Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is looking to replace the Zimbabwean President, despite unanimously re-electing him as first secretary of the party. After last year’s election in which the government was forced into a coalition with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, members of the party are blaming Mugabe for its declining public support.  Mugabe has historically pitted different factions within ZANU-PF against each other in order to keep hold of power and, along the way, has left the country of Zimbabwe in complete despair.

The BBC’s Southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen in Harare says much of the debate these past few days has focused on factionalism and claims that individual personalities are seeking to undermine the party for their own personal gain.

IOL reported a quote in which Mugabe stated, “The party is eating itself up. The more intense the internal fighting is, the greater opportunity we give to the opposition. We should be able to admit that the election produced a result that left a huge dent on the party.  We are responsible for the poor performance in the election last year.”


According to Al-Jazeera English many senior officers in the security forces fought in Zimbabwe’s war of independence and remain loyal to Mugabe and have vowed never to recognize Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister and opposition head, as leader.

During a political rally in Harare on Saturday, Mugabe said the country’s unity government had a ‘short life span’ and asked for the support of the 10,000 delegates in attendance.

Still, political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure said those predicting that Zanu-PF was mortally wounded were making a mistake: “People should confound wishful thinking with sober analysis. Zanu-PF went through tumultuous times 30 years ago.”

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With this week’s release of Clint Eastwood’s film Invictus, many are wondering if football really does have the impact to be a ‘force for good in Africa’ as it seems to have had in 1995 apartheid South Africa.   The BBC conducted a survey in which they included two historical examples in which football has had an impact on the political, military, and government agencies in Africa and then asked for readers opinions on the importance of the sport.

Ethopian Football Fans

Here are four responses from individuals in various African nations.

“Football, like anything else, can be a focre for good or ill.Off the pitch, its influence to a large exent is positive.In Liberia for instance ,during the civil war when the nation had nothing to look up to,people like George Weah and his team mates through football gave his compatriots the invaluable gift of HOPE for the future.Something to cheer and live for.In Ghana a good performance of the national teams as happened in Egypt 2009, and Germany 2006 helps in calming the political space,

Kojo, Accra , Ghana”

Yes I believe in Africa Football can change Africa. The most important feature with football is its ability to bring people together because of one cause. Africa has many tribes and ethnicities but with football all this is put aside and people celebrate as one. This has been witnessed in Uganda. Its also through football that resources in the dark continent can be discovered and utilized.

kagga Louis, Kampala Uganda”

“Football is the only language that Cameroonians speak in unison. This is a complex country of about 245 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture. Plus, politics has polarised Cameroonians to the extent that some citizens canot bear to see their fellow country men eye ball to eye ball. But when it comes to football, we are one: enemies become friends. The government is so much aware of this that it can seize advantage of a football mach and raise fuel prices without any qualms.

Austin achunkwe, Buea, Cameroon”

Football can’t change africa for better neither can 8s improve any segment on the continent.since 1930 we heard of football history we having seen d impact football had made cuz we only know of millionaries footballers n having seen any estates of these highly paid soccer legeed.we cheer them everyday but they r not willing 2 give 2 their respective country.footbal had only change our mind from stress and an unhappy spirit.we don’t ve an academy of sport in africa.football made us 2 b happy

Jefferson G Togba, Monrovia, Liberia”

Uganda Bans Female Mutilation

December 12, 2009

The Uganda parliament has unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a practice mostly used in the northeastern region of the country.

Female mutilation, or female circumcision, involves the removal of a female’s clitoris or other genital parts at a very young age in hopes of ensuring virginity and in preparation for marriage. Critics say it prevents pleasure for women during sexual intercourse, leads to complications during childbirth and increases other health risks such as infection and bleeding.

Anyone convicted of female circumcision may face up to10 years in jail, or a life sentence if a victim dies as a result of the surgery.

In some countries FGM is seen as a way to ensure virginity (BBC)

MP Alice Alaso told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program that, “It’s a very bad practice. It’s cruel, it traumatizes people, it’s led children to drop out of school, it’s a health hazard.  This is a warning signal – whoever dares practice female genital mutilation will be subject to the law.”

And another MP, Lulume Bayiga, said the ‘law would liberate both men and women – who often face being ostracised for shunning the custom.’

Uganda’s shadow health minister, Francis Epetait, told AFP, “This operation is so painful, so cruel, and these so-called surgeons are paid to do it.  I supported the bill with all my strength and heart.”

In 2007, the United Nations passed a resolution which labeled female genital mutilation “irreparable, irreversible abuse” and deemed it  a violation of the rights of women.   The United Nations estimates that 100 to 140 million women worldwide are victims of female mutilation.

Mobile phone operator Econet launched a new phone this week in Burundi with aims of reaching more subscribers in the small country of 8 million.   The new phone, a rechargeable solar handset, could prove beneficial to an area prone to frequent power outages.

Business Day reported that Econet’s general manager, Darlington Mandivenga said, “If you look at the target market or the level of demand that is there, without doing any further marketing it is about 800,000 people who will benefit from this innovation.”

It is marked to sell at $39.

R. Kelly to Perform

December 4, 2009

American R&B singer R. Kelly will be performing in Kampala, Uganda next month.

East African Business Week reported that Zain, the concert promoter,  has invested almost $2.5m in the R. Kelly “I believe” concert at Kampala’s Lugogo indoor stadium.  Fred Masadde, the External Relations Manager at Zain, said, “How much we have put into the concert is not the issue. What is important is, this “I believe concert” will rock the whole of East Africa and it will be a concert that will be legendary.”

40,000 people are expected to be in attendance.

The company has previously contracted Akon and Wyclef Jean to perform.

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in a press conference this week that the country is “turning a new chapter and that chapter is providing opportunities for Zimbabweans who are probably now living in worse conditions abroad (than they would at home).”

When violence broke out in 2007  during the Kenya’s elections,  one blogger, Ory Okolloh, wrote about the disruption she witnessed that December.  But after fleeing Nairobi, she wondered if it would be possible  to map  the region she was reporting from.  With help from other members of the blogosphere, Ushahidi was developed.

Swahili for “witness”, Ushahidi allows text messages, tweets, and emails to be mapped by time and location.

Global Voices discussed how the program was used to help monitor last weeks elections in Namibia and provided one example of a report they received.

“Last Friday evening between 20hoo and 21hoo in Eveline Street in the Goreangab suburb of Windhoek, fighting started between a group of 15 Swapo party and 7 RDP supporters after the former singing ‘We are Nujoma’s soldiers’ removed a RDP poster from a municipal light pole. Members of the Wanaheda Police precinct rapidly intervened and no further incident occurred that evening.”

Ushahidi isn’t the only nonprofit group using maps to do good.  Other nonprofits, governmental and human rights agencies have also started using the innovative technology.

But Utne Reader writes that according International Network of Crisis Mappers (INCM), founder Peter Meier, “these organizations are notoriously bad at sharing data” which is the reason he created INCM, to connect people and organizations using maps.  The article goes on to state, “When a natural disaster strikes or violence breaks out in a country, a map can change the nature of that crisis. The simple act of getting people in front of a map and asking for input can build consensus between warring parties. Maps can also ensure that humanitarian resources are used more effectively and get to the people who need them more quickly.”

In the Global Post Jen Ziemke, the co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers (CM*Net), describes Ushahidi as “one of the best examples of next-generation crisis platforms.”