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AIDS: S. Africa’s prez Zuma vows ‘onslaught’; activists support

“We need to do more, and we need to do better, together. We need to move with urgency and purpose to confront this enormous challenge,” he said.

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South Africa’s President Zuma vows ‘renewed onslaught’ against AIDS; gets support of activists

Special to USAfricaonline.com

CAPE TOWN — South African President Jacob Zuma has vowed  to strengthen the fight against AIDS in the world’s worst affected country, in a “renewed onslaught” against the epidemic. “We are not yet winning this battle,” Zuma said in his annual address to the second house of parliament.

“We need to do more, and we need to do better, together. We need to move with urgency and purpose to confront this enormous challenge,” he said.

“If we are to stop the progress of this disease through our society, we will need to pursue extraordinary measures.”

He said an announcement would be made on December 1, World Aids Day, on additional measures to counteract the “chilling statistics” of deaths of young people.

Zuma cited statistics showing that six out 10 deaths in 2006 were among people younger than 50 years, while the overall number of deaths in 2008 jumped to 756,000, up from 32 percent from the year before.

“Let us resolve now that this should be the day on which we start to turn the tide in the battle against AIDS.”

“If we do not respond with urgency and resolve, we may well find our vision of a thriving nation slipping from our grasp.”

After becoming an international pariah for its policies of denial under former president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa made a dramatic turn around, pledging to cut new infections in half by 2011.

In 2006 Tshabalala-Msimang was lambasted at an international AIDS conference in Toronto for promoting the use of vegetables above anti-retrovirals which she said were toxic — while hundreds of thousands died without access to treatment.

While South Africa now has the world’s largest anti-retroviral programme, nearly one million people are still believed to need treatment. ref: AFP.

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EXCLUSIVE USAfrica INSIGHT/COMMENTARY

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus

By CHIDO NWANGWU

chido.usafricaonline.publisher

chido.usafricaonline.publisher

USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper,

posted at USAfricaonline.com on January 10, 2000; 1:21 PM

http://usafricaonline.com/aidsafrica2k.html

This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (in pix, below) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country’s future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.

aidsafrica.hadebe4ap

aidsafrica.hadebe4ap

The ravaging of human lives of all ages and gender and color says a lot about what was, once wrongly, thought of as the disease suffered “only” by some persons, specifically homosexuals. Inside Africa, and many developing countries the impact of the AIDS virus has been nothing less than an epidemic, a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Innocent and hapless persons such as Kgomotso’s apparent helplessnes yearn for the efforts of all to save the lives of other kids who are suffering without any spotlight or the focus of kleig lights.

I have looked at that distant stare in Kgomotso’s eyes into an uncertain future as also reflecting, painfully, an apt prologue to the challenge imposed on our shared and basic humanity. There are millions of other Kgomotsos across the African continent, in various African-American neighborhoods and among the very rich even in the United States. The task must be, essentially, to restore healthy existence and seek solutions to the AIDS virus in order to save millions of children and adults. In noting that there are millions who suffer due accidental infection and other forms of transfer of the virus, I do not minimize or overlook the fact that are patterns of behavior which make it more likely to be infected by the AIDS virus.Regardless, I believe the world can do better in terms of education about how the virus can be acquired, and other such vital sociological issues which enable the execution of solutions. We will all be acting in our collective and best interests. AIDS has become, according to United Nations and other health agencies, the leading cause of death in the continent.

“The impact that Aids is already having on sub-Saharan Africa is catastrophic, and the scenario will worsen unless global leaders work together to invest more – much more – prevention efforts and programs to address the multitude of social and economic problems that AIDS has brought,” UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot argued at an international conference in Lusaka, Zambia, on Monday September 13, 1999. “The impact is all too comprehensible … the protracted sickness, the fractured families, the weakening workforce, the relentless ritual of funerals, and the morgues that no longer even bother to close,” Madavo added. Since 1984, AIDS reportedly has caused the deaths of 11 million Africans. The conferees said that almost 22.5 million people are infected with HIV or ill with Aids. Hence, Madavo underlined the fact that “the damage that Aids has done in the present is incalculable. Now it threatens millions of the future…. AIDS now poses the foremost threat to development in Africa.”

It is in recognition of the dangers of the AIDS virus and its catastrophic impact on our continents and peoples that influenced us, for almost 7 years ago, since I established USAfrica magazine, USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com, later The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com and more recently NigeriaCentral.com to publish occasional special reports on the issue. The past 3 years have seen an increase in such focus. We can do more, and better. We look forward to cooperation and support from persons and individuals who can be a part of our agenda to strive for solutions to save the likes of the innocent five-month-old, Kgomotso Mahlangu.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who hails from Ghana in west Africa, accurately notes that “The breakdown of health and education services, the obstruction of humanitarian assistance, the displacement of whole populations and a high infection rate among soldiers — as in other groups which move back and forth across the continent: all these ensure that the epidemic spreads ever further and faster.”

Accordingly, USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper (as the primary media networks for Africans and Americans) will increase its allocation of space and frequency of our series of articles and features on the education and solutions to deal with the AIDS virus.

I agree entirely with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke that the U.N Security Council should consider the impact and toll of AIDS on Africa, and from that context “begin to redefine security as broader in the post-Cold War era than it used to be.”

Another leader who addressed the U.N on January 10, 2000, on the issue of AIDS is the U.S vice president Al Gore who warned that “AIDS is going to kill more people in the first decade of this century than all the soldiers who were killed of all the wars of the 20th century.” He has made a case for more support to deal with the crises in Africa. It is important to note that the African continent has only 5.1 percent of the world’s population.

It is startling that while Africans are facing the most serious threat to our collective existence, some African leaders look, largely, to exotic issues and pursue huge projects which widen their opportunities to misappropriate scarce resources and privatize public funds. When was the last time you read that any African leader devoted his money to a scientific research foundation? The amounts spent for partisan and ethnic power struggle is atrocious, and disconnects from the existential needs of the majority of the people. For example, the monies which exchanged hands among partisans during the 1998-99 presidential elections in Nigeria (which brought retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo to power) is enough to create a wall of AIDS awareness campaign to the most remote village in Guguletu and Kiama, or any other parts of Africa. Also, the cost of Muammar Ghaddafi’s ‘jammahiriya’ shows and Fidel Castro’s parades could go a long way in fighting the virus in their countries (and for their neighbors). Let’s look at these terrifying data: 23.3 million Africans, according to the United Nations, are infected with HIV or AIDS. This reflects 70 percent of the world’s total AIDS patients. Also, 11 million African orphans have been become an unfortunate reality due to AIDS epidemic (reflecting 90 percent of Africa’s total of orphans).

Remarkably, like the proverbial individual whose house is on fire who chose to pursue rats instead of saving the house, none of nearly one dozen African heads of states and government who were invited to attend the September, 1999, health conference showed up. More telling, host president President Frederick Chiluba sent Vice-President Christone Tembo to read his speech. Apparently, AIDS does not have the lure for the African leaders to junket and shop during other more wasteful excuses they find. It seems, essentially, another example where African leaders dangerously and irresponsibly misplace the continent’s priorities.

“Too much of Africa will enter the 21st century watching the gains of the 20th evaporate,” Callisto Madavo, the vice president of the World Bank African region has warned the world at an international conference in Lusaka, Zambia. With such realistic but chilling representation of the scourge and economic, social and human cost of AIDS in Africa, the question as we indulge in assorted millennial parties and high-,minded agenda in the New Year, the citizens of the future will wonder and ask why the likes of Kgomotso Mahlangu had to live a life vacant imagination. The pandemic could wipe out all the gains of the past century. To be sure, it can, if we let it. Should we? And, what can you do for the helpless millions and unknown Kgomotsos of this world? What’s your part and response to the point that 60 percent of the 16.3 million lives lost to AIDS since the epidemic began, are Africans?

I believe we can do better. We’ll all stay blessed by sharing our blessings.


Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997, is Founder and Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), The Black Business Journal and www.BBJonline.com and CLASSmagazine. He traveled with and covered U.S. President Clinton’s visit to parts of Africa March-April 2, 1998, and currently serves on Houston Mayor Lee Brown’s international business advisory board (Africa).
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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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