MonitorsPublished on Dec 27, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XLXII

The Continent

Experts against politicians managing Africa's natural resources unilaterally

During the 12th African Economic Conference, which began on December 4, 2017 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), experts from Africa called for the inclusive management of the continent's natural resources, where there is a high level of inequality, during the third plenary session entitled "Inclusive resource governance as a driver of structural transformation". They asked political leaders to stop making decisions alone. "We talk about the governance of natural resources because we have millions of people living near these resources, but extraction causes more problems than it solves," said Hannah Forster, Executive Director of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS). "These populations endure conflicts and poverty." She continued: "We have nations that are rich in oil, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage. We have land that is a resource capable of attracting investors and turning them into happy people. Unfortunately, they are not." According to Hannah Forster, future prospects for these African populations are anything but bright. "We have to put an end to these inequalities. Politicians must involve civil society in decision-making to manage natural resources," she said. Governance should therefore include the development of leadership, the promotion of dialogue with civil society, and the increased accountability of communities. "We must allow our citizens to identify their needs and determine their priorities. They must take their destiny into their own hands," Forster stressed. Claude Kabambe, Director of Research at the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSIWA), an organisation that aims to encourage the creation of open societies in Africa, agreed. "In African countries, we are struck by the poverty that exists alongside the abundance of natural wealth. Where does the problem lie? We have, for example, established advanced mining codes," noted Claude Kabambe. "But the problem arises when we apply them, because within our ministries there are no technicians, no logistics, in other words no infrastructure. So, if we want to fight poverty, we need to add value to our minerals by involving our populations, with governance models that enable the participation of communities." Another major problem, according to the Research Director, is the monopolisation of mining resources by politicians. "Every time the government changes, we go back to the drawing board in terms of the existing environment. This is not good because it does not allow for predictions. And it is a diversion from the model of contractual negotiation. Legislation must not simply provide the right to exploitation because this leads to corruption," he said. Yao Graham, Coordinator of the research organisation Third World Network Africa (TWN), based in Accra, Ghana, suggested that economic planning should be revived in African countries. "We cannot transform our economies if we cannot overcome this lack of planning. We must work out how to create an environment that promotes the development of home-grown businesses, especially since the market is dominated by foreign companies," he suggested. The 12th African Economic Conference was held from December 4 to 6, 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the theme "Governance for Structural Transformation". Organised jointly by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the AEC provides a unique forum for economists and decision-makers to discuss ways to improve access to information and research on economic questions and the quality of decision-making in this field. Source: African Development Bank Group

Joint AU-EU-UN taskforce meeting to address the migrant situation in Libya

The joint EU-AU-UN Task Force on migration set up last month in Abidjan met on December 14 in Brussels. The work of the task force is to be coordinated with the 'recognised' Libyan authorities with the main goal of dismantling trafficking and criminal networks. It will also seek to help countries of origin and transit for migrants to tackle the root causes of migration via development opportunities and stability. The African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, H.E. Amira El Fadil, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, and UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Turk discussed the encouraging results of initiatives put in place and a set of concrete actions aimed at addressing the dramatic situation of migrants and refugees in particular inside Libya, following the formal launch of the Task Force on 4th December in Addis Ababa. Since the emergency voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) operation started in line with the agreement reached during the AU-EU Summit in Abidjan on 28 November 2017, 3,100 migrants have been assisted to return from Libya to their countries of origin. This brings up the number of migrants that have been assisted by the IOM to return home safely to a total of 16,561 persons, compared to 2,700 for the whole of 2016. All participants confirmed the shared commitment to provide VHR assistance to an additional 15,000 migrants by February 2018. In this context IOM will scale up the reception, reintegration and community based support to returnees and its counter-trafficking efforts and its assistance to victims of trafficking. It is of paramount importance that the evacuation can rely on protection sensitive identification and disembarkation procedures in Libya for all nationalities, notably to cater for the needs of those who are in need of protection and Unaccompanied Minors. The Task Force will work together with the Libyan authorities to ensure unhindered access for International Organisations and NGOs to detention centres and to allow the full and transparent registration of all refugees and migrants both at the disembarkation points and in detention centres by International Organisations. Looking beyond the immediate needs we will work together with the Libyan authorities to overcome - once and for all - the system of systematic detention. Finally, in order to strengthen action targeting migrant smugglers and human traffickers, the parties agreed to coordinate positions in Addis, New York and in Geneva to promote African, European and international initiatives aiming at reducing demand, disrupting the supply chain and bringing perpetrators to justice. They stressed the importance to cooperate with key origin, transit and destination countries on judicial as well as on law enforcement level to exchange information, build capacity and counter the culture of impunity and vowed to support enhanced efforts by Libya in this field. The Task Force parties reconfirmed their commitment to build stronger security architecture in the region, including through targeted action against all forms of organised crime, especially trafficking in human beings. The African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations agreed to meet on a regular basis at operational level and hold joint mission at senior official level to develop the operations further in close coordination with Libyan authorities Source: African Union

Central Africa

Religious leaders call for peace, dialogue in Cameroon

Cameroon Christian and Muslim religious leaders are calling for peace and talks to end the crisis in English-speaking regions of the central African nation that has prompted secession calls. The religious leaders say the crisis could add to the bloodshed from the Boko Haram insurgency in the north and the crisis in neighboring Central African Republic. At Yaounde's Catholic cathedral, the Saint Anne choir sang for peace in Cameroon at an ecumenical service attended by all Christian denominations and Muslims. Among the hundreds of priests, pastors and imams is Chieck Mohamadou Muktar of the Etoudi central mosque in the Cameroonian capital. "Every one of us must apply the command of the almighty God to live in peace, in harmony with the other people everywhere we are, and we must be all of us, without any distinction, ambassadors of peace," Muktar said. Apostle Paul Keng of the Living Word fellowship, who spoke for Pentecostal denominations, said his greatest wish is for peace to return to Cameroon in 2018. "All Cameroonians, come together on the table and let peace be on our nation, because nobody can develop a nation when there is war,” Keng said. “I am calling on our leaders that are in the position of influence to open their hearts to the Lord. Cameroon has a great destiny. Please come to the Lord, and God is more than able to do it. He is going to heal our land, so peace in Cameroon in Jesus' name." Cameroon has experienced few major challenges since its independence in the 1960s. But in the past several years, it has been enveloped by a bloody Boko Haram insurgency in the north, the spillover of the violence in the Central African Republic, and calls for secession in its English-speaking southern regions. In the English-speaking southwestern towns of Eyumojock and Mamfe, attacks on military positions escalate by the day. Alain Mukete, a 36-year-old resident of Eyumojock, says he supports the secessionists. He says he preferred to speak in French, so authorities in Yaounde would get the message that English speakers in the country, where French is also an official language, want their independence because they can no longer bear mistreatment by the French majority. He says even if they are arrested, they will press for their independence. As a sign of dissatisfaction with the injustices they have suffered, he said, they have decided not to send their children to school. He says they have decided they must separate from French-speaking Cameroon, and when they have their independence they will reorganize their own school year and start over again. Schools have been closed in most of English-speaking Cameroon for more than a year. In early October, the separatists declared the independence of a state they call "Ambazonia" and claimed Julius Ayuk Tabe, an information technology executive with the American University of Nigeria, was their president. Cameroon says many separatist fighters were going for training in Nigeria. So far, the separatist fighters have killed at least 12 soldiers and policemen in the two English-speaking regions, according to the government. Residents and local newspapers say at least 20 soldiers have been killed. Dozens of the separatists have also been killed, and at least 40 suspects arrested. Cameroon President Paul Biya declared war on the fighters, calling them terrorists. Last November, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was working with the Nigerian government and other U.N. agencies on a contingency plan for humanitarian assistance to thousands of Cameroonians crossing into Nigeria as a result of tensions and fighting between armed separatists and government troops. Nigeria and Cameroon are in a war with Boko Haram that has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with about 25,000 people killed and about 2.5 million displaced. Cameroon is also grappling with the crisis in neighboring CAR that has led to sporadic attacks on its territory by armed groups for supplies. The clergy are calling for honest and sincere dialogue between the government and the separatists to stop what they say may be genocide in the making, but Biya has maintained that he is not open for negotiation with the separatists. Source: Voice of America

In Rwanda, President opens National Dialogue Council

President Paul Kagame has delivered the State of the Nation Address, stating that the country has grown stronger over the last one year. He also used the occasion to open this year's National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano), which has attracted over 2000 participants from across Rwanda and among Rwandan communities abroad. The President said that, after a period of slow growth, agricultural production grew by 8 per cent this year, despite challenges such as the armyworm and drought in some parts of the country. He thanked citizens for their contribution in increasing agriculture production. "The hard work of citizens has really paid off and I wish to thank you for this and ask you to keep it up". Addressing the gathering at Kigali Convention Centre, Kagame said that the Made-in-Rwanda strategy has already boosted production, with exports increasing by 50 per cent, while imports dropped by 3 per cent. As a result, our trade deficit fell by more than 20 per cent, he said. President Kagame said that more than 8,000 new manufacturing jobs were created this year and promised that his government will continue to build on this to bring about further gains. He said that US$1.5 billion dollars in new investment and infrastructure deals were registered in 2017, including the ongoing construction of a new international airport in Bugesera, south of the capital Kigali. Kagame also said that the country's conference tourism strategy is bearing fruit, adding that Rwanda hosted 169 international meetings this year "which brought tens of thousands of customers to our hotels, restaurants and our national airline." Rwanda's electricity supply continues to grow, he said. "To stimulate demand for that power, government will work with industrial investors to ensure a competitive tariff." The Head of State told the nation that mineral exports now exceed the value of all other exports, combined. This is attributable, in part, to more effort in value addition and new exploration, he said. It is encouraging to note that graduates are also finding entrepreneurial success in agribusiness, Kagame noted. "I call on more young people, to consider the opportunities in this sector." We will continue to document and preserve our history, and to pursue accountability for ourselves, and others, where necessary, he told thousands of delegates at the meeting. Kagame underlined the need to continue consolidating the gains the country has made in peace and security. "We cannot take our gains, or our future prosperity, for granted. Peace, security, and national cohesion are not irreversible." The President also opened the annual Umushyikirano 2017 edition, whose theme revolves around the next development agenda, prosperity values and the need to place the youth at the heart of the transformation blueprint. The event is also being attended by delegates from several African countries, while some 3000 youths attending this year's Youth Connekt Convention that opened on   December 11 at Petit Stade in Remera, Kigali, will also follow the proceedings and have a chance to share their views via video link. The annual Umushyikirano is being televised and streamed online while viewers and listeners will also participate through live text messages, social media platforms as well as from gathering of residents in Nyamasheke, Musanze and Gatsibo who will join in via video conferencing. Source: The New Times

North Africa

South Africa reaffirms its commitment to Saharawi People

The Ambassador of South Africa in Algeria, Dennis Dlomo, reaffirmed, on December 12, in the Forum of the Memory, dedicated to the Martyr Mohamed Abdelaziz, the commitment of his country with the right of the Saharawi people to freedom and independence. The South African diplomat highlighted in his speech, the great work of the deceased leader for the freedom of his people. "We will not forget our brothers in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the struggle of the Saharawi people is the struggle of South Africa," said Dennis Dlomo, while maintaining that "new fronts of struggle will be opened through the use of legal channels and all forms able to stop the aggression against the rights of the Sahrawi in the Occupied Terrirories of Western Sahara ". The ambassador concluded his speech with the news that South Africa and the countries of the Development Group of South Africa, will organize a regional congress of solidarity with Western Sahara, and that their recommendations will be addressed within the African Union and the BRICS. SPS Source: Sahara Press Service (El Aaiun)

Putin terms summit talks with Sisi "constructive"

Russian president Vladimir Putin on December 11 held talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi at El Itihadiya palace "constructive and rich in substance". In a joint press conference with president Sisi, the Russian president said during the summit, they have outlined future joint plans of action and discussed issues topping the international and regional agenda. Putin stressed that Russia is keen on fostering friendly and cooperation relations with Egypt as Egypt is Russia's old and trusted partner in the Middle East region and North Africa. Bilateral cooperation is acquiring a new dynamic, thanks to the developing trade and economic cooperation, Putin said, adding that the volume of trade exchange has been increased by half during the past nine months reaching more than four million dollars. He cited that they stressed the importance of continuing negotiations in terms of establishing a free trade zone between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Commission and expressed keenness on the joint steps in the energy field, especially in the fuels sector. He also referred to the establishment of a power plant project in Dabaa which will be the first of its kind in Egypt, affirming that the implementation of such project will enable Egypt to get not only a nuclear plant but also the latest and safest technologies. The Russian president thanked Sisi for the warm hospitality. Putin expounded that the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) will be the largest center for manufacturing, supplying and exporting the Russian products to the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. He affirmed that the Russian major companies expressed keenness on participating in such an important project, pointing out that it will be implemented with total investments of $ seven billion. He said that talks also touched on cooperation in agriculture field as Egypt is one of Russia's most important customers in the procurement of wheat, citing that Russia has imported about 5.5 million tons of wheat to Egypt during the first nine months of 2017. Putin added that they agreed to expand military and technical military cooperation between both countries and discussed improving capabilities of the Egyptian Armed Forces within the framework of fighting terrorism. He noted that discussions also dealt with human bonds between both countries, topped by tourism, stressing that the Egyptian side has exerted strenuous efforts to upgrade the security standards at Egypt's airports. The sequence of joint steps needed for resuming direct flights between both countries were tackled during the talks, Putin further said. The Russian Federal Security Service delivered a report affirming that Russia is ready to resume flights between Moscow and Cairo, pointing to the necessity of signing a governmental protocol in this field, the Russian president added. The Russian president said that during the talks, he and President Sisi exchanged views towards major international and regional issues in detail, affirming that the Russian-Egyptian stances are very close. Putin said that he has informed President Sisi about Russia's efforts to restore stability in Syria as well as the results of his visit to it, stressing that support of the Russian Air Force made the full liberation of the Syrian territories from terrorists very imminent. He also stated that he and President Sisi have agreed to boost coordination to provide a long-term political settlement in Syria. He expressed appreciation to Egypt's support to the Russian initiative of holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, affirming that Russia is keen to engage all Syrian factions in its meetings, including representatives to Moscow and Cairo platforms. On other hands Putin noted that Russia and Egypt are keen to achieve stability and security in Libya and restore its sovereignty and unity as well as integration of its territories, lauding Egypt's constructive stance in the Mideast settlement. He commended the Palestinian reconciliation that was inked in October in Cairo between Fath and Hamas movements, saying that Egypt and Russia stress the necessity of an immediate direct Israeli- Palestinian dialogue to tackle all contentious issues including the status of Jerusalem. He referred to the importance of fair and long-term agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis that cope with the interests of both sides while decisions should go in line with resolutions that had been already adopted by the international community. The Russian president voiced Russia's support to the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, affirming that steps prior to the results of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are useless and destabilizing. He extended thanks to the Egyptians for their fruitful cooperation, stressing that implementing decisions taken by him and President Sisi today will contribute to enhancing partnership between Russia and Egypt in all spheres. - MENA Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

Vulnerable children, women evacuated from hostile Libya

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has evacuated 74 vulnerable refugees from Libya to Niger. A vast majority of these are children and women, numbering 51 and 22 respectively. Together with a man, they had been detained in the North African country that is at the centre of slave trade scandal. The refugees are of Eritrean and Somali nationality. "Recently, they have been detained in Libya but they can now hope anew," said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation. With the support of UNHCR's partners in Niger, the refugees will be accommodated in guesthouses in Niamey. The youngsters will stay in centres for children, where assistance, psychosocial support and recreational activities will be made available. Meanwhile, the first group of 25 refugees evacuated from Libya to Niger on November 11 is scheduled to depart for France before Christmas. Last week, UNHCR launched an urgent appeal asking for 1 300 resettlement places to be made available for vulnerable refugees in Libya by the end of March 2018. Cochetel said refugee evacuations could only be part of broader asylum-building and migration management efforts to address the complex movement of migrants and refugees along the Mediterranean routes. "UNHCR is thankful for the support it receives from the European Commission (EU) to operationalize this life-saving evacuation mechanism," he said. Libya is to deport 15 000 migrants before the end of the year as part of plans to address the auctioning of foreign nationals as slaves. Source: cajnews

Libyan Minister lauds Morocco's role in restoring political stability in his country

Minister of labour and training in the national union government in Libya Mehdi Ouaredmi El Amine Kadinou lauded, on December 20 in Rabat, Morocco's role in establishing political stability in his country. Morocco, where the national unity government saw light under the Skhirat agreement, is making a political contribution and an active participation in achieving and restoring political stability in Libya, the minister said in a statement to the press after his talks with Minister Delegate for Moroccan expatriates and Migration Affairs Abdelkrim Benatiq. The minister also expressed his appreciation for the support provided by Morocco to the negotiation process that led to the Skhirat agreement in 2015 under the UN aegis for the stabilization of the situation in Libya, stressing that his country has become, thanks to this agreement, "more stable at the social and security levels". In this regard, El Amine Kadinou said he was "confident" in the future of Libya, highlighting the first signs of social and security stability in Libya in 2018. He also noted that his visit to Morocco is part of the strengthening of cooperation relations between the two countries in the field of employment and expertise sharing. The minister said that Morocco and Libya will implement in 2018 bilateral cooperation agreements that were signed in 1983, including those relating to employment and social security. Source: Maghreb Arabe Presse (Rabat)

Egypt extends assistance to Rohingya Muslims

Egypt has extended relief assistance to Bangladesh as part of efforts exerted by Egypt to support the Rohingya Muslims, said Egyptian Ambassador to Bangladesh Walid Shams Eddin on December 20. He added that the aid is meant to contribute to easing up the suffering of Rohingya Muslims, who fled violence in Myanmar. The assistance hit 120 tons of food and medical supplies, he added. Source: Egypt State Information Service (Cairo)

Southern Africa

Zimbabwe in the right direction, says IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the softening of the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act is a step in the right direction and feels the 2018 budget is a good starting point in addressing excessive government expenditure. Zimbabwe's Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week presented the budget seen as tackling the widening fiscal deficit and implementing critical structural reforms. The controversial local ownership law, which requires foreign owned companies to cede 51 percent to black Zimbabweans, was amended to apply only to the Platinum and Diamond sectors. IMF spokesperson William Murray on December 14 said a mission had concluded its assessment of the country's fiscal position. "Our understanding as a result of this mission but also in our ongoing context is that the authorities are cognisant of the challenges facing Zimbabwe and have expressed their determination to address them," said Murray. "They presented their 2018 budget on December 7 and that budget stresses that the government's intention to re-impose budget discipline, reform and open the economy and engage with the broader international community." Murray added that the IMF stands ready to support the southern African nation but stressed that Zimbabwe would have to pay up its arrears to multilateral lenders before it could receive any new financial support. "In addition to a strong and coherent reform program, a concerted international effort will be required to revive and reintegrate the Zimbabwe economy," he said. "An IMF financial arrangement, for example, would only be possible, after progress is made in resolving Zimbabwe's arrears to other international financial institutions and other creditors." Source: the source

Zuma hosts his last gala dinner as ANC President

President Jacob Zuma hosted his final gala dinner as ANC leader with the event attended by the who's who of the business world. Zuma, who was accompanied by his wife Thobeka Zuma, sat next to Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Among those in attendance was presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen embracing businessman Patrice Motsepe and his wife Precious Moloi-Motsepe. The couple was standing with the mining magnate's sister and Ramaphosa's wife, Tshepo Motsepe, as well as Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. It is said that Motsepe spent R500 000 at the Mangaung conference. He was seated with Zuma again this year. Presidential hopefuls Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa were seen posing for photos with International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and sharing a light-hearted moment in an embrace. The event was sponsored by the ANC's Progressive Business Forum, MultiChoice, Investec and Vodacom, among others. On December 15 the party's leadership in the North West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal each had court rulings made against them which mean that at least 100 delegates and PEC members will not be able to vote at the conference. However, Free State treasurer Mosebenzi Zwane said he was still confident that Dlamini-Zuma would emerge as Zuma's successor. Source: news24WIRE

Presidents Zuma, Mnangagwa meet in Pretoria

President Jacob Zuma and his Zimbabwean counterpart, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, met in Pretoria on December 21 to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral ties. The two Heads of State used their meeting to share perspectives on various issues of mutual importance, such as regional, continental and international developments. President Mnangagwa is on his first working visit to South Africa since his inauguration in November. He replaced former President Robert Mugabe, who resigned after military and public pressure put an end to his 37-year stay in power. President Mnangagwa will serve as interim president until August 2018 when Robert Mugabe's term was set to expire. Thereafter, the people of Zimbabwe are set to elect their next leader. Speaking to the media after their talks at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, President Zuma's official residence in Pretoria, the two reflected on November's developments in Zimbabwe which President Zuma said were handled with maturity. "We are very grateful for that because in a number of countries if the army decides to stand up, they leave a trail of destruction generally, but in Zimbabwe, they were able to bring it under control," said President Zuma. He said he was assured by President Mnangagwa that the former President Robert Mugabe will be looked after, especially taking into account his contribution to the liberation of the Southern African region and the decolonisation of the continent, and will always be acknowledged and celebrated. President Mnangagwa joked that he was happy to be back in South Africa - the place in which he found refuge when he was fired as Deputy President last month. He also used the opportunity to reflect on the cordial bilateral relations both countries share, underpinned by strong historical and political bonds that date back to the era of the liberation struggle. President Mnangagwa's visit to Pretoria comes just a day after his national address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate since becoming President where he voiced his government's commitment to building a democratic, united Zimbabwe. "My government is committed to entrenching a democratic society driven by respect for the country's constitution, rule of law, mutual tolerance, peace and unity," the President said. He reiterated that his government will have a zero tolerance for corruption in order to grow the struggling economy. "Economic growth requires a clean government, a clean private sector. The goal of my government is to build a new Zimbabwe based on values of transparency, accountability and hard work," he said. He further expressed optimism about next year's growth prospects driven by anticipated strong growth in agriculture and mining. South Africa and neighbouring Zimbabwe's diplomatic relations are marked by the annual convening of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) signed in 2015 and co-chaired by the two Heads of State. To date, the two countries have signed more than 40 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and agreements. The agreements and MoUs cover a broad range of areas, including trade and investment, immigration, defence, transport, agriculture, environment, energy, health, labour, water management, taxation, as well as arts and culture. Zimbabwe is one of South Africa's top five trading partners on the continent, with trade statistics showing annual growth. In 2016, South Africa's exports to Zimbabwe amounted to approximately R29.3 billion. There are over 120 South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe in various sectors including mining, aviation, tourism, banking sector, the property sector, the retail sector, construction sector, as well as the fast food sector. Source:

Jewish Board of Deputies condemns ANC resolution to downgrade SA's Israel Embassy

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) have questioned the motives behind the ANC's "discriminatory" resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel "immediately and unconditionally" to a liaison office. The announcement to downgrade the embassy was made at the ANC's 54th elective conference on December 20. The board condemned the move, saying this was an attempt to demonise Israel, "while real human rights abuses, like those occurring in Libya, Mynamar and Syria, among others, are ignored. They are pushing their radical anti-Israel agenda to the detriment of fellow South Africans, and against the interests of the country as a whole." The SAJBD said the decision would have an impact on the economy, culture, social cohesion and national unity, adding that every decision made by the ANC had to fall within the ambit of the Constitution. It said it felt betrayed and disappointed by the fact that the ANC was persuaded by "those with obsession to vilify the Jewish state". The call for the downgrade of relations with Israel came from Palestinians and various churches, parties, civil organisations, and movements such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). But the SAJBD has also questioned the motives of some of these organisations. "It appears to us that the ANC's foreign policy formulation process was hijacked by forces that have a limited interest in promoting South Africa's and key South African communities' wellbeing, and are rather obsessed with undermining the viability of Israel and harming the local Jewish community," read a statement from the board. It said the presence of Hamas at the elective conference supported that view, describing Hamas as a terrorist organisation that called for the destruction of Israel. Meanwhile, the ANC in the Western Cape said that it, along with other provinces, would start mobilising to ensure the implementation of the resolution. "We hope that this practical solidarity will assist in pressuring Israel to end its human rights abuses, apartheid policies and violations of international. Until then, the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle, just as how our struggle was once their struggle," read a statement. "A downgrade would unfairly impact on the ability of Jews and committed Christians to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage. Furthermore, access to education and cultural resources will be curtailed," the SABJD said. It said a downgrade would result in SA forfeiting its role as a peace broker and experienced negotiator between Palestine and Israel. Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), said previously that a downgrade might be unconstitutional, as it would unfairly impact on the ability of Africans Jews to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage. Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Kenyan-born Harvard scholar Calestous Juma dies in US

US-based Kenyan scholar Calestous Juma, who was in June named as one of the most reputable people in the world, is dead. Prof Juma, who until his death was teaching at Harvard University, was the only Kenyan to be listed in the inaugural list of "2017 Most Reputable People on Earth". The list compiled by South African consulting company Reputation Polls has 100 individuals who have "amassed high reputation for themselves through the works they have been engaged in". Prof Juma died while undergoing treatment in Boston, Massachusetts. His Kenyan lawyer told Nation that the scholar had been unwell for some time. "Prof has been unwell for the past two years and on December 15 we received the sad news of his passing. Any more details will come from his family," lawyer Peter Wanyama said. According to Mr Wanyama, Prof Juma's mother was buried just two weeks ago, but because of his sickness, he was not able to attend the funeral. "He had, however, told me that he was planning to travel to the country in the early part of next year. Unfortunately, that will not be possible," Mr Wanyama said. Prof Makau Mutua, another US-based scholar, said he was shocked and "deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Prof Calestous Juma, an African intellectual giant." "He was a towering scholar and a great human being. The best of the best. Unbelievable." Prof Juma was one of the most sought after experts in the field of application of science, technology and innovation to sustainable development in developing and developed countries. A public intellectual, he was very prolific in social media, frequently sharing his writings on Twitter. In the June list of fame, Prof Juma featured alongside luminaries such as Bill Gates, Barack and Michelle Obama and the Pope. It was not the first time that Prof Juma was being picked for honours. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 he had been listed among the most influential 100 Africans by the New African magazine. The Budalang'i-born scholar began his career as a science teacher in Mombasa between 1974 and 1978 before becoming the first science and environment journalist for Daily Nation between 1978 and 1979. He later started his own magazine, Ecoforum. It was during his brief stint at the Nation that environmental issues were prominently covered by Kenyan media. He later worked as an editor and researcher at the Environment Liaison Centre in Nairobi between 1979 and 1982. The scientist, who attained a teacher's certificate from Egoji Teacher's College in 1974, also held a PhD in Science Policy Research from the University of Sussex. At the time of his dearth he was teaching graduate courses on science, technology and development policy and biotechnology at Harvard University. Source: Daily Nation

Somaliland peacefully swears in new President

In a peaceful election, residents of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland voted in its third presidential poll, which resulted in Muse Bihi Abdi being sworn in as its fifth president. Muse Bihi Abdi, a retired pilot, was declared the winner of the tightly contested Somaliland poll held on 13 November 2017. He polled 55% of the overall votes cast to win over opposition candidates Abdirahman Iro and Faysal Ali Warabe. Delegates from East Africa and officials participated in the inauguration in which President Abdi took over from Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo, who has been in power since July 2010. The election was historic for employing iris technology to avert electoral fraud, yet the opposition still cried foul, alleging fraud. At the inauguration, the president wasted no time in addressing his dissatisfied opponents. "I am ready and working to solve all the election-related disputes and to cool down all the brothers who have grievances. If you have grievances, I urge you to come to the table," he said during the inauguration ceremony, which was broadcast live by the privately owned Horn Cable TV. In addition to reaching out to the electorate that did not vote for him, President Abdi will have to deal with high unemployment rates, especially among the youth. He will also have to continue the struggle to get international recognition for Somaliland. Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia on 18 May 1991. It has been under pressure to hold talks with Somalia, but so far these have been futile. Described as the most peaceful state in the Horn of Africa region, Somaliland can boast an army and its own currency and legal system. The territory has been experiencing stability and economic prosperity. It has been influential in the fight against piracy and terrorism in the Horn of Africa. The 26 years of diplomatic isolation has made it difficult for Somaliland to have access to loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is regarded as an autonomous region of Somalia, not a sovereign state. Somaliland held successful presidential elections in 2003 and 2010, including a parliamentary election in 2005. The 2017 election is touted to be the first incident-free poll to be held in the Horn of Africa in many years. In fact, Somaliland's history of peaceful, credible elections and democratic transition sets it apart from the anarchic southern Somalia, and indeed from much of East Africa. Somaliland's history of peaceful, credible elections and democratic transition sets it apart. Source: This is Africa (Hilversum)

12 killed in Alshabaab, Mukhtar Robow militia fighting

At least 12 people were killed on December 15 in clashes between Al-Shabab fighters and militia loyal to Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour in Bakool region in the South West State, Radio Dalsan reports. The fighting erupted near the village of Abal. Alshabaab affiliated websites claim that Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor's son was killed in the fighting. Alshabaab and its former deputy leader Mukhtar Robow's militia known as the "Aaro Aaro" or "Spiders" have been fighting ever since the latter ditched the militant group some years back. Robow Abu Mansoor once a powerful Alshabaab deputy leader surrendered to Somalia government forces last August. Source: Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

First UN safe haven for displaced civilians closes

The first 'Protection of Civilians' site -- a place of refuge and safety set up next to a United Nations base in South Sudan -- has been successfully closed after internally displaced families expressed the desire and confidence to return to their homes, the UN mission in the country said on December 20. "It's gratifying to finally see people feel safe enough to go home," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer. "There is conflict across much of South Sudan where people fear for their lives. But in some areas, like Melut, we are able to help people out of the camps back to their communities," he added. The world's youngest country, South Sudan, has spent much of its short life mired in conflict, riven by a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar that erupted into full-blown war late in 2013. The site, next to the UN base in Melut in the Upper Nile region, had provided sanctuary to hundreds of families since the conflict broke out four years ago in the world's youngest nation. Over the past week, these families have been returned to their homes with the assistance of UNMISS and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in partnership with other humanitarian agencies. Of the 562 recently registered, most chose to settle in Melut town given the improved security situation there. Approximately 255 were relocated elsewhere with some choosing to shift to the Malakal site because of personal protection needs while others moved home to Renk, Ulang, Maban and Wau. There has been significant consultation with the community and humanitarian agencies about the relocation process and ensuring the families continue to receive assistance for returns. The protection of civilians is primarily the South Sudan government's responsibility but, in many cases, people have fled from government security forces. UNMISS provides sanctuary to almost 210,000 internally displaced people at seven locations across South Sudan. These camps are a last resort and exist only to shelter people who genuinely fear for their lives. "We will look at every camp individually to see if the conditions allow people to return home voluntarily and safely. Where these conditions exist, we will try to assist people back," said Mr. Shearer. "Camps are not a long-term solution and certainly not the right place to bring up children or live with dignity." The closure of the site at Melut will enable the peacekeeping troops based there to shift their focus from guarding the camp to increasing patrols in the surrounding area. Extending their protective presence into other communities will save lives and build confidence so that, over time, more people will feel safe enough to return home. Source: UN News Service

Paul Kagame and Omar Bashir join hands against ICC

Rwanda and Sudan have agreed to jointly confront the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing it of targeting only African leaders. Sudanese President Omar Bashir and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame struck the deal as they held talks in Khartoum on December 20. President Kagame had arrived in the Sudanese capital for a two-day visit. Addressing a joint press conference, after a closed-door meeting with his host, President Kagame stressed that the African Union's position was against the ICC, stating that the continent's leaders were victims of its biased justice. "We have also talked about the International Criminal Court and I can say our opposition has been very clear," President Kagame emphasised. President Bashir commended the Rwandan position that seeks to protect Sudan and other African nations from what he called the "international agenda". He also called for better coordination between the African governments to implement the AU stance on the ICC. President Bashir has been indicted by the ICC since 2009 for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur region. The two presidents also agreed to push for reforms at AU for better coordination at all levels. They also discussed several regional concerns, including the crisis in South Sudan. The two presidents agreed to initiate a political consultation committee between their countries and to enhance bilateral trade. The Rwandan leader was also scheduled to visit the Sudanese Museum and other archaeological areas in the north, as well as address a symposium at the Africa International University (AIU) in Khartoum. Source: Daily Nation

West Africa

Sierra Leone presidential aspirant detained

Police in Sierra Leone have detained presidential aspirant Musa Tarawally, months into next year's General Election. The confinement of the prominent opposition leader has prompted cries of political intimidation. Tarawally, who is one of about half a dozen people to have expressed interest in running for president in the March 7 polls, was detained after being invited for questioning by the police on December 11. It happened just days after he was named the flag-bearer of a five-member political parties coalition - the Citizens Democratic Coalition (CDC). The police have not stated the official reason for his detention, but reports have cited officials at the Criminal Investigations Department saying he was under investigation on suspicion of forgery relating to land transactions under him as a Cabinet minister. Tarawally was considered a close ally of President Ernest Bai Koroma in whose government he served between 2007 and 2015, first as minister at regional level and then as Cabinet minister responsible for Internal Affairs and later Lands. He was sacked in 2015 amidst allegations of corruption in the land sector. President Koroma at the time promised an investigation. Questions were now being asked about his detention, just after declaring his political ambition. Tarawally has been in the business sector since his sacking, occasionally getting involved in philanthropic activities, until about a week ago when he was announced as the CDC flagbearer. He was elected to the top position of National Organising Secretary in the governing All People's Congress, a position he recently relinquished, before accepting the CDC ticket. The detained politician and his supporters say his arrest was politically motivated. Source: The East African

Liberian VP Boakai promises not to seek re-election if elected President

Unity Party Standard Bearer Joseph Boakai has for the first time announced his intention to serve a one-term bid if elected President in the ensuing runoff election. "As the campaign unfolds over the next several days, the critical question that stares us in the face is, 'what kind of Liberia do we want for our people.' "Let us ask the critical question, who can best work with them to better deliver a country that meets their needs and general aspirations? "Our quest to provide leadership in the next six years is about you--the people. " "Let us now go forth, bearing in mind that this is about country and not self. We offer to be your servant and not your master. "I, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, make a solemn pledge to serve only one term of six years with humility and love," Veep Boakai said. VP Boakai is anticipating succeeding his boss President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose two-term tenure will expire early January, 2018. His statement is similar to Pres. Sirleaf's pronouncement in 2005, when she made a campaign statement, promising, too, to go for only a six-year term. Sirleaf, however, did not live up to her word. She would later stand as a "formidable force," in the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Election, which she won ahead of Cllr. Winston Tubman, who was the standard bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change now Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). But the Liberian Vice President who is eying the presidency said his pronouncement for a one-term bid is a reality because many Liberians are now eager to see a country associated with good governance in ensuring accountability, transparency, social justice as well as exposing corruption and defeating corruption. "We will be victorious because we bring all that it takes to provide sound leadership--maturity, humility, experience, level-headedness, and vision. We bring to this table the experience of untainted years of public service and tested leadership. "Many Liberians want a country that will be associated with good governance." "They yearn for a leader, who will govern well to ensure accountability, transparency, social justice, expose and defeat corruption, promote equity and provide opportunities and the wise use of our resources. "They demand a leader that can productively engage the world for the good of our people and the image of our country," VP Boakai noted. The Unity Party Standard Bearer believed the vote of Liberians can be used as a key to unlocking the opportunities and transforming in Liberia. These demands and expectations for better road connectivity and infrastructure, improved health care, education, increased food production, electricity, water and decent employment, according to the UP Standard Bearer, cannot be overemphasized. "When you elect Joe Boakai, we will provide those opportunities to transform your lives. We will work with all Liberians to fulfill their dreams for a better country; a country where corruption will not define governance and where infrastructure development and a sound economy largely controlled by Liberians will be a hallmark of our leadership," VP Boakai noted. However, he stressed the importance of encouraging a government of inclusion that will bring on board citizens who are capable of positively contributing to Liberia, in spite of political, ethnic or religious background. In a major press conference held at the Unity Party's headquarters in Monrovia, on December 14, he stated that these will not be achieved if partisans of UP refuse to embark on a vigorous campaign to ensure final victory in the upcoming runoff. At the same time, VP Boakai called for the total support of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the runoff process. VP Boakai, who is ending his tenure as Liberia Vice President, said the support of the party's standard bearer emeritus - President Sirleaf - is important in forging unity within the party and accomplishing a mission to safe Liberia. According to him, President Sirleaf's involvement in cementing a political relationship among her partisans will skip their bitter past. "I therefore call on all Unity Party partisans and all those, who have felt alienated to come together and heed the clarion call to unite behind this noble mission to save our country." The VP, who described the President as his 'sister,' called on her to continually play her leadership role and help to strengthen his hands in forging unity within their great Party and nation. Though according to him, the Unity Party, like many giant political parties across the world, have had some challenges and internal disagreements, but the need to show respect to partisans as well as party's officials, be it past or present. VP Boakai wants more focus to be placed on unison in the party than dwelling on division. He reminded them that mutual respect and unity for various Partisans will create deep and abiding love for Liberia and the preservation of peace, stability, and development of the country. VP Boakai said: "I wish to admonish all UP partisans, our collaborators and well-wishers to continue to exercise deference and to accord due courtesies and respect to party and national leaders, especially our Standard Bearer Emeritus, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf." He said the UP quest to celebrate a respect for the rule of law, void of violence was a commitment not only to win the elections but to ensure that every electorate's votes are counted. VP Boakai lauded President Sirleaf for championing the cause for the upholding of rule of law, tolerance and national harmony, a foundation according to him had been laid during her 12 years tenure. This cause according to him has resulted too many individuals hoping from party to party without loyalty to anyone or commitment to country but with false promises of jobs. "Strangely, some are even advocating that education or training for our children does not matter. To them the only important thing is grabbing power. For me it is not therefore simply about becoming president. This is bigger than the victory of a party. It is about the victory of the Liberian people and the future of our Republic. It is about saving Liberia from falling back into that abyss. I therefore call on all Liberians, no matter your party affiliation, to set aside our differences and put country above self," VP Boakai asserted. The Liberian Vice President who is vying to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also raised concern over electorates who have become first time voters during in the pending runoff ability to make positive decisions that will not allow Liberia to experience the dark past. Announcing the official opening of campaign for the runoff process, the UP Standard Bearer challenged partisans to vigorously campaign to ensure victory. Source: Front Page Africa

In Nigeria, palm oil investors raise alarm over dumping from West African countries

Major palm oil producers in the country have urged the federal government not to yield to the request of some foreign companies operating in the country to import crude oil palm into the country under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) as this will lead to dumping of palm oil in Nigeria. Speaking on behalf of the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON); National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) and Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN), in Lagos during the week, Mr. Emmanuel Ibru, the Chairman, Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria, POFON, said they have received with shock the clamour by a company that has refused to invest in the Nigerian oil palm value chain to import 95,000 MT of crude palm oil, 50,000 MT of Stearin in bulk, 60,000MT of Crude Palm Olein and 50,000MT of Palm Fatty Acid Distillates under the West African Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS). ETLS is the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West Africa region as a Free Trade Area. He said acceding to the request is tantamount to economic sabotage, adding that any attempt or plot to import refined products amounts to smuggling, "because refined vegetable oil products remain on the import prohibition list." Ibru said: "It is in this light that we see the ongoing plot by the company as an attempt to procure official stamp to smuggling and commit economic crime against Nigeria." He disclosed that the current tariff regime of 35 percent (10 percent duty and 25 percent levy) on importation of palm oil and the inclusion of palm oil in the list of commodities that do not qualify for CBN FOREX allocation have been protective of the industry and at the same time the stimulant and tonic for growth. "It has brought about phenomenal growth as witnessed in new plantings and processing capacities across the country. Moribund oil palm plantations have bounced back in production and smallholder planting has spread far beyond the traditional oil palm belt to now include the fringe states like Kogi, Kaduna and Nasarawa states." Consequently, he urged the government to remain steadfast in sustaining the policies in the face of mounting pressure from speculators and rent seekers in the industry. Also speaking during the meeting, Mr. Fatai Afolabi disclosed that all available statistics point to the fact that the Crude Palm Oil (CPO) export data recorded for some West African countries are actually exported into Nigeria from CPO that were imported into those countries. " In essence, these West African countries are transit points for CPO destined for Nigeria. By so doing, these countries earn their own duty, whilst they and the Nigerian importers deny Nigeria from earning revenue. This should not be allowed to continue and we say a big no to ETLS crime." He added that the ETLS antics some of the companies operating in Nigeria is an indirect way of applying for waivers to import CPO and prohibited items, "which government has said several times that import waivers will not be granted and we pray that this resolve be maintained." Source: VANGUARD This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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