MonitorsPublished on Mar 23, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XXXII

The Continent

German Foreign Minister urges aid to prevent famine in Africa

Germany's foreign minister has pledged an extra 15 million euros to prevent mass starvation in the Horn of Africa. The UN says 20 million people face famine in four countries, including Somalia and South Sudan. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has appealed to the international community for "a rapid, concerted effort" to avoid a major famine in the Horn of Africa, the Lake Chad region and in South Sudan. "If comprehensive international aid doesn't begin soon, millions of people in the affected regions will be threatened by starvation," Gabriel said on Sunday. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader promised United Nations emergency aid coordinator Stephen O' Brien that Germany would double its aid commitment to the Horn of Africa, with a pledge of an additional 15 million euros ($16 million) of relief money. Gabriel warned that "without a massive and sustained commitment by the international community, we will not help in time." Gabriel called on other donors to quickly offer aid to the affected regions, adding that he would soon hold talks with major aid agencies and donor states. Last week, O'Brien warned of a humanitarian catastrophe with millions of deaths predicted in four countries - Kenya, South Sudan, and Somalia as well as Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. "We cannot wait for the images of emaciated, dying children," O Brian said in an appeal to the UN Security Council in New York on March 10. "All four countries have one thing in common - conflict - which means that we, the UN, have an obligation to prevent further misery and suffering," the Briton told diplomats. Quick assistance and financial aid are necessary to prevent the worst outcome, he added. Earlier this week, during a visit to Somalia, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for $825 million dollars (772 million euros) of aid for the country. According to UN figures, in Somalia alone, more than six million people - around half the population - are dependent on aid as a result of a severe drought. Close to 8,000 cases of cholera have been reported over the past two months, due to an absence of clean drinking water. The suffering is made worse by an ongoing insurgency by the militant group Al Shabaab, which is trying to establish a strict, Islamic state in parts of Somalia. The situation in South Sudan is also precarious, according to the UN. At least a million people are on the brink of famine, and a further 5.5 million are dependent on food aid. Until now, only about ten percent of the required $1.6 billion in aid has been committed. Germany recently promised 120 million euros in aid to help stabilize the Lake Chad region, where Boko Haram carries out regular attacks in four neighboring countries. In recent day, the Berlin government then added 40 million euros for South Sudan, the foreign office said. Meanwhile, aid agencies have criticized the South Sudan government for increasing the cost of working visas for their relief workers from $300 to $10,000. Amnesty International accused the government of "profiting from the crisis," just a month after ministers declared a famine in two regions. Source: Deutsche Welle

Africa says goodbye to AU's Dlamini-Zuma

The four-year term of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (of South Africa) as chairperson of the African Union Commission has ended. However, she will not be missed by many and leaves a profoundly divided AU behind her. In the beginning, a success story seemed to be in the making: the first woman elected to chair the African Union (AU) had been a freedom fighter in her country. What could possibly go wrong? Lots of things, as it happened. After four years as chairperson of the AU Commission, it is hard to find someone at the organization's headquarters in Addis Ababa, or anywhere else, willing to put in a good word for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. "Dr. Dlamini-Zuma didn't know Africa and only cared about her ambitions back home. She just didn't care about Africans," prominent Nigerian human rights activist Chidi Anselm Odinkalu wrote in arather unflattering opinion column in the Pan-African magazine "Pambazuka." "Many will be forgiven for screaming: good riddance, Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma!" he added. It took three rounds of voting and some very aggressive lobbying by the South African government to get Dlamini- Zuma elected chairperson in 2012. This led to serious resentment towards her from the francophone countries of Africa, who where hoping for a further term for Gabon's Jean Ping. "That rift has definitively not been healed and Dlamini-Zuma didn't really make an effort to bridge that gap," South African AU expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran told DW. Many Anglophone countries were also upset about the disregard of an implicit AU rule, which states that no representative of a heavyweight African nation should run for the top job. When she took office in October of 2012, the physician and former South African minister of home affairs arrived with a "good track record," said Louw-Vaudran. "She had the reputation of being a hard worker and a good manager," the analyst added. Many believed she was set to make the AU more efficient and productive. At the time, political scientist Alphonse Zozime Tamekamta of the Cameroon-based think tank "Thinking Africa" placed high hopes on Dlamini-Zuma. "She is a strong woman from a powerful country. People expected her to have a bigger vision, greater management abilities, a greater freedom to speak her mind and more possibilities to influence important decisions," Tamekamta told DW. But these decisions are taken by African heads of state and government, said expert Louw-Vaudran. According to her, one of the AU's main weaknesses is the narrowness of the chairperson's competences. Regardless of institutional and financial shortcomings, Dlamini-Zuma's list of neglected crises is long. It includes civil wars on the continent, Ebola, the deaths of countless African migrants in the Mediterranean, El Nino and hunger. When the former president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, visited the regions affected by the Ebola epidemic, Dlamini-Yuma remained hidden in Addis Ababa. She also chose to spend time in South Africa preparing her candidacy to succeed her former husband Jacob Zuma in the presidency. She also kept out of the controversy caused by the decision of some African countries to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), South Africa foremost among them. "Mrs. Zuma is hoping for a political career of her own in her country. That's why she keeps silent on several issues which could come back and bite her," Siaka Coulibaly, a political scientist from Burkina Faso, told DW. Analyst Tamekamta added that there were also no real efforts by the AU under Dlamini-Zuma to tackle the Boko Haram crisis. "Regional organizations had to step in to finance anti-terror measures and send troops to fight terrorism," Tamekamta said. The same thing happened during the Gambian crisis, although in that case, at least, Dlamini-Zuma's AU made its displeasure clear when former President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down after losing the election. Dlamini-Zuma skirted all the difficult issues on the continent "in an effort to avoid confrontations with heads of state," Louw-Vaudran said. But Louw-Vaudran says Dlamini-Zuma did show commitment to women's issues in Africa. But her engagement for the advancement of women had clear limitations. At the end of 2016 she offended her Cameroonian hosts when she left the African Women's Football Championship without a word of explanation and flew to South Africa to attend an important meeting of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). After leaving the AU, Dlamini-Zuma might be remembered more for her constant presence on the social media platform Twitter than in the hot spots of Africa's crises. Source: Deutsche Welle

Ahmad election ends Hayatou's lengthy CAF reign

Madagascar executive Ahmad Ahmad is the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after elections held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This brings to end the 29-year reign of Cameroonian strongman, Issa Hayatou, whom he beat 34-20 votes in a secret ballot. Hayatou has comfortably won previous polls since succeeding the late Sudanese Abdel Halim Muhammad. However, this time, the 70-year-old faced stiff competition from Ahmad, whose campaign Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) President, Phillip Chiyangwa, spearheaded. Ahmad (54) is elected as the organisation celebrates 60 years in existence. Source: CAJ News Africa

Central Africa

Burundi declares malaria epidemic

Burundi has declared a malaria epidemic after more than nine million cases were recorded since last year. According to the Burundi's Health minister Dr Josiane Nijimbere, more than 3,700 people have died from the mosquito-borne disease since 2016. "There is an increase of 13 per cent of the cases related to malaria," she said adding that this "is why we have decided to declare the disease as an epidemic." She singled out Kirundo, Muyinga and Kayanza in northern Burundi and Cankuzo in the east as the areas in which an increase in the number of people suffering from the disease have been reported. The situation is further compounded by climate change and prolonged drought leading to people going without food, she said. "The World Health Organisation (WHO's) priority now is to work with the Burundi Ministry of Health to finalise the outbreak response plan, engage in resource mobilisation and provide technical support including deploying malaria specialists," Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, the WHO representative in the country told ‘The East African.’ About $3.1 million is needed for the response plan, according to both government and WHO. Burundi previously declared a malaria epidemic in 2002. According to WHO, last year 212 million malaria cases were reported globally with 429,000 deaths recorded. Source: The East African

Over 100 Kenyan investors attend Rwanda business forum in Nairobi

Rwandan High Commission to Kenya on March 15 hosted Kenyan business leaders in Nairobi with an aim of presenting to them investment opportunities available in Rwanda. Speaking at the forum, Rwanda's High Commissioner to Kenya, James Kimonyo, said that the event is an opportunity to showcase what Rwanda has done to create an attractive environment which made the country a favourable investment destination in the region. "Despite the dark past Rwanda went through, we have moved on and are ready to proudly be part of the community of nations that every investor wants to come to," he said. He added that the visionary and transformational leadership of President Paul Kagame has continued to ensure stability of the country, business reforms that attract investors from near and far to invest significantly in the country. "Rwanda seeks economic development and long-term transformation by unleashing the potential of her citizens to be more productive and through beneficial partnerships with the private sector." Kimonyo said.  Whilst acknowledging that Rwanda was a landlocked nation, Ambassador Kimonyo said that the Government is heavily investing in air transport and that the construction of the new state of the art International Airport is currently underway in Bugesera District. In her presentation, Glory Kayijuka Mbabazi, the Second Counsellor at the High Commission outlined various business opportunities in the country including in the mining sector, manufacturing, packaging as well as tourism. The manufacturing sector in Rwanda has been experiencing steady growth and growing at annual rate of 7 per cent with a target to increase industrial contribution to GDP to 26 per cent by 2020. "Rwanda provides healthcare for all and this has created huge demand for pharmaceuticals and herein lays a great opportunity to invest," she said. Speaking about the experience of KCB Group as one of leading investors in Rwanda, David Kitheka, the head of investor relations at the bank said that the government efforts to make ICT a basic need in Rwanda made it easy for them to reach as many Rwandans as possible with different banking services. "The ICT infrastructure in Rwanda made it easier for us to penetrate the unbanked population. In fact our first agency banking was rolled out in Rwanda with much success," Kitheka said. With headquarters in Kenya, KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) is one of the biggest commercial banks in the region. He said that KCB Bank has recently invested Sh3 billion in mortgages in Rwanda with 250 new mortgage facilities this year alone. Mount Kenya University Chairman Prof. Simon Gicharu said that Rwanda is arguably the best environment for doing business, giving an example of how he established a branch of his university in Rwanda and how fast it has grown thanks to a conducive business environment. He said that their portfolio in Rwanda has group to $15 million which they expect in the short run to expand to $20 million after completing setting up of basic infrastructure at the newly built campus in Kagarama Sector, Kicukiro District. The forum brought together over 100 investors and business executives from across all sectors who wanted to know what it takes for one to establish a business or invest in Rwanda. It's the second time this forum is being organized after the maiden one that took place in December 2015. Source: The New Times

Katumbi urges regional action on DR Congo's stalled political deal

Exiled Congolese opposition politician Moïse Katumbi wants regional leaders to put pressure on President Joseph Kabila to implement the country's political agreement, he told RFI in an interview. Katumbi says he wants to travel back to the Democratic Republic of Congo as soon as possible and accompany the body of deceased veteran opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi which remains in Belgium. "It's for them to put pressure for the agreement, not to have instability in the Congo because it's going to bring instability in plenty countries," said Katumbi, in reference to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) bloc which includes neighbouring countries such as Angola, Rwanda and Uganda. Katumbi has been in exile since May last year when he was sentenced in absentia to 36 months in prison for illegally selling a property in Lubumbashi. The Congolese authorities also issued an arrest warrant for him on separate charges of hiring mercenaries. "My place is not in Europe, my place is in my country in the Congo," Katumbi said during an interview on March 16 in Paris. "I want these issues first to get resolved because there are bogus charges against me, fake charges. I wanted to go back with the body of President Étienne Tshisekedi which is still in Europe at the moment," he said. Tshisekedi passed away in Belgium at the start of February. However, his body has not yet been repatriated and there have been arguments over his burial site. The 84-year-old veteran opposition leader had led his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) since 1980 making it the first organised opposition platform. "It's sad for me as Congolese because President Kabila is blocking the body of Étienne Tshisekedi," said Katumbi of the delays to the burial. "The family and the people of Congo want a decent place. They're asking just for a place, they're not asking for money, they're not asking for anything, just a place to bury him properly." Tshisekedi's son Felix has been named as successor to his father taking over leadership of the Rassemblement, an opposition coalition which includes the UDPS. Felix Tshisekedi is also expected to become prime minister in place of his father as had been previously agreed in a deal between the government and opposition. Katumbi, who is also a member of the Rassemblement, said he considers Felix Tshisekedi "a friend", somebody who's "got potential and he's going really to defend the people of Congo". He also dismissed suggestions that not everybody was happy with the selection of Felix as leader. "All the Rassemblement is happy about Felix," said Katumbi. "The Rassemblement is strong, the platform remains still strong." However, the political agreement between the government and opposition, which is intended to bring about delayed elections, has still not been implemented. Katumbi wants to see the opposition impose a deadline. "The Rassemblement is going to give a deadline to say, 'Mr president, enough is enough,'" he said. "We need to organise the elections which President Kabila doesn't want to hear about," Katumbi added. Kabila's mandate ended in December. The political agreement is supposed to pave the way for a transitional government headed by Kabila with elections later in 2017. Source: Radio France Internationale

North Africa

140 migrants return from Libya

At least 140 migrants mainly Gambians have arrived home in the wee hours of March 10 morning from Libya following their request for voluntarily repatriation. The request for voluntarily evacuation came following months of hardship in perilous prisons condition in the North African nation. Their safe return to home was confirmed by the Communication Officer at The Gambia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Saikou Ceesay. Ceesay said: "140 migrants were received at the Banjul International Airport on March 10 morning. Three of them are Senegalese nationals. They were all screened and processed by officials of the Immigration Department before being transported to their various destinations". "The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) gave each of the returnees D2500. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its reliable partners will continue to protect the interest of Gambians abroad and the human values that unite the people of this nation." "It is the policy of the Barrow Government to create job opportunities for the youth to live and work in this country to contribute their quota in National development. This will minimise the squandering of family properties along the route to reach Europe. This will yield harmony and mental stability in families across the country," he said. Ceesay said that they would continue to work with IOM and other partners to facilitate the smooth return of the remaining 323 who are in Tripoli seeking voluntarily repatriation. "They said they wanted to come back home because of the positive changes in human rights and the rule of law that prevail in the country," Mr. Ceesay said. Source: The Daily Observer (Banjul)

Italian economic delegation visits Libya's Zintan

An Italian economic delegation on March 13 arrived in the city of Zintan in western Libya. The delegation included, Flavio Tosi, the dean of the city of Verona, and Giorgio Starace, the Italian envoy to Libya, as well as Italian businessmen. According to media sources, the talks included projects of hospitals, airport and school. The two deans of the two cities on October 2016 signed a twinning agreement. Italian embassy has officially returned to Libya earlier in January after two years of closure, making it the first western mission to return to chaotic Libya. Foreign missions and companies had to leave the north African country due to escalating violence and insecurity. Source: Forum on China-Africa cooperation (Beijing)

Five terrorist bunkers discovered, destroyed in country's centre in Algeria

Five terrorist bunkers were destroyed and three members of terrorist supporting groups arrested on March 17 by Army detachments and National Gendarmerie units, the ministry of National Defence said in a statement on March 18. In counterterrorism operations, "detachments of the People's National Army destroyed five terrorist bunkers on 17 March 2017 in Ain Defla, Tizi Ouzou (1st military district) and Bordj Bouariridj (5th military district)." In addition, "National Gendarmerie units arrested three members of terrorist supporting group in Oran and Sidi Belabes (2nd military district)," the statement added. In the fight against smuggling and organized crime, National Gendarmerie and border guard units arrested three drug traffickers and seized a quantity of cannabis, amounting to 103.25 kilogrammes, in Sidi Belabes and Tlemcen (2nd military district). Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers)

Southern Africa

Zimbabwe still owes South Africa's Eskom $12 million

ZIMBABWE owes South Africa's power utility ESKOM more than $12 million and is struggling to clear the debt, it has emerged. Harare does not generate enough electricity to meet its needs and relies on imports from the region to plug the supply gap. However, with its economy in the tank and government struggling with its finances, supplies from the region often come under threat due to unpaid bills. The country's supply deal with Eskom is nearing its end and energy minister Samuel Undenge held talks company officials on March 13 aimed at reaching agreement. The talks also focused on clearing Zimbabwe's debt which has accrued over a number of years. Undenge, during a press briefing after closed door meetings with South African envoy to Zimbabwe Mphakama Mbete and Eskom officials March 13 in Harare, said the Eskom debt was reducing without being specific on figures. "Zimbabwe will honour its payment arrangement but, the debt is reducing. We have been assured with a continuous supply of electricity with Eskom. "We want a situation where we will continue with no load shading and have power supply throughout the country," Undenge told reporters. The country's power utility ZESA owed more than $600 million by consumers and recently introduced prepaid electricity meters to curb revenue losses. Undenge urged Zimbabweans to pay their electricity bills to allow the country to clear its debt with Eskom so that the country's guaranteed power supplies. Zimbabwe's total power generation capacity amounts to 1,940 megawatts against demand of 2,200 megawatts leaving a deficit of nearly 600 megawatts. Currently Kariba, Hwange and Munyathi power stations generate 1,600 megawatts daily for which is also being complimented by imports from South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. Meanwhile, local electricity generation is poised to improve following construction of the new Kariba South power station which is expected to add 150 megawatts to the national grid. Source:

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission sued over $700k debt

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been slapped with a $700 000 lawsuit over unpaid fees for vehicles hired for use during elections. CMED (Private) Limited, a wholly state-owned enterprise, hired out vehicles to ZEC and billed the commission $766 509 as hiring fees. ZEC did not pay the money. CMED, through its lawyers T.K Hove and Partners, filed summons for provisional sentence based on a liquid document. ZEC, according to the claim, signed an acknowledgement of debt, but still failed to pay up. Resultantly, CMED lawyers filed a claim for the principal debt plus interest calculated at the rate of five percent from the date of issuance of summons to the date of payment in full. The case is yet to be determined by the High Court. Prior to the issuance of the summons, CMED wrote to the commission demanding payment of the debt. Part of the letter, dated March 8, 2017, reads: "We address you at the instance of our above-mentioned client (CMED) whom you owe the sum of $766 507,39, being monies due and owing to our client for motor vehicle hire, which amount you have neglected and failed to pay despite demand. "Should the amount remain outstanding within the next seven days, we have instructions to proceed with the summons." CMED attached an acknowledgement of debt, which the company relies on as a liquid document. The document, signed by ZEC's finance director on May 31 last year, reads: "We acknowledge that our department, ZEC, owes CMED Private Limited the sum of $766 507,39 as at December 31, 2015 for vehicle hire. "The difference of $69 662,63 to be investigated." Source: The Herald

Outrage over Helen Zille's colonialism tweets in South Africa

The former leader of South Africa's main opposition party has sparked public outcry over a series of social media posts that suggested colonialism brought benefits to the country. "For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water," Helen Zille, the ex-head of the Democratic Alliance (DA) party and the current premier of the Western Cape province, wrote on Twitter on March 16. She also tweeted that the transition into "specialised health care and medication" may have not been possible without "colonial influence". Zille's comments drew strong criticism from political opponents and those within her own party, as well as on social media. Zille, 66, has since apologised, but she will face a disciplinary process by the DA, according to the party's website . Mmusi Maimane, who took the reins from Zille in 2015 to become the DA's first black leader, criticised his predecessor, tweeting "colonialism, like apartheid, was a system of oppression and subjugation. It can never be justified". Maimane also told local media that Zille's tweets were "completely unacceptable and indefensible". In a statement , the party reiterated Maimane's remarks, saying colonialism "oppressed millions of people and violated human rights in a cruel and inhumane way". The DA, which won 22 percent of the vote in 2014's general election, has been gaining popularity and trying to shed its image as a "white" party before 2019's presidential election. It promotes itself as a liberal equal opportunity party, but efforts to broaden its appeal among black voters have been hurt by social media scandals, and the party has struggled to present itself as a credible alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Opponents demanded Zille's removal. The ANC urged the DA to immediately remove Zille as Western Cape premier, calling her tweets "reckless and ignorant claims". The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), another opposition party, also demanded Zille "step down". The EFF also called Zille's remarks "cold-hearted racism". South Africa was colonised by the Dutch and British for about 300 years. The country then experienced white-minority rule under apartheid, which ended in 1994. Racial tensions, however, have continued to endure in the years after apartheid. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

In South Africa, students march on Herman Mashaba

Thousands of school students poured out of trains at Johannesburg's Park Station on March 17 and made their way up Rissik Street to Metro Centre in Braamfontein where the office of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is located. The protesters were led by the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) who wished to hand over a memorandum of grievances to the mayor. Students were confronted by a barbed wire fence and a line of riot police who blocked the road leading up to the metro building. Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said that the students did not receive permission to hold the march. "We have not received any reports of violence or looting and we believe the students will disperse peacefully after they have delivered their memorandum," said Makhubela. A few students picked up rocks and sticks as they voiced their frustration at being blocked from proceeding. "We are surprised that when they are robbing millions in cash from OR Tambo that the police are nowhere to be seen but when we come here as peaceful students then hundreds of police are here to intimidate us," said Penuel Maduna a COASA leader. Students handed over their memorandum to a representative of the Metro Police who indicated that he would give it to the relevant authorities. The demands included cheaper transport, sanitary pads for girl learners, better facilities such as swimming pools and football grounds at township schools and free and reliable Internet. The leadership also called for the resignation of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba who they claimed is responsible for the recent xenophobic outbreak due to his careless remarks about immigrants. The protesters then returned to Park Station and boarded trains home after giving the office of the mayor seven working days to respond to their list of grievances. Source: Ground Up

East Africa

Fake news increasingly haunts Tanzania

The local media is increasingly falling prey to fake news pranks, with national broadcaster Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation and TBC1 radio station the latest casualties of the dangerous epidemic of fake news sourced from the internet. On March 10, TBC television and radio aired in their prime bulletin a piece of information suggesting US President Donald Trump had praised President John Magufuli as being a good example of African leaders. The TBC news item did not quote any official authorities, but was based on a concocted piece of information purportedly run by "" does not exist and the originators of the fake story made it appear like it was a real story from Fox News channel, one of the largest media organisations in the US. The fake item suggested the Trump praise of Magufuli was made when the US President was signing a law barring African immigrants from countries that are led by long-serving presidents, who have refused to leave power. Zimbabwe and Uganda were named as being among the targeted countries. TBC quoted the Fox, which noted president Trump praising Dr Magufuli as an example of good leaders in Africa, and that his country deserves special treatment. In the fake news item, Trump referred to Dr Magufuli as his namesake. "Congratulations my namesake John Magufuli, you are the African hero," the six-paragraph 'story' quoted Trump as saying. The TBC clip went viral on social media on March 11 as various groups initiated debate on the accuracy and sourcing of the news. Other than sourcing, viewers questioned its crafting and usage of some words, which they felt clearly contained signs of something very wrong in the whole story. The main opposition party, Chadema, issued a statement on March 11 condemning TBC for airing the fake news item and passing it as truth when it was not. In the statement, party spokesman Tumaini Makene said the news item went against media ethics and was meant to hoodwink Tanzanians. "By airing the fake news, TBC was jeopardising Tanzania's relations with the US and is a continuation of the unchecked trend of the national broadcaster feeding lies to the public for selfish motives," said Mr Makene. The Chadema official asked TBC management to apologise to the public for the blunder and assure the tax payers that there are no deliberate acts to mislead. Mr Makene also challenged the Ministry of Information to take disciplinary action against those invloved in passing the news item. Efforts to reach TBC management didn't bear fruits as the phone of the managing director, Dr Ayub Rioba, was unreachable. But Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) secretary Neville Meena said the fake news syndrome is a new challenge that mainstream media suffer from social media platforms. He said the problem is also caused by the weakness on fact-checking before the publication or airing of any news item. Mr Meena said the TBC story should be a wake-up call for other media houses on the importance of crosschecking facts on whatever story they worked on. "I also have an experience of being trapped by a similar incident publishing fake news sometimes back," he said. Source: The Citizen

Somali Govt demands probe into deaths of 50 migrants off Yemen coast, suspects Saudi led coalition

Somalia government on March 17 demanded investigation into the killing of 50 plus Somali migrants by air raids. In an exlusive interview with Radio Dalsan Somali Ambassador to Yemen Ahmed Hassan condemned the incident. " We demand an investigation into the killing of the Somali migrants. We need to be told exactly who caused their deaths in the sea" Hassan said. " As for now we strongly suspect the coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia" he added The envoy told Radio Dalsan that a comprehensive statement will be released later by the Somali government. 140 Somali immigrants were sailing on a boat from Somalia to Sudan when apache helicopters targeted them killing some 50 plus people and injuring 21 others. The raids are suspected to have been targeting the Hudeidah port in Yemen which is under the control of the Shia Houthi rebels. There have been efforts in the last one week by the Saudi led coalition to take control over the strategic port. Residents of Hudeidah managed to bring aboard some 50 dead Somalis. At least 21 are said to be critically injured. There has been no statement issued by the Saudi led coalition on the incident. Houthi rebels have blamed the killings on the coalition. Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia have been waging a war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The migrants are said to be registered by UNHCR as refugees There has been no statement issued by the coalition on the incident. Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia have been waging a war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Source: Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

EU scales up its response to Somalia drought

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica announced on March 18 that additional EU support would be provided to respond to the crises in South Sudan, Somalia and its neighbouring countries, during an official visit to the African Union. On the occasion of an official visit to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, announced a support package of €165 million to address the multiple crises in the Horn of Africa region. Commissioner Mimica said: "The sooner we act, the more lives we can save. This package of €165 million will support the urgent needs of South Sudanese people in the country and the region but also the millions of people at risk of famine in the Horn of Africa. With this additional support, the EU shows the way to other members of the international community to also respond urgently." Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "The European Union is responding immediately to the needs arising from the severe famine in South Sudan and the dire droughts in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. With this new assistance, we will do our upmost to contain the effects of these extremely challenging circumstances in the Horn of Africa." From this package of support, €100 million will be allocated to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the violent conflict in South Sudan. Out of this, €30 million will provide lifesaving assistance to vulnerable people in South Sudan. Assistance will offer protection to women and children at risk, or victims, of human rights abuses, as well as support to treat alarming levels of malnutrition, diseases and water and sanitation. The remaining amount of €70 million will support South Sudan's neighbouring countries, notably Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan, to continue providing protection and addressing the needs of South Sudanese fleeing conflict and seeking shelter in their territories. The second part of the package, in the amount of €65 million, is planned to respond to the serious droughts in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Changing climatic conditions and successive failed rains during the past three years are triggering a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions. The negative effects of the droughts are likely to intensify in 2017, as rains are projected to be below average during the next rain season. The situation is particularly dire in Somalia, where the number of people in need has increased drastically to 6.2 million, that is half the population, and where there is a real risk of famine later in 2017. A pre-famine alert has already been issued in February of this year. This new package will also scale up and strengthen over €400 million that the EU allocated in 2016 to address the humanitarian crises and the effects of El Niño in the region. It will also complement the €200 million which the EU approved in February this year to support the new Government of Somalia to continue transitioning out of fragility and building a resilience society. Source: Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Dar avails 500 doctors to Kenya

WITH 3,800 of doctors who graduated in the country since 2014 being unemployed, Tanzania has agreed to provide 500 medics to Kenya to reduce shortages, especially now when their Kenyan counterparts are still on strike. President John Magufuli agreed on March 18 to provide the doctors at the State House in Dar es Salaam, after holding talks with a delegation of Kenyan leaders sent by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The head of a delegation from Kenya who doubles as the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr Cleopa Mahilu, told Dr Magufuli that due to the ongoing strike and the devolution drive in the health sector, it was established that the country had a shortage of medical practitioners that could not be solved by doctors trained in Kenya only, but through assistance from other countries. Flanked by the Kisumu Governor, Mr Jack Ranguma, Dr Mahilu said the Kenyan government was ready to pay the 500 Tanzanian doctors well, starting from salaries, allowances and housing facilities. Dr Magufuli gave a nod to the Kenyan request, saying the two countries were relatives, neighbours and friends, directing the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, to expedite the process of getting the doctors so that they can quickly rush to the neighbouring country to offer their services. "The problems of Kenyans are equally ours; we will give you 500 doctors so that they can offer their services to our relatives in Kenya and because you gave an assurance to accommodate and pay them well, I have no problem with your request," said the head of state. In her remarks, Ms Mwalimu said her ministry was ready to provide the doctors immediately, insisting that Tanzania had enough and best doctors who graduated from universities, but were yet to be employed while others had their contracts expiring. In an interview with the 'Sunday News,' Ms Mwalimu said currently, Tanzania has over 8,290 doctors who are registered with the Medical Council of Tanganyika (MCT). On average, she added, every year, medical practitioners who graduate from different universities range between 1,000 and 1,200. "I therefore want to urge all doctors in Tanzania who are not in the public service to apply for these jobs." The minister said that the ministry shall consider various qualifications, among them; applicants must have completed an internship programme and registered with the MCT. "We shall advertise these posts today because we have enough doctors in the country to be taken to Kenya. According to Ms Mwalimu, Tanzania was still facing a challenge of doctors in hospitals in some specialties, but the ministry's budget was not enough to employ all of them. "This is an opportunity for unemployed doctors to get a job," she added, insisting that after interviews the doctors will be sent to Kenya where they will be employed on a two-year contract. She said that it was normal to provide doctors to other countries, saying even Tanzania had doctors from foreign countries, who are working in various referral hospitals. As of March 18, according to a Kenyan newspaper, The Standard, patients were still scrambling for medical services from the country's top referral health facility - Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). The hospital remained technically nonfunctional as medical practitioners stayed away, despite doctors recently signing a pact with the government to end the strike. The doctors instead held a meeting and resolved not to report back to work despite the hospital insisting that 12 doctors who had been sacked had been reinstated. Another 48 who had received show-cause letters also had those letters withdrawn, according to the hospital. The hospital had a relatively high flow of human traffic even as the entrance teemed with security officers, ostensibly stationed to prevent the media from getting a glimpse of what was really happening inside and behind the walls. But, doctors were defiant that they will not go back to work. The medical services in Kenya remain paralysed for over three months. Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Zanzibar starts settling power debt after Magufuli directive

Zanzibar has started repaying its debt to the Tanzania Electric Company Limited (Tanesco), Energy and Minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo has revealed. In a statement after a meeting between President John Magufuli and Zanzibari President Ali Mohamed Shein at State House March 18, Prof Muhongo also assured the Isles' residents that there won't be any blackout. The meeting was also attended by acting Tanesco managing director Kahitwa Bishaija. Only five days remain to the expiry of the 14-day grace period that Tanesco gave defaulters to pay up. Early this month, President Magufuli directed Tanesco to cut power to the Isles over a Sh127 billion (KSh5.8 billion) debt. Reacting to the surprise directive, the Zanzibar Minister of State in the Second Vice-President's Office, Mr Mohammed Aboud, said plans were underway for the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (Zeco) to clear its outstanding debts with Tanesco. But the Zanzibari President, Dr Shein, told reporters in the Isles recently that he did not believe that any "serious government" could make such threats. "The debt has been there for more than 20 years now; it was there when I served in the Union government as Vice President... but if power is indeed going to be disconnected then we are ready to go back in time and use oil lamps," the Zanzibar President was quoted as saying upon his arrival to Abeid Aman Karume International Airport from Turkey. President Magufuli's directive came four months after the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) gave the government a six-month ultimatum to pay tens of billions of shillings owed to Tanesco. The total debt was then Sh125 billion, with Zeco and the Union government owing Sh85 billion and Sh40 billion, respectively. Source: Daily Nation

West Africa

Two killed, 16 injured as 4 female bombers hit Borno

Four female suicide bombers at about early morning of March 15 detonated explosive devices at Usmanti along Muna Garage axis, Maiduguri Borno State. Two men were killed as a result to the explosion while about 16 injured people were administered with the first aid. The spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) North-East zone, Abdulkadir Ibrahim confirmed the evacuations of the bodies and the injured who have been taken to a medical facility. Abdulkadir said: "Rescue and health workers had immediately moved to scene after the alert. The victims have been transported to the state specialist hospital and university teaching hospital in Maiduguri." Meanwhile suicide bombers have now devised a new strategy of knocking at residences in the night and detonating the explosive once the door is opened. A security officer told PR Nigeria that "One of the suicide bombers detonated the explosive device close to a security facility in the area." Source: Vanguard

Former Boko Haram abductees speak out

Though still fearful for her life and the safety of her family, one of the girls who escaped abduction by Boko Haram in Nigeria has appealed to global leaders to intervene and help bring back 195 schoolgirls still being held by the terrorist network. Next month it will be three years since the Nigerian militants abducted more than 270 girls from the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. Last October, the Boko Haram fighters freed 21 of the girls, including one with a baby that triggered global outrage and spurred the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Telling our story "We have to share our story and tell the world about it for the world to know,' the student, using a pseudonym to protect her identity, Sa'a* (20) said at press conference on the sidelines of the two-day Global Education and Skills Forum. Earlier SAA and another girl, identified as Rachel*, who lost her father and siblings to Boko Haram, told the Forum that the kidnapping of the schoolgirls was a painful episode that the world should not forget. "The only thing we need to do is to ask the world leaders to bring back the girls. We cannot do anything other than speak out," said SAA, who escaped from the clutches of Boko Haram. She jumped off a moving truck when the group attacked and burnt her school and books in Borno State in April 2014. Sa'a, who was moved from Nigeria and is currently studying in the United States, said the traumatic ordeal should not be allowed to happen to any student. Her resolve to continue her schooling was the reason she has come out publicly about her experience. "Every child needs to be educated and to go to school," Sa'a said. "We must never forget this until all the girls are safely back. Next month it will not be three days but three years and they are not back. It is painful." Sa'a told the conference that after they were abducted and forced at gunpoint into trucks, she decided to jump off a moving truck together with a friend who sustained injuries. They were helped by a shepherd and made their way to safety. Emmanuel Ogebe is a human rights lawyer and director of the Education Must Continue Initiative, which has assisted child victims and IDPs from conflicts, primary Boko Haram. Most of the victims are in Nigeria and a handful in the United States. "Most venerable targets of Boko Haram have been educational institutions and religious institutions. Pastors have been killed in thousands and over 600 teachers have been killed by Boko Haram and we see vulnerability in both areas," Ogebe told IPS. "It is a painful situation of what happened to the girls because we understand that there were early warnings that the terrorists were going to strike and supported by the fact that teachers escaped and left the girls. The sense of failure to protect is very story in addition to the fact that the government did not protect the girls at school even when they were warned." Since January this year, Sa'a has started college under a project by the Education Must Continue Initiative, a charity which has helped about 3000 other internally-displaced children go to school. She now has an ambition to study science and medicine. "My dream is to be a medical doctor in the future and inspire others and go back to my home country and help those kids to go back to school and assist others get the education they deserve," Sa'a says. Rachel, who is back at school in Nigeria, says she wanted to be medical doctor as well but would now like to be a top ranking military officer after what happened to her father and three brothers. "I would like to contribute to a better nation. I am not conformable because of what I have seen and I feel bad," Rachel said. "Some girls cannot go to school now because of what happened and do not value education because without education they can survive. This is sad." Rachel is a teenager that went to school in northeast Nigeria. Her father was a plainclothes policeman who had moved his family with him to a smaller town where he thought it would be safer. He was assigned to protect the local church. Rachel's mum found a job working in the Education department of the church that her father was on security detail to. Then one day in late 2014, Boko Haram terrorists attacked the church that her father had been assigned to protect. Rachel's father fled to his house to gather his children. Unfortunately, as they tried to escape, they ran into the terrorists who shot dead her father and three younger brothers on the spot. They were 14, 12 and 10 years old and in secondary and primary school, respectively. Vikas Pota, Chief Execuive of the Varkey Foundation, the hosts of the Global Education Forum, said the Boko Haram question is wider than simply the question of the girls, and is related to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and elsewhere. He said collective action was needed to make the world more inclusive thereby creating an environment to access education to all. "I think it is ridiculous in today's age that so many girls and all the human intelligence that exists that we do not know where these girls are. It shows we do not care," Pota told IPS, adding that," As a father, how can we tolerate this situation? I think the government not - just the Nigerian one but governments around the world - should help and make sure this situation is resolved." Source: IPS

World Bank to withdraw grant support to Ghana

The World Bank will soon withdraw its grant support on water and sanitation to Ghana, Mr Charles Dzradosi, a Social Policy Specialist of UNICEF, has said. This is because, for some years now, Ghana had not demonstrated any true political will to tackle sanitation problems in the country. Mr Dzradosi was speaking during the Brong-Ahafo Regional launch of the 2016 Ghana District Table (DLT) in Sunyani. The DLT is a simple ranking tool showing national progress towards delivering development across the country's 216 districts. Mr Dzradosi said the World Bank did not understand why open defecation must still persist in the country despite its continuous assistance to eradicate the unhygienic practice. He said the World Bank was also not happy that many Ghanaians still lacked access to basic sanitary facilities, particularly household toilets. Mr Dzradosi said a directive was required from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to push metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to tackle the issue of sanitation in a more proactive manner. MMDAs must strictly enforced sanitation bye-laws and also ensure that enough public toilets are provided for the citizens, he said. Source: Ghanastar This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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