Africa News in Brief: June 19-25 edition

| June 19, 2013

Courtesy of Global Information Network

Somali protest in Minnesota

Somali-Americans protest in Minnesota. (Courtesy GIN)

Minnesotans demand justice for Somali shop owner killed in South Africa riot

(GIN)—Hundreds of Somali-Americans rallied in Minnesota last week to protest the murder of a Somali shop owner in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Somali man was killed during a week of riots that targeted Somalis and other African foreigners.

Abdi Nasir Mahmoud was beaten to death after two Zimbabwean immigrants who were allegedly looting a store were killed.

“You can replace what’s in a store,” a local man told Daily Maverick newspaper. “You can’t replace those two souls.”

The Somali’s murder was captured graphically in a video that surfaced on YouTube. The video shows a man lying naked in a busy street. As trucks drive by, he twists weakly to ward off kicks, blows, stones and a cement block raining down on him.

At the demonstration in St. Paul, Hali Mahmoud, the dead man’s sister, addressed a crowd of hundreds of Somali-Americans. Speaking amidst tears, she said her 27-year-old brother had died a painful death.

The recent outbreak of “hate crime” brought back memories of May 2008 when an explosion of xenophobia or racism against foreign nationals left 62 dead and several hundred injured. It also caused the voluntary deportation of immigrants to their home countries and the destruction of immigrant-owned property.

Analysts link the anti-foreigner anger to high unemployment, a shortage of good jobs, housing and other basic necessities. But thinking this is “poor-on-poor” violence is not sustained by facts, argued David Cote of South Africa’s Lawyers for Human Rights.

There is a deep mistrust of law enforcement to protect local resident and solve crimes,” wrote Khadija Patel in the Daily Maverick newspaper of South Africa.

“Citizens have little faith in formal institutions and are resorting to violence,” said the director of the Cape Town office for the Institute for Security Studies. “It is very possible that some of the victims may well be innocent.

“Corruption, bad management and an unclear policy has taken its toll… Daily reports of police officers tearing up refugee papers on the street and making cash demands from shop owners during searches of their businesses lend to the perception that there is no protection for foreigners against violence and persecution.”

On Friday in Cape Town, a march of about 200 people was held to protest attacks on foreigners.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, more than 250 leaders, community leaders and Muslim religious representatives assembled at the State Capitol to remember Abdi Nasir Mahmoud and condemn his murder and the murders of other Somalis in South Africa. Hassan Mohamud, imam of Da’wah Islamic Center in St. Paul pleaded with the Somali government to secure safety and justice for the Somalis abroad.

Hali Mahmoud said her brother is survived by two sons, Ahmed, seven, and Hassan, nine.

 

Corruption fighters blow whistle on Angola’s missing millions

(GIN)—Hundreds of millions of dollars may have been divvied up between Angola’s President Eduardo dos Santos, and Russian and French arms dealers, in what has been called “one of the most egregious cases of financial crime and corruption encountered” by the investigative group Corruption Watch UK and the Angolan legal rights group Free Hands.

Their report, “Deception in High Places: the corrupt Angola-Russia debt deal” was presented this week to the European parliament “as a vivid example of the plundering that can take place in developing nations with the complicity of European bankers and tax havens.”

Release of the report was hosted by a Portuguese parliamentarian, Ana Gomes, and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. The author, Andrew Feinstein, a former South African member of parliament and current director of Corruption Watch UK, was praised for producing the report despite potential legal challenges, and serious personal risk.

The report shows how millions of dollars move through banks based in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man to the benefit of powerful Angolan and Russian figures.

Angolan youth, feeling the winds of change from Egypt and the Arab Spring to the U.S. and the Occupy movement—are beginning to show their outrage at the waste of their patrimony.

At several rallies they called on the president to quit after 33 years at the helm of Africa’s number two oil producer. Though small in numbers, the protests have provoked a violent clamp-down by authorities.

In a rare televised interview, President dos Santos last week dismissed the growing discontent.

“We don’t see, at least I don’t perceive, any risk of social instability at the moment,” he said to Portugal’s SIC channel. “But, that does not mean that there are not flash points once in a while.”

In 2004, The Economist headlined a story on Angola: “The shameless rich and voiceless poor.” Today, Angola is the second-largest trading partner of the U.S. in sub-Saharan Africa, and the second largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa—an OPEC member that has allowed major U.S. oil companies to prosper.

General Electric recently invested some $2 billion in health and infrastructure and has taken orders for 100 locomotives to be built in South Africa for Angola and Mozambique. Other countries with building plans for Angola include Korea, China and Brazil.

 

Poorly paid doctors in Mozambique in paper plate protest

(GIN)—With tape over their mouths and waving paper plates, Mozambique’s doctors marched in the capital city Maputo, demanding higher wages.

More than 600 medics, including doctors and nurses, wore face masks to symbolize the government’s silence in response to their demands.

Three days of talks with the health ministry recently yielded no results. Riot police with dogs stopped the protesters from marching near the prime minister’s offices.

The workers waved paper plates with the inscription “hunger” and “empty,” with some wailing and rubbing their stomachs.

One protester held a placard reading, “We are tired of counting our small change at the end of the month”.

The medics are also demanding better working conditions in hospitals.

“We are exposed to a lot of sicknesses. Every day we are covered in blood, [urine] and everything. But the president doesn’t respect what we do,” said a worker who earns the equivalent of $70 a month

Mozambique has a total of 1,200 doctors in both public and private practice countrywide, with a ratio of one doctor to 22,000 Mozambicans. Ironically, money is pouring into the country, exploiting the large coal deposits, natural gas and oil. Mozambique’s economy has grown significantly over the past decade thanks to investments from China, the UAE, Mauritius and Brazil. The African Development Bank expects growth to rise to 8.5 per cent this year and eight per cent next.

GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK distributes news and feature articles on Africa and the developing world to mainstream, alternative, ethnic and minority-owned outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to increase the perspectives available to readers in North America and to bring into their view information about global issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media. To find out how you can support their work, visit www.globalinfo.org.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 19, 2013 print edition.

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GLOBAL INFORMATION NETWORK distributes news and feature articles on Africa and the developing world to mainstream, alternative, ethnic and minority-owned outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to increase the perspectives available to readers in North America and to bring into their view information about global issues that are overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media.

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