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Africa News Briefs

November 15, 2011

 Illnes Catches Up To Zimbabwe’s Aging Leader
By Fungai Maboreke


 Illnes Catches Up To Zimbabwe’s Aging Leader


By Fungai Maboreke
Nov. 15 (GIN) - Frequent trips abroad for treatment of prostate disease are fuelling speculation that President Robert Mugabe may not survive his current condition.
Party officials, contemplating Mr. Mugabe’s deteriorating health, have been overheard wishing for a replacement who is younger and fresher. Last week he was rushed to Singapore for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Grace. It was his ninth visit to that Asian country this year.
"In 2012 Mugabe will be 88… His age and his face are an election issue. He is no longer appealing to the people and his age is not an age where people can invest their future in an 88 year old, who is always in and out of hospital," said former news editor Pedzisai Ruhanya interviewed by SW Radio Africa.
According to local area news reports, President Mugabe has spent $20 million for doctor visits to Singapore just this year alone.
Meanwhile, American investors are sizing up business opportunities in this conflicted country. In a recent visit to Victoria Falls, Chicago developer and real estate mogul, Elzie Higgenbottom, reportedly scoped out venues for a major hotel, convention center and casino. Also on the trip was retired congressman Mel Reynolds whose business interests, he said, include manufacturing medical gloves.
Reynolds said to a local editor: “As a former elected official and now as a businessman my personal view is that President Mugabe is one of the last Lions of Africa that brought freedom to the people of this Great Continent. ..  Africans can debate all day as to how a country should or must be run, but it should be impossible to forget those who made it possible to be able to debate as a free people.”  w/pix of Pres. Mugabe
Prize Winning Novelist Turns Down National Prize
By Fungai Maboreke
Nov. 15 (GIN) – World-acclaimed Nigerian novelist and professor, Chinua Achebe, has for the second time turned down the Commander of The Federal Republic award, Nigeria’s second highest honor. The move stunned President Goodluck Jonathan called the decision “regrettable.”
Author of the globally popular novel, Things Fall Apart, Achebe said,” the reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. ..  A small clique of renegades… (is) determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom.”
Achebe continued: “I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples… Nigeria's condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honor…”
Achebe, winner of the Man Booker International prize in 2007 for "inaugurat[ing] the modern African novel", currently lives in the US, where he is professor of Africana studies at Brown University.
The Achebe story prompted a cascade of online comments in his support.  Writing in The Guardian of London, “Ogonnaya” penned:  “I respect the man Prof. Chinua Achebe, who turned down such ‘honor’. What a man of integrity. I doff my hat for him. How I wish we have more of such men who are ready to sacrifice their selfish interest for national progress.”
Angola's Top Brass Accused Of “Crimes Against Humanity” In New Suit
By Sami Disu
Nov. 15 (GIN) - Angolan anti-corruption campaigner and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais filed a criminal complaint this week against mining businesses and seven Angolan generals for daily acts of torture and frequently murder against villagers and informal miners in diamond producing regions.
Those charged include Minister of State Gen. Manuel Helder Vieira (Kopelipa), and several high commanders in the Angolan Armed Forces for abuses amounting to “crimes against humanity”.
The criminal case, filed at the offices of Angola’s attorney-general last week, will be closely watched by anti-corruption and civil society groups in this poor, but mineral- and petroleum-rich country.
Marques, who has been investigating systematic human rights abuses and corruption in Angola’s Lunda region since 2004, is the author of Blood Diamond: Torture and Corruption in Angola. He has previously called on foreign countries to boycott Angola's "conflict diamonds".
Angola, in south-central Africa, has one of the widest income gaps between rich and poor. An extensive list of human rights abuses committed by the government appears on the 2010 Human Rights Report of the U.S. State Dept. published in April of this year. w/Angolan refugee children
Liberian Elections Marred By Controversy, And By “Fraud” In Equatorial Guinea
Nov. 15 (GIN) – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won a second term as president of Liberia but the victory was bittersweet. Her rival, Winston Tubman, withdrew from the balloting, charging fraud, and nearly two thirds of registered voters chose to stay home on election day.
Mrs. Sirleaf took 91 percent of the vote while Tubman, despite his boycott, received 9 percent. Despite the claims of fraud, Mr. Tubman said he would still consider any offer from Mrs. Sirleaf to serve in the new government.
The election was upheld by international observers, including those from the Economic Community of West African States who called it credible and without major irregularities.
The electoral process took another blow in the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea. There, a bid by the president to increase his powers was marked by threats against election monitors, armed guards inside polling places and the harassment of opposition supporters, according to EG Justice and Human Rights Watch.
The government has claimed victory with more than 99 percent voting in favor of the changes to the constitution. A final vote tally is expected on Nov. 16.
Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG Justice, a nongovernmental group that promotes good governance in Equatorial Guinea,  said:“The government has once again failed to safeguard people’s right to public participation… The repressive way this constitutional referendum was carried out makes this supposed reform agenda look like a farce.” w/pix of Pres. Johnson Sirleaf before runoff vote