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The East African : May 19th 2014
18 The EastAfrican OPINION MAY 17-23,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Lumumba to the ≥escue in Dodoma? Tanzanian civil society organisations are working on initiatives to salvage the Constitution review, including bringing in Kenyan law expert Patrick Loch Otiendo Lumumba. Tanzania’s hopes for a new basic law, whose coming into force was initially expected to coincide with festivities marking the country’s golden jubilee last month, suffered a setback after a section of delegates walked out of the process. The bone of contention is the refusal by the dominant view to accept a proposed new three-tier structure that would bring back Tanzania and Zanzibar as partners in a federal state superintended by an overarching federal government. Significantly for the ordinary Tanzanian, the draft also proposes expanded autonomy for Tanganyika and Zanzibar with the Union government losing control over 15 of the 22 areas it is currently responsible for. The draft also proposes a radical trimming of the powers of the head of state. Coming against a backdrop of increased agita- tion for autonomy by the Isles, opponents of the three-tier structure possibly see it as a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, insistence on maintaining the status quo against the wider aspirations of Zanzibar will feed rather than quench the flames of discontent there. In choosing Lumumba, the dissenting parties in Tanzania have probably made a choice that gives dialogue a chance. The impasse has come about because the various interests are looking at the draft proposals in terms of how much they take away from them and give to the other side. A possible message Lumumba could carry to the parties is that the constitution is for posterity and that each of the choices before them has a political and financial cost. Lawye≥s guilty of p≥ice fixing? The move by Kenyan lawyers to raise their fees by as much as 40 per cent brings into sharp focus the country’s competitions law. While the new fees structure, which took effect mid last month, was seen by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) as aligning the trade to the current cost of living, the Competition Authority sated that it amounted to price-fixing. The CA based its argument on the Competition Act, 2010, saying the LSK ought to have sought an exemption; otherwise, setting new fees was uncompetitive behavior. The LSK argued that it is not regulated by the CA and therefore needs no approval from the markets regulator. Beyond the tug-of-war, there is a need for clar- ity on whether the decision by the LSK to roll out the revised fees — which were gazetted by the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on April 11 — is out of touch with the country’s competition regime. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer JOSEPH ODINDO: Editorial Director ALI ZAIDI: Managing Editor (Ag) Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Nation Media Group Uganda spends about $150m a year on the treatment of the elite in hospitals abroad. ” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo S o from Zimbabwe comes news that President Robert Mugabe (aka Uncle Bob) is not well. He has had what Zimbabwe offi- cialdom euphemistically call a “routine eye check” and for that he headed to his favourite medical destination, Singapore. Whenever Uncle Bob, now 90, goes on these medical expeditions, he leaves behind a country engaging in collective tongue wagging about how he will return – upright, in a wheelchair, or on Money spent on treatment abroad should be pooled, and one cuttingedge Presidential Hospital built here his back. Every time Uncle Bob has confounded his enemies and returned on his own feet. Not that farther north, in Algeria, another long-ruling Big Man, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was taken ill last year, and off to Paris he went. He stayed there for three months. Bouteflika eventually returned, in Let’s send ou≥ p≥esidents to hospital... in Mau≥itius very unMugabe-like style, in a wheelchair. But those who thought the 77-year-old autocrat had run out of steam, were proven wrong last month when he won the election from his wheelchair despite national protests. Bouteflika got 81.5 per cent of the vote. Uncle Bob and Bouteflika are not the only African leaders who love foreign hospitals. Few African presidents get medical treatment at home unless, like Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, they are stricken suddenly and there is no time to get on a plane. It is not only the presidents who do the expensive European, American, and Asian hospitals. Members of their courts and the powerful also follow the leaders. In Uganda, the government spends about $150 million a year on the treatment of the powerful people in hospitals abroad. That is bigger than the annual health budget of Rwanda. I will not take the populist route and say the big people should not spend this money on themselves. They should spend it, but in Africa. All the money African presidents and their entourages invest in treatment should be pooled, and one cutting-edge Presidential Hospital built in Africa somewhere, probably in a tiny country that does not get involved in African quarrels like Mauritius. It we take Uganda’s $150 million treatment abroad bill as the average, and assume that 50 of Africa’s big men and women chip in the same amount, that is a mind-boggling $7.5 billion. That kind of money can build you a hospital even on the moon, in a generally germ-free environment. Some of the money could also be used to train African doctors to the highest levels in the top medical schools so that the very best of the best can come back to work in the Dictators’ Sanatorium, as some unpatriotic journalists are likely to dub it. The funds would buy futuristic equipment, and stock the hospital with the best medicine money can buy. The advantage with having such a hospital in Africa is that, at the very least, progressive nurses and doctors would steal some of the high-end medicine for the masses. In the end, I suspect that the smart- er hospitals will be forced to lift their game to about 20 per cent of the Big Men’s hospital. A rising tide lifts all boats, it is said. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is is the edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:cobbo3 Af≥ican solutions limping along in South Sudan peace and security, it reflects a deep frustration with international engagement in Africa. That international engagement either being lacking or lacklustre. Or serving the purposes of international interests other than our own. Thus, finally, the provision in the African Union’s Constitutive Act for the right of AU intervention in a member state in which international crimes — crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes — are being committed. Which is not to imply that such W intervention was unprecedented in practice. In 1978, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere intervened militarily in Uganda to overthrow the regime of Idi Amin Dada. The then Organisation of African Union hardly fell over itself in protest. Collectively, the OAU as a whole proceeded to intervene militarily, with the French, in Chad in 1984. And in Western Sahara in 1984 — leading to Morocco’s formal withdrawal from the OAU. The foreign policy interests of all these military interventions are as debatable and diverse as the foreign policy interests of any external intervention in Africa. Whether there is any fundamental difference in approach and strategy is equally debatable. The hat does the phrase “African solutions for African problems” really mean? In respect of African whole world now sings from the liberal peace songbook: Stabilisation and state-building — the latter inevitably becoming formulaic. The eventual fallout from such political settlements has become entirely predictable. Which brings us to the ongoing and unnecessary tragedy of South Sudan. The first Cessation of Hostilities agreement did not hold, was indeed ignored to the point of worse violations of human rights being committed following its signing than before. The ink has barely dried on the second ceasefire agreement and still hostilities continue. Igad has suspended the negotiations yet again. Belligerence and intransigence continue The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development has suspended the negotiations yet again. Belligerence and intransigence continue — as the rest of the international community ratchets up its use of sticks to both get the parties to the conflict to politically settle — and ensure their forces stop running amok on the bodies and lives of ordinary South Sudanese. To no avail. Individual sanctions are not yet working. Meanwhile, the AU’s Commis- Igad, AU unable to get the parties to reach a political settlement.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki sion of Inquiry has finally been to South Sudan — but only in Juba. It finally has a technical team — but only three investigators. It is finally meeting with South Sudanese civil society and stakeholders beyond the parties to the conflict — but in Nairobi. What explains the slow pace of Af- rica’s mediation and investigations processes? Are Igad and AU member states unable to exercise enough leverage on the parties to the conflict to get them to reach a political settlement themselves? If so, are they not able to co-ordinate, guide and lead the racheting up of external leverage in a purposeful direction? Is the Commission of Inquiry not getting the resourcing it needs from the AU? African solutions are not yet deliv- ering for the people of South Sudan. A more productive alignment of interests and collaboration is needed to ensure that they do. Quickly. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
May 12th 2014
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