Africa

05 February: Obama dismisses Uganda’s anti-gay law

By Branko Brkic 5 February 2010

Also today: First cracks over president’s long absence show in Nigerian cabinet; World Bank’s private lender to pump billions into sub-Saharan Africa; Rights group attacks Libyan government Internet censorship; Judge rules emails into evidence in Bennett terrorism trial, as defence shouts foul.

 

Obama dismisses Uganda’s anti-gay law

Uganda

Uganda’s proposed anti-gay law has been denounced by US President Barack Obama as “odious”. The draft law, which was presented as a private members’ bill last year, says gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships should be punished by life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty. In addition, any Ugandan’s failing to report the identities of such persons within 24 hours could receive a prison sentence of up to three years. In an Orwellian statement, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister said a revised law would likely limit the maximum penalty for those convicted to life in prison rather than execution.

Photo: Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni arrives at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Irada Humbatova

Read more: QNotes, Agence France-Presse, The Huffington Post

 

First cracks over president’s long absence show in Nigerian cabinet

Nigeria

At first, the two-month absence of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua split the country’s cabinet and senate. But now it’s split the cabinet, too, after Nigeria’s information minister urged colleagues to accept that the president was no longer fit to rule. Reports say Dora Akunyili’s motion was shouted down. Yar’Adua has been in a Saudi Arabian hospital for heart problems, and his time away has fuelled fears of a power vacuum in the vast and ethnically diverse country of some 140 million people. The minister tabled a memo requesting power be handed over to vice president Goodluck Jonathan. To all intents and purposes, that is already the case, but Yar’Adua hasn’t formalised the transfer of power. Several court cases have ruled differently on the issues, the latest being a federal high court ruling that there’s no constitutional requirement for the president to hand over power, but that the vice president can act on his behalf. The president’s absence has led to a number of street protests in Lagos and Abuja. Nigeria is split between a Christian south and Muslim north, although the country’s politics are much more complex than that. But some mice seem to want to play while the cat’s away.

Read more: BBC, Reuters, RTT News

 

World Bank’s private lender to pump billions into sub-Saharan Africa

Africa

The World Bank’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., will invest more than $2 billion in sub-Saharan Africa in the 2009/10 fiscal year, according to Reuters. The money will be invested by the Japanese government, to restructure banks in four African countries. Last year the body pumped $1.8 billion into the region, and hopes a final figure this year will eventually be around the $2.5 billion mark. The IFC sees a silver lining to the investment prospects of African markets. The body is also negotiating with sovereign wealth funds to invest in Africa and Latin America. The World Bank forecasts 2.5% growth for Africa this year, and 4.1% for sub-Saharan Africa. Good news, indeed.

Read more: Reuters, IFC

 

Rights group attacks Libyan government Internet censorship

Libya

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch, says Libya must lift its blockade of opposition websites and Internet sites such as YouTube, after Tripoli began a crackdown late in January on foreign-based websites reporting on Libya. It’s a shame that little has changed in a country that once was considered a prime sponsor of global terrorism, especially after it gave up a programme to develop weapons of mass destruction and normalised relations with the Western world. It appears that some apparatchiks in the nation’s government want a return to the old days of total media control. Just this week, members of the country’s regime ensured that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s pro-Western son, Saif al-Islam, didn’t take up a top government job.

Read more: Human Rights Watch, Europe News, The Times

 

Judge rules emails into evidence in Bennett terrorism trial, as defence shouts foul

Zimbabwe

The judge in Zimbabwean politician Roy Bennett’s terrorism trial has ruled that incriminating emails can be used as evidence against the treasurer of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party. Prosecutors say the emails prove Bennett had contact with convicted arms dealer, Peter Hitschmann, and that he plotted to overthrow President Robert Mugabe. Bennett, who was supposed to have been sworn in as a deputy agriculture minister in the country’s power-sharing government, denies the insurgency, banditry and terrorism charges, for which he could receive the death penalty. State witness Hitschmann earlier claimed he was tortured to implicate Bennett, leading Judge Chinembiri Bhunu to say that testimony obtained by torture was inadmissible. But he subsequently ruled that the emails could be led as evidence, as they allegedly show contact between Bennett and Hitschmann. Bennett’s lawyers say they were not allowed to show the court how easy it was to fabricate the emails, after Hitschmann denied having any contact with Bennett, and said the emails were fakes.

Read more: SW Radio Africa, New Zimbabwe, BBC

Gallery

Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.

Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.

You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.

So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.


Merchants of Disinformation (Part 2)

How the EFF dominates the disinformation market

By Ferial Haffajee

A Twitter analysis of Justin Bieber's account found that around half of his followers are fake accounts.