MonitorsPublished on Mar 08, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XXXI

The Continent

Vice President pays ‘fruitful’ visit to Rwanda, Uganda

Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari paid a five-day visit to Rwanda and Uganda. He visited Rwanda from February 19-21 and Uganda from February 21-23.On return on February 24, the Vice President said India was received with “exceptional warmth”. During the tour, India signed three agreements in Kigali in the fields of innovation, aviation and visa regime. “We held bilateral talks with top leadership of both the countries to further strength our ties with the two countries as part of the government’s conscious effort to intensify engagement with Africa and I must say we were received with exceptional warmth,” Ansari told reporters onboard the special aircraft. During the last day of visit in Uganda, Ansari met the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament and presented a copy of the Indian Constitution, besides holding bilateral talks. The Vice President held bilateral talks with the top leadership in Kampala, including President Yoweri Museveni and Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. After the talks, India and Uganda decided to expand cooperation in the field of energy sector and training of personnel for space programme and peaceful use of atomic energy, even as the resource-rich East African country pitched for Indian companies to manufacture automobiles locally to discourage import of cars Ansari had arrived in Kampala on February 21, after winding up his three-day Rwanda visit during which he held bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame, President of the Senate Bernard Makuza and attended India-Rwanda Business Forum. At the forum, India and Rwanda signed three MoUs to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of innovation, aviation and visa regime, which includes setting up of an entrepreneurship development center in that country and starting of a direct flight to Mumbai. At the India-Uganda Business Forum, Ansari emphasized that business ties with Uganda is a “key pillar” of the bilateral relationship and India is going to step up engagement with that country to send out a strong message to business communities on both sides to avail opportunities not just in Uganda but entire East Africa. This was the first high-level bilateral visit to Uganda from India since 1997 and first high-level visit to Rwanda. The Vice President, along with wife Salma, was travelling with Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, four MPs (Kanimozhi, Ranvijay Singh Judev, Ranee Narah and P K Biju) and senior officials. The Vice President had said that this visit was part of a “conscious effort” by the Indian government to “intensify interactions” with Africa. Source: The Indian Express

In South Africa, Zuma replaces three judicial service commission members

President Jacob Zuma has decided to replace three members of the Judicial Service Commission, the presidency said on Thursday. Advocates Dumisa Ntsebeza and Ismael Semenya, who are both senior counsels, as well as Andiswa Ndoni were thanked for their indelible contribution to the JSC and their sterling service to the nation, spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement. "President Jacob Zuma has extended his appreciation to the three members of the Judicial Service Commission."He said according to section 178(3) of the Constitution, members of the JSC served until they were replaced by those who designated them. Source: news24WIRE

German government unveils Marshall Plan with AfDB leadership

German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller has unveiled his government's proposed "Marshall Plan" with Africa at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), saying the Plan can help resolve some of the challenges facing Africa. Briefing the Bank's leadership in Abidjan on Thursday, Müller noted that while Africa remains a continent of opportunity with very dynamic development and a strong and promising youth, it faces many challenges. The continent, he said, would have to create 20 million jobs per year and expand training and education facilities for a growing population expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. This scenario, he said, calls for a new initiative with the dimensions of a "Marshall Plan with Africa (not for Africa)," a term, which, he said, underlines the strong concerted efforts from Africa, its partners and the global multilateral system. With the African Union's 2063 Agenda as the framework, the Minister said the plan will focus on economic mobilization, education, training and entrepreneurship programmes that would give millions of Africans better prospects that are vital for Africa's future and for Europe and the world. The blueprint proposes a "new level" of equal cooperation between Africa and western countries in areas such as education, trade, business development and energy. It also calls for better and more equitable market access for African exports, an end to illicit financial flows from Africa and tax evasion by multinational companies. The plan, he said, would further support the development of agricultural value chains within African countries to enable them derive appropriate benefits from the products, citing cotton in Burkina Faso and cocoa and coffee in Côte d'Ivoire as examples. "If you do not invest in development, if you do not reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, you will not have peace," Müller said, noting that misery, poverty and hunger are often the triggers of terrorism and radicalization. African governments also have a role to play by fighting corruption, ensuring good governance and improving the situation for women. Müller said his Ministry would increase German development support for Africa by 20% in countries that undertake necessary reforms. Noting that public funding would not create jobs in the long term, just as government measures were not likely to produce sustainable economic development; increased private investments and more entrepreneurship would be required to replace subsidies and state support, he said. "Our aim is to provide clear incentives for creating an enabling environment for private investments. We are seeking to establish reform partnerships with African countries based on shared values of accountability, transparency and binding commitment," he said. According to the Minister, good governance and anti-corruption efforts will play a substantial role in determining the distribution of the country's Official Development Assistance funds with the greater part benefitting reform-oriented countries. Reform partnerships will be the contribution of Germany's development cooperation to the Compacts with Africa laid out by the G20. Together with international partners and the private sector, Germany will provide substantial support for countries willing to be Agenda 2063 champions, he said, citing Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda as potential beneficiaries. The Plan supports fair trade rules, an efficient framework against tax avoidance and illicit financial flows and clear rules and strong incentives against land grabbing and the exploitation of resources. This would help to increase the amount of domestic funds African governments would need to meet reform-oriented goals. On the Bank's operations, Müller advised that it should endeavour to improve its reserves to increase its loan portfolio and scale down budget support operations. He expressed the German Government's commitment to contribute significantly to AfDB' capital increase, noting the Bank has considerable comparative advantage on the continent. "We see your Bank as the voice of Africa, a depository of knowledge and experience on the continent's development," he said. Contributing to the debate, the Executive Director for Morocco, Abdelmajid Mellouki, who stood in for the Board's Dean and other Board members who are on mission, suggested that the Plan be embellished with data to give a clearer picture of its objectives. In closing, the Bank's Senior Vice-President, Frannie Léautier, who represented President Akinwumi Adesina, thanked the Minister for sharing the plan, which she said, proposed a high level of ownership and placed Africa at an equal level with partners among other issues that are central to the Board's continuous dialogues. She underscored the close alignment of the Plan's four foundations with the African Development Bank's High 5 priorities. "We are all in the same boat. We sink and swim together. Africa has a chance to achieve real transformation," Léautier said. Source: African Development Bank Group

Amina Mohammed sworn-in, lists her priority at UN

Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, says her responsibility at the UN will be to focus primarily on helping the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to reposition sustainable development as the heart of the organisation. Ms. Mohammed, Nigeria's immediate past Minister of Environment, was sworn-in as the fifth Deputy Secretary-General of the UN at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. Source: Premium Times

Central Africa

In Angola, police set dogs on peaceful protesters

The Angolan government should urgently and impartially investigate police use of force to disperse a peaceful protest in the capital, Luanda. The police beat activists with batons and injured at least four protesters using police dogs. "The Angolan authorities are responding to peaceful protests with batons and police dogs," said Daniel Bekele, senior Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The government needs to investigate the police crackdown on protesters and hold those responsible to account." On February 24, 2017, about 15 people gathered at 2 p.m. in the First of May Square (Largo Primeiro de Maio) to call for the resignation of the territorial administration minister, Bornito de Sousa. He is second on the list of candidates for the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and would become vice president if the MPLA wins the parliamentary elections scheduled for August. Because he is in charge of the voter registration process for the elections, the protesters fear he could manipulate the election. Witnesses to the protests, as well as several participants, told Human Rights Watch by phone that the protesters were peaceful, and carried no banners or weapons. They were walking toward the square when the police set upon them and started beating them with batons. Video recorded by a resident in a nearby building shows the police hitting the protesters with batons and using police dogs to disperse the group. The video reveals no aggressive actions by the demonstrators. A protest organizer, Luaty Beirao, said he saw about a dozen police officers when he arrived and another group of officers soon emerged with a Rottweiler and two German shepherd dogs on leashes. "We argued with them for a few minutes, before one of the commanders started chasing people away and beating people who had come to watch the situation," Beirao said. The police then set the dogs on the protesters. "The Rottweiler bit my left arm, while one of the German shepherds bit the right side of my waist," Beirao said. "The wound to the waist was not as big as the one to my left arm." Beirao provided two photos that are consistent with his account. One photo from the protest shows him with a bloody left arm. The other, taken after the protest, shows him with deep bruising on the back, side, and buttocks, which he said was from baton strikes. Another activist, Samussuku Chiconda, said police officers beat him with batons and then dragged him into a police van. A photo he provided showed a deep gash on his forehead, which he said required stitches. "I went to ask the officers why they were stopping us from getting to the square," Chiconda said. "They threw me to the ground and started kicking me and beating me. I tried to run away, but they chased me and dragged me into the van. I think they wanted to take me to the police station but a police commander told them to release me." The police also used force to break up another peaceful protest against de Sousa in Angola's western Benguela Province on February 24. Two activists in Benguela said that the police briefly detained at least two members of the Revolutionary Movement, an anti-government group, then released the protesters without charges. Source: Human Rights Watch (Washington D C)


EAC women stand together for peace process in Burundi

Women from the EAC met on 24 February and established the East African women solidarity movement for peace and security in the region. They have the main objective of fostering the African women solidarity and pleading for Burundi. "The Burundian issue in the region is not sufficiently discussed and we want women and other populations to question the indifference and inaction of the EAC Heads of State", says Marie Louise Baricako, Chairwoman of the Women and Girls Movement for Peace and Security. Baricako says Burundian women seek to promote this solidarity of the EAC women in order to push them and all the populations of the region to plead for Burundi. The same view is shared by Carine Kaneza, the spokesperson for the movement. "We want to develop solidarity of the African women. The Burundi crisis will have to challenge others from the EAC because what affects Burundian women also affects them", she says. Kaneza also says that the regional integration should not focus only on the economic process but also on human integration. In a statement of solidarity, the EAC women said they have been following cases of violence in Burundi very closely. They said they are concerned about the loss of lives, mass displacement, person disappearances, torture and rape of women and girls as well as the inaction of Burundi authorities on these peace negotiations to take place and end violence. "Some Burundian women and girls have been active inside and outside the country to influence both the government and the Arusha peace Process towards the ending of the crisis. Unfortunately, their voices have not been heard by those in charge", said the statement. The EAC women have called upon the EAC Heads of State and the Mediator of the Arusha Peace Process, to strongly commit to a peaceful resolution of the Burundi crisis. On 16 February, some members of the women and girls movement for peace and security have organized demonstrations in Arusha, Tanzania when the fourth round of the Inter-Burundian dialogue took place. They wanted to demand the right to participate in the session. According to them, the UN resolution 1325 states that at any stage of conflict resolution and even in the implementation of signed agreements, women must be effectively represented. They said out of 33 participants, only two women have responded to the invitation of the Facilitator in the Inter-Burundian dialogue. Source: IWACU English News

Fear hangs over busy Uganda-DR Congo border

The jagged, ice-capped Rwenzori Mountains stab at the sky above Mpondwe, a bustling border town in western Uganda. Trucks move slowly and one at a time across a rickety metal bridge above the swirling, muddy Lhubiriha River and into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo where, traders say, profits can be found but fear lurks. "We have no worries here, but our concern is the security over there," says Henry Bwambale, a 34-year-old business leader in Mpondwe, gesturing to the west. Traders tell of violent highway robbery and worse on the roads to the Congolese towns of Butembo and Beni, he says. "We have heard of people being killed, hacked to death and homes torched. People are beheaded," he says. Simon Mufalume, a 52-year-old Ugandan trader, no longer crosses the border himself, preferring to sell to middlemen. "Crossing to Congo to do business is risky," he says. Recklessness, however, can be richly rewarded. "Basic items are expensive because we don't have industries," says Wilberforce Kanga, a 59-year-old Congolese businessman from Beni. "The traders who risk, and cross, make huge profits." Risky business The Congo-Uganda border region has a tradition of insurrection driven by ethnic divisions, political marginalisation and economic neglect. But blame for much of the violence in recent years is put on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group of Muslim fighters that evolved from a domestic force in the mid-1990s into a brutally destabilising militia operating in the borderlands around the Rwenzori Mountains. Fear of attack has led Jude Mwanankambo, a 41-year-old Congolese businessman, to split his life, living in Congo by day and Uganda by night. "There the security is not guaranteed, armed men come to you at night and demand money," he says one evening in Mpondwe. "Some gunmen are vicious! If you don't give them money or goods they can kill you so I cross to Uganda in the evening and return the next morning." To ease his strain Mwanankambo has a wife on each side of the border. Mpondwe is growing, if not booming. Multi-storey buildings burst up from the surrounding tin-roofed huts, a paved road has replaced the old dirt one and the government is there, at least in the form of border security and customs and immigration offices. Stockpiles of goods and busy markets are in stark contrast with the Congolese side of the border where traders do not dally, quickly disappearing into the dense forest. Last week a regional intelligence centre was opened in the nearby Ugandan town of Kasese, manned by security officers from Uganda, Congo, Tanzania and Kenya to address the ADF threat. Repeated claims of ADF links to other Islamists, such as the Shabaab in Somalia, are made but rarely supported and commonly dismissed by analysts. But the ADF need not be Islamic terrorists to be a threat. The group announced its presence with an attack on Mpondwe in November 1996 that left bodies littering the streets. In the five years that followed researchers estimate, at least 1,000 people were killed and 150,000 forced from their homes as the ADF went on an increasingly random rampage, attacking civilians as well as government and military targets. Former ADF fighter Ramadhan Byarugaba, 57, who lives in Kasese after leaving the group as part of a Ugandan amnesty programme says the group "has lost its mission". "The government said they wanted to overthrow us in Uganda, but they are killing people in Congo. Why? Is killing innocent people part of their mission?" he asks. Wave of killings Its brutal methods are not in question, but whether the ADF is behind all the attacks and criminality is. The ADF is not the only predatory armed group in the area: Congo's own army, as well as local Mai-Mai militia and remnants of other rebellions including the Rwandan genocidaires are all present -- and a threat to civilians. The Congolese government and the UN mission, Monusco, have blamed a brutal wave of killings that has left at least 700 people dead since October 2014 on the ADF. But a report last year by the New York-based Congo Research Group questioned this narrative. The author of the report, which implicated government soldiers in some of the killings, was expelled from the country. And AFP journalists were strongly advised after the bloodbath not to delve too deeply into the Beni area's security matters. Still, people from the area do not just blame the ADF. "We have many groups killing people," says Roselyn Kambaare, a 34-year-old mother of five who fled Beni in 2014, after one of the massacres. But for her, exactly who is doing the killing matters less than stopping it. "We have suffered for long," she says. (AFP) Source: The East African

Scientists warn against oil drilling at Lake Tanganyika

As preparations for the exploration of oil and gas in Lake Tanganyika get into top gear, international scientists at the site are warning that if the activities are not pursued carefully, they could cause massive and long-term environmental disaster. The two countries with the biggest stake of the lake, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last October for joint oil and gas exploration in and along the lake. Recently, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, said that all four countries sharing the lake, including Burundi and Zambia, were to meet in DRC's western port city of Kalemie this month for the first conference on the prospects of joint exploration activities in the second deepest lake in the world. Concerned on the developments, Dr Erik Verheyen from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences on behalf of the Cichlid Science 2015 Meeting and concerned scientists last November published an article entitled Oil Extraction Imperils Africa's Great Lakes in the international scientific journal Science warning that although the region sees exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves as a vital economic opportunity, such business posed grave risks to the environment and local communities. In the paper, the scientists argued that thousands of oil spills reported in Nigeria demonstrate that the extraction and transport of oil were prone to accidents. This is especially bad news for the African Great Lakes countries because they are virtually closed ecosystems. "For example, for Lake Tanganyika, which contains about one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater the flushing time is 7,000 years. This time frame implies that the recovery from an oil spill could take a millennia. To make matters worse, the lakes' location in a remote part of the world would impede a quick and effective reaction to an oil spill. Appropriate infrastructures are currently unavailable at the lake, and bringing in heavy equipment at the time of a spill would be cumbersome, logistically impossible, or prohibitively expensive," reads the article in part. An oil spill would markedly affect the health, water supply, and food security of local communities. More than 10 million people depend on Lake Tanganyika alone for fisheries and water resources, and many more along the Congo River, into which the lake drains, are highly dependent on the lakes' ecosystem. Source: The Citizen

In Congo-Kinshasa, militiamen kill 25 civilians in ethnic attack

An estimated 25 people, mostly Hutus, have been hacked to death with machetes by militiamen from the Nande ethnic group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They were reportedly beheaded by the attackers. Local officials and activists are reporting that there has been a massacre of Hutu civilians in the village of Kyaghala in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The civilians were attacked, and many beheaded, by militiamen from the Nande ethnic group. "In total 25 people were killed, decapitated by machete by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in and around the village of Kyaghala," Francis Bakundakabo, the local representative of the governor of North Kivu province, told AFP. The Mai-Mai are a so-called "self-defense" militia composed of members of DRC's Nande, Hunde and Kobo communities. They stand in opposition to rivals from the Nyaturu group, which also represents ethnic Hutus. "All of these people were Hutu civilians," said Bakundakabo, adding that the killings took place between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday. Hope Kubuya, a local activist who verified the attack, said 24 of the victims had been killed with machetes and one woman was shot dead. "This raid by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in the Hutu village will enflame the interethnic conflict in the region," he added. The area around Kyaghala is majority Hutu. The last major attack occurred in December, when 35 civilians were killed in clashes between the two groups. Tension between the Nande and Hutu communities has escalated over the past year, with militia groups attacking villages on both sides. The province of North Kivu, like much of eastern DRC, has been riven by conflict for more than two decades. Source: Deutshe Welle

North Africa

Top Egyptian court acquits Mubarak over protester killings in final ruling

Egypt's top appeals court has acquitted ex-President Mubarak of involvement in protester killings during a 2011 revolt that ended his 30-year rule. The irreversible ruling could see Mubarak walk free. Egypt's Court of Cassation found former President Hosni Mubarak innocent on Thursday over alleged complicity in the killing of protests during the 2011 uprising. He had been sentenced to life in 2012 but an appeals court ordered a retrial, dismissing the charges two years later. The ex-president was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt that ended his three-decade rule. Around 850 people were killed during that time when police clashed with demonstrators. The court also rejected demands by the victims' lawyers to reopen civil suits, leaving no remaining options for appealing the ruling or for a retrial. The 88-year-old, who has spent most of his time in a military hospital since his arrest in 2011, appeared at the hearing on Thursday for the first time since the retrial began in November 2015. In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges, but the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons were subsequently freed. In the six years after Mubarak was overthrown, most of the charges brought against his members of his regime have been dismissed while the country continues to recover from the aftermath of the uprising. Mubarak's Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi, only served for a year before the military ousted and detained him in 2013, launching a violent crackdown on his supporters. Critics say that many of the abuses they fought under Mubarak have returned under current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi - a former army chief who ousted Morsi. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with el-Sisi on Thursday in a push to limit migrant flows to Europe through North Africa. Source: Deutsche Welle

Morocco seeks to join ECOWAS

Morocco, a North African country, has officially requested to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a full member. According to APA, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation issued a statement on the plan to join the 15-member West African bloc. The kingdom of Morocco has informed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia who is the current chair of ECOWAS of "its interest to join the regional grouping as a full member" a statement from the ministry said. This request is in line with provisions of ECOWAS founding treaty and in full satisfaction of its membership criteria, it asserted. According to Morocco, its move comes "to crown the strong political, human, historical, religious and economic ties at all levels with ECOWAS member countries". It said these links were reinforced over the last few years, through the king's 23 visits to 11 countries in the region. The statement said these visits were crowned by the signing of several hundred agreements, which gave a "strong" impetus to bilateral cooperation with the 15 member countries of the regional bloc. Morocco also maintains institutional relations with ECOWAS, through an observer status, which has been in place for several years. Morocco has participated in several meetings of the organization and has contributed to its activities, particularly in areas relating to peace and stability, the statement added. The desire to join ECOWAS is also part of the royal vision for regional integration, as a key to Africa's economic take-off, and is in line with the African policy of King Mohammed VI, reflected by the return of the kingdom to the African Union (AU), the statement concluded. The country was recently re-admitted into the African Union (AU) after decades of voluntary withdrawal from the continental body. The country embarked on diplomatic shuttles to many African countries, including Nigeria and Senegal to mend sour relations and to seek support of the countries for its admittance into AU. Source: Premium Times

At least 74 migrants found dead on Libyan shores

The Libyan Red Crescent said Tuesday at least 74 bodies of African migrants have been recovered from the shores along Libya's northern coast. Red Crescent spokesman Mohammed al-Misrati said a torn rubber boat was found Monday morning near the town of Zawiya on the Mediterranean coast. Al-Misrati expects more bodies to surface as such boats typically transport up to 120 people. Al-Misrati said the bodies would be taken to a cemetery in the capital of Tripoli that has been reserved for unidentified people. The Libyan coast guard said more than 500 migrants were rescued off the shore west of Zawiya Friday and Saturday, further increasing the record numbers of migrant deaths along a key smuggling route over recent months. European Border and Coast Guard Agency Director Fabrice Leggeri said last week there were 4,579 migrant deaths last year along the Libya-Italy smuggling route across the Mediterranean, a sharp increase from 2,869 deaths in 2015. Competing governments in Libya and many militias on the ground are profiting from human trafficking. Rights groups have documented cases of migrant torture, rape and forced labor. Libya has been a largely lawless country since a 2011 uprising sparked a civil war that led to the killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Source: Voice of America

Southern Africa

Zambian ex-President Chiluba's wife dies

Widow of Zambia's second president Frederick Chiluba, Regina Chifunda Chiluba, who was reportedly battling cancer, has died. Family sources have confirmed that Mrs Chiluba died at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) around mid-day February 26. Government evacuated Mrs Chiluba to Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad in India in November last year. She, however, came back last week and was immediately admitted at the University Teaching Hospital as her condition was deemed terminal. In 2002, the Ndola High Court dissolved her marriage to Edward Mwanza. She later officially married the late president Chiluba. At this stage, President Chiluba had divorced his wife of many years, Vera Tembo. The deceased First Lady spent most of her life with Mr Chiluba in courts of law as the latter and herself were dragged into court on allegations of corruption by the Mwanawasa government. In 2009, she was jailed by a Lusaka magistrate for allegedly receiving government property but was later acquitted by the Lusaka High Court. Former president Chiluba died in 2010 from a heart condition he had suffered since 2006. Mrs Chiluba is survived by her children Bwalya, Malama and Mando. Funeral arrangements will be announced later. Source: The Herald

ICC withdrawal 'unconstitutional and invalid', rules South African High Court

The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that government's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional and invalid. Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo said President Jacob Zuma and the ministers of justice and international relations are ordered to withdraw the notice of withdrawal. During the hearing in December Mojapelo told Jeremy Gauntlett, for Zuma and the ministers of justice and international relations, that the executive's function was to seek public consultation. He challenged Gauntlett's argument that it was the executive's prerogative to enter into, and withdraw from, treaties the country had signed and that Parliament only needed to give its approval. "It's expected that the executive go back to Parliament. We have rights, we have obligations, and we have Parliament," he said, adding that decisions executed by the executive must be "on the basis of the expressed authority of the Constitution". Mojapelo said, if the authority was not expressed in the Constitution, it must go to Parliament. Gauntlett asked the court to dismiss the DA's case with costs. In his rebuttal, Steven Budlender, for the DA, said the letter the executive had sent to Parliament contained no suggestion that the decision to withdraw from the ICC would be debated. "It does not suggest that Parliament has to approve it. The effect is to bypass Parliament. It is simply telling Parliament for informational purposes," Budlender told the court. Budlender said it was irrational for the executive to unbind from the ICC because it had no alternative. On October 21, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters that South Africa had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC by notifying the United Nations of its intention to revoke its ratification of the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty. It would take a year for the decision to come into effect. The decision followed several court judgments that the government violated the law by not arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to South Africa for an African Union summit in June last year. The ICC had issued warrants for his arrest and wanted him to stand trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Source: news24WIRE

East Africa

Kenya joins Uganda, Rwanda in E-cargo tracking system

Kenya has joined its East African neighbours, Uganda and Rwanda, by launching a cargo tracking system intended to reduce the cost of trade and check tax evasion. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on Wednesday launched the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System, which enables real time tracking of transit cargo from Mombasa port to its destination through an online platform monitored in the three countries. KRA commissioner general John Njiraini said the new system would be operational by the end of the month to replace the current tamper-prone Electronic Cargo Tracking System. "Unlike the current system where we use multiple vendors to install the tracking and which we can only trace up to the border point, this one allows three countries to monitor the cargo in real time hence limiting the opportunity for any collusion to evade tax. It is a game changer in the cross border trade and will go a long way to safeguard Kenya as a major transit point for cargo in this region," said Mr Njiraini. Kenya began piloting the system with 1,500 gadgets so far. Uganda and Rwanda, which have both launched the system have the same number of devices although it requires at least 7,000 such gadgets to fully monitor cross-border business. There are also plans to roll out the system in South Sudan, Tanzania and ultimately to destinations outside the EAC bloc, including DRC in a bid to eliminate customs border checks and deal with cargo diversion that existed due to border changeover processes. Transporters, who were required to pay about $1,200 to install tracking devices on their truck engines as well as pay a monthly fee of $100, will also be relieved of the burden as the electronic seal will be free. The magnetic gadget is attached on the container's rear and armed before the lorry leaves the port. It contains details about the container and lorry registration details including the driver's contacts. Any diversion from the transit route is viewed from the command centre in the three capitals with a team of customs officials and the police on patrol at different checkpoints to respond to any violations triggered by the system. Kenya plans to have at least 12 checkpoints where the response teams will be stationed with five points at Mazeras, Voi, Machakos, Sameer Park on Mombasa road as well as Naivasha and Kericho. Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association national chairman Auni Bhaiji said the targeted reduction on cargo transit time to Kampala from the current 4.8 to two days will be a big boost to the ease of doing business. "For us, the speed of completing deliveries and the ease of bond cancellation are key wins in the system. We have more time to focus on the business because we will not have random stops by different teams asking for documents since the tracking is live and everything is already transparent enough with this," said Mr Bhaiji. Source: The East African

Magfuli stance on EU-EAC trade deal could split bloc

Tanzania has yet again refused to endorse a regional trade pact with the European Union, saying the deal stood in its way to industrialization. This stand, however, threatens to split the bloc as Kenya and Rwanda that have already signed the deal see other partner states as reading from a different scrip. Last weekend, President Museveni met his counterpart John Pombe Magufuli where they talked about the possibility of ratifying the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). These are trade agreements that the European Union is negotiating with blocs in Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) - majorly former colonies. Once signed, the EPAs would lead to up to 82 per cent opening of the East African markets to European goods tariff-free in a of 25 years. The EU argues this would be reciprocal as it would also take in EAC products tariff-free. The deal would also compel the partner states not to impose export taxes on key raw materials, a move seen by analysts as likely to stall the region's quest to industrialize. President Magufuli reportedly told Museveni that Tanzania will not sign until outstanding issues have been addressed. In statement on Sunday, Kampala said "the two leaders urged experts in their respective governments to continue studying the matter and advise the principals who are also consulting further". On February 2, Museveni met Magufuli in Addis Ababa at the AU summit where they agreed to meet later this month and chart the way forward. In Addis Ababa, Museveni said he was "more worried about the unity of East Africa". Burundi has not signed be- cause it is under EU sanctions. Even if they don't sign, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania would still access European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement because they are still classified as least developed countries. It is only Kenya which is non-least developed and could see high tariffs imposed on its goods if it didn't endorse EPAs. The EU is the biggest market for flowers from the region. Last November, the Tanzanian legislators unanimously agreed that their country must delay signing the deal as they study the full impact it could have on the country's infant industries. The EAC and the EU finalised the EPA negotiations in October 2014, seven years after their start in 2007. The agreement was expected to be signed in July 2016 on the sidelines of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14), but the signing was postponed after Tanzania expressed the need for more time to review the content of the EPA and evaluate its potential economic impacts. Civil society and analysts have spoken widely against the EPAs, saying they were agreements between unequal parties where the EU was more primed to benefit. BREXIT In a statement last month, the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) said that on top of losing taxes through waivers on imports from Europe, there were more serious issues that EAC should consider before signing these deals. "This liberalisation seems to be t a static approach to development which does not envisage Uganda and the East African region graduating to producing either industrial inputs or the capital goods," SEATINI said. In addition, Britain's exit from the EU should be of concern to the parties before they ratify the agreements. SEATINI said the EAC-EPA was concluded before Britain voted to get out of the European Union. "The EAC should take into account the implications of the Brexit when considering whether to sign and ratify the EPAs given the fact that the UK accounted for 35.6 per cent of the EAC exports to the EU in 2015. Therefore, the Brexit reduces the value of EU's market for the EAC," the statement said. All eyes are set on the April regional summit, where heads of state are expected to reach breakthrough on EPAs. Source: The Observer (Kampala)

South Sudan famine: Eating water lilies to survive

Thousands of people at the epicentre of a man-made famine in South Sudan emerged from the safety of the swamps this past weekend hoping to receive emergency deliveries of food. For months now, Bol Mol, a 45-year-old former oil field security officer, has struggled to keep his family alive, spearfishing in nearby rivers and marshes while his three wives gather water lilies for food. They eat once a day if they are lucky, but at least in the swamps, they are safe from marauding soldiers. "Life here is useless," Mol said, his hand clutching his walking stick as he waited with thousands of others beneath the baking-hot sun at Thonyor in Leer County. Aid agencies have negotiated with the government and rebel forces to establish a registration centre in the village before food deliveries. The UN declared a famine in parts of South Sudan a week ago, but the hunger affecting an estimated 100,000 people is not being caused by adverse climate conditions. More than three years of conflict have disrupted farming, destroyed food stores and forced people to flee recurring attacks. Food shipments have been deliberately blocked and aid workers have been targeted. It is no coincidence that soaring levels of malnutrition have been found in Leer, a rebel stronghold and the birthplace of opposition leader Riek Machar, whose falling out with President Salva Kiir in December 2013 led to the civil war. Evidence of the devastating conflict is everywhere: in the burned walls of schools and clinics, in the ruins of razed homes and public buildings, and in the desolation of the once-thriving market. A peace deal signed in August 2015 was never fully implemented. As recently as December, the members of yet another 56,000 households were forced to flee to the safety of the swamps when yet another government offensive reached the area. The constant need to escape the war means people are unable to plant or harvest crops, and their livestock is often looted by armed men. With their livelihoods destroyed, people are reduced to gathering wild plants, hunting and waiting for emergency food supplies that come too rarely and are frequently inadequate. "It is not enough," Mol said as he waited to register for the next food delivery. The fighting and the fleeing have interrupted all aspects of life: Mol said his children had not gone to school for the last three years. "Right now, the majority of the people are living in the swamps. If you go there and see the children, you can even cry, the situation is too bad," he said. Nyangen Chuol, 30, keeps her five children alive with aid agency rations of sorghum supplemented with lilies, coconuts and sometimes fish. "Before the conflict, I lived here in Thonyor but had to move far away to the islands in the swamp for safety," she said. This weekend's registration for food deliveries had drawn her back. Outside the famine's epicentre in the northern Unity State, there are nearly five million people who also need food handouts, mostly in areas where the fighting has been fiercest. "The biggest issue has been insecurity in some of these areas which makes it very difficult to access," said George Fominyen of the World Food Programme (WFP). Aid workers warn that by the time a famine is declared, it is already too late for some, but the declaration has put pressure on the government to open up access, at least for now, and international aid agencies are ratcheting up their efforts. Ray Ngwen Chek, a 32-year-old waiting for food, said the situation had steadily worsened over the years. "Since 2013, we have planted no crops, nothing, we just stay like this. You don't know what you will survive on tomorrow," he said. Hospitals and schools are shut, Chek said, and children, surrounded by conflict and with no other options, "are practising how to carry guns" instead of learning for the future. Betrayed and neglected by the country's leaders, the people of Leer struggle to hold out hope for a political solution that would end the conflict. However, Chek is certain of one thing: "Fighting is not a solution". Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

Somalia declares 'national disaster' over drought

Somalia's new leader has declared a national disaster for a prolonged drought that has forced about half of the country's population to seek urgent food assistance and sparked fears of a potential famine. The announcement on Tuesday by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's office came a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that Somalia was at risk of its third famine in 25 years - the last one in 2011 killed some 260,000 people. "The president has appealed to the international community to urgently respond to the calamity in order to help families and individuals to recover from the effects of the drought disaster to avoid humanitarian tragedy," read a statement from the presidency. According to WHO, more than 6.2 million people - half of Somalia's population - needed urgent humanitarian aid, including almost three million who are going hungry. The agency said more than 363,000 acutely malnourished children and 70,000 severely malnourished children needed urgent, life-saving support. Somalia is one of three countries, along with Yemen and Nigeria, on the verge of famine that has already been declared in South Sudan. Last week, the UN said more than 20 million people face starvation in the four countries, adding it needed $4.4bn by the end of next month to prevent "a catastrophe" of hunger and famine. Aid agencies are concerned that the drought is exacerbating the country's on-going humanitarian crisis, while there are reports that the ongoing conflict with the al-Shabab armed group is further blocking access to food. Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller, reporting from Dolow in southern Somalia, said she spoke to a number of refugees and internally displaced people. "One woman we spoke to said it took her 11 days to find food and water. She said trying to get the assistance was near impossible because of threats from al-Shabab," she said. "People here are losing livestock; rivers and water points have dried up; and there is a huge issue around internally displaced people and refugees moving through Somalia looking for food and water," Miller added. "As the rainfall is expected to stay low, there have already been a number of failed crop seasons, and people can't grow their own food and have to move through the country looking for assistance." Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

Ethiopia, UAE to bolster development ties

Ethiopia's ties with Gulf countries is gaining momentum. Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are desirous of strengthening their bilateral ties in economic and investment frontiers. Special Advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister Amb. Berhane Gebre-Christos and UAE's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan held talks on ways of enhancing the Ethio-UAE bilateral ties on Monday at the sidelines of the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) being held in Abu Dhabi, according to Emirates News Agency.  During the meeting, the parties reviewed the two countries multifaceted relation and ways to consolidate the ties through active engagement in economic and investment areas. Among Gulf countries, UAE is Ethiopia's second largest economic partner next to Saudi Arabia. Source: The Ethiopian Herald

Ethiopian diaspora raises over U.S. $2 million GERD support

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the Ethiopian Diaspora Community in different parts of the world raised 2,101,000 USD to back the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). In a press briefing Friday, Ministry Spokesperson Tewolde Mulgeta said the contribution was made during the last six months in the form of bond purchases, donation and other funding mechanisms. Tewolde added that the ministry met 199 times over the last six months with the diaspora community through various forums. Following this, the Diaspora made active participation in the fund raising and other programs including ICT, health and educational support, according to the Spokesperson. For its part, the ministry has made supports to 8,400 people in providing legal protection, investment tips as well as settling salary cases, Tewolde noted. Reports indicate that Ethiopia has over three million diaspora in different parts of the globe, it was learnt. Source: The Ethiopian Herald

West Africa

Malabu oil scandal: Ex-Attorney General got $2.2 million, EFCC tells court

A former Attorney-General of the Federation, Bello Adoke, allegedly exchanged more than $2.2 million in a bureau de change in Abuja as part of his share in the controversial $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal, court documents show. The revelations were contained in a five-count fresh money laundering charges slammed on Mr. Adoke at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Thursday. Also charged alongside Mr. Adoke is controversial businessperson Aliyu Abubakar‎, who is believed to have acted as intermediary in the deal. The EFCC said in the court filings that Mr. Adoke took delivery of exactly $2,267,400 on September 16, 2013, and immediately enlisted the service of moneychangers to have it converted to the local currency. Based on the prevailing exchange rate at the time, Mr. Adoke made N345, 200,000 after successfully converting the funds. He subsequently deposited all the money in a Unity Bank account to offset an outstanding overdraft of N300 million, court documents showed. The EFCC also filed charges against Mr. Adoke for carrying out a transaction of such magnitude without going through the country's financial institutions. All the offences contradicted Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended in 2012) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act, prosecutors said. Mr. Adoke was instrumental to Nigerian government's involvement in the suspicious Malabu Oil deal, which saw Shell and Agip-Eni paying money into an escrow account of the Nigerian government to settle a firm with a questionable history. He authorised the transfer of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni into private accounts of Dan Etete, Nigeria's former petroleum minister, who further transferred a large percentage to Mr. Abubakar. Mr. Abubakar is believed to have been a front for officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration including Mr. Adoke. ‎ Shell, Agip-Eni, Mr. Adoke and Mr. Etete, who also approved the lease award of the OPL 245, have all denied wrongdoings. However, Italian prosecutors said late last year they had enough grounds to charge Shell, Agip-Eni, and their executives alongside other Nigerians involved in the controversial deal for fraud in Milan. In separate charges filed late 2016, the EFCC accused Mr. Adoke and Mr. Etete of defrauding Nigeria in the OPL 245 deal. The Department of Petroleum Resources said last December that Mr. Adoke and other officials of the Jonathan administration who participated in the concession of the lucrative oil field to Shell and Agip-Eni did not follow due process. Mr. Adoke, who is currently in the Netherlands for study, has denied any wrongdoing and pledged to make himself available for trial. Source: Premium Times

Gambia's army chief sacked by President

Gambian President Adama Barrow has sacked the country's army chief. The country's new president has been trying to assert control and clear out vestiges of former ruler Jammeh's feared regime. Gambian President Adama Barrow on Monday sacked the head of the army and dismissed several other officers, as the new leader seeks to clear out former security officials from his predecessor Yahya Jammeh's iron-fisted government. Barrow’s military advisor Massaneh Kinteh replaced General Ousman Badjie. Ten other senior officers, including the directors of operations and intelligence, were also removed, army spokesperson Lieutenant Kemo Kanuteh said. Barrow is trying to assert control following the end of Jammeh's 22-year rule. The former president fled the country last month after West African regional powers intervened to force him to accept Barrow's December election victory. Badjie's loyalty was under question as he appeared to sit on the fence during the crisis, pledging allegiance along with other top officials on January 20, a day before Jammeh fled. He will now be posted to a foreign mission, a military official said. The new president has pledged to investigate human rights abuses during Jammeh's reign, expand freedoms and release prisoners being held without trial. The United Nations and human rights groups accused Gambia's security forces under Jammeh of multiple abuses, including arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial killings and torture. Last week, the country's intelligence chief, Yankuba Badjie, and the head of the national prison system, David Colley, were dismissed. Colley was arrested on Monday, police public relations officer Foday Conta said. Conta added that four suspected members of Jammeh's alleged death squads, known as the Jungulars, are being held in police custody. Another five have been arrested by military police. Separately, army spokesperson Lieutenant Kanuteh said about 20 army officers dismissed by Jammeh had been reinstated, including some suspected in a 2014 failed coup attempt. Source: Deutsche Welle

Nigerian parliament condemns xenophobic attacks in South Africa

Nigeria's House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa. The lawmakers also urged the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to recall the country's ambassador to South Africa ahead of a major anti-Nigerians rally planned for Friday. The resolution followed a motion by Rita Orji, a PDP member from Lagos State, who decried how Nigerians are being unjustly targeted in that country. Another lawmaker, Sergius Ogun, PDP-Edo State, said the poor treatment being meted to Nigerians was particularly troubling giving the role Nigeria played in ending the South African Apartheid regime. "I want us as a House to condemn it and I also want our government to take a stand on it. "How can we say that we are the giant of Africa when in other African countries, our citizens are being killed?" he said. In her contribution, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, PDP-Abia State, said Nigeria should take extra-diplomatic measures in dealing with the latest deadly assaults because the "the attacks on Nigerians in SA have persisted" despite all diplomatic solutions explored by the government. Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, said it was time for all stakeholders to "call a spade a spade.”This is not the first time this is happening. South Africans continue to kill Nigerians for no justifiable reason and this is completely unacceptable," Mr. Ogor, PDP-Delta State, said. He urged the South African government to take up its responsibility of securing live and properties within its borders. No fewer than 20 Nigerians were killed in xenophobic attacks in South Africa last year.     The South African government has also condemned the attacks, saying it will introduce teaching of history in schools to help South Africans understand the roles Nigeria and other African countries played during the apartheid struggle. Source: Premium Times This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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