- Africa Weekly
- Jun 02 2016
A resounding Africa Day at the AfDB’s annual meetings in Lusaka
Africa Day takes place on May 25 every year, commemorating the signature of the founding agreements of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was formed in Addis Ababa on May 25, 1963 and later succeeded by the African Union. This year’s Africa Day was celebrated throughout the continent and coincided with the third day of the 51st Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) – the emblematic Pan-African institution, formed barely a year after the OAU. The meetings are taking place in Lusaka, Zambia until May 27, 2016. The day was a public holiday in Zambia and featured a series of commemorations. The aim of this Africa Day was to “bring together the people of Africa, reaffirm their faith in integration and popularise the ideal of a united continent”. The same aim was echoed in the speech made by the President of the AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, at the official opening ceremony of the Annual Meetings.
“Africa must think big, act big and deliver big,” he said. “We must never have low ambitions for Africa!” The presence, in the front rows of the audience, of 10 African heads of state and other leading figures, illustrated the Pan-African dimension of these Annual Meetings: in addition to the President of the host country, Edgar Lungu, the President of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno – who has also served as President of the African Union since January 2016, the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta – there were a number of Vice-Presidents and Heads of Government present, including the Nigerian Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, and the Prime Minister of Mozambique, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário. In another strong sign of Pan-African convergence, Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and now director of the Africa Progress Panel; and the Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Minister of Finance and former Director General of the World Bank, are among the guests and participants attending the five days of the Meetings.
The Bank’s slogan is “Building today, a better Africa tomorrow”. The AfDB works to drive the development of the continent’s 54 countries, all of which are members of the institution; it strives to improve the well-being of all people, advocating green, inclusive growth that leaves no African unable to take advantage of the benefits of development. President Adesina made the point clearly from the outset of these Meetings: We need to raise our aspirations. “Africa cannot afford to have low ambitions,” he declared, adding, “The African Development Bank is here to support Africa’s great aspirations.” As a result, the AfDB, under the authority of its eighth elected president, has set itself five main priorities, also known as the “High 5s”: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
These expressions of faith were swiftly followed by wide-ranging actions to make their ambitions a practical reality. The “New Deal on Energy for Africa” – along with the “Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa” – (priority no. 1); “Jobs for Africa’s Youth Initiative” (priority no. 5), which aims to create 225 million jobs, and the “Affirmative Action for Women in Africa” (AFAWA) fund, which aims to raise $5 billion from the EU to support female entrepreneurs in Africa, are some of the AfDB’s most important and most recent initiatives.
More generally, the Bank’s transformation plan unveiled by President Adesina in Lusaka expresses its determination to embark on ambitious reforms and accelerate the changes underway to build a strong, prosperous and proud Africa. “We must be audacious: for Africa must develop, and develop with pride,” declared Akinwumi Adesina. Money is not the answer to everything, as he emphasised during the televised debate on the South African channel CNBC-Africa, which included Presidents Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta, on May 24, 2016. “First and foremost, it is political will we need to move things forward.” So that every day of the year is an “Africa Day”, driving growth, innovation, boldness and creativity, and offering promising prospects and a better quality of life for all Africans.
Source: African Development Bank Group, May 26, 2016
Thousands at risk crossing Mediterranean
As thousands of people continue perishing in the dangerous Mediterranean, agencies have called on governments to ensure the protection of migrants. This past weekend, at least 3 000 people were rescued by Italian navy and Libyan coastal guards. While thousands survived, more than 80 are feared to have died in these latest Mediterranean tragedies.
Elias Ghanem, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said , “Thousands of people are still risking their lives every day to reach Europe. Many are dying in the attempt.” He urged leaders to focus on providing safe routes for people seeking sanctuary and ensure protections for people who migrate. Local actors like Libyan Red Crescent are among the few who can help survivors of such tragedies.
On May 29, the Libyan Red Crescent responded to the urgent needs of more than 200 people who were rescued near the port city of Zuwarah. Red Crescent teams transferred survivors who required urgent medical attention to nearby hospitals. Despite the volatile situation in the country, Libyan Red Crescent branches continue to respond to the migration crisis along the country’s coastline. The central Mediterranean is now the main route taken by migrants aiming to reach Europe. With weather conditions set to improve, more people will risk the dangerous journey in flimsy boats.
Source: CAJ News Africa, May 30, 2016
Nigeria’s insurance sector hits top 10 in Africa
Nigeria has emerged one of the top insurance markets in Africa, ranking third with overall premium income of N386 billion (over $1billion). The insurance market in the continent as dominated by South Africa continues to dominate the continent’s insurance market, with its Life and Non- Life Insurance Premiums dominating the sector with market size of over $1billion each in 2014.
Immediate past President of AIO, Mrs.Lamaia Ben Mohmoud, at the recently concluded 43rd African Insurance Organisation’s Conference and General Assembly in Marrakech, Morocco, said African insurance premium volume in 2014, totalled $69billion showing a slide from $72 billion level in 2013.
In a recent African insurance market survey published in the maiden edition of the African Insurance Barometer, Life Insurance accounted for about two thirds of the 2014 total insurance premium in the continent with the remainder being generated from Non-Life Insurance, which took the lion’s share of 71 per cent of total premiums in 2014.
The publication said, in Life Insurance, South Africa’s share of the total market was 87 per cent, and 40 per cent in Non-Life Insurance. “Insurance premiums accounted for 2.8 per cent of African GDP in 2014. With the exception of South Africa and Namibia – where insurance penetration levels reached 14 per cent (Life 11.3 per cent, Non-Life 2.7 per cent) and 7.3 per cent (Life 5.1 per cent, Non-Life 2.2 per cent) respectively.”
The publication disclosed that in 2014, African Life insurance premiums, stood at $45.8 billion, translating into a Life insurance penetration rate of 1.9 per cent, significantly below the global average of 3.4 per cent. It said, at an inflation adjusted real growth rate of 1.6 per cent, African Life insurance also grew much slower than global Life insurance premiums, which increased by 3.4 per cent in 2014. It said with the exception of South Africa, African Life insurance markets are very small with only five other countries reaching a market size of more than US$ 500m in 2014.
Source: VANGUARD, May 30, 2016
China’s involvement crucial to strengthen wildlife conservation in Africa
The Sino-Africa cooperation in wildlife and ecosystems protection that has flourished in recent years is critical to advance socio-economic and ecological renewal in the world’s second largest continent, an official said on May 25. John Scanlon, the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), hailed China’s support towards protection of wildlife heritage in Africa.
During a recent interview with Xinhua in Nairobi, Scanlon stressed that China’s involvement is crucial to strengthen protection of Africa’s wildlife heritage. “China has been very keen to engage with us in promoting wildlife conservation in Africa,” Scanlon remarked, adding that China’s top leadership has demonstrated commitment towards protection of Africa’s iconic wildlife species. The Chinese government and state-owned enterprises have backed multilateral initiatives aimed at curbing the loss of Africa’s iconic wildlife species due to human actions and natural calamities. “The Sino-Africa cooperation in wildlife protection has focused on different perspectives including supply and demand. As a party to CITES, China has supported Africa’s positions on strengthening conservation of wildlife species,” Scanlon told Xinhua.
Sino-Africa bilateral cooperation on wildlife protection has focused on technical and financial support to help combat wildlife crimes in the continent. Scanlon noted that China was actively involved in a multinational operation dubbed “Cobra” to help track and disrupt criminal networked involved in illegal trafficking of wildlife products. “This operation brought together more than sixty countries to help identify and arrest criminals involved in trafficking of wildlife products,” Scanlon remarked, adding that he is upbeat about the future of Sino-Africa wildlife cooperation given the unwavering political support.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 100,000 African elephants out of an estimated total population of 500,000 were killed between 2010-2012. Elephants troop to a water hole at the Amboseli national reserve November 13, 2015 at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.(AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA ) The agency noted that 1,338 African rhinos were killed last year while an estimated 170 tons of ivory was illegally exported out of the continent between 2009 to 2014. Scanlon said the upcoming CITES summit in South Africa in September this year will inject fresh impetus in efforts to eradicate illegal trade in wildlife products. “Currently, 7,000 wildlife species are being traded globally, and this pervasive behaviour has worsened depletion of ecosystems,” Scanlon said, adding that community-led interventions were key to boost wildlife conservation.
Source: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, May 30, 2016
Cameroon: 2016 Africa Day – Rights of women in the spotlight
The rights of the African woman on May 25, 2016, in Yaounde came under focus as Cameroon joined the rest of the continent to commemorate the Africa Day. Activities at the Ministry of External Relations were chaired by the Minister Delegate in the Ministry of External Relations in charge of Relations with the Commonwealth, Joseph Dion Ngute, in the presence of the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, Marie Therese Abena Ondoa and other cabinet ministers, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
Speaking during the event which had as theme “2016, Africa Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”, Dion Ngute, said the celebrations of the anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which today is African Union (AU), offers the opportunity to assess progress made and the priority challenges identified in view of achieving the full integration of the continent.
He saluted ongoing efforts made by AU to implement Agenda 2063 aimed at transforming Africa especially in human development though constraints such as human rights particularly on women still persist. He also outlined strides made by the government of Cameroon in fostering gender equality and protecting the rights of women.
Other speakers at the ceremony which was punctuated by a poem, musical interlude which all valorised the African woman, included the Representative of the African Union in Cameroon and the President of the African Diplomatic Group, Martial Beti Marace, Ambassador of the Central African Republic to Cameroon. Ambassador Beti Marace used the opportunity to express the support and solidarity of the entire continent to Cameroon and its leader for his clairvoyance in fighting terrorism and promoting human rights in Africa.
Source: Cameroon Tribune, May 25, 2016
Congo-Kinshasa: Monusco and Kinshasa forces go after FDLR militia
Full scale military operations against the Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo have resumed, with the international community urging the Kinshasa government to offer full co-operation. The offensive started on May 24 led by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco). While most of the FDLR combatants defied the January 2, 2015 deadline to surrender voluntarily, about 314 FDLR ex-combatants are in Kanyabayonga camp with their dependents where they await repatriation by Monusco.
Another 202 ex-FDLR and their dependents have disarmed and are currently in Walungu camp, South Kivu, and around 806 others are in a camp at Kisangani. Representatives of the Guarantors of the Peace, Security and Co-operation (PSC) Framework comprising of the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), among others, on May 25 visited Kanyabayonga and Nyamilima camps to see FDLR members who have been there since 2014. They also visited the Munigi Disarmament, Demobilisation, Repatriation, Reinsertion and Resettlement (DDRRR) camp outside Goma where they met demobilised FDLR ex-combatants awaiting repatriation to Rwanda.
Prior to the visit to Munigi, the representatives of the Guarantors visited the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) in Goma where they were briefed on the mechanism’s activities, including operational challenges and constraints. “The representatives of the Guarantors called on all other FDLR combatants still active in the eastern DR Congo to voluntarily surrender and submit to the repatriation process without preconditions,” the delegation said, assuring them of a safe and dignified return to Rwanda.
Rwanda, however, maintains that there is no genuine effort by the international community to deal with the FDLR problem, which has persisted for close to two decades. “That is how FDLR ended up mixing in the Burundi situation. So, really, Rwanda has done and continues to do what is in its power, which is to secure its borders and territory, but the rest of the international system hasn’t done much,” Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo said on May 27. FDLR rebels had failed to respect a deadline set by SADC and the Intergovernmental International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to surrender, with recent reports showing that FLDR is regrouping after only a few combatants heeded the call to surrender. There have been concerns that Kinshasa has not been co-operating fully in the efforts by the international community to neutralise negative forces in the eastern part of the country.
According to Stephanie Wolters, the head of Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division at the Institute of Security Studies, there are lingering question whether the Congolese government is committed to the eradication of FDLR given the historical links of the Rwandan rebels having fought alongside the late Laurent Desire Kabila against the former DR Congo leader Mobutu Seseseko. Laurent Kabila’s son Joseph Kabila — the current president — has also seen it fit to continue the relations as a bulwark against Rwanda and Uganda’s incursions into eastern DR Congo. “There is embedded political and economic interest between the Congolese government and FDLR, not only as a check against constant interference by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi but also in the mining sector in eastern Congo,” said Ms Wolters. Ms Mushikiwabo, however, said this was not the responsibility of DR Congo alone.
Particular blame should be placed on UN Security Council’s powerful members, especially those who moved them to DR Congo and protected them there and elsewhere, hoping to score points against Rwanda, for their own political reasons. “There’s been a lot of verbal gymnastics and no real action, to the detriment of regional stability,” she told The East African. But the five day visit by delegates from the UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC has invigorated the operations against FDLR.
Source: The East African, May 28, 2016
Chad: Hissene Habre verdict – Landmark decision brings justice for thousands
The judgment convicting former Chadian president Hissène Habré marks a significant moment for international justice and a huge relief for the tens of thousands of victims who have waited for this day for over 25 years, said Amnesty International. Following a trial which began in July last year, the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar sentenced Hissene Habre to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990. He was found to have personally committed rapes.
“This verdict is a victory for those victims who fought tirelessly to ensure Hissène Habré could not get away with crimes under international law. It demonstrates that when there is enough political will states can work together effectively to end impunity in even the most entrenched situations,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher. “It is moments like these that other victims around the world can draw on in darker times when justice appears beyond reach. It will nourish them with hope and give them strength to fight for what is right. This landmark decision should also provide impetus to the African Union or individual African states to replicate such efforts to deliver justice to victims in other countries in the continent.”
The trial against Hissene Habré opened in Senegal on 20 July 2015, and 69 victims, 23 witnesses and 10 expert witnesses testified during the proceedings. Among other evidence, the Prosecution relied upon research reports from Amnesty International’s from the 1980s. A former Amnesty International staff member also testified during the trial as an expert witness. Two of the victims who filed the case against Hissene Habré have died in the meantime. Their children and relatives will now see that justice is done. The case sets a new benchmark for efforts to end impunity in Africa, as it is the first universal jurisdiction case on the continent, and the first time a former African leader has been prosecuted for crimes under international law before a court in another African country.
Hissène Habré has a right to appeal the conviction and sufficient resources must be allocated to the Extraordinary African Chambers so that it completes the case, fully and effectively. The EAC is also due to hold reparations hearings and is mandated to establish a Trust Fund for all victims, whether or not they participated in the proceedings. The EAC should set up the Trust Fund without delay. It should be provided with resources and other support, including from the African Union (AU). Efforts to address impunity for crimes committed in Chad must also not end here.
“Pressure must continue to be placed on Chad and potentially other states to investigate and prosecute others accused of committing serious human rights violations between 1982 and 1990, including crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. In particular, Chad should investigate mass killings that were committed in September 1984 in the south of the country,” said Gaetan Mootoo.
Source: Amnesty International, May 30, 2016
Political Islam has no future in Tunisia, says Caid Essebsi
“Political Islam has no future in Tunisia. I am against political Islam. Those who want to apply it as a system of governance in Tunisia failed,” said President Beji Caid Essebsi during a meeting with Qatari media. “Qatar has backed up Tunisia and not a precise political family. Who says the opposite is mistaken,” he added at the end of a two-day official visit to Qatar, insisting that “Tunisia’s decision is sovereign.”
Answering questions on the State’s promises in terms of development, employment and democracy, the Head of State estimated that the phenomenon of terrorism has expanded after the revolution, which has contributed to the weakening of the development process. Fight against terrorism mobilised important funds, impeding the achievement of several projects scheduled by the government, he justified, pointing out “successes at the security level and anticipatory operations carried out recently.”
“Tunisia accepts any assistance from all States as part of anti-terrorism fight without political conditionality,” he said. As regards Tunisian-Libyan relations, Caid Essebsi described them as “cordial and deep,” voicing wish that the Libyan government will exert its influence on all the Libyan territory.
Source: Tunis Afrique Presse, May 20, 2016
Algeria: Glowing tribute to late Ait Ahmed by African Diaspora group in Brussels
Glowing homage was paid May 27, in Brussels, Belgium, to the late Hocine Ait Ahmed, the figurehead of national liberation movement, at a ceremony devoted to paying respects to African liberation icons. Held by Bana Mboka, a non-profit-making African diaspora organisation, with the support of the collective for colonial memory and the fight against discrimination, this special evening was meant to pay tribute to pioneers, to freedom fighters, to thinkers and philosophers of sub-Saharan and North Africa who paved the way for the new generation.
Belkacem Amarouche, an MP from the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), created in 1963 by the late Ait Ahmed, greeted, at the ceremony Ait Ahmed as “one of the icons of the national movement against French colonisation.” “A diehard and precursor of democratic opposition in Algeria, Hocine Ait Ahmed was a tireless human rights activist, a lover of freedom and democracy.” “Pioneer of Algerian diplomacy,” Hocine Ait Ahmed led the Algerian delegation to the Non-Aligned Countries’ conference in Bandung, Indonesia, 1955, achieving an outstanding lobbying, the MP said.
Amarouche cited the resolutions taken at the Bandung conference in favour of the right to self-determination and independence for the three Maghreb countries (Algerie, Tunisia and Morocco). The speaker emphasised the efforts of the late political leader who, in September 1956, succeeded to put the Algerian cause on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly. Hocine Ait Ahmed passed away on 23 December 2015 in exile, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Source: Algerie Presse Service, May 28, 2016
Egypt: Sisi vows to bring attackers of Christian woman to justice
Egypt’s president said on 30 May that those responsible for a recent assault on “an Egyptian woman” will be punished, in reference to an elderly Christian who was stripped naked and paraded in an Egyptian village last week. On May 20, around 300 Muslims attacked the woman and set fire to a number of Christians’ homes in a village in the Upper Egypt province of Minya, following rumours that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman, according to the local church and eyewitnesses.
“I didn’t say a ‘so and so’ Egyptian woman because we are all the same and we have equal rights and duties,” Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a ceremony held to inaugurate a new project for slums’ development. Describing the incident as unacceptable, Sisi said that wrongdoers will be held accountable and punished “no matter how many they are.”
Coptic Orthodox Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population and are the Middle East’s biggest Christian community. Coptic Orthodox Christian Pope Tawadros II called for implementing the law and holding those responsible for it accountable before a customary reconciliation could be brokered in the village, according to a statement issued by the Cathedral on May 29.
Local and international human rights organisations have repeatedly criticised purported discrimination against Egypt’s Christians, especially in rural areas where recurrent sectarian disputes have usually been calmed through customary reconciliation sessions organised by the authorities. In a study released in July 2015, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that by holding such traditional sessions, Egyptian authorities have “marginalised the rule of law” and encroached “on the sovereignty of the state, its judicial system and on the principles of citizenship and non-discrimination.” The Egyptian interior ministry said last week that it arrested a number of suspects who are accused of involvement in Minya’s incident.
Source: Aswat Masriya, May 30, 2016
Mozambique: IMF director links undisclosed loans to corruption
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has publicly accused the Mozambican government of “concealing corruption”, in the scandal over more than a billion dollars worth of government guaranteed loans that were not disclosed, either to the Mozambican public or to the IMF.
Lagarde made her remarks in an interview on the BBC radio programme “Woman’s Hour”. Her brief reference to Mozambique was as follows: “When we put in place a programme with a country, we look at corruption. We look at what reforms could improve the corruption level. When we see a country and a programme with the IMF where international community money is committed, that is not respecting its financial disclosure engagement, which is clearly concealing corruption, we suspend the programme. We did that just recently with Mozambique.” Lagarde did not name any names, or say which of the government guaranteed loans the IMF regards as corrupt. But this is the first time any senior official has gone on the record to declare that the undisclosed loans were not just a matter of bungling, or excessive secrecy, but involved corruption – and were thus criminal.
In just two years (2013-2014) the previous government, under President Armando Guebuza, added 20 per cent to the country’s foreign debt in the shape of three government-guaranteed loans, organised through the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, to state or quasi state concerns. One of these was already known, since it involved raising 850 million US dollars on the European bond market for the purchase of 30 vessels for the Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM). But the other two loans were not disclosed, either to the Mozambican public or to the IMF, until April of this year.
They were loans of 622 million dollars to Proindicus, a company set up to provide maritime security, particularly for oil and gas operations in the Rovuma Basin, in the far north of the country, and 535 million dollars for Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), a company intended to provide repair and maintenance services for the boats of EMATUM and Proindicus and for other shipping in the Mozambique Channel.
As the weeks slip past, more embarrassing revelations about these loans become public. Last week, for example, Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane, admitted that the EMATUM fishing boats are in no condition to export tuna to the European Union. Although the boats were built at the CMN shipyard in the French port of Cherbourg, they do not meet European Union specifications demanded of vessels that catch fish to be exported to the EU. No-one has yet explained how fishing boats built in a shipyard located in the European Union fail to meet EU standards. The result is that yet more money is being spent on the boats. Ten of EMATUM’s 24 fishing boats are being refitted by a South African company. The money is not available to refit all 24 at the same time.
Mozambique’s Nordic partners were suspicious of the EMATUM boats (both the fishing boats and the six patrol vessels) at least two years ago. A devastating article appeared in the Norwegian foreign aid magazine “Bistandsaktuelt” in June 2014, updated in April 2015. It received little attention in Mozambique at the time, perhaps because it was written in Norwegian. It said that a Norwegian detective, Kato Stokkan, and Icelandic coastguard commander Einar Valsson, had written a report, commissioned by the Norwegian development aid body, NORAD, and by the Norwegian embassy in Maputo which, largely because of EMATUM, recommended that Norway should reduce its funding for fisheries inspection in Mozambique.
According to “Bistandsaktuelt”, the report stated that there was “a total lack of transparency” about EMATUM, which “makes it impossible to conduct a serious assessment of how the loan of USD 850 million will be allocated, and a loan of that size can have serious consequences for the country’s economic future.” It noted that, despite the enormous expenditure on EMATUM, other fisheries bills were not being paid on time. One consequence of this, Stokkan told the magazine, was that a fisheries inspection vessel, which was supported by Norway and Iceland, could not go on planned expeditions.
Stokkan and Valsson asked why Norway should use substantial resources to support fisheries inspectorate activities in Mozambique, while the Mozambican authorities were not willing to spend their own resources on fisheries inspection, but set up a company that took out a loan of 850 million dollars. Stokkan and Valsson regarded both the EMATUM fishing boats and the patrol vessels as “unsuitable”. They believed that the six patrol boats were “not suitable either to protect the tuna fleet or to patrol the country’s territorial waters”.
As for the fishing boats, the report’s authors did not believe they were suitable for catching tuna since they were not large enough to be at sea for extended periods. Of course, the assessment by Stokkan and Valsson might have been unfair or inaccurate – but there seems to have been no attempt to respond to these criticisms. If they were right, then Mozambique has spent 850 million dollars on boats that are not fit for their stated purposes.
Source: AIM, May 25, 2016
South Africa: Police arrests Home Affairs employee for fraud and corruption
The Deputy Director at the Department of Home Affairs in Beit Bridge, Musina, a practising advocate and a police Warrant Officer stationed at Vehicle Investigation Section (VIS) in Beit Bridge and 12 other officials; two immigration officers, four clearing agents, a teacher, a SARS custom official, a former Administration Clerk at Musina police station, a Home Affairs Inspectorate, a Musina businessman and a Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) councillor have been arrested by the Hawks for fraud and corruption.
The Deputy Director demanded and received two pairs of shoes worth R3 000 each so that he could stamp a brand new passport of a foreign national without any supporting documentation. The police officer on the other hand issued a false affidavit to a foreign national in the absence of the recipient for a fee of R1 200. The advocate demanded and received R23 000 for his services of issuing business visas to foreign nationals, while clearing agents were arrested for demanding and receiving between R5 000 and R9 000 for issuing fraudulent SARS Goods Export Permits without goods being presented.
The teacher at Musina Secondary School is in the dock for demanding and receiving R2 000 per passport so that he could attach Temporary Residents Permit and apply entry and departure stamps on 21 passports without any documentation supporting the foreign nationals’ stay in the country. The PAC councillor demanded and received R7 200 for issuing false immigration stamps to foreign nationals who either overstayed or needed more days to stay in the country. The 15 suspects will appear before the Musina Magistrate’s Court on May 27.
Source: South African Government, May 27, 2016
Zimbabwe: Government to fire 70 percent of NRZ workers: Minister
The government plans to cull National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s work force by up to 70 percent citing poor business environment and the parastatal’s low capacity utilisation. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo told a conference to discuss the ZimAsset economic blueprint at the weekend that NRZ presently employs about 5,700 workers, much higher than the company can support while operating at the current level of 30 percent of capacity.
“At the moment, NRZ is over-employed with about 5,700 workers and this figure is high compared with the capacity at which the railways company is operating. “There is need to embark on a staff rationalisation programme in relation to the business NRZ is generating,” he said. The parastatal owes its employees over 15 months’ worth of unpaid salaries, amounting to a total of $87 million. The workers have been on strike since March, demanding to be paid their dues.
At its peak, NRZ employed about 20,000 workers and moved 18 million tonnes of freight annually. NRZ now moves less than 100,000 tonnes per week, the effects of industry collapse and poor rail infrastructure. “Industry in Bulawayo has scaled down considerably due to various economic factors. We hope all stakeholders will work together to revive industry, and hence revive the NRZ and indeed all other sectors of our economic environment,” said Gumbo. NRZ is one of the 10 strategic parastatals targetted under a transformation programme designed to aid economic recovery.
Zimbabwe has 91 state owned enterprises, many of which are loss making. At their peak, state enterprises contributed up to 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), but they have been dragged down by legacy debt, corruption and mismanagement. “I’m aware of the nation’s expectations on the need to reverse the downward trend of the NRZ over the past decade. “My ministry is working flat out to secure funding for the recapitalisation of the institution,” said Gumbo but declined to elaborate, saying the negotiations were “very delicate.” Last year, the government said it was in discussions with the Development Bank of Southern Africa for a $650 million loan facility to rehabilitate NRZ infrastructure. The company says it needs least $2 billion in the long-term to restore full viability.
Source: NewZimbabwe.com, May 30, 2016
Burundi: Shaky start for Burundi peace talks
Burundi peace talks under the former President Benjamin Mkapa took off to a shaky start on May 21 with some of the key opposition politicians conspicuously absent. These include Burundi politicians and representatives of the civil society groups in exile but who have been active against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid for presidency last year. “I don’t know what formula was used in inviting the delegates. Some CSOs who are not partisan to the government could have been left out”, wondered Donald Deya, the CEO of the Pan African Lawyer’s Union (Palu) and prominent human rights activist lately involved in the solution to the crisis.
He told The Citizen on May 22 after the official opening of the four-day talks at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) that those absent include members of ‘Halt The Third Term’ movement which agitated to stop the Burundian leader for contesting presidency for the third term opposition leaders claim was against the Constitution.
One of the opposition politicians and long critic to the government Leonard Nyangoma said he appreciated that President Nkurunziza’s government turning down of its hard-line stance this time around to sit with the all diverse groups in Burundi in search of lasting peace.”For a start this is a good sign that nearly all political parties are represented in the negotiations”, he said. Mr Nyangoma is currently the chairperson of CNDD, one of the first opposition political parties to be formed in Burundi after the advent of multi-party system in the 1990s.
The current ruling party CNDD-FDD led by President Nkurunziza is a splinter group from CNDD. Nevertheless, there were few political parties, opposition groups and CSOs delegates from within and outside the country at the Arusha talks on May 21. Burundi government is represented to the negotiations by a high powered team by with three cabinet ministers led by the External Affairs minister Mr Alain Aime Nyamitwe, the EAC Affairs minister Ms Leontine Nzeyimana and Home Affairs minister Mr Pascal Barandayiye. “For a start this is a good sign that nearly all political parties are represented in the negotiations”
The External Affairs minister said the government was confident the discussions would progress well because some of President Nkurunziza’s vocal critics are in exile and those living in the country have turned up for the dialogue. “It is too early to speculate on the outcome but it is a good sign that even our critics have been invited to the talks. Every group will explain its side of the crisis and how it thinks the turmoil will be resolved”, he said. However, the minister for EAC Affairs was categorical that the Bujumbura authorities would not negotiate with people it alleges were behind last year’s coup against President Nkurunziza.
Source: The Citizen, May 22, 2016
Kenya: CORD cleared to hold Madaraka Day rally at Uhuru Park
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) will hold a Madaraka Day rally at Uhuru Park, City Hall has announced. The Nairobi County government on 30 May sought to end confusion surrounding the use of Uhuru Park grounds on June 1. City Hall officials say a standoff between Cord and the Prayers Beyond Boundaries Ministry has been resolved after county Secretary Robert Ayisi said they had written to the Christian organisation revoking the permit for the planned prayers on June 1.
Dr Ayisi, speaking in his office, said the coalition wrote on May 22 requesting to have the venue, which City Hall granted on May 25 after deliberations by the county. The Prayers Beyond Boundaries Ministries is set to start its programme on May 31, a day to Madaraka Day. Dr Ayisi said the group had paid to use the venue before its availability was approved. He said it is the mandate of the county government to issue permits since the facility falls under its jurisdiction. “For avoidance of doubt and confusion, we would like to categorically state that it is the approval to Cord which is valid and effective,” said Dr Ayisi.
Traditionally, Madaraka Day is marked at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium, presided over by the President, but this year the national fete will be held in Nakuru County. Dr Ayisi added that the county would join the national government to mark the day at the Starehe Grounds, where the county commissioner is expected to lead celebrations in Nairobi. “This is a national event and we will celebrate it like other counties where we will have the county commissioner lead the event and invite the Governor Dr Evans Kidero,” said Dr Ayisi.
However, the 11 sub-counties in Nairobi will also hold the celebrations where sub-county administrators will read the governor’s speech. Elsewhere, the Opposition has been urged to call off its planned Madaraka Day rally and join the government during the national fete to be held, for the first time outside Nairobi, in Nakuru County.
Source: Daily Nation, May 30, 2016
Madagascar: Remains of rice and mung beans help solve a Madagascan mystery
Researchers have helped solve one of the enduring mysteries of the ancient world: why the inhabitants of Madagascar speak Malagasy, a language otherwise unique to Southeast Asia and the Pacific – a region located at least 6,000 km away. An international research team has identified that ancient crop remains excavated from sites in Madagascar consist of Asian species like rice and mung beans. This is thought to be the first archaeological evidence that settlers from South Asia are likely to have colonised the island over a thousand years ago. The findings are published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Genetic research has confirmed that the inhabitants of Madagascar do indeed share close ancestry with Malaysians, Polynesians, and other speakers of what is classed the Austronesian language family. To date, archaeological research has identified human settlements in Madagascar that belong to the first millennium. There are also findings suggesting that Madagascar may have been occupied by hunter-gatherers who probably arrived from Africa by the first or second millennium.
Until now, however, archaeological evidence of the Austronesian colonisation has been missing. The team were able to identify the species of nearly 2,500 ancient plant remains obtained from their excavations at 18 ancient settlement sites in Madagascar, on neighbouring islands and on the eastern African coast.
They examined residues obtained from sediments in the archaeological layers, using a system of sieves and water. They looked at whether the earliest crops grown on the sites were African crops or were crops introduced to Africa from elsewhere. They found both types, but noted a distinct pattern, with African crops primarily concentrated on the mainland and the islands closest to the mainland. In Madagascar, in contrast, early subsistence focused on Asian crops. The data suggested an introduction of these crops, both to Madagascar and the neighbouring Comoros Islands, by the 8th and 10th century.
Senior author Dr Nicole Boivin, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Director of the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, said: ‘Southeast Asians clearly brought crops from their homeland and grew and subsisted on them when they reached Africa.
“This means that archaeologists can use crop remains as evidence to provide real material insights into the history of the island. There are a lot of things we still don’t understand about Madagascar’s past; it remains one of our big enigmas. But what is exciting is that we finally have a way of providing a window into the island’s highly mysterious Southeast Asian settlement and distinguishing it from settlements by mainland Africans that we know also happened.”
The analyses also suggest that Southeast Asians colonised not only Madagascar but also the nearby islands of the Comoros, because again the crops that grew there were dominated by the same Asian species. By contrast, crops identified on the eastern African coast and near coastal islands like Mafia and Zanzibar were mainly African species like sorghum, pearl millet and baobab.
Commenting on the Southeast Asian influence in the Comoros, study lead author Dr Alison Crowther from the University of Queensland Australia said: “This took us by surprise. After all, people in the Comoros speak African languages and they don’t look like they have Southeast Asian ancestry in the way that populations on Madagascar do. What was amazing to us was the stark contrast that emerged between the crops on the Eastern African coast and the offshore islands versus those on Madagascar, but also the Comoros.”
Dr Boivin added: “When we started looking more closely into research that has been carried out on Comorian languages, we were able to find numerous esteemed linguists who had argued for the exact thing we seemed to seeing in the Comorian archaeological record: a settlement by people from Southeast Asia. “So we’ve been able to not only to show for the first time an archaeological signature of Austronesians, we’ve also shown that it seems to extend beyond Madagascar. This is really exciting, and highlights how much we still have to learn about this fascinating migration.”
Source: University of Oxford, May 30, 2016
Ghana: Nothing can stop me from social media blocking: Police chief
The Inspector General of Police, COP John Kudalor, says nothing can stop him from blocking social media sites if that is what is required to guarantee peace and security in the country on Election Day. Kudalor said on May 26 that the police was considering shutting down social media services on November 7 to prevent them from being used to create tension in the country. “At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the Election Day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it. “We are also thinking about the other alternative that the police should be IT compliant and get our own social media [account] to be able to stop these things on time,” he said.
The announcement has been condemned by members of the public, including the opposition New Patriotic Party and some civil society organisations. However, in an interview with Accra-based Class FM on May 27, the IGP said that those criticising the plan and condemning him were entitled to their opinion. He said as a security person, however, it was his job to take necessary measures to safeguard the security of the country. “The world is now a global village and we have to compare with best practices, so, I don’t see what they are talking about. If it gets to the crunch… I think there is nothing that can stop anybody from going that way if it’s necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, says he will hit the streets to demonstrate if the police go ahead with the plan. Commenting on the development on Joy FM’s News File on May 28, Mr Baako said he was not certain of what exactly the IGP said or meant to say, but in terms of the principle, if that kind of policy was ever put in place, he would hit the streets to protest it. “I believe the society, as a civilised law governing society, we should be striving for responsible speech or responsible use of media outlets, whether traditional media or social media. That is what we should be striving for, but if it comes to the extremes, choosing between the culture of silence and ugly noises, I will prefer the latter to the former,” he added.
Source: Accra Report, May 28, 2016
Liberia: 50 Ebola survivors begin psychosocial training
About 50 Ebola survivors from Montserrado and Margibi counties over the weekend began three days of intensive psychosocial training in Sinkor, Monrovia. The training, according to the organisers, is part of the leadership’s effort to empower survivors with knowledge and lessen the dependency syndrome. “We call you here today to impact new knowledge into you because we believe that knowledge is power. We are delighted as leaders of this group and anticipate your full participation in this training,” Korlia Bonarwolo, president of the Ebola Survivors Association of Liberia (ESAL), told the participants.
Bonarwolo said the leadership believes when all survivors are informed, they will be transformed, as well as make decisions that affect their lives positively. 20 females and 30 males from are benefiting from the training. It was gathered that the rest of the survivors from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa counties will show up at a later date for a similar training.
According to Mr. Bonarwolo, the upcoming training will focus on proposal writing to empower the entire leadership. “Individuals and organisations have been providing these trainings for some of our survivors, but as survivors and leaders of the organisation, we have decided to engage in such an initiative by bringing together people that will provide the quality of training to ensure that we contribute to society in different ways. At the end of the training, we want to see our beneficiaries playing a greater role in society,” he said.
Mr. Bonarwolo said some organisations and individuals continue to get rich in the name of providing training for Ebola survivors, noting that this is due to the inability of survivors to initiate or engage in lobbying for finance to support training and other activities for themselves. Joseph W. Doe, Jr., executive member of the West African Ebola Survivors and Affected Organization (WAESAO), said the three-day training was the two organisations’ way of giving the survivors hope and ensuring that they manage their own affairs.
He then hailed organisations and individuals, particularly Sheilk A. Sackor, a Liberian, and Mrs. Oretha J. B. Yates, who lost her job in the United States while supporting Ebola survivors in Liberia. The two individuals have helped them in many ways, he said, and thanked them for their tireless efforts in contributing to the Ebola survivor community.
Source: Daily Observer, May 30, 2016
Nigeria: Scores feared dead as Biafra celebrates anniversary
The demonstration in commemoration of the May 30, 1967 declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra by late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu,allegedly turned bloody on May 30 as soldiers and protesters clashed at Nkpor, Anambra State and in the Awka. Unconfirmed report alleged that scores of people were shot dead by the soldiers. But, sources alleged that the MASSOB members also burnt police and army vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Enugu East Zonal leader of a combination of MASSOB and BIM, Comrade Eugene Eze and several others, were whisked away after addressing the press at Edinburgh Roundabout, Ogui Enugu where the protesters gathered in their numbers brandishing Biafran flags and caps. Addressing reporters, National director of Publicity, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Comrade Edeson, alleged that about thirty-seven people were feared killed at Nkpor, Anambra State by armed soldiers. He urged the Federal Government to let them be because they were peaceful demonstrators exercising their human right of freedom of association and expression.
“My prayer is that the Federal Government of Nigeria should let us be. We are non-violent and I don’t see why they should harass us. “One thing is certain, no matter the intimidation and the threat of death, there is no stopping the Biafra,” the MASSOB spokesman pleaded. Before Comrade Eze was arrested in Enugu, he urged the federal government to let them be because they were fighting for their right in a peaceful manner. His words: “we are not afraid because we are a non-violent organisation. We have no weapon. The only defence we have is God and the world. “We fought a war and the worst is still happening. There is no hope for the Igbo man in Nigeria. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafran War, nothing has changed,” he said pointing out that they were not fighting specifically for themselves but for their children and their yet to be born children.
Also speaking, another MASSOB chieftain, Onyema Marshall, said that the actualisation of Biafra was not negotiable. “Today (May 30) is our Biafra Day. It is an annual event. It is being celebrated on the 30th of every year to show the world that Biafra lives forever and that the actualisation of Biafra is not negotiable,” Marshall said. LEADERSHIP gathered that no demonstration took place at Imo and Ebonyi states. At the time of filing this report, the Biafra agitators were not sighted anywhere in Ebonyi and Imo states.
Source: Leadership, May 31, 2016
This Monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.