Oppah Muchingura is the Republic of Zimbabwe Minister for Women's Affairs. She is involved in a national campaign against gender-based violence., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Call to include sexual abuse issues in schools curriculum
December 2, 2013
Tafadzwa Ndlovu Herald Reporter
Academic institutions should strengthen child protection systems by including issues of sexual abuse and violence in the curriculum, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Oppah Muchinguri said the high number of cases of sexual abuse and violence being recorded would be reduced if children were conscientised on the issues.
She was speaking in Harare at the weekend during the launch of the Legacy International School, a Christian private school.
“My ministry has just launched a campaign against sexual abuse and rape of children and 16 days of activism against gender based violence, hence we also say no to such acts in the education system,” she said.
“I urge all academic institutions, stakeholders, Government and civil society to work together in strengthening child protection systems because violence and sexual abuse of children will only result in mental, physical and psychological effects on our children.”
Cde Muchinguri said teachers and school heads should not take advantage of the vulnerability of children, but assume parental roles of protecting them.
She said there was need to continuously address challenges faced by children at national and local levels, including implementation of laws, policies, regulations and the provision of comprehensive services to child victims.
Legacy International School has been in existence for the past 10 years, but officials could not acquire proper land to build the school.
The school’s managing director Pastor Petunia Chiriseri recently acquired more than four acres of land in Greystone Park for the construction of the school after 10 years of persistence.
Ruth Butaumocho is a journalist in Zimbabwe. She is the editor for gender issues for the state-owned Herald newspaper., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Why is Zimbabawe condoning gender-based violence?
December 3, 2013 Opinion & Analysis
Ruth Butaumocho Gender Forum
It has become a common occurrence in Zimbabwe to wake up to gruesome news of a brutal attack, rape, or even murder of women and children over different reasons. The majority, if not all of these, are tied down to gender-based violence, an old phenomenon.
Sadly, GBV has become a cause of concern.
Hardly a week passes without the media carrying a story of a tragic fight by a couple.
Most of these fights have resulted in the death of a partner or both over very simple issues.
Three weeks ago the residents of Bulawayo woke up to the sad news of a woman who had both her eyes gouged out by her husband on allegations of infidelity after he found some messages in her WhatsApp account, deemed to have come from a boyfriend.
Instead of seeking to understand the origins of the message, the husband, in a fit of rage, immediately pounced on the hapless woman, gave her a thorough beating and gouged out her eyes with an unidentified sharp object.
Barely a week later, a man killed his wife in Banket on allegations of infidelity after discovering a stranger’s phone number in her phone.
The man tried to commit suicide but was restrained by his neighbours, who immediately handed him over to the police.
These incidents clearly illustrate that the issue of GBV has taken different but unprecedented forms, in a clear indication that the problem is continuing unabated despite the existence of legislation, which makes it a criminal offence.
Cases of GBV were quite prevalent in the high-density suburb of Mufakose where I was raised.
However, most of the cases were not serious and often consisted of slapping, ranting and raving from both parties, but these altercations were rarely fatal so to speak.
One of the reasons could have been because the extended family and the community were largely responsible for each other, with the abusers being chided and sometimes reprimanded for their violent tendencies and often excluded from community activities.
However, this is no longer the case today and it appears that the notorious abusers, instead of being condemned, are being accorded heroic status for being disciplinarians.
If surely our society didn’t condone violence, would Zimbabwe be ranking high among the countries that recorded the highest cases of GBV that cuts across sex?
Am I wrong then to say that the society that we live in now strongly advocates violence to solve any problem that we may face as a nation?
It’s saddening to note that the church, that was once the vanguard of moral values, is now at the forefront of perpetuating these heinous acts or turning a blind eye to different forms of gender-based violence.
If anything the church has been found wanting in issues to do with rape and physical violence among married couples.
Abuse and rape cases are now very rampant in the church, with claims of sex orgies — happening right in the House of the Lord — now the order of the day.
Even some pastors — who are revered and anointed men of God — have been fingered in heinous cases like rape and sodomy, casting a doubt on their role as vanguards of morals.
On the other hand marriage counsellors in the church continue to preach submissiveness to abused women, instead of coming up with practical solutions to solve these problems.
As the nation takes part in the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, it is worth mentioning that women aged between the ages of 15 and 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
More often than not, we have come across cases where violent acts such as rape, female genital mutilation, or extremely physical abuse are used to intimidate, humiliate and discredit women, denying them political and economic weight in society and forcing them into silent, second-class citizenship.
Beyond just personal injury, GBV also results in marital rape, unwanted pregnancy, severe psychological trauma and does promote a society full of angry and violent people.
Gender-based violence should not be allowed to happen and should not be justified as basis of disciplining an errant spouse.
I always tell friends and relatives alike that GBV is the worst form of abuse that any human being can ever endure in silence, no matter what the circumstances may be.
Those who have been and are still in abusive relationships will attest that they just didn’t start by getting a bashing, but the level of abuse started very small.
They would often be chided, shouted at in front of the children for cooking the evening relish poorly, forgetting to lock the front door, or better still, hosting visitors in the absence of the man of the house.
From there, the abuse gear gets into a higher mode — where you are called all sorts of names from being a “deranged good-for-nothing woman” to a “harlot” — right in front of the children and all the neighbours or anybody who cares to listen.
Before you know it, blows will start flying from all angles.
Instead of friends and relatives solving the problems, many will actually cheer on, accusing the wife of being errant, saying:
“She must have angered the man, hapana munhu anongorohwa pasina zvaaita.”
I always say walking away from an abusive relationship should be a personal choice, because people often make a decision to stay in abusive relationships, either for financial, personal, or social gain.
Whatever the reasons may be — at the end of the day the society and the community at large should also make an effort to curb all forms of abuse and even go further to educate those in abusive relationships to seek help before it is too late.
Diamond polishing workers in the Southern African state of Zimbabwe. The country is a large repository of gems., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Diamond polishing companies get green light
December 3, 2013
A number of diamond polishing firms that have been given permission by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Industry to set up shops in the country as Government intensifies efforts to get maximum value from the country’s diamonds. The companies have already shipped or are in the process of shipping diamond polishing equipment into the country.
The development follows a series of meetings that were held by Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and several firms from China, Hong Kong, Dubai and Israel that were keen on investing in the country.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said more than 10 companies submitted their proposals and those approved are among some of the biggest diamond polishing companies in the world.
“At the moment the companies that we have approved have not started operating because they want access to the diamonds that match the quality that they are looking for,” the minister said.
Minister Chidhakwa said there were also budgetary issues that needed approval before the polishing firms start operating. The local diamond has attracted many investors and according to highly placed sources in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
International diamond players such as First Element Diamond Services of Botswana, are flocking to Zimbabwe for opportunities to exploit the country’s diamond deposits.
“First Element is among the group of foreign investment companies that are currently engaged in negotiations over possible exploration of the local diamond fields,” the source said.
According to the source the company is expected to clinch a deal with Government that is likely to see the company getting vast diamond claims in the country.
First Element is Belgian company which provides diamond cleaning, valuation, sorting and marketing services has offices in Gaborone, Johannesburg and Antwerp. Minister Chidhakwa, however, said he was not aware of the intention by the Belgian mining company’s intention to explore diamonds.
“I cannot confirm or deny because as you know many foreigners are coming to our offices and maybe the issues were discussed in the deputy minister’s office. The best person to communicate with is the Permanent secretary,” he said. However, efforts to communicate with Professor Francis Gudyanga proved fruitless as his phone went unanswered.
Minister Chidhakwa said the country Zimbabwe stood to reap immense benefits by value adding diamonds.
Zimbabwe, which is currently the seventh largest producer of diamonds in the world, has potential to supply 25 percent of global demand and has also been tipped to become the third biggest producer by the end of this decade.
Currently, there are four diamond-mining firms operating in Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange, namely Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin and Diamond Mining Corporation.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Herald has a new look issued on December 2, 2013. The paper sold out quickly as people grabbed the papers., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Herald sold out as readers rush to grab copy of new-look paper
December 3, 2013
Marcia Gore Herald Reporter
The new-look Herald, which is now more attractive and matches international standards, ran out in most parts of the country yesterday as people jostled to buy the newspaper. Those who had been following the build-up to the launch of the new style said they were taken by surprise as they did not expect that the paper would be of such high quality and great layout.
Herald’s vendors in Harare rushed back to office looking for more copies after they were overwhelmed with the response.
“When I saw the paper for the first time I was really worried about my sales for the day,” said Judith Kaseke a vendor in the city. “I thought many people would not like it, but to my surprise most customers hailed the new look.”
Tichaona Makwekwerere who is also a Herald vendor said at first some people were complaining that the paper was now smaller in size than the usual copy they were used to, but that did not stop them from eventually liking the new look.
“The new paper is smaller, which makes it convenient for some of us who use public transport to and from work and want to read it while travelling,” said Mr Archford Makoni.
“You can open the pages without offending the guy sitting next to you by obstructing them.”
Mr Moses Matsika and Mr George Mukumba, who are both airtime vendors, said the new look was a “masterpiece” and it reflected the commitment by Zimpapers to bring news to the people without compromising on quality.
Ms Marian Gweshe said her only worry was that the smaller size might reduce the size of her beloved columns, but the layout and colour pictures were marvellous.
Advertisers also applauded Zimpapers for coming up with the brilliant product.
NetOne public relations manager Mr Rutendo Chabururuka said the paper was “beautiful, very upmarket and modern”.
“When I first heard the news I was worried because we wanted to do a supplement and I was not sure how it would look like, but after I saw the published copies, I loved them and Zimpapers can be assured of more advertisements,” he said.
MMcellink, which deals in cellphones, had its chief executive Mr Munyaradzi Chihwai saying the improvement in The Herald’s quality would enhance their market as quality adverts would attract more readers.
A Harare lawyer, Mr Mandishona Mavhiringidze, said he loved the layout on the first page and the use of colour on all the pages.
The launch of the new-look Herald followed the acquisition of the state-of-the-art TPH Orient x-CEL printing machine by Zimpapers which is set to re-confirm the group’s dominance in the printing and publishing industry.
Detroit Marxism Class on Walter Rodney's "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa", Sat. December 7, 2013, 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Dr. Walter Rodney of Guyana wrote and lectured extenwsively on African history and politics during the 1960s and 1970s. He was assassinated in Guyana in June of 1980., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.For Immediate Release
Event: Detroit Marxism Class on "How Europe Underdevelped Africa"
Topic: Africa's Contribution to the Capitalist Development of Europe, Chap. 5, Section II
Author: Walter Rodney (1942-1980)
Location: 5920 Second Avenue at Antoinette, North of the WSU Campus
Date: Saturday, December 7, 2013, 5:00-8:00pm
Facilitator: Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire
Sponsor: Workers World Party and the Harriet Tubman School
Detroit Marxism Class to Review Walter Rodney's Classic Work on "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa," Chapter 5, Section II
The Detroit Marxism Class series continues with the study of an important and relevant work on the historical role of Africa in world history. Walter Rodney, who taught for years at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, published this book in 1972.
As the U.S. government and ruling class intensifies its intervention in Africa with wars of economic penetration, aggression and occupation in Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe and other states, it is essential that activists and students of modern life be grounded in the actual historical evolution of the relationship between the African continent and world imperialism.
We will read and discuss Chapter 5, section 2 of this groundbreaking study. Materials for the class will be available at the session.
Admission is free and open to the general public.
US-backed regime in Somalia appoints Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon to head the government. Somalia has been focal point for Pentagon and CIA intervention for many years., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Somalia: Somali PM loses no-confidence vote
DECEMBER 2, 2013
Abdi Farah Shirdon voted out of office just over a year after assuming post amid disagreement with country's president.
By Hamze Mohamed
Somali MPs have voted the country’s prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, out of office following a disagreement with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Announcing the result of the vote, speaker of parliament said on Monday that184 MPs out votes 250 present voted for the impeachment motion.
The disagreement was over the selection of members of the cabinet which was scheduled to be reshuffled.
The MPs had been debating the no-confidence motion against Shirdon for the last two days. More than 165 MPs had signed the motion, which was brought to parliament on Saturday.
Shirdon, a newcomer to politics like the president, held the prime minister’s post for just over one year.
Previous Somali governments have been plagued by infighting between presidents and prime ministers. Shirdon is the fifth prime minister in six years Somalia has had.
President Mohamud has not said when he will appoint a new prime minister who in turn will have appoint a new cabinet which will have to be approved by parliament.
Shortly before speaker of parliament announced the results of the motion, Shirdon held a press conference in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where he said: “Some ministers in the cabinet are behind the current political instability. They think the prime minister could be easily ousted, so they could keep their positions.”
The weak UN-backed Somali government is fighting the armed rebel group al-Shabab which still controsl significant parts of the country.
Australia’s surveillance agency offered to share bulk metadata with other countries – here’s some of mine to start the ball rollingOliver Laughland
Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with First Vice-President Ali Osman Taha. The government announced in November 2012 that there were arrests surrounding a coup plot., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sudan Vision News Daily
Taha: Sudan Makes Progress towards Economic and Development Issues
Khartoum - First Vice President of the Republic Ali Osman Mohamed Taha said that Sudan is making good steps in the coming year according to the political, economic, and developmental indicators, beside the existence of the political will and awareness of the Sudanese people of the their role towards achieving the development and their positive role in providing requirements of the investment.
Taha added during his address to the opening sitting of the States First Economic Forum, that the existing investment Act fulfils the demands and ambitions of both the national and foreign investors calling for bringing its provisions and recommendations on reality.
Taha pointed out that the social responsibility of the government is one of bases of the features of the policies of in the field of investment.
He called on the states Governors and the political organization to reconsiders the settlements of disputes and conflicts in Darfur and Kordufan states to find its share in the development and investment projects.
Taha also called on the states Governors to exert more efforts on improving the infrastructure and to create the right atmosphere for investment to benefit from the local and foreign investment privileges, and to settle the land ownership issues, indicating that investment is the backbone of the Sudan's economy.
He stressed on the importance of the fair and balanced distribution of investment opportunities in all the different states of the Sudan in a way to achieve a fair distribution of resources.
He pointed out the investment map is a field report on the spaces ready for investment without legal or administrative restrictions, calling at the same time on the states governments to work for settling the disputes and resolve problems that hinder the investment in the states.
Taha said that there are chances for progress in agricultural investment and the achievement of the food security, and to benefit from the Arab initiative in this regard.
He called on the use of the comparative advantages that Sudan is enjoys in this aspect.
Taha asserted commitment of the government to provide the infrastructure for an appropriate and encouraging investment atmosphere in order to be reflected on the living standards and services of the citizens and the investment partners.
David Yau Yau, a former leader in the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), who defected during the transitional phase to independence from Khartoum. His fighters have continued hostilities against Juba, the capital of the Republic of South Sudan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 2013
Promotion of former rebels sparks tension in South Sudan military
December 1, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan appears to be split over the integration of former rebel groups in the young nation’s military, following president Salva Kiir’s appointment of prominent rebel leaders to senior positions last week.
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) is itself a former rebel group that signed a peace deal with the government of Sudan in 2005, leading to southern independence in 2011.
Following months of negotiations, Kiir appointed the leaders of several rebel groups from various locations - mainly the Greater Upper Nile region - to the regular army last week.
These included Bapiny Monytuil, who was appointed as a lieutenant general, while Johnson Uliny, along with four other colleagues, were appointed as major Generals, with Kiir ordering the full integration of their forces. In the same order issued on 25 November, Kiir also named six other brigadier generals.
In a separate order issued on 29 November, Gabriel Tanginye was appointed as a major general, Thomas Mabor Dhol as a brigadier general and Gatwec Joak as a colonel.
The move has drawn widespread opposition from within the military and the general public, with some senior officers questioning the army is serious about security sector reform.
Rebel leader David Yau Yau, who is fighting the SPLA from his base in Jonglei’s Pibor county, accepted Kiir’s amnesty and signed a deal in June 2011 that saw him promoted as a general despite being a civilian before launching his insurgency in 2010 after failing to win a seat in the Jonglei state legislative assembly.
However, Yau Yau rebelled again in April 2012, complaining that despite his title he was not given any real responsibilities. The cycle of rebellions and groups splintering from the SPLA only to be reintegrated and the leaders given senior positions predates the 2005 peace deal prior to the country’s secession from Sudan in 2011.
Nonetheless many South Sudanese do not approve of such pragmatism, with some arguing that such appointments encourage rebellions.
Sabit Marier, a member of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) - the political wing of the SPLA during the more than two-decade-long civil war - said on Sunday that the rebels had achieved nothing apart from the “killing their own people”.
He argued that rather than being rewarded with senior military posts, rebel leaders “should be held responsible for all the atrocities they committed”, adding that the president’s decision will only “encourage more rebellion”.
Marier said the recent decision also goes against Kiir’s policy of a lean government, with the integration of rebel forces set to greatly increase the size of the armed forces.
Many SPLA generals were retired earlier this year as Kiir attempted to trim the size of the military in order to save money during an oil transit fee dispute with Sudan that was crippling South Sudan’s economy.
Marier fears that increasing the size of the SPLA will affect the national budget as more will be spent on soldier’s salaries rather than providing institutions with funds to deliver services.
A senior military officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that some soldiers have registered repeated complaints about the lack of promotions from within the army’s ranks.
“Sometimes it makes it difficult for us in the command to convince junior officers and non-commission officers because, according to the conventional system, junior officers move faster than senior officers. It takes three to four years for officers with the ranks of lieutenants and captains and about six to eight years for major and lieutenant colonels to go to the other ranks. We have groups of officers and soldiers waiting commissioning and promotions”, he said.
Another officer said that although Kiir, as the SPLA’s commander-in-chief, was acting within his powers and mandate to promote peace and defend the country’s sovereignty and security, he felt that there could have been a better balance of promotions from within the SPLA and the ranks of former rebels.
“Current ranks are seen as source of money instead of the value of service to the country. I tell you that most of the current commanders cannot run a company when given [an] assignment. Some of them desert assignments during operations, pretending that they are sick”, an officer who did not want to be identified told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
“So why not commission long-serving, non-commission officers and young officers who have demonstrated ability?” he added.
Sudan Foreign Minister inspects damage done through an Israeli airstrike on April 4, 2011 near Port Sudan. Israel has attacked the African state before the continent's largest, in 2009., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 2013
Sudan scoffs at ICG report on brewing dissent in the east
December 1, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The report issued by the International Crisis group (ICG) this week on East Sudan being on the verge of a new conflict over Khartoum’s failure to implement the 2006 peace accord is nothing but "fantasy", an official here said today.
The London-based think tank said that frustration is growing rapidly among the people of the East which in some cases is creating secessionist sentiments and calls for backing rebels fighting to topple the National Congress Party (NCP) led government in Khartoum.
ICG further accused NCP of using divide and conquer tactics along tribal lines which is also adding to the tensions in the region.
But Mustafa Osman Ismail who is the government official in charge of East Sudan dossier said that the ICG report was prepared by some opposition activists in European countries.
Ismail who spoke on pro-government Ashorooq TV on Sunday said that the report is false and imaginary. He also stressed that the East is governed by its own people.
He went on to say that East Sudan is witnessing a balanced economic development unseen since the country’s independence in 1956 and rejected describing the region as marginalized.
In its report, ICG blamed the situation over the non-implemented provisions of the East Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) including allocation of legislative and executive positions to Eastern Front (EF) former rebel group in federal and state institutions, East Reconstruction and Development Fund (ERDF) establishment as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of EF forces.
"The failure to implement the ESPA, together with NCP machinations, has hopelessly divided – mostly along tribal lines – the Eastern Front (EF), the alliance of armed groups that signed the agreement" ICG said.
Last February, EF members issued a statement giving the central government one month to follow through on their commitments particularly the financial portion.
Under the October 2006 peace agreement, the EF joined with the government and a $600 million ERDF was established to help the region recover from war.
A further $3.5 billion pledged at a donor conference that took place in Kuwait in December 2010 was also supposed to be added to the East Reconstruction and Development Fund (ERDF).
But the EF said the money is managed inappropriately without transparency and that that the people of the East were excluded from the top posts at ERDF or were given positions without a mandate.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Eastern Sudan has the country’s highest poverty rate; the highest number of deaths of children aged under five, and the most children between the ages of six and 13 out of school.
Sudan’s eastern Red Sea, Kassala and Gedaref states have potential gold, oil and gas resources, but poverty remains endemic among the region’s five million inhabitants, whose livelihoods have been undermined by war, climate change and environmental degradation.
Merowe Dam in Sudan where the largest source for electrical power is being constructed on the African continent., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
MONDAY 2 DECEMBER 2013
Calls for US investment in Sudan agricultural sector: report
December 1, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The United States charge d’affaires in Khartoum Joseph D. Stafford called on American companies to invest in Sudan’s agricultural sector, according to a news report.
Stafford who was on a visit to Nahr al-Neel state, told the pro-government Ashorooq TV that he realizes the difficulties facing the two countries as a result of US sanctions imposed but stressed that Washington demonstrated goodwill in seeking to improve bilateral ties through a candid dialogue.
He underscored the vital role played by Sudan in Africa and the world and expressed confidence that Khartoum will respond positively to Washington’s overtures.
The U.S. diplomat also called on American companies to invest in Sudan’s agriculture and particularly in Nahr al-Neel state due to the special advantages it offers.
In 2010 the United States announced it was easing sanctions on agriculture equipment and services and gave six U.S. firms licenses to export to the East African nation.
Since then more U.S. companies have expressed interest in entering the Sudanese agricultural sector.
Sudan has been under US economic sanctions since 1997 and remains on the US list of state sponsors of terror. At the time, Khartoum harbored Al-Qaeda’s late chief Osama bin Laden.
After 2003 sanctions were tightened over the conflict in the Darfur region and human rights violations in other parts of the country.
Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir speaking at the national independence celebration on December 31, 2008., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sudan rebels, government clash again south of rail town
Monday, 2 December 2013
Rebels and government forces in Sudan’s South Kordofan state have clashed again south of a railway town the insurgents briefly occupied last month, both sides said on Monday.
Fighting in the state has intensified since early November, at the start of the dry season, as the government began an operation to crush the ethnic rebels who rose up two years ago.
Access to South Kordofan is restricted for journalists, aid workers and others, making verification of claims by both sides difficult.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) insurgents said they had killed dozens of government troops - including several officers - in fighting Friday and Saturday around Abu Doma mountain, south of the rail town of Abu Zabad.
“We know the area very well,” but government troops were not as familiar with the terrain, JEM spokesman Gibril Adam Bilal told AFP.
“They were preparing to attack us by three sides.”
Sudan’s army spokesman, Sawarmi Khaled Saad, told AFP there had only been “a little battle” around the mountain about a week ago and government forces were pursuing the rebels in various parts of the state.
JEM occupied Abu Zabad, which is just over the border in North Kordofan state, for several hours on November 17.
JEM, originally from the western Darfur region, has been supporting Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels in South Kordofan since shortly after an uprising began there in 2011, analysts say.
Hoping to oust
Both groups belong to an alliance aiming to topple the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime and install a government more representative of the country’s diversity.
The Sudan Armed Forces and SPLA-N are also fighting, on a smaller scale, in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.
There can be no military solution to the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, according to the United Nations Security Council.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir says his government is ready for a broad political dialogue, including with armed groups.
But Bilal does not foresee a political settlement because “the strategy of the Sudanese government is a military solution.”
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Last Update: Monday, 2 December 2013 KSA 18:29 - GMT 15:29
'What we need is a reasoned discussion,' says shadow attorney general Mark DreyfusLenore Taylor
'Assume the worst,' defence minister tells industry forum, warning of more leaks to come about intelligence sharingKatharine Murphy
MPs quiz the Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger over the NSA revelations; but the Met also wants secrecy over access to reporters' notebooks
• Roll up, roll up. It's secrecy Super Tuesday. In keeping with the spirit of the times, we should perhaps keep mum, but people will insist that we live in a free society. And so it is that as MPs today quiz the Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, about our publication of the Edward Snowden revelations, the Metropolitan police will be elsewhere trying to establish its right to more secret hearings. As part of a continuing entanglement with Sky News, the Met wants to establish its right to argue in secret to obtain access to reporters' notebooks. Its ability to argue in "closed session" was denied by the high court. Now it is taking the matter to the supreme court hoping for a more favourable judgment. It isn't just the Big Brother government that one has to worry about. It's also his pesky cousins.
• Real tragedy in Glasgow at the weekend, garnering the blanket coverage one rightly expects. But as a consequence, much less attention was paid to the verdict of the former cabinet secretary Lord Butler, who offered the BBC his view on the administrative qualities of our ruling coalition. Francis Maude, cabinet office minister with the brief to drive the civil service to distraction, recently called for mandarins to "speak truth to power". Why would they, asked Lord Butler, when civil servants were being hung out to dry in public? "People are not encouraged to speak truth to power when in the same breath in the same interview they are told that they will be dumped on when things go wrong. I'm sorry to say, I really think that Mr Maude and some of his colleagues don't understand leadership." Quite a thing to see Sir Humphrey bare his teeth.
• How might coalition top bods show a bit more leadership? The odd gesture wouldn't hurt. In the publication Tribune and on his blog, the indefatigable David Hencke tells of the behind-the-scenes controversy concerning the Student Loans Company, whose last boss, Ed Lester, had his tenure blighted by a public row about his tax arrangements. "The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents Whitehall's lowest paid, put forward a rather interesting negotiating ploy for 2014," explains Hencke. They suggested that his successor forgo a £25,000-a-year bonus on top of his £160,000 salary and taxable expenses of £30,000 a year. "Instead it suggested that the bonus be redistributed to the staff, benefiting the lowest paid." It would have contributed to a good new deal. "All 2,400 staff could get an increase of more than £600 incorporated into their salaries. The few very lowest paid would get a £960 pay rise to take them up to the nationally recognised living wage." The Cabinet office said nyet apparently. Trickledown be damned.
• Unsurprising perhaps, for this is the way of things. The uber rich do very nicely, thank you – and the poor, they have their food banks. Hencke ends his tale with a vignette. "I was behind a well-paid young couple in Berkhamsted Waitrose at the butchery counter who were ordering fillet steak – not for their own dinner, but to feed their dog. The complacent man boasted that he wouldn't normally be at Waitrose because he regularly got the fillet steak for the dog at Harrods food hall." Poor Fido, no one escapes austerity.
• Yes, leadership is definitely an issue, and not just in Whitehall. Each day brings fresh evidence that the right hand has no clue what the left is doing. Emily Thornberry QC, the shadow attorney general, has a continuing interest in the colossal cock-up at the Serious Fraud Office which led to secret info and the names of witnesses in a past investigation involving fighter jets and BAE Systems being sent to the wrong address. The bundles ended up in a building that was also being used as a cannabis farm. The government is trying to recover the material. How's that going, she asked. "The SFO has recovered 98% of the data – this includes all audio tapes and electronic media. The SFO continues to pursue the recovery of outstanding material," replied solicitor general Oliver Heald QC last week. They're doing their very best. Worrying, isn't it?
Twitter: @hugh_muirHugh Muir
theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Lost amidst the well-chronicled travails of the Affordable Care Act rollout are the long term effects of people struggling to get the health coverage they need without going bankrupt.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s been the main story line of the US healthcare system for several decades. Sadly, little has changed.
Still, with all the ACA’s highly publicized snafus, and less discussed systemic flaws, there’s no reason to welcome the cynical efforts to repeal or defund the law by politicians whose only alternative is more of the same callous, existing market-based healthcare system.
US nurses oppose the rollback and appreciate that several million Americans who are now uninsured may finally get coverage, principally through the expansion of Medicaid, or access to private insurance they’ve been denied because of their prior health status.
At the same time, nurses will never stop campaigning for a fundamental transformation to a more humane single-payer, expanded Medicare for all system not based on ability to pay and obeisance to the policy confines of insurance claims adjustors.
Website delays – the most unwelcome news for computer acolytes since the tech boom crashed – are not the biggest problem with the ACA, as will become increasingly apparent long after the signup headaches are a distant memory.
What prompted the ACA was a rapidly escalating healthcare nightmare, seen in 50 million uninsured, medical bills plunging millions into un-payable debt or bankruptcy, long delays in access to care, and record numbers skipping needed treatment due to cost.
The main culprit was our profit-focused system, with rising profiteering by a massive health care industry, and an increasing number of employers dropping coverage or just dumping more costs onto workers.
The ACA tackles some of the most egregious inequities: lack of access for many of the working poor who will now be eligible for Medicaid or subsidies to offset some of their costs for buying private insurance through the exchanges, a crackdown on several especially notorious insurance abuses, and encouragement of preventive care.
But the law actually further entrenches the insurance-based system through the requirement that uncovered individuals buy private insurance. It’s also chock full of loopholes.
Some consumers who have made it through the website labyrinth have found confusing choices among plans which vary widely in both premium and out of pocket costs even with the subsidies, a pass through of public funds to the private insurers.
The minimum benefits are also somewhat illusory. Insurance companies have decades of experience at gaming the system and warehouses full of experts to design ways to limit coverage options.
The ACA allows insurers to cherry pick healthier enrollees by the way benefit packages are designed, and as a Washington Post article noted on 21 November, consumers are discovering insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and excluding many top ranked hospitals from their approved “network”.
The wide disparity between the healthcare you need, what your policy will cover, and what the insurer will actually pay for remains.
Far less reported is what registered nurses increasingly see – financial incentives within the ACA for hospitals to prematurely push patients out of hospitals to cheaper, less regulated settings or back to their homes. It also encourages shifting more care delivery from nurses and doctors to robots and other technology that undermines individual patient care, and that may work no better than the dysfunctional ACA websites.
Is there an alternative? Most other developed nations have discovered it, a single-payer or national healthcare system.
Without the imperative of prioritizing profits over care, Medicare for all streamlines the administrative waste and complex insurance billing operations endemic to private insurance. That waste is a major reason why the US has more than double the per capita cost of healthcare of other developed nations, yet lower life expectancies than many.
Medicare for all eliminates the multi-tiered health plans that plague both the individual and group insurance markets that are tied to the girth of your wallet not your need for care. Class, gender, and racial disparities in access and quality of care vanish under Medicare for all.
It’s beyond time that we stop vilifying government and perpetuating a corporatized healthcare system that has abandoned so many. We can, with a system of Medicare for all, we can cut healthcare costs and promote a much more humane society.