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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South Africa has promised to overhaul the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients within the African nation.  In a speech marking World AIDS Day, December 1, President Jacob Zuma outlined a number of policy changes, which he hopes will be put in place before April 2010.

The BBC reported that UK’s Department for International Development welcomed the changes, saying, “South Africa has turned a corner and is embarking on a new and bold drive to take responsibility for tackling HIV and Aids.  The UK will continue to support South Africa to realize its ambition of reducing new HIV infections and increasing access to effective treatments.”

Zuma announced all South African babies under the age of one will be treated if they test HIV-positive and promised more anti-retrovirals – ‘drugs which the previous government said were too costly’, according to the BBC.

In his speech, President Zuma said, “Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma. Let the politicization and endless debates about HIV and Aids stop.”

The speech conveyed a completely different message than the previous president who outright denied any correlation between the HIV virus and AIDS.

However, not every is so confident in the leaders abilities to raise awareness. Al-Jazeera English reports, “In some ways, Zuma is an unlikely champion for Aids activists.  In 2006, while being tried on charges of raping an HIV-positive woman, he was ridiculed for testifying that he took a shower after sex to lower the risk of Aids.

An estimated 59,000 babies are born with HIV every year in South Africa, adding to a country with highest number of people living with the virus- over 5 million.

AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

5.2m people with HIV

17% of people aged 15-49 HIV-positive

1.5m adults need Aids drugs in 2009

106,000 children under 15 need ARVs

413,000 new infections in 2009

59,000 of these are children

Source: Statistics South Africa

The Coke Coast

November 19, 2009

Historically, the countries of West Africa have fallen victim to exploitation from international explorers, colonizers, or businessmen, wanting everything from goods to slaves. And now, little seems to have changed as the countries of West Africa, most notably Guinea-Bissau, begin their fight against a new industry: cocaine, an industry with a global price tag of $70-billion.

South American drug cartels are now using West Africa as a stop over for drugs on their way to Europe after finding it difficult to find direct routes.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that an average $7 billion worth of cocaine has been trafficked through this region of the world since 2005, more than the country’s GDP.

And the country of Guinea-Bissau seems to be the main target for drug traffickers.

In an interview with TIME in Bissau in 2007, a high-ranking West African military officer who asked not to be named said Guinea-Bissau’s government and military allowed drug traffickers to operate “not because of a lack of resources but a lack of political will.”

Earlier this year the president was murdered in a coup, leaving the country in a power vacuum that seems to fueling the lucrative cocaine industry.

“Rivalries over control of narcotics trafficking may be at the heart of the schism between military and the presidency,” said Jonas Horner, Africa Associate of the Eurasia Group in Washington in a statement also published in the same TIME’s article.

The U.N. launched a $50-million effort this year to train and outfit West African police, beginning with Sierra Leone, but in an article by the Los Angeles Times, Rudolfo Landeros, the senior police advisor to the U.N. in Sierra Leone, said,

“You’re never going to stop the drug flow through West Africa.  But we have to take a stand somewhere….”

And according to one U.N. report he might be right.

“West Africa has everything criminals need: resources, a strategic location, weak governance, and an endless source of foot soldiers who see few viable alternatives to a life of crime.”

And as Al- Jazeera English points out, even if the drug traffickers are arrested or convicted there is nowhere to put them.

“The country’s only jail was destroyed during the civil war about 10 years ago and an official from the justice ministry takes Al Jazeera to a run-down house that now serves as a prison.  About 20 men live here in cramped, filthy conditions, sharing a single toilet and sleeping on the dirty floors. The house is in the centre of Bissau, with very little security, so escapes are common.”

While little of the drug actually stays in the country, it is already having far reaching effects for the community.

The Global Post states,

“The consequences stretch as well to the slums of Guinea-Bissau, where crack-fueled prostitution is driving a new AIDS epidemic in a region where even basic health care is beyond the reach of many — and where young people turning to the drug trade become the unwitting soldiers of organized crime.”