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Africa News Briefs from Global Information Network

Lisa Vives Mar 31

ANGOLAN PASTORS SHOCKED AT SIGHT OF MASS EVICTIONS

Mar. 30 – Pastors of the Evangelical Alliance of Angola making a Palm Sunday stop in the southern city of Lubango, reported being shocked at the sight of some 3,000 families dispossessed as part of a government clearance program to make way for public infrastructure projects.

“What I heard and saw with my own eyes, I’m sorry, it displeases me greatly, and doesn’t correspond with the reality of a country that’s been independent for more than 33 years and in Peace for eight years,” wrote Luis Samacumbi of the Congregational Church.

“We visited people in the few existing tents and with families who were able to save their zinc roof sheeting which they had put together to protect the children from the rain, the strong winds and the cold.” He criticized “deliberately man-made emergencies like this that put innocent children in the traumatic situation which we saw.”

During the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), Lubango was a major base of Cuban, SWAPO and government troops.

FIERCE DEBATE OVER U.S. BILL TO SUPPORT UGANDA MILITARY

Mar. 30 – Proposed U.S. legislation authorizing military action against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda has come under fierce debate. Critics say the bill will serve to prop up Uganda’s government which is under fire for criminalizing homosexuality.

“While the bill funds some humanitarian aid and post-conflict justice, the primary focus is on a military strategy to ‘apprehend or otherwise remove’ LRA leaders,” noted Samar Al-Bulushi, a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice. Human Rights Focus, a local NGO based in northern Uganda, also opposes a military option.

In Acholiland, northern Uganda, where the ethnic Acholi people have faced both the LRA and the government’s army, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict. “As religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, [we] advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realised.”

On Nov. 17, 2009, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, bi-partisan legislation authored by Sen. Russ Feingold and co-sponsored by some 25 other senators. It requires President Obama to develop a new strategy to confront the LRA and sets aside $10 million for humanitarian assistance in areas outside Uganda where the LRA is operating.

A recent BBC investigation reportedly uncovered evidence of a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the LRA with over 300 victims. Both the LRA and the Ugandan government dispute the findings.

SOUTH AFRICANS WOWED BY BILLIONAIRE’S WEDDING

Mar. 30 – Entrepreneur and billionaire Robert Matana Gumede bid farewell to his bachelor years with one of the most lavish marriage ceremonies seen in South Africa. His bride, medical doctor Portia Mkhize, drove up in a black Rolls-Royce to the sound of Ave Maria, delivered by the 100-strong KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been flown in for the occasion.

The guests – over 2,500 – included A-listers from all over the world and across social and economic strata. “We have presidents of countries, politicians, musicians and all the who’s whos from all walks of life under one roof,” said ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa when he addressed the guests.

The wedding proceeded to Gumede’s home township, KaBokweni, on Sunday, where 25 head of cattle were slaughtered.

According to the official biography, Gumede studied Law at the University of Zululand. Opportunity knocked in the IT industry and Gumede started Gijima Technologies – now one of South Africa’s largest black-owned IT companies with government deals worth more than 1.5 billion rand.

The new Mrs. Gumede worked at a state-subsidized AIDS hospice in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, until last year. The golden couple honeymooned in Beijing.

CHINA TRADE WITH SOUTH AFRICA HITS HISTORIC HIGHS

Mar. 30 – In a visit this week to Pretoria, top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin and South African President Jacob Zuma laid the groundwork for stronger bilateral relations, while coordinating the two countries’ stances on climate change.

China has become South Africa’s biggest trade partner and exporter as bilateral trade volume hit a historic high of more than 16 billion U.S. dollars in 2009 despite the international financial crisis.

African economic growth is expected to accelerate to 4.3 percent this year from 1.6 percent last year, according to the U.N. Economic Commission on Africa in its annual report this month with East Africa likely to be the fastest-growing region, expanding to 5.3 percent. But poverty could still rise as there may not be an similar increase in employment, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.

South Africa was the last leg of Jia’s ten-day African tour which already took him to Cameroon and Namibia.

Africa News Briefs are published by the Global Information Network.

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