>Mother Africa Speaks: News for the Diaspora

>RWANDA

The Obama administration says it is “concerned” by disturbing acts by
the Rwandan government in the run up to the country’s elections that
President Paul Kagame won. These disturbing acts include the expulsion of a human rights researcher, the suspension of two newspapers, the arrest of journalists, and the barring of two opposition parties from taking part in the election. Kagame won with almost 93% of the votes, and who were his opponents? Three of his former political partners. Is there any reason to question why voters and observers have reservations about the legitimacy of this election? “Democracy is about more than holding elections,” the White House said two weeks ago. Rwanda has come a distance since its post-genocidal period, but that is more due to the commitment and desire of the people than the government that rules them.  

Here is a quick headline that should catch your attention- Rwanda National Police (RNP) strongly refutes the misleading reports published by Rwanda News Agency and on Africa news websites indicating that the grenade attack on civilians which occurred in Kigali on August 12, 2010 killed six people. They said that several people were injured and taken to the hospital, and that of the injured only two people died. 

SOUTH AFRICA

 As over 1 million workers stayed away from work on Wednesday; courts,
 schools, hospitals and other government institutions remained empty. Despite this, 
 Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi was emphatic
 yesterday that the government would not budge from its final offer of
 a 7% wage increase and a R700-a-month housing allowance for the public
 service, despite the escalating strike, because this was already R5bn
 more than it could afford. The government had given the unions until last Thursday to agree to the current public sector salary increase offer of 7 percent.

The strikers want an 8.6% wage increase and a monthly housing allowance of R1000 (which is roughly $137 U.S. dollars per month)   

On Friday, the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that doctors, nurses and other essential services staff had to return to work. Saturday afternoon, the KwaZulu-Natal government secured a court interdict preventing striking public servants from barricading hospitals and intimidating nonstriking workers. The state has threatened action against all essential service workers who refuse to return to work. Their main argument is that the strike has caused the deaths of people who were either refused treatment or never had the chance to receive or be denied service because the hospitals were closed. They have also argued that this strike has meant no school for the youth. 

I will keep you posted on these developments.   
 

SWAZILAND
A key advisor to the king of Swaziland is under fire for saying the
 country’s AIDS epidemic has been exaggerated to benefit pharmaceutical
 companies. Prince Mangaliso – chair of King Mswati III’s advisory
 council – also questioned the effectiveness of programs that promote
 circumcision and condoms as a way of preventing the spread of HIV. 

Although it is understandable to be hyper-critical of the medical community that has historically experimented on people, especially within Africa, it seems as though Prince Mangaliso needs an intense lesson on the effectiveness of condoms…even if the circumcision argument does not seem plausible (which some medical professionals in the United States may also agree). But let’s be real, to say that “water and a bath” would be equally effective in helping prevent the spread of HIV is illogical, when roughly 43% of the country’s women were infected with the virus in 2008, and that rate has increased over the past two years; and Swaziland holds the position as having the highest rate of HIV in the world!

So could anything top this? Well it has been confirmed by a joint government and UN report that “anecdotal evidence” that entrenched cultural beliefs among Swazis actively encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yes, you read that right. Although the common sense approach to HIV/AIDS is that “AIDS cannot be stopped unless there is a change in people’s sexual behaviour,” there is a commonplace practice in Swaziland to have unprotected sex with multiple partners regardless of the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS.

“All humans have sexual urges, but behaviour is determined by social norms. Swazis still believe that a woman’s role is to bear children continuously, and that a man’s role is to impregnate multiple partners, which is why polygamy is so strong here, both as an institution and in the minds of young men, who may not ever get married but still have many children from multiple girlfriends,” Joseph Dlamini, a youth pastor and counselor was reported as saying. 

A culture where polygamy is the norm, where the men dictate how many children and wives they will have; where the average birth rate is 5 children per mother, and the ultimate goal is to have boys since they continue the lineage (so they keep trying until they have multiple sons); and where they practice “kungena”, or wife inheritance, where a widow becomes the wife of the deceased man’s brother, a practice found to spread HIV. When isolated from other cultures, and lower access to educational sources, trust of outsiders is rare. 

This is such a sad story to read because you see a life expectancy that was age 61 ten years ago, drop tragically to the age of 32 (according to the Human Development Index of the UN Development Programme.)…I’m about to turn 35 in two months…technically if I was Swazi and living there, I would not have been expected to live this long. 
 
I will let you ponder that.

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. 

 
SOURCES:

Rwanda Sources:
The New Times.  http://www.newtimes.co.
The Monitor http://www.monitor.co.ug

Swaziland Sources: 
RFI http://www.english.rfi.fr/africa/20100818-aids-epidemic-exaggerated-says-swazi-prince

IRIN http://www.plusnews.org/

South Africa Sources:
Sue Blaine. BUSINESSDAY. http://www.Businessday.co.za
http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=118761

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