Stories from Quick Reads and Sub-Saharan Africa
Some renowned journalists in Mozambique have accounts on various social networks, but they do not believe in their potential to influence decision-making, government action or social participation among others. However, the government itself has recognised their utility by creating accounts on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Here are three recent examples where social networks have knocked on the door of accountability and governance in Mozambique.
1. In November 2013, a letter by Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco circulated on Facebook criticising the method of government used by Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. As a result, the author of the letter was summoned to testify before the Attorney General on May 26, 2014.
2. When the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA) offered a Mercedes Benz S350 to the President of the Republic, José Jaime Macuane, a university lecturer at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, immediately wrote a post on Facebook explaining that the act violated the Public Probity Law. The issue made the headlines of various newspapers and was discussed all over the country for over a week, even once the Mercedes had been returned three days later.
3. To promote citizenship, transparency and active participation by citizens, Olho do Cidadão (Citizen's Eye), which is led by Fernanda Lobato and Tomás Queface, developed digital platform Txeka to allow citizens to participate directly in observing elections on October 15 via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and email. This culminated in the creation of a situation room, comprising various civil society institutions and academicians, as well as a partnership with STV – an independent television channel – which hosted the broadest real-time coverage of the event, using the information sent by citizens via the Txeka channels.
In spite of the fact that in Mozambique, just 4.3% of the population has access to the Internet, the citizen reporter's perspective is valid and useful. Debates on social networks can influence government actions to a certain extent.
Guinea medical personnel are fearful following the death of 28 of their number and the hospitalization of 50 additional staff since September 17. Compounding this situation, the lack of protective equipment is so serious that medical gloves are being sold on the black market. Highlighting the atmosphere among care personnel, Amadou Tham Camara wrote the following on Guinea News:
Déjà traumatisé par la mort de six collègues au mois d’avril dernier, le personnel soignant de l’hôpital sino guinéen de Kipé est dorénavant dans une sinécure paranoïaque : les médecins refusent de soigner. Et tous les jours, ils maudissent le17 mars, ce jour où ils ont reçu ce patient venu de Dabola qui a contaminé neuf de leurs collègues.
Dans les autres grands hôpitaux nationaux de Conakry, des services entiers ne sont plus ouverts à cause des nouveaux cas d’Ebola détectés. Ainsi, depuis deux semaines, le service de réanimation de l’hôpital Ignace Deen est fermé. Le service gynécologique du même hôpital est barricadé pour les mêmes raisons. De même la maternité de l’hôpital Donka, la plus grande du pays, ne fonctionne plus.
Dans ce pandémonium, le paludisme qui reste le premier problème de santé publique en Guinée, avec plus de 30% des consultations, et la première cause de décès en milieu hospitalier(14%), selon l’OMS, a encore de beaux jours pour améliorer ses chiffres macabres. Tout ceci, à cause du silence feutré provoqué par le tintamarre assourdissant autour d’Ebola.
Entire departments are closed in the other national hospitals of Conakry due to new cases of Ebola being detected. The intensive care unit of Ignace Deen has been closed for two weeks and the gynecology department of this hospital is currently barricaded. The Donka maternity hospital, the largest in the country, is no longer in service.
Malaria remains Guinea's major public health problem being responsible for over 30% of consultations and the primary cause of death in hospitals according to the WHO. All this pandemonium ensures these macabre statistics have had ample opportunity to worsen. A deadening silence caused by the deafening panic about Ebola.
Pan African Vision's Ajong Mbapndah talks to Gershom Ndhlovu about the politics around the sickness and death of Zambia's president Michael Sata:
President Michael Sata recently passed away in London and it appears his health and medical condition where shrouded in secrecy, why were Zambians not notified of the Presidents failing health?
[Gershom Ndhlovu]: An online publication, Zambian Watchdog, alerted the nation to President Michael Sata’s failing health more than two years before he passed on. It is the same publication that could expose the secretive treatments abroad that he used to take. Both senior government officials and ruling party cadres were not happy with the publication for keenly following and exposing Mr Sata’s condition and there were many attempts to shut down the online publication which was at times blocked for access to people in Zambia.
On the question of why, obviously the government and the party wanted to show that the President was healthy and discharging his functions. They probably did not want to admit the fact because of a constitutional clause which calls for the removal of the office holder, once declared unfit by a medical board if called by Cabinet. In fact, one citizen attempted to compel Cabinet to call for such a board through the High Court but his application was dismissed.
Global Editors Network intends to develop new technologies and social networks for covering and preventing the Ebola epidemic from spreading.
Watch the YouTube video below for more information about the project:
Ebola Alert Twitter feed is the creation of evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals working on Ebola prevention interventions. The initiative involves active participation of professionals from different walks of life.
#swazijustice is a campaign calling for the release of Bheki Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, who were jailed in Swaziland for two years for writing an article critical of the judiciary in the country. The two were arrested on 17 March, 2014 and sentenced to two years in prison on July 25, 2014.
The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries.
One Vibe Africa uses music and art to inspire Kenyan youths to appreciate culture and tradition and to develop their own creative potential. Their latest initiative #Africafromtheskies needs your support. Africa From the Skies is an expedition to create empowering films and media, capture culture and facilitate workshops.
Humanitarian Associations in Burkina Faso Campaign for Revenue Sharing from the Mining Industry with “Just 1%” Hashtag
A new hashtag is trending in Burkina Faso online networks: #Justeunpourcent (Just 1 Percent in English). The hashtag refers to a campaign initiated by local NGOs to the Parliament that requests that 1 percent of the mining revenues be shared with humanitarian associations to fight poverty in Burkina Faso. Nadine Kone from Ouagadogou kickstarted the campaign on twitter :
— Nadine Kone (@NadineKone) 14 Octobre 2014
Just 1 Percent: To all the Members of Parliament in Burkina Faso, this is a way to help communities against poverty.