Daily Archives: February 27, 2015

Lesotho votes amid instability (Daily Nation (Kenya))

By the time you’re reading this, the tallying of the ballots for Lesotho’s parliamentary elections held on Saturday will be well under way.

Despite 23 parties having been registered for yesterday’s election, only three were considered strong enough to be deemed the frontrunners. Among them are the two parties that constitute incumbent Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s shaky coalition government.

They are Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) and its coalition partner Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

Also deemed a frontrunner is Lesotho’s main opposition party Democratic Congress (DC) led by former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. Intriguingly, according to the South Africabased Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the DC and LCD had prior to yesterday’s polls formed a formidable alliance that was expected to keep Thabane on his toes.

The coalition came even as a top Lesotho government official was recently quoted as saying that no party was likely to get enough votes to govern alone. In the meantime, another observer was quick to point out that even if Mosisili does not win outright “he is almost certain to lead a coalition government”.

As if to give that view even more credence, ISS researcher Dimpho Motsamai was last week quoted as saying that Mr Mosisili had run the best campaign and done the best job of explaining Lesotho’s prevailing political uncertainty in his favour. The researcher added that Mr Mosisili had consequently “won the public relations battle.”

Poignantly, during the last election in 2012, the DC won the largest number of seats (48), but failed to get a majority. The result was that in the end, three other parties formed the country’s first coalition government.

These were ABC, which had 30 seats, LCD (26 seats) and the Basotho National Party (BNP) with five seats.

However, soon there were ramblings that set the stage for perennial squabbling over power between Thabane (ABC), Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing (LCD) and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane (BNP).

Unfortunately, that state of affairs set the scene for the coalition’s inevitable failure. In the meantime, a spirited anticorruption drive by Mr Thabane became a major spanner in the works, particularly when Mr Metsing emerged as the subject of a major corruption probe.

Furiously fighting back, the deputy prime minister in June 2014 openly declared that he would go out of his way to oust Mr Thabane. The latter responded by suspending Parliament, even as a major showdown loomed between the two denizens of the Lesotho political scene.

The outcome was a convoluted coup attempt that took place in August last year, ushering in a new period of uncertainty. During that episode, nearly five months ago, soldiers raided Mr Thabane’s residence and the police headquarters in the capital Maseru, raising tension even as Mr Thabane hurriedly fled to South Africa.

Given that Lesotho’s armed forces are notorious for meddling in politics, the events of last August were made even more worrying by the fact that the military is known to have close ties with Mr Metsing, while Mr Thabane is said to have close ties with the police.

Considering that the two leaders had been embroiled in a longstanding battle for political supremacy, it was not surprising that Mr Metsing took over the reins in Mr Thabane’s absence.

ARMY DENIED COUP

In the meantime, both Mr Metsing and the army denied that there had been a coup, with the army saying that the raids were aimed at disarming rogue elements within the police force who were allegedly preparing to supply weapons to some political parties.

Alarmed by the latest developments in the historically volatile Lesotho, both South Africa and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc said “the activities of the Lesotho Defence Force . . .(bore) the hallmarks of a coup d’etat”.

Despite consequent efforts by SADC countries to stabilise Lesotho, political tensions were not totally eased in the landlocked country surrounded on all sides by South Africa.

Even as Saturday’s polls neared, there were fears about the future of the country, which has 2 million residents and is ruled by King Letsie III, whose duties are however mainly ceremonial.

Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (The News Today (Bangladesh))

The theory of Clash of Civilizations relates to people’s cultural and religious identities that will be the primary source of conflict in the postCold War world. It was proposed at the American Enterprise Institute by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in a 1992 lecture, which was then developed in a 1993 Foreign Affairs article titled “The Clash of Civilizations?

In response to his former student Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. Huntington later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Bernard Lewis in an article in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly titled “The Roots of Muslim Rage”, used the phrase earlier. Even earlier, the phrase appears in a 1926 book regarding the Middle East by Basil Mathews: Young Islam on Trek: A Study in the Clash of Civilizations. This expression derives from clash of cultures, already used during the colonial period and the Belle A‰poque.

Huntington began his thinking by surveying the diverse theories about the nature of global politics in the postCold War period. Some theorists and writers argued that human rights, liberal democracy, and capitalist free market economy had become the only remaining ideological alternative for nations in the postCold War world. Specifically, Francis Fukuyama argued that in a Hegelian sense the world had reached the ‘end of history’.

The identification of Western civilization with the Western Christianity (CatholicProtestant) was not Huntington’s original idea. It was rather the traditional Western viewpoint and subdivision before the Cold War period. Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he “argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines”.

As an extension, he posits that the concept of different civilizations, as the highest rank of cultural identity, will become increasingly useful in analyzing the potential for conflict. In the 1993 Foreign Affairs article, Huntington writes: “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic.

The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations.

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future”. In the end of the article, he writes: “This is not to advocate the desirability of conflicts between civilizations. It is to set forth descriptive hypothesis as to what the future may be like”. The clash of civilizations, for Huntington, represents a development of history.

In the old time, the history of international system was mainly about the struggles between monarchs, nations and ideologies. Those conflicts were primarily seen within Western civilization. But with the end of the Cold War, world politics had moved into a new aspect in which nonWestern civilizations were no more the exploited recipients of Western civilization but became another important actor joining the West to shape and move the world history.

Huntington divided the world into “major civilizations” in his thesis as such: Western civilization, comprising the United States and Canada, Western and Central Europe, Australia and Oceania.

The Eastern world is the mix of the Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu, and Japonica civilizations. The Muslim world comprises of the Greater Middle East (excluding Armenia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Israel, Malta and South Sudan), northern West Africa, Albania, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Maldives.

The civilization of SubSaharan Africa located in Southern Africa, Middle Africa (excluding Chad), East Africa (excluding Ethiopia, Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, and Tanzania), Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is considered as a possible 8th civilization by Huntington. Huntington writes, instead of belonging to one of the “major” civilizations, Ethiopia and Haiti are labeled as “Lone” countries. Israel could be considered a unique state with its own civilization, but one which is extremely similar to the West. Huntington also believes that the Anglophone Caribbean, former British colonies in the Caribbean, constitutes a distinct entity.

There are also others which are considered “cleft countries” because they contain very large groups of people identified with separate civilizations. Huntington terms, Russia and India as ‘swing civilizations’ and may favour either side. According to Huntington Russia, for example, clashes with the many Muslim ethnic groups on its southern border (such as Chechnya) but cooperates with Iran to avoid further MuslimOrthodox violence in Southern Russia, and to help continue the flow of oil.

A “SinoIslamic connection”, Huntington argues, is emerging in which China will cooperate more closely with Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other states to augment its international position. Civilization conflicts are “particularly prevalent between Muslims and nonMuslims”, identifying the “bloody borders” between Islamic and nonIslamic civilizations, Huntington also argues.

This conflict dates as far back as the initial thrust of Islam into Europe, its eventual expulsion in the Iberian reconquest and the attacks of the Ottoman Turks on Eastern Europe and Vienna. Huntington also believes that some of the factors contributing to this conflict are that both Christianity (which has influenced Western civilization) and Islam are: Missionary religions, seeking conversion of others.

Universal, “allornothing” religions, both believe that only their faith is the correct one, and that their values and beliefs represent the goals of existence and purpose in human existence.

Irreligious people who violate the base principles of those religions are perceived to be furthering their own pointless aims, which lead to violent interactions. Huntington wrote, more recent factors contributing to a WesternIslamic clash, are the Islamic Resurgence and demographic explosion in Islam.

Added to this are that infuriate Islamic followers the values of Western universalism that is, the view that all civilizations should adopt Western values. Huntington wrote briefly in his Foreign Affairs article that all these historical and modern factors combined, and in much more detail in his 1996 book, would lead to a bloody clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations.

The political party Hizb utTahrir also reiterates Huntington’s views in their published book, The Inevitability of Clash of Civilization. Huntington offers six main causes for why civilizations will clash: “(i) Differences among civilizations are too basic in that civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition, and, most important, religion.

These fundamental differences are the product of centuries, so they will not soon disappear. (ii) As the world is becoming a smaller place the interactions across the world are increasing, and they intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations and commonalities within civilizations. (iii) Due to the economic modernization and social change, people are separated from longstanding local identities. Religion has replaced this gap, which provides a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilizations.

(iv) The growth of civilizationconsciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the West: West is at a peak of power and a return to the roots phenomenon is occurring among nonWestern civilizations. A West at the peak of its power confronts nonWestern countries that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in nonWestern ways. (v) Cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. (vi) Economic regionalism is increasing. Successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilizationconsciousness. Economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization”.

The future central axis of world politics tends to be the conflict between Western and nonWestern civilizations the conflict between “the West and the Rest”, Huntington suggests. Huntington believes that the increasing power of nonWestern civilizations in international society will make the West begin to develop a better understanding of the cultural fundamentals underlying other civilizations. Therefore, Western civilization will cease to be regarded as “universal” but different civilizations will learn to coexist and join to shape the future world.

In Huntington’s view, intercivilizational conflict manifests itself in two forms: fault line conflicts and core state conflicts. “(i) Fault line conflicts are on a local level and occur between adjacent states belonging to different civilizations or within states that are home to populations from different civilizations. (ii) Core state conflicts are on a global level between the major states of different civilizations.

Core state conflicts can arise out of fault line conflicts when core states become involved”. Such conflicts may result from a number of causes, for example: relative influence or power (military or economic), discrimination against people from a different civilization, intervention to protect kinsmen in a different civilization, or different values and culture particularly when one civilization attempts to impose its values on people of a different civilization. The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.

Foreign shop owner set alight in South Africa (Al Jazeera)

Nine arrested in Johannesburg suburb as xenophobic attacks on foreigners sweep Rainbow Nation.

Police in South Africa say nine people have been arrested after a foreigner was set alight outside Johannesburg, the latest in a string of xenophobic attacks in the country.

Lieutenant Kay Makhubela, a spokesperson for the South African Police Services in Gauteng told Al Jazeera on Friday that calm had since returned to Doornkop district inside Soweto, after a mob reportedly doused the foreigner’s store with petrol and set it alight the previous night.

“Petrol was poured over the store that the victim was in, and he caught fire,” Makhubela said.

The man, whose name and nationality is yet to be confirmed, survived Thursday’s attack but suffered severe injuries and was admitted to a local hospital. The specific circumstances around the attack remains unclear, though police said the attackers wanted the foreigner shut his store and leave.

In another incident in the same area on Thursday, police said they had arrested four foreigners after a confrontation with locals who tried to loot their store. Police said the foreign business owners had fired warning shots when they were reportedly approached by locals to close their stores. No locals were arrested. 

Disturbing trend 

This week’s attacks on foreigners is the latest in a disturbing trend wherein foreign nationals living and working in the country are targeted.

Foreign-owned shops in several parts of Gauteng were looted in January following the shooting of Siphiwe Mahori, by a Somali shop-owner. The fourteen-year-old teenager was allegedly part of a group trying to rob the store when the Somali opened fire, killing the boy.

The killing prompted outrage in Soweto and turned into an excuse to loot foreign owned stores.

Foreign nationals, specifically African migrants, have endured a series of attacks across South Africa over the past decade.

Critics say that recent attacks continue to demonstrate 

the negative attitudes held by a number of South Africans toward foreign nationals. It is also alleged that the 

government’s refusal to treat the violence as ‘a hate crime’, has only perpetuated the problem.

“There has to be public acknowledgement of the problem,” Hamadziripi Tamukamoyo, a researcher at Governance, Crime and Justice Division, at the Institute of Security Studies, in Pretoria said.   

Tamukamoyo told Al Jazeera the South African government refused to acknowledge the problem “because admitting it is not in their interests and would mean recognising that state-building projects have not succeeded.”

“The real issue, is that xenophobia goes against the idea of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ and that South Africa is progressive …they wouldn’t want to hurt that narrative,” Tamukamoyo said.

Clashes elsewhere

Areas around Johanesburg were not the only districts to be hit by xenophobia this week.

Foreign-owned shop owners in the Marikana settlement in Phillipi outside Cape Town were forced to close their businesses on Tuesday, when groups of young South Africans began looting their stores.

In 2008, more than 60 people were killed in a series of attacks on foreign nationals across the country. At the time, a Mozambican national was burnt alive on the streets of township. Even as the image of his harrowing death was published widely, drawing international condemnation, no one was ever charged with the crime.

Two years ago, a Somali man died after being beaten, pelted with stones and dragged through the streets of Port Elizabeth. The attack was captured on a mobile device and shared on social media, prompting international outrage.

Varian Medical Systems to Make Radiotherapy Available for More Cancer Patients in Africa (PR Newswire)

Varian presenting cancer treatment strategy to governments and healthcare leaders at Africa Healthcare Summit in London

LONDON, Feb. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR), world leader in radiation therapy, is today reporting progress towards its goal of making advanced treatments systems more available for cancer patients across Africa. The company is presenting to government and healthcare leaders at the 2 nd Africa Healthcare Summit.

“We are pleased at the opportunity to engage with governments and other stakeholders at the Africa Healthcare Summit, to further explore ways of extending access to advanced cancer care,” says Burt Lang, Varian’s managing director in Africa. “Cancer is growing rapidly in Africa and has become one of the continent’s top healthcare concerns. Radiotherapy plays a vital and cost effective role in treating cancer and we are committed to making it available to more patients across the continent.”

According to a study published in Lancet Oncology, only 23 out of 52 African countries have radiotherapy available for patients. The World Health Organization reports that by 2030 there will be some 1.6 million new cancer cases in Africa each year, resulting in 1.2 million deaths. The most common cancers in Africa are cancers of the cervix, breast, lung, liver and prostate.  

Varian has installed more than 100 radiotherapy treatment systems in Africa over the last 25 years. The company recently announced major projects in Algeria, Egypt and South Africa. Varian has also installed equipment in several sub-Saharan nations including Ghana, Angola, Kenya, and Madagascar. 

Varian manufactures and supplies products including linear accelerators and accessories, treatment simulators and treatment verification products, as well as software systems for planning cancer treatments and managing information and images for radiation oncology. It also supplies systems for proton therapy as well imaging components used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Access to Care in Africa

As part of its presentation to delegates at the summit, Varian is also reporting progress in its ‘Access to Care’ educational program in Africa. This collaborative initiative seeks to bridge the gap between skills levels and knowledge in well-equipped developed countries and those in developing nations, where modern equipment is being installed but the rollout is sometimes hampered by the lack of trained staff to operate the equipment. Under Varian’s ‘Access to Care’ program, education hubs are being located strategically throughout the continent.

Editorial contact:
Neil Madle, Varian Medical Systems, +44 7786 526068

About Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, focuses energy on saving lives by equipping the world with advanced technology for fighting cancer and for X-ray imaging.  The company is the world’s leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is also a premier supplier of X-ray imaging components, including tubes, digital detectors, and image processing software and workstations for use in medical, scientific, and industrial settings, as well as for security and non-destructive testing.  Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,800 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world.  For more information, visit http://www.varian.com or follow us on Twitter

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems

Army confined to barracks as Lesotho votes (PM News (Nigeria))

Lesotho’s army will be confined to barracks when the small mountain kingdom votes Saturday in a snap election to break a political deadlock after an attempted coup last August.

With tension rising after a bystander was killed and two of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s bodyguards were wounded in a shootout with soldiers earlier this month, the military had planned to set up roadblocks in the capital Maseru.

ut that idea was swiftly nipped in the bud by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc that has been guiding Lesotho out of the crisis since the attempted putsch.

Instead, SADC will deploy 475 police from its member countries to provide security support during the election.

The latest troubles in the kingdom and which is completely encircled by South Africa and erupted on August 30, when soldiers surrounded police headquarters, killing one officer and looting weapons.

Thabane fled briefly to South Africa after being warned they were coming for him next.

The political situation had been deteriorating for months after Thabane suspended parliament to avoid a vote of no confidence that would likely have seen him ousted from power.

Thabane’s fragile coalition government, in which his All Basotho Convention (ABC) did not hold the majority of seats in parliament, was expected to fall to Democratic Congress leader and former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

The day before the army attack, Thabane fired the general Mosisili had appointed as head of the armed forces a few years earlier, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli.

After South Africa stepped in, Kamoli, his replacement and the police commissioner were sent into temporary exile.

Band-aid solution’

ut analysts say little has been done to address the security situation and the simmering hostility between the army and the police.

“This is a band-aid solution,” said Tsoeu Petlane, analyst at the Transformation Resource Centre in Maseru.

“It hasn’t addressed the heart of the issue that was on the table to start with.”

The fact that no decision has been made on how to deal with the alleged plotters may lead the military to believe they are not going to be held to account for the past violence”, said Institute for Security Studies analyst Dimpho Motsamai.

“The message it sends to them in terms of deterrence is very weak.”

Not that violence is expected during the voting: a peaceful first round of special votes for journalists, observers and others went off smoothly last weekend.

ut analysts say there could be trouble if Thabane and who is seen as favoured by South Africa and wins outright with a large majority.

“If the ABC wins,” warned Motsamai, “there will be electoral violence.”

About 20 parties are contesting the election. While no reliable opinion polls have been conducted, the ABC and the Democratic Congress are generally seen as the front-runners.

Ideological differences between the major parties are difficult to pin down, with both promising the population of some two million people more jobs and less poverty.

South Africa has led the regional mediation effort through Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Lesotho, which has lived in the shadow of its bigger neighbour throughout its history, is no stranger to political upheaval and South Africa has intervened twice before.

“There’s a general national acceptance of the intervention, but it comes with embarrassment and that we should have tried to sort out our own problems,” said Petlane.

Lesotho’s economy is heavily dependent on its neighbour and but in turn, its stability is crucial to South Africa, which needs to safeguard the multi-billion dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project that supplies water to its economic heartland around Johannesburg.