Saturday, 20 December 2014

AU Commission Chief of Staff inspires Youth Volunteers, calls for an African revolution in mindset

Debreizeit, ETHIOPIA - 12 December 2014 - Chief of Staff to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Jean-Baptiste NATAMA, made an impromptu visit to the Training of the fifth batch of African Union Youth Volunteers in Debreizeit, Ethiopia. Rounding up a two-week training at the Bonita Youth Development Training Center, the interaction with the new batch of young volunteers, left them highly motivated and inspired to go out and make a change, for the greater good of the continent.   

“As youth, you must move away from the conventional “truth”, dare tell our African story, and take responsibility for your destiny and that of the continent. Africa must dominate the world and become the next frontier. You must make it happen.” Ambassador Natama told the youth who spared no opportunity to ask the tough questions regarding the plight of the continent’s youth.

H.E Natama told the youth that investing in them is a top priority of the AU Commission, and its Agenda 2063, as envisioned by the Chairperson of the AU Commission. He reminded the youth of the very important values of Pan-Africanism, Ubuntu, hard work and humility, essential in the rediscovery of the African identity and development of the continent as a whole.

Toby FAYOYIN, one of the 50 youth volunteer from Nigeria said the interactive session took him to a totally new level, crowning two exciting weeks of interactive learning. “After spending these two weeks with friends from 28 countries, the meaning of African integration came to life. The conversations with the Chief of Staff glued everything I learned.” He shared his excitement.

“Amb. Natama has encouraged us to be leaders in our own communities. He has inspired me and others to reflect the Pan African vision by leading to a change of mindset to ensure we are all winners in the new Africa” Refka DAHMENI from Tunisia said.

The training of AU Youth Volunteers prepares them for a one year placement in various organizations across the continent contributing to the achievement of the African Union vision of an integrated, prosperous Africa that is governed by its own citizens.

Further information on:  

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fastest-Growing Twitter Profiles in Tanzania. Cc @zittokabwe @jmkikwete@millardayo and
Adrienne Makenda Kambana, speaking outside the Old Bailey, where she said she was 'disappointed' with the verdict
Mr Mubenga’s widow Adrienne
Makenda Kambana
‘I Can’t Breathe.’  ‘You Are Killing Me.’
Thursday, 18 December 6.30pmHome Office, Marsham St. SW1P 4DF

On International Migrants Day join the Black Revs who have called this timely action in outrage at this gross injustice.
The All African Women’s Group and Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike will be there. We attended the trial of the G4S guards all the way through. We wanted to support Jimmy Mubenga’s wife and his five children, and to let everyone know that this Black man's life mattered.Like in the US, we are protesting against being killed with impunity by police, privatised police forces and other agents of the state. Our thoughts are with his family who have had to re-live the horrors committed against him, only for the killers to walk free.
Protesting the verdict, Mr Mubenga’s wife Adrienne wore a T-shirt saying “I can’t breathe.” We were completely devastated that the G4S guards were found not guilty. But we weren't surprised. From watching the trial we already knew. The judge emphasised to the jury (10 white people, and two people of colour, none African or of African descent, unbelievable in multi-cultural London!), not that Jimmy Mubenga had said he couldn't breathe and that they were killing him, but that the guards were saying he was resisting. It stank of racism to us.
From the beginning the intention was to protect G4S and to legalise any brutal, even lethal, treatment by those enforcing deportations – like the Nazis said at Nuremberg, they are “only doing their job”.
The CPS initially refused to prosecute. It took four years of pressure by the family and their supporters, and a verdict of “unlawful killing” at the inquest into Mr Mubenga’s death (2013), to get a trial.
The CPS reversed its decision in April 2014. We all expected they would sabotage the trial with a weak lack lustre prosecution. We called on people concerned with justice to be in the public gallery to support the family and show that Mr Mubenga’s life mattered.
What we witnessed was a catalogue of bias and racism that has been played out in other cases of death by police/private security. The judge was openly biased, many in the public gallery commented on it.
·         The guards had shared racist texts, and the coroner’s report had highlighted serious concerns about “pervasive racism” among G4S guards involved in removals. But the jury was not allowed to know about the inquest, and the judge ruled the racist emails inadmissible as too “toxic” to the guards. If they had known a guilty verdict was more likely.
·         Over 20 witnesses said they heard Mr Mubenga saying “I can’t breathe” or “They are killing me.” The guards claimed they hadn’t heard it, and their defence said deportees “always say that kind of thing”.
·         Mr Mubenga head was repeatedly forced down to waist level, while he was hand-cuffed behind his back. He suffered double-fractured ribs, bruises, cuts – yet he, the victim, was blamed for resisting. He called out for help but didn’t get it.
·         The guards claimed they had acted in self-defence, were “only doing their job”, “performing a public service”, and “protecting not only themselves, but property, and the victim himself.”
·         The police helped G4S by delaying 24 hours before gathering witness statements from passengers, and took them down hastily as people re-boarded their flight the next day. So the statements were hurried, some witnesses said they didn’t have a translator to check what the police had written. Others said they’d been pressed by police to sign statements they didn’t agree with. Many gave longer statements later, only to have them rubbished in court by defence saying they had been influenced by news of Mr Mubenga’s death or their memory impaired by the passing of time. The judge echoed this by telling the jury not to let emotions get in the way.
·         Hughes, the guard central to the racist texting who continued posting racist material on facebook even after Mr Mubenga’s death, told passengers “this flight is going ahead whatever happens”. He was on a retainer of £1,200 a month, butTribelnig and Kaler were on £6 an hour and according to Hughes would have earned a couple hundred pounds bounty for successful deportation. Since the trip to Angola would have been 31 hours, Hughes would have earned £450. Hughes said he was not bothered about money, but concerned that his mates Tribelnig and Kaler got paid. The coroner's report from the Inquest said: "Having a financial interest in getting the job done does give rise to real concerns that inappropriate methods might be used” and “dangerous practices” developed . . . with the specific purpose of ensuring that disruption by a deportee prior to take off does not prevent removal.” These findings were withheld from the jury.
·         The set up in court reflected the power balance – three high-powered QCs (we understand paid for by G4S) each representing one of the guards, with junior barristers, against one prosecutor lacking in vigour or conviction.
·         One defence barrister had the nerve to bring in the police killing of Eric Garner in New York, saying that the protests there were not calling for “lynching or locking up of the police but for a trial. We have that in this case.” What he didn’t say was that the way this trial was conducted facilitated a not guilty outcome – just like the trial ofTrayvon Martin’s killer in the US. This barrister has a record for defending asylum seekers – sadly, he used it to lend credibility to the claim that deportees are likely to “cry wolf” to stop flights going ahead.
Jimmy Mubenga had done nothing wrong. He was a father raising his family in London. He wanted to be here with his wife and children. He had a right to object to being deported. He had a right to resist being killed. He had a right to live.
What happened to Mr Mubenga can happen to any of us, especially if we are immigrants, asylum seekers, of colour, detainees or labelled as “criminal”. It has been happening to many people, women and men – during arrest, in custody, or even while on the tube as with Jean Charles de Menezes. The first person we know of to be killed during an attempted deportation was a woman, Joy Gardner, in 1993. Every time those responsible got away with it, whether there was a trial or not.
This verdict gives another green light to killing by the state, and to violence of all kinds. G4S has been awarded a contract to run healthcare in Yarl’s Wood Immigration and Removal Centre and SERCO’s contract to run Yarl’s Wood has just been renewed. This is despite reports of racism, rape and sexual assault by the guards and a medical nurse, and protests by women detainees, including hunger strikes. There was also a protest at the Home Affairs Select Committee which investigated the claims without hearing evidence from women in detention.

The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Margaret Nantongo Zziwa has been impeached.
Ms Zziwa was on Wednesday impeached in a majority vote of 36 members who voted in favour of the motion, two opposed while one abstained from the vote.
Zziwa was absent at the time of her impeachment.
Her nemesis Dorah Byamukama was the first to cast the impeachment vote followed by Fred Mukasa Mbidde, the man who has consistently defended her.
The EALA session that impeached her was chaired by interim Speaker, Mr Chris Opoka-Okumu.
The development comes just a day after East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on Tuesday quashed Ms Zziwa’s application in which she had sought to block today’s proceedings.
Ms Zziwa through her lawyers, had among other things sought an order prohibiting and restraining EALA from convening today for purposes of considering Legal, Rules and Privileges committee, pending the hearing and determination of the main case she filed in the regional Court.
The Court found that Ms Zziwa had failed to prove the irreparable injustice today’s sitting may occasion to her, as had been claimed in her application.
“The Court declared it was unable to accept the Applicant’s case that she is entitled to any ex-parte orders. The Court thus ordered the Application be fixed for hearing inter parte on 3rd February 2015. The Application was dismissed with no order as to cost,” read a statement by Ms. Geraldine Umugwaneza Deputy Registrar.
Ms Zziwa has been fighting to block the November 17 suspension by majority of the Assembly members over her alleged misconduct. She termed the suspension as illegal.

Uganda's General David Sejusa 'renounces violence'

David Sejusa (18 June 2013)There are no plans to arrest Mr Sejusa, the government says

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A renegade Ugandan general who returned to Kampala from exile on Sunday has agreed to renounce violence and abide by the law, the government has said.
David Sejusa had been living in the UK since 2013 after claiming that President Yoweri Museveni was grooming his son to be Uganda's next leader.
Mr Sejusa also claimed that anyone opposed to Mr Museveni's succession plan risked being killed.
The Ugandan government has repeatedly denied the existence of any such plan.
"He [Mr Sejusa] negotiated his return. The government facilitated him with a ticket. For now we consider him a free man as his cases are being looked into," said government spokesman Ofwono Opondo.
Mounting criticism
The army has previously raised the prospect of prosecuting Mr Sejusa for treason but Mr Opondo said there were no current plans for an arrest.
There has been no immediate comment by Mr Sejusa, who has gone to his country home in central Uganda.
His return from exile came a day before Uganda's ruling party holds a conference during which Mr Museveni, 70, is expected to be named as its presidential candidate for the election in 2016.
President Yoweri MuseveniPresident Museveni denies planning to install his son as his successor
Mr Sejusa had been viewed as a close ally of Mr Museveni until he went into exile.
He fought in the guerrilla conflict that brought the president to power in 1986.
However, he subsequently became critical of the rapid promotion within the army of Mr Museveni's son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is now a brigadier-general in charge of special forces.
During his exile, Mr Sejusa spoke of Ugandans being "hostages" to a "family clique".
Unless there was significant change, "we shall have to force him [Mr Museveni] out", he told the BBC.
Analysts said the deal for Mr Sejusa's return may have been partly motivated by a wish on the part of the government to stop such a senior figure from joining the opposition.
Criticism of Mr Museveni's rule has mounted in recent years, with opponents accusing him of failing to curb corruption, suppressing dissent and monopolising power.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Reverend Libby Lane has been announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England, just a month after a historic change to canon law.
She will become the new Bishop of Stockport, a post that has been vacant since May.
Mrs Lane has been the vicar at St Peter's Hale and St Elizabeth's Ashley, in the diocese of Chester, since 2007.
The general synod voted to back plans for female bishops in July and formally adopted legislation on 17 November.
The appointment will end centuries of male leadership of the Church and comes 20 years after women became priests.
Mrs Lane was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire. Since 2010 she has also held the role of Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese of Chester.
'Unexpected and exciting'
Speaking at Stockport town hall the new bishop, whose role was approved by the Queen, said it was a "remarkable day for me and an historic day for the Church".
"This is unexpected and very exciting," she said.
"I'm honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next Bishop of Stockport and not a little daunted to be entrusted with such a ministry."
Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Mrs Lane and said: "This is an historic appointment and an important step forward for the Church towards greater equality in its senior positions".
Mrs Lane will be consecrated as the eighth bishop of the town at a ceremony at York Minster on 26 January.
The first women priests were ordained in 1994, but to date women have not been able to take on the Church's most senior roles. 
Legislation to fast track women bishops into the House Of Lords will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday. 
But Mrs Lane will not be able to enter the House of Lords, as the post she is taking up is a junior or suffrage an appointment within the Diocese of Chester, the BBC's religious correspondent Caroline Wyatt said.
The first women bishop eligible to take up a seat in the Lords is expected to be announced in the new year.
Mrs Lane, who was schooled in Manchester and then the University at Oxford, before training for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham, dismissed suggestions her appointment was just a symbolic gesture by a Church still predominantly run by men.
The bishop and her husband, who is also a priest, were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together.
Mrs Lane's interests include being a school governor, supporting Manchester United and learning to play the saxophone, according to her Church’s website.
The general synod, the Church's law-making body, gave the final seal of approval to the legislation on women bishops after it passed through Parliament in October.
After the change was approved, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that the Church was entering into a "completely new phase of our existence".
But divisions still remain in the church between Anglicans who feel the change is consistent with their faith and traditionalists who disagree. 
One of the first crucial steps towards appointing female bishops came in 1975 when the general synod voted that there was "no fundamental objection" to the ordination of women to the priesthood, but it did not pass a second motion asking for the legal barriers to women's ordination to be removed.
In 1985, a vote allowed women to become deacons, and in 1992 women were officially permitted to be ordained in the priesthood, but the first women priests were not announced until two years later.
In November 2012, the vote to allow female bishops failed by six votes in the House of Laity. But in July 2013, it voted 152 in favour of the motion, with 45 against, and five abstentions. 
Gloucester, Oxford and Newcastle are also among the dioceses where new bishops will also soon be appointed, and interviews for the vacancy as bishop for the Southwell and Nottingham diocese took place at the start of December. 
Churches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already allow women as bishops, but haven't appointed one yet.