- Africa Weekly
- May 04 2017
Presidents, AU Commission chair call for urgent reforms
Presidents Paul Kagame, Alpha Conde of Guinea, and Idriss Deby of Chad, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, on April 24 called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year in readiness for the rapid changes in the global context. The Heads of State and AU Commission chairperson were meeting in Conakry, Guinea, to discuss the institutional reform of the African Union, at the invitation of President Conde the current Chairperson of the African Union.
President Kagame has been leading the reform process following the mandate given during the African Union Summit held in Kigali last July. Speaking on the need for implementation, Kagame said the reforms were urgent, especially at a time when the African continent ought to be united in the face of changes on the global level. "The basis for the urgency of these measures is clear. The global context is changing rapidly. Standing united, with a common vision of our continent's interests and aspirations, we can bend the trail of history in Africa's favour," he said.
In the build-up to the next summit, Kagame said the priorities include implementation of the decision to finance the union with a levy on imports. "First, we need to accelerate the decision to finance the African Union with a levy on eligible imports. Everything else flows from this and we cannot afford to get bogged down. The second priority is to move quickly with those reforms which can be implemented right away," he said. While sitting in Kigali in July last year, the African Union summit adopted a new formula to finance the African Union.
Under the formula, countries are to make their contributions through a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports, which would raise about $1.2 billion every year. The levy will be collected by tax collection authorities of member states and channeled through their central banks. For the continent to walk the talk in the implementation of the reforms, Kagame said it needs to have a common viewpoint when engaging with external partners. "One example is speaking with one voice when Africa as a whole engages with external partners. Nobody benefits from the confusion inherent in the current method of doing business," the President said.
Kagame also pointed to a mechanism to ensure that countries comply with decisions adopted by the Union as a key reform that can be implemented without delay. "Another example is to agree on a binding mechanism to ensure that member states are held accountable for respecting key African Union decisions, such as the ones on financing and institutional reform," the President said. He called on nations to capitalise on the mood for change and prioritise the reforms. "The mood for change is already there and we have a clear roadmap. Let's capitalise on it, prioritise the next steps, and keep up the good momentum," he said.
Another reform adopted is for the African Union to focus on key priorities with continental scope and to empower Regional Economic Communities to take the lead on regional issues. Other key reforms emphasised by the President include realigning AU institutions to deliver on its key priorities, connecting the African Union more to citizens for them to have a stake in its work, and managing the business of the AU more efficiently and effectively with particular focus on how summits are conducted and how personnel are selected. Next month, officials from the AU Commission, led by the Chairperson, as well as Foreign Affairs ministers and permanent representatives of member states are expected to convene in Kigali for an extensive briefing on the reforms implementation.
Source: The New Times
UN body warns East Africa against signing trade deal with EU
A United Nations think-tank has warned the East African Community against entering into an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union arguing that it will neither spur economic growth nor bring wealth to the region's citizens. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says in a report that if the EPA is signed, local industries will struggle to withstand competitive pressures from EU firms, while the region will be stuck in its position as a low value-added commodity exporter. "If the EAC-EU EPA is fully implemented, the region risks losing trading opportunities with other partners, industrial output, welfare and GDP," the 45-page report seen by The EastAfrican says.
The report titled Analysis of the Impact of the EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement on the EAC Economies is yet to be made public and is expected to be discussed by the Council of Ministers in the "days to come," according to sources at the EAC Secretariat. The report, commissioned by the EAC Secretariat, is likely to further polarise the position of the Community's members on the EPA, which Kenya and Rwanda have already signed. The two countries were opposed to the commissioning of the study that was requested by Tanzania towards the end of last year.
Uganda said it would only sign the EPA if there was consensus among the EAC members while Burundi refused to sign the agreement until the EU lifts sanctions imposed on Bujumbura in 2015. Sources say Rwanda and Kenya have already said they will not discuss the report at the next Council of Ministers meeting. The EU-EAC EPA promises duty-and-quota free access to EU markets for East African goods in exchange for a gradual opening up of the region's markets to European products.
However, UNECA says the removal of taxes on capital goods from Europe will cause the EAC accumulated revenue losses of $1.15 billion per year. The market would be opened up over a 25-year period and capped at 80 per cent market access.The UNECA findings are in direct conflict with a 2014 report by the European Commission, which shows that the region will experience an economic boom due to improvements in market access to the EU.
But according to David Luke, co-ordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at UNECA, the deal with Europe will be calamitous unless EAC countries are able to clearly define what their infant industries are, as well as identify sub-sectors they intend to protect. "While the EPA purportedly intends to respect regional integration programmes, they are adding to the complexity of the task. Additional burdens are created through provisions that complicate or contradict the agreements African states have with each other or are about to make," Mr Luke said.
Rwanda's Minister of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, Francois Kanimba, said the report is a "political tool" and a step back in long-term negotiations to secure a positive deal with the EU. According to Mr Kanimba, even Uganda -- which has been undecided over the EPA -- had argued that mentioning the report in the upcoming council of minister's meeting is "not correct because there was no consensus gained before conducting it." "I think this is now a political issue. These negotiations took more than seven years and have been conducted at several levels in order to minimise the potential risk that this arrangement can have for our infant industries and our economy at large," he said.
"You cannot expect an agreement where you offer nothing and want to get everything. It does not make sense. The most important aspect was to secure a quota-free and duty-free access to EU market, which is a huge benefit for all the countries in the region," he added. EAC has been negotiating the EPA since 2007 and the current differences reflect the divergent economic strategies of the member states. Rwanda which has a small industrial sector is pursuing a growth strategy based on building a knowledge-based economy while Kenya has a fairly developed industrial sector and perceives less risk from the EPA.
Source: The East African
Sudan, Morocco ambassadors to Angola meet with Luanda Governor
The ambassadors of the Republic of Sudan and the Kingdom of Morocco to Angola, Khalid Mohamed Farah El Fahal and Saadia El Alaoui, respectively, visited the Provincial Government of Luanda on April 18 to discuss issues related to cooperation between their countries and Angola. Received in separate meetings by the governor of Luanda province, Higino Lopes Carneiro, the diplomats had the opportunity to talk about the possibility of cooperation between Khartoum/ Luanda and Cassablanca/Luanda in various domains.
Khalid Mohamed Farah El Fahal told the press that the intention is to relaunch the baselines of cooperation between the Republic of Sudan and Angola, following the meeting held at the provincial government headquarters in the Ingombota urban district. The Sudanese diplomat said that the intention is to intensify ever more the existing cooperation ties between the Angolan authorities and his country.
According to the diplomat, the intention is for these relations to be equally comprehensive for the governments of Luanda and Khartoum in various fields. On her turn, the Morocco's ambassador to Angola, Saadia El Alaoui, also expressed the wish to materialize the twinning project between Casablanca and Luanda in various areas. "There are a number of important sectors to cooperate between the two capitals, where we can focus on urban management and the two metropolitan cities", she said. According to the diplomat, the meeting with the governor of Luanda showed the desire to implement the cooperation ties and work to strengthen them.
Source: Angola Press
Burundian refugees abscond from Tanzanian camp
Thirty-three Burundian refugees, including 17 children, on April 20 night, were intercepted at Mutukula border in Misenyi District after they allegedly escaped from Mtenderi Refugees' Camp in Kigoma Region. The Kagera Regional Immigration Officer (RIO), Mr Abdallah Towo, told reporters that on being interrogated, the escapees confessed that they were heading for Nachingare Refugees' Camp in neighbouring Uganda.
According to Mr Towo, the Burundian refugees had opted to move out after facing food shortage at Mtenderi Refugees' Camp. He elaborated that arrangements were being made in collaboration with the UN Refugees' Agency (UNHCR) to transport them to Lumasi Receiving Centre in Ngara District to await action to return them to Mtenderi camp. He further said this was the second incident involving Burundi refugees
Rwanda, Morocco sign new deal on infrastructure development
Rwanda Football Federation (Ferwafa) has signed a new agreement with the Federation Royal Marocaine de Football (FRMF) aimed at improving football infrastructure in the country. In a statement released on April 22, Ferwafa president Vincent Nzamwita confirmed the development on the conclusion of a seven-day visit to Morocco on the invitation of his counterpart, Fouzi Lekjaa. The two sides discussed the funding of the FERWAFA Hotel (that's under construction with the works being partially funded by FIFA) and Morocco FA's assistance in the laying of artificial turfs in various parts of Rwanda.
"We are very delighted with the new agreement with the Federation Royal Marocaine de Football, who have played a very crucial role in the development of our game," Nzamwita said. "According to the new partnership, Morocco FA will offer financial support to FERWAFA to ensure the completion of the first phase of FERWAFA Hotel, which means we'll not be going for a loan from any bank to complete the project as had earlier been planned," Nzamwita explained.
FIFA will raise 65 per cent of the total cost of the Rwf3.85 billion project. Furthermore, Morocco FA agreed to finance the construction of artificial turf stadiums in various districts in Rwanda as well as renovate the existing stadiums. Experts from Morocco FA in charge of infrastructure development are expected in Kigali on April 27 during which they will visit three districts where these stadia will be constructed. "Morocco FA has agreed to offer a loan to fund the construction of artificial turf stadiums in these three districts which are yet to be identified with a view of repaying back the loan after five years," Nzamwita further stated. The first partnership deal between the two Football Associations was signed in 2015, a year after Nzamwita assumed the leadership of Ferwafa.
Source: The New Times
Frenzied rescues save more than 2,000 asylum seekers from North Africa
More than 2,000 asylum seekers trying to reach Europe were plucked from the Mediterranean on April 14 in a series of dramatic rescues. An Italian coast guard spokesman said 19 rescue operations by the coast guard or ships operated by non-governmental organisations had saved a total of 2,074 people on 16 overcrowded rubber dinghies and three small wooden boats. One person was found dead, the spokesman said.
The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) boats Prudence and Aquarius rescued some 1,145 people from nine different dinghies in non-stop operations. MSF later posted a video showing women singing with happiness after their rescue. The rest of the asylum seekers were picked up by the coast guard, the Phoenix - run by the Maltese Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) - the German NGO Sea Eye and the German Jugend's Iuventa. "In 19 years of covering the migration story, I have never experienced anything like today," said Reuters news agency photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, who was aboard the Phoenix.
In one operation, it rescued 134 people, all from sub-Saharan counties, he said. The rescues on April 14 come a day after a shipwreck left at least 97 migrants feared drowned off Libya. According to the International Organisation for Migration, nearly 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. More than 650 have died or are missing.
EU's border control agency Frontex has accused donor-funded vessels of doing more harm than good by sailing off Libya and acting "like taxis", and Italian prosecutors have suggested they may have links with traffickers - a charge they have fiercely denied. "How many people would have crossed if we weren't there today, Frontex? Probably the same. How many would have died? Probably, many more," MSF said on Twitter. "Where are Frontex boats in a day like this?" it asked. "EU states keep their blind eyes turned".
MSF said in a tweet that one teenager was found dead in a rubber boat whose passengers were rescued by its ship Aquarius. "In 2017, the sea continues to be a graveyard," it said. In one rescue operation by MOAS, desperate refugees struggled to stay afloat after they slid off their rubber boat off the coast of Libya. Rescuers jumped into the water to help them.
Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)
Sudan, Egypt agree on strategic issues
Sudan and Egypt have stressed the importance of communication between them to remove any impurities that impede their strategic relationship. The Foreign Ministers of the two countries, Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour and Sameh Shukri, renewed at a joint press conference held at the Diplomatic Club at the end of the discussions of the political consultation committee between the two countries, affirmed that the two countries face one challenge and are working through common goals to reach the relationship to their goal.
The two sides announced that they agreed to hold regular meetings to discuss the strategic issues, top of which, the meetings of the concerned defense and security bodies. The two countries agreed to discuss Halayeb Issue by the leaderships of the two countries, reaching an agreement on the Egyptian products to Sudan by the concerned technical bodies besides holding a meeting for the Press Councils in the two countries to work out media code of ethics to ban insults directed to the leaderships and the people of the two countries. Prof. Ghandour has told reporters that the Sudan and Egypt shared identical viewpoints on the developments of situations in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Somalia and South Sudan State, pointing out that the dialogue is the sole means for solving these issues.
The Foreign Minister has outlined that Sudan and Egypt shared identical viewpoints towards the developments in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and South Sudan State, adding that the dialogue is the sole means for solving these problems. He reaffirmed the mutual support in regional and international organizations, the UN, the Human Rights Council and all the international issues of common interest, adding that every country is free in its foreign relations. Ghandour indicated that he reviewed with his Egyptian counterpart, in three meetings, the developments of relations after holding of the Higher Committee which held in Cairo led by the Presidents of the two countries including the opening of the crossings, movements of citizen and goods, noting that President Al-Basher and Al-Sessi met 19 times during the last period, describing the meeting as frank and transparent.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Minister has denied his country's plotting against Sudan or interference in Sudan internal affairs, renewing Egypt's absolute confidence on President Al-Basher. The Egyptian diplomat has categorically denied that the Egyptian permanent representative to the UN delivered press statement against Sudan. On the Egyptian position towards supporting the State of South Sudan, the Egyptian Foreign Minister said his country supports the positive trend for solving the problems of South Sudan through avoiding the tribal conflict and strengthening of the institutions, adding that supporting state's institutions, in South Sudan is not directed against anybody.
Source: Sudan News Agency (Khartoum)
Ramaphosa 'launches' campaign in South Africa with attack on Zuma, Guptas
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched a stinging attack on President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family in a speech that was interpreted as the unofficial launch of his campaign for the ANC's presidency. Speaking at the South African Communist Party's Chris Hani Memorial Lecture at the Babs Madlakane Hall in KwaNobuhle, near Uitenhage, Ramaphosa has called on the ANC to address the challenges it is facing, or continue to lose support among its members, and potentially lose control of the country in upcoming elections.
The hall was packed to capacity, along with a tent outside where a further 500 members of the public had gathered for the commemorations. The crowd, many wearing ANC regalia, including T-shirts with President Jacob Zuma's likeness on the front, cheered and sang as Ramaphosa and former deputy minister of finance, Mcebisi Jonas, entered the hall. One of the songs was "We don't want Zuma, we want Cyril," in isiXhosa.
Call for judicial inquiry into state capture
Ramaphosa called for a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. "The allegations that there are private individuals who exercise undue influence over state appointments and procurement decisions should be a matter of great concern to our movement," said Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa's call supports a recommendation by former public protector Thuli Madonsela for a judicial commission of inquiry into the Gupta family's alleged attempts to capture the state. "These practices, where you have the sense, that decisions are being taken elsewhere, they threaten the integrity of the state, undermine our economic progress, and diminish our ability to change the lives of our people." "These activities, if left unchecked, could well destroy our revolution," he said.
Ramaphosa said it was, therefore, critical that the allegations of state capture were put to rest, and if there was any wrongdoing it should be exposed, and those practices should be put to an end. He said the ANC had to support the establishment of an effective, credible mechanism to investigate the claims. "We know there is an elephant in the room, but we don't want to talk about it." "I support, there should be a judicial commission of inquiry. It is possibly the only process that will be able to get to the bottom of these allegations and determine the truthfulness or lack thereof," he said.
54th ANC conference critical
Ramaphosa said the upcoming 54th ANC conference in December was critical to the survival of the ANC. "We might have spoken about renewal in the past, but if there ever was a time where we have to act to renew and unite our movement, this 54th conference coming in December is going to be that time." "In a way, it will be make or break, whether we have an ANC going forward that is united, or we have a shell of an ANC," he said to thunderous applause.
Ramaphosa said money was already being exchanged to secure votes at the conference. "We must talk about this. We cannot keep quiet," he said. "The problem is money. Money has come in between us, and today there is patronage, there is money being passed around, in bags, paper bags and brown envelopes." "As we are leading to the conference, money has become the currency of buying favours and votes. That is already happening," he said.
ANC alienating constituents
Ramaphosa said the marches currently being experienced across the country were further evidence of the challenges being faced by the ANC. "Throughout its history, the ANC has been the most effective mobiliser. We were able to mobilise social forces across the length and breadth of this country, and today those forces are being mobilised against us," he said. Ramaphosa said the ANC seemed to be pushing away very important constituencies, which had always been on the ANC's side. "We now have the uncomfortable situation that broad fronts are now consolidating against us, and we need to be asking why have peopled turned against us," he said.
"Unless the ANC addresses these challenges, we can be certain, comrades, that our electoral support will continue to slide down," Ramaphosa said. Ramaphosa said research had shown that many ANC supporters had not voted for the party in the 2016 elections because of the perception of factionalism, and that the ANC was soft on corruption, as well as the perception that many of the ANC's leaders were self-serving. "The ANC used to be seen as the leader of society. We provided leadership, we were the go-to organisation. If we are to be honest with ourselves, our movement, the ANC, has lost that position. We are no longer the leaders of society. Society is walking away from us," he said.
Ramaphosa said a decline in the ANC's electoral support had been attributed to a maturing democracy, but said he did accept this. "Particularly, when we know why our support is going down. Particularly, when we know that we are doing certain wrong things ourselves, that made our support to go down. So, therefore, we need ourselves to correct our ways," he said. Ramaphosa said if the ANC was voted out of office, as had happened in certain metros in 2016, it would be unable to use state power to continue effective transformation. "If we continue in the way that we are, I promise you, that support is going to continue going down, and the ANC could lose power," he said.
Botswana to continue with EU cooperation
Botswana is due to continue benefiting from cooperation with the European Union (EU) despite uncertainty from the United Kingdom's decision to exit the European common market. In an interview on the sidelines of the Botswana heads of missions conference in Gaborone recently, the Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Mr Samuel Outlule said the country's trading agreements with the EU were still in effect, and that the legal aspects of British separation ('Brexit') were still to be ascertained. "Of course there are a lot of questions that are still to be answered because the relationship evolved for over 40 years, hence there has been a number of laws and regulatory arrangements with regard to trade. So we are still to know if the agreements of separation will not disrupt the existing commercial and economic relations," he said.
Mr Outlule said over the years, Botswana has had a long partnership and cooperation with the EU, and that the benefitted from the beef market under the cooperation because the EU offered high prices which had been the case for considerable amount of time up to now. He said other arrangements included the stabilisation export that Botswana had benefited from over the years as well as other resources that were made available to a number of development programmes for the country. "Therefore the decision by UK to leave the EU comes at a time when the EU has developed as a union to a very high level of integration. As you may be aware, there is a single market that the European Commission has substantial authority to act on behalf of the member states," Ambassador Outlule said.
He said the UK would still be negotiating with EU, but he could not ascertain what the nature of the relationship would be. He said for the UK to continue enjoying the single market, it would take the other 27 countries to decide on the terms of the relationship. "We are looking at what it means for us as individual countries. We should understand what trade arrangements we had with the UK as we deal with the legal aspects of the UK's exit and economic partnership elements of their participation with us. I guess we would both not wish that our trading arrangements be disrupted," he said.
Mr Outlule said UK continued to contribute to the European Development Fund, the funds he said were important to other programmes that were also benefitting Botswana and fellow member states of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states. Such programmes include the National Indicative Programme, and the UK as a member of the EU contributes to their facilitation as a signatory of the economic partnership that was signed in Botswana last year.
The UK was party to the agreement, until Brexit, which Mr Outlule said had created uncertainty because the UK must first deal with elements of separation from EU. He, however, said Botswana was aware of the matter and was collaborating with SADC Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) group of states such as Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho to engage. At the level of the SACU secretariat, Mr Outlule said they were looking at the relevant aspects required to be addressed with regards to the matter. He, however, acknowledged that SACU had an interest in the UK and did not wish to see the trade partnership disrupted.
Ambassador Outlule further said although Botswana had a historical relationship with the EU as she became its member under the provision for countries under UK may be admitted to join the EU, it was not clear yet as to what the implications of UK leaving the EU would be on Botswana. "Of course as the ACP group of states, at the time when UK was coming in the EU, we knew what we were coming into, with regards to the modalities of the partnership. You may be aware that through the partnership, we had access to the European Commission market," he said.
Source: Daily News
South African court finds nuclear deals unconstitutional
Agreements with Russia, Korea and US have been scrapped. The Western Cape High Court ruled on April 26 that government's nuclear agreements with Russia, Korea and the US were unlawful and unconstitutional. In a landmark ruling earlier on April 26, the Court also scrapped the South African government's decision to buy about eight nuclear power stations - 9600MW of nuclear power. The court's decision has also paved the way for citizens to have a say in any future decisions about a nuclear future for South Africa.
The ruling also set aside requests by government or Eskom for proposals and information from nuclear vendor countries. This decision was first gazetted in 2013 by former Energy Minister Ben Martins and later amended and gazetted in 2016 by former Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. The matter was brought by NGOs Earthlife Africa and the SA Faith Communities' Environment Institute (Safcei) against the minister of energy, the president, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) and Eskom.
The legal teams for the two organisations argued that the government's decision to expand the nuclear programme by 9600MW was unlawful. They also argued that the decision by Joematt-Pettersson to table agreements with Russian, Korean and US in a manner which ensured they did not come before Parliament was unconstitutional.
In their ruling Judges LJ Bozalek and Elizabeth Baartman found that the Russian inter-governmental nuclear agreement was "well outside a broad nuclear co-operation agreement." The Court said that "at the very least it sets the parties well on their way to a binding, exclusive agreement in relation to the procurement of new reactor plants from the particular country." Bozalek said Joemat-Pettersson's decision to table the Russian nuclear agreement under section 231 (3) of the Constitution was "at the very least, irrational". This decision was also set aside.
The judgment stated that the minister appeared either to have failed to apply her mind to the requirements of the Constitution in relation to the tabling of the Russian agreement, or "at worst to have deliberately bypassed its provisions for an ulterior and unlawful purpose". The court said the Korean and US agreements, made many years ago but tabled only in 2015, could also not be tabled under section 231 (3) and were set aside. The court said the Constitution provided that everyone had the right to administrative action that was lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.
When former energy ministers Martin and Joemat-Pettersson had taken decisions in 2013 and 2016 respectively, that South Africa would procure 9600MW of new nuclear power, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) was legally bound to consider the ministers' proposed decisions. Only if Nersa concurred with the decision did it become lawful and binding. Nersa had concurred with the ministers in both instances, and they were gazetted.
However, the court found that the short period between the two ministers asking Nersa to concur their decisions made it "most unlikely that a fair procedure could have been carried out". Judge Bozalek said: "There is no serious dispute that the decision to procure 9600MW of new nuclear power will have far-reaching consequences for the South African public and will entail very substantial spending. The applicants estimate the cost, which will ultimately be met by the public through taxes and increased electricity charges, could be one trillion rand - and this estimate was not disputed by the respondents."
This huge cost allocated to nuclear power would inevitably affect spending on other government programmes such as health and education. The nuclear programme would also have "potentially far-reaching implications for the environment". Because of these considerations, the court said if Nersa had carried out a rational and fair decision-making process, it would have made provision for the public to submit its views before it decided to concur with the minister's proposed nuclear decision. It did not do so. Nersa's decision was therefore procedurally unfair and breached the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
In addition, Nersa was under a statutory duty to act in the public interest, and in a transparent manner. "It (Nersa) has failed to explain how it acted in the public interest without taking steps to ascertain the views of the public," the judgment read. For these reasons, Nersa's decisions failed the test for rational decision-making. The decision for new nuclear power were thus set aside.
Speaking outside the court earlier on April 26, Earthlife Africa member Makoma Lekalala said many South Africans opposed nuclear power. "We are holding government accountable... .The future is in our hands and we are not going to allow unjust energy decisions to be taken on our behalf. This government must invest more in renewable energy. It is the people's power," Lekalala said. Costs were awarded to the applicants.
Source: Ground Up
Dar on 'high alert' over terror attack claims
Tanzania security organs are investigating reports that an international terrorist group is planning to attack the country. The Parliamentary Defence and Security Committee held a crisis meeting last week during which Speaker Job Ndugai told MPs that "all top security organs of the state are on high alert." The national security debate has emerged following the recent killings of eight policemen by gunmen who also vanished with weapons in Kibiti District.
Police in Dar es Salaam say intelligence had established that the killers of the eight policemen were hiding in the city. Sources say the terror network is gaining a foothold in the country with reported recruitment, training and radicalisation of the youth in the Coastal region, Tanga, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Lindi.
The sources said there is a connection between the latest killings and another one that happened on July 5, 2015 when an armed gang stormed Sitakishari Police Station in Dar es Salaam and killed four policemen before disappearing with 17 guns. Police sources also say a gang based in the Amboni caves in Tanga is suspected to have killed eight people in June last year out of fear that the victims would reveal information to authorities about accomplices of the group.
In the brutal event, the eight men, including a village chairman were rounded up and taken to a spot where they were beheaded. On June 27, 2016 police in Dar es Salaam had shot dead one Mohammad Abdallah in connection with the Tanga killings, with Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Simon Sirro saying the force had made progress in the war against terrorism.
Security sources said recruitment of youth into terrorist networks of ISIS and Al Shabaab from the districts of Kibiti, Mkuranga and Rufiji of the Coast region have been on the rise. "Some are being trained in local camps in the forests and some are being taken to countries with powerful terrorist organisations like Somalia," the source said.
Organised criminals prefer the Coastal region because of its vast forests that serve as hideouts and the presence of vulnerable residents who can be recruited to join terrorist groups. The region with scarce resources is predominantly inhabited by Muslims.
Commander Sirro once admitted that there were terror-related groups, which had been recruiting children for military training in various hideouts in the forests neighbouring Dar es Salaam. The training entailed skills in fighting, killing and gun management. In Kilongoni forests in Vikindu Coast region, police last year discovered a hideout where young men were being taken through military tactics for operations targeting police and non Muslims in their attacks.
Source: The East African
Ugandan truck drivers call off strike at Uganda-South Sudan border
Truck drivers who ply the Uganda-South Sudan border trade route have finally called off their week-long strike following commitments and concessions made by the government of South of Sudan. The drivers agreed to resume entry into South Sudan after holding lengthy talks with a delegation of South Sudan government on April 21. The delegation included senior military and police officers led by the minister of interior, South Sudan police services, Lt. General Majok Akec Malok and his deputy Riaw Gatlier Gai among others.
The Ugandan delegation was led by Bosco Otim, the North regional police commander and several army officials. They first met in the South Sudan town of Nimule before addressing the striking drivers at the Uganda border township of Elegu. Some of the issues that caused the strikes including financial extortion by South Sudan security officials between Nimule and Juba, harassment and mistreatment, arbitrary arrest and killing, too many check points among others.
Gatlier Gai told the drivers that the challenges that sparked off their strikes had been resolved with establishment of new security measures along the trade route. "We know there are unnecessary [checks]. As you leave Nimule you can be stopped 15-20 times - paying money to different people, which are unathorised to collect money. [We know] there [is] some insecurity. You don't have escort as a truck driver.
The escort we used to have is for buses and small vehicles. So, now we have taken immediate measures to have two escorts. One for buses and small vehicles to go according to their speed to Juba. The second one is for trucks to go according to the speed of trucks. If you are driving 20km/hr, our escort forces will drive with you 20km/hr till you reach Obama. This escort will be from Nimule to Obama", said Gai.
Gai said checks points had been reduced from more than 30 to only three in Nimule, Nisitu and Obama adding that security deployment along the great trade route had been overhauled. He said government had set up a security post at a mountain hot spot where trucks traveling to South Sudan are often attacked and payment of all taxes have been gazetted for Nimule border point only.
"From Nisutu to Juba there will be no checkpoint. You go to Juba normally. We have taken measures that every money, everything that will be paid by a truck driver will be paid in Nimule. One point for payment and that payment will be only verified in Nisutu. From Nimule, you will be escorted without a stop. You will stop by Nisutu, the document will be verified and once you pay your taxes verified by the government of South Sudan, you don't have to pay again", Gai added.
Abdulatiff Bukenya, a Ugandan semi-trailer driver told URN that the challenges they go through while working in South Sudan are too many. "When you find the army you have to pay them, when you find traffic you have to pay them. But the money they write on the receipt is less than what you pay them. You find the receipt is 20 South Sudanese pounds but you pay SSP 300. And if you go to Juba, when you give that receipt to a traffic [officer] for that day, he can 'eat' that receipt and say it is not valid. He tells you to pay again - which money you don't have. You find traffic, the army and even the police, then the CID - you have to pay all of them", said Bukenya
Bukenya said they are uncertain if the new measures will hold for a long time. "The in-charge minister of interior made three clear things. That from Nimule to Obama and from Obama to Nisutu and Nisutu to Juba the truck drivers will be accorded due respect of escorts depending on the speed at which they [are driving at]. Then the other thing was the issue of extortion, we equally said there should be no stoppage on way until when these guys or the truck drivers reach Juba.
Because of too much checkpoints on the road, they have also said it is going to be abolished and we think that this is a very good step. We only urge these truck drivers to go by that as we equally appeal to the government of South Sudan to make that resolution to be real other than leaving it on papers. It should really be practical to help these guys from accessing the place." Other drivers pleaded with South Sudan government to ensure that the new measures are implemented.
Source: The Observer (Kampala)
Land invasions surge in Kenya
Gunmen have seriously wounded 73-year-old conservationist Kuki Gallmann at her conservation park in the latest of a string of attacks during land invasions in drought-stricken northern Kenya. The Italian-born author of the memoir I Dreamed of Africa was shot in the stomach on April 23 after the vehicle she was driving in was ambushed, a family friend said.
Gallmann was going to inspect damage to her property after invaders burned down a retreat there on April 22. A luxury hotel had already been torched last month. She was ambushed when she was forced to stop by a tree laid across the road, the friend said. The gunmen shot her, but Gallmann was saved when rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service intervened and fought off the attackers.
Gallmann was flown by helicopter to receive surgery at a hospital in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. Her daughter - who herself was shot at in an incident in March - said her mother was able to speak, the friend said. The Gallmann family own the 400-square-km Laikipia Nature Conservancy and employ 250 Kenyans on the luxury lodges, ranch, and other businesses on the land. They also run the Gallmann Africa Conservancy and Gallmann Memorial Foundation, conservation groups focusing on bringing people and wildlife together sustainably.
A wave of violence has hit Kenya's drought-stricken Laikipia region in recent months as armed cattle-herders searching for scarce grazing land have driven tens of thousands of cattle onto private farms and ranches from poor quality communal land. Many residents of the area accuse local politicians of inciting the violence ahead of the August elections. They say the politcians are trying to drive out voters who might oppose them and win votes by promising supporters access to private land.
Martin Evans, head of the Laikipia Farmers' Association, condemned the attack on Gallmann and said "dozens of people have been killed or wounded and subjected to robbery and vandalism of their property. Kuki is a world-famous author and conservationist - but the LFA urges sympathy for all". Raila Odinga, the country's veteran opposition leader, also condemned the attack and said "we have watched in bewilderment as hooligans take advantage of the drought to subject these ranchers to unwarranted attacks... The government is clearly unable or unwilling to bring these attacks to a stop".
National police spokesman George Kinoti said a local politician was already facing charges for inciting violence and arson attacks in the area. "We also wish to caution certain politicians to refrain from making statements that amount to encouraging ranch invasion," he said in a statement. At least 14 civilians have been killed, including local resident Duncan Murimi who was shot in the stomach and who died three days ago on a neighbouring property. Another Kenyan man was killed a few days before him in the same area.
Four police have also been killed in the last six weeks, Kenyan media reported. Police spokesmen did not return calls seeking comment. Last month, Tristan Voorspuy, a British military veteran who ran a safari company in Kenya, was shot dead at a private ranch in Laikipia. He had gone to the ranch to inspect the remains of a friend's home that had been burned down.
Source: Al Jazeera (Doha)
Kenyan Safaricom network breakdown affects millions
Millions of Safaricom customers were unable to make calls on the morning of April 24 after the mobile service provider experienced a technical hitch. The technical problem affected subscribers countrywide with the company saying it is working to resolve the issue. “Sorry we are having a slight technical fault with the network services countywide but the issue is being resolved,” the company posted on its Twitter account. Data from Communications Authority of Kenya shows that Safaricom has the highest number of mobile subscribers with 26.6 million customers.
Source: Daily Nation
CAG report prompts intensive probe on dishonest servants in Tanzania
Controller and Auditor General (CAG) has exposed squandering of public funds, prompting thorough investigation to find out the embezzlers behind the deceitful deals. The CAG report follows an investigation as directed by President Ali Mohamed Shein last June, into the management and payment of monthly salaries.
According to Chief Secretary (CS), Dr Yahya Abdulhamid Mzee, the CAG identified unbalanced payments and lack of justification for funds released for salaries. "It was uncovered that long period absentees from work due to sickness or further studies, civil servants on leave without pay and retired workers are still on the payroll," the CS said, adding that during the civil servants' verification, many failed to turn-up. Some workers who are supposed to have retired because of age and sickness are still on duty, and unjustifiable diversion of salary funds to other activities is another problem that the CAG uncovered during the special audit.
In response to the report, the government has immediately suspended salary payment to all civil servants not on job, pending further investigation. "The government also needs its money back from people who illegally received it," Dr Mzee said. He said the government is determined to uproot the entire 'network of dishonest officers in its ranks' to avoid massive losses of public funds, vowing to hold accountable all the thieves in public offices and recovering the lost money.
"Civil Servants who have been absent for long because of sickness have to prove their sickness with evidence from the medical board," said the Chief Secretary, adding that civil servants on study leave will be verified but those at the retirement age must go. The salary processing in public offices, he said, will undergo review to avoid further cheating, he said, hinting that the President has been astonished and irked by the report. President Shein has reportedly ordered that no stone should be left unturned in searching for all dishonest officers who have been benefiting from the public funds through cheating.
Somali President holds talks with host Erdogan
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on April 26 held bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on his second day of his tour of Turkey. The two head of states discussed security, energy snd humanitarian assistance. "There is much we achieved together and we will achieve much more for our two nations and peoples" Farmaajo said after the talks. " An honor to have discussed further strengthening of our two sides brotherly relations with President Erdogan" Farmaajo added.
The Turkish President revealed the country's new interest in iinvesting in the energy sector. "We will increase our cooperation with Somalia in energy and mineral matters" Erdogan told journalists at a Press Conference held after the talks. Earlier Farmaajo visited Turkeys's Parliament and held talks with its Speaker Ismail Kahraman. He also visited the burial site of modern Turkey's founding father Ataturk.
Farmaajo described Ataturk as " a visionary leader". This is the fifth state visit by Farmaajo since he was elected president last February . Somalia is the highest recipient of aid from Turkey and the relation between the two countries has been on the rise since the latter led the world in 2011 in sending much needed humanitarian assistance in the face of a famine
Source: Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)
Seven die from 'strange' sickness in Sinoe, Liberia
Seven persons died on April 25 from a strange sickness in Greenville, Sinoe County in Southeastern Liberia. According to the Health Ministry spokesman, Sorbor George, five persons died at about 3:00 a.m., while two others died later in the day. According to George, blood specimen from the deceased was sent to the Firestone Hospital in Harbel, Margibi County for testing to ascertain the cause of death.
George also disclosed that an emergency meeting of health officials has been called to discuss the strange deaths. According to a local radio correspondent from Greenville, Sinoe County, the victims suffered from stomach pain before succumbing to death.
The reporter also said health authorities in the county have isolated all those who came into contact with the dead. Liberia was in 2014 struck by the Ebola Virus Disease that claimed an estimated 4,500 lives in Liberia and more than 10,500 lives in the three hardest hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
In Nigeria, Shiites protest in Abuja to mark El-Zakzaky's 500th day in detention
Hundreds of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, on April 26 staged a protest at the Unity Fountain in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to mark the 500th day since their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, was arrested. Members of the group marched in separate male and female columns along the roadside from the event centre to the main entrance of the National Assembly, demanding the immediate release of their leader.
Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested on December 14, 2015, following a bloody clash between members of his group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State. The Chairman, Martyrs Foundation of IMN, Abdullhamid Bello, issued a statement on the occasion. "As Sheikh Zakzaky clocks 500 days of unjustifiable detention, we come out in our numbers to peacefully show our dissatisfaction with the way the government of President Buhari has been handling the subject of Zaria pogrom that was conducted by the Army under his ultimate command", he said in the statement.
Shiites protest detention of their leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky "This was what led to the Sheikh's unwarranted detention in the first place, and its aftermaths, including the extra-judicial murder of over a thousand innocent citizens under 48 hours. "As Sheikh Zakzaky clocks 500 days in this unjustified detention, we have come out to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to Sheikh's freedom and justice for all those oppressed sequel to that brutal massacre. We will not be cowed into silence by any oppressive measure this government will employ", he stated.
Mr. Bello recalled that a court had ordered the Nigerian government to release Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife within 45 days but that the two had remained in the custody of the State Security Service over 100 days after the court order. "The Nigerian Army that has committed this horrible massacre in Zaria remains unpunished and has even chosen not to investigate what it did between 12-14 December, 2015, as it recently inaugurated an investigative panel on accusations of human rights abuses against the army.
Shiites protest detention of their leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky "What is the Army hierarchy afraid of that it can't even dare investigate a serious allegation of coldblooded killing of over 1000 civilians in Zaria?" Mr. Bello appealed to Nigerians and the international community to prevail on the Nigerian government to release the IMN leader and his wife alongside members of the group unconditionally without delay.
Source: Premium Times
Nigerian President seeks National Assembly's approval for $6.4 billion China, World Bank loans
President Muhammadu Buhari on April 26, again sought the approval of the National Assembly for the federal government to secure about $6.4 billion dollar loans from the World Bank and China to fund infrastructural objectives across the country and combat polio outbreak in the North-East. In a letter separately read by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Mr. Buhari sought approval to borrow a total of $5.851 billion from China to fund Nigeria's railway projects.
In the letter, Mr. Buhari asked the lawmakers for quick approval to enable Nigeria access the China-Africa fund package already included in 2016-2018 external borrowing plan which was forwarded to the National Assembly last August. The Senate had rejected the borrowing plan entirely in November last year. Mr. Buhari explained that the funds accessible under the package are limited and that applications from other African countries are treated on 'first come first serve' basis.
The President's letter reads: "I wish to refer to my earlier letter with respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished senate that the China Exim bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1.231 billion. "The China government has also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment are imminent.
"China Exim supported projects; Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment 3.474 billion, making a total of 5.851 billion. "As you are aware the funds available under the China-African fund are limited and loan applications from all over Africa countries are funded based on first come, first serve and therefore there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may loose out in the event that we delayed in signing the loan agreement.
"These loans form part of the overall money for the rail strategy. We are in the process of completing the concession of the port Harcourt Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation. "We fully intend to source further concessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge. These projects form the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth."
Similarly, Mr. Buhari also repeated his request for endorsement of the $575 million loan from the World Bank to tackle infrastructural collapse and combat polio outbreak in Nigeria's North-East ravaged by Boko Haram terrorism. The request had earlier been made in October 2016, with appeal for 'immediate approval'. Out of the total package of $575 million, $125 million is for the polio emergency, while $450 million is to assist Nigeria in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the North-East.
In August, Nigeria confirmed two new cases of polio in Borno State, meaning a setback for a country looking forward to receiving certification of polio eradication June 2017. But, apart from polio, Nigeria's North East, especially Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states - is a case of humanitarian emergency and infrastructural as well as socio-economic collapse, largely due to Boko Haram terrorism.
Source: Premium Times
This monitor is prepared by Harish Venugopalan, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi