Daily Archives: March 21, 2014

Africa: Sadomba Strike Sinks Ahly in Tunis

Holders Al-Ahly’s poor away record continued, losing 0-1 to Ahli Benghazi of Libya on Friday in the 1/8th round first leg clash in Tunis.

Zimbabwe-import Edward Sadomda scored the only of the encounter on 67 minutes, capitalizing on a blunder by Ahly captain Wael Gomaa to give his side a first leg cushioning.

It was the second successive loss for the eight time winners, after suffering a similar fate against Tanzanian champions, Young Africans at the previous round in Dar es Salaam.

It was a well-deserved win for the Libyan side who gave their travelling fans a huge cause to cheer despite playing away from their favourite grounds in Benghazi.

Burly forward Ahmed Zuway and Sadomba led raids into the Ahly halve but failed to land the breakthrough during a balanced first half.

On two occasions, Ahly goalie Sherif Ekramy was to his side’s rescue saving a Zuway goal-bound header on 23 minutes, before denying Sadomba seven minutes from half time.

Ahli Benghazi appeared in control as captain Abderahmane Fetori, a member of the Libyan squad that won the Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) title in South Africa last February, combined with Farag Mbarak, Solomon Jabason, Mosese Orkuma and Egyptian Ahmed Eid to dominate the midfield.

Five minutes into the second half, Mbarak was unlucky as his curling shot ricocheted off the post with Ekramy completely beaten to the relief of the defending champions.

Struggling in search of their feet, Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef brought on Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’ for Burkinabe Moussa Yedan on 66 minutes, to provide options.

Rather, it was the Libyans who scored a minute later. Against the run of play, a long ball found Zuway whose header was reached by Sadomba after Gomaa missed his clearance. The Zimbabwean fired past onrushing Ekramy for the only goal of the match.

The second leg will take place next weekend with the winner advancing to the mini-league stage.

Zimbabwe: Fresh Waves of Zimbabwean Migrants Flee Worsening Economy

Harare/Louis Trichardt — A deepening economic crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening already high levels of unemployment and driving a fresh wave of labour migrations into neighbouring countries, say economists.

“People are desperate because of the job losses, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to penetrate the informal sector because it has become oversubscribed,” independent economist Eric Bloch told IRIN. “The option, therefore, is to go outside the country and try to get a job there.”

Company closures picked up in the second half of 2013, after President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party won the general elections, and have continued apace in 2014.

A recent survey by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) of its affiliate members found that 75 companies had shut down since January, putting around 9,000 breadwinners out of work.

Bloch put current levels of unemployment at over 80 percent, although real unemployment levels in Zimbabwe are almost impossible to gauge because countless Zimbabweans make a living in the informal sector.

The textile, farming, mining, construction, printing and retail sectors have been particularly hard hit by company closures and downsizings, which were precipitated by poor power supplies, dwindling markets, and lack of capital to invest in new technologies and machinery.

Most municipalities owe their employees several months of salaries and are struggling to operate adequately. They are likely to undertake even more retrenchments. The cash-strapped Harare City Council, for example, which has an estimated workforce of more than 10,000, intends to lay off 2,000 of its employees, according to recent minutes of a councillors’ meeting.

Overwhelming demand for passports

Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar general whose office processes passport applications, recently told the Parliamentary Committee for Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services that long queues of people seeking to apply for or renew travel documents were overwhelming his staff.

“There is a high demand for passports in Zimbabwe as people are leaving to escape the economic crisis the country is facing,” said Mudede.

“We are being overwhelmed by people seeking travel documents,” confirmed an official working at the registrar general’s office in Harare, who declined to be named.

“While we received an average of 300 applications per day during this period in 2013, and lower figures before that, the number has gone up to around 600 a day,” he told IRIN.

Although applicants are not required to state their reasons for seeking passports, the official said a “big number” told him that they intended to relocate to either South Africa or Botswana to seek better livelihood opportunities.

“They say there is no hope in Zimbabwe, and they would rather go and look for money elsewhere. This is the kind of pattern that we saw before the formation of the government of national unity in 2009,” he said.

Between 2000 and 2009, millions of Zimbabweans, including skilled workers, fled the country to settle in southern Africa, the US and Europe as the country’s economy went into free fall. The period was marked by hyperinflation, high unemployment, poor salaries and critical shortages of basic commodities.

Overnight, queues of people seeking passports have resurfaced and are getting longer, said the official, who added that anti-riot police had been deployed at the passport offices to control the crowds.

Augustine Tawanda, chairman of the Zimbabwe Cross-border Traders’ Association (ZCBTA), said he had also observed increasing numbers of informal traders and economic migrants leaving the country.

“Where you used to have a total of 40 or 50 buses leaving Harare on a daily basis, the number has gone up to around 60 or more,” he told IRIN.

He added that some of those travelling to South Africa and Botswana were cross-border traders who regularly returned home, while others set up temporary bases in neighbouring countries in an effort to get income through odd jobs.

Migrants find few opportunities

Patience Murowe, 26, a married mother of two from Harare, decided to settle in Louis Trichardt, a town in South Africa’s northern Limpopo Province in October 2013, after being laid off from her secretarial job at a clothing company. She has since secured a job as a receptionist at a surgery.

“After the general elections in July [2013], it became clear that the economic situation was getting worse. My former company closed two months after and is yet to pay me my outstanding salary and retrenchment package as it did not have the money,” Murowe told IRIN.

She made several trips to South Africa’s border town of Musina to buy clothes for resale, but discontinued when Zimbabwean customs officials stopped her bus one day and confiscated her goods, leaving her with no money to continue with the business.

“The trauma of the years before 2009 is back. Many friends, former workmates and neighbours have already moved to South Africa and Botswana because it is difficult to make a living in Zimbabwe,” said Murove, whose husband and children plan to join her later this year.

Murowe’s basic salary at the surgery is around US$300 per month, compared to the $600 she used to take home from her job in Zimbabwe, leaving her little to send back to her family.

“My friends who have moved to places like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria are having a tough time fixing decent jobs and are being forced to take any offer that gives them money to at least pay rent and buy food, let alone send money back home,” said Murowe.

Zimbabweans who come to South Africa are given a permit that allows them to stay a maximum of 90 days but does not allow them to work. Those who overstay their permits or work without the appropriate documents risk being deported.

In the past, many Zimbabweans applied for asylum in South Africa and obtained permits that allowed them to work while their refugee status was being determined, a process that can take several years. In recent years, however, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has made it increasingly difficult to apply for or renew asylum-seeker permits, part of an effort to reduce what officials have characterized as abuses of the asylum system by economic migrants.

Meanwhile, the possibility of Zimbabwean migrants obtaining formal jobs in the region is diminishing, according to Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labour and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ). “The South African economy, in particular, is increasingly melting down, as evidenced by the weakening rand, industrial strikes for better salaries and wages, worsening investor confidence, and increasing demand for jobs among locals,” he told IRIN.

Cyril Dzinonzwa, 40, a former accountant from Harare who was laid off last year, recently returned from Botswana empty-handed after a five-month job hunt. He was arrested twice by the Botswana police for overstaying his visitor’s permit and was only released because a friend bribed the authorities.

“The majority of Zimbabweans in Botswana whom I knew did not have residence permits, and during the time I was there, I saw many being deported but going back to play hide-and-seek with the police. Most of them have resorted to doing odd jobs such as house cleaning and being porters at shopping malls, even though they might have professional qualifications,” said Dzinonzwa.

“I had to borrow money from a colleague to return home because my situation had become unbearable. All prospective employers told me that they preferred hiring locals. One of them said I should first get a work permit and give them P8,000 (US$900) to facilitate that, but I couldn’t raise the money.”

Dzinonzwa is now frantically applying for jobs in other parts of Africa.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

Swaziland: Swaziland – Human Rights Lawyer and Journalist Charged With Contempt of Court

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) condemns the arrest, detention and unconstitutional closed hearing of prominent human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko and Nation magazine editor, Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland.

Maseko, a senior member of Lawyers for Human Rights Swaziland, was arrested in his law firm offices in Mbabane on 17 March. Nation magazine editor, Bheki Makhubu, was arrested on 18 March after police reportedly raided his family home on 17 March.

Both men have been charged with contempt of court relating to two separate articles that appeared in the Nation magazine and were critical of the arrest of government vehicle inspector Bhantshana Gwebu, who is also facing a contempt of court charge.

Specifically, the contempt of court charge alleges Maseko and Makhubu, acting jointly and in furtherance of a common purpose, did unlawfully and intentionally violate and undermine the dignity, repute and authority of the High Court in the Kingdom of Swaziland [by] issuing and publishing malicious contemptuous statements about Gwebu’s case.

This is not the first time Maseko has been arrested, having been charged with sedition in 2009, although the case was never brought to trial.

In April 2013 Makhubu, along with Nation magazine publishers, was convicted of scandalising the court following the publication of two articles criticising the judiciary in 2009 and 2010. Makhubu and the publisher were fined a total of E400,000 (approximately US$45,000) by the Swaziland High Court, half of which had to be paid within three days or Makhubu would immediately be sent to jail for two years. Makhubu avoided jail as his lawyers filed for an appeal before the deadline, but no hearing date has been set for the appeal.

Maseko and Makhubu were expected to appear in court the morning of 18 March, but after waiting outside an empty court room for several hours, family and supporters of the men were told a private hearing had taken place in the chief justice’s chambers. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland requires that all criminal hearings be heard in open court. One of the accused’s lawyers, Mandla Mkhwanazi, described the private hearing as peculiar and odd. He said that he was initially denied access to his client, the accused’s requests to have the hearing in an open court were denied, there was no discussion of bail and therefore the accused had no opportunity to defend themselves.

Maseko and Makhubu are currently being detained in Sidwashini Remand Prison, awaiting an open court hearing scheduled for 25 March, according to Mkhwanazi.

Both the current and previous charges laid against the men highlight the difficulties media have in commenting on current events in Swaziland. In the Reporters Without Borders 2013 Press Freedom Index, Swaziland was ranked 155 out of 179 countries, making it the worst country for press freedom in southern Africa. In 2011, the African Media Barometer (AMB) noted that there are 32 laws in Swaziland that restrict freedom of expression. Journalists interviewed by MISA said they were intimidated by the laws, and regularly practiced self-censorship to avoid upsetting high-ranking officials or attracting negative attention to themselves.

As a leading advocate for media freedom in southern Africa, for the past 22 years MISA has campaigned for the repeal of laws criminalising freedom of expression, including criminal defamation, insult, sedition and false news laws. MISA currently acts as the focal point for southern Africa as part of a Pan-African campaign which seeks to repeal criminal defamation, insult laws, sedition and false news, lead by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Advocate Pansy Tlakula.

Launching the campaign to decriminalise free speech in Africa, at the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa in 2012, the Special Rapporteur stated many African countries still have laws with vague and undue restrictions that criminalise a wide range of expression, and thereby undermine constitutional guarantees and international commitments of states.

Indeed, in many parts of the continent, the restrictions have become the principle, and freedom of expression the exception. The harsh and vague nature of criminal sanctions for speech is one of the major causes of self-censorship on the continent. Most of the laws that criminalise speech are crafted in such a manner as to allow intolerant and abusive public officials to interpret clauses so as to punish critical voices.

MISA condemns the arrest, detention and unconstitutional hearing of Maseko and Makhubu. Arresting and charging journalists with criminal offences for doing their job is an unjustifiable restriction on freedom of expression. MISA urges the government of Swaziland to remember their international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, as well as the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, to uphold and protect the right to freedom of expression.

Mozambique: The Bishop Who Smashed Guns At the Altar

Photo: David Rose/Christian Aid

The Tree of Life was made by four Mozambican artists: Cristovao Canhavato (Kester), Hilario Nhatugueja, Fiel dos Santos and Adelino Serafim Maté. It is a product of the Transforming Arms into Tools (TAE) project and is made from decommissioned weapons. – British Museum

The longest-serving Anglican bishop in the world, Bishop Dinis Sengulane of Lebombo, a church diocese which covers southern Mozambique, is to retire after nearly four decades ministry in that country.

Sengulane was consecrated as a bishop soon after Mozambique became independent from Portugal in 1975 and the ruling Frelimo party formed a one-party state. He led his diocese through the 15-year-long civil war which followed independence and played an important role in efforts which eventually brought about an end to the war. He was interviewed in late 2013 by John Allen.

When I first interviewed you in 1976, your predecessor had returned to Portugal and at the age of 30 you had just become the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion. The Frelimo government was closing churches because they thought the Catholic Church in particular was too closely associated with the colonial authorities. What was it like in that situation to become a leader of the Anglicans?

It has been a real blessing to have served in the circumstances in which I have been serving. I consider myself a very blessed person.

On the one hand, I felt the pain of colonialism, and when colonialism fell apart we were not expecting to be put at the same level as the Roman Catholic Church. We knew what it meant to be considered second-class citizens. The colonial government had considered the Anglican Church some kind of enemy or strange entity within society — or perhaps irrelevant — so we were not expecting to be considered very important.

What we were not expecting was to be treated as enemies [by the new government]. That was a big surprise for us. So we continued to live under this bad, negative attitude. But I was able to go and visit some of our churches, the churches that were open. It was quite difficult. We had many churches closed, and we had to learn new ways of ministering to people. I would go to their homes – or to graves, as if we were merely commemorating the dead, when actually we were proclaiming life. If anything appeared in the press, it was always to say very negative things about the church.

When we had the problems of drought and war, the church continued to play its pastoral role in trying to minister to those who were in need.

When in 1990 a new constitution was approved – the church was not mentioned as having created many problems [but] there was not a mention of praise for good work done either – it was accepted. The work we had done among the refugees, the victims of the drought and the war, was very much appreciated.

So we saw those people who had closed churches coming back and asking to be received, to be baptised, to be buried in church. And, thank God, the church had not become a kind of opposition, but it was open just to say, “Come back, come and we will receive you.” So today we are in a position where there is mutual respect between the Church and State – not only that, but actually trust – and even requests for church intervention in national issues like the consolidation of peace and advice on various other issues.

Take us back to the 1970s and 1980s, and tell us more about the church’s experiences of the war between Frelimo [the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique] and Renamo [the Mozambican Resistance Movement].

The church lost about a third of its congregations. They were dismantled. People had to flee to other areas. Some churches were burnt. We lost some of our leaders, including clergy who were killed while travelling.

We were led, though, to play a role with the Council of Churches, and the Anglican Church played a key role in that we said “Let’s pray and fast every first Friday of the month.” We shared this commitment with other members of the council, and said at least let’s pray and work together. We did that, planning Bible studies on peace to be used especially by young people and the Mothers’ Union and similar groups in other churches.

While travelling to the different places where we were burying so many people, sometimes we would meet with members of other churches and would be commenting on sermons at funerals. We said, “Why don’t we stop the cause of the funerals? Let’s be courageous enough to say what is the solution to the problem of war in Mozambique.” It was in that context that the synod of the Diocese of Lebombo in 1982 came to the conclusion we should actually share with the government the need for Mozambicans to talk with one another because the country was suffering – schools, hospitals, roads were being destroyed. But we didn’t want to do it as Anglicans on our own so we went to the Council of Churches.

It took another two years before we were able to take our message to the government. Only in 1984 were we able to say it openly to the government, but not letting the press know. Members of our congregations knew we were talking with the government about the need for peace but not the content of what we were doing. I would say that while the Roman Catholic Church of that time was writing pastoral letters saying the government should be doing A, B and C to talk, we were going to the government and saying, “Why don’t you talk?” So there was a prophetic attitude of the Roman Catholic Church and a pastoral attitude on the part of the Council of Churches, both trying to achieve the same thing.

Finally President [Joachim] Chissano gave us a green light, in the sense of saying, “Whatever you do to achieve peace through dialogue, that’s acceptable to us” — more or less indicating that if you go and speak to the other side, we are not going to consider you as aligning with the enemy.

It was a very brutal war, and the Frelimo government used to call Renamo “armed bandits” yet they let you go and speak to them?

Well it was very brutal, but let me remind you that Renamo was calling Frelimo a marxist government, a marxist group, and I was saying to Renamo, “Can you translate the word marxism into Shangana?” [one of Mozambique’s languages]. And Frelimo was saying that Renamo was an agent of apartheid and I was saying to them, “Can you translate the word apartheid into Shangana?” Neither group could do it, they were fighting over concepts from outside – foreign concepts.

Secondly when you look at the guns they were using, AK-47s, Makarovs and so on, all had foreign names. They had come from outside. I would say, “What are you using to kill your enemy?” So really both the concepts they were fighting about and the instruments they were using were foreign to Mozambicans. The only thing which was Mozambican was the killer and the victims. Only Frelimo and Renamo were Mozambican.

So we were saying, why don’t you emphasise this thing which is common – our “Mozambiqinity” if you like – and forget about these foreign elements. It was more or less that kind of conversation we had with them until they agreed to meet and talk and now we are enjoying peace.

‘Swords to Plowshares’

There was a time during the 1980s when you became known for inviting children to bring their toy guns to church. Tell us what you asked them next.

Well, in the process of bringing the two sides together we also decided to undertake an effort called PPP – Preparing People for Peace – in which we went to every province of the country and said to people, “What do you think might jeopardize peace in the future?” And one lady said “Guns.” She said, “We have so many guns in our hands. Both sides have been very generous in dishing out guns just like that, so when peace comes are those guns going to be just left alone?” So I said, “Oh dear. My theological training has not really equipped me to talk about guns, let me talk to the Boss. Can I come back to you tomorrow?”

During the night I spent time praying and then I found that place where it says, “They will turn their swords into ploughshares.” The following day I said we are going to ask them to bring their guns, those who have got guns. We will have disarmament from a biblical perspective. We know the United Nations will disarm and the government will disarm but after they finish that, we will ask people to bring in their guns.

People would bring in their guns and the first thing we would do is to cut up the gun, make it unusable. Secondly we would give in exchange for it an instrument of production. Thirdly we would take that gun to a place where it will be made into either an instrument of production or a work of art. We felt there was a need to go into the families. The idea was to disarm the minds and the hands.

We decided to use not only Sunday schools but also church services and that before saying “the Peace of the Lord be with you,” we would invite all children to bring their toy guns. We will smash them right there.

You smashed them, with what?

We smashed them with a hammer before we gave the Peace, and then we exchanged them with toys that do not inspire violence.

Arms to Art

The programme is called Turning Swords into Ploughshares. It has collected over 800,000 different items of war equipment and it has got works of art from the Tree of Life in the British Museum in London, to the Throne of Weapons,  to crosses – pectoral crosses – around the necks of so many bishops around the world and many other works of art. We are continuing because unfortunately there are still people who are armed and they need to be disarmed both their hands and their minds.

So it’s a programme you started in Mozambique and then exported and found allies abroad?

It has found allies abroad. I think when we talk about too many people who are armed here in South Africa and other parts of the world,we need to learn from that. In the United States…a young man of about 20 years of age, living with his mother in a peaceful village… took guns, killed the mother, went to a school, killed 20 children and six teachers and then killed himself. [The shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.]

The Americans were really shaken by this tragedy, so they invited us just to go and be with them and share with them how we are dealing with sensitizing people to feel that a gun is not something of which you can just say, I want to have it because I like it. It is a bad adviser. To have a gun is just like having a poisonous snake in your house. It will bite you.

Just go back a little bit to the constitution of 1990 and the implications of that – what did it say?

Well, it said other political parties could be formed and that was an opportunity for us to align with the Province’s position [under Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s leadership] that no Anglican deacon, priest or bishop can be a member of any political party, and other churches came to adopt that position too. So we felt a certain degree of pride in being a member of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, as it was then called, because our position was highly appreciated by others.

And until today no church leader is a member of any political party.which means our that our impartiality is appreciated by both the government and the opposition. They can come to us knowing that we praise them if they do good things but also that we can criticize them, and not because we want to take over power.

So it eased the situation when the ruling party saw you weren’t aligning yourself to the opposition?

No doubt, no doubt about that. It also helped if we wanted to continue playing a role in addressing some of the other problems in the country, that we had no other agenda but to maintain human dignity, sanctity of life and all these things.

Now Mozambique’s at peace. You have had Renamo in parliament, you have Frelimo in parliament, but just in the last few months there’s been new tension, there’s been some fighting, and I believe you’ve been to see the leader of Renamo and the President. Tell us about your current role.

First of all, thank God, we have been celebrating this year the 21st anniversary of the restoration of peace in Mozambique. We said right from the beginning that we will continue working for peace. Not all that we have done needs public reporting but the important thing is to say that we see peace as being rooted in Mozambique: Mozambicans have shown they are very fertile soil for peace and it is in that context that the recent disturbances have led us – well it may be a little more visible, but it’s really part of our vocation.

What we are saying is that dialogue has to continue at all levels, formally and informally, not only between the two sides but also among all other Mozambicans. We are thankful to God that both sides see us as having a role to play and that’s what we are doing. We are convinced that peace will prevail in Mozambique and we just have to make sure that that dialogue is not just on political levels but also on social issues.

Above all, no one needs to be unnecessarily armed. Only people who are accountable to the state should be armed and that is a message we are trying to convey to both sides.

Pres Zuma to address Human Rights Day gathering

Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma will address the nation in remembrance of Human Rights Day under the theme ‘Celebrating 20 years of changing lives through human rights’ at the Sharpville cricket pitch.

He is expected to highlight the achievements the country has made in changing the lives of South Africans since the adoption and protection of human rights in 1994.

The President will also chart a way forward on how the country should confront the challenges of social ills that perpetually violate human rights.

The celebration provides the country with an opportunity to reflect on progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights.

South Africans are today called on to celebrate living in a country that guarantees that never again will humanity be taken from any South African, irrespective of their race, gender, creed or sexual orientation.

Human Rights Day is a national day that is commemorated annually on 21 March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa.

On 21 March 1960, 69 people were brutally killed, while 180 more sustained injuries when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered to protest against the Pass laws. The day emphasizes government’s commitment to ensure that every person who resides in South Africa enjoys equal rights.

Many other people were killed in other parts of the country. The incident became to be known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it exposed the apartheid government’s deliberate violation of human rights to the world.

Government aims to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their race, gender, creed, sexual orientation and cultural systems. This year’s theme encourages everyone who lives in the country to join hands to celebrate the achievements and reflect on progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Government has and will continue to host various activities throughout the month to remind all South African residents to continue working together to further consolidate democracy and celebrate the achievements of 20 years of freedom and democracy.