Daily Archives: October 18, 2018

Uganda, at ‘Big Risk’ for Ebola, Says Congo Is Managing Well

A senior health official in Uganda says “the situation is being handled well” in neighboring Congo after the World Health Organization said the latest Ebola outbreak there is not yet a global emergency.
But Uganda’s director of health services, Henry Mwebesa, tells The Associated Press that twice-weekly market days during which 10,000 Congolese cross into Uganda have put the country at “big risk.”

He says unofficial border crossing points also are a cause for concern.

This outbreak of the highly infectious Ebola virus in northeastern Congo has killed 107 people.

Mwebesa says 222 suspected cases of Ebola have been identified and isolated in Uganda but none have tested positive. He says travelers arriving from Congo are screened for a high body temperature.

Uganda has had five Ebola outbreaks since 2000.

Source: Voice of America

New Zimbabwe Documentary on Massacres Takes Aim at President

A new documentary on massacres by Zimbabwe’s military has led to harsh exchanges as the 1980s killings challenge a new president who preaches unity but refuses to apologize for his alleged role in one of the country’s deepest wounds.
The screening in the capital, Harare, would have been almost impossible under former leader Robert Mugabe, who led the country for 37 years and resigned following military intervention in November.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe loyalist and enforcer who succeeded him, has tolerated documentaries and plays critical of the government amid promises of a “flowering of democracy.”
But none has taken such direct aim at Mnangagwa as the new documentary on the army operation he supported as state security minister between 1983 and 1987. Gukurahundi Genocide: 36 Years Later is named after that campaign.
During Operation Gukurahundi — “the early rains that blow away the chaff” in the local Shona language — a North Korean-trained brigade rampaged through the southwestern provinces of Matabeleland, leaving 10,000 to 20,000 civilians dead. That’s according to a 1997 report by the Catholic Commission on Peace and Justice that drew on more than 1,000 interviews and is seen as the most authoritative account.
Like his predecessor, Mnangagwa has refused to apologize but said he will accept recommendations of a national peace and reconciliation commission conducting public hearings on the atrocities.
“Authorities are not comfortable with this subject,” producer Zenzele Ndebele told the screening crowd on Wednesday night.
“Most people involved in Gukurahundi are now in power. This makes them uncomfortable,” added Ndebele, who said he was summoned by police before being allowed to screen the documentary in September in Bulawayo, a city where many of the atrocities occurred.
Witness accounts
The documentary highlights Mnangagwa’s alleged role and features interviews with villagers, former top military officials and politicians narrating how they were tortured and jailed for belonging to an ethnic group accused of harboring anti-government rebels.
Some say Mugabe used the military campaign to stamp out support for the rebels. Others saw the massacres as an attempt by Mugabe to weaken any opposition to his stated aim of a one-party state.
Villagers recount being kept in camps and forced to dig graves for mass burials. Girls were raped and husbands forced to watch as soldiers raped their wives, witnesses say in the hourlong documentary.
“Since I was pregnant I was spared,” one elderly woman says.
Another woman says her husband divorced her because he could not stand sharing her with soldiers.
Lingering tensions
Although the 94-year-old Mugabe now lives quietly in the capital, the atrocities remain a fresh scar. At the screening in Harare, the simmering tensions showed.
“It was biased, this is vendetta journalism,” 26-year-old Lonias Rozvimajoni said afterward. He described witnesses as “bogus” and the documentary as “fiction,” to a chorus of support from some. They said the timing of the documentary’s release was meant to tarnish Mnangagwa’s presidency.
Others shouted back, defending the work.
“You are hired guns,” barked Ibbo Mandaza, an academic who runs a nongovernmental organization that hosted the screening, referring to the seemingly pro-government youths.
“Gukurahundi happened. I was in government at the time, I witnessed it,” said Mandaza, who had been a ruling party official.
He abruptly ended the session, although the heated exchanges continued over tea and biscuits in the courtyard.
“Maybe it will take them to become victims to understand,” Dumisani Mpofu, who worked on the documentary as a researcher, told The Associated Press.

Source: Voice of America

EU Moves Closer to Overcoming Migration Feud

The head of the European Parliament said on Thursday EU countries who refuse to host refugees could instead pay more for EU migration and development projects in Africa, signaling possible compromise to end a bruising dispute in the bloc.
The migration feud has divided southern and eastern EU states as well as rich destination countries such as Germany since 2015, when more than one million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa reached the bloc’s borders.
But the tone of the discussion has changed recently after years of one camp insisting that all EU states must take in some migrants and the other side rejecting that.
“No relocation – [then] more money for Africa,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told a news conference on Thursday as the bloc’s 28 national leaders discussed migration.
“This should be a good compromise. It’s better to have an agreement with a compromise than no agreement,” he said.
Mediterranean arrivals of migrants and refugees are below 100,000 people so far this year, according to United Nations data, a far cry from the 2015 influx that caught the bloc unprepared and overwhelmed security and other public services.
The EU has since tightened its external borders, has turned more restrictive on granting asylum and has sealed deals with countries from Turkey to Libya to keep a lid on migrants departing their territory by sea for EU shores.
EU will further step up returns and deportations of those who reach Europe but do not qualify for asylum, a statement of the 28 national leaders’ meeting in Brussels on Thursday said.
The bloc will seek to build “a broader partnership” with countries along the migratory routes, mainly in North Africa, including to crack down on people smugglers.
The chaotic scenes from 2015 are still reverberating in European politics, which has since seen a surge in support for anti-immigration, populist and nationalist groups. But fewer arrivals now mean some of the heat is off, making a deal easier.
The eastern, formerly communist EU states like Poland and Hungary, remain adamant that they will not allow in any refugees from mainly Muslim countries.
Germany, France and the Netherlands, which had previously demanded solidarity from all EU states, may be more open now to allowing their reluctant peers to buy out of the refugee distribution scheme as a way of sealing a deal, diplomats said.
“We cannot force [others to take in refugees], but those that do not do so must possibly contribute in another way such as…in Africa. Everyone needs to take on some of the responsibility that we all have,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told his EU peers recently.
Any political agreement is likely to take more time, diplomats and officials said, not least because Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the eurosceptic Italian government have built their political clout on an anti-immigration line and criticism of how the EU has handled migration.

Source: Voice of America

Kenya’s Kip Keino Hands Himself Over to Police in Corruption Case

Running great Kip Keino handed himself over to police in Kenya on Thursday and is under arrest, set to face charges of corruption and abuse of office that threaten the reputation of one of track and field’s most revered figures.
The 78-year-old Keino, former Kenyan sports minister Hassan Wario and two other former sports ministry officials surrendered to police to meet a 6 a.m. deadline. They are due in court Friday to plead to the charges relating to the misuse of more than half a million dollars meant to fund Kenya’s team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Keino was president of the Kenyan Olympic committee at the time.
Keino is a two-time Olympic champion, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee and was one of the first athletes to be inducted into track and field’s half of fame in 2012.
He was the forerunner for generations of Kenyan distance-running champions, winning gold in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
He is accused of playing a role in the misappropriation of more than $545,000 of government money set aside for Kenyan athletes at the Rio Games two years ago. Keino and six other current and former Olympic and government officials were accused by prosecutors of the embezzlement of more than $200,000 and misuse of more than $300,000.
Relating to the misuse, prosecutors allege the seven wasted more than $150,000 on unused air tickets to Rio, overpaid allowances amounting to nearly $150,000, and incurred tens of thousands of dollars of other expenditure on “unauthorized persons” — people who were not Olympic officials or athletes.
The Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya reported that Keino will be charged with giving his son nearly $25,000 of Team Kenya’s money for an air ticket to Brazil and spending money in Rio.
At the opening ceremony in Rio, the IOC awarded Keino the first Olympic Laurel to honor “an outstanding individual for their achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sport.”
On Thursday at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, IOC president Thomas Bach was asked if Keino’s prize would be withdrawn.
“We have heard these reports and we need now further information before we can make any move there regarding his medal,” Bach said.
The exact charges against Keino and others who reported to police Thursday morning will be published when they appear in court.
Three other officials, current Olympic committee secretary general Francis Kinyili Paul, Rio team manager Stephen Arap Soi and former sports ministry official Richard Ekai, appeared in court Monday. They were charged with multiple counts of corruption and abuse of office. They pleaded not guilty and were granted bail, with a judge saying the trial of all seven would start November 16.
Keino, possibly Kenya’s most respected sportsman, handed himself over to police at about 5.30 a.m., the Daily Nation reported, to beat the deadline.
Wario is a former member of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet and now the ambassador to Austria, meaning the corruption case reaches upper levels of the government. Ekai, his former sports ministry colleague, was recently appointed Kenyan ambassador to Russia.
Details of a chaotic Kenyan Olympic trip emerged in 2016, with allegations of joy riders being given thousands of dollars in allowances and hundreds of thousands of dollars and equipment meant for Kenyan athletes disappearing.
Despite that, Kenya finished second in the track medals table and had its most successful Olympics.

Source: Voice of America