Katrina's Feed
Dec 30, 2009

Heroin, HIV stalk tropical resort of Zanzibar

STONE TOWN, Zanzibar (Reuters) – A Zanzibari man crouches in a half-built roofless building, struggling to find a vein in his arm, while his friend takes over and injects the heroin for him, drawing blood back into the syringe.

The two are among an estimated 4,000-6,000 narcotics addicts who use syringes to inject themselves in Zanzibar, a tropical archipelago of one million people, better known for tourism and beach holidays than drug abuse.

Dec 8, 2009

Deforestation threatens Kilimanjaro ice cap

KILIMANJARO, Tanzania (Reuters) – At the foot of Africa’s snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, images of the mountain adorn the sides of rusting zinc shacks and beer bottle labels, but the fate of the real version hangs in the balance.

As politicians and lobbyists try to thrash out a new climate deal in Copenhagen, experts in Tanzania say local land practices must increasingly take their share of the blame for the rapid shrinkage of the ice on Kilimanjaro’s peak.

Nov 27, 2009

Pushing alternative crops in Afghan opium fight

NAD ALI, Afghanistan (Reuters) – From the helicopter, you can see the empty fields of southern Afghanistan’s Helmand River valley. Now comes the question: when the fields are lush again in spring, will farmers be growing opium poppy or wheat?

“This year we want to reach a minimum reduction of at least 50 percent,” said Gulab Mangal, Governor of Helmand, Afghanistan’s main opium-growing province and the most violent front in the Afghan war.

Nov 26, 2009

Fighting Afghan Taliban with Islamic credit unions

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) – After the Taliban made nine threatening phone calls and fired a Kalashnikov outside his house, Shah Mohammad Mir left his hometown for months before returning with a new car and a new telephone number.

His crime was lending tiny amounts of money to farmers with as few as five sheep or to women who embroider traditional fabric for a few dollars a month.

Nov 20, 2009
via Africa News blog

Will EAC’s common market deal work?

Photo

For telecoms-tycoon-turned-philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, it’s one step forward, two steps back. For Benno Ndullu, governor of the central Bank of Tanzania, the whole thing is bound to stall unless problems are ironed out first.For many Tanzanians, it’s a threat to their jobs, language and prospects.But for the leaders of the five-member East African Community (EAC), signing the common market protocol on Friday represents the future fortunes of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda combined.Signing the document — the culmination of a relatively speedy 18 months of negotiation — will mean goods, services and the community’s 126 million people can move freely across their borders, in theory at least.Together, the five countries muster $60 billion in gross domestic product combined, and believe they can prosper better as one unit than apart.Already they have a customs union, but by 2012 they foresee sharing a single currency and finally political federation.”If you don’t get the economic integration process going in Africa you’re dead,” Tim Clarke, head of delegation at the European Commission in Tanzania, told the Mo Ibrahim Foundation meeting on good governance last weekend.There are plenty of creases to be ironed out, however — whether Rwandans should switch the side of the road they drive on to match up with the region or whether home-made goods are prepared to fight it out against cheaper imports unencumbered by import duties.Sometimes described as a bowl of spaghetti, many countries belong to overlapping regional economic communities, which makes negotiating as a single bloc tricky.Other contentious issues include land ownership, common external tariffs, travel documents and protection of ill-prepared local manufacturers and workers.For EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Juma Mwapachu, who is also a Tanzanian citizen, it is important to overcome what he calls “this zero-sum mindset that these people are coming to take our jobs”.”The common market is going to send another right signal to the region in terms of enticing investors,” he told the Mo Ibrahim Foundation at the weekend.Some think the countries are nevertheless overambitious in their timescale, while also being slowed down by lengthy protocol: among their planning duties, heads of state mulled “a report on the finalisation of the development of the EAC Anthem”.But as they promote cultural cohesion with EAC football, a new EAC headquarters and yes, the new anthem, many are hoping to put the previous failure of the EAC — which ran for ten years until it was dissolved amid rancour in 1977 — far behind them.Will it work this time?

Nov 19, 2009

Donors warn aid to graft-prone Tanzania at risk

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Donors warned aid-reliant Tanzania on Thursday that rising corruption and weak accountability put next year’s grants to the country at risk.

For the 2009/10 (July-June) fiscal year, 11.4 percent of its budget, or $831 million, is funded directly by a pool of 14 donors. It is among Africa’s highest per capita aid recipients.

But rising concern over the government’s weak governance, economic policy and failure to keep to agreements has led donors to disburse below what they pledge for the past few years.

"Weak public finance management as well as corruption continues to hamper economic and social progress," Pieter Dorst, co-chair of the Development Partners Group, said at an annual policy meeting with ministers, donors and civil society.

"Donor partners may inevitably find it hard to maintain high levels of support if concerns about corruption should grow."

Netherlands is withholding 30 million euros in general budget support this financial year.

"My minister has lost confidence in the government of Tanzania’s implementation of policy," Dorst told Reuters.

The tourism-dependent country’s economy has grown at an annual average of 7 percent over 2001-2008. levels of poverty in the country of 40 million people have barely dropped and Dorst said they fell by only 2 percent between 2001 and 2007.

"The people of Tanzania deserve to have confidence that the country’s resources are being used to advance their welfare rather than being lost due to corruption," he said.



INCREASING SCEPTICISM

In a region with high incidence of violence and human rights abuses, Tanzania’s stability and sound macroeconomic policies have for several years appealed to donors keen to spend.

But the country has dropped 32 places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in the past two years.

"Corruption will be taken care of," said Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo. "Recently we’ve noticed increasing scepticism about the function of general budget support. As government, we simply say that general budget support is the best aid."

Mkulo said that Tanzania would soon embark on its own review of donor performance to make sure donors behave effectively. He blamed some donors for late payments.

President Jakaya Kikwete has placed fighting graft, especially in public procurement, among his top priorities.

Earlier in the year, he said 578 graft cases were before Tanzanian courts, up from just 50 four years ago, 27 of them involving individuals implicated in grand corruption. [ID:nLF415268]

"Tanzania has been held up as the poster-child of Africa but it has had an image and reputation as a donor haven that was not fully justified," said one donor, who did not want to be named. "The results are not there and that’s causing people to be frustrated." (Reporting by Katrina Manson)




Nov 15, 2009

Some African countries not viable – Mo Ibrahim

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 15 (Reuters) – African states must integrate immediately or some will not survive, Mo Ibrahim, who funds the world’s biggest prize in support of leadership on the continent, said late on Saturday.

Ibrahim was speaking at the opening of a two-day event promoting good governance in Africa, which appears to have slipped following a spate of coups in the past two years.

"Some of our countries, and I’m really sorry to say this, are just not viable," the Sudanese mobile phone tycoon said.

"We need scale and we need that now — not tomorrow, the next year or the year after."

Several overlapping regional groupings throughout the continent are trying to knit their economies closer together, but the pace and extent of integration is slower than hoped.

"Intra-African trade is 4-5 percent of our international trade. Why? This is unacceptable, unviable, and people need to stand up and say this," Ibrahim said.

"Who are we to think that we can have 53 tiny little countries and be ready to compete with China, India, Europe, the Americans? It is a fallacy."

The $5 million Ibrahim Prize, which has previously been awarded to outgoing presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Mogae of Botswana, was not awarded this year.

Judges led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said although there were some credible candidates, they would not make an award. They did not explain why. [ID:nLI331581]

John Kufuor of Ghana, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa were among the eligible candidates, all of whom stepped down of their own accord — a key condition.

"We are poor, we are hungry, we are going without," said Ibrahim. "Something is drastically wrong. I think we have the right to ask our leaders: are they really serious?" he told an audience including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

Celebrities including Senegalese singer Youssou N’dour and Beninois poverty activist Angelique Kidjo performed during the evening, saying leaders needed to do more.

Former Sudanese child soldier and hip hop artist Emmanuel Jal called for greater vision and compassion.

"So many people died that we don’t even cry any more," he said in a performance that spoke of his experiences with Kalashnikovs and brought many in the audience to tears.

"To be a president in Africa, it’s like you’re going to be a big man, because they take all the money. You need a leader that’s going to say no to corruption," he told Reuters after leaving the stage. "When there’s no vision, people perish."

Discussion panels on Sunday with several African leaders will address climate change, food security and economic integration, which the Mo Ibrahim Foundation says require Africa’s urgent attention. (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)




Nov 13, 2009

Cervical cancer vaccine hope for African women

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – So crammed is Tanzania’s only cancer treatment center that Rukia Kondogoza, wrapped in bright kanga cloth, has to share her bed with another patient.

A farmer from the rural south of the country, the 40-year-old has cervical cancer — the biggest cause of female cancer deaths on the continent and a disease that kills one African woman every 10 minutes.

Nov 5, 2009

UN court hands Rwanda tea boss 8 year prison term

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 5 (Reuters) – A U.N. genocide court on Thursday sentenced a former tea industry official from Rwanda to eight years in prison for ordering subordinates to kill hundreds of minority Tutsis hiding in a church.

Michel Bagaragaza, a former director general of Rwanda’s tea industry regulator, was found guilty on one count of complicity in genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania.

"The Trial Chamber found him guilty of the charge of having substantially contributed to the killings of more than one thousand Tutsis who sought refuge at Kesho Hill and at Nyundo Cathedral," the court said in a statement.

In its indictment, the court accused him of making hate speeches to incite Hutus to kill, raising money to train militias and ordering tea factory employees to give fuel to the Interahamwe militia responsible for much of the killing.

"It also found that he aided and abetted the planners and principal perpetrators of the killings, including military and civilian leaders and members of the Interahamwe militia, members of the Presidential Guard, military personnel, and the staff of Rubaya and Nyabitu Tea Factories," the court said.

Ethnic Hutu militia and soldiers slaughtered 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in just 100 days during the 1994 massacre.

The U.N. court, established in 1994 in Arusha, Tanzania, said Bagaragaza would get credit for time spent in detention since his surrender in 2005.

Bagaragaza was initially charged with "conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, and in the alternative, complicity in genocide".

Attempts to transfer his case to a national jurisdiction failed. The court accepted a second guilty plea entered in August after being satisfied it was voluntary, informed and unequivocal.

Without going into details, Roland Amoussouga, court spokesperson, said Bagaragaza also received a shorter sentence because he helped the prosecution, and regretted his actions.

"It was one of the most important factors that was taken into account. Some people who have pleaded guilty have still been given life but the Chamber was satisfied his remorse is genuine," Amoussouga told Reuters by phone from Arusha.

"He has even tears in his eyes today. It shows to the world he regrets his actions. He recognised that he erred and had poor judgement. This will help to heal the wounds, not to deepen them."

Bagaragaza’s sentencing brings the number of judgements by the court to 40. Six of those were acquittals.

The court has until 2010 to hear all appeals before winding up. (Additional reporting and writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)