Congo-Kinshasa: New Study Reveals Economic Toll of Malnutrition in Democratic Republic of Congo

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study was undertaken by the government of DRC in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the African Union Commission (AUC), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

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The study shows that the losses are incurred each year through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens to the education system and reduced workforce productivity.

“I welcome this important joint initiative which will contribute significantly to the government’s efforts to minimize the loss of human and economic potential to malnutrition,” said DRC Prime Minister and Head of Government Bruno Tshibala Nzenzhe, at the launch ceremony in Kinshasa. “Malnutrition is a silent emergency, accounting for nearly half of all infant deaths. For the country to develop, we need to address this situation urgently.”

Read this From Commission Crowd

According to the report, DRC could save up to CDF355 billion (around US$383. million) by 2025 if the prevalence of underweight children is reduced from 11 to 5 percent and if stunting (low growth for age) is reduced from 43 to 10 percent.

“These results call on all of us to act now to avoid future losses caused by hunger,” said WFP Country Director in DRC, Claude Jibidar. “I’m convinced that with the understanding we now have of the terrible economic and social impact of malnutrition on children, we and our partners can work with the government to make a real difference to this alarming situation.”

“In line with Agenda 2063 – ‘The Africa we want’ – we seek to completely eliminate hunger and food insecurity on this continent during coming decades,” said Kefilwe Moalosi, speaking on behalf of the African Union Commission and NEPAD. “Africa has the potential to reap a demographic dividend from a young, educated and skilled workforce. But this potential can only be harnessed if we continue to invest in the health and nutrition of its people, particularly its women and children, and secure the necessary economic growth”.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa study has so far been conducted in 11 countries. The economies of these countries suffer an estimated annual loss associated with child undernutrition that is equivalent to between 1.9 percent and 16.5 percent of GDP. Results of recently undertaken COHA studies are due to be released soon in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Similar studies are being planned for Mali and Mauritania.

Source : United Nations  World Food Programme

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South Sudan: Botched Vaccine Campaign Kills 15 Children in South Sudan

At total of 15 children have died in South Sudan after being given contaminated measles vaccines. Health officials said that the vaccines had been improperly refrigerated and were also administered by an untrained team.

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The UN has appealed for more funding to help nearly two million people who have fled South Sudan. A World Food Programme (WFP) official called their suffering “unimaginable.” (15.05.2017)

A new study has found that cases of the highly contagious disease have jumped significantly in the past year. Adults are poorly informed about their own vulnerability, the report found. (24.04.2017)

Children in rural South Sudan died as a result of a bungled vaccination campaign to combat measles, the United Nations and South Sudan’s government announced on Friday.

South Sudanese Health Minister Riek Gai Kok expressed “deep regret and sadness” at the deaths of the 15 children, who lived in the rural, south-eastern village of Kapoeta.

An investigation into the deaths supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children’s fund UNICEF found that the children died as a result of “the administration of a contaminated vaccine.”

Around 300 children up to 5-years-old were treated during the four-day campaign which saw the local team using a single reconstitution syringe to mix multiple vaccine vials. The UNICEF-supplied vaccines were also kept in a building with inadequate refrigeration.

Another 32 children suffered from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, but were able to recover from their symptoms, a joint statement from the WHO and UNICEF said.

Children administering vaccines

Although local teams had been trained by development partners and the WHO, the investigation showed that local officials failed to follow immunization guidelines.

“We have to look into why the training was not passed on to the teams on the ground,” said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic in Geneva.

South Sudanese Health Minister Kok also noted that the team that administered the vaccines was not well-trained.

“The team that vaccinated the children in this tragic event were neither qualified nor trained for the immunization campaign,” Kok told a news conference.

The untrained team also recruited two children aged 13 and 12-years-old to administer the vaccines, the health minister added.

The risk of measles remains high in South Sudan due to an ongoing military conflict that has killed tens of thousands and seen almost 2 million people flee the country. According to the UN, the country has suffered from measles outbreaks caused by a backlog of unvaccinated children.

Source : DW

Libya: UN Voices Extreme Concern At Worsening Humanitarian Situation in Benghazi

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The United Nations is extremely concerned by the continued worsening humanitarian situation in Ganfouda area in the Libyan city of Benghazi due to increased hostilities over the past week, a senior UN aid official in the North African country said today.

“I am extremely worried by the impact on civilians of intense fighting in and around the Ganfouda area,” the Libya Humanitarian Coordinator a.i.,Ghassan Khalil, said in a statement. He also noted that many people remaining in the area have limited or no access to drinking water or food, while other essential goods and medical supplies are running critically low.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Ganfouda district has been inaccessible for many months for aid organizations, leaving civilians in dire and urgent need of protection and humanitarian assistance. The Humanitarian Country Team stands ready to assist as soon as access is granted by all parties.

He called on all parties to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of hostilities.

“The sick and injured must be allowed to seek and receive medical assistance and civilians and captured fighters alike must be treated humanely, regardless of their origin or political affiliations,” Dr. Khalil said.

“Women and children should receive special assistance and protection. Those civilians wishing to leave should be allowed to do so in safety and dignity without delay,” he added.

Following six months of armed conflict in 2011, Libya has been plagued with fresh violence and political divisions.

Source : UN News Service

Cote d’Ivoire: Authorities Must Stop Arbitrary Arrests and ‘Mobile Detention’ Of Opposition Supporters Ahead of Referendum

Press release

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 Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must stop targeting opposition members by curtailing their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said ahead of Sunday’s referendum on constitutional changes.

On 20 October, at least 50 opposition members were arbitrarily arrested at a peaceful protest and detained for hours in moving police vehicles. Some of them were dropped in several places in the main city Abidjan, others around 100 km away from their homes and forced to walk back in a practice known as “mobile detention”.

“This form of inhumane treatment is at odds with international and regional human rights law and standards. Whether people campaign ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the referendum, everyone, including opposition members, has the right to peacefully express their opinion and to have their dignity respected at all times. Members of the security forces responsible for this must be identified and held to account,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

“Côte d’Ivoire needs to focus on creating a safe and enabling environment in which all voices can be heard. By unduly restricting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly of mainly opposition members and other dissenting voices, the authorities are failing to be on the right track.”

On 20 October, as anti-referendum protesters started to gather, police fired tear gas, clubbed the leaders and arrested at least 50 people.

An opposition leader who escaped to the arrest told Amnesty International:

“Security forces seized the cell phones of those arrested and loaded them in police vehicles that have circulated for hours throughout the city and outside Abidjan. After hours, they told them they were released but clearly indicated that since they wanted to protest they only had to walk all the way from there to the city. They called the practice ‘mobile detention’.”

Amnesty International urges the authorities to stop this practice of arbitrary detention and calls on them to ensure that opposition members can freely express their views.

Those who are still in detention solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights, must be released, including Tahouri Wase Marius, who was arrested after the 20 October protest and charged with disturbing public order. His trial is due to begin on 28 October, according to his lawyer.

The former President of the National Assembly, Mamadou Koulibali, has been arrested twice since referendum campaigns began on 22 October before being released.

Amnesty International has noted a worrying pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention of opposition members during peaceful protests or gatherings.

During last year’s presidential election period, more than 50 opposition supporters were arrested and detained solely for their political beliefs and for peacefully expressing their views. They were released after months in detention.

Amnesty International delegates, including Alioune Tine Regional Director for West and Central Africa, met the Ivorian Human Rights Minister in February to raise concerns, including on the detention of prisoners of conscience, secret detention places and selective justice. The Minister requested 100 days to consider Amnesty International’s recommendations.

However, the government has failed to take any action, despite receiving a follow-up letter from the organization in April. Meanwhile arrests of opposition groups still continue.

 Source : Amnesty International

Congo-Kinshasa: Bemba and Four Associates Convicted for Witness Tampering

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Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba alongside four associates, who include two of his former defense lawyers, have been convicted in the witness bribery trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Their sentences will be announced at a later date.

Upon conviction for offenses against the administration of justice covered by Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine, or both. Today judges ordered that those convicted, besides Bemba, would remain on conditional release pending the determination of their penalties.

Bemba and his former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo were found guilty of corruptly influencing 14 witnesses – D-2, D-3, D-4, D-6, D-13, D-15, D-23, D-25, D-26, D-29, D-54, D-55, D-57, and D-64 – and presenting their false evidence before the court.

Furthermore, Kilolo was found guilty of inducing the giving of false testimony by the 14 witnesses, while Bemba was additionally convicted for soliciting the giving of false testimony. The judges also determined that Mangenda aided in the giving of false testimony by two witnesses and abetted the giving of false testimony by seven witnesses. Mangenda was acquitted of charges of aiding the giving of false testimony by five witnesses.

Congolese Member of Parliament Fidèle Babala Wandu, who is Bemba’s close confidante, was found guilty of aiding in corruptly influencing two witnesses but acquitted of similar charges in relation to 12 witnesses. Babala was also acquitted of charges of aiding in giving false evidence and presenting false evidence.

Meanwhile, Narcisse Arido, a former soldier in the Central African Republic (CAR), was found guilty of corruptly influencing three witnesses but acquitted on charges of aiding in presentation of false evidence and in aiding the giving of false testimony.

The false testimony mostly related to claims by witnesses that they served in the army of the CAR, or in rebel forces, during 2002-2003 when Bemba’s troops were in that country helping the government to fight back a coup attempt. These witnesses claimed Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops were not responsible for the crimes committed during the conflict and that the Congolese troops fell under command of Central African generals.

Judges determined that Bemba, Kilolo, and Mangenda jointly agreed to illicitly interfere with defense witnesses to ensure they would provide evidence in favor of Bemba. They “adopted a series of measures with a view to concealing their illicit activities, such as the abuse of the Registry’s privileged line in the ICC Detention Center, or money transfers to defense witnesses through third persons or to persons close to the defense.”

They said Kilolo and Mangenda secretly distributed new telephones to defense witnesses without the knowledge of the Registry and in breach of the cut-off date for contacts imposed by judges so that Kilolo could stay in contact with them. “They also used coded language when speaking on the telephone, making reference to persons by using codes, or using particular expressions… signifying the bribing or illicit coaching of witnesses,” states the summary judgement issued today.

Today’s ruling brings to eight the number of individuals convicted by the court since its founding in 2002. Those previously convicted are Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga, Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi, and Bemba. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a former leader of a Congolese militia group, has hitherto been the only person acquitted by the ICC.

Bemba’s co-accused were arrested on November 23 and 24, 2013, from Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, and The Netherlands. In October 2014, Judge Cuno Tarfusser ordered their interim release, stating that continued pre-trial detention would be disproportionate to the penalties for the offenses charged. Whereas his co-accused were released, Bemba stayed in detention on account of his main trial, in which judges repeatedly rejected his appeals for interim release.

Bemba is currently appealing the 14-year prison sentence handed down to him earlier this year following a unanimous conviction on all crimes charged in his main trial. The appeal raises several fair trial issues arising from the witness tampering case, including the extensive access by prosecution officials to privileged defense communication and the defense strategy, and failure by trial judges to grant the defense in the main case an opportunity to respond to allegations of witness tampering.

Source : Bemba Trial Website

Africa: Violators of Human Rights Must Be Booked

Editorial

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Peace and security in Africa remain rare. Most economies on the continent remain donor-dependent, partly because of lack of peace and security. Over the years senseless conflicts have engulfed the continent comprising of 54 nation-states.

Lack of patriotic leaders has crippled economic progress, forcing majority of continent’s populations into abject poverty. At the same time, natural resources that were meant to help the people overcome poverty have often turned into a curse.

Democracy and rule of law continue to suffer in African states. This is often done deliberately as the ruling elite clings to power at all costs including stifling opposition. Vote rigging is the norm during most elections.

Human rights abuse, in various forms, continues unabated. Thousands flee their countries in search of safety elsewhere. In so doing, they lose their independence and are subjected to new laws that at times hinder their economic growth. They leave their homes, jobs, farms and investments in a bid to save their lives. They even lose their beloved ones.

Burundi has been in the news for the past 18 months or so – all because of the conflict that was triggered by the decision of its president, Pierre Nkurunziza, to seek a third term in office. Many forward looking citizens saw the move as a violation of the Arusha Peace Accords of 2000 that helped restore peace to the central African nation that had been torn apart due to civil strife.

During that period, Burundi has produced thousands of refugees who sought safety in Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tanzania alone received over 100,000 refugees.

ICC quit

Recently, the Burundi administration decided to remove itself from the International Criminal Court based in The Hague. Like several other leaders on the continent, President Nkurunziza, through his minister has said that the Court, established by the Rome Statute in 2002, was deliberately targeting Africa.

His government has sent a bill to the two parliaments, which endorsed the decision. Therefore, the country is in its final stages to officiate the decision.

Burundi is not the first to contemplate such a move. In recent years, Kenya was seen pushing for the agenda through the African Union. The pressure was so huge but later it was decided that such a decision should be taken by individual countries rather than by AU as a bloc.

African states comprise almost 30 per cent of the International Criminal Court’s membership. As regards to the convictions made by the Court so far, one could ask this question: Do the convicts, whether they are from Africa or not, deserve the kind of protection that some leaders like Nkurunziza have been pushing for?

It goes without saying that conflicts produce thousands of victims. There are rape incidents, injuries, torture and denial of human rights. All those who suffer in one way or another deserve justice. The culprits must also be booked. There is a general conviction that victims everywhere deserve some form of national or international justice. As the Burundi administration pushes for the country’s withdrawal from the ICC, who will administer justice to the victims of the civil strife that has rocked the tiny state?

It is high time; President Nkurunziza and his subordinates were made accountable for the sufferings their people had to go through. When acts of gross violation of human rights go unprosecuted, who will provide justice to the victims? Burundi administration, through its resolve, proves only that they have things they wish to hide that is why had rather keep away from the justice system rather than face it.

Source : The Citizen

Africa: Rwanda Third Best Place to Be a Girl in Africa

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The Girls’ Opportunity Index report by Save the Children has ranked Rwanda the third best country in Africa to be a girl and 49th globally out of 144 countries studied.

The report released on Monday, just a day before the International Day of the Girl which was marked on October 11, considered five indicators including rates of child marriage, adolescent fertility, maternal mortality women MPs and lower-secondary school completion.

The report states that while most countries are struggling to achieve gender parity among members of parliament (MPs), Rwanda tops the table with 64% of female, followed by Bolivia and Cuba. In contrast, only 19% of MPs in the United States of America (USA) are women and only 29% in the United Kingdom.

USA, the world’s largest economy, was ranked 32nd behind Algeria as 31st globally and first in African followed by Tunisia which is ranked 33rd globally.

The world’s best five countries to be a girl are Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium. Germany is ranked 12th, UK 15th and France 18th. Other big economies like Russia and China are not on the ranking.

Niger was ranked the worst (144th), followed by Chad, Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia as the last five countries. In the region, Kenya was ranked 97th, Burundi 107th, Tanzania 118th while Uganda was 120th. Singling out the US in particular, the report stated that not all rich countries are doing as well as they could for their girls.

“There are things where we do not shine on the U.S. side,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. One major example she pointed to was female representation in national government.

The US was hurt by relatively high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality compared to other countries in the same income bracket. Fourteen women died per 100,000 live births in the US in 2015 compared to only three deaths in Poland, Greece and Finland. Women hold 19.4% of the 535 seats in the US Congress while in Sweden, by contrast, women make up 44% of the MPs.

The report indicated that one girl under 15 is married every seven seconds in the world, revealing the scale of the threat posed by child marriage to education, health and children’s safety. “Girls as young as 10 are marrying to much older men in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia,” reads the report.

Source : Rwanda Focus

African Women Meet At Mount Kilimanjaro to Demand Rights

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Rwandan rural women, together with their counterparts from various countries on the continent, will today convene at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an effort to advocate for unrestricted women’s rights to land and other natural resources across the continent.

Participants from Rwanda say they are taking part in the cause as a sign of solidarity with women from parts of Africa that continue to be discriminated against with regard to land ownership.

Officials believe that the ‘Kilimanjaro initiative’ offers a unique window of opportunity to unify and amplify the struggles of rural women across Africa.

The three-day event starts today in Moshi town. The women will climb Mountain Kilimanjaro as a sign to show their difficulties in land ownership.

A group of ten women was selected to represent women from various rural cooperatives countrywide, according to James Butare, head of programmes and policy at Action Aid, which is supporting the initiative.

He said the event is expected to be the largest rural women’s land rights assembly ever seen at the foot of Mountain Kilimanjalo.

Women will share experiences on identifying and addressing key barriers to women’s land rights such as early marriage, poor access to information, and unfair inheritance, among others.

Butare said that, while Rwanda has actively promoted equal rights on land, it is worthwhile to share experience with women from elsewhere on the continent, learn from them and share success stories.

Speaking at a news conference in Kigali over the weekend, Butare said that the event is important as it brings together women from various countries to share experiences.

“This is a solidarity action because, if women have land problems in some countries, women elsewhere are also affected. In Rwanda, we have reached 50 per cent when it comes to women rights to land ownership while others still claim just 30 per cent, this would be an opportunity for us to share experience while also learning from each other,” he said.

With 2016 declared by the African Union as the Africa year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women, women movements believe that it is time for action.

“At the meeting women will produce a charter on demand for fair and equal rights and the charter will be presented to the African Union and United Nations for action,” Butare noted.

Esperance Nyirahabimana, who hails from Karongi and one of participants, said they expected to learn a lot from the gathering.

“Though land rights in Rwanda have been promoted and women given equal rights as men, the main challenge we still have is a culture where some women still fear to claim their land rights and where some people have a misconception that both women and men can not have equal rights to property,” she said.

“We shall learn from others how this can change.”

The event will be attended by women from 20 African countries.

Catheline Katundu, Action Aid’s land policy manager, said ” The women gathering at Mount Kilimanjaro are saying ‘enough is enough’, we cannot continue to build our nations upon land that is then pulled from under us when it suits the whim of big business, an uncle seeking inheritance or local government.”

A recent research study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation indicated that less than one quarter of agricultural land in developing countries is controlled by women, while low female access and control of land significantly obstructs access to financial assets.

Source : The New Times

The World Bank’s plan to bail out Mugabe’s government

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With the economy in freefall, and state coffers nearly depleted, Robert Mugabe’s government desperately needs a lifeline. They could be getting one – from the World Bank, which has somehow concluded that “popular” Mugabe’s economic reforms are working, and that ongoing human rights violations can be tolerated. By SIMON ALLISON.

The World Bank is working on an extensive bailout package for Zimbabwe, which could see the state receive a cash injection of up to $400-million beginning in 2017, according to leaked documents. The documents have been reported in Zimbabwean media, and were received independently by the Daily Maverick.

This news could provide some respite for Mugabe’s under-fire government, which is facing an unprecedented level of popular protest. This unrest has been exacerbated by the country’s perilous economic situation, which has all but emptied government coffers. Civil servants, police and military have all been paid late, while the government has imposed new restrictions on foreign exchange and imports in a bid to keep cash in the economy.

The internal documents – a draft turnaround eligibility note, and a draft country engagement note – praise Zimbabwe’s economic reforms, and appear to dismiss concerns about the level of human rights violations occurring in the country. They are dated 27 July 2016 and 28 July 2016 respectively, and were prepared by the departments responsible for handling Zimbabwe.

“The [Government of Zimbabwe] has gradually implemented reforms to recapture parts of the state dominated by deep vested interests and more effectively broaden the benefits of recovery and growth,” said the country engagement note, which outlines the bank’s proposed engagement with Zimbabwe in the 2017 and 2018 financial years. It notes improved policy in the areas of mining, banking, investment climate, state-owned enterprises, land reform, and public procurement.

It does not, however, acknowledge the government’s disastrous and universally criticised announcement in May that it would introduce “bond notes” in lieu of US dollars for exports; the imposition in June of an import ban on 42 products, which sparked huge protests at the Beit Bridge border post; or the increasing delays in processing international money transfers.

Nor do the documents make much reference to human rights. Notably, in the turnaround eligibility note, a reduction in human rights violations is not a necessary condition for financial support. In a list of desired indicators, the note requires only that the “number of alleged human rights violations level off or decline from 2014 average and/or no unwarranted arrests of key opposition leaders”. No mention was made of the arrest in early June of Pastor Evan Mawarire, leader of the #ThisFlag movement, or several of his supporters; or the police brutality with which #ThisFlag marches have been met.

The same note also appeared to praise Mugabe’s governance skills.

“Finally, Mugabe’s factional balancing skills have also been a source of stability by keeping the ruling party and the security forces together. The president’s factional balancing skills have helped to unify the fractious Zanu-PF at critical moments in the party’s history and are likely to have prevented all-out conflict on several occasions. Unlike his party, Zanu-PF, he remains popular in Zimbabwe,” it concluded.

Zimbabwe is already in arrears with international institutions, including the World Bank itself, the International Monetary Fund, and the African Development Bank (AfDB), to the tune of $1.8-billion. The World Bank’s proposed assistance package is conditional on Zimbabwe clearing those arrears. The government is in advanced negotiations with the African Development Bank to do just that, which would pave the way for the government to access foreign currency – a potential lifeline for the regime.

When contacted for comment, the World Bank said: “The World Bank cannot resume direct lending to Zimbabwe, under standard World Bank rules and procedures, unless the issue of arrears is resolved. Once the arrears are cleared, Zimbabwe would be eligible as a borrowing member of the Bank to a broad range of financing instruments.”

The World Bank’s position is problematic on several levels.

First, as outlined above, its analysis ignores recent events in the country, including controversial new economic policies that have seriously undermined reform.

Second, the document appears to take Zimbabwean officials at their word when it comes to further reforms. This does not take into account the unpredictable nature of the current faction-fighting within the ruling party, nor the government’s history of failing to deliver on promises.

“The notion that the Mugabe regime will reform itself is absurd. The record is long and clear. For the World Bank to give the regime funding based on more false promises would be reckless and irresponsible,” said Todd Moss, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Third, the provision of further funding is likely to have a significant political impact in the country. With popular support for the regime drying up, it is increasingly reliant on patronage for support. The government’s cash crunch has made it harder for it to buy loyalty, a major factor in the scale of the popular protests. A promised cash injection will inevitably tip the balance of power back in favour of the regime.

After 36 years in charge of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has made plenty of enemies. These leaked documents suggest, however, that the World Bank is not among them. Source : Daily Maverick

Zimbabwe: Mugabe UN Pull Out Threat Sparks Outrage, Zimbabweans Say President Delusional and ‘Insane’

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ZIMBABWEANS have expressed outrage and scorn at threats by President Robert Mugabe to trigger a United Nations (UN) pull out by African states whose demands for two permanent Security Council seats have largely been resisted by western countries.

Addressing Zanu PF supporters soon after touching down from the UN General Assembly in New York, Mugabe said this was in line with sentiments expressed by like-minded African countries which feel the current composition of the UN Security Council was unfair to Africa.

African countries want two permanent seats in the Security Council and five non-permanent ones.

Mugabe, who has led calls for reforms, said Saturday most of his African peers, whose countries depend on western benevolence, were too timid to join his demands for the changes.

Like-minded Africans feel Western countries have abused their positions in the influential body to bully other less powerful world countries into following their own selfish agendas.

After the pull out, Mugabe said, rebel states would form a breakaway body alongside China and Russia, the two UN permanent members who have found themselves constantly called to veto some UN Security Council decisions for military interventions in certain world territories.

But political leaders and civic group activists in Zimbabwe have warned any UN pull out will have dire consequences for a country that has relied on the multi-lateral body for technical, humanitarian and fiscal support.

Leading the assail was former finance minister and now PDP leader Tendai Biti who said Mugabe was delusional.

“He is delusional. No sane African country will pull out of the UN,” Biti told NewZimbabwe.com on Sunday.

“The UN is part of global infrastructure that has basically prevented a global war from happening for over 70.The UN has been key in the execution of international law and global diplomacy that has kept the world as safe as possible.

“So, for dictators like Robert Mugabe to suggest that you can dismantle the UN because you are unhappy with the composition of the security council is absolutely insane and this is a man who ironically has been in power for 36 years denying Zimbabweans a voice which he is now demanding from the UN security council, it’s absurd.”

“The UNDP, UNICEF, UNAIDS, part of the UN offshoot, WHO all have serious roles in Zimbabwe.”

ZimPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire said by purporting to be speaking for “cowardly” African leaders, Mugabe was unnecessarily overstating his influence in Africa.

“Mugabe is not the spokesperson for AU; he is no longer the chairman. On whose behalf is he speaking?” Mawarire said.

“We have seen over the years Mugabe posturing and displaying this kind of bravado each time he goes to the UN and it has never changed our situation as a country and I don’t think he is a legitimate voice to drag the whole of Africa into his personal battles with the west.”

Civil Society activist and former NANGO spokesperson Fambayi Ngirande said a UN pullout would be retrogressive for Zimbabwe which stands to lose out on aid and the benchmarks placed by the multilateral institution in efforts to bring global development.

“Any pull out means we can forget initiatives such as sustainable development goals, it also means a decline in development assistance coming to Zimbabwe, we also stand to lose the benefits of being part of established norms and standards particularly around human rights because the UN has been in many ways, underwriter of the world human rights framework.”

Former education minister David Coltart, who during his tenure presided over a lot of assistance channelled to his ministry through Unicef, also slammed Mugabe for threatening another pull out, more than a decade since he led his country out of the Common Wealth.

“Zim’s pull out of the Commonwealth, SADC Tribunal & the trashing of the ICC shows one should never underestimate his destructive capacity,” tweeted Coltart.

Media businessman Trevor Ncube said Mugabe, at 92, should not be at the forefront of determining a future for the younger Zimbabweans generations.

“A 92 year old wanting to commit a whole continent to a blunder whose consequences he won’t live with,” he also commented through twitter.

By being a UN member, Zimbabwe has benefitted loans from UN agencies such as IMF and the World Bank.

The country, which has been devastated by myriad man-made and natural disasters has also seen the UN, through its health agencies extend crucial humanitarian assistance the most memorable being support to end the 2008-09 cholera outbreak which claimed 4,000 lives and left over a hundred thousand more needing treatment for the disease.

The UN has also provided development support through infrastructure and technical support the country in the area of finance and policy formulation, among others.

Mugabe’s comments came two months after the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee Rural Livelihood Assessment established that the number of food- insecure people in Zimbabwe would increase to over 4 million during early next year.

The third Multi-Stakeholder Consultative meeting held in July was, ironically, jointly hosted by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN System in Zimbabwe.

Source : New Zimbabwe