Saturday, February 23, 2013

DR Congo: War Witch

The Anchorage Daily News (Of all places ) reports

Young actress from Congo granted visa for Oscars

FILE - This Feb. 17, 2012 file photo shows actress Rachel Mwanza arrives for the screening of the film "War Witch" (Rebelle) at the 62 edition of International Film Festival Berlinale, in Berlin. Mwanza has been granted a visa to travel from the Congo for the Academy Awards. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign picture on Jan. 10, 2013. The 85th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Gero Breloer, file — AP Photo

Read more here:

 — The 16-year-old star of the Oscar-nominated "War Witch" has been granted a visa to travel from Congo for the Academy Awards.
The film's distributor, Tribeca Film, said Wednesday that Rachel Mwanza (MWAHN'-zuh) will be able to attend upcoming award shows, including Sunday's Oscars.
I am pleased she can go but I would have thought that granting her a visa would hardly be a news story.
"War Witch," directed by Montreal filmmaker Kim Nguyen (WIN), is nominated for best foreign language film as Canada's submission.
Looks like it will be a Movie to watch.
Shot entirely in the Congo, Mwanza was cast despite no prior acting experience. She had been living at her grandmother's house and on the streets before Nguyen picked her to play a child soldier caught up in an unspecified African revolution.
Mwanza won best actress at both the Berlin Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival last year. "War Witch" opens in New York theaters March 1.

Hope she gets the gong.

Friday, February 22, 2013

DR Congo: More Bat shit crazy.

I totally missed this story so big hat-tip  to Alex Engwete My take on this is that it is not as quite as amused as Alex seems to view it.  From the Daily Maverick.  

Congo rebels, a Kabila family affair?

The news has spread like wildfire through the Congolese community: Etienne Kabila Taratibu, ringleader of the group of dissidents suspected of plotting to overthrow the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, handed himself over to the police in Cape Town on Saturday morning. By DE WET POTGIETER and KHADIJA PATEL.

Emotions ran high within the 300,000-strong Congolese exile communities in South Africa over the weekend as news spread that the ringleader of the group of dissident Congolese suspected of plotting to overthrow the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Etienne Kabila Taratibu, had handed himself over to the police in Cape Town on Saturday morning.
"He is the mastermind. We have been observing these guys. We have a list of individuals and their names," a spokesman for the Hawks told Reuters.

I am not sure who the Hawks are but from South Africa Info. 

South Africa's new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation
(DPCI), to be known as the Hawks, will target organised crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The bottom line would seem to be that the South African authorities are taking this seriously  the following from Alex Engwete's blog probably explains the reason.

The 19 men, who were training in weapons handling and tactics, were 
being monitored for quite some time by the Hawks, an elite South 
African intelligence unit. 

The arsenal found in their possession is quite impressive: 5, 000 
AK47s, 1,000 grenades, suface-to-air and surface-to surface missiles. 
Enough firepower to cause havoc and mayhem in Kinshasa--for the 
Congolese capital appears to have been their objective. 

That is a hell of a lot of fire power in terms of the current rebellion in the Eastern DR Congo. M23 is thought to be about a 2000 person strong movement and they certainly made FARDC look like a bunch of clowns at Goma.  Alex's blog continues.

Calling itself the Democratic Union of Nationalists for Renewal 
(acronymed UDNR in French), the group was planning nothing less than a 
sudden regime-change event in Kinshasa. 

Makhosini Nkosi, the spokesman of the South African National 
Prosecuting Authority described the objective of the 19 compadres as 

"The grouping's objective was to receive specialized military related 
training to overthrow the current DRC government, under the leadership 
of President Joseph Kabila." 

Kabila Taratibu will be flown to Pretoria this week, where he will appear in court with the other 19 Congolese suspected of plotting an overthrow of the Congolese government.

This is starting to sound a bit comical even to me but I am not as willing to dismiss this as lightly  as Alex has:

But it was the surrender to the Cape Town police of the purported 
ringleader of the bandits on Friday, February 15, that first raised 
eyebrows and then triggered guffaws in the streets of Kinshasa. 

The ringleader arrested in Cape Town is a crook who goes by the 
moniker of Etienne Taratibu Kabila. 

His parentage seems to be a matter for some debate. This from Bd Live 

Etienne, born in 1965 of the late president’s first marriage, sees himself as Laurent’s rightful heir, claiming that Joseph, born of a second marriage, is too close to Rwanda to be a true Congolese.
But analysts argue that it was Joseph that Laurent trusted and gave responsibility for the army, effectively putting him ahead in the succession line. They see Etienne as no more than a disgruntled sibling upset at coming off second-best in the sibling rivalry.

That aside the actual qualification for the role of President in a democracy is not who your father was, America not withstanding. 

Still on the run is Major General William Amuri Yakutumba, said to be the military leader who founded the politico-military movement Mai-Mai Yakutumba in 2007, in the Fizi territory, the southern part of South Kivu. (This is the same area where Ché Guevara once unsuccessfully tried to unchain the revolution in the 1960s.)

And that is a sad fact that the Congolese people have had to live with since independence in the Eastern DR Congo. Someone be it Che Guevara or some other political actor's from outside the region have been prepared to trample over the human rights of the Congolese. 

Congolese expatriates in South Africa have had some strong reactions, with insults being levelled in all directions. Some singled out President Zuma, criticising him for protecting South African interests in the DRC above the human rights of the Congolese refugees.

Photo: At the Pretoria court on Friday, members of the Congolese expat community were vocal in denouncing Joseph Kabila and SA Government. (De Wet Potgieter)

Others have focused on the intricacies of the Kabila family. One particular tweet claimed that Joseph Kabila was “a fake son of Laurent Kabila”, a sentiment professed by Kabila Taratibu since he exiled to South Africa several years ago.

I am no fan of the current leadership of South Africa. President Zuma is a crook but it is harder to level that accusation at some of the South African State's institutions. I think in this situation it is unfair to blame the South African Government of interfering in Congolese affairs clearly a crime has occurred in South Africa and the authorities are doing their job cleaning up the mess.

The exiled Kabila, who lives in Cape Town and boasts 3,588 friends on Facebook, maintains that he is in fact the biological son of the slain Laurent Kabila and that Joseph was adopted child from a Rwandan family. In an interview in 2006, he said the DRC president was in fact Hyppolite Kanambe and brought a coup against their father for “betraying the nation by running the country with foreigners”.
This is not the first time Joseph Kabila’s lineage has come under scrutiny.

For years many of Kabila’s detractors have argued that he is in fact "a foreigner".
Most notably, leader of the opposition Congolese party The Union for Democracy and Social Progress, Etienne Tshisekedi, accused Joseph of not being Laurent Kabila's legitimate son during a presidential election campaign in 2006. 

Tshisekedi argued that Joseph was in fact of Rwandan origin – an accusation that carries some significance in a country still reeling from an invasion of Rwandan forces in a five-year war.
Joseph Kabila himself has not been indifferent to these accusations.

During a political rally in February 2006, his backers were forced to introduce Kabila’s mother, Sifa, and his brother and sister to quell rumours of Kabila’s background.

And even former vice-president Abdoulaye Yerodia insisted that he had himself witnessed Joseph Kabila's birth in Fizi, a stronghold of the elder Kabila at the time.

Joseph Kabila, however, grew up in exile in Tanzania. The Kabila family lived in Dar es Salaam under the discreet protection of then-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere - a man Joseph Kabila claims is his "role model". In order to avoid the attention of Mobutu's intelligence service, they pretended they were members of the Fipa people, a small ethnic group from south-west Tanzania.
But it is precisely this upbringing and the fact that Kabila speaks French with a decidedly English accent that has fuelled suspicion of his background.

There is a comedic element to this I concede. There is nothing in the least unreasonable of being suspicious of people who speak French with a British accent.

In another interview in 2007, Etienne Kabila Taratibu told a Congolese journalist in Cape Town that the DRC should be ruled by the Congolese. He also reiterated his earlier stance soon after his father’s assassination in January 2001, denouncing the way that Joseph had “monopolised all the legacy of Laurent-Désiré Kabila”.

“It is true that Joseph was born of [a] Rwandan father and mother, Christopher Kanambe and Marcelline Katerede, who currently live in Kampala, Uganda,” he added.
Joseph and his twin sister were allegedly adopted by Laurent Kabila four months after their birth when their father, Christopher Kanambe, died.

I blogged obliquely about the  nationality issue's in the region a few weeks back. 

...." A couple of points need to be made here, the West is blamed rightly for many of the arbitrary boundaries that exist in Africa so I would hesitate to contradict any individuals right or not to citizenship on those grounds alone.".....

To me this is actually all a side issue. 

According to Kabila Taratibu, he constantly lives under the threat of being killed by his opponents.
“I have an ideal that my country should be ruled by the Congolese without the interference by foreigners,” he proclaimed. “For this I will fight to the supreme sacrifice for my country.”
If indeed Etienne Kabila Taratibu’s involvement in the alleged coup plot against Joseph Kabila is proven, then these sentiments go some way to explaining the motivation behind it all.

The money for the arsenal mentioned above had to come from somewhere and we can be fairly certain it wasn't from the DR Congo. That makes the claim of the Congo being ruled by Congolese, free from foreign interference, sound a little hollow. 

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the other wanted suspect, General Yakutumba, is still in South Africa.

His Mai Mai Yakutumba movement was created by dissidents from war-era armed factions who were opposed to participating in the process of army integration during the transition between 2003 and 2006. Yakutumba, at the time a battalion commander with the rank of captain, declared that he refused to re-deploy his troops from Fizi territory, as long as troops from the Banyamulenge community did not disarm or send their troops away for army integration.

According to Judith Verweijen, writing in Congo Siasa, the political wing of the movement is called PARC (Parti pour l’Action et la Reconstruction du Congo), and is headed by Raphael Looba Undji. She cautions, “Contrary to popular images of the Mai Mai as uncivilised “bush warriors”, both these leaders are university-educated intellectuals.”

Much of what has been written about the Mai Mai is unmitigated racist claptrap. 

Verweijen stresses that supporters of the Mai Mai Yakutumba consider the regime of Kabila junior to be complicit with the Rwandophones and their plan to “Balkanise” the DRC, backed by resource-hungry imperialist powers.

Something that is clearly not supported by evidence. The regime is incompetent and there can be little doubt that has allowed others to attempt the Balkanisation of region. 

Although the ongoing conflict in the DRC is suspected to have spawned shady business deals, Kabila himself has not been directly implicated in any. Not yet, anyway. Many of the Congolese expatriates venting their anger at the South African government, however, feel the arrest of the rebel suspects is another example of the South African government using its might to protect the rule of its ally, Joseph Kabila.

Again this does not seem to be supported by evidence. The arrest was made because of a breech of South African law and the truth is the last thing the DR Congo needs at the moment is another brutal rebellion attempting to change the regime through violence.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

DR Congo : What could go wrong ?

The Times of India reports

UN chief to attend Congo peace signing

UNITED NATIONS: UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has sent out invitations to a signing ceremony later this month for the large-scale peace agreement aimed at ending the fighting in Congo, the United Nations said Saturday. 

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN chief will attend the Feb. 24 event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

The peace agreement had been expected to be signed at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Jan. 28 but was delayed over what Ban called "procedural issues" and not over any fundamental differences in the agreement. 

That's an interesting way of putting it.

Nesirky said the agreement has been circulated to 11 countries including Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique.

I come up two short. China and the US ? Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic ? Swaziland ?

The peace deal is an effort at a large scale political framework to end violence in Congo. Separate talks are taking place in Uganda between the rebel group known as M23 and Congolese officials. 

 Jean Baptist Rudaseswa a lawyer for M23, has said the plan could further destabilize Congo. 

He sort of has a point the main purpose of the agreement is to provide an armed military unit that has as its most fundamental object the elimination of M23. 

Mineral-rich eastern Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The United Nations has more than 17,700 U.N. peacekeepers and over 1,400 international police in Congo, but they did little to protect civilians as M23 rebels swept through eastern Congo last year and seized the key city Goma  

One can't help but think this is a bit like putting rabbits in charge of the lettuce patch.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said earlier this month that there is growing agreement on the need to create an "intervention brigade,'' which would be part of the UN force and give it a mandate to rein in, neutralize and disarm rebel groups in the east. 

Ladsous said the agreement will spell out what Congo must do to reform the security sector and army and reassert its authority in the east. It will also include commitments by countries of the region to respect each other's sovereignty and cooperate to address the underlying causes of the recurring violence in the east, including the presence of numerous armed groups. 

Well having a professional army would be a good start. Certainly  better than the plundering rapists who make up the current ranks of FARDC.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Uganda: Hunting Kony

The Daily Monitor ( Uganda ) reports

Uganda, US troops find tusks in CAR

                                                      Photo Virunga National Park DR Congo
The UPDF and American Special forces in Central African Republic have discovered a cache of elephant tusks reportedly hidden by LRA fighters north of Djema Town.
A statement issued on Thursday by the UPDF spokesperson, Col. Felix Kulayigye, said the discovery followed a tip-off by an LRA defector, who reported that the rebels maintained caches of ivory tusks and identified the approximate location.“A US Embassy Bangui representative contacted officials at the CAR Ministry of Forests and Water, who indicated that the ministry was unable to reach the remote location to secure the tusks,” he explained.
Given the political situation in CAR at the moment it is unsurprising that the Government is unable to do very much. The national unity government has been in place just over a week.
The discovery corroborates reports that LRA is involved in trading elephant tusks, which are reportedly taken to Darfur and exported. One kilogramme of ivory can sell for more than $1000 and the price keeps going higher.
In 2011, 38.8 tonnes of illegal ivory was seized by authorities worldwide, equaling the tusks of more than 4,000 dead elephants.
Last year, the UPDF was implicated in the killing of elephants in DR Congo but Col. Kulayigye said the discovery of ivory in Djema exonerates them. “It should be recalled that some so-called researchers had accused the disciplined UPDF of poaching, yet back home we are well known conservationists,” he said.
Col. Kulayigye said the tusks were handed over to the CAR government. “Together with our US allies, we are in contact with CAR officials to fully account for, and dispose of, the tusks in accordance with international law and treaty obligations,” Col. Kulayigye said.
That means that they should be burned. I can understand the rational behind that but it seems to me at least to be a waste of valuable ivory and I doubt it does much to discourage poaching. The LRA is prepared to kill humans on a huge scale they are not going to hesitate to kill elephants.
When asked for more details on LRA’s involvement in the trade, he said: “I don’t know the details of the trade-that is speculation.”
Last week, Resolve, a US based advocacy organisation released a report, saying the LRA was becoming weaker but still remains a regional security threat.
Ending the activity of the LRA should be a priority for the world. Joseph Kony and his followers should be hunted down or brought in front of the ICC personally I don't much care which option is exercised. 
The UPDF, backed by American forces are in the region to fight the Ugandan rebels group. The rebels shifted base to the CAR in 2008, following the Operation Lightning thunder that flashed them out of their base in Garamba Forest in the eastern DR Congo.
The LRA was originally based in northern Uganda, where it fought with government, displacing about 1.5 million people, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands others. 
The sooner justice is visited on Kony the better.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Africa and America: The future of AFRICOM

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

Pentagon to keep Africa Command headquarters in Europe

                                           General Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. militarys Africa Command

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided against moving the U.S. military's headquarters overseeing Africa from Germany to the United States, concluding the benefits of staying in Europe - closer to African hot spots - are worth the extra cost, officials say.

The Pentagon notified Congress of its decision this week. Some lawmakers had been pushing for Africa Command to move stateside, with South Carolina and Georgia promoted as possible locations.

Moving AFRICOM to the States is probably one of the stupidest ideas I have herd for quite some time. I am guessing the " lawmakers " behind this particular stroke of genius are from South Carolina or Georgia. I don't think Stuttgart is the greatest site for it either but from the point of view of closer to where you operate and time zones it is hell of a lot better than Continental USA. From Africom 

" U.S. Africa Command has approximately 2,000 assigned personnel, including military, U.S. federal civilian employees, and U.S. contractor employees. About 1,500 work at the command's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Others are assigned to AFRICOM units at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and RAF Molesworth, England. The command's programs in Africa are coordinated through Offices of Security Cooperation and Defense Attache Offices in approximately 38 nations. The command also has liaison officers at key African posts, including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre in Ghana.

AFRICOM is part of a diverse interagency team that reflects the talents, expertise, and capabilities within the entire U.S. government. The command has four Senior Foreign Service (SFS) officers in key positions as well as more than 30 personnel from more than 10 U.S. government departments and agencies, including the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The most senior is a career State Department official who serves as the deputy to the commander for civil-military activities. Our interagency partners bring invaluable expertise to help the command ensure its plans and activities complement those of other U.S. government programs and fit within the context of U.S. foreign policy."

"The decision was based on the operational needs of the commander," a U.S. defense official told Reuters, referring to General Carter Ham, the outgoing head of Africa Command.

Well not sure what to make of that but given the choice of Atlanta or Columbia I think I would be oping for a German base as well. Africom should be in Africa if America is serious about engaging with the the continent meaningfully. As it stands Africom is little more than an American agency tasked with promoting American interests on the African continent recruited mainly from the military that gets to wear US military uniforms.  

Africa has become much more important for the U.S. military in the last decade. American forces played a prominent role in NATO operations during the uprising in Libya, and is assisting the French mission in Mali.

So an ongoing action in Mali  and an uprising in Libya that in no small way contributed to the current Mali situation represents a decade long increased commitment to Africa on the part of the US. Africa should be becoming more important to America but I can see scant evidence of that.
The decision about the location of AFRICOM, as it is known in the military, was shared with Congress the same week that news emerged of a deal with Niger that could pave the way for a U.S. drone base there.

AFRICOM is the only U.S. regional combatant command that is neither in the United States nor in its area of responsibility.

"...nor in its area of responsibility."  Not quite sure what they mean ? Most commands seem to be outside of there area of responsibility. I am sure the Asian situation will change and I wouldn't be surprised to see part of that command end up in Australia.

Central Command, which oversees the Middle East and Afghanistan, is headquartered in Florida. Pacific Command, which monitors Asia, is in Hawaii.

Benefits of overlap

The scope of the Pentagon study informing Panetta's decision focused exclusively on moving AFRICOM to the United States.

The Pentagon discarded the idea of locating it in Africa before AFRICOM was established five years ago, partly because of sensitivities among potential host nations. 

That was a mistake.

Logistics and overlapping of resources with the military's European Command also made it logical to locate both in Stuttgart, Germany.

That overlap persists with U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine assets dedicated to AFRICOM located in places like Vicenza, Italy, and Ramstein, Germany.

Ham had recommended against moving the headquarters back to the United States. There are about 1,500 personnel at the command's base in Stuttgart, Germany, according to AFRICOM's website.

"The Secretary, informed by the judgment of the AFRICOM commander and a study of locations, decided the current location serves the operational needs of AFRICOM better than a (continental U.S.) location," the official said.

Among the benefits of staying put in Europe is the ability to better respond in a crisis, with shorter travel times for commanders to hot spots, one official said.

Certainly it makes more sense than being in the States.

There are already some 2,000 military personnel assigned to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, according to AFRICOM's website.

AFRICOM gained its own rapid-reaction force last year, no longer relying on one hosted by the European command. For example, such a force could be mobilized if U.S. personnel in Mali needed to be evacuated.

The African diaspora inevitably will end up being " headquartered " in the United States in much the same way the Irish diaspora has. America has an opportunity to become a major power in Africa for the good. To in effect learn from its mistakes in Asia. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nigeria cracks down.

NAIJ reports

EFCC Arrests 20 Yahoo-Yahoo Boys In Benin City

31.01.2013, 14:26  Local
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested twenty suspected internet fraudsters. The arrest, which was carried out in a joint operation with officers of the 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Benin, followed intelligence report on their activities. They were nabbed in a surprise raid on their Cyber office tucked in an old building located on Siluko Road, Benin City.

It is great to see them being caught. I was made aware of this story by Nnenna at WomenStyles via her Facebook page. One of the comments on her Facebook wall was:

They parade innocent, deprived, unemployed young men that the Nigeria 

nation has failed to provide for as thieves. While the real thieves get two 

years for stealing billions of naira. Its a shame. When the elders steal where 

will the children learn good behaviour.

It is not a point of view I have much sympathy for. That there are worse thieves does little to ameliorate the heartbreak and suffering these guys inflict on their victims. That said I don't have an awful lot of sympathy for the victims either, if you get sucked in by a internet fraudster then you are probably even more a victim of your own stupidity. A further point worth considering is the damage that these guys do to reputation of Nigeria and for that matter Africa. That said internet fraudsters exist the world over and it is great to see Nigeria taking ownership of their problem and do something about it. The 4th Brigade of the Nigerian army would probably make me think twice about carrying on in a life of crime. 

At the point of arrest, the fraudsters had in their possession forty five (45) 
laptops of different make, twenty eight (28) telephone sets, eight (8) internet mobile modems and one Nissan car with registration number USL 375 AG.

The suspected fraudsters who are mostly in their twenties includes: Idehen Obabueki, Adesa Lucky, Usuagu Uche, Eloghosa Olikiabor, Larry Edomwonyi, Amowie Maike, Francis Ezegbede, Itua Samuel and Endurance John Egbeifo. Others are Amego Ovenseri, Iyen Ighodaro, Philip Agbodori, Lucky Robinson, Nnadi Obinna, Osabuohien Osahon, Chinenu Eze, Peter Sunday, Solomon Ogu, Niyi Femi and Osagie Aghedo.

Africa is not big on name suppression. In the West these guys would have been bailed and out on the street with name suppression. 

The suspects have made useful statements. Most of them confessed to be engaged in online dating of foreigners particularly widows. They also confessed to using different pseudo names and faces to deceive their prospective victims. They will be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded.

Hat Tip  Nnenna at WomenStyles

Kenya: New Zealand's other National Team.

Stuff reports

If ever there was victory in defeat it belonged to Kenya after they finally succumbed to England in extra-time of a gripping final at the Wellington Sevens.
The scoreboard read England 24, Kenya 19 after Sam Edgerley ended a battle of wills to grab his country's second New Zealand title.
England were worthy champions, but the hearts of the crowd will long belong to Kenya who had the 30,000-strong throng riding every pass, tackle and fumble of the final. 
Even when twice reduced to six men due to yellow cards, the Kenyans managed somehow to will themselves to make tackles during regular time as they clung to a 19-12 lead.
The fairytale seemed it would come true when an English player fumbled the ball as he lunged for the line near fulltime.
It wasn't to be as Andrew Amonde and Oscar Ouma were sinbinned during the second half armwrestle to keep Kenya undermanned.

Kenya 21 South Africa 20
Kenya 19 New Zealand 14
England 24 Kenya 19

From the New Zealand Herald 

Kenya have produced one of the biggest upsets in the history of the international sevens circuit with a 19-14 semifinal win over New Zealand in Wellington tonight.

The African nation came back from 14-0 down with two second-half tries at Westpac Stadium before Oscar Ouma scored first in the sudden-death period of extra time.
Kenya hung tough though and fought their way back in to the game via second-half tries to Ouma and Collins Injera, with Injera's score coming after the hooter.
Then in the early stages of the extra period Ouma broke free to dot down and send New Zealand out of the tournament.
Kenya to get to the final had to over come South Africa and New Zealand. They very nearly prevailed over the combined rugby resources of South Africa, New Zealand and England. This a great African story played out in Wellington New Zealand.
Yesterday the Kenyans rewrote the International Sevens Circuit orthodoxy, or maybe the inclusion of Sevens in the Rio de Janeiro   Olympics was always going to change fortunes of the traditional super powers of the game. 
From a personal perspective I discovered that New Zealand had lost when Significant Others Nephew and Niece ( Our Teenager ) started going crazy as we were eating our dinner. My attempts to indoctrinate the All Black invincibility myth is clearly in tatters. That it was at the hands of an African team other than South Africa clearly made it a very special moment for them and on reflection for me. I was gutted that Kenya didn't beat England but delighted that they might as well have been in Nairobi as 30,000 Kiwis adopted a new team for the night. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Uganda: With friends like NZ you don't need enemies

Idiot/Savant at  No Right Turn blogs,

                                            Cartoon Damien Glez Radio Netherlands Worldwide

National: Homophobic bigots

At the moment several African governments are progressing virulently homophobic legislation. There's Uganda's"Kill the Gays" bill, which would impose the death penalty for homosexuality and require reporting of homosexuals to the government. And in Nigeria there's similar, though less brutal, legislation, which would (among other things) outlaw LGBT support groups.

Today Labour's Charles Chauvel tried to move a motion expressing Parliament's condemnation of this bigotry:

CHARLES CHAUVEL to move, That this House note with grave concern both the recently retabled legislation in Uganda, that would increase the penalties imposed in that country for certain consensual sexual activity between two consenting adults in private, and the legislation, passed recently by Nigeria’s legislature but not yet signed into law, which would criminalise freedom of association and advocacy for same-sex couples and organisations; and state its hope and expectation that the New Zealand Government will urge other governments to uphold the rights of all people to their privacy and dignity in accordance with international law.

National vetoed it.

I think this tells us exactly where National stands on gay rights. They'll send John Key along to the Big Gay Out, but at their core they're simply bigots, no different from Family First or the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

There are some points worth looking at here. David Farrar at Kiwiblog refutes this  rant by No Right Turn very effectively and points out the move by Charles Chauvel is actually little more than political grandstanding on his part. I agree with Farrar again that Chauvel operated outside the accepted process

Idiot/Savant goes feral and sanctimonious so often, I’m not even surprised anymore. I doubt anyone takes his denunciations too seriously but in case they do, I thought I’d point out how Parliament operates.

A motion by a individual MP is basically never scheduled for debate or voting on. To have an MP’s motion considered, you need to seek permission of the House, and it takes just one individual MP to object to leave being granted. So if you want your motion voted on, then there is a process in place to ascertain in advance that the Government is happy for it to be put (so long as without debate). Basically you discuss it with your party’s whips, they discuss it with the Government whips, and they check with the Leader of the House. This process is widely known and is there precisely so opposition MPs can get non-controversial motions considered. The Government has actually been very accommodating of the rights of the minority through things such as negotiating extended sittings rather than forcing urgency on the House.

That of course fairly much sums it up from the New Zealand perspective. Political grandstanding by Charles Chauvel and followed by a stupid rant from Idiot / Savant. but there is of course a Ugandan perspective to the story. I commented at Kiwiblog.

" A couple of observations. Chauvel and Idiot / Savant are both grandstanding the legislation has been sitting on the Ugandan Parliaments inbox for ages. The Speaker who is a silly bitch picked it up and then went further and deeply offended the Canadian’s who suggested it was a bad idea. Incidently the bill as it now stands does not proscribe the death penalty  it has been reduced to life in prison not much of a improvement. Ugandan President Museveni has made it very clear Uganda won’t be dictated to on this issue by the West and in the same breath said it was not a legislative priority. I think that it is safe to say Uganda has taken the view that aid money is more important than homophobic legislative stupidity.

Uganda's president has said gay people should not be killed or persecuted, as MPs continue to consider a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In his first public comments on the bill for some time, President Yoweri Museveni also said that homosexuality should not be promoted.
The original version of the bill stipulated the death penalty for some homosexual acts but this has reportedly been dropped."

Now Chauvel should have been aware of both the reduced sentence and the position of Museveni and given that Shearer ( NZ Leader of the Labour party and leader of the opposition ) should be an African expert I am amazed this was ever contemplated.

Uganda might well decide that it has no choice but to demonstrate its independence if parliaments / parliamentarians around the world follow the Chauvel example."

That was very much written with a New Zealand audience in mind but it would seem to me that the correct place to do this is in forums such as the Canadians did.

" At the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Quebec, Canada, Ms Kadaga was involved in an altercation with that country’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr John Baird, after the latter accused Uganda of trampling on human rights."

The Parliament of New Zealand should think very hard about passing motions condemning governments for having a bill on the books, if the Bill became law then the situation would be different but at this point in time had Chauvel's attempt succeeded we would be in the strange position of having offended a friendly fellow commonwealth nation for actually trying to balance democracy ( make no mistake this bill would get through the Ugandan parliament and it would be supported by the majority of Ugandans ) with human rights in  difficult circumstances.

Idiot / Savant of course object to Farrar's  analysis and blogged 

So, it looks like my calling National on its bullshit yeterday has struck a nerve. According to DPF, National's MP's aren't bigots - they just think proper Parliamentary procedure is more important than doing the right thing.

Well, that makes everything alright then (/sarcasm).

But the fact is that there was no infringement of proper Parliamentary procedure. Standing Orders give any member the right to raise issues in the manner Charles Chauvel did. And when they do, I expect the case to be assessed on its merits (which in this case are fairly significant). DPF OTOH seems to think deference and hierarchy and grovelling to the right person are more important and that anyone who doesn't do this to the satisfaction of those in power should be dismissed out of hand. Which is after all what National and other conservative parties are all about - but its a pretty shitty worldview, and the idea that its more important than doing the right thing is simply ridiculous.

If National's members and MPs are upset at being criticised for this behaviour, then they have an easy course of action available: change that behaviour. They need to talk to the Leader of the House and their whips and make them aware of the reputational damage their bigotry and dismissive attitude are causing. Alternatively, if they're sick of their reputation being damaged by their more bigoted associates, then maybe they should end that association, and find better friends, rather than whining about being held responsible for the company they keep.

My problem here is that it is becoming very clear that this isn't an issue about Ugandan Human rights but rather about New Zealand politics with Chauvel and Idiot / Savant using the Ugandan situation as a political football. New Zealand will probably pass legislation this year legalising gay marriage so there is no way that Idiot / Savants allegations stand up. Farrar responds.    

" Standing Orders gives an MP the right to get up and say “I seek leave” for anything at all. But anyone who is not a moron would understand the desirability of actually giving people advance notice of your intention to seek leave. This is nothing to do with hierarchy, and everything to do with whether you wish to grandstand or actually achieve something.

It is entirely unreasonable to expect MPs to decide within two seconds whether or not they agree with a motion being voted on. And it is blatant smear tactics to label people bigots because an MO failed to notify other MPs that he would be seeking leave that afternoon. Idiot/Savant has become the boy who cried wolf. The list of people he has never called a bigot is probably a very small one."

Again we have Farrar pointing out what happens, MP's get 2 seconds to decide. Now I would definitely need more than two seconds to reach an informed decision on Uganda if I wasn't aware of the situation so my inclination would be to decline but having probably more knowledge than most of my fellow New Zealander's I would decline on an informed basis that by supporting such stupidity I would potentially be making the situation for gay people in Uganda far more precarious. Chauvel as a gay MP should have made the effort to become more informed.   From reading No Right Turn it would not surprise me if Idiot / Savant was also gay. Regardless they both should have known better, they should have bothered to get themselves informed, neither did or if they did they are bigger fools than they currently appear.

Neither Farrar or I are gay but I suspect that both us would put the Ugandan human rights situation into perspective before charging off like wounded bulls. If Chauvel had any integrity he would admit he was saved from a potential fuck up that came about as a direct result to gain political points in New Zealand at the expense of gay and lesbian Ugandans.