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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By Yonas Abiye, Hawassa
The fastest growing town in Southern Ethiopia, Hawassa, has taken its urban status up a notch by readying itself to host a major international conference following Addis Ababa’s suit.
As of earlier this week, Hawassa, the capital of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR), marked a new chapter while hosting a high-profile conference of the African Union ministers and ambassadors for the first time since it was founded half a century ago.
Hawassa town was the only urban center that was established with a modern master plan pioneered by Emperor Haile-Selassie in 1960.
During the past few years, Hawassa has been growing remarkably and emerging as a shining star in terms of infrastructure development and competitiveness to host grand events more than any other town other than Addis Ababa.
Once more, the town managed this week to successfully accommodate the AU’s ambassadorial gathering. 
Since the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, the pan-African body has been confined and hosted only in Addis Ababa until it went to Bahir Dar for the first time this year in January. The Adama town of the Oromia Regional State also became the other town to host similar events while Hawassa could achieve the same status by being the next town in the nation hosting AU’s event.
While delivering an opening speech during AU’s gathering held at Haile Resort, the chief administrator of the region, Dessie Dalkie, said, “Our town is a testimony of our development with the quality and efficiency to be a well qualified and self-contained town that simultaneously proves the entire development plan being exerted all over the nation.”
Ethiopian veteran diplomat Konjit Sinegiorgis, who is currently Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the AU, on her part said, “…the meeting of the AU being held in Hawassa is part of our reformation program that the government strives for which is aimed at strengthening urban development.”
Addressing the conference commissioner of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (Ph.D.), said, “Africa has great potential for tourism, when looking at the beauty of Lake Hawassa and the surroundings.
“If we continue to develop our infrastructure, we can attract many more tourists than we do today. We must also invest and continue to preserve our cultural heritage, in all its richness and diversity, because this is part of our strength as a continent. We salute the region for its efforts in this regard|.”
Zuma recalled that the very reason for the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) 50 years ago on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was to liberate Africa from the dehumanizing yoke of slavery, dispossession, colonialism and apartheid. 
“The vision, solidarity, commitment and bravery of our forebears triumphed and because of them we are here today,” she stressed, explaining that African forebears also strove for continental unity based on the full political, social and economic integration and development of Africa. “Although Africa has made strides towards the fulfillment of its integration, much more still remains to be done,” Zuma said. 
For the past few consecutive years, Hawassa has been honored ‘The best Town of the Year’ by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction over hundreds of towns.
Apart from the infrastructure development and the boosting of the industrial sector, Hawassa is one of the richest towns heading to be a No. 1 tourist destination.
Relatively speaking, the town, at the heart of the rift valley, offers almost better and fancier hotels and resorts next to Addis Ababa.
The likes of Haile Resort, Lewi Resort and South Star Hotel are among the leading hotels and accommodations that Hawassa boasts to lead in the forefront.
The town seemingly strives to present itself as an alternative place in accommodating more local, regional and global events besides Addis Ababa.
ምንጭ፦ ሪፖርተር ጋዜጣ 
Cape Town — Editors and publishers from across the world have singled out the governments of Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa and Swaziland for threatening free expression and media freedom.

At a meeting in Cape Town this week, the general assembly of the International Press Institute (IPI) - a global network of editors, media executives and journalists - adopted resolutions which called on:
  •  The Ethiopian government to stop arresting journalists under anti-terrorism laws and to review its anti-terror statutes to protect freedom of the press;
  •  The Swazi government to release unconditionally the editor of The Nation, Bhekitemba Makhubu, and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, who have been arrested, released and re-arrested by a succession of judges, some with personal interests in their case, in recent weeks;
  •  The Egyptian government to end arrests of journalists under anti-terrorism laws; and
  •  South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to submit a new secrecy law for court review.
The assembly also called on the South African government to explain why it placed obstacles in the way of African, Eastern European and Russian IPI members when they applied for visas for the IPI's World Congress.
In its resolution on Ethiopia, the IPI said that the use of anti-terrorism laws against journalists had "fuelled a sense of fear among media workers, both foreign and domestic."
At least six journalists had been jailed under the 2009 anti-terror law, it added, "some of whom are in failing health and have had restricted access to lawyers, friends and colleagues...
"The government must ensure that journalists are allowed to report on national security, unrest and dissenting politics without fear of arbitrary arrest, harassment or intimidation under laws intended to prevent attacks or prosecute terrorists seeking to do physical harm."
On Swaziland, where King Mswati III reigns as Africa's last absolute monarch, the IPI urged the government "to respect the fundamental right of freedom of expression and the role of journalists to raise alternative perspectives in Swazi society."
In Egypt also, the use of anti-terrorism law generated fear among media workers, the IPI said.
"Since the military-led ouster of Egypt's democratically-elected president in July 2013, more than 20 journalists have been indicted on terrorism-related charges, including several Al Jazeera employees now facing trial in Cairo."
The assembly called for media laws to be revamped to comply with the country's new constitution, and on Parliament to use its authority to investigate the use of anti-terrorism laws against journalists.
South Africa's Protection of State Information Bill had been improved since it first came before Parliament, the IPI said, but "further improvements are needed if the draft law is to shield journalists and whistle-blowers from wrongful prosecution that could have a chilling effect on press freedom and access to information."
It called on President Zuma to use his power to ask the country's Constitutional Court to review the law to see whether it complied with the Constitution.
Protesting at the treatment of IPI members by South African diplomatic missions, a resolution accused them of giving the impression the government was trying to prevent them from attending the congress.
"By placing obstacles to the issuance of visas," the meeting said, "South Africa lost an opportunity to showcase the country to journalists from a wide variety of foreign countries..."
The last time the congress was held in Cape Town, before the country's first democratic elections in 1994, it was addressed both by Nelson Mandela and former President F W de Klerk. This congress was addressed by a minister in the presidency.
Source@ http://allafrica.com/stories/201404171522.html