The international community has given a great help to the beleaguered coastal West African country to recuperate.  But despite the tremendous help, the country is plagued by massive corruption, a phenomenon that is responsible for complacency in public offices, in the government and incidentally the inadequacies that characterize post-war era....  All along , the government has been talking about economic development without putting human development on the agenda....  When an enabling environment is created for people to engage in economic activities, they can afford to send their children to school, can afford to pay for medical services, can afford to engage in many activities that enhance the development of communities.  That is the reality President Kabbah and his crew should face....  The government should create an enabling environment for everyone to earn a living in the private sector.  The government cannot provide employment for everyone....   Today, the greatest hope of president Kabbah's government is for investors to come and pour their money....  But how would the investors come when there is no regular electricity?...  Many investors out there do not know where to put their money and what are the rules of the game binding them.  For instance, plans are under way to privatize certain institutions, but no information has been provided to the outside world about them so that entrepreneurs would know what advantages are there if they stake their money for these institutions.  Unless and until the government takes a pragmatic approach and shifts away from textbook knowledge academics or so-called technocrats, the road to recovery will remain blocked."


SOUTH AFRICA:  "Enter The Dragon But SA Must Not Burn Its Fingers"


Independent Business Day editorialized (7/30):  "In recent years, SA's trade talks have been notable for their gung-ho attitude toward free trade agreements.  All too often, though, these efforts have gone forward without systematic research into implications for equity and employment.  So far we have been lucky, with substantial net gains from the free trade accords with the European Union (EU) and U.S.  However, if government continues to pursue agreements with China and India, as its recently published action program proposes, our luck could run out.  China and India have very different economic structures and trade patterns from the industrialized economies of the U.S. and EU.  They import resource-based products from SA and export light industrial products.  Given this pattern of trade, opening the economy by a bilateral accord could wipe out jobs on a large scale....  The stakes are high.  Given 40% unemployment, any step that can destroy jobs must be scrutinized far more carefully."


"Targeting Globalization Will Not Help War On Poverty"


Kane-Berman, chief executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations wrote in independent Business Day (7/27):  "President Thabo Mbeki...has written...of the 'negative outcomes of globalization' and the 'growing impoverishment of billions across the globe,' and suggested the United Nations (UN) should intervene....  Yet globalization, liberal capitalism, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, or whatever call it what you will has helped to lift millions out of poverty.  It is ironic that globalization and free markets are under attack at such a time.  Various studies show both the proportion and number of people in the world living below the extreme poverty line of $1 a day have dropped in the past 20 years....  Whichever method of calculation is used, poverty in low and middle-income countries has decreased, not risen....  Outrage against simultaneous widening inequality in some parts of the world should not be permitted to obscure improvement in living standards of some of the poorest people on earth.  Though they still contain vast numbers of the desperately poor, most of this success is accounted for by China and India since they embraced economic liberalization and rapid growth.  The fact that India has benefited from outsourcing of U.S. jobs proves that it is not only the rich who benefit from globalization....  The terrible exception is sub-Saharan Africa.  Its plight was yet again highlighted last week when the United Nations Industrial Development Organization said this was the only part of the world where extreme poverty had been spreading in the past 20 years....  Why is sub-Saharan Africa doing so badly?  Between 1990 and 1999, this region's gross domestic product per head shrank by 5%.  That of east Asia and the Pacific rose by 75%.    What Africa needs is not less globalization but greater integration into the global economy.  That means more investment, friendlier food and other export markets, and implementing the governance and development policies of the New Partnership for Africa's Development.  Far from putting global markets under UN control, the state must liberalize them, and help the poor, especially poor women, to enter them by providing literacy, basic health care, clean water, and all the other things necessary to enable individuals to exploit their own potential."


UGANDA:   "Donors Response To Corruption"


Charles Onyango Obbo, editor of the Nation Media Group, opined in the independent Monitor (7/28):  "Until about December 2002, the one thing that truly puzzled Kenyans, and other observers of African politics, was why the donors were hard on then President Daniel arap Moi about democratization--even though Kenya was a multiparty democracy--and yet treated President Museveni’s one-party Movement system with kid gloves.  In the last three weeks, there have been questions about why the donor community was very hard on corruption in President Mwai Kibaki’s government, but were not putting equal pressure on Kampala, where some think corruption is 'higher'.  This follows the shock British High Commissioner to Kenya...handed the Kenyan political establishment when he accused unnamed corrupt officials of behaving 'like gluttons' and 'vomiting on the shoes' of donors.  Donor involvement in Uganda has been among the deepest of any country in Africa.  Deep enough for them to be convinced about their conclusions in how to deal with problems like corruption in similar situations.  The lesson the donor community must have been reminded of from across in Uganda is that you cannot rely only on 'good' people to fight corruption.  You need institutions and constant pressure....  It looks like the donors in Kenya, seem determined to avoid...isolation [by closing] ranks.  Visiting Norwegian minister for International Development Hilde Johnson threw her lot behind [the British High Commissioner Clay's] sentiments.  Then the European Union, and the Americans.  So complete was the rally behind Clay, that it quickly became clear that the government was not only facing one rogue ambassador.  It did the next wise thing--it called in the ambassadors for talks.  Though we might be seeing more response to local and donor pressure over corruption in Kenya partly because of these improved attack tactics, it is too soon to say there will be a significant rollback of graft as a result.  If that happens, Kenyans will have Uganda to thank."


"Focus On High HIV Infection In Youth"


Desree Barlow had this to say in the independent Monitor (7/27):  "We are at it again, discussing non-issues in regard to President Museveni's glorification of abstinence as a key tool in fighting AIDS while at a summit in Bangkok, Thailand.  What the president said in his keynote address may be a personal opinion or what he wants documented but that does not bear much on the reality on the ground in accessing drugs and combating further infection....  Abstinence levels in Uganda are at under 2% of the 25 million people.  It is therefore important to note that people can abstain only for a period of time....  While surveillance data demonstrates that there is a decline in HIV infection, it is essential to ascertain why the biggest numbers of the infected persons are the youth who make up over 75% of the population.  Why do youths make up the biggest numbers of infected persons?  Because parents and leaders have not provided efficient sex education on sexual behavior and edification on proper condom use.  Ask ten sexually active people between the ages of 20- 29, and see how many do not know how to use a condom appropriately....  Parents and leaders must realize that many young people are engaged in early sex due to the various pressures they face especially while adolescents....  We cannot glorify or downplay any of the ways through which AIDS can be combated because they work for different people....  Government therefore has to drum up the accessibility of drugs to infected people in rural areas and especially for those who cannot readily afford the drugs but also work towards avoiding new infections but providing basic sex education and clearly sensitize people on the choices available and what consequences are possible."


"Learn Tigers' Lesson"


The government-owned, influential New Vision editorialized (7/27):  "A team of Ugandan technocrats is visiting of the fabled Asian Tigers....  Malaysia is, in a sense, a model for Uganda in that as recently as 40 years ago, we were at the same level of (under) development.  Where Uganda and a whole host of African countries stagnated, Malaysia alongside Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia hit that magical point of economic take-off.  How did they do it?  Partly it was out of a sense of mission.  They did identify where they would fit in the world economy, and could compete effectively.  They saw manufacturing (the Western countries were becoming post-industrial societies), and quickly put in place the conditions to enhance it.  These included a cheap, yet educated labor force, identification of export markets and strategic interventions in carefully thought-out industry-wide incentives.  Where would Uganda find her comparative advantage and compete effectively?  If we identify industrialization as a foundation for economic take-off, we shall realize that our advantage lies in agriculture, where we are richly endowed.  Agro-based industrialization would, therefore, be the target, and subsequent policies in education, land reform and property rights, banking and other fiscal measures, would all be tailored to this end."


ZIMBABWE:  "ZBC Now Only For Zanu PF Propaganda"


Pius Wakatama argued in the independent weekly Zimbabwe Standard (7/25):  "I have often said that our government is a totalitarian dictatorship.  Dictators are basically cowards who fear the truth.  They hold on to power by using force and lies.  This is why in Zimbabwe only the government can own and operate television and radio stations.  Ordinary citizens are not allowed to own or operate these media because they tell the people the truth and thus expose the government's cruelty and lies.  Newspapers...which tell the truth are banned, prosecuted and persecuted.  Through its controlled media the government wants to control our lives and minds.  As far as they are concerned they are the only ones who know what is good for Zimbabwe and its people.  They are gods whose will must not be questioned or challenged."


"Creating A New Zim:  Lessons From History"


Vince Musewe remarked in the independent weekly Zimbabwe Standard (7/25):  "In our naiveté in 1980 we assumed that once and for all the colonial master's hold on our economy and social life was now history and it was time to witness the rise and rise of a liberal and democratic social economy led by the new black generation who had been waiting in the wings for some time.  With an educated populace such as we had in Zimbabwe, our expectations were that we would inevitably become the 'intellectual' capital of Southern Africa if not Africa....  How wrong we were! Our first mistake I think was that we assumed that Zanu PF our so-called 'liberators' were guided by the very principles which they fought for but so lack today.  We assumed that the party was for the people and that the agenda had always been to liberate the African not only mentally but also economically by creating an environment that sought to propel the African and in our case the black educated Zimbabwean from the bondage of colonialism to freedom of thought speech association and black economic empowerment....  A new economic order that promoted socialism made sense as we assumed that the new economic policy must have, at its heart, the interests of the proletariat and down trodden--mainly blacks....  Twenty-four years later we have seen the opposite happening.  We have seen the rise and rise of a black capitalist class whose behavior and interests mimic those of our colonial masters.  We have seen the merging of the State and Zanu PF and a central command directing all social and economic activity to ensure that the party and the State remain as one.  We have seen attempts to create an agrarian majority who depend on the land for subsistence and a class structure characterized by two economies, Zanu PF and everyone else....   The fundamental mistake we made, as Zimbabweans was to trust that Zanu PF stood for our interests as blacks and therefore the stronger the party became the more probable our success would be.  We inadvertently endorsed the one party mentality through our own naiveté....  Zanu PF believes it is the only party that is legitimate to lead us into oblivion and challenging what it stands for and what disaster of an economy it has created is tantamount to treason and being 'unpatriotic' or being agents of the British or white farmers.  Our experience should therefore sound warning bells that an political party must never be allowed to usurp the State and a strong opposition is always critical to ensure that our freedoms are protected at all times."


"Mugabe Squanders Another Golden Opportunity"


The independent weekly Zimbabwe Standard editorialized (7/25):  "As one of our letter writers pointed out elsewhere in this issue, only God can save us now.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel....  Zimbabwe's economic situation is as bad as it gets....  Zimbabweans are generally existing on the margin of survival.  Against this background, President Mugabe's anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist rhetoric continues unabated.  What has this rhetoric brought us Mr. President?  More and more financial hardships and a sense of hopelessness created by your unworkable and hollow policies.  We wonder if you really know the extent of the misery that the majority of Zimbabweans are suffering....  You and your government are unable or perhaps unwilling to find answers to the country's growing economic problems because of your insatiable appetite for power.  It now appears that in your twilight years, increasing senility, confusion and absent-mindedness...has blinded you to the reality of the crisis that is currently bedeviling most Zimbabweans....  Forget about the Third World which you are so fond of Mr. President.  You know as well as we do that they look to the West for financial support and assistance....  It is now increasingly evident that the trappings of power and the material comforts that go with it have completely insulated the president from the reality on the ground."


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