The African investigative story most in the news internationally this month was the harrowing tale of Dutch multimillionaire Arthur Paes, whom the authorities in Ghana are charging with child rape (or ‘defiling of a minor’, in Ghanaian terms). Dutch journalist Sanne Terlingen got hold of the story, travelled to Ghana and spoke to a wide variety of sources and unearthed documents indicating that there is more to the Dutch businessman than the charitable and developmental intentions he likes to emphasize.
In Ghana, the story was followed up by FAIR’s Anas Aremeyaw Anas and the award winning team of the New Crusading Guide. Publications both in the Netherlands and in Ghana have irked Paes, who maintains that the accusations against him are nothing but a blackmail attempt by the guardians of the minor in question. Paes is on the counter-attack now, using his own website to accuse Anas of being a ‘blackmail-journalist ’. Says Anas: “We are not worried. The truth is coming out.” See: http://www.modernghana.com/news/405956/1/a-g-finally-sets-records-straight-prosecute-arthur.htmland http://www.arthurpaes.com/Anas_Aremeyaw_Anas.html
Other member stories making headlines this month were the Premium Times’ expose on the guys who make money from oil fraud: http://premiumtimesng.com/business/6226-exclusive_nigeria_s_biggest_oil_fraudsters_the_worst_subsidy_sca.html and the Ugandan Monitors’ uncovering of their governments’ priorities when it comes to the Olympics: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Sports/Athletics/Officials+earn+5+times+more+than+Olympians/-/690274/1463482/-/kuvo80z/-/index.html
FAIR members in the news in July were quite a few, due to the CNN ‘African journalist of the year’ Awards. The Nigerian Premium Times’ investigative team of Musikilu Mojeed, Idris Akinbajo, Peter Nkanga, Elor Nkereuwem received a special recommendation for courageous reporting. This comes after winning FAIR Awards and Nigerian awards for investigative journalism last year.
South Africa’s Adriaan Basson and Piet Rampedi of City Press won in the ‘print’ category with their investigation into youthful and energetic politician Julius Malema’s secret funds from state tenders. http://www.citypress.co.za/SouthAfrica/News/Malemas-secret-fund-20110723. And this CNN video shows why they won: http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2012/07/19/african-journalist-awards-print-12.cnn
Then, besides the CNN event, Ghanaian Anas Aremeyaw Anas reached out once again to huge audience with his TED Talk, which is definitely worth watching (with 17 787 views so far): http://talentsearch.ted.com/video/Anas-Aremeyaw-Anas-My-mission-t;TEDNairobi#.T_8L7-3d_aM.facebook
The story of persecution of Nigerian colleague Ahmad Salkida ended happily, in the meantime: helped by FAIR, Salkida –who was under fire from both the violent Boko Haram movement in Nigeria as well as from the Nigerian security forces- was admitted to London City University as a student. Salkida is to pursue an academic degree in journalism in the UK, while taking a break from what had become an untenable situation for him in his home country.
Further internationally: South America – notably Brazil and Mexico – got sight of FAIR in the past few weeks. At the International Congress of Investigative Journalism in Sao Paulo, (July 12-14) held by our sister organization Abraji, FAIR investigations manager Charles Rukuni presented a lecture on ‘Killing Soccer’, FAIR’s 2010 Transnational Investigation into corruption in the organization of world football’s biggest event. Now that Brazil is to host the World Cup in 2014, FAIR’s experiences were relevant for Sao Paulo participants.
“If the main organizer, FIFA, is corrupt, how do you even start to investigate corruption at the lower (local) levels?” was the main question emanating from ‘Killing Soccer’, now facing Brazil, noted Abraji in its conference report. Targets for investigation in Brazil already include the former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira and the honorary president of FIFA, Joao Havelange. Charles Rukuni cited the release, by Swiss Courts, of documents on this matter.
In Mexico, a radio programme hosted by former FAIR member from Angola, now Mexican resident, Pedro Cardoso, invited FAIR to present on a weekly basis, the African continent’s most interesting journalistic investigations. The interest of the Mexican audience was piqued when informed about such things as oil revenue investigations, investigations into development created by illegal money (from FAIR’s Social Bandits), local tycoons using state budgets for their own business empires, and investigations into police death squads. Commented Cardoso: ‘Many listeners will recognize such issues, as they have them in Mexico, too.”
In Africa, meanwhile, the Southern African Investigative Journalism Conference is to be held during 13-15 August in Lusaka, Zambia. The event will be hosted by FAIR in partnership with HIVOS and Panos southern Africa office, and themed around ‘extractive industries’. Expected highlights include:
- Presentation of a new Zimbabwean documentary on the Marange diamond fields, with interviews with miners, officials and military;
- South African investigations into mining scams and looting of resources;
- FAIR Board member Eric Mwamba’s research into the ‘hell of rapacious mining’ that is Joseph Kabila’s Congo.
FAIR’s new partner on ecological justice investigations is the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in Durban, South Africa is . CCS’s Environmental Justice research spans the African continent, and to add to this research, CCS has already financed a number of FAIR investigative journalism grants in the field of the environment during 2012.
The best case studies from the southern Africa conference will be invited to present at the African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) commonly known as ‘Power Reporting’, which is held annually with our partners the University of the Witwatersrand, between 29 and 31 October 2012.
The FAIR AGM will be held a day before AIJC, on Sunday 28 October 2012. Those who want to attend, please ensure that your membership is up to date! Only fully up-to-date members will receive invites to the AGM and the AIJC in Johannesburg. The AGM will consider such varied matters as FAIR’s achievements in 2012, membership growth, new projects, financial matters, and the election of a new Board.
Chapter 10 of the Investigative Journalism Manual, ‘INVESTIGATING THE ENVIRONMENT’ will be launched officially at the AIJC in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) office in South Africa provided financial support for researching and writing the contents of this chapter. KAS is also arranging the basic layout of text into PDF format, for online access, and its translation into French and Portuguese languages for use across Africa. FAIR is grateful to both KAS and WITS Journalism for their sustained and supportive engagement towards learning needs of African investigative journalists.
As far as projects go, FAIR’s new continental Investigative Journalism Grants Fund will be high on the agenda as a much needed activity for 2013. The need for (grants) support for quality journalism was once again highlighted by this letter we received from Lubumbashi, DRC this month:
“We have the talent, but no means. To issue one print run of 1000, I need US$ 350, fees for journalists or ink not included. When there is no money, there is no print run. We are ten who report for the newspaper: three in Kinshasa, two in Kananga, two in Lubumbashi, one in Llebo, one in Tshikapa. We have one in Mbuji-Mayi, who works whenever he happens to pass through the centre of town, to report on his observations in the diamond mining areas. They are all volunteers and I pay them something whenever I have. I write this in an internet café, because at the moment I have not paid my monthly internet subscription of US$ 125. As soon as I am back at the office, I will send you a newspaper. – With thanks, Boucard (Editor L’Eveil).
L’Eveil is one of the two newpapers that, despite threats, published Eric Mwamba’s investigations about the looting of DRC’s state coffers by president Kabila and his close allies.
We thank you for your support, feedback and motivation, and looking forward to another month of investigating Africa!
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