Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Africa’s Free Press Problem

Posted: April 16, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Africa
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By MOHAMED KEITA

AS Africa’s economies grow, an insidious attack on press freedom is under way. Independent African journalists covering the continent’s development are now frequently persecuted for critical reporting on the misuse of public finances, corruption and the activities of foreign investors.

Why this disturbing trend? In the West, cynicism about African democracy has led governments to narrow their development priorities to poverty reduction and stability; individual liberties like press freedom have dropped off the agenda, making it easier for authoritarian rulers to go after journalists more aggressively. In the 1990s, leaders like Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia were praised by the West as political and social reformers. Today, the West extols these men for achieving growth and maintaining stability, which they do largely with a nearly absolute grip over all national institutions and the press.

Then there’s the influence of China, which surpassed the West as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009. Ever since, China has been deepening technical and media ties with African governments to counter the kind of critical press coverage that both parties demonize as neocolonialist.

In January, Beijing issued a white paper calling for accelerated expansion of China’s news media abroad and the deployment of a press corps of 100,000 around the world, particularly in priority regions like Africa. In the last few months alone, China established its first TV news hub in Kenya and a print publication in South Africa. The state-run Xinhua news agency already operates more than 20 bureaus in Africa. More than 200 African government press officers received Chinese training between 2004 and 2011 in order to produce what the Communist Party propaganda chief, Li Changchun, called “truthful” coverage of development fueled by China’s activities.

China and African governments tend to agree that the press should focus on collective achievements and mobilize public support for the state, rather than report on divisive issues or so-called negative news.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Ethiopia, which remains one of the West’s foremost recipients of development assistance and whose largest trading partner and main source of foreign investment is China. The prisons in Ethiopia, like those in China, are now filled with journalists and dissidents, and critical Web sites are blocked.

This is particularly troubling in Ethiopia, a country where investigative journalism once saved countless lives. In the 1980s, the tyrannical president Mengistu Haile Mariam denied that a famine was happening in Ethiopia, even as it deepened. The world did not move to assist millions of starving Ethiopians until international journalists broke the dictator’s stranglehold on information.

Nearly three decades later, Ethiopia is still mired in a cycle of humanitarian crises and conflicts. But today, journalists are denied independent access to sensitive areas and risk up to 20 years in prison if they report about opposition groups designated by the government as terrorists. “We are not supposed to take pictures of obviously malnourished kids,” an Ethiopia-based reporter recently told me. “We are effectively prevented from going to areas and health facilities where severely malnourished kids are, or are being treated.”

This silencing in turn frustrates the ability of aid groups to quickly mobilize funds when help is needed. And with civil society, the political opposition and the press severely restricted, there is hardly any domestic scrutiny over how the government uses billions of dollars of international assistance from Western governments.

Rwanda is another worrisome case. The volume of trade between Rwanda and China increased fivefold between 2005 and 2009. During the same period, the government has eviscerated virtually all critical press and opposition and has begun filtering Rwandan dissident news Web sites based abroad.

As powerful political and economic interests tied to China’s investments seek to stamp out independent reporting, a free African press is needed more than ever, as a key institution of development, a consumer watchdog and a way for the public to contextualize official statistics about joblessness, inflation and other social and economic concerns. But support for the press, in order to be effective, will have to mean more than just supporting journalism training and publishing capacity; if such efforts are to succeed, they must be integrated into a wider strategy of political and media reforms.


Madam Rebecca Garang and other officials declare assets and liabilities

JUBA, 2 March 2012 (NASS) – The Presidential Advisor for Gender and Human Rights, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng, ministers for Information and Broadcasting, and Water Resources and Irrigation, and the chairperson of workers trade union declared their assets and liabilities to the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday.
The declaration was made at the commission’s headquarters in the presence of its top officials.


Madam Rebecca receiving her compliance certificate.
[Photo: Ajang Monychol]
After receiving the certificate of confirmation, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng said this is the time she has been waiting for because the South Sudanese need to know how the national resources are being used.
Madam Nyandeng stated that she filled all her income, assets and liabilities clearly on the form mentioning that it is all about the money she got as compensation from the plane accident that kislled her later husband and national hero Dr John Garang de Mabior.
She also condemned the rumours circulating around the country about the ownership of White Bull Company. She declared that it is not hers adding that if she is to do something for South Sudan it will not be through a beer company.


Dr Marial receiving his compliance certificate.
[Photo: Ajang MOnychol]
Meanwhile the minister for Information and Broadcasting, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin urged all the ministers and top officials of the government to be transparent in the exercise saying everybody should be accountable.
At the same time, the minster for Water Resources and Irrigation, Paul Mayom Akech asserted that they will assist the commission take tougher decisions to reduce corruption vowing that they did not fight to embezzle public funds.
On his part, the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice John Gatwech Lul announced that whoever fills the form without declaring all the assets and later discovered will forfeit the assets which will then be transferred into government account.


Hon Mayom waits as the Commission chair reviews his compliance documents.
[Photo: Ajang Monychol]
He as well warned the target group that once the exercise timeframe expires then automatically they will issue resignation letters to those who fail to comply.
Reported by Martin Jada Gabriel, News Agency of South Sudan (NASS)

http://www.goss.org/

press release
Juba — The Presidential Advisor for Gender and Human Rights, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng, ministers for Information and Broadcasting, and Water Resources and Irrigation, and the chairperson of workers trade union declared their assets and liabilities to the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday.
The declaration was made at the commission’s headquarters in the presence of its top officials.
After receiving the certificate of confirmation, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng said this is the time she has been waiting for because the South Sudanese need to know how the national resources are being used.
Madam Nyandeng stated that she filled all her income, assets and liabilities clearly on the form mentioning that it is all about the money she got as compensation from the plane accident that killed her later husband and national hero Dr John Garang de Mabior.
She also condemned the rumours circulating around the country about the ownership of White Bull Company. She declared that it is not hers adding that if she is to do something for South Sudan it will not be through a beer company.
Meanwhile the minister for Information and Broadcasting, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin urged all the ministers and top officials of the government to be transparent in the exercise saying everybody should be accountable.
At the same time, the minster for Water Resources and Irrigation, Paul Mayom Akech asserted that they will assist the commission take tougher decisions to reduce corruption vowing that they did not fight to embezzle public funds.
On his part, the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice John Gatwech Lul announced that whoever fills the form without declaring all the assets and later discovered will forfeit the assets which will then be transferred into government account.
He as well warned the target group that once the exercise
More South Sudanese officials declare income and assets

March 2, 2012 (JUBA) – More constitutional post holders in South Sudan declare their personal income and assets to the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) on Thursday, although like previous declarations the results were not made public.

The policy was reintroduced by a presidential decree, after the previous attempt had failed, calling on all the constitutional post holders, senior civil servants and officers from the organised forces to declare their income and assets before the 31 March. Any official who fails to submit the form before the deadline will be asked to resign.

Two weeks ago the vice president Riek Machar declared his income and assets to the commission, although his net wealth and assets have not been made public. Machar urged his colleagues to follow suit. The army’s top generals were also issued with the declaration forms and expressed their readiness to declare their wealth.

The most high profile of the latest batch of officials to declare their assets was Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior, a presidential Advisor on gender and human rights. Upon receiving a certificate on Thursday verifying she had declared all her assets and liabilities to SSACC she denied rumours that her family owns a beer company in Juba.

Speaking to reporters after receiving her certificate of declaration on Thursday, Nyandeng thanked the anti-graft commission. She said it was appropriate for officials to declare their wealth and assets so the public knew what was happening to the country’s resources.

In a statement on national television, Nyandeng explained that she filled all her income, assets and liabilities clearly. She said that most of her assets were from an insurance payout after the death of her husband the former chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), John Garang de Mabior. Garang died in a helicopter crash in 2005 just weeks after becoming the first vice president of Sudan and the President of South Sudan as part of the north-South peace deal.

Nyandeng denied and condemned the rumours and allegations that she owns the White Bull Company, which makes beer. She told state TV and radio that she did not know who owned the company, stressing that if the company belonged to her family, she would have declared it like other assets she had declared.

Other officials including minister of information and broadcasting, Barnaba Marial Benjamin and water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akec declared their assets at the same time.

The declaration forms are South Sudan’s latest attempt to root out corruption, which is rife in the young country. Billions of dollars of public funds have gone missing since the SPLM took power in Juba in 2005 following a peace deal with the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

In July last year South Sudan became independent but the world’s youngest country faces a host of problems including humanitarian emergencies and security issues as well as corruption.

On Thursday the chairperson of South Sudan’s workers trade and union also joined the top government officials in declaring his assets and liabilities to the SSACC.

Meanwhile the minister for information and broadcasting, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin urged all the ministers and top officials of the government to be transparent in the exercise saying everybody should be accountable.

At the same time, the minster for water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akech asserted that they will assist the commission take tougher decisions to reduce corruption vowing that they did not fight to embezzle public funds.

On his part, the chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Justice John Gatwech Lulannounced that whoever fills the form without declaring all the assets and later discovered will forfeit the assets which will then be transferred into government account.

There are concerns that some officials may have banked stolen money under different names, making it difficult to trace.

The SSACC boss however earlier said he was mobilising expertise from Europe and America who will employ the latest techniques of tracing and detecting “stolen” money from financial institutions around the world.

(ST)

http://www.sudantribune.com/More-South-Sudanese-officials,41773