MonitorsPublished on Apr 03, 2017
Africa Monitor | Vol VI Issue XXXIII

The Continent

Western Sahara dispute blocks economic talks, but work proceeds

The tenth annual meetings of African finance ministers, jointly hosted by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), have been abruptly adjourned over a dispute on the status of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). The event, in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, was due to run from March 23 to 28 under the theme, "Growth, Inequality and Unemployment." Announcing the decision on March 25 in the packed Hall of Congress at the King Fahd Hotel, Pierre Ndiaye, the new chairman of the bureau of the 'Committee of Experts', said the adjournment followed days of negotiation after Morocco objected to the SADR participating. The committee sets the agenda for a ministerial conference that was due to begin on March 27. SADR is the government proclaimed by the Polisario independence movement of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. The group launched a rebellion against colonial rule, prompting Spain's withdrawal in 1976.  Morocco says the phosphate-rich region is part of Morocco and sent troops to reinforce its claims, sparking a war between Moroccan and Polisario forces.  Over the years, the SADR has won recognition from dozens of countries and was admitted to full membership of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) – the African Union's predecessor – in 1984. Morocco walked out of the OAU in protest over Western Sahara's admission. In January, 33 years later, Morocco joined the African Union, marking the first time that the pan African organization enjoyed the membership of all 55 African nations. The rival claims to Western Sahara have divided world opinion and were again the source of debate at this year's AU-UNECA meetings. Although the SADR is an AU member, it has not been admitted to the United Nations. The joint sponsorship of the finance ministers' sessions by the AU and the UN's Africa economic commission became a basis for the dispute over participation. During one acrimonious session in Dakar, Morocco looked isolated, with some delegates, including representatives from two of the continent's giants - Nigeria and South Africa - arguing for the continuation of the meetings with SADR's presence. The UNECA faced a more delicate dilemma. "The body finds it difficult to continue the meeting with the objection being raised by Morocco," UNECA's Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, said, when prodded to state the UN body's position as co-host of the meeting.  But she emphasized that although UNECA recognizes Morocco's right to reject a non-member state, "the ultimate decision rests with member states". She noted that UNECA was only a secretariat. Other delegates reminded the audience that the AU has its own protocol and therefore the meeting cannot be "rested entirely" on UNECA's regulations. Announcing the adjournment, Ndiaye said the organisers had taken into account the different positions presented and were unable to find a legal and diplomatic solution that would allow the meeting to proceed as a joint one. He said a new date would be communicated to member states. Organizers were keen to point out, however, that despite the impasse, the many side events previously planned are taking place as scheduled. At one event on sustainable financing for health, Senegal's health minister, Awa Marie Coll Seck, identified three of challenges the health sector in Africa faces: epidemics, lack for funding for the health sector, and problems with budget allocation. "However", she said, "Senegal has enjoyed regular growth in the budget for the health sector." She attributed this to the "priority" which President Macky Sall places on social development and the good relationship between the ministries of health and budget. Coll-Seck said that universal health coverage is also "crucial for social and economic growth," but pointed out that "Africa is still learning in this regard." Meanwhile, UNECA's flagship Economic Report on Africa 2017 has been launched. The report, titled "Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa's Transformation", recognizes that the continent is undergoing rapid urbanization - with a projection of nearly 50 percent of Africans to be living in urban areas by 2035. It therefore calls on governments to tap into the urban advantages of industrial development. "Governments at all levels have to make hard choices for the scale and type of investments they need to make, and for the spatial pattern and urban form they want to see," the report says. Source: all Africa

Amnesty International condemns racist attack against Africans in India

Amnesty International India has condemned the racist attack against Africans in India and called on Uttar Pradesh authorities to bring to justice those responsible for recent racist attacks against black African students and ensure the students' safety. Campaigner at Amnesty International India, Makepeace Sitlhou, said in a statement on March 29 that the recent attacks in Uttar Pradesh have shown how black people in India - particularly African students - continue to face racist discrimination and violence. "Many of those injured were targeted merely because of the colour of their skin. These are hate crimes, and authorities need to ensure that those responsible are punished," Sitlhou said. Amnesty noted that several black African students have been attacked in a series of hate crimes in Greater Noida over the last three days. According to the group, on March 29, a Kenyan woman was pulled out of a taxicab and beaten in Greater Noida. "On 27 March, four Nigerian men were beaten up by locals holding a protest march demanding justice for a 17-year-old who had died two days earlier from a suspected drug overdose. The boy's family had accused their five Nigerian neighbours of murder and demanded their arrest. The men were arrested, and later released due to lack of evidence," the statement explained. Video footage posted online by the Association of African Students in India shows two other Nigerian students being beaten - including with metal chairs and dustbins - by a mob inside a mall in Greater Noida on 27 March. One of the students, Enduranca Amalawa, told journalists, "We kept crying for help, but no one came, not even the security marshals. I was running but they followed me and attacked me." The statement added that the police in Noida have registered a First Information Report against nine people on charges including attempt to murder in relation to the attack at the protest. Meanwhile, following multiple distress calls by Nigerian students in India on concerns on their safety because of renewed attacks on them, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has urged Nigerians in India to remain calm, be watchful of their surroundings. Dabiri-Erewa said in a statement in Abuja on March 29 that the renewed attacks on March 28 on Nigerian students' in India was uncalled for. While condemning the mob action as unwarranted and deplorable, the SSA noted that the Indian authorities currently have five suspects in custody. Dabiri-Erewa noted that though the situation was calm now, the Indian government has a responsibility to protect Nigerian students in India going about their normal duties. She urged the Indian government to ensure that any alleged suspect should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. She said the Chargé d'affaires in India, Mrs. Queen Worlu, has promptly visited the scene of the incident and visited the three patients in hospital. According to available reports, two of the victims are two brothers, Precious and Endurance Amalawa and Chukwuma Igboamalu. Other reports have it that nine Nigerians were attacked, all students of Noida International University in India. "I have also spoken with Mr Charles Kennedy, President of the Students' association in Greater Noida where the attacks occurred. He said though a Kenyan girl who was working alone in the early hours of March 30 was attacked, more police patrol vehicles have been deployed to all areas." He confirmed that the situation is calm and is pleased with the prompt actions of the Nigerian Chargé d'affaires in India and the Indian government so far. She noted the steps taken so far by India government that includes patrol of the area and immediate arrest of suspected culprits with more arrests likely. Dabiri-Erewa, however, prayed for the quick recovery of the three in the hospital in India. Source: This Day

Central Africa

Angola floods kill 11, cause widespread destruction

Eleven people have died and several more are missing after torrential rain hit northern parts of Angola between afternoon of March 21 and March 23. In addition to the deaths, about 700 homes were destroyed and more than 5,000 properties flooded. The country's capital, Luanda, has been badly affected after a month's worth of rain, 76mm, fell in just over 24 hours. There was widespread traffic disruption in the city and electricity and drinking water supplies were affected. A church and a school were also destroyed by the floods. Angola has one rainy season that runs from October to April, corresponding to the time when the sun is at its highest. In Luanda, peak rainfall tends to occur in March and April, with 76 and 117mm respectively. For a country that lies to close to the equator, these may seem like low accumulations, but weather along the coastal strip is heavily influenced by the Benguela Ocean current. This cold water current runs northwards along Africa's west coast and is responsible for inhibiting convective clod development along the coasts of both Angola and its southerly neighbour, Namibia. In common with many other parts of Southern Africa, Angola has been in the grip of a drought that has persisted for several years. This is partly due to climate change, but population growth and increased agricultural demand for water have also played their part. The current floods have left much of the farmland in Luanda province under water and communications have been cut off. It is expected that in the next few days, the bulk of the showers will be over central and southern parts of the country, with Luanda province remaining largely dry. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

ICC orders Congo warlord to compensate victims

In a first, the International Criminal Court has ordered the convicted warlord Germain Katanga to pay damages to his victims. The reparations are for 297 victims of an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. An independent charity is expected to pay some of the money, as Katanga is penniless and without assets. After fourteen years of campaigning, rights groups on March 24 gave a sigh of relief when the International Criminal Court in the Hague delivered its first-ever order for financial reparations to victims of war crimes. "The decision is hugely significant," Juergen Schurr, Head of Law and Policy at the human rights organization Redress, told RFI. "It comes about fourteen years after the brutal attack, and so it's long overdue that victims of that attack do receive some form of tangible justice." The devastation caused by the 2003 attack on Bogoro village was total: Around 200 civilians were murdered, many others mutilated and women and girls forced into being sex slaves by the men of former warlord Germain Katanga. "The damage was so colossal that no one can repair this 100%," Alain Uaykani, a former child soldier with a rival warlord at the time, told RFI by phone from Kinshasa. "If you go to Bogoro, this is an area that almost disappeared off the map. So in terms of justice, this reparation is significant because it means the victims have not been forgotten." In total, the court calculated that the survivors had suffered $3.75 million (around 3.5 million euros) in damages. Of this amount, it found that militia leader Germain Katanga was personally responsible for just under 1 million euros. "In deciding what reparations to award, the chamber really relied on the needs that were expressed by the victims," Oriane Maillet, Associate Public Affairs Officer for the International Criminal Court told RFI. "It also consulted the defence and they decided that two types of reparation should be awarded to the victims: on the one hand individual reparation but also collective reparation consisting of long-term projects, focusing on things like support for housing, income activities, education and psychological support." In addition to the collective damages, each victim was awarded a symbolic amount of $250 (around 230 euros) in compensation. While not intended to compensate the victims entirely, the court said it was "a symbolic amount which would provide meaningful relief to the victims for the harm they suffered." One aspect though that needs to be fine-tuned is how the victims will actually be paid. Germain Katanga, who is currently serving 12 years in jail for war crimes, does not have the means to pay. Therefore, the independent Trust Fund for Victims - a body set up under the ICC - will try to cover the cost of the reparations. A separate ruling on reparations for the victims of another convicted warlord Thomas Lubanga is expected to follow. "Thomas Lubanga was the first to be tried by the Court, even before Germain Katanga, and yet his victims have been waiting for so long and they don't know what's going on," says former child soldier Alain Uaykani. "The heart of this case was an ethnic fight, and if the Court doesn't pay attention it will stir up those same feelings again that others are more prioritized than others." However, for Juergen Schurr of Redress, the decision on March 24 can serve as a catalyst to end impunity. "The fact that the reparations in the Lubanga case are delayed shouldn't mean that the victims in the Katanga case should equally wait a long time for their reparations to come forward." Last October judges approved symbolic reparations to create a living memorial for Lubanga's victims. "And we are now also in the same phase for the Bemba case, so more decisions will be coming on those issues soon," insists Oriane Maillet. "The success of the court will depends on how it delivers on its mandate to ensure all victims receive reparations," concludes Schurr. Source: Radio France Internationale

Kamwina Nsapu militia kill 40 policemen in DR Congo

Rebel fighters have killed at least 40 police officers in the central Democratic Republic of Congo, in one of the deadliest attacks on security forces since a violent uprising began late last year. The Kamwina Nsapu militia reportedly killed the police officers on March 25 and only spared those who spoke their local language. "They ambushed the policemen as they traveled from Tshikapa to Kananga," Ambrose Muwasa, a senior security officer, told the Anadolu Agency. "After capturing them, they started killing them and only spared six who spoke Tshiluba language." Corneil Mbombo, the president of the Civil Society of Kasai, a province-wide activist group, told the Reuters news agency that the 40 officers had been decapitated. The militia then reportedly fled with vehicles and guns belonging to the police. The rebel fighters has been fighting DRC forces since August 2016, when security forces killed their leader - Kamwina Nsapu. The violence has since spread to five provinces, posing the biggest threat yet to the rule of President Joseph Kabila. According to the United Nations, more than 400 people have been killed and rights groups have warned the military against excessive use of force. Local and international human rights groups have discovered several mass graves, suspected to contain bodies of militia fighters. Last month, the rebel fighters attacked police only to have the army respond with fierce force, killing more than 100 of them in an act condemned by human rights groups. Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)

US to end operations against Lord's Resistance Army in Africa

A top US military commander has said the LRA has been reduced to "irrelevance" after years of joint military operations have killed most of its forces. Its leader, Joseph Kony, is still on the run. US military operations against the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa are "coming to an end," a top American general said on March 24, even though its brutal leader Joseph Kony has not been captured. "This operation, although not achieving the ability to get to Kony himself, has essentially taken that group off the battlefield," said General Thomas Waldhauser, head of the US military's Africa Command. The LRA has killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped 60,000 children in a three-decade-long rebellion ning northern Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The militant Christian group seeks to implement the Ten Commandments and has been accused of multiple human rights abuses, including mutilation, rape, child abduction and use of child soldiers. Waldhauser said "several hundred, maybe thousands" of Kony's soldiers have been killed in joint US military operations with regional armies. "For the last several years, they've really been reduced to irrelevance," he said, adding the group had about 100 remaining fighters. Claiming to be a prophet with spiritual powers, Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He was the subject of a viral video campaign in 2012 that was seen by over 100 million people worldwide, bringing the LRA to worldwide attention. Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier turned LRA general, is currently on trial at The Hague after being captured by US forces in 2015. In 2010, the US deployed around 100 Special Forces to work with regional armies to defeat the LRA and try to capture Kony. According to the US National Counterterrorism Center, Kony is believed to be in poor health and is rumored to have diabetes or AIDS. Waldhauser said the United States would continue to work with countries in the region against a resurgence of the LRA. Source: Deutsche Welle

Burundi receives US $ 40 million for poorest households

The International Development Association (IDA) through the World Bank has provided additional funding of $40 million to Burundi. On 23 March, the Burundi National Assembly approved the distribution of the money transfer to the poorest households in the country. "Each household will receive an amount of BIF 20,000 per month for a period of 30 months", said Martin Nivyabandi, the Minister of Human Rights, Gender and Social Affairs. Four pilot provinces such Kirundo, Karuzi, Ruyigi and Gitega have been chosen and 48,000 households will be assisted, he said. "It has been found that there is more poverty in these provinces than in others", he said. The money will be given to women, who usually manage the family budget and play an important role in family development. "We are going to identify the most vulnerable people, according to levels of poverty and malnutrition, as well as establish accompanying measures to avoid any trouble", he said. For this, the IDA through World Bank has provided additional funding of US$ 40 million that will be extended to 20 years. Gabriel Rufyiri, chairperson of a watchdog that fights corruption and economic embezzlement, OLUCOME, says the Burundi government should create a national independent commission including the beneficiaries, residents, administrative officials and the sponsors of the project to avoid favoritism in the identification of the poorest people. "We know what happened in the country in the past. The Burundi government is no longer credible. The distribution chain must be transparent, from the financing to the beneficiaries", he says. Hakizimana, 60, a resident of Buterere in the capital Bujumbura and a victim of the recent torrential rain, says the government should extend the project and assist the poorest people from other provinces. "I can spend two days without eating, given that it is not easy to have a job these days", he says. According to the United Nations office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the estimated number of people living with food insecurity grew from 2.1 to 3 million between October 2016 and January 2017 - a 43% increase. The most affected provinces are Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Muyinga, Kirundo, Ruyigi and Makamba. Source: Iwacu English News

North Africa

Tunisian Premier concludes visit to Sudan

The Tunisian Prime Minister, Yousef Al-Shahid has concluded a two day-visit to Sudan during which he had bilateral talks with the First Vice-President and National Prime Minister, General, Bakri Hassan Saleh on sphere of cooperation between the two countries. The Tunisian official has also met the President of the Republic, Field Marshal, Omer Al-Basher and reviewed with him the Sudanese-Tunisian relations. The two sides, during the visit, signed a number of agreements and a document including the cooperation in educational, health, river and air transport, industry and information technology fields. Source: Sudan news Agency (Khartoum)

Angola, Morocco discuss bilateral cooperation

The strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the defense field was high on agenda of the March 24 audience the Angolan Defence minister João Lourenço granted to Moroccan ambassador to Angola, Saadia el Alaqui in Luanda. The Moroccan diplomat told the press at the end of the meeting that they reviewed the advantages of reciprocal cooperation. The ambassador reiterated her country's will and determination to strengthen bilateral relations in all areas. Still in the field of cooperation, Saadia el Alaqui said that Morocco intends to increase cooperation in the sectors of agriculture and staff training. According to her, Morocco has scholarships available to ensure training, pledging her country's availability to work more on strengthening of cooperation programme in the field of education. Angola/Morocco cooperation dates back to many years, focused, among others fields, education, agriculture, trade. Source: Angola Press

Lamamra receives Congolese counterpart in Algeria

Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra received on March 25 in Algiers Congo's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Congolese Nationals Abroad Jean-Claude Gakosso. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gakasso is on a visit to Algeria part of the seventh Algerian-Congolese High Joint Commission, which he will co-chair with Lamamra. This meeting will allow examining all the opportunities to develop economic and commercial exchanges and giving a new impetus to the bilateral relations in the light of high-level meetings between the two countries. The joint commission, which will assess the state of the bilateral cooperation, will also develop new prospects of partnership to raise it to the level of the quality of the political relations between the two countries as well as their common commitment in favour of peace and development in Africa. Source: Algerie Presse Service

Southern Africa

Joyce Banda addresses members of US Congress, promotes women's leadership

Malawi's former president Joyce Banda on March 21, 2017, addressed some members of the United States Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, United States of America. She becomes the first Malawian high-profile political leader to officially participate in a panel discussion before distinguished members of the US Parliament since Malawi attained political independence from colonial masters, the British, in July 1964. In her discussion, Banda shared her own experience in running for political office; the challenges and triumphs of building the people's confidence in democratic institutions; and the positives of female leadership to developing countries. Banda suggested ways on how the United States government would contribute to preventing and mitigating violence against women in politics. The former Malawi leader took the opportunity to share the contents of her most recent publication at the Wilson Center titled, "From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa". In that paper, Banda addresses the ways in which the girls and women who are born to be leaders are prevented from reaching their potential in sub-Saharan Africa, and proposes recommendations to ensure that more African women are represented in leadership and decision-making in government and elected office across the continent. Banda was invited to the panel discussion at the US Congress on Capitol Hill by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to discuss "preventing and mitigating violence against women in politics". The former Attorney General of Guatemala, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz, Chief of the Leadership and Governance section at UN Women, Begona Lasagabaster, and the Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN, Paddy Torsney, joined her. Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts, Congressman Randy Hultgren of Illinois, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, and Congressman Salud Carbajal of California hosted the event. An entrepreneur, activist, politician and a philanthropist, Banda is the former president of Malawi, making her the country's first female president and Africa's second. Voted as Africa's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world by TIME magazine, she is a champion for the rights of women, children, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of current and former women prime ministers and presidents, whose primary goal is to use the symbolic importance of women leaders and the substantive experience of its members to support women's full participation and representation in the political process at the highest levels, and encourage future women leaders. Banda is a motivational speaker. She has spoken at a number of high-profile international conferences and forums, including the International Conference on Women in Beijing, the American and African Business Women's Africa Conference in London, the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC and renowned universities and institutions of higher learning across the globe. Continuing her tireless work encouraging women to enter political office and championing the rights of women and the disenfranchised, Banda has taken on a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Global Development, jointly with the Woodrow Wilson Center, where she brings her invaluable experiences as a leader in African politics. Source: Nyasa Times

Zimbabwe minister Mzembi takes campaign to Cuba, Mexico

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi was in the Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico over the last few days as he continues his campaign to become the next secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO). Mzembi told that in Mexico met with the sub-secretaries for multilateral affairs and human rights, tourism planning and policy as well as the directors general for Africa in the country's foreign affairs ministry. Reports from Cuban say the Zimbabwean minister commended the Havana for developing its tourism industry despite decades long US economic blockage. Cuba this year expects to receive more than four million tourists. Explaining his visions, Mzembi emphasised the need to address global challenges facing the tourism industry that include terrorism, restrictive policies to the movement of people, natural disasters and climate change. He also defended the need to increase global funds to help promote tourism, especially in poor countries where the sector is the main source of income. According to him, the so-called leisure industry can facilitate the generation of jobs and help boost infrastructure development if its vast potential is exploited through a comprehensive vision for sustainable development. Backed by the African Union, Mzembi is one of seven nominees for the post with elections scheduled for May in Spain. His rivals include Vahan Martirosyan, from Armenia; Márcio Favilla (Brazil); Jaime Alberto Cabal (Colombia); Zurab Pololikashvili (Georgia); Young-shim Dho (Korea) and Alain St. Ange, Seychelles. Source:

UK, US investment roadshow cancelled on Jacob Zuma’s orders

President Jacob Zuma has instructed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, to cancel the international investment promotion roadshow to the United Kingdom and the United States and to return to South Africa immediately. The two dignitaries were meant to embark on a non-deal international investor roadshow in the two states, starting in London in the UK on March 27 for two days, before taking the roadshow to Boston on March 29. They would have concluded the roadshow in New York on March 31. The ministerial delegation included National Treasury's Director General, Lungisa Fuzile, key National Treasury officials, business and labour. Treasury last week said it has a consistent and long-standing strategy of engaging investors on a regular basis. The purpose of the roadshow is to provide an update on the most recent developments, engage constructively with investors and share government's thinking behind its latest policy proposals. Source:

Swaziland wants land from S. Africa

Swaziland wants to annexe large parts of South Africa and Mozambique on behalf of the kingdom's autocratic ruler, King Mswati III. The territory it seeks includes the administrative capital Pretoria. The Border Determination Special Committee (BDSC) said on 24 March 2017. Large areas of South Africa belonged to the Swazi nation and had been taken during the time the region was under British rule. The Observer on March 25, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute ruler, reported that the committee, 'revealed that its mandate as directed by the King is to recover all the Swazi land lost during the colonial era, both on the east, west, south and north which goes as far as Pretoria and the Limpopo province.' The newspaper reported the BDSC told a meeting of editors that the presently landlocked kingdom should stretch to the Indian Ocean and include parts of modern-day Mozambique. The BDSC is promoting what it calls 'Pan-Swazism', the newspaper reported. This was 'to instil a sense of belonging to all Swazis even outside the current borders of Swaziland'. It added, 'The Pan-Swazism is of the assertion that it is globally accepted that Swazis have King Mswati III as their king and that this is true even to Swazis that are living in the Republic of South Africa.' Lutfo Dlamini, a member of the committee, reportedly said the Swazi King was rightly accepted as the leader of all Swazis. Thabiso Masina, the committee's ex-officio member from the Attorney General's office, said land was lost to the Swazis because of concessions to the white settlers around the 1840s. He said no Swazi king had in fact signed the land away. The Observer reported him saying the Swazis were never defeated in war to warrant for the nation to relinquish any of its land. The BDSC said there was already a draft agreement between Swaziland and South Africa that they would solve the land dispute amicably. Source: Swazi Media Commentry (Gaborone)

In Zimbabwe, Govt intensifies fight against human trafficking

Government has done a lot in fighting human trafficking through assisting victims and carrying out awareness campaigns, but more still needs to be done to contain the scourge. Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Melusi Matshiya made the remarks during the handover of equipment and furniture to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) secretariat by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Harare on March 24 last week. "The Government of Zimbabwe through the Anti-Trafficking Inter-Ministerial Committee (ATIMC) has covered some ground in creating awareness on human trafficking as well as in assisting victims of human trafficking. "However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book and that our citizens are kept safe from human traffickers, especially women and children," he said. The equipment worth $12 000, consisted of furniture (tables, chairs and file cabinets), laptops, projectors, Samsung tablets and stationary among other items. It is targeted at capacitating the ministry through the TIP Secretariat in carrying out its mandate through a donation from IOM through the 13th Edition of the European Development Fund. Mr Matshiya said as the ATIMC was assisted in executing its mandate by the TIP Secretariat, which is housed in the Legal Services Department of the Home Affairs ministry, the equipment received would assist the Secretariat in supporting the effective functioning of the ATIMC. "As such, this equipment donated to us today (March 24) will go a long way in assisting the ATIMC through the Secretariat in carrying out awareness campaigns, data capturing as well as carrying out the mandate as outlined in the National Plan of Action against Human Trafficking. "I would like also to underscore that the TIP Secretariat has been carrying out preparation for the establishment of the first provincial task force team in Bulawayo set for this coming week, through the usual assistance of IOM and UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)," he said. Officially handing over the goods, chief of mission IOM Zimbabwe Ms Lily Sanya appreciated the collaborative working relationship between her organisation and the ministry and pledged continued support towards Zimbabwe. "Today's action is connected to contributing to achieving the overall goal of the project and IOM's broader efforts to support government to tackle Human Trafficking.” "Human trafficking is a heinous criminal act involving the trade in human beings for the purpose of exploitation and transcends borders. It must be stopped at all costs. By our presence here we are pledging to improve our response to human trafficking." She added: "We acknowledge that no one State can address this issue on its own, and that we must all share the responsibilities. I wish to reiterate IOM's commitment to continue working with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Home Affairs and indeed the TIP Secretariat in order to make our collective fight against human trafficking more effective." Source: The Herald

South Africa's President fires Finance Minister, deputy

President Jacob Zuma fired his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, in a Cabinet reshuffle on March 30, precipitating an immediate drop in the value of the South African currency, the rand. Announcing the move, he said he had instructed new Cabinet members to work to bring about “radical socio-economic transformation,” reflecting his belief and that of his friends, the controversial Gupta family, that “white monopoly capital” in South Africa is obstructing the economic progress of black South Africans. Zuma also fired the deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, who reported last year that in October 2015, the Gupta family had offered him a bribe of R600 million if he would agree to become finance minister and remove obstacles the National Treasury was putting in the way of their business ambitions. The Guptas have made a fortune in South Africa since immigrating from India in the early 1990s. Two months after Jonas reportedly had turned down the bribe, Zuma fired the finance minister at the time, Nhlanhla Nene, and appointed in his place a relatively junior minister closely identified with the Zuma/Gupta faction of the party. But Zuma faced a backlash from other leaders of the ruling African National Congress and from business leaders. Forced to back down, he quickly but unwillingly appointed Pravin Gordhan, who had previously served as finance minister, to the post. Since then Gordhan has led joint missions abroad representing government, business and labour to talk up the country’s prospects with investors. Gordhan and Jonas were on such a mission in London on March 27 when Zuma ordered them home. On the same day, Zuma told firstly the ANC’s allies in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and then the other top five leaders of the ANC of his intention to fire the finance team. Both the SACP and three of the five ANC leaders opposed his plan but to no avail. The Communists, big business and a large constituency in the ANC reject Zuma’s transformation narrative as, in the words of a Johannesburg Financial Mail report, “a crude crony-capitalist scheme in which the interests of his friends, the Gupta family, seemed to actually drive policy.” Over the past 15 months, Gordhan, Jonas and officials of the National Treasury have staved off threats by international ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk status. Responding to the reshuffle, emerging market economist Peter Attard Montalto of the Japanese investment bank Nomura said he viewed Zuma’s reshuffle as “an open attack on Treasury to replace people who are conservative and anti-corruption with people loyal to Zuma” and “as such will trigger multiple downgrades.” The effect of downgrades would be to make it more difficult to raise investment abroad and to increase the cost of borrowing to the government, leaving less money available for government spending on development. Contrary to speculation earlier on March 30, Zuma did not make a clean sweep of SACP members of the Cabinet, leaving a number of high-profile members and other opponents in place. However, he did axe tourism minister Derek Hanekom, who proposed a vote of no confidence in him at an ANC national executive meeting last November. He also fired Ngoako Ramathlodi, a former political secretary to ANC icon Oliver Tambo, who diplomatically registered concern on Wedneday at what action Zuma would take. In Gordhan’s place, Zuma appointed Malusi Gigaba, an energetic Minister of Home Affairs who denies being influenced by the Guptas but is a Zuma loyalist regarded as more malleable than Gordhan, as is the new deputy finance minister, Sfiso Buthelezi. Source:

East Africa

In Kenya, Jubilee claims Raila linked to firm awarded IEBC tender

Jubilee politicians have asked ODM leader Raila Odinga to come clean over the controversial single sourcing of a Sh3.8 billion elections management system to a French firm by the electoral commission. Speaking in Malindi on March 26, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said owners of the French firm Safran were "close allies" of Mr Odinga, and that the former Prime Minister knows almost everything about the company, including how it first won another tender by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in 2013. "We know those behind Safran. They are people very close to Odinga allies and we want to tell the IEBC that we are watching them," said Mr Duale. Mr Odinga, who addressed a news conference in Mombasa and a rally at Tononoka Grounds, stayed away from the controversy, but Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, who accompanied him, welcomed the award of the tender to Safran, saying Kenyans want a biometric register to be used in the August elections, and that it did not matter how the tender was issued. On March 24, the IEBC announced that it had resolved to directly procure the elections equipment from Safran, following the cancellation of a previous tender awarded to another French firm, Gemalto SA. The commission's chair Wafula Chebukati said the move was driven by a number of reasons, including the fact that Gemalto SA had quoted Sh5.2 billion against the available budget of Sh3.8 billion. Gemalto, he said, was also not going to meet the commission's operation and legal timelines to manufacture, deliver, install and commission the system. Also, "over 19 million voters had already been registered using the current BVR system", and so "the next priority is to ensure that components of voter identification and results transmission are integrated with the existing voter registration database", said IEBC. Mr Chebukati said Safran was picked because "it had undertaken to deliver the technology within the statutory timelines" of May 10 this year. However, political leaders have refused to buy the explanation. Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the commission "must come clear on how it settled on a company that is internationally known to be non-transparent". "We suspect underhand dealings in the whole process, which was shrouded in secrecy as all the procurement requirements were flouted," he said on the day the government shied away from the controversy, with Secretary of Communication and State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu saying IEBC will have to defend its decision in the court of public opinion. "In terms of its record (Safran's), I am unable to speak to that because I wasn't really part of the decision making by IEBC," he said during a press briefing in Nakuru. Mr Mudavadi pointed out that in 2012, the firm was fined by a Paris court after being found guilty of bribery.  He was referring to a case in which the French company was fined 500,000 euros (Sh55 million) for bribing officials to secure a contract to print national ID cards in Nigeria. Safran was at the time known as Sagem until it merged with competitor Snecma in 2005. However, in a statement issued on September 2012, Safran disagreed with the ruling saying it would appeal. Source: Daily Nation

Kenyan soldiers raid Al-Shabaab bases, kill 31 terrorists

Kenyan soldiers have killed 31 Al-Shabaab terrorists after raiding their base in Baadhade, Somalia. Eleven AK-47 rifles, four improvised explosives, communication equipment, food and military uniforms were seized. Also seized at the bases used as command and logistics centers in Jubbaland district were 634 bullets and two anti-tank machine guns, military spokesperson Joseph Owuoth has confirmed. The raids on March 26 were carried out by ground troops supported by helicopter gunships. "Following the operation, other Al-Shabaab fighters fled with injuries. Two Al-Shabaab vehicles were destroyed," said Col Owouth. "The intelligence-led operation was executed by air and ground assets. Ground troops were supported by attack helicopters and artillery fire to access the bases 17 kilometers from Sarira near Hola Wajeer," added Col Owouth. More than 4,000 Kenyan troops are deployed in what is called sector 2 in Somalia but have been carrying out operations in other areas that are not manned, whenever Al-Shabaab militants set up camps there. Other sectors are occupied by forces from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti. Kenya first deployed soldiers in Somalia in October 2011 in Operation Linda Nchi before they were absorbed into the United Nations-backed African Union Mission in Somalia or Amisom the following year. Al-Shabaab has over the years attracted foreign fighters especially after it merged with Al-Qaeda. Source: Daily Nation

Ethiopian Parliament extends state of emergency by four more months

Ethiopia extended the current State Of Emergency by four additional months. The SoE was first declared in Oct. 2016 and was due to end in April. The House of People's Representative, dominated by the ruling EPRDF, during its regular meeting this morning unanimously approved the extension. Speaking to the house while explaining the necessity for the extension, Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa, who is also the front man in the 'command post' implementing the decree, said, "anti-peace elements" mostly in border areas were still active. The minister is referring to months-long conflicts caused by military incursions by armed men from the Somali regional state into many localities in eastern and southern part of Oromia, (bordering the Ethiopian Somali regional state in east and southeast Ethiopia). The ongoing conflicts have left hundreds of civilians dead and the destruction of an undisclosed amount of properties. However, there has not been an official inquiry into the ongoing incident. Siraj also said that although calm has largely returned throughout the country as the result of the SoE, several cases were registered in which groups and individuals were involved in printing and distribution of "inciting materials." He also added that the command post was yet to apprehend "key players" of the yearlong anti-government protests that eventually led the country to declare the current SoE. A ministerial cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has declared the six-month SoE in October to contain intense protests, particularly in Oromia regional state. The protests were triggered as an immediate aftermath of a mass death of civilians at the annual Irreecha festival on Oct. 2. A hysteric stampede was caused because of security officers' act of firing live ammunition and rubber bullets into the air, as well as teargas bombs in the middle of major parts of a gathering of millions who started to protest at the festival. The incident has led to protests in dozens of cities and villages throughout the Oromia regional state, which, unlike the previous yearlong protests that first began in Nov. 2015, have turned violent as protesters targeted foreign based and state-affiliated investments in the region. The SoE was quickly followed by the arrest of tens of thousands of Ethiopians, marked by several violent acts by the regime's security officials. On March 26, an inquiry board tasked to look into the implementation of the SoE told the national parliament that 26, 130 Ethiopians were detained under SoE. Of these 475 were released after receiving 'counseling', while 4, 996 will be brought to a court. The remaining 20,659 were released after detention in various military camps for different periods, according to the inquiry board. On March 15, the command post tasked to implement the SoE has lifted parts of the provision, including arrest without court warrants and the indefinite holding of detainees incommunicado. It also lifted the provision that the command post should monitor the contents of media and other publications, as well as curfews imposed restricting citizens' access to industrial sites & other investment projects after 6:00 PM local time. However, Defense minister Siraj Fegessa hinted at a possible extension of the SoE, which was followed by a statement on March 23 in the parliament by PM Hailemariam Desalegn who referred to a public opinion poll result, unknown to many Ethiopians, and said 80% of Ethiopians support the SoE. It is not clear if other provisions of what many believe is a sweeping decree will be loosened during the coming four months. Source: Addis Standard (Addis Ababa)

West Africa

Meningitis kills 21 people in northern Nigeria

At least 21 people have been killed by meningitis epidemic in Sokoto State in northern Nigeria. The State Health Commissioner, Dr Balarabe Kakale, confirmed the outbreak and the deaths on March 26 and stressed that the northwest state was in distress. He said the disease was first noticed on March 20. Dr Kakale said the deaths were recorded in the seven local governments of Kebbe, Bodinga, Rabah, Wamakko, Gada, Dange/Shuni and Tureta. “The state government has since Monday (March 20) deployed no fewer than 15 medical teams, comprising over 150 medical personnel.” "They were deployed across the 23 local governments of the state, fully equipped with ambulances and provided with free drugs, as well as medicament," said the health commissioner. He explained that the emergency response teams were conducting house-to-house searches and management, both at home and the hospitals. Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by bacteria or viruses, but can also be a result of injury, cancer, or certain drugs. The disease can be prevented with the use of vaccines. The use of antibiotics is very effective in curing the disease. Meningitis is common in the semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan African, which have been named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the African meningitis belt. Every year, epidemics meningitis recur during the hot, dry season between the months of December and June. The whole of northern Nigeria lies within the African meningitis belt. Source: The East African

El-Rufai urged to adopt dialogue over Southern Kaduna killings

The senator representing Kaduna South, Senator Danjuma Tella La'ah has called on the Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai to adopt dialogue as a measure to end incessant bloody clashes between suspected Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the southern district of the state. Senator La'ah, who made the call during an interview with journalists over the weekend in Abuja, maintained that "lasting peace cannot be achieved without dialogue." He disclosed that, over 200 people have been killed in the last few months in Southern Kaduna in clashes between suspected herdsmen and largely farming communities. La'ah, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) senator said, to stop this, the government need to organize meetings of the people of the area with the Hausa/Fulani communities to resolve the crisis and as well continues to live together in peace, noting that most of the clashes were caused by "outsiders parading themselves as herdsmen. "There is need for the people of Southern Kaduna to sit down with the Hausa/Fulani to resolve the crisis. My concern is to ensure that a lasting peace is returned to Southern Kaduna and I am happy that peace has already returned. "One thing that people don't know is that this problem was created by the activities of criminals masquerading as herdsmen. They will go to the area to unleash terror on the people, especially the farming communities and we will be thinking they are genuine herdsmen," he said. While pledging total support to the peace initiatives embarked upon by both the Kaduna State and federal governments to check violence in the area, he emphasised the need for dialogue to resolve the protracted crisis between the farmers and herdsmen. Senator La'ah explained, "Both parties should know that the incessant bloody clashes that have always resulted into loss of lives and properties were not natural, but man-made. They were neither caused by religious nor ethnic problem, but what some people wanted. And the best way to know that they are being caused by external forces is to organise constant meetings for dialogue." He also called on the police to immediately swing into action to halt any reprisal attack by the herdsmen so as to prevent the crises from being escalated, especially following the recent alleged killing of two Fulani herdsmen in Anguwan Yashi village in Jema'a local government area sparking fresh fears of renewed violence in the area. "Security agents should move in quickly as reports reaching me suggested that Fulani herdsmen are inside the bush and they may be planning reprisal attacks on the people", the senator advised. Source: Leadership (Abuja)

In Ghana, Accra sports stadium in ruins

The 40,000-seater Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra is fast deteriorating and could serve as a death trap to patrons of the facility painstaking investigations by have revealed. A looming disaster awaits the nation if managers of the facility and government fail to take immediate steps to address the architectural challenges that have saddled the national stadium that received a facelift in 2007 ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosted by Ghana in 2008. A visit to the facility revealed that metals used in erecting sections of the stands including the stretch towards Osu are corroding as managers look on helpless. The situation is not any different from the playing pitch as the green grass is giving way to the unfavourable weather with no record of when it was last watered to enhance any growth. They pitch isn't the best and lacks consistent watering due to lack of water available with visible broken seats at the stands, malfunctioning of the scoreboard and general structural defects creating doubts about the life of the facility In the wake of these lapses, the National Sports council claims they is handicapped financially and is not able to take very good care of the facility coupled with low patronage of fans and spectators at the stadium to generate funds to finance its operations. Cleaners from Zoomlion in charge of cleaning the facility it was also uncovered have their salaries delaying in the wake of the non-availability of modern cleaning equipments for a facility that is expected to meet international standards. At the time of our visit, there were only five cleaners on sight cleaning the stands that was also lazily done because the cleaners revealed to on strict anonymity that their salaries have been on arrears for several months compelling some of them to willingly resign. "We were more than 30 working at the stadium, but because of the delays in the payment of salaries, our colleagues kept resigning leaving the 5 of us to manage the facility. When we come here, we do what we can and also go home", they revealed The tinted track at the stadium is spoilt but a source from sports council said the replacement of the track rests with the government and not the sports council. He revealed that sports council has to replace broken seats, clean the place and see to restoring the quality of pitch but all this depends on money that is currently unavailable. Source: Ghana Star This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi
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