Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XXXIV

     Africa Monitor, Africa, Somalia, April

    A bush taxi in Somalia

    Source: Frank Keillor/CC BY-NC 2.0

    The Continent

    Somalia rescues hijacked Indian crew

    India on April 12 thanked Somalia for rescuing 10 Indians working as crew on a commercial vessel hijacked by pirates. “I am happy to inform that 10 Indian nationals working as crew on MV AL Kausar which was hijacked by pirates have been rescued,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. Swaraj also thanked India’s High Commissioner in Kenya Suchitra Durai for her efforts in securing the release of the Indians.

    Somalia security forces, on April 13, freed eight Indian sailors who had been taken ashore by pirates after they were chased off the hijacked Indian ship earlier this week. Pirates stormed the “Al Kausar” ship off the Indian Ocean coast near Yemen on March 31, holding the 10-man crew hostage. Somali security forces liberated the vessel on April 10, rescuing two Indian crew members, but the pirates were able to escape with the rest of the hostages.

    Source: Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

    Ethiopian candidate for top WHO job gets full backing from Africa

    Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs minister Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has received strong backing from African countries to head the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose elections are due next month. At the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland from May 21-31, member states will vote in a new director-general for the UN’s leading health agency, who will take office on July 1.

    Tedros, 51, outlined to The New Times that his five priorities for the organisation namely: universal health coverage; health emergency preparedness; women, children and adolescents; health impacts of climate and environmental change; and creating a transformed WHO that is effectively managed, adequately resourced, results-focused and responsive.

    “I would like my legacy to be the Director-General who brought the world together to achieve universal health coverage that is equitable and affordable for all. I believe that access to health is a human right,” he said. “The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa report that came out last year by WHO and others stated that 11 million Africans are falling into poverty every year due to high out-of pocket payments. That is unacceptable. I am convinced that UHC, with strong primary care and essential financial protection, is the key to overcoming global health security threats and to avoiding impoverishment.”

    If elected, Tedros said he will seek to strengthen coordination and information flows between the Secretariat, the regional offices, including the Regional Office for Africa, and the country offices.

    He said he will seek to develop a more diverse, inclusive, and effective health workforce at global, regional, and country office level, and work with member states to introduce a human resource reform for fair representation of all regions and countries at the Secretariat. He will also seek to listen to the needs of member states and to promote country ownership.

    Tedros said: “Countries must be at the table, as full and equal partners, to focus resources across a complex group of stakeholders working with them, to guide and make the decisions that will affect the health of their populations. “As Director-General, I will pledge to partner with countries to build national capacity through the development of robust health systems, particularly at the primary health care and community levels, capable of leading prevention, detection, response, and recovery efforts.”

    The candidature of Tedros, an internationally recognised malaria researcher who has also served as chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, was endorsed by the entire continent during the January 2016 Summit of Heads of State in Ethiopia. This guarantees 54 important votes when the UN 194-member nations vote. Names of candidates nominated by member states were announced on September 23, 2016.

    Source: The New Times

    Central Africa

    Opposition protests banned in DRC

    DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa was empty on April 10 after the government warned it would break up opposition rallies. The opposition is accusing President Joseph Kabila of not sticking to a power-sharing deal. The usually bustling streets of Kinshasa were relatively calm and many business premises remained closed following a government decision to ban opposition demonstrations. DR Congo’s largest opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), had called on supporters to carry out a nation-wide demonstration against President Joseph Kabila on April 10.

    Public transportation was also limited as private buses chose to stay away. The public-run buses were however operational. Scores of military and anti-riot police were deployed at one of the biggest intersections near Kinshasa University. “This ban shows just how worried the government is about large-scale discontent,” Phil Clark, a political scientist at SOAS, University of London told DW. “Kabila realizes that anger is growing on the streets, people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the delays in elections,” Clark said. The UN peacekeeping force MONUSCO have issued a press release calling on President Kabila to respect a power-sharing deal.

    According to the power-sharing deal which was brokered by the Catholic Church, Kabila was to nominate a prime minister from the opposition rally known as “Rassemblement”. Kabila’s rule was to end last year, but the electoral commission cancelled elections citing logistical and financial challenges. Under the accord, Kabila is now to hand over power by the end of this year. Congolese police said on the evening of April 9 that the planned political protests on April 10 would be considered illegal. They also warned that “any gathering of more than 10 people will be dispersed.”

    This comes as after Kabila appointed Bruno Tshibala as the new prime minister of the DRC following a power-sharing deal. But Tshibala’s appointment has been criticized by the opposition. UDPS have labeled it “a reward for betrayal.” Congo’s new premier Tshibala was once a member of UDPS but he was expelled from the party following wrangling over who was best candidate to succeed UDPS leader Etienne Tshisekedi after his death in February. It is alleged that Tshibala did not support handing over the party’s mantle to Tshisekedi’s son Felix.

    “Kabila appointing Bruno Tshibala is a deliberate attempt to divide the opposition,” Clark said. The problem for Kabila is that Tshibala is not a popular figure on the streets. “Most Congolese believe Felix Tshisekedi should have been nominated as prime minister.” Clark warned that Kabila’s choice of Tshibala over Felix is likely to further inflame the tensions in DRC.

    Exiled Congolese opposition politician Moise Katumbi has criticized Kabila’s appointment of Tshibala saying; it is a move by the 45-year-old leader to extend his rule. “Our patience has its limits,” Katumbi said. The former governor of Katanga Province who is also an influential businessman said the Congolese people had been subject to political repression for a very long time. “Enough is enough!” Meanwhile violence continues to plague the Kasai province. At least 60 people were killed over the weekend in clashes involving government soldiers and the armed Kamwena Nsapu militia group in central DRC.

    According to local authorities, most of those killed were members of the Kamwena Nsapu. On April 6, Kabila declared the region a military zone and has vowed to crush the rebellion. The Kasai insurgency which spread to five other provinces has become one of Kabila’s biggest security challenges. The group opposes what it refers to as “unjust political domination” in the region. Hundreds have been killed in sporadic fighting and more than 200,000 have been forced to flee their homes.

    Source: Deutsche Welle

    Cameroon Government grappling with barriers dividing French, English-speaking regions

    A strike in English-speaking parts of Cameroon is approaching its sixth month mark. Schools in those areas remain shut and business paralyzed. As tensions deepen, Cameroon has begun grappling with some of the deeper grievances underpinning the divide. Another market was burned in an English-speaking area of the country on April 8. This time, it was in the northwestern town of Kumbo at St. Augustine’s College junction.

    Local businessman Ndukong Gabriel estimates he lost $20,000 worth of property. He says he will no longer be capable of repaying his loan. “All credit union presidents should come on board to grant some clemencies to all their clients that they granted loans before these crises,” says Gabriel. The government has blamed the fires on secessionist groups in English-speaking zones. The unrest in those areas, the northwest and the southwest, began shortly after English-speaking lawyers and teachers went on strike in November, demanding reforms. The situation intensified as the strike pulled in other activists who say the English-speaking minority is marginalized and that those regions should declare total independence. The government has rejected secessionist discourse but announced some changes, including the recruitment of more bilingual teachers and more anglophone judicial officers.

    Paul Nchoji Nkwi, anthropologist and social sciences lecturer at the Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda, says it will take deeper reform to calm tensions. “The strike of the teachers and the lawyers just opened a Pandora’s box and there are lots of grievances which are now emerging.” Justice Minister Laurent Esso announced earlier this month that the government will propose draft legislation to address alleged marginalization in the court system. Cameroon has parallel legal systems inherited from its two former colonial rulers. Francophone regions follow the French legal tradition while anglophone areas use British common law.

    Esso says President Paul Biya is very aware of the difficulties raised concerning anglophones. He says among other measures, Biya has asked for the elaboration of a draft law on the creation of a common law division at the Supreme Court to handle cases from the English-speaking parts of Cameroon. He says they have also been instructed to conduct a census of English-speaking lawyers to increase their representation at the higher levels of the judiciary.

    The predominance of French speakers at the highest levels of decision-making is proving a challenging grievance to address. Tensions on that issue recently made their way to the floor of the National Assembly. English-speaking parliamentarians protested last week as Cavaye Yeguie Djibril was re-elected speaker of the lower house. Djibril is from a French-speaking region, as is his deputy. Anglophone lawmakers said if the speaker is francophone, his first vice should be anglophone.

    Joseph Banadzem is president of the minority S.D.F. parliamentary group at the lower house. “You have four main ministries and about 11 extra ministries that deal with youths. None of them is anglophone. The minister of secondary education, minister of basic education, minister of higher education, minister of vocational education, minister of scientific education and their secretaries of state – none of them is anglophone,” Banadzem said. ” People are talking about real things which we are living. There should not be as if you are pushing us to look as if we have created a situation in the country.”

    English is only spoken by about 20 percent of the population. Yaya Doumba, a French-speaking parliamentarian from the Adamawa region, says not everything falls on language lines. He says the Mbere division where he comes from has never had a government minister. He says roads in many French-speaking regions are as bad as those in the English-speaking areas. He says there should be solidarity among francophones and anglophones in Cameroon as they find solutions to common problems.

    President Biya has on several public outings declared that he is open for dialogue, but that he is not ready for any discussions that would question the unity of the country. Strikers have demanded the unconditional release of everyone arrested over the stoppage and the reinstatement of the internet in English-speaking zones before dialogue can resume. Biya has said detainees must face justice.

    Source: Voice of America

    US begins delivery of non-lethal aid to CAR army

    At a ceremony this month, the US ambassador to the Central African Republic turned over the keys to four cargo trucks to the national army. It was the first installment of $8 million worth of nonlethal assistance that is expected to include 16 more trucks and communications equipment. “Essentially, we want to help the various processes that will allow this country that has known some really difficult times to pull out of that crisis and move into something sustainable, something safer for the region and ultimately safer for the American people as well,” US Ambassador Jeffrey Hawkins told VOA. “Because if there is glaring instability, even in a place that is remote like C.A.R., that does not serve American interests.”

    A rebel coup in 2013 plunged the CAR. into chaos. In the countryside, armed militias continue to fight over mineral resources and trade routes. Bandits and other groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army also take advantage of the poor security situation. The national army, known as the FACA, is being rebuilt from scratch with training from the European Union.

    The FACA deputy chief of staff for planning, Lieutenant Colonel Ishmael Koagu, said the troops do not have the capacity to intervene directly and are in the process of training and increasing their strength.

    The FACA has a limited supply of weapons as a result of an arms embargo by the UN Security Council. Analysts warn it may be years before the army is combat-ready and can take back control of the country.

    Meanwhile, there is the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, a force of about 12,000. The United States is the largest donor to MINUSCA. In Washington, the Trump administration has proposed cutting back US funding for the $8 billion UN peacekeeping budget. In Bangui, Hawkins told VOA he wasn’t sure whether MINUSCA would be affected. “The president has made clear that he is interested in a UN that is more efficient, that performs optimally,” he said.

    Advocacy groups warn that an abrupt drawdown of UN troops in the CAR could endanger civilians. The US ambassador said he remained “very supportive” of MINUSCA, “but [we] do not want it to be a permanent mission. We want it to be a temporary one, and the way to make it a temporary one is to build in situations that can take care of security concerns.”

    The United States has also announced it is withdrawing its troops from a regional task force hunting the Lord’s Resistance Army. About 100 US military members have been deployed to the CAR, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda since 2011 to track the armed group and try to bring its leader, Joseph Kony, to justice. Last month, the US Africa Command chief called Kony and his troops “irrelevant.” AFRICOM said the LRA had been reduced to under 100 fighters.

    Source: Voice of America

    North Africa

    Libya’s UN-backed government head meets with US Officials

    The head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has met in Stuttgart, Germany with top U.S. officials, in hopes of finding a way forward for what one analyst is calling “the Obama administration’s Iraq.” Chuck Prichard, a spokesman for US Africa Command, told VOA that GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj sat down on April 5 with US General Thomas D. Waldhauser, the commander of US Africa Command, and US Ambassador to Libya Peter Bodde at the US Africa Command headquarters.

    “The point was to catch up on how things are going in Libya and to brief about how civilian rule and military organizations work together,” Prichard said. It was Sarraj’s second visit to US Africa Command headquarters. The visit comes as Russian military officials have deployed to an airbase western Egypt, in what US officials say appears to be a bid to support Khalifa Haftar, the military commander of Libya’s rival eastern government.

    US officials told Reuters news organization last month that the United States had observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 100 kilometers from Egypt’s border with Libya. When asked whether the US Africa Command supported collaboration between the GNA and Khalifa Haftar, Prichard said the command was “not really advocating a position one way or the other.” “We’re just trying to facilitate stability so that the Libyan people can sort out their government,” he said.

    But this approach to allow Libyans to wade through political waters on their own has been “irresponsible,” especially when the Obama administration realised that US allies in Europe were not going to effectively aid the Libyans, says Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow for defense strategy at the Brookings Institution. “I think we’ve done a horrible job in Libya. I think it’s the Obama administration’s Iraq,” O’Hanlon said, adding that the US helped overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi with “just the hope that once we eliminated a bad guy, things would get better.”

    He said that approach was the same type of mentality that then-President George W. Bush had toward overthrowing Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the early 2000s.
    However, while the United States sent more than a hundred thousand troops into Iraq, analysts say US forces in Libya lack the capacity and numbers to properly train Libyan forces on the ground. According to a US official, only small numbers of US forces are spread out in areas including Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi.

    “To stabilize the country, there’s no way these people [US forces] can do what is needed because our basic political strategy doesn’t hold water,” O’Hanlon said. The last six years of volatility left a window of opportunity for Islamic State militants to gain a foothold. Months of fighting, and eventual aid from US airstrikes in and around Sirte, pushed the militants out of country.

    But as the country still lacks a stable form of government, Libya is ripe for Russian intervention, according to Russian expert Dmitry Gorenburg of CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization based in Arlington, Virginia. He said Russia’s support of Haftar would be a method to both increase its influence in Libya, where it once had an ally in Ghadafi, and build relations with Egypt. “They [Russia] see an opportunity to regain some influence in a country that was pretty much lost to them post – and even to some extent prior – to Ghadafi’s overthrow,” Gorenburg noted.

    Source: Voice of America

    Moroccans eye Tanzania fishing industry

    Moroccan investors are set to establish a fish processing factory in Tanzania. “Some Moroccan investors have conducted a study and found huge potential in fisheries. They intend to set up a giant fish processing factory. Zanzibar and Union governments are striving to attract investors,” said Zanzibar Finance minister Khalid Salum Mohamed. He was speaking at a meeting on African Business Connect for Economic Partnership on April 5. Tanzania Investment Centre CEO Clifford Tandari said Moroccans also eyed mining, transport, communications and agro processing.

    “Our king [Mohammed VI] has visited 30 African countries to cement economic partnerships. We have signed economic agreements with Tanzania. These are necessary for the growth of trade among African countries,” said the Moroccan ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Abdillah Benr Yane. “We are here to demonstrate that African countries cannot fight poverty without increased trading among themselves. We want trade between Tanzania and Morocco to increase rapidly.” The Bank of Africa, which sponsored the event, said the forum aimed at consolidating economic cooperation on the continent.

    The bank operates in more than 20 African countries. Industry, Trade and Investment minister Charles Mwijage asked King Mohammed, during his tour of Tanzania, last October that Moroccan investors were needed to unlock opportunities in various areas. He cited agriculture as among sectors that needed huge Moroccan investment.

    Source: The Citizen

    44 killed, dozens injured in church bombings in Egypt

    Bomb attacks at two Coptic churches in Egypt killed at least 44 people and injured more than 100 as worshipers where marking Palm Sunday. The first blast was in the northern city of Tanta, where a powerful explosion ripped through a Palm Sunday service at St. George’s Church, killing 27 people and wounding 78 others, state TV reported. The explosive device was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall, it said.

    In a separate incident, at least 17 people were killed and 41 others wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both blasts. In Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Church, had been attending mass inside the targeted church but was not hurt, state media reported.

    After the bombings, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency. “A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, the announcement of a state of emergency for three months after legal and constitution steps are taken,” Sissi said in a speech aired on state television. The blasts appear to have been timed for maximum impact, as people gathered to mark Palm Sunday. It is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

    Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up roughly 10 percent of the population, has increasingly been targeted by Islamist extremists. On April 9, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, denounced the bombings and expressed “his deep condolences” to Tawadros II and “all of the dear Egyptian nation.” Sources close to Pope Francis told Arab media he has not canceled plans to visit Egypt, later this month. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns.’ He said he has “great confidence” that President Sissi will handle situation properly.

    A Coptic church spokesman said the head of the church, Pope Tawadros III, who was conducting Palm Sunday services inside the the Alexandria church, may have been the target of the attack. Eyewitnesses in Tanta said an explosive device detonated near the church altar as worshipers recited prayers. Victims of the blast were taken to several nearby hospitals and residents of Tanta were urged to donate blood.

    Dr. Amjed Abdel Raouf, Dean of the Tanta Medical College, says doctors are doing their best to care for victims of the blast: He says that more than 60 wounded people were taken to two government hospitals. He said some victims had suffered burns and others were being treated for shrapnel wounds.

    Egypt’s Mufti Shawki Alam condemned the Islamic State group for the blasts, insisting that its followers are “not authentic Muslims.” He called the group a “criminal, terrorist group, by all measures” and insisted that Egypt is “at a critical point in the life of our nation and that everyone must exert more effort to put an end to extremist ideology and errant interpretations of Islam.

    Source: Voice of America

    Egypt extends Shs95 billion to control Kasese floods

    The Egyptian government has invested Shs95b in a project aimed at mitigating floods in Kasese District. The five-month project of protection works for flood mitigation in the district is funded by the Egyptian government under the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. Construction works will commence with River Nyamwamba and spread to other rivers in the district. “The contract was awarded to Arab Contractors Company at a tune of Shs95b and it’s to be completed in five months,” Mr Mohamed Eldesouky, the resident engineer from the Egyptian government, said in an interview on April 8.

    The works are centring on excavating and de-silting of the river channels at some identified hotspots to remove stones and other debris from the mainstream of Nyamwamba River to flush floods effectively. According to Mr Eldesouky, the upper stream of River Nyamwamba will be de-silted as a mitigation measure, to avoid accumulation of debris that may limit the river channel capacity during floods. “Our mitigation interventions will be carried out in three most severely affected areas along River Nyamwamba, i.e Road Barrier Primary School, Kilembe Mines hospital, Bulembia Primary School and Katiri School,” he said.

    He noted that the main problem has been the blockage of some cross sections of River Nyamwamba, which couldn’t accommodate the proper flow of the river adding that they are now digging it 10 meters deep to give the river enough space for water flow. “We started our role almost one and half weeks ago at the site of Bulembia Primary School with about four excavators removing stones from the water mainstream channel. Thereafter, we shall turning to Kyanzuki Bridge up to Kilembe hospital,” he said.

    Flooding has hit Kasese twice leading to the closure of Kilembe Mines Hospital in May 2013 and May 2014. The destructive floods that displaced patients were triggered by a heavy downpour that caused River Nyamwamba to burst its banks. According to Rev Sister Theopista Basemera, the Kilembe Mines Hospital senior administrator, the construction works on the river are a big relief to the hospital considering the turbulent situation the hospital went through during the previous floods.

    Source: The Monitor

    Southern Africa

    70 percent of South Africans want Zuma to resign:  Survey

    Seven out of ten South Africans believe President Jacob Zuma should step down, a TNS survey has revealed. Research firm Kantar TNS conducted a mobile survey with a representative sample of 1 000 South Africans adults from April 1 to April 3, shortly after Zuma’s late night Cabinet reshuffle on March 31. The distribution was representative in terms of race, age, gender and province. Of the 1 000 people surveyed, 687 were black, 147 were white, 107 were coloured, and 47 were Indian.

    “Although results were consistent across race and province, white, Indian and coloured respondents held stronger views, with 84% calling for President Zuma’s resignation, versus 69% of black respondents,” a TNS press release said on April 4. Provincially, the Western Cape showed the highest support for resignation, with 92% in favour, while KwaZulu-Natal had the lowest, 63%. The Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo all had support for “resignation”, with levels of 70% and above.

    TNS said the mobile survey, which used a third party application, was perfect to capture immediate results free from interviewer influence. TNS SA director Amien Ahmed told News24 on April 5 that the survey was designed to capture the current mood and climate in the country. The firm has also been conducting an ongoing omnibus survey, tracking Zuma’s approval ratings as far back 2009, and the latest results show a growing lack of confidence in the president’s tenure, he said. “This [omnibus] survey reveals that his approval rating is now at an all-time low,” Ahmed said. “In this latest omnibus survey, only 20% of all South Africans, living in metropolitan areas, feel that Zuma is doing a good job as president of South Africa.”

    Zuma’s highest approval rating was recorded in November 2009, where he garnered 58%. The latest omnibus results were taken from a sample of 2 000 adults, between March 15 and March 30, in the seven major metropolitan areas. Kantar TNS is one of the largest research firms worldwide, with a presence in over 80 countries. Its South African offices are based in Cape Town.

    Source: news24WIRE        

    Geingob asks Bush to promote Namibia

    President Hage Geingob has requested the former president of the United States of America, George .W. Bush, to promote Namibia in the US, the world’s largest economy. Speaking at a gala dinner held in honour of Bush and his wife, Laura, at State House on the evening of April 5, Geingob reminded his audience that Namibia is a child of international solidarity, midwifed by the United Nations and a friend to all… “unless they declare themselves our enemy”.

    Bush and his wife arrived in the country on April 5 and met with government officials, including Minister of Health Dr Bernard Haufiku, First Lady Monica Geingos and former first lady Penehupifo Pohamba. “I don’t know whether I can assign or task you formally, but when you go back from here, talk about Namibia. Tell the Americans what you have seen here,” Geingob enthused.

    “We are building a country, building a new nation, I compare that to building a house where we are using our different bricks to build the Namibian house, a house in which we must make sure that no one is left out. Tell them about this house,” he said. “Tell them about this nation, a very young nation and come back again, because Namibia wants to have you here. Namibians will be welcoming you again,” he added. “The Namibian people are happy to have you here with your dear wife and a big delegation. We met some of them while we were in America and they might have given you a lift, but I am glad that you are here, “he joked.

    On his part, Bush thanked Geingob for the honour, saying it was very rare that a former president gets a dinner in their honour. “So, Mr President and the First Lady, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for hosting us.” Bush jokingly said he feels quite comfortable in Windhoek, because it looks a lot like Texas. The dinner was attended by several parliamentarians, including the leader of the opposition, DTA president McHenry Venaani, prominent business people and diplomats.

    Bush, who left the country on April 6, was the initiator of the PEPFAR programme that aims to assist Africans in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Namibia received over N$28 billion worth of PEPFAR funding since the programme was launched in the country in 2004, making it one of the largest external contributions to Namibia. Bush served as U.S. president between 2001 and 2009.

    Source: New Era

    In South Africa, national bus strike continues ‘indefinitely’

    The national bus strike is expected to continue on April 13 after unions and employers were unable to reach an agreement over a pending salary increase. Employers are offering a 7.5% increase while unions are demanding an increase of 12%. Cape Town-based Golden Arrow Bus Services spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer told News24 that negotiations were deadlocked. “At this stage, the strike is continuing indefinitely. The best thing is to prepare for an indefinite strike and really hope the parties come to an agreement,” she said.

    Dyke-Beyer said 220 000 Golden Arrow passengers were affected by the strike. The services of MyCiti in Cape Town, Rea Vaya in Johannesburg, Gautrain buses and Putco have all been suspended because of the strike action. Department of Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the department has engaged with taxi associations and train services to compensate for the suspension of bus services. “Obviously, this is not enough, hence there is an emphasis to restore bus services to normal,” he said.

    Western Cape Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said the company had seen a considerable increase in passengers on April 12 following the start of the national bus strike. “Especially in Mitchell’s plain, but the passengers conducted themselves orderly. They were very patient and there were no incidences,” she said. Metrorail plans to continue with an expanded service on April 13 to compensate for suspended bus services. City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson Gugu Ndima said the city had not received any reports of stranded passengers. “While the Putco service has been disrupted, the city’s own bus service is operating normally,” she said.

    Transport portfolio committee chairperson Dikeledi Magadzi on the morning of April 12 said she was concerned about the strike, which was taking place just days before the Easter weekend. “The national bus strike is set to inconvenience the country in proportions not witnessed before. A lot of people around this time are commuting by road to be with families. The stakes are high and all assistance, particularly from law enforcement agencies, is required so that the safety of road users is not compromised,” Magadzi said. “The taxi industry, long and short-distance, will be under a lot of pressure. Hence drivers should exercise caution and at all times stick to the rules of no overloading and no speeding.”

    Among other demands the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa wants a housing allowance of R3 000, maximum 12 hour shifts for drivers, overtime to be 1.5% of rate of pay, work on Sundays or public holidays or overtime to be by agreement only and the insourcing of cleaning, workshop and technical staff.

    Source: news24WIRE

    East Africa

    You are thieves, Museveni tells finance officials

    Raging over the extraordinary scale of corruption in his Cabinet, President Museveni has described the Finance ministry as “a ministry of thieves” and volunteered more details on how senior government officials arrested last week, had solicited a bribe of more than Shs15b from Chinese investors who wanted to establish a Shs2 trillion phosphates plant in Tororo District.

    Briefing Cabinet last week about the plunder in the Finance ministry and the arrest of the senior officials in the ministry, the President evoked the Biblical allusion in Matthew 6:23 to point out how “thieving officials” in the ministry sabotaged the livelihoods of more than 1,200 Ugandans who would be employed by the Osukuru phosphate factory in eastern Uganda if the venture succeeded.

    “… .if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” the President is quoted to have told Cabinet. Although the President did not explain the context of the Biblical verse, he made it clear to the ministers that he would not tolerate thieving government officials. The President described by sources as ‘furious’, castigated Finance ministry officials, accusing them of failing to check corruption, and particularly singled out Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi for running “a ministry of thieves”.

    In Cabinet, the president narrated how his men caught the two Finance ministry officials (Mr Charles Ogol, the principal finance officer, and Mr Geoffrey Turyamuhika, a senior economist) red-handed, pocketing $60,000 (about Shs216m) from Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group (U) Company. He said this amount was “just a deposit” and that the total bribe was in excess of Shs15b. This money, according to sources, was to be shared by at least five officials in ministries of Finance and Energy.

    It was not readily established whether the two Finance officials who were arrested last week have named any accomplices in the racket, but Daily Monitor has learnt that the identities of the rest of the racketeers in Finance and Energy ministries, will be revealed when the Director of Public Prosecutions takes the matter to court. The President is also investigating information that some officials in Finance struck deals with multinational money lenders under the guise of raising funds for development purposes.

    According to President Museveni, government officials in the phosphates deal asked the Chinese to give them $1.5m (about Shs5b) so that they write to Uganda Revenue Authority to waive stamp duty of $8m (about Shs29b). They also demanded another $3m (Shs11b) for connecting electricity to the factory. The Chinese, however, ran to the President through his contacts and a plot to arrest the racketeers was made.

    Asked to explain why Mr Museveni called Finance “a ministry of thieves” and perhaps give context to NRM’s efforts in fighting corruption, Mr Don Wanyama, the senior Presidential Press Secretary, and the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, said fighting thieves has been on but the tempo is being stepped up in the President’s current term dubbed Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo (era of no-compromise).

    “The biggest trend of corruption now is that of technocrats demanding kickbacks from investors before attending to them… some even demand shares in companies! The President has now shifted a lot of focus to courting investors. So these people come back and report to him whenever these government technocrats ask for bribes and make operations difficult for investors,” Mr Wanyama said.

    “That’s the light in which he warned ministry of Finance officials because it’s them who deal with investors a lot. And true, technocrats who are in the habit of asking for bribes should be very afraid. They will not know what will hit them,” Mr Wanyama added. Mr Kasaija and Mr Muhakanizi could not be reached for a comment on the President’s reprimand. Mr Mugunga said he was not privy to the discussions in Cabinet.

    However, Mr Opondo explained that the reference to ministry of Finance as “a ministry of thieves” could have come from intelligence reports and that because the President cannot just mention people’s names anyhow, he opts for blanket condemnation, the same way he talked about police being infiltrated by criminals after the assassination of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi mid-last month. “The President is not saying that everyone in Finance is a thief but he is talking about the general malaise in government. Ministry of Finance is responsible for resource mobilisation and allocation. He was explaining a situation that has gone out of hand,” Mr Opondo explained.

    “The government machinery has been compromised, that’s why the President is taking action based on his political clout and intelligence briefs he receives on a daily basis. There are reports that some ministers and government officials receive favours from investors in form of cash, business trips, school fees and shares. There are reports that people design fake projects to enrich themselves. Government has not utilised borrowed money and people don’t care as long as they get their cuts,” he added.

    The President told Cabinet that he sacked a minister in the 2016 reshuffle for asking a bribe of $4 million (Shs14.4 billion) from an investor. He further revealed that before Finance officials “harassed” the Chinese investor for the Shs15 billion bribe, the same Chinese had paid Shs10b to a former MP who had promised to help them “get things done quickly”. The President, according to sources, has instructed the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, to investigate the MP and also ensure that the arrested suspects Ogol and Turyamuhika reveal their accomplices.

    To expedite the construction of Osukuru Phosphate Project in Tororo District, the President had directed in August 2014 that the investors be given a tax holiday, among other incentives. Although investors had hoped to complete the factory by December last year, Cabinet heard that the project stalled due to bureaucracy and officials asking for bribes.

    The Chinese, according to a State House statement released after the President commissioned the project in 2014, wanted to establish a chain of factories with an annual production of 300,000 tonnes from the phosphates plant, 300,000 tonness from the steel plant, 200,000 tonnes from the sulphuric acid plant, 100,000 tonnes from the Rare Earth factory, 300,000 tonnes of gypsum from the gypsum plant, as well as produce 12-MW of electricity from the waste heat power generation plant.

    At the commissioning of the project, the then Prime Minister, Mr Amama Mbabazi, noted that phosphates offer Uganda opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector that today stands at only 30 per cent total output. He described the ceremony as a defining moment for agriculture in Uganda that should trigger production

    Source: The Monitor

    Uhuru’s sister Margaret Wambui dies in Nairobi

    Of all the confidants of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, his daughter Margaret Wambui — who died on April 5 in Nairobi — was in a class of her own. Wambui, 89, is little-known today as she has been out of the limelight as old age and illness took a toll on her. She was, however, a powerful figure in the Jomo Kenyatta presidency where she rose to become the mayor of Nairobi from 1970 to 1976. As the mayor, Wambui is known to have spruced up city estates with tarmacked walkways and street lights – an era long gone.

    Wambui, the step-sister of President Uhuru Kenyatta, was a powerful personality in the 1970s when she tossed herself in politics and business. Her early life is partly weaved into the story of her father and that of her mother, Wahu Kenyatta. When Jomo Kenyatta was asked by the Kikuyu Central Association to represent the body in 1929 in England, Wambui was a toddler and he returned when she was 16.

    In previous interviews, Ms Wambui said she only knew her father through pictures at their Dagoretti home and letters sent from his England Storrington home in West Sussex, where he had escaped to during the Second World War. The return of Jomo Kenyatta saw the bond between the father and daughter grow.

    Wambui was later enrolled at Alliance High School, which had started admitting girls, pending the building of a girls secondary school. She then followed her father to Githunguri Teachers Training School, where Jomo Kenyatta was a tutor. She started a career as a teacher and as her father’s trusted aide. As her father launched a vicious campaign to strengthen Kenya African Union into a national movement, Wambui became one of the constant women figures, even eclipsing her eldest brother, Peter Muigai.

    The arrest of Jomo Kenyatta and most of the family members left Wambui to cater for herself. She would be adopted by Ambu Patel – the Nakuru man who gave Jomo Kenyatta his famous jacket which became his trademark. From Patel’s office, she became a central figure in the campaign to have her father released.

    Patel led a successful fundraiser and campaign for the release of Jomo Kenyatta together with his wife Lila. While working in Nairobi, Wambui became the main contact between her father and the outside world as she coordinated the “Release Jomo Committee” together with Patel. In March 1960, they organised the first “Release Jomo Kenyatta” demonstration in Kiambu.

    When Kanu was formed, she was elected the secretary for Kiambu. Her rise to become Nairobi mayor to replace Issac Lugonzo was the culmination of the image she had cut and her rising stature in the Kenyatta government. She was re-elected unopposed in 1973. But she would suffer a political blow when her deputy Andrew Kimani Ngumba (then Mathare MP) staged a coup against her and announced his bid to take over City Hall.

    In an embarrassing turn of events, her candidature divided the Kenyatta government and the father saved her by appointing her the country’s Permanent Representative to Unep. In the 1970s, Wambui was adversely mentioned in the ivory scandal in which stocks held by the wildlife department were allegedly sold by her company at a time when ivory trade had been banned. Her only son, former High Court judge Patrick John Kamau, died in 2005.

    Source: Daily Nation

    New Crisis hits Nasa, Kenya as parties clash on line-up

    Cracks are evident in Nasa after two of the four affiliate parties clashed over a leaked coalition line-up that places Mr Raila Odinga at the helm with Mr Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate. Mr Odinga’s ODM party confirmed that the leaked report was authentic and accused Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress of lying when it claimed on April 10 that no line-up had been drawn.

    According to the report, Mr Odinga will fly the Nasa flag deputised by Kalonzo, the Wiper Democratic Movement leader, with Mr Mudavadi as the chief minister, akin to prime minister who would manage government operations. Mr Moses Wetang’ula, the Ford-Kenya leader, is named as the Speaker of any of the two Houses — whichever he pleases. The April 11 quarrel in the form of media statements followed a demonstration by Mr Mudavadi’s supporters on Kakamega streets protesting against the line-up.

    While ODM said there was an agreement and that a report had been presented to the Nasa quartet, Amani hit back, accusing the Orange party of releasing information to the media to aid its propaganda. “That report was leaked in the form that the media presented it,” the ODM secretary-general, Ms Agnes Zani, said in the statement that prompted the row. “A few aspects and figures were not those of the committee but the line-up presented had been agreed on in the committee.” Dr Zani added: “The sentiments by Amani are skewed. The assertion that there is no report is not accurate. The report and other processes are to be acted on by the principals.”

    Amani secretary-general Godfrey Osotsi accused ODM of undermining the process of picking Nasa’s flagbearer for the August 8 General Election. “We are outraged, and Zani ought to know that the admission by ODM that it is responsible for dirty propaganda leaks undermines the credibility and integrity of the Nasa process,” said Mr Osotsi. “This level of arrogance shouldn’t be entertained.”  He added: “The ODM statement is a confession that leaves no doubt as to where the leaks of documents meant to undermine Nasa unity have been coming from. It is confirmation that ODM is negotiating in bad faith. This is bad manners that shouldn’t be entertained.”

    At a press conference at Orange House in the evening, however, an infuriated Mr Odinga hit out at the media, accusing them of nagging impatience. “Give us a break!” an angry Mr Odinga said. “We have not agreed on the line-up. And, naturally, when we do, we will do. Do not keep asking us. The world is not dying because we have not agreed.” He however evaded a questioner asking him to comment on the different press statements sent out by the two parties.

    On the Kakamega demonstrations, where Amani supporters and Members of Parliament demanded that Mr Mudavadi be granted the ticket, Mr Odinga absolved the party from blame and instead accused the National Intelligence Service of being behind the protest. “This is the work of our enemies: The NIS,” said Mr Odinga. “The way those banners were done, they could not have come from Kakamega. They are from the NIS. Even then, Nasa is united and we will not be distracted by a few people who (nonetheless) have their right to express their opinion.”

    Mr Wetang’ula called for calm but insisted that the coalition had not arrived at a candidate. Ford-Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale said: “There is a need for discipline in the engagements we have as Nasa. Attempts to make unilateral statements will undermine the unity we have.” Dr Khalwale added: “As Ford-Kenya, we will only confirm or deny statements agreed upon in a joint meeting.” The party later sent a statement criticising Mr Mudavadi’s supporters, insisting that the search for the coalition’s candidate was still “work in progress”.

    “Some members of ODM have gone ahead to qualify these reports in recent days as true and, perhaps, final. As Ford-Kenya, we would like to make it clear that the decision on who flies the coalition’s flag has not been made just yet,” the party said in a statement. Earlier, Dr Zani, a nominated senator, insisted that a leaked report of the Nasa coordinating committee — in which she sits — on the Nasa line-up carried by various media houses was accurate. “The report is from Nasa. Various methods were applied to attain objectivity through joint effort. Through triangulation, members did the task they had been assigned to do in the committee,” she said. But Mr Osotsi said Dr Zani does not have the power to speak on behalf of the committee.

    Source: Daily Nation

    West Africa

    The Gambia elects parliamentarians in historic poll

    After a shock vote to remove President Yahya Jammeh from power in December, Gambians are now selecting new deputies in parliamentary elections as they press ahead with democratic renewal.

    Gambians head to the polls on April 6 to vote in genuine multiparty parliamentary elections. They became possible after former leader Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled the country for 22 years, was ousted from power in presidential elections in December 2016 by an opposition coalition led by Adama Barrow.

    Nine parties including former president Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) and the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) are competing for seats. The West African country has a population of almost 2 million and more than 880,000 are eligible to vote. The polls opened at 8:00 a.m and close at 5:00 p.m.

    According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), 53 seats in The Gambia’s National Assembly are being contested. Five further seats will be allocated by the president. The African Union, the regional ECOWAS bloc and the European Union have all sent observers to monitor the elections. ECOWAS troops that were involved in pressuring former President Yahya Jammeh to concede defeat will remain in The Gambia until President Barrow is satisfied with the country’s security.

    The Gambia has a unique system of voting in which marbles are dropped into colored metal barrels representing the different candidates. Observers will be watching closely as the election rolls out during the day. The first results are expected during the evening and a full set due by late morning on April 7.

    Source: Deutsche Welle

     Nigerian Parliament to summon ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in Malabu scandal

    The House of Representatives plans to summon former President Goodluck Jonathan to explain his role in the controversial award of OPL 245 oil block licence, PREMIUM TIMES learnt on April 10. Razak Atunwa, Chairman of the House Committee on Justice who leads an ad-hoc panel investigating the $1.3 billion Malabu oil deal, said efforts have commenced towards summoning the former president to testify. The money was paid by oil giants, Shell and ENI, for the oil block, one of the richest in Africa. About $1.1 billion of the money was paid directly into a Nigerian government account with JP Morgan while about $200 million had been paid by Shell as signature bonus.

    Most of the $1.1 billion ended up in private accounts with about $801million directly going into the account of Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who was convicted for money laundering in France. A large part of that sum is believed to have gone to Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him including Mohammed Adoke, the then attorney general. “I can confirm that the former president is now on our radar following new details that were uncovered in latest news reports about the Malabu scandal,” Mr. Atunwa, an APC lawmaker from Kwara State, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone on April 10 afternoon. His comments came a day after PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr. Jonathan might have received up to $200 million in bribes to approve the controversial deal.

    The report was based on Italian court documents obtained by BuzzFeed and Italian business newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore. In the documents, Italian prosecutors quoted Ednan Agaev, a Russian middleman who helped negotiate the transfer of the oil block to Shell and Eni, as saying that Dan Etete, the former Petroleum Minister at the heart of the oil scandal, said he intended to dole out as much as $400 million in bribes if the deal went through. If Mr. Etete actually paid out such an amount in bribes to Nigerian officials, “Agaev stated that he would think President Goodluck Jonathan got at least $200 million of this money,” BuzzFeed quoted an excerpt of FBI submissions to Italian authorities as saying.

    The revelations were made when the FBI interviewed Mr. Agaev, whom prosecutors also said met with Mr. Jonathan on more than one occasion in Nigeria during the OPL 245 negotiations. Mr. Agaev, who was Mr. Etete’s representative in the negotiation, said the convicted former petroleum minister told him of the $400 million bribe to Nigerian politicians when he approached him for his payment.

    The Russian also repeated the claim in a follow-up interview with Italian prosecutors, led by Fabio De Pasquale in Milan. “I said that if it’s true, that he paid, he had to pay 400 million, I assume that at least 200 went to Goodluck (Jonathan).” “I heard from Chief (Etete), he claims that he had to pay 400 million, so, if this is true, if he paid 400 million, then most probably the President, as the biggest boss, took at least the half of it,” BuzzFeed wrote, quoting documents prepared by Italian prosecutors.

    Last year, Mr. Atunwa’s committee commenced a new round of inquiry into the controversies surrounding the OPL 245 since its lease was first awarded in 1998. The lawmaker said his committee found the latest allegations against Mr. Jonathan too compelling to ignore. Mohammed Adoke “We cannot ignore such weighty allegations knowing fully well that Nigeria has lost billions of dollars as a result of the numerous complications around the OPL 245 oil field,” Mr. Atunwa said.

    “We’ve summoned several former and present top government functionaries, including the Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, to provide information that could help in our investigation and they honoured us.” He said the committee would inform Nigerians after dispatching its invitation letter to the former president. “We’re still working out the details,” he said. “Nigerians will know the time and modalities of our summon to the president, including letter of invitation, very soon.”

    Mr. Jonathan’s spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze, could not be reached for comments about the lawmakers’ moves on April 10 afternoon. But he exonerated the former president in a January 10 statement about the Malabu oil deal. “We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over,” the statement said.

    While Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him continue to deny any wrongdoing, Shell, the global oil firm that desperately wanted control of the OPL 245, on April 10 admitted it knew the $1.1 billion it paid alongside ENI for the block would be used as kickback for an ex-convict and former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

    Source: Premium Times

    Nigerian Government confirms further negotiation with Boko Haram to free Chibok girls

    The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said negotiations are ongoing for the release of more Chibok schoolgirls still in the custody of the Boko Haram terrorists. He also expressed optimism that the dialogue would yield the desired result in due course.

    Mr. Osinbajo made this known on April 11 evening at an interaction with journalists and activists at the state house in Abuja. “There is a lot of negotiation going on,” he said. He said the government has “gone quite far” with negotiations to free more girls, but did not provide details of the negotiations for apparent security reasons.

    The vice president hinted that one of the challenges of freeing the girls was the existence of two factions in Boko-Haram, with each faction holding on to some of the girls. One of the factions is led by Abubakar Shekau, the erstwhile leader of the group, while a breakaway faction is led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, believed to be a son of the late founder of the group, Mohammed Yusuf.

    Mr. Osinbajo, however said the Buhari administration was very committed to the release of the remaining Chibok girls and other captives held by the Boko Haram. “It is a matter of conscience and it’s a matter that concerns everyone,” he said. Boko Haram had seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014. About 57 of the girls managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the abduction.

    Negotiations between the federal government and Boko Haram had led to the release of 21 of the girls while another three were freed by soldiers. Dozens of others had escaped on their own. Despite losing most of the territory they controlled at some point, including the dreaded Sambisa forest to Nigerian troops, the insurgents have kept hold of an estimated 195 girls, with some of them already feared dead.

    About 2,000 teenagers have been reportedly abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many of the women used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to Amnesty International. On April 11, the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, said that at least 27 teenage girls have been used as suicide bombers in Borno within the first quarter of 2017. There is no evidence that any of the Chibok girls is among the suicide bombers.

    Source: Premium Times

     This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi

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