August 4, 2004
AFRICA MEDIA ROUND-UP: THE WEIGHT OF POVERTY,
CORRUPTION AND WAR
** 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
'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.
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
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
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 generation...to 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
"Annan Should Try To Avoid Cypriot
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
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
"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
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."
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
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 neglected...is 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."
"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."
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
"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
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
"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
"Targeting Globalization Will Not Help War
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
"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 Malaysia...one 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
"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
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."