- Africa Weekly
- Dec 12 2017
From Nepal to Nigeria, UK Aid aims to save 500,000 people from slavery
Hundreds of thousands of people who have survived modern slavery or risk becoming enslaved in nations including Bangladesh, Nepal and Nigeria will receive support through a 40 million pound ($54 million) aid package, the British government said on December 1. Half of the money will be split between tackling forced labour among women migrant workers from South Asia and cracking down on human trafficking from Nigeria, often of women and girls into sex slavery, said Britain's foreign aid department (DFID). The rest will go to the U.S.-based Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, a public-private partnership seeking $1.5 billion to combat the crime globally by targeting problem sectors from the garment industry to fisheries and construction.
By working with law enforcement, civil society and businesses, as well as providing information, skills and job opportunities to vulnerable people - mostly women - DFID said the money would help save more than 500,000 people from slavery. "In the world we live in, it is as easy to traffic people as drugs or guns - and not enough is being done to tackle it," said Penny Mordaunt, Britain's international development minister. Britain is considered a leader in global efforts to combat slavery, and passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 to crack down on traffickers, force businesses to check their supply chains for forced labour, and protect people at risk of being enslaved.
At least 13,000 people in Britain are estimated by the government to be victims of modern slavery - but police say that the true figure is likely to be in the tens of thousands. DFID said the funding was part of a drive to ramp up efforts to tackle slavery at home and abroad, both in regions where the crime is rampant, such as South Asia, and source countries for human trafficking into Britain, including Nigeria and Vietnam. The latest funding is part of a pledge in September by Britain to double its spending on global projects tackling slavery and trafficking to 150 million pounds ($203 million).
About 40 million people worldwide were trapped as slaves last year - mostly women and girls - in forced labour and forced marriages, according to the United Nations' International Labour Organization and human rights group Walk Free Foundation. "This is a global disgrace - it is time to eradicate this shameful practice," Mordaunt added in a statement.
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Governments must act to help adolescents tackle HIV stigma
Governments must do far more to include the needs of young people in the global fight against HIV and AIDS, according to a new report. Despite progress in tackling the disease, it is estimated that 1,700 new HIV infections occur every day among young people around the world, and the problem is particularly acute in Africa. It is time policymakers recognized that HIV-positive adolescents face unique challenges, says the report from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, alongside the charity Sentebale.
Among the recommendations are that young people receive adequate psychosocial support; a human rights-based approach to testing and care, and finding ways to sensitively discuss sex and relationships for adolescents living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Professor Rashida Ferrand, who co-authored the research, says too many barriers are in place. “We really need to be thinking about all the barriers at every step in that broad environment, both at facility level in clinics et cetera, but also recognizing the fact that most of the time young people do not spend in facilities. So, we have to think of modifying the environments and the barriers that those environments place,” Ferrand said. Campaigners say many adolescents in Africa are unaware of their HIV status and are afraid to get tested.
Masedi Kewamodimo, 23-year-old, was born with HIV. Both her parents died from AIDS. Growing up in her native Botswana, Masedi grew frustrated with the barriers she faced and decided to reveal her HIV status in order to campaign for better treatment. “It is one of the most difficult things I have faced in my whole life. Every single day I face stigma. People talk about it because one they fear it; two, they assume certain people within our society have it; and three, they feel like they cannot welcome people who are living with HIV and AIDS,” Kewamodimo told VOA.
The charity Sentebale, which helped put together the policy recommendations, was co-founded by Prince Harry, who is newly engaged to American actress Meghan Markle. She has also campaigned on health issues in Africa. Earlier this year, the prince chaired a meeting in London on adolescents with HIV, titled "Let Youth Lead," and called for a change in global education on the disease.
“Young people, the first time they know of the first time they hear anything about HIV and AIDS is probably by the time it is too late. Whether it is in the education system here in the UK, whether it is across Africa, whether it is across the world, HIV needs to be treated exactly the same as any other disease,” Prince Harry said. Campaigners hope the royal couple’s star power will help them spread the vital message that young people’s needs and fears must be addressed in the global drive to tackle HIV and AIDS.
Source: Voice of America
Rwanda launches campaign against gender-based violence
On 24 November 2017, Rwanda joined the rest of the world launching the '16 Days of Activism', a campaign aimed to mobilize action towards ending violence against women and girls across the globe. Echoing the call to "Leave No One Behind" for the elimination of gender-based violence, in Rwanda, the campaign was launched in Kigali, with a walk from Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura to Amahoro Mini Stadium. The walk brought together senior government officials, development partners, civil society organisations, members of the private sector, army and police top brass, secondary and university students, and groups of women rights activists.
Themed "End Violence against Women and Girls: Speak Out!" the campaign runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December this year. Addressing participants in a gathering that followed the walk, Senate President Bernard Makuza said: "Gender Based Violence is a total disrespect of human rights and it delays the country's development as victims are deprived of their role and contribution in the national development. Prevention and eradication of all forms of violence should be everyone's responsibility." The campaign focuses on trying GBV and child abuse cases pending before courts; identifying teen mothers who have not yet reported their cases to the Judicial Police and facilitating them to lodge complaints.
Source: Government of Rwanda (Kigali)
Rwanda army destroys 130 tonnes of waste ammunition
Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) on November 27 launched an eight-day disposal and destruction operation of more than 130 tonnes of unexploded ordinance and waste ammunition. The exercise that is being carried out in Gabiro military domain, Gatsibo district in the Eastern Province, is part of Rwanda's continued efforts to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Speaking shortly before the first detonation, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, the Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RESCA), said that the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons is ranked as one of the most pressing security threats in the world today. Mutsindashyaka said: "It is estimated that only a quarter of the millions of small arms in circulation worldwide are held by states; leaving the rest to the discretion of civilians and non-state actors. This means that governments across the world equally face the challenges posed by the proliferation and abuse of small arms and light weapons.
"In the great lakes and horn of Africa region, illicit circulation of small arms is both a cause and a manifestation of insecurity and fragility. The illegal Small Arms and Light Weapon fuel political instability, sustain armed conflicts, abet terrorism, wildlife poaching, cattle rustling, and promote socio-economic instability which slows down development. During times of crisis and fragility, there is uninhibited circulation and trafficking of arms which remain within borders long after the conflicts end. The remnants of war are an equal threat to human beings." With most of the weapons being diverted from state to non-state actors, Mutsindashyaka explained that it is crucial that governments take adequate measures to enhance the security and management of their weapons and ammunition to prevent their spill into wrong hands.
Speaking on behalf of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), Army Chief of Staff Maj Gen Jacques Musemakweli told officials at the event that the latest demolition of hazardous explosives portrays Rwanda's galvanized commitment to doing away with the latter and implementing the Nairobi protocol to which is a party, in addition to safeguarding the safety of Rwandans. "The country has dedicated to make the security of its people a priority. This demolition follows other several demolitions in the past that began in 1994," he said. In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the ministry of defence set up a demining office that was specifically charged with combing the country to demine undetonated explosives that put people's lives in danger.
Source: The New Times
Cameroon violence kills five police, five soldiers
Five soldiers and five policemen have been killed within 24 hours in Cameroon's two English-speaking regions. Separatists have claimed responsibility. Cameroon's Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma said armed men attacked a military convoy deployed from Yaounde on a peacekeeping mission to the English-speaking southwest town of Mamfe on the morning of November 29 and killed four soldiers. One soldier who was severely wounded escaped. The attackers stole huge quantities of weapons. The second attack took place in Eyoumojock, not far from Mamfe early November 30 morning, leaving five policeman and a soldier dead.
Tchiroma confirmed that an armed group fighting for the independence of the English-speaking regions from the rest of Cameroon claimed responsibility. "The assailants claim to belong the the armed wing of the secessionist movement called Southern Cameroon Ambazonian Consortium United Front, " said Tchiroma. "How can we maintain dialogue with an interlocutor whose only ideology is the partition of a state that is legitimate and recognized as such by all international bodies?"
Tchiroma said Cameroon President Paul Biya has deployed more troops to the area to maintain peace and track the assailants. He said the government is asking people to share any information that could lead to the assailants' arrest. Schools have been closed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest since November last year when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overbearing use of French in the regions.
Violence erupted when separatists joined in and started asking for complete independence. On October 1, they declared what they called the independence of the Republic of Ambazonia and asked the military to surrender and join them or leave their territory. They have so far killed 16 soldiers and policemen in the two English-speaking regions. President Biya has said he is not open to negotiation on the form of the state and that Cameroon is one and indivisible. Separatist groups have said on social media they will talk with Biya only about the terms of their separation.
Source: Voice of America
25,000 families registered for resettlement in Angola
At least 25,000 families that had been displaced from endangered zones of Viana Municipality, Luanda Province, currently living in shanties located in the neighbourhood of Zango and Calumbo, have been registered for resettlement in better locations. The information was disclosed on November 30 to ANGOP, in Luanda, by the deputy administrator for Technical Affairs of Viana Municipality, Fernando Binje, who explained that these families were displaced from Luanda Island and Kilamba Kiaxi Municipality.
The official also added that top priority will be given to island's families damaged by rain and sea water, which are currently living in those poor conditions for a very long time. He also said the government's intention was to build residences for those families, adding that in fact some received a house, however with the present crisis hitting the country the government became unable to carry on with this project. Fernando Binje stressed that the government is seeking another solution, which could be the allocation of land plots and materials for guided self-construction.
Source: Angola Press
Cameroonians flee Government troops in English-speaking regions
The new Kumba-Mamfe road in the English-speaking South West Region of Cameroon, built to improve traffic and commerce, is almost deserted. It is the road that allows trade to flourish between Nigeria and Cameroon. But 32-year-old merchant Ethel Takem told DW that she and her peers had to suspend their trading when Cameroon President Paul Biya declared war on local separatist groups last weekend: "The number of check points is just unbearable," Takem said. She likened the president's soldiers to hungry lions let loose on a defenseless population. "Those who want to be killed can travel. I still have my life ahead, so I will not move," she said.
The situation is also tense in the towns of Mamfe and Eyumojock, where at least six soldiers and a policeman were killed last week. Mamfe is also the home town of Julius Ayuk Tabe, the man who calls himself the first president of Ambazonia. Ambazonia is the name separatists gave to the English-speaking regions which they hope to turn into an independent country. The Yaounde government maintains that separatist fighters are being trained in the region and across the border in neighboring Nigeria. According to Mamfe resident Peter Ayuk, most young people have fled into the bush to escape the military. "The village of the present president is now is on fire. The military men are burning houses. All the young men are in the forests," he said.
Ayuk told DW that many people have lost trace of their relatives, including him: "I have not seen my father and my mother. I have not seen them since December 4 when they started chasing us. Everywhere there are military men. Please, people should help me. Young boys are being killed. They abduct some, now everybody is in the bush," he said. Nyeke George Likiye, a member of the civil society in southwestern Cameroon, said he wrote to the government to complain about the troops' excesses." There are some unreasonable arrests being done. People are being tortured, people are being beaten. This is not correct," he told DW.
But General Melingui Noma, one of Cameroon's highest military officers, denied that the southwest had been militarized and rejected all accusations of human rights abuses leveled at the soldiers. He said the military was there to protect the population: "We know that if we want to overcome this crisis we have to make sure the population is with us. How can you go and embarrass and harass people whom you want to take information from? If they cannot give us the correct information, if they cannot tell us the truth about what is happening in the field, you will see that the population will then turn and follow those secessionists."
Schools have been closed in most of the English-speaking northwest and southwest since November last year, when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they believe is the overuse of the French language. Violence erupted when separatists joined in and started calling for total independence. On October 1, they declared what they called the independence of the Republic of Ambazonia and asked the military to surrender and join them or leave their territory. So far, they have killed at least 11 soldiers and policemen. President Paul Biya has not softened his intransigency towards aspirations for more autonomy and has refused to negotiate. Separatist groups have said on social media that they will only enter into a dialogue with the government on the terms for secession.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Mosque bombing kills more than 200 worshippers in Egypt
Egypt's air force on November 24 bombed "terrorist" locations in the northern mountaneous area around Bir al-Abed in response to the deadliest terror attack in the country's history. Earlier in the day on November 24, militants set off bombs and opened fire on worshippers at a mosque in Egypt's restive northern Sinai, killing at least 235 people and injuring some 109 others, according to the public prosecutor's office. Spokesperson for the Egyptian air force Tamer-el Refai said that air force planes sent to Bir al-Abed had "destroyed several vehicles used in the attack" as well as targeted hideouts where weapons and ammunition were stockpiled. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had promised that the attack would "not go unpunished." He convened an emergency security meeting soon after the terrorist assault.
The Egyptian government also declared three days of mourning in the wake of the attack, as international condemnation and condolences poured in. US President Donald Trump described the violence as a "horrible and cowardly terrorist attack" and called for the world to take tougher military measures against extremism. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also announced that the Eifel Tower would go dark at midnight to honor the victims of the deadly assault. The city's landmark tower has turned off its lights in solidarity with other cities that have been struck by terror, such as Barcelona, Spain and Mogadishu, Somalia.
The United Nations also condemned the attack in "the strongest terms" and expressed its condolences for the victims' families and the people of Egypt. Egypt also received messages of solidarity and condolence from Israel, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Vatican.
Authorities said that shortly after the noon prayer time, men in four off-road vehicles surrounded the Al Rawdah mosque, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the provincial capital, Arish city, before planting explosives. After the explosives went off, the attackers opened fire at those who fled. Media reports described at least 20 masked gunmen using automatic rifles in the assault. The victims included civilians and military conscripts.
The mosque is largely attended by Sufis, a mystical branch of Sunni Islam. Islamic extremists consider Sufis as heretics. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore all the signs of the "Islamic State" (IS). Egyptian security forces are fighting an insurgency by an IS-affiliated group in Sinai, with militants having killed hundreds of police and soldiers over the past three years as fighting there intensified. Militants have also previously targeted Sufis and Coptic Christians, as well as civilians accused of cooperating with government forces.
Source: Deutsche Welle
EU, Africa leaders to speed up repatriation of migrants from Libya
African and European leaders agreed to speed up efforts to repatriate thousands of migrants stranded in Libya, some in unspeakably brutal conditions. About 80 European Union and African Union heads of state ended two days of talks November 30 in Ivory Coast, promising to ramp up the fight against human traffickers. They said they would repatriate about 3,800 migrants in one camp near Tripoli as soon as possible. But African Union officials say there are as many as 42 camps across Libya, housing up to 700,000 people.
Television pictures broadcast on CNN of slave auctions in some of the camps shocked and sickened the world and showed the need for immediate action. French President Emmanuel Macron called slave trading a crime against humanity and said human traffickers were "deeply linked" to terrorist networks throughout northern Africa. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said it was appalling that "some Nigerians were being sold like goats for a few dollars in Libya." He said all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world would be brought home and "rehabilitated."
Libya is the main jumping-off point for Africans and others in the Middle East looking to reach the EU, hoping to escape terrorism and poverty for a better life in the West. Thousands die every year trying to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. The EU and Libya are working to discourage such hazardous trips, including cracking down on human traffickers who often leave their cargo stranded at sea.
Source: Voice of America
Mnangagwa appoints deadwood cabinet
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a new 22-member cabinet full of old Zanu PF faces, loyalists, as well as some officials known for wreaking havoc in their localities and others who can barely walk. The only prominent faces in cabinet are two military commanders -- Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Perrence Shiri and Zimbabwe National Army Major-General Sibusiso Moyo. War veterans secretary-general Victor Matemadanda is now a deputy minister. There are no opposition figures and prominent technocrats from outside despite a huge public expectation that cabinet will have new blood, skills and competencies to spearhead Zimbabwe's reform agenda and economic recovery.
New technocrats that were appointed to cabinet who have strong links to Mnangagwa, include former Mimosa Mine chief Winston Chitando (Mines minister), academic Clever Nyathi (Labour and Social Welfare) and Amon Murwira (Higher Education minister). Most of the cabinet ministers are known Mnangagwa allies who fought in his corner during a fierce battle to succeed long-time leader Robert Mugabe, which culminated in a military intervention. These include long-time ally July Moyo (Local Government) and Kazembe Kazembe (Sport, Arts and Recreation). SB Moyo, who has been appointed Foreign Affairs minister, ironically publicly announced the military intervention which led to Mugabe's forced exit.
Some of Mnangagwa's loyalists include Owen Ncube who was appointed Minister of State for the Midlands, which is the President's political fiefdom. Ziyambi Ziyambi, another Mnangagwa ally, who faced brickbats from former first lady Grace Mugabe during her whirlwind rallies seeking to push out the new President, has been appointed Justice minister. The return of Angeline Masuku, who is advanced in age, has come as a surprise as Zanu PF continues to recycle the old guard. She was appointed minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan. "The secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr. M.J.M Sibanda has announced the following categories of ministerial appointments by His Excellency the President, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, in terms of Section 104, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," said Presidential press secretary in a statement issued late last night.
To tackle the country's economic implosion characterised by unemployment levels hovering around 90%, low business activity, rising inflation and a currency crisis, Mnangagwa re-appointed Patrick Chinamasa as Finance minister. Before succeeding Mugabe, Chinamasa had been appointed to a lesser powerful ministry of Cyber Security. Firebrand war veterans leader Chris Mutsvanga who was fired by Mugabe as veterans of the liberation war minister is now the new Information minister, taking over from Simon Khaya Moyo who has been reassigned to the Energy ministry.
Another old face from the previous cabinet is that of Obert Mpofu who retains his Home Affairs ministry, while Health minister David Parirenyatwa -- who has been there forever -- will retain his post. Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira, according to the new appointments, will also head his previous portfolio. Primary education minister Lazarus Dokora, who has in the past faced public criticism due to his unpopular policies, has also retained his portfolio. Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha was also re-appointed to the new cabinet, while Jorum Gumbo will continue to head the Transport ministry.
Former State Security minister Kembo Mohadi is now heading the merged Defence and Veterans ministry, fuelling speculation as to who could be one of Mnangagwa's deputies amid indications that Sydney Sekeramayi and former Zipra intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa or Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda could also be elevated. Other ministers that have been reassigned from portfolios they had during Mugabe's regime include Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Environment, Water and Climate), Sithembiso Nyoni (Women and Youth Affairs), Martin Dinha and Webster Shamhu. Former Economic Planning minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has been reappointed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring of Government Programmes.
Zimbabweans on social media reacted with shock after the cabinet was announced as they believed Mnangagwa would break from the past and dump dead wood. "The honeymoon is over even before it had begun. What a shame. What a missed opportunity," tweeted former finance minister Tendai Biti.
Source: Zimbabwe Independent
Mugabe's family in disarray after ouster
Following the recent military intervention which brought to a dramatic end former president Robert Mugabe's 37-year-old rule, his family is now scattered across different countries, while their multi-million dollar businesses and deals face collapse. The Mugabe family has a multi-million-dollar empire built around numerous farms, prime real estate, various businesses and lucrative tenders which they wrested for self-aggrandisement. The family also benefitted heavily directly and indirectly from public funds during Mugabe's endless globe-trotting trips. On some occasions the family used public funds to acquire private assets.
By mid-year, Mugabe had overspent on travel by US$23 million. His budget was US$30, but he spent US$53 million on largely futile foreign trips. Overall, his office had a US$43 million budget overrun. Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent show that Mugabe's wife Grace used to siphon millions during the trips. "On one occasion this year, for instance, his wife took about US$3,5 million during a foreign trip," a senior Treasury official said this week. "There is also another example; the money used to buy their mansion in Sandhurst, Sandton, Johannesburg in South Africa came from public funds through local banks. At one point Grace also demanded that Patrick Chinamasa (who was Finance minister and still is) buys cars for her and he had to find the money. "These are just a few examples, but there was a pattern or systematic looting of public funds. Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials know this."
Sources close to the family told the Independent that while Mugabe and Grace still remain holed up in their Blue Roof mansion in Harare, their children have been scattered by the political upheavals which engulfed Zimbabwe recently leading to their dramatic loss of power. The sources said Mugabe's step son, Russel Goreraza, who is Grace's first child with her former husband and hence the former president's step son, is the only one who is still in Harare. Their daughter Bona, son-in-law Simba Chikore and grandson Simbanashe left for Malaysia on December 1 last week. Bona is said to be expecting her second child.
Mugabe's party-loving boys Robert Junior and Bellarmine Chatunga are staying at their affluent Sandhurst mansion. In fact, they have two properties there and were contemplating buying another one. Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao is also holed up in Johannesburg after failing to return home from a trip to Argentina in the aftermath of the military takeover. His family members have reportedly joined him in South Africa. Grace's allies and former cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, as well as their families, who sought refuge at the Blue Roof after the army intervention, have also left the country. They are understood to be in Kenya.
Moyo and Kasukuwere's families had remained in the country, but fled after the military raided their homes for the second time last November 30. The army initially stormed their homes in the wee hours of November 15. Zhuwao has been condemning the military action from South Africa, while Moyo has of late been tweeting his condemnation of the military "coup" as well. Although Mugabe and Grace appear to be quiet in the public domain, the former First Lady has been complaining behind-the-scenes about how her family and the families of her allies have been treated. She has also been complaining about threats to her businesses and property, citing the terms of agreement secretly reached as part of the deal for Mugabe to resign.
Informed sources said Grace has been relaying her complaints and protests to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga mainly through mediators, Catholic cleric Father Fidelis Mukonori and former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono. Mugabe resigned on November 28 last week after being granted full immunity and was given a US$10 million exit package, full monthly salary, medical cover, security as well as protection of his private properties.
Mugabe's ouster has left the family business empire facing collapse. For instance, last week Grace complained about disruptive activities around Manzou, Sigaru and other farms which they own as a family. His removal has also cut away rent-seeking opportunities. For example, Russell and his business partner Valentine Garacho imported seven top-of-the-range vehicles worth about US$2,5 million three months ago after brokering a controversial mining deal between government and a Kazakhstan company, Todal Mining, which owns platinum concessions between Shurugwi and Zvishavane. The cars include two Rolls-Royce, two Range Rovers, two Mercedes-Benz S-Class and an Aston Martin.
In 2011, Grace and her former business partner, Ping Sung -- a Taiwanese-born South African -- bought trucks, trailers and equipment worth almost US$1 million with money transferred through the central bank. Grace and Hsieh were later engaged in a fight over a US$5 million mansion in Hong Kong. The row over the Hong Kong home apparently erupted after a dispute over a gold mine in Chinhoyi.\
The Mugabe family has also raked in millions through dodgy tenders. Simba and his wife -- who have been building a huge mansion in Harare -- reportedly have an interest in the US$2 billion Beitbridge-Harare project. Early this month government began secretly winding down struggling flag carrier Air Zimbabwe's operations through the back door as a new company with an opaque shareholding structure prepared to take to the sky. Simba is reportedly behind the Zimbabwe Airways project which would have led to Air Zimbabwe's demise.
Simba's brother Derrick Chikore is involved in a dodgy US$200 million Dema energy deal which did not go through tender. All these opportunities are now gone. Grace's Mazowe empire includes an opulent double-storey mansion on Mapfeni Farm, which can be seen from Manzou Farm where she has been evicting thousands of villagers since 2011 to establish a game park. There is also a dairy farm, orphanage, a school and a proposed US$1 billion dollar private university project to be funded by public funds. Grace has also grabbed land which belonged to the former Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro-producer, Interfresh's Mazowe Citrus Estate.
Source: Zimbabwe Independent
In Zimbabwe, US $5 billion lost through externalisation
An advisor to government on the Ease of Doing Business, Ashok Chakravarti has called for an investigation into the externalisation of funds, as it has emerged that US$5 billion could have been siphoned out of the country since dollarisation in 2009. Speaking at the Special Policy Dialogue Forum on the quest for political and economic reform in Zimbabwe last night, Chakravarti said there is need to look into the externalisation of funds from the country. "There is need to be an inquiry into what has been happening in the last few years," Chakravarti said. "So many resources have gone out of the country. It cannot just be swept under the carpet. It has to be looked at carefully and addressed."
Chakravarti also spoke of the need for the country to open up on investment, saying it was "pathetic" that the country received a paltry US$319 million in foreign direct inflows last year. Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni said there is need to provide a platform for a national conversation on the future of the country which did not take place at Independence.
Chakravarti and Makoni's remarks come amid revelations that President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration believes close to US$5 billion was externalised via official means since dollarisation in 2009. There are reports that several Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed companies and diamond mining companies played a major role in siphoning money out of the country.
A source in the financial sector said: "The stock exchange-listed companies siphoned the money as management fees paid to their offshore accounts via official means." "In most cases the amounts were so big and suspicious such that they would force foreign central banks to notify the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) of payments in case the money was laundered. So the RBZ has a record of all the transactions and the actual amounts that were deposited in offshore accounts." "Between US$3 billion and US$5 billion is reported to be in offshore accounts and the RBZ has been advised to approach the individual companies so that the money is returned before the law takes its course."
The source also said several mining companies eternalised money under the pretext of buying equipment from abroad. The money was taken out with the RBZ's approval, but the equipment was never delivered. The companies failed to provide the bill of lading to the RBZ upon request. This week, Mnangagwa granted a three-month moratorium within which individuals and corporates that externalised money and assets are expected to bring them back. During the period, government will neither ask questions nor prefer charges against those that will be repatriating back the money or assets.
Sources said Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in June this year appointed a probe team to investigate and identify individuals and companies involved in externalising foreign currency from Zimbabwe. Chinamasa was, however, stopped in his tracks when former president Robert Mugabe reshuffled his cabinet, demoting him to the less influential Cyber Security ministry. "When Chinamasa was moved from the ministry he had names of individuals and corporates that are fingered in the externalisation scandal," a source close to Mnangagwa said. "Many of the corporates were involved in the diamond mining industry in Chiadzwa," said the source, adding: "Companies such as the Diamond Mining Company, fronted by well-known smugglers and connected to former first lady Grace Mugabe, externalised huge amounts."
As first reported by the Zimbabwe Independent, other diamond-mining companies like Anjin Investments, a joint venture between the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co Ltd (Afecc), and Matt Bronze Enterprises -- a front for the Defence ministry and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces through Glass Finish Investments (Pvt) Ltd -- also siphoned millions of dollars to offshore accounts. Anjin formed a subsidiary company, Sogecoa Zimbabwe Ltd, which was used as a conduit to siphon millions of dollars outside Zimbabwe.
Last year, Afecc was dragged to court on allegations of having externalised close to US$500 million. The company then paid about US$50 million to Sogecoa. A local bank acted as a conduit to wire the money out of Zimbabwe through Botswana banks. The bank account was opened on January 3 2013, with US$50 million, but the company transferred US$40 million to Sogecoa Zimbabwe days later before transferring another US$4 million to the same company on January 10 2013. On January 17 2013, Jinan transferred another US$2,9 million to Sogecoa Zimbabwe.
The money was externalised on the pretext that Afecc was investing in equipment. Jinan deputy general manager Tapiwa Goronga told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, chaired by Zanu-PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya Justice Mayor Wadyajena, that the matter was under investigation by the police Serious Frauds Section. Last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced stringent measures which include capping cash withdrawals without one-day prior notice to US$10 000, restrictions on offshore investment and suspending free funds to tackle illicit money flows and capital flight remittances after nearly US$2 billion evaporated from the capital-starved economy through externalisation.
Announcing the Monetary Policy Statement (MPS), RBZ governor John Mangudya said the apex bank would implement prudential measures, which will come into force to mitigate illicit financial flows currently haemorrhaging the economy. He said out of the US$1,8 billion externalised in 2015, US$1,2 billion was siphoned out by corporates with outward individual remittances accounting for the balance. He added that government will operationalise an economic crimes court to plug revenue leakage.
Source: Zimbabwe Independent
Mnangagwa Government relaxes Mugabe's indigenisation law
The Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government has moved to restrict former President Robert Mugabe's signature indigenisation law which forces foreign businesses to ensure 51 percent equity ownership by black locals. Presenting his 2018 budget statement on December 7, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the controversial 51-49 percent local-foreign shareholding structure shall only apply to diamond and platinum mining. He lamented the flight of foreign direct investment from the country in the past few years and pledged to relax the country's tough policy regime which is blamed for poor investment in the country.
The minister said government was to come up with policies that encourage both domestic and international investment. This, he said, shall come with the amendment of the country's Indigenisation and Empowerment Act which prescribes majority share ownership by locals. "In the extractive sector, that is mining, the proposed amendment will confine the 51-49 percent indigenization threshold to only two minerals, namely diamond and platinum," Chinamasa said. "The 51-49 percent threshold will not apply to the rest of the extractive sector nor will it apply to other sectors of the economy which would be open to any investor regardless of nationality."
Chinamasa said the reserved sectors shall only be enjoyed by locals with foreign nationals interested in joining these areas expected to comply with certain requirements tailored to benefit the economy. "For non-Zimbabweans, entry into the reserved sector will only be by special dispensation granted by government if the proposed business; 1, creates employment; 2, affords the opportunity for the transfer of skills and technology for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe; 3, that the business will promote the creation of sustainable value chains and, fourthly, that the business meets the prescribed socially and economically desirable objectives."
Chinamasa said government will allow those already in the sector to continue uninterrupted but they must formalise their enterprises and bank their proceeds with local institutions. The reserved sectors are agriculture (primary production of food and cash crops), transportation, retail and wholesale trade, barbershops, hairdressing and beauty salons, employment and estate agencies and grain milling as well as bakeries, tobacco grading and packaging, tobacco processing, advertising agencies, milk processing and provision of local arts and crafts, marketing and distribution. Zimbabwe's controversial indigenisation law is blamed for the flight of foreign direct investment in the once promising economy with industries that once employed millions now reduced to wasteland.
Senior UN official urges Security Council to support peace process revitalisation in South Sudan
The arrival of the dry season in South Sudan could lead to more fighting that would undermine the political process and cause additional civilian casualties and displacement, a senior United Nations official cautioned the Security Council on November 28. Briefing the Council on the security situation in the world's newest country, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita also raised concerns about the growing number of incidents targeting humanitarian actors and restrictions on movement of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) personnel. "The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to be dire, compounded by widespread armed conflict, inter-communal violence, large displacements of the civilian population and access restrictions which prevents the delivery of humanitarian assistance," Keita said.
Some four million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes in the conflict that erupted nearly four years ago following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his Vice-President, Riek Machar. Despite an August 2015 peace agreement, violence has continued. According to UN figures, nearly half of the country's 12 million people are hungry, including about 1.7 million on the brink of famine. The situation is likely to get worse with onset of the dry season, Ms. Keita said, and "the Government's push to assert military dominance across the country, notably when faced with continued resistance by armed opposition groups." She stressed that the conflict in South Sudan can only have a political solution and urged the international community to provide "unified and unconditional" support for the peace process.
Ms. Keita encouraged the 15-member council to "unanimously express its support to the urgent revitalization of the peace process so that the suffering of all South Sudanese civilians can come to an end." Those efforts are being led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with support from neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, to revitalize the implementation of the peace agreement and to bring stakeholders together. An IGAD task force is now meeting informally in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire - where the fifth African Union and European Union summit will begin November 29 and will formally discuss the situation in South Sudan in mid-December.
Source: UN News Service
UN envoy condemns 'horrific' killings of civilians in Jonglei
The most senior United Nations official in South Sudan has condemned the "horrific" killing of some 45 civilians in the Jonglei region on November 28 when a Murle ethnic group attacked a Dinka village. "I utterly condemn these killings and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks," said David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and head of the UN Mission in the country, known as UNMISS. The attack left 19 people wounded. "I urge the leaders of both communities to reign in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings. It is crucial that the national and local authorities support the community leaders and work to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to account," he added.
Since 2013, the Murle and Dinka communities in Jonglei, which is in the central part of the country, have been engaged in long-standing inter-ethnic violence that has operated outside the wider political conflict in South Sudan. "The perpetrators of this violence have undermined the ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts that [UNMISS] has supported in Jonglei," Shearer said. "The engagement that UNMISS has had with both communities has shown that the vast majority of people want to end the destructive pattern of revenge attacks," he underscored. The dead included humanitarian workers who, according to Shearer, were "working selflessly for the people of Jonglei." Their deaths, he added, are "pointless and utterly contemptible."
Source: UN News Service
US denies allegations of civilian massacre in Somalia
The US Africa Command (Africom) on November 29 denied allegations that an operation carried out in August by American troops in Somalia resulted in civilian deaths. "After a thorough assessment of the Somali National army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia, on Aug. 25, 2017 and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, US Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) has concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants," Africom said in a statement. Africom's statement came after the American news website The Daily Beast reported earlier in the day that there was strong evidence the US-led operation resulted in the deaths of 10 civilians, including at least one child.
Citing unnamed sources, The Daily Beast said US Navy Seals fired on unarmed farmers in the village and then took pictures of those shot with weapons falsely planted beside their bodies to appear as though they were armed. In addition, the news website reported that after opening an investigation into the incident, Somalian federal government officials told The Daily Beast the inquiry confirmed that those shot were civilians and its information was buried after the US government put pressure on Somali officials.
However, Africom denied the claim without addressing The Daily Beast story, saying SOCAF conducts detailed planning and coordination to reduce civilian casualties and to ensure compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict before the US carries out an operation with partner forces. "US Africa Command and the Department of Defense take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously," Africom added.
The US has about 500 troops in Somalia, with two new military headquarters in Mogadishu. US forces have been working with the Somali government to fight the al-Shabaab terror group, which has publicly boasted of its alliance with al-Qaeda and has been fighting Somalia's internationally recognised government for control of the country since the militant group was ousted from Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union-led forces.
Ugandan MPs reject long-awaited climate change bill
Legislators on December 6 punched holes in the Climate Change Bill despite several months of demanding for it, to protect the ecosystems threatened by population pressures and erosion that affect dependents on natural space. At a meeting convened by ministry of Water and Environment to authenticate the draft bill held at Ridar hotel-Mukono, MPs and members from the civil society expressed dissatisfaction that despite their proposals in the previous meetings, no action had been taken to improve the draft bill.
MPs through the Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change (PFCC) have since last year been demanding that government expedites the enactment of a law to regulate activities on natural resources to avert the dangerous effects of climate change in the country. Members however said the draft bill by the directorate of first Parliamentary counsel in the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has left out almost all their contributions yet they are key for a good law intended to protect the ecosystems threatened by population.
The legal framework is intended to help the country mainstream climate change in the country's development processes. "The first money must come from Uganda when it comes to budgeting and then development partners. There are many funding opportunities but the bill is totally silent on climate change fund," Forum chairperson Lawrence Biyika Songa said. "Who is going to manage, who is in-charge? It will be useless to tarmac our roads and all of a sudden floods come and destroy them. Its important stakeholders come to give priority to climate change," Songa also Ora MP added.
The members also noted that the enforcement clause other than offences and penalties in the bill was silent, which leaves the law wanting. Joanita Nakachwa, from the Directorate of first parliamentary counsel and Benard Namanya, a law consultant in their justification of the bill noted that they had consulted at least 27% of the women of the 700 persons consulted to come up with that draft.
However, Kaberamaido Woman MP Maria Gorett Ajilo said 27% was a small number given that women are majority in Uganda and are most affected with climate change effects like floods, drought and mudslides among others. "We want this law which takes gender seriously. There are a lot of cries that our issues were not captured. Climate change affects a woman more when it comes to famine and drought because she is looked at as the one to cook and provide food for people to eat in a home or water to drink," Ajilo said.
James Okwi from Civil Society noted that it was useless for the department to keep inviting them to such meetings yet they disregard their views on important issues when it came to laws for the country. Commissioner Climate Change Department in Water and Environment Ministry, Chebet Maikut also admitted there were gaps in the draft bill where the country can respond to climate changes effects. "We need a strong institutional arrangement to coordinate the country's responses to climate change. The climate change department is not sufficient enough to handle that and that is why a semi-autonomous authority is necessary to enable that in terms of financial resources and technology to deal with climate change, but it's not in the bill," Maikut said.
PFCC coordinator Christine Kaaya, however, expressed optimism the bill, in its third stage, would be finalised early next year. "Its [bill] coming quite late because we expected it in parliament by October this year. I think the delay for its approval is because of the international conferences since key people had to participate," Kaaya said. Cabinet directed the ministry of Water and Environment in 2015 to initiate the legal framework on climate change.
Source: The Observer (Kampala)
Gunmen assassinate South Sudan MP in Uganda
Gunmen suspected to be operating in South Sudan last night entered into Yumbe District in Uganda and assassinated Jacob Kuwinsuk Gale, the Member of Parliament for Yei River State Transitional Legislative Assembly. In press statement released by Alfred Kenneth Duku, the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport Yei River State, the MP was in company of other people making consultations as part of the National dialogue in Uganda. "This is to inform the people of Yei River State in particular and South Sudan in general on the brutal assassination of our Member of State Transitional Legislative Assembly Jacob Kuwinsuk Gale who was assassinated on the 6th. Dec.2017 in Mijale Sub County of Yumbe District in Uganda," he said.
No rebel group that operates along the Uganda-South Sudan borders has claimed responsibility but Duku said the incident occurred at about 7pm on December 6. "The late was rushed to Midigo health facility but died on the way to Arua hospital where he had been referred for better health treatment," he said. The North Western Police Public Relations Officer, Josephine Angucia confirmed that: "It is true that he was shot on the head and as he was rushed to the health center, it was found that the bullet could be removed at Arua referral hospital. But unfortunately he died on the way before to the health facility hospital." She said a cartridge from the gun was recovered and no arrests have been made. "We advise that even the refugees should be conscious of the security and report cases of people having illegal guns. The body will be taken and buried by the relatives who stay in Yumbe," she said.
The late served in the State Transitional Legislative Assembly as the Chairperson for members' affairs, gender and human rights committee. "The late and three other members of SPLA headed by the deputy speaker of SPLA Yokoju Sivalano were sent by the state on November 22 to conduct consultative grass root peace meetings and dialogues with community members of greater Kajo-Keji Counties and the consultations went successful," Duku said in a press statement. Last week, gunmen also beheaded two South Sudanese inside Ugandan district of Moyo. The government of South Sudan has formed a National Peace committee that has been visiting the refugee camps to them hope of possible return to South Sudan.
Source: The Monitor
Liberian Government confirms expulsion of its diplomats from UK
The Liberian Government on November 28 confirmed the expulsion of two of its diplomats from the United Kingdom, following reports that her Majesty's Government declared them persona non-grata. The two Foreign Service officials who have been expelled from the United Kingdom are Jay Napoleon Toquie II and Chester Dweh Barh, Sr. Though details of their crimes have not been made known, the Foreign Ministry here say the Liberian Government has taken notes of the decision of Her Majesty's Government and arrangements are being made for the departure of the two officials and their families.
The ministry indicated in its statement that though the British Government has not cited reasons for their decision, it is not obliged to provide an explanation, according to Article 9 (1) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961. The Liberian Government said it would ensure that the two diplomats and their families are repatriated before the British Government deadline which ends on January 8, 2018.
Source: The New Dawn
150 Nigerians return from Libya
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on November 30 received 150 Nigerians who voluntarily returned from Libya at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. They were brought back on their expression of interest to return to Nigeria through the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union. The Boeing B737-800 aircraft with registration number: 6A-DMG, landed at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at about 9.15p.m. They comprised 13 female adults and one teenage girl while the male adults were 133, two teenage boys and one baby boy.
The returnees were received by the South-west Zonal coordinator of NEMA, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu . Also on ground to welcome the returnees back home were officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the police.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered for the evacuation of Nigerians from Libya following reports that they were being sold as slaves in the country for about $400. It was gathered that the federal government would in the next few weeks intensify efforts towards bringing them back while the ongoing repatriation by the IOM and the EU is expected to also continue.
Source: This Day
This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi