• Mensuration law in Zambia sparks debate

    04/Jan/2017 // 464 Viewers

    Ndekela Mazimba, who works in PR, says Mother's Day helps her manage her period pain

    Discussing female menstruation publicly is something of a taboo in Zambia.


    This is no doubt why a provision in the country's labour law that allows female workers to take off one day a month is known as Mother's Day, even though it applies to all women, whether or not they have children.
    The legal definition is not precise - women can take the day when they want and do not have to provide any medical justification, leading some to question the provision.
    "I think it's a good law because women go through a lot when they are on their menses [periods]," says Ndekela Mazimba, who works in public relations.
    Ms Mazimba is neither married nor does she have children but she takes her Mother's Day every month because of her gruelling period pains.
    "You might find that on the first day of your menses, you'll have stomach cramps - really bad stomach cramps. You can take whatever painkillers but end up in bed the whole day.
     
    Mutinta Musokotwane-Chikopela does not believe in Mother's Day
    Mutinta Musokotwane-Chikopela says there are already too many holidays in Zambia


    "And sometimes, you find that someone is irritable before her menses start, but as they progress, it gets better. So, in my case, it's just the first day to help when the symptoms are really bad."
    Women in Zambia do not need to make prior arrangements to be absent from work, but can simply call in on the day to say they are taking Mother's Day.
     
    An employer who denies female employees this entitlement can be prosecuted.
    Ms Mazimba's boss, Justin Mukosa, supports the law and says he understands the pressure women face in juggling careers and family responsibilities.
    A married man himself, he says the measure can have a positive impact on women's work:
    "Productivity is not only about the person being in the office. It should basically hinge on the output of that person."
    But he admits there are problems with the current system in terms of losing staff at short notice and also the temptation for people to play the system:
    "It could be abused in the context that maybe an individual might have some personal plans they wish to attend to so she takes Mother's Day on the day.
     
    Justin Mukosa, a supervisor, supports the law but also notes its openness to misuse
    Ndekela Mazimba's (R) boss Justin Mukosa (L) is supportive of the law


    Not everyone is so supportive of Mother's Day, and there are many women among the critics.
    Mutinta Musokotwane-Chikopela is married and has three children.
    She has a full-time marketing job but never takes Mother's Day, arguing that it encourages laziness in working women.
    "I don't believe in it and I don't take it. Menses are a normal thing in a woman's body; it's like being pregnant or childbirth," she says.
    "I think women take advantage of that, especially that there's no way of proving that you are on your menses or not."
    Ms Chikopela says the provision should have been made more clear in the law.
    "The problem in Zambia is that we have too many holidays - including a holiday for national prayers. So I guess Mother's Day makes those that love holidays happy."
     
    Women wearing dresses with the portrait of late Zambian President Michael Sata arrive at a memorial service in Lusaka, Zambia, on November 10, 2014, on the eve of Sata's State funeral
    Women in Zambia are traditionally the primary care-givers in the family

    The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella body representing the country's workers, is also a supporter of the law.
    But the entitlement "would have to be forfeited" if a woman were to take it on a day that she was not on her period, says Catherine Chinunda, national trustee at ZCTU.
    "We have been educating women about Mother's Day, telling them that on that day, they are supposed to rest and not even go shopping or do other jobs because that is wrong," she says.
    The law itself provides no guidance about what is allowed and it would appear that very few, if any, employers have internal policy guidance in that respect.
    She dismisses the idea that men should also get a day off every month, as has been suggested by some:
    "Men sometimes go to drink and miss work…. they don't know how it feels to be on menses."
    But while praising the concept of Mother's Day, some argue that the reality is bad for business.
    "Your superiors may have planned work for you to do and when you suddenly stay away from work, it means work will suffer, says Harrington Chibanda, head of the Zambia Federation of Employers.
     
    Lawyer Linda Kasonde
     
    Lawyer Linda Kasonde says the law recognises the important role Zambian women play in society

    "Imagine a company that has a number of employees and six or seven take Mother's Day on the same day. What will happen to productivity?" he asks.
    Labour Minister Joyce Nonde-Simukoko, a former trade union activist, tells me that Mother's Day was initially informally observed in the 1990s before eventually being brought into law.
    But she has stern words for anyone thinking of using the entitlement to bunk off work:
    "If you absent yourself yet you are found in a disco house, then it will not be taken as Mother's Day.
    "You shouldn't even leave town, be found doing your hair or shopping. You can be fired. For example, somebody was found farming after taking Mother's Day and she was fired."
    One of the problems with the law is that it does not make this explicit, leading to confusion among employers and employees alike.
    But perhaps even more than the practical benefits, it is the intention and the spirit of the legislation that many Zambians support.
    As Linda Kasonde, a senior lawyer, tells me:
    "The reason why mother's day is important within the Zambian context is that it recognises that women are the primary care-givers in our society - regardless of whether they are married or not."
     
    Culled from BBC


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  • Sinai Deadly Attack On Police, IS Claims Responsibility

    04/Nov/2015 // 231 Viewers

    At least three Egyptian policemen were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a police club in the Sinai Penisula on Wednesday, state media reported, as the Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack.

    State television said there were also wounded in the bombing in North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish.

    The Islamic State group's affiliate in the Sinai said one of its militants drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a police club in the town.

    The jihadists have carried out a string of attacks in or around the provincial capital in recent months after the army launched a sweeping campaign in the peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.

    The attack came days after a Russian passenger plane crashed in the peninsula after taking off from a resort airport in South Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.

    IS has claimed it downed the plane but provided no details, and experts say other scenarios include a mechanical fault that caused it to disintegrate in mid air.

    The group has deployed shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles in the past but they are not known to possess weapons that could bring down an airliner flying at high altitude.

    The militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

    They say their attacks have been in retaliation for an ensuing police crackdown in which hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed and thousands, including the ousted president, have been jailed.

    In an interview with BBC, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who is expected in London on Thursday, said the Sinai "is under our full control."

    But the attacks around El-Arish suggest the jihadists are still capable of continuing their deadly insurgency.


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  • Plane crashes in South Sudan, about 40 feared dead

    04/Nov/2015 // 1351 Viewers

    Several people were killed Wednesday when a plane crash-landed shortly after taking off from South Sudan's capital Juba, an AFP reporter said.

    The plane crashed onto a small island in the White Nile river, close to Juba airport.

    Several small farming communities live on the island, and it was not clear if some of the victims were people who were on the ground when the plane hit.

    "Cargo plane heading to Paloch in Upper Nile State crashed just 800 metres from Juba International Airport runway," reported Radio Miraya, a UN-backed station.

    The radio said up to 40 people may have been killed, adding that airport officials had told them only three passengers had survived.

    An AFP reporter at the scene said he could see people trying to search for survivors and carry "several" bodies out of the wreckage.

    The main fuselage of the plane had ploughed into thick woodland, with debris scattered around the riverbank in a wide area.

    Juba's airport is the busiest in the war-torn country, which is the size of Spain and Portugal combined but with few tarred roads.

    The airport hosts regular commercial flights, as well as a constant string of military aircraft and cargo planes delivering aid to remote regions cut off by road.

    Civil war broke out in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that has split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

    Fighting continues despite an August peace deal, but battles today are far from the capital.

     

    Pix below at scene of crash: 

    Image result for images of south sudan plane crashImage result for images of south sudan plane crashImage result for images of south sudan plane crash


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  • 30,000 S.African coal miners strike as wage talks fail

    04/Oct/2015 // 120 Viewers

    AFP/File | Members of the South African National Union of Mineworkers demonstrate in front of the South Africa Chamber of Mines as they hand over a memorandum to its leadership on September 5, 2015

     

    JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - 

    Over 30,000 workers began an indefinite strike Sunday after wage negotiations in South Africa's coal industry failed.

    "We took the decision to strike because we reached a deadlock," National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu told AFP.

    "It will continue indefinitely until the two parties can come together and solve their differences."

    The strike, which was scheduled to begin at 1600 GMT on Sunday, will hit mining houses Anglo American, Exxaro and the embattled Anglo-Swiss giant Glencore.

    The latter firm has in the past few months cut hundreds of jobs in an attempt to reduce costs.

    In August, it announced it was putting its Optimum Coal Mine, which supplies the state-owned power generator Eskom, into a form of bankruptcy protection as it seeks to restructure the company, citing "unsustainable financial hardship".

    The NUM is demanding a 14 percent increase for its miners, artisans and officials, and a 13 to 14 percent increase -- or R1000 ($73) -- for the industry's lowest paid workers.

    After over three months of negotiations, the industry bosses have come to the table with an offer of only about half the requested wage rises.

    "Striking is the only way for the workers to express their dissatisfaction with these offers," said Mammburu.

    According to the Chamber of Mines, South Africa's coal industry employs about 90,000 people.

    AFP


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  • Unpaid Nurses and Midwives declare indefinite strike

    04/Oct/2015 // 139 Viewers

    The Coalition of Unpaid Nurses and Midwives has declared indefinite strike over unpaid salaries and arrears.

    The strike according to the group will take effect from tomorrow, Monday October 5, until all of them are paid.

    The Nurses and Midwives claiming to be 7000 declared the strike in Accra on Sunday. They are mainly nurses and midwives who were employed between 2011 and 2015.

    The nurses said while some have not been paid for more than a year, others received only three months payment after working for more than three years.

     

    Spokesperson for the Coalition, Douglas Adu-Fokuo urged members not be intimidated but resolute in their demand by not “compromising on any promises, or whatsoever, from any authority or government officials.”

    He apologized to their “cherished and innocent” patients and families but asked all to blame the government "for not doing its part to find out means” to address their concerns.

    He insisted that the group will only return to work after they are paid because authorities have failed to honour all previous promises.

    more soon

     


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  • Muslim Brotherhood leader killed in Cairo gun battle with security forces

    04/Oct/2016 // 176 Viewers


    Egypt's Interior Ministry said early on Tuesday that it killed a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader it said was responsible for the group's "armed wing" and another member of the group in a shootout on Monday

    Mohamed Kamal, 61, a member of the group's top leadership, and Yasser Shehata, another leader, were killed.

    The ministry said it raided an apartment in Cairo's Bassateen neighbourhood after learning it was used by the leaders as a headquarters.

    Kamal disappeared on Monday afternoon, the Muslim Brotherhood said on its social media accounts but gave no further updates. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful 
    organisation. Reuters could not immediately reach the group for comment.

    Shehata was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for "assaulting a citizen and forcibly detaining the person in the headquarters of the freedom and Justice party," the political wing of the origination, the ministry said in its statement.

    Kamal had been sentenced to life in prison on two counts in absentia, added the statement.

    Kamal is one of the most prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Guidance Bureau. He was in charge of the supreme Administrative Committee, known as the youth committee. He resigned from the committee in May 2016, because the committee was opposed by other top leaders in the organization.

    The Brotherhood, the Middle East's oldest Islamist movement, and long Egypt's main political opposition, said it is committed to peaceful activism designed to reverse what it calls a military coup in 2013.

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched the toughest crackdown on Islamists in Egypt's modern history after toppling President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood in 2013.

    (REUTERS)


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  • BOKO HARAM: Triple suicide blast kills dozens on Lake Chad island

    05/Dec/2015 // 146 Viewers

     
    At least 27 people were killed and more than 80 wounded Saturday in a triple suicide bombing on an island in Lake Chad, a security source said in the capital N'Djamena.
     
    "Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in three different places at the weekly market on Loulou Fou, an island in Lake Chad," the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
     
    He said the explosions had "killed 30 people", including the attackers, and wounded more than 80.
     
    N'Djamena on November 9 declared a state of emergency in the flashpoint Lake Chad region, which also straddles Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger and is frequently targeted by Boko Haram Islamists who this year declared allegiance to the Islamic State.
     
    The decree granted the governor of the remote region the authority to ban the circulation of people and vehicles, to search homes and to seize arms.
     
    In recent months, Boko Haram Islamists have stepped up attacks and suicide bombings on Chadian villages in the lake that lie close to the frontier with Nigeria.
     
    The deadliest attack on Chad's side of the lake took place on October 10, another triple suicide, which killed 41 people at Baga Sola, according to N'Djamena.
     
    Since the start of the year, the Chadian army has been on the front line of a regional military operation against Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread from northeast Nigeria, its traditional stronghold, to the country's three Lake Chad neighbours.
     
    Boko Haram has been hit hard by the offensive, losing territory, but has launched a wave of attacks and bombings in response.
     
    The jihadists, believed to be hiding out in Nigeria's Sambisa forest and the lake's many islands, are held responsible for 17,000 deaths and for making 2.5 million people homeless in their six-year campaign of violence.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    (AFP)


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  • 2-U.N. police base under attack in Mali's Timbuktu - United Nations

    05/Feb/2016 // 336 Viewers

     

    By Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo
     
    BAMAKO Feb 5 (Reuters) - Unknown assailants attacked and withdrew inside a U.N. police base in the Malian city of Timbuktu on Friday morning, the United Nations said, while security sources said a Malian army checkpoint in the city had also come under fire.
     
    The attackers drove up to the entrance of the U.N. base in the former Hotel Palmeraie at around 6:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) and then detonated their vehicle, said Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.
     
    "An unknown number of assailants have withdrawn inside the camp. An operation is currently under way with Malian and MINUSMA forces," he said, adding that an injured police officer had been evacuated.
     
    A military source in Timbuktu said the site, near the entrance to the city, had been taken over exclusively by a Nigerian police contingent, and there were no other residents as the hotel was no longer operational.
     
    He could not say whether there were any U.N. personnel inside the site with the attackers. Salgado said it had been empty at the time of the attack, barring a few guards.
     
    Simultaneously, a Malian army checkpoint in the Kabara neighbourhood near the airport was attacked by gunmen. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
     
    Islamist militants, who briefly held the city of Timbuktu in 2012 until French forces drove them out, have stepped up attacks in Mali in recent months as part of a growing regional insurgency.
     
    Last month, al Qaeda fighters seized a Swiss missionary living there and set conditions for her release.


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  • Sierra Leone convicts six of destroying palm oil trees in land rights dispute

    05/Feb/2016 // 132 Viewers

     

    By Umaru Fofana
     
    BO, Sierra Leone (Reuters) - A Sierra Leone court has convicted six people opposed to a palm oil project in which French conglomerate Bollore owns a major stake of destroying trees and inciting the local population to protest over land rights.
     
    In a ruling on Thursday, the court in the town of Bo found that the defendants, who include a former lawmaker and are members of a local landowners association, destroyed 40 palm oil trees belonging to Socfin in the Pujehun District.
     
    An official with Luxemburg-based Socfin said thousands of trees had been damaged during the 2013 incident, but he did not provide a precise figure.
     
    A growing number of African land lease deals for mining and agribusiness have provoked tensions for allegedly depriving often poor countries of the means to feed their own populations.
     
    The six defendants, who received sentences ranging from five to six months in prison in addition to fines, were involved in organising protests against what they claimed were unduly low fees paid by Socfin for the land it used.
     
    They had risked prison terms of up to five years.
     
    Riots have in the past broken out in parts of Sierra Leone against both mining and agribusiness companies by locals accusing them of "land grabs".
     
    "I am a little bit disappointed with the judgement even though the sentence is lenient," said Joseph Rahall, head of Green Scenery which paid the defendants' legal costs and campaigns against large land acquisitions by global firms.
     
    Socfin, which has always maintained that it has respected the terms of its agreement with the government of Sierra Leone, welcomed the conclusion of the case.
     
    "In Sierra Leone you have a perfectly well-working legal system, and this thing has been going on long enough," said Gerben Haringsma, Socfin's country director.
     
    "The judge has reached a decision and we will respect any decision they take," he said.
     
    Socfin manages around 180,000 hectares of palm oil and rubber plantations in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo and in Asia in Indonesia and Cambodia.
     
    Bollore, an industrial conglomerate with a heavy focus on Africa, owns a 38.7 percent stake in Socfin.


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  • UN troops in Liberia accused over assault on teen

    05/Jan/2016 // 152 Viewers

     

     
    As news of the execution spread on Sunday, enraged Iranians burst into the Saudi embassy where they destroyed furniture and started fires. Demonstrators also attacked a consulate in Iran’s second city of Mashhad.
     
    Protests spread to Bahrain, a Sunni kingdom which has a Shiite majority population.
     
    Saudi authorities said they had asked Iranian officials to ensure security at the embassy, but that Tehran had failed to do so. Riyadh hit back by ordering diplomats, as well as consular and embassy staff, representing Tehran to leave the country within 48 hours.
     
    Tehran hit back on Monday, accusing Saudi Arabia of exploiting the embassy attack to fuel tensions in the region, adding that it was committed to protecting foreign diplomatic missions.
     
    "Iran... is committed to provide diplomatic security based on international conventions. But Saudi Arabia, which thrives on tensions, has used this incident as an excuse to fuel the tensions," Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in televised remarks.
     
    ‘Inhuman’ execution
     
    Relations between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite-ruled Iran have been strained for decades, with Riyadh frequently accusing Tehran of interfering in Arab affairs.
     
    The two countries have also been divided over the nearly five-year war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime, and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite rebels.
     
    ‘LOWEST SAUDI-IRAN RELATIONS SINCE IRAN-IRAQ WAR’
     
    Nimr was a central figure in Arab Spring-inspired protests by Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority until his arrest in 2012. He was convicted of terrorism charges but denied advocating violence.
     
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Nimr's execution, saying "God will not forgive" the kingdom for putting him to death.
     
    "The unjustly spilt blood of this martyr will have quick consequences," he said, adding, "It will haunt the politicians of this regime."
     
    Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani condemned the execution as “inhuman”, but also urged the prosecution of “extremist individuals” for attacking the embassy and the Saudi consulate, state media reported.
     
    UN Security Council condemnation
     
    The United Nations has launched an investigation into allegations that two military personnel were involved in a teenage boy being beaten up in northern Liberia, it said in a statement.
     
    The incident is alleged to have taken place on December 4 in Bong County, according to the statement issued late Thursday by UNMIL, the UN's peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
     
    "The alleged misconduct involved the beating of a teenage boy," said Waldemar Vrey, UNMIL's officer-in-charge, adding that the accusations came to light on Tuesday.
     
    "The mission takes such allegations extremely seriously and dispatched yesterday a preliminary fact-finding team, led by the force Provost Marshall -- the highest ranking member of the military police.
     
    "The team is tasked with preserving evidence in the event a full investigation is warranted."
     
    Vrey gave no details on the incident but said UNMIL had arranged "on humanitarian grounds" to have the boy moved to JFK Hospital in Monrovia, the largest in the country.
     
    "While the facts in this case are being established, our thoughts are with the boy, whose condition remains moderately serious, and his family," he added.
     
    He called for "all parties to remain calm and cooperate with those establishing the facts" in Bong, which borders Guinea.
     
    A 15,000-strong UNMIL force was set up in 2003 to help Liberia transition to peace after devastating back-to-back civil wars spanning 14 years.
     
    It has been gradually handing its duties back to the government and will have just 1,240 troops and 600 police on the ground when Liberia assumes full responsibility for its own security in June.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Business Recorder


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