Sunday, March 31, 2013

Uganda: I really don't understand this at all.

New Vision reports

'Yes, church wedding is not biblical'

SUNDAY VISION


By Kenneth Lubogo
After reading comments from Pastor Solomon Male and Bishop Paul Luzinda, among others, I found it necessary to write this.



Before reading the article I had a look at Luzinda. 

".....Luzinda first courted controversy.
In 2006, he made headlines when he literally fought witchdoctors, who occupied church land at Sezibwa in Mukono and blamed fellow clerics of involvement in the practice he considers evil.
“It is shocking that with over 130 years of Christianity in Uganda, witchcraft is still prevalent. This evil is real because pastors and other respected people in the society are involved in it. That is why I decided to spearhead the eradication of witchcraft,” he said then."

Also Male 


Moses Solomon Male (pronounced 'mal-eh') is a pastor in Uganda and Executive Director of Arising For Christ. He is an outspoken critic of corruption in churches, especially those that promote prosperity theology which he calls the gospel of extortion.
He also opposed indulgence in the occult (magic, witchcraft, divination and necromancy) responsible for compelling people into human sacrifice, has openly made a stand against homosexuality; and cares for victims of pedophilia and sexual abuse.

They look like what I expected. In fact both better and worse would be a better description. However the point of this blog is that I haven't got a clue what the actual article is about.


The early Church split because of practices which became law/custom yet they were not stated/or acceptable in the Bible, for example, bowing to images, baptising children and praying for the dead. In Matthew 15:6-9, Jesus warned on adopting laws of men and imposing them on God’s people.
This is emphasised in Titus 1:14.

Pertaining marrying in church, I have not yet found it anywhere in the Bible that the Church shall conduct marriage. The authority to marry off children is vested in the parents and this is a divine authority which cannot be substituted by man’s law.

Actually I half agree with this. Marriage is an institution of the state not the Church. As for the bullshit about parental authority well ..... batshit crazy.... MP or not the guy is an idiot.

It is also clear in the Bible that a marriage is not made holy by the ceremonies in church. For this reason, the Bible recognises that a marriage between a non-believer and a believer (of course not made in church) is holy or sanctified by the faith of a believer according to 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 and they bear holy children.

Therefore, it is not the pronouncements in church that make the marriage holy, but the faith of the believer. As regards marriage vows, church leaders need to be reminded that the New Testament does not allow people to make vows any more.
In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus commanded us NOT TO VOW AT ALL. This is repeated in James 5:12. For that reason, it is not right for any Christian to make a vow or to swear to enter into marriage.

I have absolutism no idea what his point is. As far as I can tell Kenneth Lubogo is an independent MP and seems to be closely affiliated to rebel ruling party MP's  NRM.

On the issue of polygamy, without the law (biblical law of the letter), there would be no sin. David had seven wives and it was not counted on him as sin. He was referred to as a man after God’s heart.
Besides, when David killed Uriah and took his wife, God told David that He (God) gave him wives and if he (David) had wanted more, he should have asked of God and he would have given him more. (2 Samuel 12:8).

In 2 Chronicles 24:1-3,16, Jehoiada got two wives for Joash and the Bible says whatever Jehoiada did was right before God and for that reason, he was buried among the kings, yet himself was not one.

Similary, in the book of Exodus 21:10, God directed: “If a man takes for himself a second wife, he must make sure that he does not reduce the amount of food, clothing and other rights due to the first wife.” (Good News Bible).
When God says let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husband, it is important to note that God looks at every person as an individual. It is not a question of numbers.

However, the one-wife marriage is a requirement for church elders as stated in the books of Timothy and Titus. The implication is that it would be hard for a man with more than one wife to have adequate time for the ministry. Remember that Paul decided not to marry so that he can devote all his time to ministry.

The writer is the MP for Bulamogi county,
Kaliro district

So if anyone knows WTF this is all about please let me know.

Corruption: A trillion dollar question.


This morning while driving across Auckland listening as is my habit to National Radio Vijay Anand was interviewed. It was fascinating. The scale of corruption worldwide  is astonishing. From the World Bank.
How large is the 'Global Corruption Industry', measured in terms of financial amounts per year worldwide?

Corruption is a very large 'industry'. Yet until very recently, it was virtually impossible to venture an estimate of the extent of corrupt annual transactions. In fact, only a few years ago, corruption was regarded as impossible to measure. Thanks to the 'explosion' in measurement approaches and actual data in this field, at least it is now possible to estimate rough orders of magnitude. Our focus is on measuring the extent of bribery from the private sector (firms and individuals) to the public sector.

A conservative approach to such measurement gives an estimate for annual worldwide bribery of about US $1 trillion dollars (US $1,000 billion.). We obtain figures on bribes from worldwide surveys of enterprises, which ask questions about bribes paid for the operations of the firm (licenses, regulations, etc.), as well as bribes paid to get favorable decisions on public procurement. Further, an estimate on bribes paid by household users of public services is derived from governance and anti-corruption diagnostic surveys.

There is a margin of error in all these estimates, so we should regard them as preliminary orders of magnitude. But the main point is that this is not a relatively small phenomena of a few billion dollars - far from it.

How do you fight something on this scale ?

The Telegraph reports

Zero rupee note tackles India's corruption culture



The protest note - literally worth only the paper it is printed on - is being promoted by 5th Pillar, a group that campaigns on behalf of ordinary Indians who are forced to grease the palms of millions of civil servants.
Vijay Anand, head of 5th Pillar, said the bill, which looks similar to a real 50-rupee note, was first distributed to students in the southern state of Tamil Nadu to encourage them to reject India's "baksheesh" culture.
"The corruption prevailing in the common man's life is painful and it can be dealt with by the zero-rupee note," said Anand.
Many Indians are resigned to having to pay extra for government services and to smooth daily transactions such as registering a birth, getting a driving licence or avoiding the attentions of an unscrupulous traffic officer.

It is an excellent idea and one that despite having been around for some time I was unaware of. It was an excellent interview with Anand and he reported that the zero rupee note was having excellent results. His point was that you don't need to be well educated to use the note. You hand it over when the demand for a bribe happens. Shame it would seem still has its place in the discourse of human affairs. 

But Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, has often spoken out against the damaging effect that bribes, extortion and fraud have on all levels of life, and said that the problem threatens India's economic prospects.
In its latest annual report Transparency International stated that each year almost four million poor Indian families had to bribe officials for access to basic public services.
In the same report, India slipped further in its corruption index from 72nd to 85th in a list of 180 countries.
Anand said the zero-rupee note, which was conceived by an Indian professor living in the United States, gave people the chance to register a grassroots protest against low-level corruption.
"We are confident it will change the way people think and act in the coming years," he said.

The proof will of course be a noticeable improvement in the corruption standings for India. Looking at the 2012 Transparency International figures that has not happened in fact India has slipped to 94 position. However I think it is important to note that this is a grass roots initiative and it is probably hard for the Transparency figures to reflect such impacts. A project like this needs time to build.

The bill, which like all Indian notes is graced with a picture of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, carries 5th Pillar's email address and phone number and the solemn vow "I promise to neither accept nor give a bribe".
Volunteers hand them out near places where officials are often on the look-out for a backhander, such as railway stations and government hospitals.
Though questions remain over whether it is legal to print the fake - if worthless - money, more than one million bills in five languages have been distributed.

Who cares.

Anand said they have even had a practical effect, often shaming officials into getting business done efficiently without using real cash.
"There has not been one incident where a zero-rupee note has created a more serious situation," said Anand.
Ravi Sundar, an IT recruiter in the southern city of Coimbatore, said he used the notes whenever he had government business to sort out.
He gave one example where a tax official refused to process documents unless he paid her 500 rupees.
"I handed over the zero-rupee note which I always keep in my pocket," said Sundar.
"She was afraid and didn't want to take it. She completed the job immediately and said she was sorry and asked me not to take it forward."

That is returning power to where it belongs. Civil servants must serve the public not themselves. 

Parth J. Shah, president of the Centre for Civil Society think tank, said the root of the problem lay in state-run companies and their vast bureaucracies.
"Unless we remove monopolies and the kind of licensing system that we have in many areas of life to create more competition, we're unlikely to get rid of low-level corruption," he said.

In the core government sector there is no possibility of competition however New Zealand has many state run business and they operate as  SOE's or State Owned Enterprises. They are subject to competition. The crown is the shareholder and appoints the directors but has no involvement with management theoretically. ( this is starting to come a bit unstuck with one called Solid Energy and it is looking like there has been substantial interference by Ministers of the crown ) . It is unfortunate because New Zealand is the least corrupt place on earth according to Transparency. 

Anand said he hoped to introduce the zero rupee note across India, but he insists he remains an optimist about human behaviour.
"We haven't given up on officials. There are honest ones in every department," he said.

This project is screaming out for replication. As a primarily African blog I would be interested to know if any African movement has sprung up. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Central African Republic: South Africa further humiliated


Reuters reports

S. Africa's Zuma to join summit on Central African Republic 


(Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma will attend a summit of central African heads of state in Chad on Wednesday which will consider responses to the rebel takeover in Central African Republic.

Given that former president Bozize has fled and that the security apparatus including the army and police have pledged loyalty to the rebel regime. there is no substantive response available.
                                                            Michel Djotodia President CAR
"All the former chiefs of police, gendarmes, the head of the armed forces and other senior officers came to the meeting. This was a form of surrender," he said.
The world fairly much made its response known back in late December 2012 when the rebels started to make real inroads I blogged at the time,  
" Bozize’s appeals for help from France and from the United States to fight the rebels have fallen on deaf ears.
Neighbouring Chad, which has helped Bozize with rebellions in 2010, earlier sent a contingent to the country, however."

Unlike the DR Congo the west has not invested heavily in legitimising the regime electorally if it should fall so be it would seem to be the prevailing attitude.

The regime has fallen and the only sensible response the world can make is to recognise the new regime. Jacob Zuma looks like the bloody fool he is and I am guessing the Chad meeting is more about saving Zuma's face than any substantive response to the  Seleka coalitions take over.



The South African leader was invited by Chadian President Idriss Deby, chair of the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States, to join the extraordinary ECCAS summit in N'Djamena on April 3, Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

South Africa is facing questions about its role in Central African Republic after 13 of its soldiers were killed there last weekend as they fought alongside government troops trying to prevent rebels from ousting President Francois Bozize from power.

South Africa screwed up. I suspect it was motivated by a perceived pissing contest with France and one that France adroitly avoided.  South Africa will no doubt become the regions major power but it is not ready for that role yet and certainly not  in situations like the CAR that are significantly geographically removed. The South African military has substantial " building in capacity " exercise in front of it if it is to fulfill the current geopolitical fantasies of Zuma.


The opposition in South Africa and regional analysts have asked why a South African military training mission in Central African Republic became directly entangled in the internal conflict there.

Ego. Zuma's.


South African media reports have suggested the soldiers were defending South African mining interests in a country rich in diamonds, uranium and oil, but officials in Pretoria have denied this. They say the presence of the 400 South African troops was covered by a 2007 bilateral defence accord with Bozize.

Maharaj told Reuters there was nothing unusual about the South African role in Central African Republic or Zuma's participation in the extraordinary ECCAS summit in Chad.

"We want to participate and benefit from the knowledge of the colleagues in the region, and share our ideas," he said.

Now that is funny. I blogged this from the Zimbabwe Mail a couple of days ago.
" KAMPALA (Reuters) - South African soldiers gathered in Uganda on Thursday for a "new mission" to the Central African Republic (CAR), where 13 of their comrades were killed in a rebel coup at the weekend, South African media and a senior Ugandan officer said.
"The intention of the South Africans is to reorganize themselves and then redeploy massively in CAR and topple these rebels. They were humiliated and they want to avenge," the officer told Reuters, asking not to be named."
The South African Army deployed to CAR to prevent a rebel takeover. They did so when it became apparent that France was not interested in any intervention other than the protection of French interests and citizens.

I rather suspect that a massive redeployment and " ..toppling these rebels " is no longer the plan. It would seem though the South African media have learnt something from the French. From above.
South African media reports have suggested the soldiers were defending South African mining interests.."
They weren't deployed for that reason that was the reason the French deployed. I guess the only institution that is more stupid than the media is government. 



Zuma would be accompanied at the summit by his ministers for foreign affairs, state security and defence.

On Friday, Central African Republic's new president, rebel leader Michel Djotodia, said he would review resource deals signed by the previous government and promised to step down at elections in 2016.

Djotodia was responding to questions about resource licences awarded to Chinese and South African firms by Bozize.

He added he would seek aid from former colonial power France and the United States to retrain the ill-disciplined army, a statement which appeared to be a blow to South African aspirations to maintain a role in Central African Republic.

That is the real kicker in this report. South Africa has failed, Zuma has been humiliated. The meeting in Chad is nothing more than a face saving exercise. 


Maharaj said South Africa's involvement there stemmed from calls by the African Union in the mid-2000s for African states to participate actively in moves to maintain stability and contribute to capacity-building in the central African state, which has a history of coups and revolts.

He said the 2007 bilateral defence accord, whose details have not been made public, derived directly from this.

Following the rebel takeover, the African Union suspended Central African Republic's membership and imposed sanctions on the rebel leaders, including Djotodia.
Yawn. Michel Djotodia has won. For the moment.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Africa: The recolonisation has started


U.S. Christian Right also mobilizes African clerics in U.S. “culture war” over ordination of LGBT clergy



Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) has discovered.



Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, PRA Project Director, exposes the U.S. Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles.

My initial reaction to this was that Africa had far more important issues to deal with and to a large degree that remains my position. Far Right American " Christian " morons are right up there with Muslim fundamentalists. I despise them. However today I was forced to think again with the Kim Hill Saturday Morning programme interview with Sean Faircloth  . The interview was about the risks New Zealand faces with regard to the Americans attempting through NZ surrogates to impose their perverted philosophy on us.

U.S. social conservatives, who are in the minority in mainline churches, depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions as their growing numbers makes African Christians more influential globally.
The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.


That is of course as ridiculous as it is hilarious. Behind it is the suggestion that Western liberal forces are in fact attempting to recolonise Africa. Remember this agenda is being pushed by a Holocaust revisionist.   

These partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches' recognition of the full equality of LGBT people, in part due to liberals’ sensitivity to the charge of colonialism. However, as Kaoma argues, it is U.S. conservatives who are imposing their own concerns about homosexuality on Africa.   Further, although U.S. conservatives have organized African religious leaders as a visible force opposing LGBT equality, it would be wrong to conclude that all of Africa stands with these clerics and their U.S. patrons.

The evil that the far right Christians represent for Africa  should not be underestimated.

In the United States, Kaoma focuses on “renewal” groups in The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church USA, and Presbyterian Church USA; U.S conservative evangelicals; and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a neoconservative think tank that for decades has sought to undermine Protestant denominations' tradition of progressive social justice work.

In Africa, Kaoma investigates ties U.S. conservatives have established with religious leaders in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya and the impact of homophobia exported from the United States to these Anglophone countries.

As Kaoma argues, the U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.

And it should be clear that the American Right have changed not one bit. Leopards can not change their spots. In the United States these people put huge amounts of resources into attempting to roll back the clock of history. What was the systematic disenfranchisement experienced by African Americans in the last two presidential votes about ?  These are the inheritors of the early 20th century fascist movement. 

"We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks challenged U.S. evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening them with death. The scapegoating must stop."

I agree. At the same time we should also acknowledge that Uganda has not followed blindly the path of the homophobic US Right. The bill proscribing sever punishment was first read in 2009 and it has been ignored in the government's order of business ever since and that seems to be its destiny. Museveni is not a fool.

While the American side of the story is known to LGBT activists and their allies witnessing struggles over LGBT clergy within Protestant denominations in the United States, what’s been missing is the effect of the Right’s proxy wars on Africa itself. Kaoma’s report finally brings this larger, truly global picture into focus.

“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword.   “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.”

One is left with one possible conclusion only. It is not the liberal west trying to recolonise Africa it is the insane Christian Right. 

Leaders within mainline Protestant denominations hailed the report.

"The exploitation of African Christians by right-wing organizations in the United States is reprehensible. Where were these individuals and organizations and their leaders during the struggles against colonialism and apartheid? They certainly were not standing in solidarity with the people of Africa. Today, they use a variety of corrupt practices and methods in a vain attempt to turn back the tide of history. This report reveals the truth about what is going on and should be required reading for American church leaders," said Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church.

For his 16-month investigation, Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia, traveled in the United States and Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, attended the notorious antigay conference of Uganda’s Family Life Network in March, and documented concerns among the region’s clergy that U.S. conservatives are contributing to corruption among bishops with their lax requirements for donated funds.

The right will fail. One can't turn the tide of history and they will be drowned in a tsunami of there own creation.

DR Congo: Good news from Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park blogger Ranger Sekibibi reports


Gato’s New Baby - Humba Family


                                                           Gato’s newborn huddles against her back during a storm
By Ranger Sekibibi
A few days ago, I reported the birth of a baby in the Humba family, but at the time, I wasn’t certain about the identity of the mother. I can now tell you the mother is Gato. Another ranger, a HUGO (a community volunteer), and I located the Humba family in the Bizenge area of the Bukima sector. Gato is a very good mother and not without good reason - this is Gato’s fifth baby. Gato’s other offspring are solitary silverback Mukunda, blackback Mahindure who is still part of the family, and young Kanyarwunka and Kanyagara.
                                                           A sweet moment shared between Gato and her baby

                                                                                 Gato’s baby safely in her arms
As you’ll remember from a previous post and can see from the picture below, Gato has a bad eye infection. She has had the infection for quite some time. We are concerned the infection is getting worse and that it might spread to her newborn. Dr. Eddy Syaluha will be coming check up on mother and baby as soon as he can.
                                                        Gato eating to keep up with her baby’s need for milk.

My team that day - from left: Ranger Sekibibi Bereke (me), Ranger Semahore Hishamunda, and community volunteer (HUGO) Hhabimana Musekura
Thanks to all of you that have donated to help us give our gorillas the care and protection they need.
There is bugger all I can actually add to the wildlife blogs of the team at Virunga National Park. These guys are amazing. Why not head over to Gorilla CD and have a read. We African bloggers need to keep in mind that all over the continent there are guys like Ranger Sekibibi Bereke who are getting the job done and they are the people we need to support. 
If I could I could sack the Congolese government and replace it with Emmanuel's team from Virunga I would be confident in predicting better governance for the DR Congo.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DR Congo: The rapes continue


The UN reports

National leadership crucial for tackling sexual violence in DR Congo – UN envoy


                                                                                            Zainab Hawa Bangura.


28 March 2013 – Conflict-related sexual violence is one of the most urgent challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a senior United Nations official says, stressing that leadership and responsibility on the part of the Government is critical to tackling this issue.

That implies a faith in Kinshasa that I struggle to comprehend. 

“Only the Congolese people, with the support of the international community, can change the current situation and create a new narrative for the DRC,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, said during her visit to the country.

This was the first visit to DRC for Ms. Bangura in her role as the Special Representative. “I am here to listen and to learn. As an African woman from a post-conflict country – Sierra Leone – I recognize the many challenges currently facing the Congo.

“Conflict-related sexual violence is one of the most urgent ones. It is important to remember that it is not only a UN issue, however, but one which requires the leadership, ownership, and responsibility of the Government of the DRC,” she stated.

I blogged March 8 2013 on this issue including on this statement.
" Unless swift legal action was taken against the accused soldiers before the end of March, the UN said it would stop working with their brigades."
It is of course the end of March and nothing has happened other than a further deadline has been given to Kinshasa to ignore ( see below ).

Ms. Bangura met in the capital, Kinshasa, with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, and hosted a roundtable with the Minister of Gender, Members of Parliament and representatives of civil society to discuss the problem of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.
“I am grateful and happy for the support of the UK and the leadership of Foreign Secretary William Hague on this issue, and am looking forward to the day when the only place we will read about sexual violence in conflict will be in the history books,” said Ms. Bangura.
The joint event continues the UK’s campaign to prevent conflict-zone rape and other forms of sexual violence, in close cooperation with the UN and its Team of Experts on the Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict, which Ms. Bangura has made available to support the DRC Government’s efforts, ahead of the annual meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) most industrialized countries in London.
Mr. Hague noted that the women and children of the DRC have suffered from rape and sexual violence on an unimaginable scale for decades.
“Here as in many other conflict areas in the world, the perpetrators of rape walk free and the cycle of injustice and conflict is repeated. We have to shatter this culture of impunity and we need a lasting solution to the conflict,” he stated.
“It is time for real, meaningful action by the Congolese Government and the governments of the world to say that the use of rape as a weapon of war is unacceptable, to bring perpetrators to justice and to lift the stigma from survivors.”

I absolutely agree but I doubt anything will happen.

In a related development, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO) has been following up with the Congolese authorities on the matter of rapes in the eastern town of Minova.
Investigations conducted by MONUSCO in Minova and surrounding villages found that two units of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) engaged in mass rapes and other human violations in late November 2012.
Earlier this week, Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, handed over a letter to the country’s Vice Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense informing the Government that MONUSCO would terminate support to the two battalions involved in the Minova rapes within seven days if no appropriate action is taken immediately.

As I eluded to above the deadline for action has already been extended. The UN needs to do more than suspend support for the two battalions involved. It should demand that the perpetrators be delivered by the Congolese government to the ICC. Should the Congolese government not comply the UN should declare the battalions rogues and they should be legitimate targets of the much discussed Africa Brigade when it forms.

DR Congo: The UN Africa Brigade is born ( sort of ).

The UN reports



Security Council approves intervention force to target armed groups in DR Congo


                                                  The Security Council

28 March 2013 – The Security Council today authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within the current United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to address imminent threats to peace and security.
The intervention brigade will carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in the eastern part of DRC – a region that is prone to cycles of violence and consequent humanitarian suffering.

It has taken a long time to get this set up and as yet the force composition has not been announced so expect at least a further two months until there is a presence on the ground in the eastern DRC.

The objectives of the new force – which will be based in North Kivu province in eastern DRC and total 3,069 peacekeepers – are to neutralize armed groups, reduce the threat they posed to State authority and civilian security and make space for stabilization activities.
The brigade is established within the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) for an initial period of one year, as set out in the resolution adopted unanimously today by the Council, which also extended the mission until 31 March 2014.

So at most this effort will run for 10 months unless further renewed. That is not of its self a bad thing. If the force fails then getting rid of it quickly is an advantage. Relief Web notes.

" Further by the text, the Council set out the operational parameters of the brigade, which would comprise three infantry battalions, one artillery and one special forces and reconnaissance company headquartered in Goma — the scene of a brutal M23 attack in November 2012 — under the direct command of the MONUSCO Force Commander. The resolution decided that the intervention brigade would have a clear exit strategy and that the Council would consider extending its mandate beyond one year on the basis of its performance, and of whether the Democratic Republic of Congo had made sufficient progress in implementing the Peace and Security Framework for the region, adopted on 24 February.
Specifically on that accord, signed by 11 African leaders and brokered by the Secretary-General, the Council demanded that all signatory States implement their commitments in good faith, and encouraged the establishment of an oversight mechanism involving regional leaders, as well as a national mechanism to oversee implementation of reform measures agreed by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Council expressed its intention to review the status of the Framework Agreement after the first visit to the region by the newly appointed Special Envoy, Mary Robinson. The commitments made by the Great Lakes countries were annexed to the 12-page text. "
It is a fairly substantial force and I like that it will be headquartered in Goma. It will be interesting to see if the Brigades establishment has a flow on effect with regard to the conduct of the current MONUSCO force.
Resolution 2098 also provides a new mandate for MONUSCO, by which it will support Congolese authorities to protect civilians, neutralize armed groups, and implement key reforms to consolidate peace in the country, particularly in the area of security sector reform and rule of law.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the resolution, “which sets out a new, comprehensive approach aimed at addressing the root causes of instability in the eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
“He remains personally committed to helping bring peace and stability to the people of the DRC and the Great Lakes region and will keep working to ensure this remains a top priority for the international community,” the statement added.
Also hailing the resolution was Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, who told reporters that the text reflected the shared desire of the international community to comprehensively address the root causes of the terrible cycle of violence witnessed in the DRC over nearly two decades.
“I do very much think that today could be a significant turning point in the handling of the crisis that for many years the DRC has experienced,” he said. “And at the end of the day, it is about putting an end to the suffering of millions of people.”

I hope he is right.

The newly-authorized brigade is designed to further support the political objectives of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region – a peace deal signed last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Council demanded that the signatories of the Framework fully implement their commitments in good faith, and called on the newly designated Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, to lead, coordinate and assess the implementation of these commitments.

Yes Rwanda that is you they are talking about.


Central African Republic: South Africa fails.

The Zimbabwe Mail reports


South Africa troops in Uganda for Central Africa "mission"


                                                               South African Army

KAMPALA (Reuters) - South African soldiers gathered in Uganda on Thursday for a "new mission" to the Central African Republic (CAR), where 13 of their comrades were killed in a rebel coup at the weekend, South African media and a senior Ugandan officer said.
"The intention of the South Africans is to reorganize themselves and then redeploy massively in CAR and topple these rebels. They were humiliated and they want to avenge," the officer told Reuters, asking not to be named.
The South African Army deployed to CAR to prevent a rebel takeover. They did so when it became apparent that France was not interested in any intervention other than the protection of French interests and citizens.  

" Hollande might therefore be arguably in cahoots with those armed bandits!... 

But beyond the insult to Bozizé and the lack of concern for Central 
African residents whose lives are disrupted by these armed plunderous 
hordes, Hollande's callous statement evinced a total contempt for 
Africa and Africans. 

Fortunately for CAR citizens and Africans at large, enter South Africa 
and Jacob Zuma, whose intervention will be hailed in the years to come 
as the watershed in new African responsibility and leadership. 

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has entered the fray 
in CAR and Zuma wants them to stay there till 2018! 

France could still attempt to hang around, but the wrath expressed by 
Central Africans these past weeks against it has clearly shown it that 
it is no longer welcome in that neighborhood. 

South Africa and Zuma are now leading the way and showing the world 
that Africa could protect its own interests and its citizens without 
begging the likes of France and Hollande! " 

The South African intervention has clearly failed, this is blow to the aspirations of Zuma to become the regions power broker short term however I wouldn't bet against Engwete's analysis in the longer term. I also do not applaud it.  

The deaths were Pretoria's heaviest military defeat since the end of apartheid in 1994, and President Jacob Zuma has drawn fierce criticism for reinforcing 26 military trainers in the capital, Bangui, after an initial rebel advance in December.
A spokesman for Zuma, who sent 200 troops to the Central Africa Republic in January, referred inquiries about the new reported mission to defense officials. Spokesmen for South Africa's armed forces and defense ministry declined to comment.
The lack of comment is not surprising. Domestically in South Africa do not expect the ANC to ask for accountability and that in reality leaves only the opposition Democratic Alliance to demand accountability. Lindiwe Mazibuko has done just that pointing out the obvious.
                                                                 Lindiwe Mazibuko
" I have written to President Jacob Zuma to request that he calls both houses of Parliament to a joint sitting as a matter of urgency so that he can provide a detailed briefing on the events currently unfolding in the Central African Republic.

In terms of Section 7(1)(b) of the Joint Rules of Parliament, the President is empowered to call a joint sitting of Parliament at any time to conduct special business (Section 42 (5) of the Constitution of the Republic).

The fact that 13 soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded in what was described as a "high tempo, high intensity battle" in the Central African Republic, is reason enough for the President to brief the members of both houses of Parliament.

It is particularly worrying that the South African troops were deployed in the Central African Republic in the first instance. The record of President Bozize speaks for itself:
  • President Bozize first came to power through a military coup in 2003
  • His cabinet has been filled by close family members
  • His leadership has been plagued by corruption, nepotism and authoritarianism
  • His security forces have been accused of torture and stifling free speech
  • The Central African Republic remains one of the most corrupt states in the world, with one of the lowest ratings for good governance
The key question that needs to be asked is: why did South Africa need to lose lives to defend this President?

It appears that the decision to deploy troops was linked more to President Zuma’s own close relationship with President Bozize, than the best interests of South Africa or the continent. The President must answer for this."

While I admire the Democratic Alliance immensely this is in reality a side show. South Africa will become the major regional arbitrator but it will not be as easy to achieve as they seem to have thought. France was well aware of this. 

The Ugandan officer said 200 South African soldiers had assembled at Entebbe air base near Kampala with plans to hit back against the Seleka rebel coalition that toppled President Francois Bozize in the mineral-rich former French colony.

To what purpose, this is bloody amateur hour stuff. South Africa needs to take a step back and think. The CAR republic is now under rebel control. Reuters reports. 

(Reuters) - Central African Republic's army chiefs pledged allegiance to the country's self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia on Thursday as the ex-rebel leader consolidated control four days after his fighters seized the capital.
Djotodia seized control of the resource-rich nation after thousands of his rebel fighters swept into the riverside capital Bangui on Sunday, ousting President Francois Bozize and triggering days of looting.
 
"The former FACA (national army) officers wanted to meet with President Djotodia to tell him they recognize him as the new president," said Maurice Ntossui, a commander of the African peacekeeping force in the country who attended the meeting.
"All the former chiefs of police, gendarmes, the head of the armed forces and other senior officers came to the meeting. This was a form of surrender," he said.

South Africa's first real roll of the military hegemonic dice has failed.  
"Over the weekend South Africa requested Uganda for use of its Entebbe Airforce Base for evacuation of their personnel after they were ordered to withdraw temporarily from CAR," the officer said.
South Africa's ENCA television channel also reported that the soldiers were grouping in Entebbe for a "new mission" into the Central African Republic. It was unclear whether they were new deployments or included evacuees from last week's clashes.

I think it is probably time for the South African troops to return to Pretoria. This deployment has been a monumental failure.

A commander of the five-nation FOMAC regional peace-keeping force in Bangui told Reuters South African soldiers remained in the country. The dead and wounded have been flown to Pretoria.
Rebel forces and international peacekeepers mopped up pockets of resistance in Bangui on Wednesday as life returned to normal after three days of looting after the coup.
The Seleka rebels had struggled to stamp out the chaos and were forced to appeal to peacekeepers from neighboring central African states to help control gunmen looting houses, businesses, United Nations offices and even hospitals.

This was the mission that the South African forces should have taken. Protecting civilians from criminals taking advantage of the situation was one that would have won them enhanced prestige. Lindiwe Mazibuko accusation raises even more questions.

"It appears that the decision to deploy troops was linked more to President Zuma’s own close relationship with President Bozize, than the best interests of South Africa or the continent."

Ouch. Zuma clearly belongs in the ranks of the crocodiles. 

Keeping his promise to honor a power-sharing deal signed in January, self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia officially reappointed Nicolas Tiangaye, a civilian opposition figure, as prime minister to lead a transitional government.
The United States, France and regional powers have insisted the rebels must honor the Libreville accord, signed in January in the Gabonese capital, which called for a transitional unity government until elections in 2016.
South African media and the opposition have questioned why Zuma had sent troops to a country 3,500 km (2,200 miles) away, with some suggesting they were there to protect business interests linked to the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The Mail and Guardian newspaper said the ANC's investment arm, Chancellor House, was involved in company called Inala Centrafrique set up in 2006 to buy diamonds from the Central African Republic's small-scale artisanal miners.
"The plan had two other elements, which, if implemented, would give Inala and its ANC-linked shareholders complete dominance of the CAR's diamond market," the paper said.
A spokesman for the ANC declined to comment.
Despite the South African troop build up in Uganda this scrap is over for the moment.