Regional News Roundup

Forum confronts gender gap

South Africa will host a conference on women’s empowerment with speakers from across the continent in September. The Women Advancement Forum will confront the conspicuous gender gap within African countries, noting that the divide has hampered progress towards the achievement of Millennum Development Goals.

Calling for paper submissions until 31 July, the WAF is open to anyone interested in achieving “the complete emancipation, integration and advancement of the woman/girl-child” by addressing systemic gender inequalities in politics, employment, entrepreneurship, and female literacy. The conference is billed as the highest-attended conference on women’s issues in Africa, and topics of discussion include gender and the environment, micro-financing, the creation of international gender-activist networks, and improving maternal health across the continent.

Malawi food crisis

The intransigence of fallen former Malawi President, Bingu wa Mutharika, worsened starvation in that country last year, after the former statesman’s fight with donors saw an increased number of people needing food aid to survive. In an indication of a tailspin, the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee – a grouping of government and UN relief agencies – said the number of people facing food shortages increased by 200,000 in 2011 to 1.63 million – 11% of the population. Malawi’s economy had been teetering on the brink of collapse since Wa Mutharika told donors, whose support usually accounted for about 40 percent of the budget, that he could run the country without their help.

MDC SA condemns Kasukuwere

The mainstream MDC in South Africa has accused Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere of behaving like a rabid dog, which “believes it has to bite someone to diminish its own pain”. The MDC-T said Kasukuwere’s continued “mad” approach to indigenisation showed that the Zanu (PF) leader would not let reason or reality get in the way of his election gimmick.

“The effects of his smash and grab tactics have begun to appear in the economy, with companies reporting retrenchments as a result of the irrationally executed indigenisation programme,” said MDC-SA spokesman, Kumbirai Muchemwa. “Powerspeed Electrical reported in its half yearly results that it had to retrench staff due to uncertainty in the mining industry. We need to make this clear: Zimbabweans have lost their jobs because of a programme supposedly designed to make them richer.”

Prisoners escape

At least five prisoners escaped from a prison in Malawi’s southern city of Zomba this week, after a protest against the pardoning of two fellow prisoners by President Joyce Banda. Three had been recaptured, while police were still looking for the two who remained on the run at the time of going to print.

Of the two convicts pardoned, one was doing time for sex crimes and another for murder, both serious crimes in Malawi and ineligible for pardon.

The five escapees had been convicted of sex crimes and armed robbery. As part of commemorations marking 48 years of independence, Banda pardoned 377 prisoners, but rejected 11 because they were doing time for sex crimes.

Post published in: Africa News

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