Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No more German Visas - thanks to Telkom

Don't think you'll get a Schengen Visa from Pretoria's German consulate any time soon. This notice...

Watch: Corrupt Kenyan Cop on camera 

Corruption is everywhere in the world, but  in some places it is done in the public in broad daylight.
Here in Nairobi, Kenya, cops expected to earn half their wages from bribes. Watch:

A ranting ZANU-PF cadre: Which GPA Obligation Has MDC-T Met? 


ZANU-PF cadres are on a charm offensive, accusing the MDC leaders right and left of all crimes under the sun.


MDC-T's presumptuous disengagement resolution is meant to taint their partner Zanu-PF as strange bedfellows, with no moral principles.

Already the MDC has described Zanu-PF as an unreliable and dishonest partner bent on manipulating them, while they have portrayed themselves as naïve, coy and being taken advantage of.

This is the Zanu-PF that has been created by MDC-T in the minds of some people.

MDC-T has managed to paint a picture of a monstrous matrimony with Zanu-PF, where they have assumed the role of underdogs. But, the question is, is this a true picture of this relationship?

Because MDC-T is an attention seeker and is in the habit of wailing and raising false alarm whenever it suits them, they have gained the sympathy of some people especially the private and international media that swallow MDC-T rhetoric without question.

Resultantly, there has been a lot of silence and less scrutiny on MDC-T's fulfilment of the GPA. Instead, so much focus has been placed on Zanu-PF as if to imply that Zanu-PF is the only party with a mandate to comply with the GPA provisions while MDC-T is there to get endless concessions.

However, the question to ask would be: Has MDC-T been the faithful and unadulterated partner it purports to be? Is it not guilty of defiling the matrimonial bed?

Article 4 of the GPA, among other issues, calls for all forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted in order to facilitate a sustainable solution to the challenges that are currently facing Zimbabwe.

Until MDC-T manages to successfully call for the removal of the economic and other sanctions currently imposed on Zimbabwe, it simply means they have failed to meet a part of their bargain as well.

MDC-T has a mandate to lead the anti-sanctions lobby because they deliberately or wittingly courted the sanctions.

If the MDC-T leadership supported the sanctions wittingly, believing they would bring political capital, it's about time they acknowledged their naivete and started repairing their damage.

This writer is not sure if the MDC-T leadership signed an agreement with the western powers that after a certain period they would call off the sanctions, because what they did not realise was that although they were fighting a common war the with West against President Mugabe, his government and Zimbabwe, the motives only correlated but did not necessarily originate from the same source.

The West won't relent until the land issue is addressed and they have nothing to lose if Zimbabweans continue to suffer.

Article 5.5 of the GPA calls for all parties to accept the irreversibility of the said land acquisitions and redistribution.

In sharp contrast, MDC-T policy co-ordinator, Eddie Cross, who is also a national executive member released a statement, after the party's 10th anniversary celebrations in Bulawayo, to the effect that: "Zanu-PF's fast track land reform programme has been unacceptable and will require a comprehensive review and change.

The reality is that if the rule of law is restored in Zimbabwe, the new courts will rule in favour of the farmers and holders of private property rights."

Cross had the nerve to talk about rule of law and property rights, which seem to reduce the issue to who has title deeds, so as to disqualify the African who did not have deeds when their land and cattle were grabbed from them by the likes of Cross and his forebears.

While the statement was attributed to Cross, this writer finds it hard to separate MDC-T from this line of thinking given the position of Cross, a national executive member, who speak on party policies.

Article 6 of the GPA, calls upon all parties to acknowledge the Kariba draft constitution as the working document and yet MDC-T has been joining hands with the civic groups to chart a whole new process that is divorced from the GPA.

Article 9.2 states that no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe.

Ironically, MDC-T has maintained a close relationship with the western countries that have vowed that they would not lift all forms of sanctions until there are tangible reforms?

The same countries are openly funding and staffing parallel government structures in the Prime Minister's office.

It's a sad development because colonialism/imperialism has changed its tact but the game remains the same. Instead of direct involvement, they have enlisted the help of political parties in the target countries to do their bidding.

Despite all the pleasantries that the Prime Minister is quoted to be saying in the Press about the GPA and his relationship with the President, why has the West not changed its attitude towards President Mugabe?

Why have they not embraced the concept of the GPA, why have economic sanctions remained in place if Tsvangirai has genuinely described his relationship with Mugabe as workable and that the GPA was the best deal for them?

In fact, there are disturbing reports that the PM has been urging his western allies to maintain the sanctions, a development that goes against the letter and spirit of the GPA.

It's evident that all the pleasantries that the Prime Minister has been saying were meant for the Press and public relations and yet behind the scenes the regime change agenda has remained alive.

Why do we still have US congressmen coming for private visits with the Prime Minister, yet he is just a senior minister in Government?

The UN special rapporteur on torture who tried to gatecrash into Zimbabwe has been quoted as saying he had visited Zimbabwe at the Prime Minister's invitation.

The MDC-T leadership has not only failed to call upon the western governments that are hosting and funding external radio station broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease but they have instead continued to be hosted on such shows in direct breech of GPA conditions.

MDC-T continues to accuse Zanu-PF of churning hate speech when they continue to denigrate their union with Zanu-PF using language that would make a kombi driver green with envy.

MDC-T has failed to call upon their friends in the United Kingdom to accept the primary responsibility to pay compensation for land acquired from their kith and kin for resettlement.

MDC-T continues to sing from the same page with the West who are so keen on elections, which is why they are contemplating on walking out of government so that elections can be brought forward.

However, it should also be known to them that no election can be carried out when a country is under sanctions especially when it has been made clear to the electorate that sanctions will be lifted only if the opposition party is elected.

So instead of wasting time trying to make their partner appear like an irresponsible husband, the MDC-T should put more effort in making the GPA work.

People would instead be applauding the MDC-T, if their disengagement from Zanu-PF was because they had not moved policies, programmes and strategies to change the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans not because of a delay in the appointment of an accused, Roy Bennett to the post of deputy minister when we already have a full cabinet minister in place.

What MDC-T leaders need to know is that there is deep disgruntlement within their supporters, over the failure by the party to achieve its own goals it purported to lay down when it was inaugurated as part of the GPA.

What have the MDC-T leaders got to show for the eight months they have been in Government? The slight economic changes that the country has experienced are a result of the multi-currency system introduced by the Zanu-PF Government, during Patrick Chinamasa's tenure as acting finance minister.

MDC-T should not stretch the nation's patience, one day they will live to regret the charades they are obsessed with.


New novel method to test for Malaria 

Malaria claims the lives of almost 2 million children in Africa each year

To detect malaria people might soon be able to chew a stick of gum and swipe it over a magnet or scan a finger with ultra-far infrared light. Neither test requires a blood sample.

These are some of the winning proposals for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges awards, which invite researchers to find non-invasive diagnostic alternatives for priority global health conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

Other categories include new strategies to prevent malaria and more effective vaccines.

Among the 76 winners are chemists, bioengineers, electronics specialists, mechanical engineers, mathematicians, infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists.

“It is entirely positive for people not necessarily looking at global health issues to use their skill sets from other disciplines to do so, as they will come at a problem from angles that specialists in the global health community may not have thought of,” Gates Foundation spokesperson Melissa Covelli told IRIN.

Beyond blood

Extracting blood or tissue can require advanced skills on the part of health workers or pose high costs for patients, as well as complex logistics chains, many of which do not exist in developing countries, Covelli said.

Non-invasive tests also reduce the potential for HIV exposure, said scientist David Bell at Geneva-based Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). And non-invasive tests are preferable particularly when surveying a disease outbreak, as even a small amount of pain involved in a procedure can be a disincentive for people to seek healthcare.

About one million people are reported to die from malaria every year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

But in some countries that have widespread malaria rapid testing, the number of suspected malaria cases has dropped dramatically.

Alternatives to testing blood include testing urine, saliva or sweat; equipment that can scan capillaries or the retina; and electromagnetic properties from crystals, such as hemozoin – an iron-containing pigment which accumulates granules in malaria parasites and is a breakdown product of hemoglobin for malaria.


To date, all commercially available malaria tests require extracting blood, according to Bell, partly because up to now it has been more difficult to detect malaria in other body fluids.

But, Bell told IRIN, “New technologies could increase the sensitivity of these non-invasive tests and they could be as good as or better than the [blood-related C] tests that we have now.”

Andrew Fung, who is developing the chewing gum test, told IRIN: “By working in a user’s mouth this test will operate at a higher temperature, and millions of microscopic particles will be examined across a small surface area [the gum] increasing the test’s sensitivity.”

Winner Wei Lu from the University of Michigan, who is pioneering the infrared option, told IRIN by tapping into body level vibrations rather than testing molecules, this test is highly sensitive too.

To date one of the drawbacks of the 60 rapid diagnostic tests currently on the market has been that they are unregulated, so while some are quite sensitive and can provide 95-100 percent accuracy, others provide far less accurate results.

Ensuring that only high-quality tests remain in use requires better standardized evaluations, Bell said. This is just starting to happen.

WHO published a report this year assessing many rapid diagnostic tests in use and is working with FIND to evaluate 29 more by 2010.

If Fung, Lu and the some 74 other researchers’ concepts work, the most promising among them will be eligible for more funding in the future, Gates Foundation’s Covelli said.


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