MonitorsPublished on Aug 05, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol Vi Issue XLII

The Continent

Climate change and Islamic State seen as world's major threats - survey

People in 13 countries, mainly in Latin America and Africa, identified climate change as the top threat to their country. Climate change is ranked alongside the Islamic State as one of the world's two greatest threats with increasing numbers of people concerned about global warming, according to an international survey by a U.S. think tank.  The Pew Research Center survey of nearly 42,000 people in 38 countries showed the percentage of respondents who believe climate change is a major threat has risen to 61 percent from 54 percent in a similar survey four years ago. People in 13 countries, mainly in Latin America and Africa, identified climate change as the top threat to their country. A total of 62 percent of respondents ranked Islamic State as the top threat with people in 18 countries ranking the ultra-radical militant group as the main danger. "People around the world are generally concerned about climate change," Jacob Poushter, a senior researcher and co-author of the report, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "They worry about it personally, about the toll on their own personal lives, and they're also concerned about it generally for their own countries." Cyber attacks, the global economy and refugees from Iraq and Syria were also ranked in the top five global threats. The survey found Latin Americans most concerned about climate change, with 74 percent of respondents in seven countries seeing climate change as a major threat to them. Climate change was also ranked as a key concern in Africa where an average of 58 percent of respondents saw it as a major threat. "One possibility, based on the countries that seem more concerned about climate change, is that those which are less economically developed and don't have capabilities to combat central changes in the climate might be more concerned about climate change," Poushter said. Other countries were less concerned about climate change, with Russia and Israel at the bottom of the list with 35 and 38 percent of respondents respectively seeing climate change as a major threat. Every country involved in the survey initially agreed to the Paris climate goals announced in 2015 to limit global warning although U.S. President Donald Trump has since decided to pull out of the pact. (Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.) Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

New ECA Chief meets Ethiopian PM, renews commitment to Africa's transformation

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Ethiopian government on August 3 renewed their commitment to working together for the economic and social transformation of Ethiopia and the African continent at large. The commitment came from the new ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, and Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, when they met at his offices in Addis Ababa. The two leaders discussed a number of issues, including the urgent need for the continent to strengthen its domestic resource mobilization so it can fund its development; ongoing Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations; intra-African trade; special economic zones; climate change; gender; peace and security. Ms. Songwe said following Brexit and the new American isolationist policies, there is need for Africa to unite more than ever and take advantage of the gaps being left by the threat against multi-lateralism. "Of course there is uncertainty at the moment but what makes us happy is that it is happening at a time when Africa is getting its voice back," said Ms. Songwe, adding the continent must capitalize on the discord being created by dissenting voices against globalization. "We must unite in Africa as others disperse for we stand a better chance of taking the space others are vacating if we stand as one. We can only weather this storm by working closely together for the transformation of our economies but more so if we rely on our own resources." The new ECA Chief said Africa's institutions need to be reformed if they are to meet the continent's challenges, including resource mobilization to fund the continent's development. For his part, the Prime Minister agreed, adding the spirit of Pan-Africanism embodied in the ECA and her sister organizations, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) should continue to spur the continent's desire to do more for itself. "The collective role that these Pan African institutions play adds value in a lot of ongoing work for Africa's transformation," said Mr. Desalegn, adding the ECA remains a key player in Ethiopia and Africa's development. He thanked Ms. Songwe for her role as a member of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's committee that has been looking at implementing institutional reforms at the African Union. The Prime Minister said he was quite happy that Ms. Songwe was appointed the first woman Executive Secretary of the ECA, adding this was a sign that Africa's women are on the rise. The two also talked about the host country agreement that governs relations between the ECA and Ethiopia. Prior to her meeting with the prime minister, the Executive Secretary paid a courtesy call on the foreign affairs ministry where she discussed wide ranging issues concerning Ethiopia and the continent with the state minister for political affairs, Hirut Zemene. On August 4, Ms. Songwe will meet other dignitaries, including Cameroon's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Jacques Alfred Ndoumbe-Eboule, who's also the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ethiopia's State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Admasu Nebebe, and the African Union Deputy Chairperson, Thomas Kwasi Quartey. Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Addis Ababa)

Canada to host Forum Afrique Expansion

All is set for the eighth edition of 'Forum Afrique Expansion,' the Vice President for Africa of Afrique Expansion, Beatrice Bediang, has said. She made the announcement on July 31 in Yaounde. The event which seeks to boost private-sector investment in Africa is scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Centre in Montreal Canada from October 2-3, 2017. According to organisers of the event which holds once every two years, the economic conference will bring together project bearers from over 30 African countries to enable them exchange opportunities with Canadian businessmen and enterprises. Major themes for this edition will be: Africa's digital revolution, energy, industrialization, and doing business in Africa. Bediang said participants are drawn from a wide range of sectors to include real estate, energy, equipment, transportation, mining, tourism, cosmetic, finance and law. She also mentioned construction, medical, insurance, education and training, agrifood, automobile, amongst others. Bediang told reporters that participants will have the opportunity to meet top decision makers, take advantage of their very popular personalized Business-to-Business (B2B) networking service, meet potential investors as well as expose their enterprises and ideas. She disclosed that some public and private outfits in Cameroon, amongst them GICAM, Transimex and EDC have already manifested their interest to be part of the upcoming forum. Source: Cameroon Tribune

Central Africa

UN accuses the DRC army of digging Kasai mass graves

The United Nations accused "elements" of the Congolese army on July 25 of digging most of the mass graves it has identified in the insurrection-ravaged Kasai region of central Democratic Republic of Congo. The report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in Congo (UNJHRO) is the first time the UN has directly suggested that government forces dug the graves. Congo's human rights minister was not immediately available for comment, but the government has repeatedly denied its troops were responsible for dozens of mass graves discovered since the Kamuina Nsapu group launched an insurrection last August and called for the departure of government forces from the area. "As of June 30, 2017, UNJHRO had identified a total of 42 mass graves in these three provinces (of Kasai), most of which would have been dug by (Congolese army) elements following clashes with presumed militia members," the report said. Earlier this month, the UNJHRO said it had identified 38 more probable mass graves in the western part of Kasai, bringing the total number to 80. More than 3,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million displaced in the violence, part of growing unrest in the country since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired in December. The violence has triggered fears of a wider conflict in the large central African country, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources. Millions died in civil wars between 1996 and 2003, mostly from hunger and disease. The government has blamed the Kamuina Nsapu group for the mass graves and also claimed that some of the sites identified by UN investigators have turned out not to contain bodies. It also denies UN allegations that its troops have systematically used excessive force, although a court convicted seven soldiers this month for murdering suspected rebel fighters in a massacre that was caught on video. Last month, the UN Human Rights Council approved an international inquiry into the violence in Kasai. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected soon to name a team of experts to lead the probe. Meanwhile, there have been more than 2,800 human rights violations recorded in Congo since the beginning of the year, the UN said on July 25. Most of these violations took place in Kasai province, the UN High Commission for Human Rights said. More than 170 people have been detained for political activity, the UN said. The country's armed forces have been responsible for most of the killings in the country, with 491 deaths in the Kasai province alone, including 140 children. Many of these were during clashes with rebel fighters. The international rights organisation also recorded violations in the capital, Kinshasa, where protests have taken place. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

Congo rebel leader surrenders to UN

The founder and leader of a Congo rebel group who is wanted for crimes against humanity has surrendered, the UN mission in Congo has said. Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the founder of Nduma defense of Congo, has been wanted since 2011 under a national warrant for crimes against humanity, including for mass rapes. He surrendered to UN forces in the country's North Kivu region on July 26. Sheka handed himself in "in full awareness of the fact that he is wanted by the government ... to stand trial for alleged crimes", the mission said. It was not immediately clear why he had turned himself in, but his forces have been locked in a losing combat in recent years with a rival armed group, Reuters news agency said. The UN mission said it would support Congo authorities in pursuing criminal prosecutions for human rights violations, and it has a standing agreement with the government to ensure that those handed over to the national authorities are treated in accordance with all relevant human rights standards. Eastern Congo has been plagued by myriad armed rebels since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Ida Sawyer, the Human Rights Watch's Central Africa director, said Sheka's surrender brings hope for justice and a reprieve from violence. "Thousands of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been affected by crimes committed by forces under Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka's command, and many still fear the next attack," she said. He remained at large for over six years as his troops continued to commit horrific crimes, Sawyer said. According to the UN, Sheka's forces and two other armed groups raped at least 387 civilians between July 30 and August 2, 2010, to punish them for alleged collaboration with Congolese government forces. His soldiers are also accused of razing almost 1,000 homes and businesses and leading about 100 people off into forced labour. HRW said Sheka's forces continue to hold many women and girls hostage as sex slaves. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

Rwanda prepares for general and presidential polls

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has campaigned in Gasabo, a suburb of the capital Kigali, in the run-up to the August 4 general and presidential elections. Tens of thousands of his supporters had to be beaten back by police brandishing baton sticks and fenced in on August 2 as they fought to catch one last glimpse of their leader. Some claim the rally is evidence of the depth of Kagame's support. "It's because the people love him. He's our hero, through him we built this country from scratch. Rwanda was dead before and now we are alive," said Solange Mubaraki, the founder of Defence Spouses Alliance Cyuzuzo, a local support group of more than 250 wives of those serving in Rwanda's security services. "Everyone can see Rwanda is not about genocide, but development and peace because of the leadership of Kagame," he said. At least seven million voters are registered to cast their ballots in the third elections since the 1994 ethnic massacres. Kagame and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) expect a victory that would award the post-genocide president a third term and another seven years in office. Although Kagame is widely popular, international rights observers have expressed concern over the political environment in which the vote on August 4 takes place. Last month, Amnesty International warned Rwanda's elections risk being held under "a climate of fear created by years of repression" due to alleged state intimidation of opposition. Sarah Jackson, deputy director for Amnesty International's East Africa office called on the international community to remain watchful. "In the immediate run-up to the elections, Rwanda's international partners with a presence in the country should continue to closely monitor the situation and speak out about any violations they observe," she said in an email. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), led by Frank Habineza, is running against Kagame's RPF in an election race largely dominated by the RPF's tricoloured flags of red, white and blue in Kigali. Although the visibility of Rwanda's leading opposition party is minimal in the local press and on television, Habineza's DGPR has managed to hold a series of small rallies. It promised, much like Kagame, to improve access to electricity, education and health services for Rwanda's rural majority. Kagame is recognised for his 17-year track record of economic growth, stability and development. But Habineza and Diane Rwigara, a human rights activist and disqualified presidential candidate, accuse the RPF government of using "indirect" methods of intimidation to push its opponents out of the political race. The RPF strongly denies the charge. At the rally on August 2, Kagame rejected accusations of "dictatorship" and said Rwandans were free to choose their leader. As the country prepares to make its choice, Amnesty's Jackson urged political reform to ensure future elections avoid controversy. "Whoever is elected president should commit to fundamental reforms to ensure the 2024 elections takes place in a context where the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are truly respected," she said. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

North Africa

Libyan factions agree to cease-fire deal

Both sides in the Libyan conflict agreed to the terms of a cease-fire agreement on July 25 during talks mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron. Libya's prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, and his rival, eastern commander Khalifa Haftar met with Macron. "We commit to a cease-fire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism," the two leaders said in a joint statement following talks. Along with the conditional cease-fire, the document commits both sides to holding an election “as soon as possible.” "The cause of peace has made a lot of progress today," Macron said. "The Mediterranean needs this peace." The two sides previously held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, after going more than a-year-and-a-half without speaking, in hopes of ending the violence seen in Libya since former leader Moammar Gadhafi was deposed in 2011. Up until this point, Haftar has rejected the authority of the UN-backed government. His forces have gained ground in the east of the country, with the support of Egypt and United Arab Emirates. Western governments are pushing a UN-backed political agreement to unify the country. Source: Voice of America

Egypt backs reunion of South Sudan's SPLM

Egypt will back efforts to reunite warring factions of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Egyptian ambassador to South Sudan, Mr Ayman Elgamal, said Cairo favoured the reunion of SPLM in order to achieve peace and stability in the war-torn country. "Egypt will support the reunion of the SPLM and the revitalisation of the South Sudan Peace Agreement to end the war and the suffering of the people in South Sudan," he said. The party's factions include SPLM-In Government, led by President Salva Kiir, SPLM-In Opposition, whose leader is former deputy president Riek Machar, and Former Detainees. Mr Elgamal made the remarks while attending the National Day of the Arab Republic of Egypt held in Juba on July 25. He also called for the full deployment of the 4,000-strong UN-backed Regional Protection Force to secure Juba. Civil strife broke out in December 2013, two years after the country seceded from Sudan. A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government, but was thwarted after fresh fighting broke out in July 2016 in Juba. The Egyptian envoy also announced plans to open an Alexandria University campus in South Sudan's northwest town of Tonj in Bahr el Gazal as part of efforts to support the country's education sector. Source: The East African

Southern Africa

MDC appeals to SADC, AU and UN over violence in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has appealed to regional and international bodies to rein in President Robert Mugabe over an upsurge in politically motivated violence in the southern African country. Mugabe told his party faithful at a rally held at Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane district last week that his supporters should beat up people going around perpetrating violence using his ruling Zanu-PF party's name. Following Mugabe's remarks, the MDC said violence had taken a nasty turn in the countryside and now wanted the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to step in ahead of next year's general elections. This came after three thatched houses belonging to an MDC activist, Tendai Nyachuru of Nyachuru Village in Mazowe district of Mashonaland Central Province, a Zanu-PF stronghold, were set ablaze by suspected Zanu-PF members in the early hours of July 25. Nyachuru told News24 that all his property, including clothes and national documents of his entire family, were destroyed in the inferno. "The assailants came to my rural home at night and burnt the houses as were sleeping. My family is lucky to be alive after we escaped the fire that gutted all the thatched houses; Zanu PF members are responsible," said Nyachuru. The torching of Nyachuru's homestead came a few days after MDC vice president Elias Mudzuri had his nightclub set on fire by unknown assailants. Again, the MDC said Zanu-PF was responsible. Police spokesperson Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment. MDC national spokesperson Obert Gutu told News24 that it was high time Mugabe was reined in order to "avoid a bloody election". Said Gutu: "SADC, the AU and even the UN, must now get involved to stop the violence that is spreading. If Mugabe and his people are allowed to pursue this violent path we are going to lose lives." Source: news24WIRE

Winnie Mandela denies she approved Mandela book

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on July 26 denied claims that she approved the publication of a controversial book describing former president Nelson Mandela's final years. Mandela's ex-wife said she'd merely signed the first copy of Mandela's Last Years as a courtesy to its author, Lieutenant General Vejay Ramlakan. "He brought me the first copy and he said: 'Mama can you sign the first copy?' I am asked for my autograph often, and my autograph has never become an endorsement of anything." Publisher Penguin Random House South Africa on July 24 said it had withdrawn the title from publication out of respect for Mandela's family. Madikizela-Mandela said only Ramlakan could explain who gave him permission to write the book. She was married to Mandela between 1958 and 1996. On July 28, Mandela's widow Graça Machel condemned the book "in the strongest terms". She said its publication was a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. "I am taking legal advice on whether to institute legal proceedings against the author and its publisher," Machel said. Ramlakan headed Mandela's medical team until his death in December 2013. In extracts of the book released to News24, Ramlakan wrote about Mandela's admission to Mediclinic Heart Hospital in a serious condition on June 8, 2013. "On the previous night, we surmised, a sudden ulcer bleed and concomitant lung infection had probably caused an aspiration from blood that was being regurgitated," he wrote. Ramlakan retired from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 2015. The Defence Department on July 22 said the book did not represent the views of the department or the SA Military Health Service. "The views and patient doctor engagements expressed in the book have not been sanctioned by the senior cadre of the department and the SANDF respectively," spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini told News24. Source: news24WIRE

Sign Language likely to be made SA’s 12th official language

The Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament has recommended that Sign Language be declared the 12th official language in SA, a language board has said. The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) released a statement on July 27 acknowledging "the positive step". "The committee is recommending that section 6 (1) and (5) (a) be amended to include SA Sign Language as an official language. The committee accepted the fact that, the issue of addressing the proposal for declaring SASL as an official language was long overdue," said PanSALB spokesperson Sibusiso Nkosi. He added: "The necessary formalities should be made by Parliament to ensure the amendment of the Constitution to accommodate this." PanSALB chief executive officer Dr Rakwena Monareng said Sign Language, like any other official language is a "fundamental human right that should be treated equally. "We have made several crucial calls to government to prioritise sign language like any other formal language and efforts have for a very long time drawn blank. This was done on the basis that we believe it has been violated and marginalised as compared to other languages," Monareng said. He added that he was looking forward to working with the department of education to help the promotion of Sign Language. Speaking to News24, director for the Centre of Constitutional Rights Phephelaphi Dube said that state institutions would first be affected by the addition of Sign Language as an official language. "All state institutions, schools hospitals, government departments would need to have personnel who know Sign Language and can communicate in it." She said that because it would become a constitutional right, the private sector would also have to fall in line. "It would mean the private sector itself - say banks for example - would have to take steps so members of the public interact with Sign Language." Dube further welcomed the proposed amendment to the Constitution. "This is a manner of ensuring there is greater inclusivity in the SA context: A means of achieving further equality and not just on paper. It is a measure that we welcome." She said it was hoped that implementation would be concise. Source: news24WIRE

In South Africa, DA shoots down motion of no confidence in Zille

The Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape legislature closed ranks on July 27 to shut down a motion of no confidence in Premier Helen Zille. African National Congress MPLs tried their best to convince the provincial House that Zille should be removed following tweets she posted seemingly "praising" aspects of colonialism in March. ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore led the attack in an animated debate, and tried to highlight the province's "failed record" under Zille's leadership to reverse apartheid spatial planning. "The very deeply held views of the party have become clear to see. Instead, we have a patriarchal and racist mindset," Dugmore said of Zille's tweets and record. The DA under Zille had trampled on the poor in the region, and the party was a "classic case of conservatism hiding behind the fig leaf of liberalism," he said. Zille had become the "bulwark" against racial transformation, saying her party showed it was firmly against generating low-cost housing in good suburban areas. "It is this toxic environment that Zille had fuelled and encouraged ," he claimed. DA MPLs constantly heckled Dugmore as he spoke. Source: news24WIRE

Zimbabwe acid leak: Thirty thousand litre toxic spill near 'Cecil's' park

A massive decontamination exercise is under way near Zimbabwe's famous Hwange National Park after a tanker transporting sulphuric acid overturned spilling 30 000 litres of the dangerous chemical on the main road, state radio reports. The chemical has seeped hundreds of metres from the crash site, near Dete, and is now threatening a local river. "The spill has moved to a distance of about 300 metres from the accident scene and just 50 metres from the community's water source," the ZBC reported. The truck was Zambian-registered, the report said. Zimbabwe's Environmental Management Agency arrived on the scene of the accident within an hour, a source living near the area told News24. The driver and his assistant were injured but rescued alive, the source said. As the authorities battle to minimise lasting environmental impact, diggers have been brought in to excavate the contaminated soil and put it into a decontamination pit with a neutralising agent. Volunteers and technicians are helping in the exercise. Sulphuric acid can be hazardous to the skin if it comes into contact with it. The authorities will be trying to stop the leak contaminating water sources. In 2009 a tanker carrying sulphuric acid overturned and spilled around 1 000 litres of the chemical outside the central mining town of Kwekwe. Hwange National Park is where Cecil the lion lived before he was killed in 2015. Cecil's son Xanda was also shot dead in the area by a hunter early this month. Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Kenyan Government to roll out major clean-up to battle Cholera

The national government will deploy 5,000 youth to collect garbage in Kisumu, Kwale, Nairobi and Kilifi amid efforts to control the cholera outbreak in some parts of the country. Ms Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, made the announcement at a function in Jacaranda Hotel, which complied with the Ministry of Health directive to close until it tested its workers.She asked county governments to invest in garbage collection, saying it was a devolved function. "We cannot be intervening every time the situation deteriorates," she said. Since the beginning of the year, Kenya has experienced cholera outbreaks with an ongoing epidemic in Garissa and Nairobi counties. Some 1,216 cases, including 14 deaths, have been reported this year. Saying hotel closures were not punitive, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu however warned that there is no room for anyone to defy the directives. "It is for the wellbeing of the public," Dr Mailu said. He also promised to issue guidelines on outsourcing of food, which was cited as one of the drivers of the current wave of the disease. Meanwhile, four more people have been diagnosed with cholera in Seme, Kisumu. The assistant commander of Kisumu Maximum Prison Kodiaga, Mr Martin Akwanyi, told the Nation on July 27 that two children and two women were admitted at the correctional facility's hospital on July 26 morning suffering from the disease. The Chief Officer of Health for Kisumu, Dr Ojwang Lusi, said the county had set up treatment centres to mitigate the outbreak. Poor sanitation, personal hygiene and overcrowding have been linked to the outbreak of cholera at the Kodiaga prison. Dr Lusi said the prison draws it water from River Saka for its day-to-day running. "Unfortunately, the water is consumed without undergoing proper treatment," Dr Lusi said.The county government has also banned the sale of food in kiosks and small hotels within the central business district of Kisumu city. Machakos County government temporarily closed 11 hotels in Kangundo Sub-County for failure to meet public health standards. This came few days after the governor, Dr Alfred Mutua, directed all county public health officers to be on a high alert to deal with any suspicious case should it arise. Speaking to the Nation on phone, the county's Health chief officer, Dr Jacks Nthanga, said the hotels were closed for one week. But he dismissed fears among residents that the closure came after a resident at Kakuyuni in the sub-county contracted cholera. Dr Nthanga on July 27 said they acted even though the county has not had a confirmed case of cholera. Source: Daily Nation

In South Sudan, rebel leader excluded from peace process

Civil society activists say a move to exclude South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar from a regional peace process will ensure that South Sudan remains engulfed in war. Ministers of the East African bloc IGAD said on July 24 that Machar will not be invited to the next meeting for the peace process, which is aimed at revitalizing a 2015 peace agreement between the rebels and South Sudanese government. “We already agreed that the process, all opposition groups including Riek Machar’s ideas, the representatives of Riek Machar, can be involved in this process. For the time being, physically we are not inviting Riek Machar,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu said at the end of the ministers' meeting in South Sudan's capital, Juba. Machar, a former South Sudanese vice president, currently lives in exile in South Africa, where he fled after an outbreak of violence in Juba in July 2016 killed nearly 300 people. South Sudanese activists said the IGAD decision not to invite Machar is wrong-headed, and throws into question whether the regional bloc is operating as a neutral entity. Rajab Muhandis, executive director of the South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections, or SSuNDE, said any revitalization process that excludes certain parties to the agreement risks failure. “It will be very challenging if the peace agreement that is going to be revitalized does not adequately include all the parties to the conflict. If half of the parties are included (and) others are not, there’s likelihood that those not involved may not have other options but violence as an option to find their way to the political process,” Muhandis told VOA's South Sudan in Focus. Activist Jame David Kolok, executive director for the Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance, said excluding key leaders is not wise. “If there are any avenues through which people like Dr. Machar are part of this process then this is a sign that this country is moving towards the path of stability,” Kolok told South Sudan in Focus. Those "people" would include former Sudanese foreign minister Lam Akol and renegade General Thomas Cirillo, he said. More than four million South Sudanese have been displaced from their homes during a war triggered by violence between supporters of Machar and backers of President Salva Kiir in December 2013. Kolok said it is high time IGAD leaders renew efforts to restore calm in South Sudan and called IGAD resolutions passed on July 24 nothing new. “We have seen emphasis being made in regards to this country stopping the war, emphasis being made in terms of question of inclusivity, emphasis being made in terms of ensuring that there is respect for cease-fire. Unfortunately, time is going and these things are not being realized,” he said. Muhandis said the resolutions from the IGAD Council of Ministers do not outline the key problems that need to be fixed. “There are clear challenges to the implementation. There are clear causes which South Sudan is in crisis and we would love to see IGAD and its council of ministers coming out very clear to outline the issues,” Muhandis said. Source: Voice of America

Carter Centre lauds IEBC election plans in Kenya

The election monitoring body established by former US President Jimmy Carter has praised Kenya's "strengthening democratic culture" while at the same time warning of the threat of violence in a pre-election report released on July 27. The Carter Centre offers a mixed but generally positive assessment of the work of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). "The judiciary has also played a key role in contributing to a democratic and competitive electoral process," the Centre says. "At the same time the Centre maintains genuine concerns about the level of violence that has prevailed throughout the pre-election period. "Incidents of violence, incitement and the harassment of candidates and their supporters are unacceptable infringements of democratic norms," the nine-page report adds. The prospect of violence during and after the August 8 elections is said to be elevated as a result of the conduct of the political parties' primaries, which the Centre describes as "chaotic" and "shambolic." The report cites "widespread fears" that next month's voting will also be marred by violence, especially in races for governor and county assembly. In addition to the large numbers of candidates and the intensity of many campaigns, the looming threat of election-related violence can be seen as a product of "underlying socioeconomic and political tensions arising from land injustices, marginalisation, and disenfranchisement," the report states. The Centre adds, however, that it is "encouraged" by the calls for an end to political intolerance made by both President Kenyatta and his main challenger, Raila Odinga. In its review of the IEBC's performance in the run-up to the elections, the Carter Centre makes note of the many court challenges and compressed time frame that have complicated the commission's tasks. Despite these difficulties, the report finds that "the IEBC has still met most of the legal deadlines and has moved forward with preparations for the election." "The Carter Centre commends the IEBC for its efforts." "Unfortunately some of the candidates have used the court challenges to criticise its authority and competence in an attempt to delegitimise the IEBC," the report adds. But the commission is itself partly responsible for negative public perceptions of its work, the Centre points out. Commissioners are faulted in the report for "inadequate communication with stakeholders and insufficient transparency regarding their decision-making." "This lack of transparency has negatively affected the confidence and trust of the electorate and political parties in the work of the IEBC," the Carter Centre says. The report finds specific fault with the IEBC's response to the KPMG firm's audit of the voter registration process. "While the IEBC has taken efforts to correct inaccuracies in the voter register identified during the audit, it was not able to act on all recommendations in the time remaining before the polls," the Carter Centre says. Despite taking "commendable steps within the limited timeframe," the commission exhibited a lack of transparency during the audit process and was initially reluctant to release the full KPMG report," the Centre says. These shortcomings "hindered public confidence in KPMG's work and the subsequent steps taken by the IEBC." The report also urges IEBC to follow through on its plan to carry out a nationwide simulation of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) prior to August 8. A test of Kiems can help ensure that the technology will function properly on election day, the report says. The Carter Centre's pre-election findings are based on the work of a team of experts and long-term observers deployed in Kenya since mid-April. The election monitors have visited 37 counties and 153 constituencies while observing more than 50 political rallies. An 80-member delegation drawn from 34 countries will be dispatched by the Carter Centre to assess the actual voting, counting and tallying process. This group will be led by US former Secretary of State John Kerry and Amiata Toure, a former prime minister of Senegal. Source: Daily Nation

Somalia: Al-shabab threatens to disrupt Kenya elections

Al-shabaab releases video threatening to launch attacks to disrupt the August 8 elections in Kenya. The video in Swahili and English features Kenyan Al-shabaab fighters speaking also their local languages Kenya top Al-shabaab leader Ahmad Ayman appears in the video with the main speech. The propaganda video seeks to warn a section of Kenyans from participating in the elections Source: Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

Chinese companies sign Shs2.2t Uganda investment deal

A consortium of eight Chinese enterprises signed agreements on July 27 with Tian Tang Group to invest in Mbale Industrial Park, eastern Uganda. Tian Tang Group was given the mandate to develop 619 acres of the industrial park in order to speed up job creation in the country. The park, with a total investment of $600m (Shs2.2 trillion), is expected to house 30 enterprises and create 12,000 jobs for Ugandans. "These agreements are an indication that we mean business and we are committed to this project," Tian Tang Group chairman Paul Zhang, who is also the proprietor of Nanjing Hotel in Kampala said. He added: "We would like to assure the government of Uganda that as a company, we are going to invest in the development of Tangshan Mbale Industrial Park and we will also attract investors to create the jobs for the people of Uganda." The eight companies are going to invest in; fruit processing and beverage production, rice processing and production, sanitation supplies manufacturing, wood processing and furniture manufacturing, glass manufacturing, household appliances manufacturing and solar pumping system, among others. The investors led by Tian Tang Group and Sinoma, a company that is going to establish a cement factory also in Mbale are expected to visit the country in August on a fact-finding mission. Tian Tang Group is working with the Finance ministry to bring investors to Uganda. The signing of the agreements in Tangshan City, a largely industrial city on the eastern coast of China, was at the climax of the First Tangshan Mbale Industrial Park Investment Promotion Conference that was witnessed by more than 200 Chinese entrepreneurs and officials. Tangshan, home to China's five pillar industries, namely fine iron and steel, basic energy, high quality building materials, equipment manufacturing and chemical industry is 154km from the Chinese capital, Beijing. Unlike other companies, Daily Monitor understands that CCCC Tianjin Dredging Co. Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has signed a cooperation agreement with Tian Tang Group to jointly develop Tangshan Mbale Industrial Park. The ceremony was also attended by State minister for Privatisation and Investment Evelyn Anite, State minister for Trade Micheal Werikhe, the area mayor Li Qinfeng and former Ambassador to Uganda Zhao Yali, among others. The mayor later held bilateral talks with Ms Anite. Talking about the agreements, Mr Li promised to market Uganda's investment opportunities under Tian Tang Group's initiatives in Uganda framed as "the belt and road". He said the investment agreement with the eight enterprises will actively guide competitive industrial capacity to invest in Uganda and help the Ugandan government to create jobs for the people. "Development is the permanent theme while cooperation is the tide of the area," Mr Qinfeng said, adding: "The agreement provides a platform for mutual understanding and bilateral exchanges for common development. We wish that Tangshan Mbale Industrial Park and enterprises from Tangshan jointly create a brilliant future for mutual benefit." Speaking at the Tangshan Mbale Industrial Park conference, Ms Anite and her counterpart Mr Werikhe wooed Chinese investors and highlighted the country's investment opportunities. "The people of Uganda cannot wait to receive more and more investors from China," Ms Anite said, She added: "We appreciate your willingness to be part of the drive to transform the Ugandan economy and create the employment opportunities that are badly needed in our country." While Uganda is a very rich and naturally endowed country with abundant natural resources, Ms Anite said, less has been done to exploit the available opportunities. She reiterated that Uganda presents a huge business potential for investors. This potential exists in infrastructure (especially in energy, roads and railway, ICT and oil and gas). "We are here to indicate to you some of the potential areas through which you can intervene and reverse this situation so that as a country we are able to enjoy the benefits from these natural resources that continue to remain below the surface," she said. She listed the key natural resources that need urgent exploitation as oil & gas, limestone, gold, sand, water resources, phosphate, copper, iron ore; investment in Standard Gauge Railway and Uganda Airlines projects. On his part, Mr Werikhe asked Chinese investors to take advantage of the new agreements to invest in agro-processing businesses and help Ugandan government create jobs. "We have several varieties of bananas, fruits, good soils, good political and stable macro-economic environment and the market is available. We also provide land and other incentives to investors who come to do business in our country across all sectors of our economy," he said. On July 7, the ministry of finance signed an agreement with Tian Tang Group for development of an industrial park and free zone in Mbale, eastern Uganda. The ministry promised government support and asked Tian Tang Group and other Chinese investors who signed the investment agreement to use the opportunity to promote value addition in Uganda and create jobs for the people of Uganda. Source: The Monitor

Al-Shabab suspected in deadly bus attack in Lamu

Three people have been killed in Kenya's Lamu county after suspected al-Shabab fighters opened fire on a passenger bus, according to an offical. Larry Kieng, local police chief, said on August 2 that the bus was travelling from Mombasa to Kipini and was attacked in the afternoon. He said the assailants shot from the bushes and fled once police escorting the bus engaged them. Al-Shabab, the armed group based in neighbouring Somalia, has carried out more than 100 attacks inside Kenya, calling it retribution for Kenya deploying troops to Somalia in 2011. Al-Shabab has threatened to disrupt Kenya’s August 8 elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta is pitted against Raila Odinga. The situation is already tense in the country in the run-up to the vote, with a senior electoral commission official recently found deadin a forest. Dr Johansen Oduor, government pathologist, said on August 2 that strangulation was the cause of the death of Christopher Msando, who was in charge of running biometric readers and electronic-transmission equipment meant to greatly reduce incidences of electoral fraud. Msando, whose body was found on July 29, had been hit by a blunt object and had deep cuts on his right arm, indicating torture. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

KBC staff in Kenya strike with days to go for polls

Some workers of the national broadcaster KBC have boycotted work six days to the General Election. The staff allied to Communication Workers Union began their strike on August 2 to protest management's failure to sign and implement their Collective Bargaining Agreement. They held demos outside the State corporation's offices on Harry Thuku Road in Nairobi. Managing Director Waithaka Waihenya, in a statement, said the delay in inking the CBA was occasioned by ongoing deliberations with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. “The SRC has requested the corporation to wait for the commission’s final advice before the end of the week. KBC is a state agency and therefore bound by all the laws and rules governing state bodies.” He said the the corporation cannot sign or implement the CBA without the approval of SRC. Cowu General-Secretary Benson Okwaro had issued a 21-day strike notice on June 14. He said the proposed salary increment were discussed following the intervention of the Ministry of East Africa Community Labour and Social Protection after Cowu threatened to call a strike in June. A source from KBC said all employees in the workers union have downed their tools. Source: Daily Nation

West Africa

45 killed, many missing in Boko Haram ambush on oil workers in Nigeria

Over 45 people were killed in northern Borno on July 25 when Boko Haram ambushed oil workers, while many others are still missing according to reports from Maiduguri. Soldiers and civilian JTF providing cover for oil the workers, staff of the University of Maiduguri and some locals were killed in the ambush while cache of arms were taken away by the attackers. The victims were involved in exploration work spearheaded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Credible sources within the military and at the university said some Hilux trucks had so far evacuated bodies from the scene of the attack and deposited them at mortuaries of the 7 Division Nigerian Army and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH). The Nigerian Army said on July 26 that soldiers on reinforcement had recovered corpses of eight of its personnel and rescued all the remaining civilians; but credible sources dispelled the claim, saying almost everybody in the convoy was killed. Among the corpses recovered so far were those of a lieutenant, two corporals, a lance corporal, and five privates who were providing cover for the oil explorers. The bodies of two professors and three others from the university were also recovered while the status of five others from the same university, who were in the same convoy but in a different vehicle, could not be ascertained. Corpses of many civilian JTF operatives and some drivers were brought to hospitals in Maiduguri even as very few were fully recognized. It was gathered that some evidence compiled at the scene revealed that the terrorists attacked the convoy with explosives and heavy guns; leaving mangled bodies at the place. "The army high command said some soldiers have been killed but all the captives have been rescued... This is absolutely not correct; nobody was rescued," a source said. "The university community was initially happy on Wednesday when that news filtered but mood suddenly changed yesterday when corpses were brought to Maiduguri," he said. Officials of the university have not yet commented on the incident, but a source confirmed the death of the professor and three others, saying five others, including their vehicles are still missing. But the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had on July 27 confirmed the deaths of five of the university staff while speaking in Kano. He said, "Nine lecturers of university were abducted by members of the Boko Haram group at an oil exploratory site in Borno state. But from the report I received last night, lifeless bodies of the lecturers were found. We don't know the fate of the rest abductees as at now." Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, on July 27 announced the indefinite suspension of exploration for crude oil in the Lake Chad Basin parts of Borno State by the NNPC. Kachikwu, who commiserated with the families of victims killed by the insurgents, however, stated that the corporation got the necessary clearance from security agencies before embarking on the trip on July 25. Oil exploration in the basin was suspended at the height of Boko Haram insurgency around 2012; but activities resumed on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016 around Gubio, Magumeri, Monguno, Kukawa, Abadam, Guzamala and Mobar, after getting security advice from the military. Kachikwu, who spoke in Abuja, regretted that the team was ambushed by terrorists, saying that no work will happen at the site anytime soon. The commercial oil found in neighboring Chad Republic had encouraged the NNPC to intensify and focus its exploratory work in the inland basins on the Chad Basin and Benue Trough areas. The Boko Haram had destroyed much oil exploration equipment in Kukawa and other locations. Source: Daily Trust

Google CEO visits Nigeria, announces $3 million investment plan

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichal, who visited Nigeria for the first time on July 27, announced fresh plan of the technology company to invest as much as $3 million free equity seed funding for technology startups in Africa before the end of this quarter. Pichal who spoke at the Google Nigeria Digital Citizenship Summit held in Lagos on July 27, said Nigeria would benefit immensely from the $3 million seed funding. According to Pichai, one million people have been trained in Africa on digital skills, with a projected plan to train 10 million Africans in the next five years on digital skills. "Nigeria needs digital skills training for its youths and Google is focusing on digital skills training in the whole of Africa, to empower Africans to write software codes for their local economies.  "We have commenced the Google Launchpad Accelerator Space training in other regions of the world where we train technology startups on digital skills and we are starting the Google Launchpad Accelerator Space training in Lagos," Pichal said. Other announcements made by the Google boss for Nigeria, included increasing content in Google Map for Nigeria; introducing Google Local Guide that will share local knowledge among Nigerians; and Introduction of Google Street View that will allow Nigerians see at a glance, the view of certain locations of interest within Nigeria. Pleased with what Google is doing to empower Africans with technology tools and solutions, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who was present at the Google Nigeria Digital Citizenship summit, said the federal government would collaborate with Google Nigeria to harness the benefits of technology for Nigerians. This, he said, was important since the Nigerian economy is in dire need of diversification, adding that information and communications technology (ICT) is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy and that virtually all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance. "To this end, I charge Google to key into the ministry's mandate and collaborate with my ministry," Shittu said. "It is only logical that government is determined not only to create policies and incentives but also collaborate with global technology leaders like Google to ensure smart digital Nigeria initiative and to make technology more accessible and useful to drive more businesses and in turn, contribute to a richer and diversified economy," he said. The minister commended Google Nigeria for implementing ambitious reforms and will bring about macroeconomic stability in the context of the country's ongoing Smart Digital Nigeria transition process. He stressed that the efforts are bearing tangible results and have laid the foundation for a credible path to fiscal sustainability and collaboration. He added that Google, being one of the tech giants in computing and the web, has been at the centre of this digital penetration, with the popularity of its open platforms, powering lots of smartphones with android and other digital tools. Google Nigeria Country Manager Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor said by 2034 Africa is expected to have the world's largest working-age population of 1.1 billion, yet only 3 million to 4 million jobs are created annually. "That means there is an urgent need to create opportunities for the millions of people on the continent who are creative, smart and driven to succeed. The internet and technology offer great opportunities for creating jobs, growing businesses and boosting economies. People therefore need the right skills, tools and products to navigate the digital world and to make it work for them, their businesses and their communities," Ehimuan-Chiazor said. Source: This Day

South African hostage in Mali released

Stephen McGown, a South African who has been held hostage in Mali for more than five years, has been released.  This was announced by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at a post-Cabinet media briefing on August 3. McGown was abducted in November 2011 at a hostel in Timbuktu together with Swedish national Johan Gustaffsson, who was recently released. He was held by AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), an Islamist militant organisation. Source: news24WIRE                          This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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